Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Birthday

My grandmother - Una - celebrated her 80th birthday yesterday. Happy birthday!

[Una and Anthea]

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dr Filmer writes ...

Well the blog has been rather severely neglected over the past month. And, yes, for those of you who have visited in the past, arguably it has been in a constant state of decline since I first started it ...

Anyway, the big news is that my thesis has come back and has been PASSED, with (almost) NO corrections! (The sole correction picked up by the markers was the use of the word 'proceed' when I should have written 'precede'.) Unfortunately, since then I have noticed a formatting error and a spelling error in the appendix. This was after I had printed and hard bound my final copies. Ah well ...

Today I cleared out my desk at the university and packed my accumulated papers, files and notes in the car, and drove it all home. It was a sad note of finality as I tore down the photographs, pictures and quotes that have looked down on my desk over the last few years. My favourite quote, which I shall pin up at home, is from the geographer David Sibley: "Knowledge and high productivity rarely go together."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

7 Days in a Sentra

Conceptul artist Marc Horowitz, who shot to fame doing his National Dinner Tour of America, is now featured in a new marketing campaign by Nissan in the US. Aiming to appeal to 20 and 30 somethings who, supposedly, use their cars as second homes, Horowitz has spent seven days living in his Nissan Sentra. In addition, he set himself the following rules. He,
  • Must live 7 straight days out of the Sentra. I am free to come and go from the Sentra.
  • Must not return to his apartment at any point during the 7 days.
  • Must assume his normal day-to-day responsibilities, including work and scheduled meetings.
  • Must personally prepare at least 4 meals within the immediate vicinity of the Sentra.
  • Must go on at least one date. Hopefully more.
  • Must not let anyone else drive his car during the 7 days.
  • Must sleep in a different location each night. Once the location is chosen he must not move.
  • Must not set foot outside of the car for any reason from 12am 5am.
  • Must host at least one social function in the Sentra.
  • Must maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene.
View the resulting short film and Nissan advertisements here.

View his blog here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What a Difference a Few Words Make

The 2007 Company B Belvoir Subscription booklet arrived in the mail this week. There's a particularly interesting range of offerings available next year including Howard Brenton's Paul which supposedly "provoked an evangelical backlash" in London last year. Oh those beastly evangelicals ...

What interested me most, however, in this year's booklet is the way Company B has subtly changed the way it represents itself. Over the years Company B has used its advertising - printed words and carefully arranged images - to forcefully tell its own story and articulate a very particular definition of what makes good theatre. Indeed, in an attempt to account for its success and dominant position within the field of Australian theatre, and to maintain that position, Company B has continually represented itself as a company that benefits from a unique origin. That origin is the communal action that resulted in the purchase of the Belvoir Street building in the mid 1980's, thus saving it from demolition:

The originality and energy of Company B productions arose out of the
unique action taken to save the Nimrod Theatre building from demolition
in 1984. Rather than lose a performance space in inner city Sydney, more
than 600 arts, entertainment and media professionals formed a syndicate to
buy the building. The syndicate included nearly every successful person in
Australian show business.

[From the 2003 Company B Subscription Booklet]

This short statement has appeared in numerous Company B publications. Subscription booklets, production programmes and media releases have almost always included this statement as the opening paragraph for any public account of what Company B is and does. Indeed, the action to purchase the building has received more upfront attention than the artistic priorities that the founders of Company B originally articulated. Instead, the artistic success, and the ‘originality and energy’ of Company B, have been represented as coming from a direct community action that involved Australian show business people who were already successful in their own right. In this way, by explicitly locating its origins in the community action to purchase the Belvoir Street building, Company B has sought to position itself as the inheritor of the artistic legacy of the 'New Wave' of the 1970's.

This year, in the wake of the Belvoir Street building's renovation, the wording has changed. Company B's discourse of origin has shifted from one where it "arose out of the unique action" to one where it "sprang into being out of the unique action". 'Sprang into being' is a particularly strong phrase! The rhetoric has been ramped up, hinting perhaps that Company B leapt, fully formed, into the field of theatre to take up its rightful place. Now, too, the building's two stages are described as "artistic watering holes", a particularly resonant metaphor in a land parched by meterological (and artistic) drought. A 'watering hole' is also a distinctly Australian form of oasis too, and importantly, a naturally occurring feature of the landscape.

Given that the Sydney Theatre Company has received a boost to its status through its full-time acting ensemble 'The Actor's Company', it seems to me that Company B is now re-asserting its position in the field of Sydney theatre. Company B is representing itself as a part of the theatrical landscape. It is energetic and inevitable. It offers theatrical performance that is inspired and fed by an architectural edifice once saved via a mythically unique community action and now rejuvinated through renovation.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Famous Filmers to the Fore ...

Never being one overly beset by retiscence may I proudly introduce to you my (in)famous ancestor Sir Robert Filmer of Kent (b. 1588, d. 1653)!

No doubt a thoroughly charming man ... he unfortunately is usually only remembered for his rather preposterous belief that the English monarchy had a divine right to rule, handed down to them by God, via Adam and the patriarchs of the Old Testament. See Sir Bob's delightful Patriarcha for details! In his defence, Sir Bob did point out that others who saw political power as contractual were inconsistent in their practices by, on the one hand proclaiming that all were free and equal, and yet still claiming that they had supremacy over their wives and children. You could also argue that he inspired John Locke in his thinking (as in, Locke thought that Sir Bob was such a twit he simply had to write something in response).

Sir Robert Filmer ... now there's a legacy!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

T.S. Eliot

I've been reading (and tutoring on) Murder in the Cathedral this week, a text I haven't given sufficient attention to in the past. Pending a further post, here's a section from the Chorus' final speech that caught my attention:

Forgive us, O Lord, we acknowledge ourselves as type of
the common man,
Of the men and women who shut the door and sit by the fire;
Who fear the blessing of God, the loneliness of the night of
God, the surrender required, the deprivation inflicted;
Who fear the injustice of men less than the justice of God;
Who fear the hand at the window, the fire in the thatch, the
fist in the tavern, the push into the canal,
Less than we fear the love of God.

Chorus, from Murder in the Cathedral, lines 637 - 645

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wayward & Absconding

This week I've been reflecting back on the end of a project in the Southern Highlands of NSW called Wayward & Absconding. The project was a partnership between PACT Youth Theatre in Sydney and the Wingecarribee Shire Council and involved the five members of the performance collective falling32 (of which I'm a part) working with young people from the Wingecarribee Shire (the Mittagong/Bowral/Moss Vale area) over ten Saturdays to create a public performance.

Only seven participants from the area committed to the whole process and so, having expected a larger turn out, we were initially disappointed. But, the privilege of working with a small and enthusiastic group soon overcame that. As facilitators we offered a process of making performance based on games, together with physical and textual improvisation. Thematically we worked with contemporary and historical experiences of being a young person in the area. There was naturally a degree of negotiation involved in the process as we attempted to explain and demonstrate the value of our approach to making performance, but the participants increasingly engaged with us and the material with eagerness, enthusiasm and generosity.

A few observations from this process have remained with me: Firstly, I've learnt that where performance is involved (and you could extend this into other spheres too) people's first and relatively spontaneous reactions to stimuli and situations are often the most engaging, interesting and honest. Given the opportunity to premeditate their actions, the desire to fit in and produce a socially appropriate (ie: funny/insightful) response seemed to lead to predictability and cliche. Given that we were working with teenaged participants, this was an issue. Much of the process involved stripping back the offers the participants made, asking them to do less and to commit to the actions and tasks that each exercise demanded rather than to worry about performing.

Secondly, the practical experience of being involved in 'youth theatre' has also convinced me of its value. Allowing the participants to express and articulate their concerns within the context of the work gave them such a sense of agency. Teaching them performance skills and encouraging them in their efforts led to a growth of confidence amongs many of the individuals. As a group they developed a real solidarity and a pride in what they were putting together. I could also see the benefit to the participants of having people a few years older than they take time to provide them with skills, attention and encouragement.

The final performance took place outdoors on Sunday evening. 70 people attended and the performers guided them through a plaza outside the Bowral Library, negotiating the hedges, trees, broad steps and narrow passageways of the site.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Blackstump Comedy Debate

Yes, well some photos of me have surfaced on the net ... perhaps I should have attempted a pre-emptive post explaining the third one ...

As I noted in an earlier post, I spoke as part of the Blackstump Comedy Debate over the October long weekend. The topic was 'That Celebrities Make Great Role Models'. I was 1st speaker for the negative, with Andrew Palmer as 2nd speaker and James Scott as 3rd speaker and team captain. We might have lost the debate, but I got enough laughs and the opportunity to strip down a bit onstage (in a Janet Jackson-esque 'wardrobe malfunction'), so that made up for the loss.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Andrew Beeston

A line from Memento (a gentle film accurately depicting the experience of doing a PhD - do watch it if considering a postgraduate degree by research) will suffice to describe this man:

"... do not believe his lies ..."

I do not endorse his derivative blog in any way, shape or form!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Habitual Prefaces ...

I habitually preface my statements with:

"At least ..."

Anth habitually prefaces her statements with:

"The thing is ..."

Do you have any habitual prefaces?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Mini MEme

Here are my answers to Rachel's Mini MEme. Enjoy.

A Piece of Art that you Love
Asian Field by Antony Gormley. Made up of 190 000 hand formed figures, I saw it in July at the Biennale where it filled one half of the upper floor of Wharf 3 at Walsh Bay. The figures surrounded old pieces of industrial machinery that remained in the gallery, adding to the sense of their scale and mass. Working against any sense of uniformity was the individual hand made shape of each figure and the natural differentiations in the shading of the clay, resulting in patterns of grey and red. Looking at them you get this uncanny sense they they are looking back.

I also appreciated that every one of the 350 Chinese villagers from Xiangshan in south China who actually made the work had their name and photograph included on the walls of an equally large adjacent room. So the labour involved in actually making (as opposed to conceiving) the work was acknowledged rather than being hidden or ignored.

A Line in a Song or Line of Poetry that Reaches Your Core

Isaiah 1:18

"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool."

Specifically the turn of phrase - "Come now, let us reason together."

An Experience in Nature that was Really Special and/or Spiritual
I walked alone into the Blue Gum Forest in the Grose Valley early one morning. I was entranced by the size and smooth verticality of the trees ... and much touching and hugging ensued ... (that sounds a bit strange doesn't it?)

The Movie that Changed the Way you saw the World.
The Movie? The Girl in the Cafe moved me in a way that few other movies have. That and Dancer in the Dark.

A Piece of Music That Makes You Cry
I'm not sure if any piece of music has specifically - on its own - made me literally cry, so how about almost makes me cry? Midnight Oil's In the Valley.


What has happened to me? I seem to be lacking a little bounce today ...

What has happened to my brain?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Fun abounds!

The weather is warm; my flat leaf parsley has gone to seed.

Today I have washed socks, finished reading Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw, and watched Richard Brooks' 1962 movie of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. (Advertised in 1962 as "Provocative Adult Entertainment" - my, my, times have changed.)

Any Paul Newman fans out there? Either of his acting, or his spaghetti sauces?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Just surfing

Just surfing about and came across the site of Christian performer Richard Beeston. On his Biography page it says: "Richard Beeston is a performer who connects with his audience through great music and honest lyrics." Now I don't want to cast doubt on that at all, but judging by his site's logo (see above), he also connects directly with his audience via probes attached to their shaven heads.

Maybe the guy who designed this logo will see this blog and make a comment? Who knows?

Blackstump '06

Hey hey, Blackstump is on again this year, although I'm not too sure about the connotations of the whole 'iGod' theme. Is there some underhand corporate sponsorship going on, or is it simply an explicit declaration of something we all already know - that Microsoft is the tool of the Evil One?*

HOWEVER, all that to one side, I need to do a little research for the Blackstump Comedy Debate. The topic is that 'Celebrities Make Great Role Models". What I want to know from anyone who happens past this blog and feels inclined is, which celebrities do you see as the BEST and WORST role models (either for you personally, or for the kiddies) and why?

Do let me know.

*I acknowledge that this might hurt Bill Gates' feelings somewhat, and yes, he does give very generously to charities, causes, etc.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated! Over the week that has (almost) gone by since my previous post I have:

1 - Listened to Björk's SelmaSongs repetitively.

2 - Hosted a Short Film Festival in the Town Hall. (and yes, it did go reasonably well...)

3 - Been sad at the death of Steve Irwin (and then had to hide myself away from the intense maelstrom of hypocritical media fanfare about how mighty, heroic and all conquering he was! If one more person mentions the word 'larrikin' in my hearing - no matter what the context - I'm going to inflict some serious damage by inserting my cricket bat up their left nostril sideways.)

4 - Read Creating Frames: Contemporary Indigenous Theatre by Maryrose Casey.

5 - Delivered a lecture entitled 'Narrative and Performance Segmentation' and resisted the intense desire to play for laughs (Not appropriate).

6 - Watched as my dear wife desperately sifts through mountains of year ten Romeo & Juliet assignments.

7 - Fallen asleep on the couch (twice).

8 - Had a conversation with a Grey Currawong (he was the strong silent type).

9 - Had two cups of chai.

10 - Held one conversation with myself during a tutorial and four while in the shower.

11 - Opened a bank account.

12 - Marvelled at the beauty of the morning sun (three times).

13 - Sat beneath the casuarinas on the banks of the Georges River and listened to the wind.

14 - Realised that there is a scrapbooking shop in Padstow Heights.

15 - Recieved two phonecalls from friends wanting costumes (one wanted to look medieval, the other like Jesus - hey, the same sack suited both!)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Life plods on post-thesis. I've got heaps of work going - which I'm happy about, don't get me wrong! - but it feels like I'm on a bit of treadmill (and not in the fun OK Go sense). As soon as I've got the prep done for one class I'm on to the next. What ever happened to the idea of churning out a couple of journal articles??

However ... a bit of light on the horizon is Ignite, a Christian Film Festival on this Saturday night in the Sydney Town Hall (from 7pm). To enter, all films had to be less than 15mins in duration and be based on a biblical passage that contains the word 'fire'. The top 15 finalists will be shown on the night, all competing for the People's Choice Award and the coveted 'Golden Sparkie'. Tickets are $18. I'm co-hosting again this year (and making a brief appearance on the screen too). So, if you read this, are in Sydney, and find the whole idea even vaguely interesting, why not come along and enjoy the night! See for further details.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


[Ash and I] [LN]

Ash and I have started improvising - two hours at a time, at least once a week. Together we move and are still; we lie, sit, kneel, squat, crouch and stand; we alternate between lying, sitting, kneeling, squatting, crouching and standing. We speak with one voice; we tell stories one word at a time; we alliterate. We initiate; we respond. We make conscious choices; we make unconscious choices. Ash has a particularly analytical outlook on life - he identifies component elements and creates categories like they're going out of fashion. I'm a little more fuzzy around the edges. Consequently he drives the agenda somewhat. (but I'm not saying that's a bad thing).

We might perform something in a few months' time based on entrances, exits, revealing and concealing.

Currently I'm interested in exploring the transition from moving to speaking. I'm also striving to maintain an awareness of what's happening behind my back.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Collections of Inestimable Value

For those in need of diversion, here are two websites which feature collections that are of inestimable value to humankind...

The meal of the week, from Business Class, Emirates flight #280, DXB - HAM, 25 Apr 2006, looks just scrummy!!!

Carthalia - Theatres on Postcards
Make sure you check out the Zámecké divadlo at Ceský Krumlov in the Czech Republic - it's my all time favourite theatre.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Dullest Blog in the World

Okay, life rule #23: Whatever you think you are good at, someone else is always better. So, if you thought this blog (or yours) was dull then perhaps you need to visit The Dullest Blog in the World.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Christians, Theatre, and Performance

A week ago I went to the 'Wesley Institute for Ministry and the Arts' in Drummoyne to speak to students who, this year, have started studying a new subject - 'Drama Ministry' - as part of their creative arts degrees. Over the years I've participated in a bit of 'Drama Ministry', from being part of the group ZeroG, to performing at Blackstump, and directing the 2006 Celebration of Word and Song. So, I was keen to both share my experiences (and prejudices) as well as learn a bit from them.

As I began I tossed in a statement that I could count on one hand the number of people I knew (in Sydney/New South Wales) who made a living from drama ministry. This seemed to spark interest in the students. Who? And why so few? As we continued, I commented that theatrical performance is a dicey business, so many people are attracted to theatre, but so few can manage to eek out a living from it. For those interested in Drama Ministry, targeting your performances largely at a Christian audience means focussing on a very small proportion of the overall population in the country!

And, I added, Christians don't go to the theatre.

Why not?

Why not indeed? At the time I tossed out a few thoughts about why I thought Christians especially don't go to the theatre.

i) From the early church fathers (Tertullian & Augustine spring to mind) there has been a tradition of Christian critique directed at what it is that actors do, as well as a suspicion of that which is theatrical and performative. Christians distrust the suspension of disbelief inherent in theatrical acts. An explicit concern has been the form of theatre as an art: it involves ambiguity and fiction - actors appear to alter their identity in a conscious attempt to deceive.

ii) The church and the theatre often seem to be in competition - from a secular perspective (at least) both offer meaning, purpose and belonging - implicating the individual into a wider story.

iii) Unlike music, theatre and performance (arguably) isn't dealt with anywhere in the Bible.

iii) Perhaps Christians don't go to theatre because their focus is on more worthwhile pursuits: they choose to spend their time and money elsewhere (on the church, the poor, etc.). Theatre just isn't efficacious.

There's more to be said here ... this is just a quick jotting. What do you think? Are Christians uneasy ('ontologically queasy') about theatre and performance?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Funny Bird Names

In respnse to my blog on Masked Boobies, Emma commented: "You're just picking the birds with the funniest names..." Well, sure, and why not? I could entertain myself for months writing about birds with funny names ...

Perhaps, for starters, I could spend time considering all the different types of Tits? Maybe the Erect-Crest Penguin would raise a titter? Moving on from the innuendo, I could embrace the rather introverted Bittern (As they say: once Bittern, twice shy).

When I want to socialise, I always pick up a pack of twelve Apostlebirds. A good Chat is always nice at a party, but I'd avoid a Gibberbird, and the Pacific Baza can be a bit obstreperous. Following this logic, Skuas frequent the worlds oceans as well as Australians' barbecues. Of course, if I wanted to heat things up, Firetails and Red-rumped Parrots spring to mind.

A Common Noddy is always in agreeance, but I get a bit freaked out when I see them accompanied by a flock of Common Big Ears.

If birds are causing a nuisance in the backyard, be a Hardhead. Sick your Catbird on to them, or grab them with your own two hands and give them a good old Australian Ringneck.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The banning of television - how it changed my life

My wife is a secondary English and Drama teacher. Last week she set her year nine class a creative writing task entitled 'The banning of television - how it changed my life'. She was a little disapointed by the responses she received (most tended to be a little overly dramatic) and asked if I could write a response that she could use as an example. The stimulus (italicised), and my response, are below. Would I make a good Year Nine student?

'You go home tonight, wake up tomorrow and turn on the television to watch a few cartoons before school. When you turn on the T.V. there is no picture. You're annoyed, but you don't think anything of it. You head off to school and see the newspaper banners saying, "Television banned forever."

You get to school and everyone's talking about it - at midnight last night, the Federal Government closed down all Australian television stations and banned television broadcasts of all varieties, forever. The Government says "television is a social evil, consuming the minds of citizens and re-programming their brains into passive receivers of information." As an act of humanitarianism, television has been abolished.'

I was still a bit confused when I got home from school. I dropped my bag on the floor and sat on the couch. Sensing that not all was well, Sammy sidled up to me and placed her snout on my knee. I scratched the top of her head absentmindedly. ‘Not all television was bad’ I thought. 'I wouldn’t have called it a social evil.’ My hand automatically moved from Sammy’s head to the television remote sitting on the coffee table. Pointing it at the silent television I pressed the red button.

I changed channel.
More static. White flurries whirled in a senseless storm of noise.
I turned the television off. The screen went black.

Sammy followed me as I walked to the window. In the street some young kids were playing cricket. A mother pushing a pram was talking to an old woman. “Passive receivers,” I whispered to myself. Sammy looked up at me and emitted a low groan. “Ah, it’s alright for you,” I said, “You’ll probably get more attention now.”

At dinner we all sat around the table. Silence. I could tell that mum was happy to be rid of the television. But I’m sure there were things she wanted to watch too. Maybe it served her right – she was always telling me what I couldn’t watch and now the government had told her, along with everyone else, that they couldn’t watch anything.

“What gives them the right?” murmured Dad as he pushed carrots across his plate.
“I think it’ll be good for us,” suggested mum, “as a family.”
“I suppose,” replied Dad. “It’s just that no one asked us what we thought. They just told us what to do.”
“If they had asked us we would have said no,” I commented, not looking him in the face.

After dinner I sat on the couch and looked at the newspaper. On page eleven there was a photograph of a young boy being held in his mother’s arms. Soldiers were pushing her from behind. She was screaming. He was covered in dust.

‘Not everyone gets what they want,’ I thought.

Birds of the World (II): The Masked Booby

[Masked Booby -]

On the 25th July I decided to begin a series grandly titled Birds of the World. In today's second instalment I proudly present The Masked Booby! (commence mass hysteria...)

booby, n.

1. a. ‘A dull, heavy, stupid fellow: a lubber’ (J.); a clown, a nincompoop. Also, spec. a cry-baby (dial. or children's colloq.). b. spec. The last boy in a school class, the dunce.
2. A name for different species of gannet, esp. Sula fusca.

[OED 2nd Ed]

I recall it was a hot day in 2002. The sun was beating down upon the earth and my wife (of four days!) and I were picking our way through the Pandanus Palms of Lord Howe Island. Our target, a small outcrop of rock in the South Pacific called Muttonbird Point. Arriving, we stood atop a wooden platform and lifted our binoculars (well, I had binoculars, Anth had to wait). Ahead of us - a breding colony of Masked Boobies!!! There they sat, preening, gossiping and sqaubbling amongst tussocks of grass as we looked on. Honeymooning, birdwatching and a breeding colony of Masked Boobies ... what a wonderful combination.

The Masked Booby is the largest of the Booby species (there are seven extant species), with a wingspan of approximately 1.6 to 1.7 metres. Closely related to gannets, boobies are marine pelargic birds, frequenting the world's oceans. To breed, Boobies form colonies, nesting either in trees or on the ground.

The Masked Booby can be distinguished from other species of Booby by its dark facial markings. It is found in tropical waters between 30°N and 30°S. They are quiet whilst flying, but emit whistles and honks whilst on the ground. Masked Boobies nest on the ground, forming a small depression, often on islands and atolls to avoid predators. They are monogamous and usually produce one offspring per season. At sea, the Masked Booby dives from various heights to catch fish underwater.

Whilst on land Masked Boobies are very entertaining.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Novelty Value?

Did I say that I would maintain this blog until the novelty value wore off?


Ever-reliable moi?

Hmmm ... teaching work is taking away all my TIME!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Chihuahua Crochet Challenge!

Following my initial photo essay on Minestrone Soup, I asked for any suggestions as to future photo essays. Somewhat facetiously, Emma wrote: 'I want to see a photo essay on how to crochet a multicoloured frilly winter jacket for your Chihuahua - and yes, I want live chihuahua involvement...' Well, Emma, as with all my treasured readers, I take your suggestions seriously.

Here is my response:

1. Purchase a Chihuahua. Make cutesy faces at it to put it at ease. Say 'Who's a georgeous little boy!' repeatedly.

2. Start crocheting. Red is a nice colour.

3. Crocheting is hard work on your eyes and fine motor skills. Like me, you may require some serious nourishment after a hard crocheting session.

4. Chihuahuas are tasty. In fact, Chihuahuas are tastiest when sauteed in a light butter sauce ...

5. Mmmm ... sit and enjoy! It's good to the last bite!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bicycle Safety

It's now past my bedtime. I've been up finishing a lecture for tomorrow and will probably regret the lost sleep ...

I'm not sure where on the net I found this image, but no doubt I located it while searching for images of the Vienna State Opera. It may well be a hoax, but somewhere deep inside I long to believe that such coincidences indeed happen.

[Vienna State Opera]


Life in the suburban fast lane ...

[Sunday Morning] [AF]

[Sunday Afternoon] [AF]

Thursday, July 27, 2006

One Book (Only one?)

Having been tagged by Meredith, here they are ...

1. One book that changed your life:

Getting Back Into Place, Edward S. Casey

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkein

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
Permaculture: A Designer's Manual, Bill Mollison

4. One book that made you laugh:
The Bible According to Spike Milligan.

5. One book that made you cry:
I Have Not Seen a Butterfly Around Here: Children's Drawings and Poems From Terezin.
(Terezin was used as a ghetto by the Nazis during World War Two to hold Jews on the way to Auschwitz.)

The Garden

A little garden
Fragrant and full of roses.
The path is narrow
And a little boy walks along it.

A little boy, a sweet boy,
Like that growing blossom.
When the blossom comes to bloom,
The little boy will be no more.

Franta Bass, 4.9.1930 - 28.10.1944

6. One book that you wish had been written:
The Lessons of Peace, Yitzhak Rabin

7. One book that you wish had never been written:

8. One book you’re currently reading:
White Noise, Don Delillo

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Theories of the Theatre: A Historical and Critical Survey, from the Greeks to the Present, Marvin Carlson

10. Now tag five people:
I don't know five (blogging) others! How about Emma & Jon for starters ...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

How to make Minestrone Soup in Six Stress-free Steps!

1: Re-connect with an age-old family (circle) recipe handed down through the generations ...

2: As you cut up the ingredients, all the while listening to soothing classical music, let the stresses of the day slip away ...

3: Add ingredients in pot and commence cooking. Then re-read recipe with emerging sense of dread ...

4: Realise to your horror that you've put six times the recommended amount of stock in the pot!

5: Deal with the shame, the indignity of it all. Repeat in your head 'I am intelligent, I am a useful member of the human race'.

6: Voila! A tasty treat of liquid salt with added vegetables to remind you that you really are alive!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Racial Politics in the USA

[Meet a Black Person] []

Follow this link to view some simple brilliance from the funsters of Improv Everywhere.

And if you've got the time, can I suggest a viewing of the Fifth Annual No Pants! Subway Ride?

Birds of the World (I): The Kakapo

[The Kakapo] []

As a bird watcher of somewhat questionable skill and dedication I have decided to begin a series grandly titled Birds of the World. In today's first instalment I proudly present The Kakapo. In subsequent episodes I promise to introduce you to birds I have actually had the pleasure of meeting, among them the Masked Booby, Red-whiskered Bulbul, and the backwards flying (yes! backwards flying!) Red-tailed Tropicbird.

I first met the Kakapo in the pages of Douglas Adams' Last Chance to See, a book that documented his travels around the globe to observe animals that were on the verge of extinction. Adams' writing betrayed a special sympathy for the Kakapo, a flightless bird incapable of adapting to accommodate the massive changes wrought to its environment:

"The kakapo is a bird out of time. If you look one in its large, round, greeny-brown face, it has a look of serenely innocent incomprehension that makes you want to hug it and tell it that everything will be all right, though you know that it probably will not be."
[Douglas Adams]

A native of New Zealand, the Kakapo is a ground dwelling parrot that is defenceless in the face of introduced predators like foxes, cats and rats, particularly given its tendency to freeze when disturbed or threatened. Consequently it is no longer found on the New Zealand mainland, and exists only on a couple of smaller islands: Maud, Whenia Hou, Hauturu, Stewart, Pearl and Te Kakahu o Tamatea.

are green in colour with soft downy feathers. They have an owl-like face, a waddling gait, and emit a distinct musty smell. They can weigh up to 4 kilograms and live for long periods (possibly even up to 60 years). Kakapos only reach sexual maturity after 9 to 10 years and then only breed every 2 to 5 years depending on the availability of food supplies. Males attract females by heading to high ground and 'booming' at night, a low-pitched call that can be heard up to 5 kilometres away. Only 86 Kakapo exist in the world; the current population is supported by an ongoing recovery breeding programme.

Ironically, while the Kakapo continues to exist, Douglas Adams is now extinct.

For more information on the Kakapo, see:
Kakapo Recovery
BIRDLIFE International

Monday, July 24, 2006

How To Start Your Very Own Blog In Fifty-One Easy Steps!

If only I'd found this earlier ...

Trying to slow down ...

How do people slow down?

Over the last few months, during which my 'thesis syndrome' reached its apogee, I've been drinking too much coffee and been far too wound up. Often I'd start a day with excitement and grand visions of how much I would type or how much I would edit, but simply end up hyping myself into a blur of disconnected actions, and simply not be able to concentrate on the task at hand. By the afternoon I would develop tension headaches that wouldn't subside until later in the evening.

Even without the undue influence of the 'thesis syndrome' I've often found myself getting rather wound up with exciting ideas or stimulating circumstances. I get 'big'. I get 'manic'. That's acceptable when you might be performing, but in everyday social situations it can be a little wearing. When I was little my mum would tell me that 'the world has to take a rest now' to calm me down. I fear that the energy levels and behaviour that is endearing in a four year old isn't always so in a twenty-six year old.

And the world isn't really a help with any of this anyway. I feel like I'm the one who needs a rest from it, not vice-versa. It just seems to spin on faster and faster. Semester started today, and although now I'm not studying anymore (for the first time since 1985!!!) I've now got plenty of teaching work to get on with.

So, how do you actually slow down? Any suggestions? More importantly, as a Christian, how can I put Psalm 46 into action and cultivate stillness, allowing myself to be still, and know that He is God?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Performing Faith

"The church is ... called to perform the good news of God's redeeming love in Christ. That is its vocation. What it means to be a good performer of the gospel, then, is not simply a matter of finding the right words - although it is clearly that - but it is also a matter of finding the right key in which to sing our song, the right meter and cadence in which to say our poem, the right register in which to play our piece. All performances of God's people, in other words, are repeat performances, at once emulating the one true performance of God in Christ but also an extension and variation - an improvisation, if you will - of that singularly defining performance. The elements of continuity and discontinuity, sameness and difference, old and new, make assessing the faithfulness of Christian performance an ongoing task."

James Fodor and Stanley Hauerwas 'Performing Faith: The Peaceable Rhetoric of God's Church" in Performing the Faith, 2004, p. 103.

Mixed Double

[Martin del Amo and Rosie Dennis]

Went to the Performance Space last night to see Mixed Double, two short works by Martin del Amo and Rosie Dennis. Despite their comedy there was a dark shadow in both pieces, a sombre grounding that made their separate choices to fade to black at the end of their pieces somehow appropriate.

Never moving from her single position, spotlit against a black wall, Rosie set a frenetic pace of repetitious looping movement, accompanied by precise enunciation of the same text, again, again, again. And then a change, allowing us to see an aspect that we hadn't before, the connection between a movement, a statement or a reported statement. She fills out her surroundings as she progresses. I enjoyed the way her blurred speed warped time as I sat on the floor watching. 'She said/she said.' 'Warm wet/warm wet.' Its obsessive, she's compelled to return again and again to that which she has already covered. I recognise in her performance a trained impulse that afflicted me when I worked in a call centre for a few months: pick up pencil; put down pencil; talk on phone; process order; pick up pencil, put down pencil ... arrghh! She's worn down by the end, hemmed in and trapped.

Martin negotiated comedic observation and tragic revelation, inhabiting an open stage on which he was always in the middle, between abstract movement, between different heights, limbs, and bodily tensions. He stated his obsession with water and his fear of fire, before observing the danger of the sea compared with the relative safety of domestic swimming pools. Martin delineated spatial and thematic categories on the floor; the sea is over there, here are the pools, the white seas birds are up there. But there was always the prospect of drowning, the seas swallowing up one's body. The categories overlap too much, they can't be held apart. And then the final conflagration: he evokes the image of people who, sheltering from a bush fire in a swimming pool, are boiled alive. Expansive limbs twisting and reaching across the floor. Sweat, darkness and uneasy breath.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What to do, what to do ...

[Vienna State Opera] [AF]

The post-thesis-submission-blues have set in. 'How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable ... etc. etc.' For the last four (and a bit) years of my life I have been studying the backstage areas of theatre buildings in Sydney, Australia, assessing the impact of backstage spaces on performers' work processes, their performances, and their own understandings of what it is to be a performer. My focus was to better understand the 'place' of performers, the ways in which performers inhabit certain physical, social and imaginative realms. For at least the last six months I have increasingly put off and to one side much that was important to me (esp. healthy eating habits) in the pursuit of a final, printed-and-bound, piece of (what I think is) suitably scholarly text.

But now that is done. My masterwork is out there serving as an unusually bulky and finely crafted drinks coaster on an examiner's desk. And I am sitting, still poking at a keyboard, because, like Dusty Springfield, I just don't know what to do with myself.

Beginnings beckon, and I dedicate this blog to documenting my re-engagement with the wider world!

Well, at least until the novelty wears off.