Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 31.Day 151. Falling into the 50s

The weirdest coincidence happened today.  A group of students working on a journalism project each decided to try something new and report on it. Sam Kolhapuri decided to throw herself off a cliff. I offered my services as a photographer. So I rocked up to the Kangaroo Point cliffs abseiling area with the dogs I had just collected from the groomers (and a camera of course). I greeted Sam who was looking decidedly nervous. Then a bloke said hi. Paul, I met Paul and his wife Leighann in anti-natal classes. Leighann and I ended up giving birth in the same hospital one day apart. In the early years when the kids were small we spent a lot of time together but busy lives got in the way. We reconnected recently which was awesome but it's been years since I've seen the rest of the Carey crew. And there they were. It is Leighann's 50th birthday and to celebrate a family abseiling adventure was organised. How cool. So rather than knowing one of the abseil group, I knew five. All of them looked very anxious at the top. All of them looked triumphant at the bottom. And the birthday girl was so pleased with herself she climbed back to the top and had a second go. And we promised we would get together soon - and not by accident.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May 30. Day 150. The claws are out

When I was heading home from a two-year stint in London, my boss wrote me a resume that said I was "unflappable under pressure". There is one type of pressure that will make me flap about like a crazed creature. There is one type of pressure that brings the claws out. That pressure comes from the incompetence of telecommunication companies.
 A couple of weeks ago at the Paniyri Festival I walked into the Telstra NBN van and inquired about a new Internet service. No we are not in an NBN area (is anyone?) but we do have this wonderful thing called Velocity as part of the Telstra Smart Communities. So sign me up, I thought. If only it was that simple. I have spent so many hours on the phone being flicked between departments. It has been so bad that many of the details have been blanked out for mental health reasons. We did all the security checks, the technician was booked. All set. And then not. There was a phone call yesterday. "We may be recording this call for quality assurance. Stay on the line end for a short customer survey".  There was just one hurdle, or so I was told in a phone call. My old home phone number with Optus is part of the Woolloongabba exchange. Telstra uses the new South Brisbane exchange so I will need a new phone number. No-one uses my home phone so I wasn't bothered. So I agreed to go ahead. They did all the security checks again, all the disclosures again then said I'd need to be transferred to sales for that new number. Okay. The transfer happens and then after confirming my date of birth AGAIN ... it cuts out and I get the recorded survey. I call back. On hold again, more checks, more advice to stay on he line for the survey, we go to organise the number change but wait. You want Velocity? That's a different team. We'll transfer you. I get cut off again by that recorded survey again. Today we start afresh. More checks, more confirmations and again I'm told they need to put me through to the Sales Department. Hang on, I say. Are you sure it's Sales? Yesterday we did that and I was told not Sales, Velocity. More checks. More flipping between departments. Velocity team ring back and say "sorry, you can't have Velocity. Not in your area." There would have been a modem shoved down someone's throat but I can't reach Mumbai. So my neighbours have it. Four different people have said my address is compatible. You gave me an installation date. You have wasted at least four hours of my time on hold and in fruitless department switching and NOW you say not in my neck of the wood. He agrees to get yet another person to call me back. The status right of this point is yes, this is a Velocity area. Yes, my order was cancelled. No, we are not sure why. Yes, we will investigate. Yes, there will be compensation. Unflappable? Not this little black duck.

Monday, May 29, 2017

May 29. Day 149. And my cup runneth over

I have a very important announcement to make. I am going to be starring in Noises Off by Queensland Theatre at QPAC.
Okay, that might be a tiny weenie stretch. Okay while it's not exactly a lie it isn't close to truth either.  This evening I attended a play briefing about the farcical play within a play that opens next week.
The sound designer Russell Goldsmith was talking about putting together the audio for the piece. He said there were no clues within the script as to music etc. He also talked about the second act which is set back stage. The set is rotated at this point and we see what's going on behind the scenes while the play continues. This means there needs to be audience reaction, claps, cheers, gasps. He could have used stock sounds but he decided to use actuality - and we provided it.
The magical actor Hugh Parker was set a few bizarre acting tasks and our reactions were recorded. So you will hear Drama Teen and me (and a few score of people we've never met before) clap, cheer and generally respond appropriately to a farce. You are impressed, right? Okay not. But interesting none the less.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 28. Day 148. Trip down memory lane

It's true that I am child at heart. It's also true that for three hours this afternoon my head was back in childhood too. And it happy place. I was in our family's lounge room. It was winter. The fire in the fireplace was burning and the four children were sitting on the floor huddled around the big gold arm chair. My father was holding court reading from Kenneth Graham's Wind in the Willows. Dad loved that book. He loved sharing the tales of Toad of Toad Hall, Mole, Rat and Badger. We hung on every word. We begged him for just one more chapter when he said it was time for bed. Of course there is no actual going back but in my head there is still a little corner where Toad, Rat, Mole and Badger live. This afternoon in the packed Yeronga State High School auditorium, Villanova Players brought those characters out of those deep recesses. It was special watching the children (including the big ones like myself) in the audience also hang on every word. The production wasn't perfect - a big red pen dramatically reducing the length of the first act would have reaped great rewards - but it was thoroughly enjoyable. I loved listening to the children in the audience laugh, I loved listening to the adults laugh at the priceless reactions but mostly I loved the love for the story.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

May 27. Day 147. Everybody needs good neighbours

Winkle escaped today. I wouldn't have known if it wasn't for the bloke two doors down coming and knocking on the door to alert me to Houdini's antics. He'd tried to grab her but she'd given him the slip. (Of course I would have realised eventually except for the small technical fact that she came home and was crying to get back in before I could even get my shoes to launch the search). She knows there's no place like home. It was something I thought about in the afternoon when I saw Detroit by final year QUT acting students. This was part of the Contemporary America Theatre season. Set post global financial crisis, it was all about the decaying American dream. But over and over again it talked about how people don't know their neighbours any more. How no-one would knock on the door next door to borrow a cup of sugar because we probably don't know our neighbours and wouldn't want to disturb them if they did.

Well, let me tell you something. In my neck of the woods we talk to our
neighbours. The women up the road this morning dropped a handyman's card in my letterbox because she knew I was in the market for a few odd jobs . On a walk with the dogs to the UQ lakes, I ran into another couple from up the street with their dogs and we had a chat. I probably would drive down to the Nite Owl if I needed sugar but when the chips are down - like when one of my precious dogs escapes - I know my neighbours will have my back.

Friday, May 26, 2017

May 26. Day 146. The Beat goes on

There is this sweet spot, it exists somewhere between "if you are on to a good thing stick to it" and "same-old, same-old".  Lady Beatle sits sweetly on that spot. The Little Red Company has already achieved much critical acclaim for Rumour Has it (based on Adele) and Wrecking Ball (the Miley Cyrus story). The creative team of Adam Brunes and Naomi Price have developed a part juke box musical, part cabaret, part tribute show formula that works. It works because because the writing is smart, it works because the production values are spot on but mostly it works because of the music. And it works in no small part because of Naomi Price. Not only does Price have the voice of an angel, she is an extraordinary performer. She can channel the essence of Adele or Miley or the mysterious Lady Beatle. With the runs on the board and a star at the microphone it would be tempting to do just more of the same. And they probably would have got away with it. But Lady Beatle takes you to a place you think is familiar and then takes a sharp right turn. Right on that X Spot, is the real magic. Right there all the re imaging of the Beatles' music makes absolute sense. There is the moment that lifts it right out of tribute band material to a story of humanity. This is a show that will go places because you can't really fail with Beatles' music done well and nor can you fail with a great story. Lady Beatle continues as La Boite until June 3.                     

Thursday, May 25, 2017

May 25. Day 145. If you lie down with dogs

 The saying goes "If you lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas".
By this reckoning I should be flea infested.
 It's a sacrifice I would happily make.
My dogs go where I go and this week that has been bed more than is normal, even for me. They like to get up close and personal ... and that's in the good times.
It's even more so when I'm not well.
Dogs have a sixth sense. They are known for it. They may not diagnose. They may not dispense medication.  But they are very much part of the package that makes me feel better. While I'm pretty sure licking my extremities or lying on top of me has no therapeutic value as such, the presence of the canine care crew brings a smile to my dial. You can't argue with that (especially as I happen to know both dogs are up to date on their flea treatment. I look after them. They look after me).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 24. Day 144. Birthday boy.

I do like to turn birthdays into a production. It's a gift. But it was a gift that this time wasn't giving. Being quarantined is a bit of a dampener. Also it's a bit hard to throw a party for a person in a different part of the State. Work commitments saw Charles in Biloela this morning. This meant that I couldn't provide the traditional birthday breakfast of kippers. I'd be lying if I described this as a negative. I hate the fishy stench that lingers for the whole day. But birthdays allow you to indulge your inner passion no matter how stinky and disgusting that might be.  The only option was to find a more palatable way to mark the day once the birthday boy flew in tonight. We went out for supper. And there were gifts and sparklers because you have to try to throw in a bit of theatre. It may not have been the "regular" birthday but it's the thought that counts. Right?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

May 23. Day 143. Spanner in the works

The universe doesn't like me today, it just doesn't. I mean it's one thing to be thrown out of a pub at closing time but to be removed from a GPs' waiting room because you sound disgusting, that's not supposed to be a thing. Well not in my experience until today. I coughed. The nurse appeared from nowhere and ushered me to the back treatment room. She issued face masks to all the staff. Nasal swabs, a TB test, chest X-Ray and drugs normally used to treat emphysema followed. As long as it stops the paralyzing cough which has a significant side effect: feeling-sorry-for-self-itis. And just when I thought it could get no worse I get this text from my cleaner telling me water was dripping through the light fitting of the downstairs bathroom. That can only mean two things - lots of $$$ and inconvenience. In all honesty the mere thought of having to engage tradesmen makes the tightness in my chest tighten further.
By late afternoon, Tom was on the job. He found the problem but not yet the solution. The dishwasher is leaking but my new buddy Tom will get the the appliance man here in the morning. At least that's something. Right now I don't have the energy...or the dishwasher ... or the lung capacity. The good news is I don't have pneumonia either.

Monday, May 22, 2017

May 22. Day 142. As the crow flies

 All my life, I've been sold a lie. We all have, and I for one feel cheated. We talk about "as the crow flies" as the most direct route from A to B without having to worry about pesky little things like roads. So I will stand on my back deck and point at the University of Queensland remarking that "as the crow flies" it's just over the river but to get there the route is much longer, especially if you can't take the pedestrian bridge and go by car. But I've been watching the crows outside my house as they come in to feed on the mince supply from next door. They don't seem to be all that concerned about a straight line at all. So I looked it up. According the Phrases.org "The allusion in this expression is obviously to the ability of crows to fly directly from A to B, without the encumbrances of roads and landscape features that restrict man. Crows are perhaps an odd choice as, unlike many birds that migrate over long distances, their flight isn't especially straight. Crows normally fly in large wheeling arcs, looking for food." WTF. So even the crow doesn't fly as the crow flies? This is most disconcerting and confusing.
But then again I'll go in a large circle looking for food. I'll also make a beeline for it should that be more convenient. Please don't tell me that a beeline isn't a direct route. My world view can only take so much of a shattering for one day.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 21. Day 141. A wild ride

The past few days have been a wild ride. It's a bit like wedding vows ... in sickness and in health. I feel a bit better. I do stuff. I feel a whole lot worse. I slump on the couch or go to bed. The GP - the second one last week - said to be guided by I feel. I don't think I'm listening all that well. He said 'flu, which gives me the sh*ts because like a good little girl I had my 'flu shots. But it doesn't cover all strains and it seems like I got one not covered. Yay me. During the day it's mostly okay. At night, not so much. Last night, my husband threatened to take me to hospital after a particularly violent and extended coughing fit. It passed and besides new GP (who I happen to like rather a lot) said to give it until Monday. He'd like to see significant improvement or swabs and a chest X-Ray. He said I could go to work if I felt like it. That be guided by the body thing again. This afternoon, I felt like taking the dogs out. We walked around the perimeter of the Paniyiri Festival. We didn't go it. There's only so much excitement I need right now. Just the essentials. But my great sadness is that I have to stay away from infants. That means I couldn't go and visit my friend Alison and her kids, especially her newborn. They fly home to Singapore in the morning and won't be back for months, possibly a year. I could only say goodbye on the phone. That's better than nothing but not the same. I also have to stay away from my elderly neighbour Margaret but my family are delivering the groceries and running errands as required.  And on my team are my humans and the two dogs. Dogs are awesome at picking up what people need and they have barely left my side. Bless them.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 20. Day 140. Embracing your inner Greek

We still occasionally receive letters for Father Dimitri Tsakas, the former owner of our house and a priest at the nearby Greek Orthodox Church of St George in West End. Needless to say, where we live is fairly close to the heart of Brisbane's Greek heartland. This means there is a no shortage of Greek food available pretty much any day of the week. But for two days a year too much Greek is barely enough. It's Paniyiri time. Here is an excuse to smash plates unrelated to kitchen inadequacies. You can Greek dance, learn to cook Greek food, harness your football skills and eat all the honey puffs, baklava, souvlaki, octopus, haloumi and any other Greek treat that takes your fancy. You can even eat a Greek salad if you a) have no spirit of adventure and imagination or b) want to create an illusion of being healthy by eating an olive or a piece of tomato. And of course you can wash it down with a Greek beer or strong Greek coffee. There's a whole section of hairy, scary rides which, if you want my advice,  should only be attempted before and not after any of the above except perhaps the salad.  As would be expected the city's Greek community comes out in force but it's a party not just those born with a honey puff in their mouth. At Paniyiri time everyone gets to embrace their inner Greek.

Friday, May 19, 2017

May 19. Day 139. The Farce Awakens

Candy Crush and Angry Birds are as as close as I get to being a gamer. But while I'm no gamer I'm game and given my life seems to lurch from one farce to another The Farce Awakens seemed like as good as any place to start at the Anywhere Theatre Festival. Also, The Museum of Brisbane is kind of awesome as a venue for a festival that triumphs taking theatre out of theatre and into unusual and unexpected venues. It took me 3.7 seconds to wonder what they had to use to sedate the museum staff to allow them to cope with that degree of crazy within their display halls. But OH&S is not my worry so whatever. Your mission in this theatrical game is to eliminate dull. Within this are various levels with challenges and lives. You can follow one thread or jump between them or mix and match. I took a fairly random approach. The advantage was I sampled the full smorgasbord of the farce. The disadvantage was the thread of the game was a bit lost on me. Did it matter? Nope, just watching it unfold was amusing and there were more than enough little pop culture references to keep me happy. Also I loved watching the actors respond in the moment. This is a game and how it ends up depends on how the audience of players play. This is the ultimate pick-your-own-adventure meets performance experience. This means there needed to be a script for all manner of eventualities. And the actors have to be ready and they were.

 There is a finale where you learn just which challenges you nailed and which ones were an epic fail. You also find out how you went in comparison to other players/audiences. And for those who like me were still a bit confused, it also served as an ah-ha moment. This production is as ambitious as it is imaginative. For those who prefer something with a traditional narrative and structure, try something else. But if you want a bit of a a game with your performance, may this force be with you.
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

May 18. Day 138. A dog of a day

Famous last words: "What's the worst thing that could happen?' The story goes like this. I've spent most of the week in bed, coughing up a lung. The medical certificate on my fridge says bronchitis and advises against work until tomorrow. I'm not especially good at following doctor's orders. So for a few hours every afternoon I've dragged myself into work. Today was following approximately the same program. As I stumbled out of bed, the dogs who have played nurse maids for the week, looked up expectantly. I read their minds. They wanted to get out. It seemed only fair. I was only going to be sitting in a newsroom editing scripts and mentoring students. The dogs would behave. What's the worst thing that could happen? Turns out my imagination isn't that good. We'd only just arrived when the newsroom door slid open. Standing right in front of me and my dogs were The Dean, The Head of School, The Floor Warden and Michelle Guthrie, the ABC's Managing Director. Holy expletive.  Ms Guthrie had addressed a forum on campus and was on a tour of the facilities. Everyone laughed it off. After a bit, I went downstairs and saw George, the big burly cameraman.
And then there was the second thing I couldn't have foreseen happening. He was down on the floor inviting the dogs to jump all over him. They happily obliged. Perhaps there are worse things.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 17. Day 137. The students are revolting

 While estimating crowd numbers is notoriously difficult I think the ABC radio report of 150 students protesting about cuts to higher education was light on. And if were were to assume for a moment that it was right the Thin Blue Line of police was rather heavy. But the point remains that the kids today aren't what they used to be. They were vocal (I did rather like the chant "Turnbull is a Wanker" although it gets zero points for originality), they were passionate but for the most part they were absent. Where have all the student radicals gone? Of course I use the term "radical" very loosely because in fact taking to the streets to protest is a democratic right. It also used to be something students were extremely well versed at in the good old days. Actually I suspect that's where the root of the problem lies. The 80s when I was educated were good. I graduated without a student debt. That meant that there was a lot more hanging around campus philosophizing and a lot less working three jobs. We could plan a nice, big protest if we were so inclined and people could turn up. That's not the reality for many of the students I teach. It worries me as a university educator and the parent of a university student. Diversity is a huge problem in our student cohort and I can't see that improving if you make it harder to pay for the degree. And the pot of gold of international students is not the answer either because they take the skills with them when they return to their home countries. So all praise to those who joined the protest today. The students are revolting. Good for them I say.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May 16. Day 136. Laugh Kookaburra, laugh

 Anyone who grew up in Australia would know that, according to Marion Sinclair's popular nursery rhyme, kookaburras must have a gay life. Of course in 1934 a gay life referred to the kookaburra's merriment and laughter far different from what we might understand today. Indeed I assume that when my 89-year-old neighbour told my husband he looked "gay" on Sunday she was referring to his bright red jeans as being happy and not to his sexuality.  But who knows. Language is fluid and constantly evolving. Right now I feel not just sick but totally sick. Bronchitis will do that to a girl. Now due to a type of slang known as inverted meaning, these days totally sick means awesome. I don't have a problem with language use changing  - it always has - but here's my issue. How do you actually convey if it's "totally sick" or "totally sick". Is the kookaburra happy or same sex inclined. And what about those Gaytime ice creams I love so much? Remember that ad "it's so hard to have a gaytime on your own. I suppose not - but I'm not sharing my ice cream with anyone....