Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 15. Day 74. Hush little baby

 I was at South Bank with my (fur) babies this afternoon when two women approached. The younger woman was cradling a baby swaddled in a blanket in her arms. The other asked if her friend could pat the dogs. I agreed turning to look at the soft, pink bundle. They unwrapped the blanket and explained that this lifelike but lifeless bub was a Reborn. Okay, I hadn't heard the term before but I got the idea - extremely lifelike doll.
She was called Maisey. She cost $300 and had only just been picked up today. Maisey's "mum" had a collection of similar reborn bubs at home. I was offered a nurse. Instinctively I made sure the head was protected. I had to ask "why?" By this stage it had become clear that the younger woman had some form of intellectual disability. The other woman explained that she lived alone and her babies offered her comfort and a purpose.She changed their nappies. She nurtured them. She cuddled them. It seemed to me that this was $300 well spent. So much joy and no sleepless nights

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March 14. Day 73. A hard shell to crack

According to an online quiz, my spirit animal is a deer. This, apparently involves combining a softness and gentleness with a strength and determination. That's not wildly off the mark but it's probably true in some respects of just about everyone. Deer people are also able to move quickly .... yeah no.. Who would have thought? An online quiz got it wrong. My affinity is with the turtle. Slow with a soft underbelly who likes to try and present a hard exterior to the world but really fools no-one.
I needed a hard shell today. I was at one of those meetings where you should be issued with a shield not an agenda. It was uncomfortable, unpleasant. Later I needed a lie down followed by a calming walk with dogs. It helped. A bit. But I suspect many, many more feathers will be ruffled before this one plays out. Now where's my shell again?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March 13. Day 72. We interrupt this presentation ....

 It happens a few times a year. A student I don't recognises approaches me just before the start of a lecture. He or she requests the opportunity to make a short address before we get underway. The subject falls into one of two categories. It will be about a big rally coming up to protest education cuts or it will be a short campaign speech seeking votes in the student elections. I always agree. It pleases me that student politics isn't dead although signs of life are often difficult to detect. Today's announcement was on behalf of the National Union of Students promoting a rally in King George Square next Wednesday. It is weird how little the issues have changed in the 20 years I've been doing this job. The rhetoric is almost identical.
Whether or not I managed to stop in on King George Square next week remains to be seen. But I did make it tonight. It's Brisbane Comedy Festival and it would be extremely remiss of me if I didn't make at least one event. I laughed and laughed at Celia Pacquola. She started with as many F bombs as our student protest leader - perhaps more. But then the language gave way to some really, really funny insights about her life. I enjoyed it immensely. And in a week like this a good laugh is what we all need.

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 12. Day 71. An exercise in truth

"Would I lie to you? Would I lie to you honey? Would I say something that wasn't true? I'm asking you honey, would I lie to you?" So asked The Eurythmics in their song unsurprisingly named Would I Lie to You? 
Truth and trust. They are really important in a relationship.
They are really important to a journalist. Today I took a group of really motivated final year journalism students to the ABC at South Bank for a briefing ahead of next week's World Science Festival.
These are the future protectors of the fourth estate and the defenders of truth.
After the meeting I walked through South Bank stopping at one of my favourite places the Aquativity Park.
I love the giant buckets that randomly spill their contents over anyone standing underneath.
There was a young couple, the sort of couple that radiate new relationship standing nearby. "Go on," she said. "Stand under it. I'll tell you when to move. It's a game of trust. "
So he stood under it and he got soaked.
They laughed because that's still funny when you are in a new relationship.
To be fair to her - although I'm sure he'll never believe it - it was an accident.
He was standing under one bucket and she was watching it intently waiting for the fall. It was the one next to it that dumped its load soaking him. I nearly offered to play spotter for them. I could have added: "Trust me. I'm a journalist"

Sunday, March 11, 2018

March 11. Day 70. Bridging the gap

I can't pinpoint exactly when or why Brisbane decided it was necessary to light its bridges and buildings but I approve. I rather suspect that advances in technology made it possible and then it became a case of "if you can you should".
Doubtless there are good counter arguments. It's probably not too good for the environment to light things for no reason other than aesthetics. It might even be confusing for wildlife even though the lighting levels are low.
But it makes a statement loud and clear with no volume at all. Tonight after the theatre, Oliver and I made a detour via the city for a small spot of photography. There was no-one around until one other family group pulled up. The camera revealed that their intention was the same as ours. Before the lights that would never have happened - at least not at night. It may be pointless but it's pretty and that's reason enough for me.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

March 10. Day 69. All that glitters

Bloody weird weather today. It's the kind of weather I associate with Melbourne not Brisbane. It rained. It cleared. Repeat. I can't tell you the number of times I went to leave the house with the dogs only to abandon the endeavour. Finally we got in the car. It started bucketing down before we were out of the driveway. Having got that far, I really didn't fancy the Winkle whinging that would follow if we drove back in to the garage. I decided a brief scenic drive was the lesser of two evils. We stopped at the Kangaroo Point cliffs so I could take a photo of the rain drenched city - and then the rain stopped and the clouds cleared. I watched a bird land on the gold-leafed statue of the Angel Moroni on top of the Mormon temple. It blended into the grey sky and then as though a message was sent from the prophet, the sky cleared and there was blue. I took the pics and rushed back to the car. I didn't want the wet dog smell from the inevitable next downpour.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

March 8. Day 67. The look of love

 Why do I love my dogs? Let me count the ways. Today was haircut day.
The dogs look even more adorable after their haircut. But that's not the issue.
The thing is how much I miss them in the hours they are away from the house.
It seems so quiet without them.
But it is also how excited they are when they see me. It is an outpouring of love. Or perhaps it is just relief that the haircut is over and they are have been rescued. I prefer the former.
And the excitement extends way after the trip home.  They look beautiful but most of all they look happy to be home - with me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

March 7 Day 66. Just a little prick

I refuse to get sick this year. Simply refuse. Yes, I am fully aware that refusal counts for nought but it's worth a try. Last year was one thing after another. Bronchitis, the flu and then hepatitis just to top off the year.
As a person who has taken up the employer-paid flu vax option for as many years as it has been offered, I am also aware that the jab in the arm is no guarantee. Still buying a Lotto ticket doesn't mean I'm going to win but I still do it and the odds of a flu shot working are far higher.
Being sick sucks. If a little jab in the arm can prevent that, bring it on.
But where was the sweetener? We always get a sweetener and this year no lollipop. That's really not playing fair

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

March 6. Day 65. Going with the flow

I've been watching this weird dome thing going up at South Bank for quite some time. It looked kind of cool. The sign said it was part of Flowstate, part of building a better South Bank. Either is wasn't there or I didn't read the fine print but what I didn't realise was that this is a new outdoor performing arts space. Better still, for the first few months everything is free. Not just yay but double yay. Tonight I saw my first show there Aura by Circa. It was an amazing display of the physical possibilities of the human body. Circus performers really are freaks in the best way possible. But it was also a display of the best know performing arts motto: "the show must go on". Although Flowstate is a really intriguing space it is not entirely water tight. Today it bucketed down. One end of the stage was dangerously soaked. That left two options. They could cancel the world premiere performance or re-block the show in the couple of hours before the crowds arrived. They went with plan B. I wouldn't have noticed had I not spoke to one of the performers afterwards. It appeared as though that was the way it was meant to be. All I can guess is that  In Flowstate everything must be fluid and everyone prepared to go with the flow.

Monday, March 5, 2018

March 5. Day 64. Dress sense

I have many rules I try to live by most of which I break on a regular basis.
There is one, however, that I consider an absolute. An appropriate level of dress must be maintained when attending the theatre.
I have argued the toss with people on this point many a time.
Those who (wrongly) reject my position maintain
1. You've paid for the seat, what you wear while sitting in it is surely no-one's business but your own
2. As if the artists are going to know or care
3. Surely comfort is important
Follow that "logic" and we should all walk around in tracky daks or lycra all day every day. Hell, why get dressed at all? My jarmies are super comfortable.
Come on people. Where is your sense of occasion? Dress up and you rise to meet it. Those people on stage are giving their heart and soul. Is it too much to expect you to lace your shoes?

 Fortunately, our young folk are being well trained. When my boy was at school, a strict dress code was demanded for theatre trips. For some in the class this may have been a new discovery. Not Oliver. The then Drama Teen had owned a wardrobe full of suits for the theatre since he was in the early primary school years.
I see this is an established tradition for school groups. My niece Amelia was around this afternoon killing time between school finishing and the theatre curtains opening.
It also gave her time to transform from school girl into audience member.
Dress well, the school had insisted and so she had. She looked adorable, winning the hard earned tick of approval of Susan the Snob. A round of applause please.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

March 4. Day 63. Wet, wet, wet

It started storming when I was walking around the duck ponds in the city botanic gardens. I was soaked. Strangely, these two things are unrelated. Before the storm hit, I was probably wetter than afterwards.
Today the level of humidity was about 300%.
It was disgusting.
It's been like this for most of the week. Everyone is getting hot and bothered. Grumpy and disagreeable.
The storm provided blessed relief but it was ever so fleeting.
And then you look at the footage from other parts of the world, where they are shovelling snow.
The weather gods are being very mean at the moment. Please lighten up. Give us just a bit of their cold and we'll give up some heat. Pretty please. We all implore you.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

March 3. Day 62. Theatre of the mind

Radio. How quaint and old fashioned.
I mean, just voice. No virtual reality, no augmented reality, no CGI, no multimedia.
Except it isn't.
The mind fills those gaps. Radio is in a golden age.
It's a new golden age, reborn in podcasts but living on strongly in the wireless as it always has.
Radio rocks.
This is why I always look forward to Nash Theatre's annual radio play.
This year I was doubly looking forward to it because we were presented with two plays not one. First up Sorry Wrong Number followed by Hollywood Boulevard . What an awesome pairing.
It's theatre but not as we know it. No fancy props, no fancy sets, no gimmicks unless you count the sound effects man in the corner creating the atmosphere. Your mind and the actors' voices do the rest. You can hear the review here. Then go ahead and book tickets.

Friday, March 2, 2018

March 2. Day 61. Take a good look at my face

I have orange hair. Technically not all my hair is orange but there is a bright orange streak at the front. Last haircut it was pink. The one before that it was purple. Honestly I can not explain this new attraction to the colouring box of hair dye.
I'm sure Freud would have something to say except for the fact that he's been dead for 80 or so years.  If I had to guess, I'd go with control and need to change. I can control the colour. Throw a bit of money at the problem, wait and the colour changes. Bingo. I spent the time waiting for my colour bingo card to come up productively. I watched pretty young things turn into even prettier young things. It's school formal season and my hairdresser is one of the formal transformation spots of choice. There was a congo line of young woman between the make-up and blow dry stations. It was transformative. It's also not quite as easy when you reach my age. But hair colour is. So hair colour it was. It will do. Orange suits me.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March 1. Day 60. Opening night

There are many, many things about the theatre I love not least of which it doesn't lie. It may not always be good. It may literally use smoke and mirrors, lighting and make up and other tricks of the trade to create an illusion. But at the end of the day it is face-to-face unedited human interaction. We are drawn honestly into someone else's world. Tonight was opening night of Queensland Theatre's The 39 Steps. It's a play I've seen before but this was a masterful version drawing you in to a boys' own adventure of good triumphing over evil, all in one take.  I say this because the other story I've been drawn into is My Kitchen Rules. Technically this is a show without actors or  a script just real people cooking up real food. But it is every bit as much a story of heroes and villains, good guys and bad cast and edited to create a drama way beyond the rise and fall of any souffle.  This is supposedly reality TV. Hello, that's more farcical than The 39 Steps with no where near the great comic timing. I watch it anyway. I don't mind being taken for a ride. But I do object the the promotions and selective editing promising drama but not delivering it. The episode I caught up on tonight after the theatre was supposed to have high conflict but we got a little squabble. The theatre treats its audience with far more respect, genuinely trying to deliver on its promises. When it does - as it did tonight - it sings. That's a reality TV can't deliver.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February 28. Day 59. Send in the Clowns

Frank Sinatra once described Send in the Clowns as"I think one of the most beautiful songs written in maybe all the time I've been in this racket".

He also described it as "one of the best marriages of words and music done in a long time".
No-one should ever argue with ol' blue eyes. It's a kick arse song from the show A Little Night Music by musical theatre master Stephen Sondheim. Despite it being "poignant and beautiful"  A Little Night Music was last performed in Brisbane almost 40 years ago (one can only guess how many  times Cats has been performed in that period).
"I do believe the last time it was performed in Brisbane was the late 70s, early 80s," says Brisbane actor, director and acting coach Cienda McNamara. Cienda, a Sondheim lover, says the show has been dormant for too long and it is now time to bring it out of  hibernation.
She has teamed up with friend and colleague Michael Keen, the conductor of the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra, to realise the dream.
Cienda is directing the concert staging of  A Little Night Music which will be performed twice only at the Princess Theatre in Annerley on Saturday.
It promises to be extraordinary - but no-one should underestimate how difficult pulling it off is.
"Sondheim is a tricky, tricky beast from the actual book itself to the music, the music is incredibly beautiful and incredibly dense but really challenging," says Cienda.
But if any cast is up to the job it's the one assembled for this production.
Taking to the stage will be will be a cross section of talent from musical theatre, opera and theatre as well as the 50 members of the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra.
Three days out, at the Sitzprobe (the first seated rehearsal bringing together the voices and the orchestra), Cienda took time out to reflect on the process of creating a staged concert rather than a full musical.
"It's been a challenge but a really interesting one," Cienda admits. "This is my first experience of trying to find that balance and working out what we need to tell of the story that will lead us from song to song and give us back story of the characters. It's been a bit of a challenge and we are still figuring out how it's going to work out."
Where we sit outside the auditorium at the Old Museum, a vast array of props and costumes for the show is being organised on the floor. In that collection is a promise that while this may be a concert, the relationship to the original musical theatre piece will not be lost. "You'll get a theatrical experience but we are using costumes to notate and hint at. It's not exactly of the period and of the era but representative of. That's how we are treating the staging. It's not a full staged production but it is representative of it."
For those not familiar with the work it promises to be an amazing awakening.
"People don't know it but when they do find themselves listening to Sondheim they can't help but get into it. It's just about educating audiences and getting their palates more whet with Sondheim."
This weekend's performance promises to be quite the introduction to those who haven't heard a Sondheim work before or a rediscovery for those who have.
"It's a chance to see a wonderful piece of American musical theatre performed by extraordinary performers and a wonderful orchestra," says Cienda. "It's a chance to listen to a 50-piece orchestra and actors sing this incredible genius's music."
Now that has to be better than A Weekend in the Country (inside joke, that's the song that closes Act 1. Also I don't like the country much).
Concert tickets are available from Sticky Tickets

You can listen to the full interview here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

February 27. Day 58. Dog's day

Every time I come home it's the same. The dogs greet me at the door. The dogs jump on me. The dogs wrestle each other. Winkle jumps on Rumple and then they go about their business. Much of that involves lying around as close to me and each other as possible. That's until the food comes out. You know how they say pet owners start to look like their pets.
In the case of my dogs and I, there's little in the way of physical similarities but we do share the same interests - food and sleep.
My dogs approach mealtime with the same slavering enthusiasm as I do at an all-you-can-eat seafood banquet. I love that about them. Food should be enjoyed and enjoy it we all do.

Monday, February 26, 2018

February 26. Day 57. Diet is die with a T

I'm on a diet - again - still. Technically, I think I've been on a diet since I was 15 and lost hundreds of kilos. I'd hate to think how many I've put on in that time. Next to yo-yo dieter in the dictionary should be a time lapse video of my bum.
But right at the moment,  I'm in the weight reduction phase. Lite n Easy is delivering bundles of food to my door. I am eating the food and nothing but the food.
I'm sticking to it because the alternative at the moment is not very pretty. Nothing fits, everything is too hot and too hard. The trajectory is unattractive - like my bum. So diet it is. If you so much as see me sneaking a snack feel free to knock it out of my hand