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!