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.