Thursday, September 5, 2019

September 5. Day 247. Festival fun

For the next three weeks it's Brisbane that's the city that never sleeps (or more precisely it's the city in which I get no sleep).Welcome to Brisbane Festival 2019. I feel the joy.  So much joy.
Tonight was our first night of living the festival dream... and oh what a night.
SS Mendi was quite extraordinary. In 80 minutes we were treated to a tale so powerful it moved me to tears. For a start, it is absolutely outrageous that this story is largely unknown. How is it that 600 South Africans can be enlisted to the Imperial War effort (only to dig tenches because blacks can't be given guns) and then drown at sea in a collision with another British craft before getting to the front? How is it that this largest maritime tragedy in UK waters is pretty much invisible. And how the bloody hell can men be so horrible to other men. As is the violence of war isn't enough. But this story is more than that. It's funny, sad and oh so beautifully told. This music will warm your soul. And then we walked out into the festival where the River of Light tech run was happening - actually it had just finished but the tech team was still in the booth so we took a chance on the fact that is we hung around they would have another go ... and they did ... to pretty much no-one but us which was special. Winning. Listen to the review of SS Mendi here

Friday, August 16, 2019

August 16. Day 227. Night rider

Back again. Ekka Day 2.
Would you believe the reason I returned for a dagwood dog? Well, if you did you are crazy. But it did have to do with dogs. Random fact.
One of the main reasons I go to the Ekka every year is to buy new outfits for my dogs.
The ones I bought yesterday were exceptional but Rumple's one didn't fit.
I could exchange it at a shop but why not just go back ... and take Oliver with me.
So off we went
And today's visit was at twilight which was kind of awesome.
And an opportunity to eat dagwood dogs.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

August 11. Day 222. Birds of a feather

Bird brained - an insult.
But really, can you fly?
Birds can make annual navigations across the globe. Can you (without the assistance of a jumbo jet).
Well of course you can't. So who's the smart one now?
But it's the little things too.
Little things such as the water bubbler.
I love that the birds know that it is a water source although that would seem far from obvious.
I see them land on them.
I see them press their beaks into the nozzle.
I'm pretty sure they are rewarded for their endeavours.
That is quite a leap in logic, if you ask me.
I can't imagine what things from the avian world I could learn to operate efficiently and effectively.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

August 10. Day 221. Game on

I was a netball legend, where legend is defined this is the only sport I vaguely tolerated and which vaguely tolerated me.
I played goal keeper, because it was the place that was easiest to hide a crap player and involved less running. Also less throwing tended to be involved. Mostly it was all about using your body as a shield. That I could do, well to a vaguely acceptable standard.
But with the right team it was okay. With the wrong team, it was torture. Eventually I retired, admitting defeat.
But the complete lack of netball ability prowess does not run in the family. My nieces seem to have embraced it well . Today it was Amelia's turn. She's a Blue Jay and he's fierce.
She was all over the court and all over the opposition. The only similarity with me was that she was playing a defensive position - well for half of the game.
Clearly she is an all rounder. I was just all round. You get that.

Friday, August 9, 2019

August 9. Day 220. Cock fight

Paddy Farrelly, Julian Curtis, Derek Draper and Ashlee lollback  in action
There's no-where to hide in the script. The stage directions are as follows "There is no scenery, no props, no furniture and no mine. Instead the focus is entirely on the drama of the scene." In fact, only one of the four characters, John, even gets a name. The others are M, F and W. Playwright Mike Bartlett puts all the work on the actors and director. Cock is very much a play about people and relationships and nothing will stand in the way of that. It's noon in the Gaelic Football Association Grounds at Willawong. Here the fields are home to intense football battles but today the action is in the clubhouse where rehearsals for Cock are well underway. Director Helen Howard says she is excited to bring "this amazing play" to life. The title, she admits is deliberately provocative saying Bartlett is an extraordinary wordsmith.  "It's in the punctuation and the pauses and the gaps and the silences,'" she says of the writing. The taunts and the rhythms of words - at time sparse and at times poetic - have intense power, Helen says. Cock is the story of a young man torn between his long-term male partner and a new female love interest. The father of one of the men completes the cast.  Cock is about the fight between the characters. "It's a bit like throwing a drop of acid into some lives to take away all the shit .. and reveal the bones of the relationships underneath," says Helen. Derek Draper, a co-producer of Cock who also plays M, agrees while the title of the play may be an euphemism. But he says he believes Bartlett was fascinated with the fight for futures and emotions are played out in an arena.  This is not about winners or losers because any victory will be pyrrhic. "He goes quite literally into the cock ring," says Derek. "People can assume anything whatever they like about that term but it basically means there is a ring of drama which Bartlett has drawn our attention to and I think he was thinking as much about cock fights as any part of the male anatomy." Helen adds that it is refined rather than in-your-face or vulgar. "It is refined. It is shocking in tis emotional story rather than any references to sex. Though, I must tell you it's got the best sex scene I've ever read." Both agree that it is the job of the independent sector - such as Bosco productions to present works like Cock. Audiences who give it a go will not be disappointed, says Helen. "When you get a play written by a writer like Bartlett, do you dare stay away?" Helen asks. "Because you will be changed by it."
Cock will be performed at Metro Arts August 21-31. The full interview with Helen and Derek can be heard here.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

August 8. Day 219. Let them eat cake

It may be that there really is no such thing as a free lunch. That is probably true. There's always a pay back.  But there are many meals in a day (for most people three but you can't have too much of a good thing. So just because lunch isn't free ....  Today it was afternoon tea that was on the house, literally. Margaret threw half of her cake out on to the deck so the noisy miners "Tweety, Tweeties" could have their fill. The larger birds prefer protein such as mince, apparently. That's where the mince comes in. Although, I will eat most things I have not yet reduced myself to eating cake off a wooden deck. My free feed came later that night. It was Opening Night of L'Appartement at QPAC and that means we are fed and watered. I like that, rather a lot as it happens.
And it's free. So there you have it.
Free, as a bird.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

August 7. Day 218. Cloudy night

Rain. I remember that thing. I think. It's when wet stuff falls from the sky. Clouds are part of the deal. Rain clouds. Today, we we got the clouds, low hanging clouds. When you looked up to the mountains they were engulfed in clouds creating quite the mood. It should have meant proper rain but it didn't - but all it gave us was a reminder of what we've been missing. I guess something is better than nothing. It's not like you get a choice.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

August 6. Day 217. New directions

Joanna Murray-Smith
Joanna Murray-Smith is looking remarkably calm considering what she's got on this month. The screen writer's new Australian flick Palm Beach opened on cinema screens across the country the same day as she made her directorial debut at the Queensland Performing Arts with Queensland Theatre's L'Appartement. It's probably just as well she survives on very little sleep. "Because I'm an insomniac, I sort of have about four hours of unconsciousness and otherwise I'm thinking and immersed in the play."
Although L'Appartement is Murray-Smith's 23rd play, this is the first time she has donned the director's hat at the "slightly audacious" invitation of Queensland Theatre's Artistic Director Sam Strong.
"I've been kind of motivated since my mother died a few years ago to sort of seize the moment," she confesses.
Andrew and Liz Buchanan
And seize it she did. L'Appartement is smart, slick and captivating from start to finish.
It's set in a swanky, perfect Paris AirBnB , an aspirational house just like the beach-front mansion in Palm Beach.  With just a touch of irritation, Murray Smith observes she is often pilliaried for writing privileged, urban educated people while others such as Edward Albee is celebrated.
But while the houses and the people may appear picture perfect, Murray-Smith is interested in scratching to see what is under the surface - the fracturing relationships of people staying within. She found inspiration in a recent Paris holiday with her daughter.
Pacharo Mzembe and Melanie Zanetti Andrew and Liz Buchanan and 
"I began to think about the interaction between aesthetics and comfort and people who live their life according to the structure of beauty and those who are more inclined to the mess of human life."
In L'Appartement, this is explored in the interplay between the Australian parents of three-year-old twins (played by real life couple Andrew and Liz Buchanan) and their French hosts (played by Pacharo Mzembe and Melanie Zanetti).

Monday, August 5, 2019

August 5. Day 216. Guttered

I'm used to staring out of my living room window and enjoying the view.
Given it's on the second floor, what I'm not used to looking at is a man's legs.
So, as undignified as it sounds, I took advantage of the guttering work going on and enjoyed what was on offer.
I also enjoyed the fact that the guttering, which fell victim to storm damage about three years ago, was being repaired. It's part of the great repairs and renovations of 2019 - a little bit new, a little bit remodelled. It will be good not to have water pouring through the guttering when it rains. I do like the sound of rain on the roof. That's how it's meant to be. Gushing through holes not meant to be there is something else. And soon it will have a new colour as well. Yay.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

August 4. Day 215. Flock on

Given it's August, it was rather amazing to see people swimming at the artificial beach at South Bank. I mean, I love that beach even though I never swim there and I never swim at any beach in winter. But people do. Weird people such as tourists and children, neither of whom seem to have an internal thermometer. Both groups also seem to love our beach that isn't actually a beach probably because it is a good approximation; water, sand and even seagulls. The gulls were sure putting on a show today, flapping around and diving right on in. The humans were doing much the same thing but with a little more trepidation. In bird world, it seemed to be grooming hour when I got there, with much self care on display. It was a good look and I was happy to be there to see it even if it was from dry land.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

August 3. Day 214. Ball games

The ball was on its first outing today. It was nearly its last. The dogs were really enthusiastic, probably too enthusiastic. And my throw was as crap as always. The combination was never going to work so well. The dogs went into the creek. The ball went into another part of the creek. They seemed reluctant to go fetch. It really, really looked like I would be playing fetch myself. As I started preparing myself for the climb down Winkle came up with the goods and collected the ball. And then it was came on, again, still.

Friday, August 2, 2019

August 2. Day 213. Be my guide

I'm not the only one who's dog crazy. Margaret loves dogs and she has had today marked off on her calendar for some time. Today we were off to visit the Guide Dogs headquarters. Today was the opening of a memorial garden at the Bald Hills centre, a space to remember those who have requested money in their wills and dogs who have given their service. As someone who  has donated to the Guide Dogs Margaret was invited and the promise was THERE WOULD BE PUPPIES. Who could turn down an invitation like that? Not us, that's for sure. So off we went. It was a beautiful day and not only was there the puppies as promised but also a chance to reconnect with Hilde. We me Hilde when the original donation was made. She took a shining to Margaret, resting her head on her foot. And today, she did it again. Margaret was thrilled. She beamed like a Cheshire Cat (perhaps not the best word to use in a dog training centre). Sometimes when you are really looking forward to something it an never live up to expectations. That wasn't today. It was everything she's hoped for and more.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

August 1. Day 212. Art imitates life

Crying in  commercial art galleries isn't new for me. But I'm not sure eyes watering at the price tags actually counts. Tonight was something else. Tonight was in a space upstairs, above the art, in a performance area. Here in this tiny space was a one-woman show about a woman dealing with her mum's dementia. It was beautiful and took me straight back 15 years to my dad and his battle. It was told with such beauty. It was in itself a work of art. And  because I needed time to personally debrief I walked past the old shops in The Gabba peering in for a glimpse at what was inside.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

July 31. Day 211. Taking the stage by storm

Every Australian who grew up in the same  era as me loves Storm Boy. It's in our DNA. We loved the book. We sobbed at the movie. It is a story with heart. Actually, it is a story that left it's mark on our hearts or broke our heart or all of the above.
So Storm Boy coming to stage with the help of one of my favourite Brisbane theatre companies Dead Puppet Society well that rocks.
So I was really excited to be invited in to a behind the scenes look at the puppets and sets well let's just say I was excited.
It was awesome to get up close to those puppets with their eyes made of volcanic rock. It was wonderful to watch them move and hear their stories. Now, bring on opening night and let's see those birds soar.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

July 30. Day 210. New tricks of the trade

I like to keep things fresh. By that I mean, changing it up every semester and inviting in people I want to hear from.
This is especially important in the ever changing world of digital and mobile journalism.
So I call in the help of the young hip kids who are working at the coalface to keep it so here and now.
Today it was Toby Crockford, a young bloke who I swear just graduated yesterday and now works for The Brisbane Times (Okay, I know it wasn't yesterday but it was recent history so what he has to say is especially relevant and engaging to the new breed of students).
There were plenty of tips and tricks. It was dead impressive.  couldn't help but look into the lecture theatre and wonder which of these eager young things will be back in a few years discussing what their daily routine is like.

Monday, July 29, 2019

July 29. Day 209. Run free

Mondays suck. But they come up with monotonous regularity, once every seven days in fact. There's no avoiding it so you might as well come up with some coping strategies. For me this involves dogs (I know, shocking). We went to visit Margaret. Margaret loves the dogs but the fact is so do most of the other residents. Our walk through the aged care facility inevitably means numerous stops to say hello and get a cuddle (well, I rarely get a cuddle. The dogs always do). If there's a few detours on the way in, the exit is always more direct. The dogs pull me out the front door and to the off leash area. They are bossy boots and the normally placid Rumple leads the charge. They love it. We love it. The residents love it. Win, win, win.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

July 28. Day 208. Open Day

If yesterday was about fun, today was work ...well sort of.
It was QUT Open Day and that means put on your ugly corporate shirt, put on your happy face and go show off what you've got.
Today I was on facilities tours which just meant walking and talking and doing a program show and tell.
We have lots of cool toys so it's easy, peasy lemon squeezy.
I'm also pretty good at walking the walk. I think people know when you are speaking with your heart.
I'd be lying if I said this was the funnest thing I could think of doing on a Saturday but as they said in Grease "there are worse things I could do".

Saturday, July 27, 2019

July 27. Day 207. Beach beauty

Taking my dogs to the beach is my treat, my present to myself, my present to them.
It doesn't matter to me that it takes an hour to get there, an hour to get back and an hour on the beach.
It might seem like a bad payoff, but not to me. This is an investment in mental health and the payoff is monumental. Today was just too nice to be inside. So out we went in search of sun, sand and surf. I was slightly annoyed to find the Moreton Bay Council has changed the dog off least area which meant a walk on lead for quite a bit until we could run free. But I refused to be put off - and nor were the dogs. We got what we came for - and a bit of wildlife thrown in.

Friday, July 26, 2019

July 26. Day 206. To market. To market

I can not even imagine who would buy it ... or why. I presume it must be a novelty gift; the sort of thing you take home as a bit of a joke or a statement. I can only imagine what customs would have to say.
I'm not sure where in the house you display a crocodile head or why you would want a cane toad purse.
But there's a market stall devoted to these things at South Bank so there must be people prepared to buy them.
It's kind of gross even if I confess to spending an inordinate amount of time looking at them

Thursday, July 25, 2019

July 25. Day 205. Me and my big mouth

Holy hell, I love pelicans.
It appeals greatly that something so large and with such as obvious big appetite can be so gorgeous and graceful.
It's counterintuitive but that's what makes it so impressive.
I watched them today at The University of Queensland. Well when I say watched I probably should have said stalked. I couldn't take my eyes off them and followed them around the lakes.
And because the pelicans are so big Rumple and Winkle didn't seem to treat them like birds and showed no interest in chasing them. So we were all happy and I suspect that includes the pelicans - I reckon pelicans are show offs by nature. They seemed to enjoy all the attention.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

July 24. Day 204. Feeding time

Two things happened whenever I visit Margaret. I get a report on what she's eating, generally in great detail. She likes things the way she likes things. She will give instructions on sandwich making, on the temperature of tea and how she never, ever wants brocolli or soup ("I only ever eat Campbell's)..
But there are also details on the eating pattens on the birds. The noisy miners (addressed as tweety, tweeties) like cake and biscuits. The butcher birds (butchey, butcheys) take their mince and break it up on the edge of the balcony. The magpies have families they take off to feed. The crows come early and so it goes. It is a routine that means so much to her. And the birds are clearly happy and confident. Some come into the room. They all come right up to the door and she talks to them. It really is a sight to be seen.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

July 23. Day 203. Forever blowing bubbles

West End, Brisbane. Always changing. Always surprising. In parts has some of the most aspirational properties in Brisbane. Swanky units on the river in walking distance to the city. But the hippy, alternative side of West End is still there. The Greek influence is still there and it has always been home to a large Indigenous population.  It's a melting pot of old and new; the same and evolving. West Village is new... and controversial. But the Common and the Light Garden ... it's hard to argue with that. It's a wee bit magical. I like the atmosphere and the water gardens. It's part of the changing beauty.