18 February 2007

Fishing at Dunbogan

Fishing at Dunbogan
Originally uploaded by koalawrangler.
D___ and I went fishing in Dunbogan today. Dunbogan is so peaceful. It's the sleepy town that Dunbogan Val, one of the koalas at the Koala Hospital hailed from.

I should clarify: when I say D___ and I went fishing, well she went fishing while I:

* read Cloudstreet
* ate mango
* drank Japanese green tea
* took photos

Although I was frequently called into service as first mate (read: lackey), fetching fishing nets here, bait there, hooks here again.

We set up fold-up chairs on a little jetty thing which allowed me to read and D___ to fish, side-by-side. We could see the cloud rolling in over the mountain (North Brother, I think) which brough the rain, followed by sun.

D____ caught two bream in quick succession, both keepers, but I made her throw them back since we wouldn't get a chance to eat them. You should have seen the mutinous look in her eyes, as if to say: "I caught it so I'm sure as hell gonna kill it and eat it!". Not the kind of barbarity I would expect from an executive, but there you go. Fortunately, she finally came around to my way of thinking on the matter.

Fishing at Dunbogan
After a bit, we moved up the river and then drove to a place called Trevor's Corner. It's where the river meets the ocean. Just as we arrived there, we were afforded the gorgeous vista of a pod of dolphins arcing through the water towards the sea. They were merely a stone's throw from us. It all happened too fast too take a photo. It was magical.

Fishing at Dunbogan

15 February 2007

Pandora's box

one of my beads: amethystI got quite the Valentine's surprise yesterday... D___ presented me with a swank jewellery box with "Pandora" written on it. Inside was a pinkish muslin draw-string bag, and inside that, a funky charm bracelet from/by Pandora.

Pandora Charm Bracelets are an American phenomemon that I was till yesterday unaware of. You choose a base bracelet and then add individual beads chosen from a vast selection. There are beads adorned with Murano glass, jewel-encrusted beads, ornate silver beads, and, yes if you like, dorky beads in the shape of mobile phones or teddy bears or handbags...

The American site has a bracelet builder that allows you to choose the beads you want and see them strung on your bracelet.

The ones that D___ chose for me were all silver, my favourite. There was a bead for each of our star signs, and beads with Chinese symbols for love and eternity, commemorating our trip to China. There were also a couple of beads bedecked in amethyst...

D___ knew that I had a charm bracelet as a child; my parents collected charms for me from their travels around the world. This bracelet is a modern gesture to that. Wow, it's really beautiful, and so personal...and something I can continue to add to over time.

14 February 2007

Right on

I love the term "right on". It's so 70s...and yet so functional.

I also love Joanna Newsom's (no relation to Debbie) "The Book of Right-On" from her debut album The Milk-Eyed Mender. She accompanies herself with a harp of all things. There's a something of a Manson Family throwback about her. Check it out.

She asks me why I'm just a Hairy guy...

Lynda at Remote Control wrote a recent post about her love of the soundtrack to the "American Tribal Love Rock Musical", Hair. I have the very same LP she has, the original Broadway cast recording. My parents purchased it around the year I was born so it was something I listened to growing up.

Then, when I was about 11, a groovy family friend took me to see the film version of Hair (starring a very hairy Treat Williams and Beverley D'Angelo in snoot mode -- bizarrely, they later also starred together as Stanley and Stella in the 1984 made-for-TV remake of Streetcar Named Desire).

Anyhoo, for me, the film's soundtrack is the definitive one, just like the Broadway version of the Rocky Horror Show soundtrack pales against the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack. I had the double-LP of the Hair film soundtrack for about 20 years and only recently upgraded to CD, which always feels somehow less authentic than the vinyl. I felt the same way about Grease.

As a young teenager, I was suitably shocked and titillated by "Donna", "Colored Spade" and "Sodomy". I was also confronted by the scene in the movie when a prison psychiatrist asks Woof (the character played by Donnie Dacus from the band Chicago) if he is sexually attracted to men. (Long hair was naturally equated with effeminacy, and male effeminacy with homosexuality. It was an era sorely in need of Judith Butler). Woof responds with the delightful:

"I wouldn't kick Mick Jagger out of my bed, but uh, I'm not a homosexual, no."
But as an adult, I can laugh at the tragically hip way the music in Hair attempts to capture the right-on vibe of the 1960s. For me, Hair always felt like a 70s contrivance of the 60s, much like Happy Days sought to reconstruct the 50s in the 70s. I now also flinch a little at the casual use of the word "pederasty" in the song "Sodomy" (used simply because it rhymes with "nasty"). They're probably claiming the sexual rights of consenting free-lovin' hippie teenagers but this flippant usage trivialises its more serious implications of child sexual abuse.

11 February 2007

Marie Antionette

We saw Sophia Coppola's Marie Antionette last night. Lavish costume design, sumptuous scene composition, thoughtful cinematography, even delicious-looking cakey things (let them eat...). There is a beautiful shot taken at ground level of the women walking from behind, their skirts being buffetted by long grass. But the story was naff. There are constraints when telling a 'true' story but this film's favouring of style over substance is to blame for its limp portrayal of Marie A.

A coupla weeks ago D___ and I saw a doco on Marie Antionette that was more compelling and produced more drama that this shallow offering did with all its big-budget mise-en-scene (Sophia's Dad is exec producer). The screenplay was crap and the characters were flat. Coppola perpetuates the construction of Marie A as a vacuous party girl who never truly develops beyond a sort of C18 Paris Hilton wannabe. Then suddenly we were obliged to feel sorry for her when she was arrested during the French revolution. Is it adding value to depict her as obsessed with shoes and cake and all the while oblivious to the diminished lives of her subject. As D___ rightly pointed out, it would have been useful to juxtapose the palace opulence that dominated every scene with the abject poverty of life beyond the palace walls. And perhaps to develop a bit of self-awareness in Marie A during the course of the film to encourage us to identify with her...or give a toss whether she got the axe or not.

I thought Aussie Rose Byrne did a good job though.

I didn't mind the inclusion of modern music (esp. Siouxie and the Banshee's "Hong Kong Garden" during a ball scene), but Bow Wow Wow's "Fools Rush In" felt clunky and out-of-place.

A yawn. 1.5 stars.

08 February 2007

City cats

I'm always drawn to cats in cities...the way they can transform whatever's beneath them into a lounge. The stresses of city life don't seem to bother them.

This cat belongs to the Newtown bookshop, Books on King, where books are just another interesting thing to lie about on.

I saw this blue beauty on Brown Street. I liked the way her fur is coloured from the same palette as the blue-grey street and walls.

Finally, these are cats that live on the periphery of the city -- out in Hornsby. They are kept in a wire enclosure to prevent their attacking the wildlife.

Eucalyptus, Eucaschmyptus

I should write a post about Murray Bail's Eucalyptus, which I finished reading a while back. My adverse feelings towards it did not change. I was disappointed by the way Bail developed Ellen's character. Of course, he was knowingly borrowing from the romantic fairytale genre. This meant that Ellen (the "heroine") remained placid and powerless as to the fate her father had devised for her, to the point of becoming listless and bedridden. A passive sleeping beauty who awaits the prince's kiss, or in this case, his story, to awaken her. As far as the romance went, it didn't transcend the story that bound it.

I've not read any of Bail's other work (except his short story, The Drover's Wife), but felt that a modern audience would prefer a fairytail heroine with a bit more gumption. Oh, and the prince's stories were a little naff. As a narrative device, I found their inclusion somewhat stilted. The twist at the end was clever, but this didn't redeem what had gone before.

06 February 2007


Is "winningest" a real word? I heard it on the TV the other night, albeit American TV where English is a second language. I was staying at my cousin's place and her hubby, Darryl, was watching the Superbowl on Fox. It was the final few minutes of the match and Darryl was explaining a few of the rules (like why they wear those big macho shoulder pad thingeys). He has a knack of explaining sportipants stuff in an economical and non-yobbo fashion. He takes on the neutral tone of a learned outsider who might be explaining how a barbecue operates or some scientific law. Like he's not committed to the sport thing; it just is.

So the game ends and the Indianapolis Colts have won. It's pissing down raining and the suited hot-shots are standing out there getting drenched in their wools suits while handing out trophies. It must smell like wet dog out there. I'm not really paying attention until one of the commentators says something about them being the "winningest" team or their coach is the "winningest" coach.

I've never heard this word before. Is it a word? He said it like it was perfectly reasonable, but I wonder if it could be like the Springfield motto on The Simpsons:

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man
in which the 'word' "embiggens" is a wacky Simpsonism.

Still, "winningest" is all over the internet and even has a dictionary entry on Merriam-Webster. So perhaps it's an Americanism or even a sportism (given that I magically tune out during the sport segment on the news and so might have missed the emergence of the term).

So I was grudgingly willing to accept the neologism until I encountered the following:

Who is the most winningest collegiate coach of all time?
That's got to be one of the depressingest things I've seen in the most longest time.

05 February 2007

Bloody greenie

I'm in Sydney at the mo'; catching up with friends, checking out second-hand bookshops, doing clutch aerobics in crazy Sydney traffic.

Today I was driving along the Pacific Highway, listening to Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi on the radio. You get so much thinking time while stuck in traffic: I found myself realising how much Sydney has become a paved paradise. I probably heard the song a thousand times while I lived here and always interpreted it in a much more abstract way, like, in relation to an American city such as LA, but never here. Now, with a little distance (like 12 months and 420km), I've begun to perceive something of the first city's decay.

It's made me realise how rural I've become. When I first moved to Port I felt overwhelmed by how much nature seemed to envelop the town and dulled any possibility of city gloss. I missed my coffee shops and cinemas and theatres and bookshops and 'ethnic' restaurants. I still do. But now that I've settled in a bit I find myself (wank, wank) in harmony with nature, no longer fearful of it. I like the way that Port feels like a little outcrop in the wilderness, like its urbanisation has still left the natural environment mostly intact (although the existence of the Koala Hospital might dispute this).

The battle feels lost in Sydney. I see nature being compartmentalised here. There are trees along the Pacific Highway, but they seem sadly out of place: tokenistic. My hairdresser (um, yes, I must admit that's something Sydney DOES have all over Port...) was telling me about a new zoo thing at Darling Harbour where all the animals are displayed inside in a glizty showcase. Even koalas. It just seems wrong. Although their site looks good.

Face it, I've become a bloody greenie.