Sunday, September 28, 2014


The month started quietly with a day off and a lovely walk at Green Point, I had just discovered a new lookout (new to me!) which serves as a nice midpoint to my walk and meditation spot. It was a dark, overcast day, so I couldn't stay there long, and ended up reading underneath my favourite tree at the end of the walk.

The following day was full of sunshine, fun and friends. Brunch at Talulah, Olive Tree Markets, Movies, and supping at Bar Petite.
The movie was an Australian documentary called Once My Mother. Difficult to describe, but a must see, it's about a mother's extraordinary journey from Europe through the holocaust and WWII to Melbourne, told from the eyes of her film-maker daughter.
I returned to The Regal the following night to volunteer and to see the French/Iranian drama, The Past. Directed by Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) and starring Berenice Bejo, it is about a young French woman and her children. She is living with her lover and her ex-husband returns from Iran to finalise their divorce. Over a few days a whole range of hurt and torment from the past rises to the surface and you wonder how anyone involved will ever be the same again. Great acting and tightly wound drama, this is really worth seeing.
On a mild Thursday evening I was finally lured by the White Rabbit to an Underground Epicurean event. What a delightful evening with friends. Champagne and starters at Soul Foods, mains and dessert at Napoli Centrale, and a movie next door at The Towers. The movie was 100-Foot Journey with Helen Mirran. It was a sweet film about culture clash between Indians and the French in countryside France.
After months of anticipation I met L & A at Glendale to watch Monty Python Live on the big screen. It was very much an underwhelming experience, with some laughs, but nowhere near enough for the almost 3 hours of the show. Terry Jones and Michael Palin the stand out performers (nothing changes really!). Kinda made me sad.
Every now and then you have a night so spectacular that it will go down in history. Our Sat night out for L's birthday was one of them. L, J, A, & I began (as planned) at Red Baron. Oh my, I had heard much about this club, and I was thrilled to be there. We walked in to this buzzing Berlin bar decked in Deco to The Andrews Sisters singing Rum and Coca Cola and I knew I was at home. Great Russian tapas, champagne, and laughs and chats in this fabulous bar. We had not planned past this, so headed to the Great Northern for mains, but it was in between owners, no food, and looking sadder than usual (oh I long for the day someone looks after my favourite pub with the care it so deserves!). After a drink, we moved on to Chooks and Brooskys, a new place on Hunter Street, that served fried chicken and beer. We didn't have a beer, but the chicken was amazing. Then we headed to the Lass, where we played pool drank, laughed, danced, and had a blast listening to the cool bands playing. You don't plan nights like these, they take on a life of their own and just happen. Happy Days!!!!
The next evening was a slower, quieter almost-repeat of the night previous. I met M at Customs House for a drink and some pool, then we headed to Red Baron, where it was quiet and pleasant, before moving on to Grainhouse for dinner. A great evening of chatter and reflection.
The following weekend provided an evening of variety. Starting at Back to Back Galleries for the opening of our friend C's stunning art exhibit, L & I then headed next door to the Oriental Hotel for pizza and beer for dinner, then to the Terrace bar for more drinkies before heading to Ncle Panthers to meet B and A, and see Courtney Love!! Let's pass on the whole venue thing and go straight to how extraordinary the concert was. I had low expectations, cause you never can predict her behaviour, and her solo stuff is a bit ordinary. Well, she turned it on and it was a sight to behold. She looked great, mostly sung 90s (Hole) songs and sounded terrific, and seemed to be joining herself. We lasted about 30mins up the front before the mosh pit got a little bit too much, not bad for 40 somethings!!! We ended the night with a reflective drink at Cooks Hill Hotel.

The following day was the new Doctor Who on the big Screen at Charlestown. C & I reveled at Capaldi as the new doctor, almost a year after his announcement. It was a great first episode and my thoughts were cemented that he may well go down as the best doctor ever!
The family celebrated A's birthday at Heng Loong Chinese at Wallsend. Heng Loong is in the old Wallsend Library and I had heard good things about it, but never been. They have decorated the old library well and the food is outstanding. So much so I was back a week later for a catch up with N & V.

We had a work function at Sesame's Belmont, another restaurant I had heard good things about and again, outstanding.
The month ended with B & I having a chat at Talulah instead of bookclubbing. Bibliotweeps was a bust this month due to inclement weather, illness, and kid wrangling.
You can read all my reviews of the month here.
As always there were photo opportunities to be had, with some spectacular sunsets this month!


Sunday, September 21, 2014


What I watched
I caught a few movies on DVD this month.
Kill Your Darlings could have been an interesting take on the beat movement, but ultimately it was disappointing and ponderous.
Anchorman 2 was ok, it didn't make me laugh as much as the first one.
Sister was a French film set in the Alps about a brother and sister trying to make it on their own.

The Fisher King was my movie of the month. An all time favourite and one I had to watch in the wake of the death of Robin Williams. It took me a couple of weeks to be able to watch it and even then it was probably too soon. It's a film that divides people for sure, most Gilliam films do. I think it is his finest and definitely the performance that I most associate with Williams. It is a romantic fantasy, essentially a holy grail film but it's got this quirky heart to it that I find difficult to ignore. And the four main performances kill me, each and every time.

Jeff Bridges is a NYC Shock Jock, whose on air actions cause a devastating ripple effect and he is sacked. He ends up working with his on/off girlfriend, Mercedes Ruehl, in a video store, and drinking a bit too much. And then through a strange set of circumstances he meets a homeless man (Williams) who is very damaged directly due to the actions of Bridges earlier. Bridges decides it's his mission to save Williams. This is done through finding the holy grail - the fantasy element to the film, and gloriously shot - and also love, the love interest being the very shy and unusual Amanda Plummer. 

The romanticism and fantasy of the film meld well, and the chemistry between Williams and Bridges is a thing to behold. The women are great in their respective supporting roles, Ruehl won an Oscar for this performance. There are scenes of beauty and rawness throughout, it always bring a tear to my eye, and this time I must say it brought more than a tear.
I also watched some great documentaries.

I enjoyed Monty Don's French Gardens, looking at some well known and lesser known gardens throughout France, and as always another series of American Pickers.

Music Video Directors was a fabulous series of music video directors from (mostly) the 80s, great clips, and insight into making them and the artists themselves.

Who is Harry Nilsson (and why is everybody talkin' about him?) was a great doco about the combined genius/tragic that was Nilsson.

Hear my train a comin'  was a great doco about Jimi Hendrix, his influences, how was influenced by him and how he came to be. Fascinating stuff.
I got my hands on a copy of The Ghost and Mrs Muir S1 and found it to be as delightful as I remembered as a child. And Edward Mulhare (The Captain/Ghost) was just as gorgeous as I remembered too.

I finally got around to checking out Scandal S1, it took a few episodes to get into it's groove and as soon as I was hooked it finished (only 6 eps!) so I am eagerly awaiting S2.

Top of the Lake was an Australian/New Zealand mini-series set in New Zealand. Written and directed by Jane Campion it is compelling viewing but harrowing and bleak with no lightness. Every character is dark and disturbing. It is essentially about a 12 year old girl, 5 months pregnant, who disappears in the NZ wilderness. Elisabeth Moss (West Wing and Mad Men) is a detective, home visiting her dying mother and becomes wrapped up in the case, with many of the small towns secrets unraveling to paint a wider and more disturbing picture. I can’t say I enjoyed Top of the Lake, but there was some outstanding acting in it, with Moss deserving all the accolades she has received for this role. If you liked Broadchurch or The Killing, this is one to check out.

What I've Been Reading
100 Foot Journey by Richard C Morais is a tale of Indian Cuisine and love in France. I also saw the movie is was based on, the book is charming but a little grittier than the film.

Melbourne Art Deco by Robin Grow was a fabulous coffee table book of Art Deco Architecture in Melbourne, along with the stories behind each building.

Lost and Found  by Brooke Davis is the latest feel good book everyone is talking about. I didn't care for it, but I am never a fan of the latest feel good book!

I also listened to Candide by Voltaire on Spoken Word, spoken by Jack Davenport no less. He did a superb job of bringing this great French satire to life. Candide sets off on an adventure with his manservant and mentor, Pangloss. They come across much fun, good, bad, and disaster during their journeys and Voltaire showcases his philosophical style in the interpretation of each adventure. All is for the best could well be the main subject of the story.

However my pick of the month is John Safran's Murder in Mississippi. I normally don’t read true crime, although I have appreciated a few titles over the years. I have found almost all of these have had the author become a character in their own book with writing that is highly stylised; Helen Garner, John Berendt, and Truman Capote do this well. John Safran’s writing could be classed similarly. When he finds out a white supremist he interviewed for one of his shows has been murdered, he heads to Mississippi to find out what was going on. Not long there he realised there is a book in the drama unfolding, and despite never written a book before he embarks on telling the tale in his own inimitable way. It is more about Safran getting his head around what is going on and how he can tell this story than about the story itself. Although the story itself is rather compelling. I've always been a fan of Safran, and found only mild traces of his trademark smirkiness in the book.

What I've been listening to
Loads of Courtney Love and Hole, in the lead up to seeing her live.

Lyre of Orpheus by Nick Cave, one of my favourite albums of all time, and containing two sexy Cave tracks, Breathless and the stunning Babe, You Turn Me On.

I fixed my broken turntable, so have been spinning all sorts of vinyl, including but not limited to Pink Floyd, Elvis, The Beatles, Talking Heads, and Australian Crawl.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Don't Think Twice, Bob'll be here tonight

My love of Bob Dylan knows no bounds, I'm a fan, but not fanatical. I don't know everything about him, but I know what I like. I wrote about that and how I first 'discovered' Bob here previously called, Don't Think Twice It's All right.
A few weeks ago I wrote a small piece for ABC Open's 500 Words topic of Right Here, Right Now, called Don't Think Twice, It'll Be Alright? (I see a theme occurring here) on the anticipation of finally seeing Dylan live.
And now I have and I am pleased to say it was a great experience. I have had so many opportunities over the years to see Dylan play live but always turned them down or ignored the fact he was in the country. I guess when you love something so much you don't want that love to be diminished in any way. And we all know how cantankerous and changeable Dylan can be, mostly this is why we like him. He does it on his own terms. But that doesn't exactly equate with shelling out big bucks to hear him grumble and mumble on stage live.
And so when tickets went on sale for Sydney Opera House - my favourite concert hall, and one Dylan has never played - it seemed the universe was beckoning me.
I spent the weekend in Sydney, indulging myself in some of my favourite things, getting lost with no real plans in a big city, staying in hotels, eating out, people watching, and music.
And on that Sunday night I wandered out towards Sydney Opera House, the sky shimmering with drizzle and lights from the harbour. I ate a wonderful meal at Circular Quay, watching people make their way towards the Opera House, most of them I suspect off to see Dylan. I could overhear snippets of conversations from my vantage spot, and most indeed were. It was a wonderful thing to behold.
Appetite satisfied, I joined the crowds and made my way to that magnificent pearlised beauty on the harbour. No matter how many times I walk those stairs I never fail to feel impressed, excited, and blessed to be able to do so.

I like to arrive early to concerts if I can, take my seat and watch the audience fill up. The sense of anticipation is always palpable, the energy growing stronger as time moves towards that magical commencement. The audience themselves always fascinates, their appearance, dress, age, conversation, excitement. I love seeing it all.
And then the lights dim, the audience gasp, the band appear on stage to applause, and the sails almost lift and float onto the harbour as Bob saunters out.
He almost smiles I think, I have good seats, about 22 rows back, but not close enough to confirm that. And the set begins with Things Have Changed (from Wonder Boys soundtrack), a favourite of mine and quite possibly the entire audience from it's reaction. He is wearing a long black jacket piped in white with matching black pants, a hat, and white cowboy boots that don't reveal themselves until he sits at the piano.

His second track takes him to 1965 with She Belongs To Me from Bringing It All Back Home. The crowd go wild, but this will be only one of three songs from the 60s. Later in the set we are treated to a rushed, mumbly version of Tangled Up In Blue, a great track, from an album I love, but it was probably the weakest track of the night. That's not dissing it, it was just that he was in finer form elsewhere. In the second set, he absolutely kills Simple Twist Of Fate from the same album, Blood on the Tracks. A definite highlight.
Mostly the songs were from his last five albums, 6 of them from his latest, Tempest. And mostly the jazzy/bluesy songs from them. I love all of these albums, but especially Modern Times, so was thrilled. I never expected a lot of classics, infact if Tangled up in Blue was a benchmark, I think hearing those favourites not treated so well would have been disappointing. He moved between standing and singing with some harmonica action to playing the piano. He seemed more comfortable behind the piano, and what a superb player he is, something you forget. When he just sang, he also danced which amused the audience immensely. When I say dance, I mean a sort of odd shuffle, but the thing about this was, you could tell he was actually enjoying himself.

He also sounded great, there were a few shambolic interpretations, but not too bad all things considered, mostly he sounded great, but a few songs, in particular Spirit On The Water (my favourite song from Modern Times and quite possibly the highlight of my night) he sounded crystal clear and rather stunning, something I would never expect to say regarding his voice.
But it is his voice that makes him distinctive, the gravely mumble, the oddly nuanced phrasing, the words and turn of phrase. He is the leader of many generations now, as witnessed by the varying audience.

We had two sets with a short break between, the only time he spoke was to mutter something about the break. Those at the front laughed, I gather it was witty, the detail didn't make it back to me.
The encore was a raging version of All Along the Watchtower and had us all enthralled, then he ended with a bluesy almost rocky version of Blowin' in the Wind. And after a rousing standing ovation (there were many throughout the evening too) the band joined hands and bowed, and made their way off stage. The audience wanted more, but I knew that was it. We had been lucky, our hero had been in fine form, we were delivered a treat from his later day songlist. Not many musicans in their 70s can pull off such a feat. 

And I walked back through Circular Quay with Tangled up in Blue going round my head, smiling at the experience behind me.


Things have changed - Wonder Boys soundtrack   (2000)
She belongs to me – Bringing it all back home (1965)
Beyond here lies nothing – Together through life (2009)
Workingman Blues #2 – Modern times (2006)
Waiting for you – Divine Sisters Soundtrack (2002)
Duquesne Whistle – Tempest (2012
Pay in blood – Tempest (2012)
Tangled up in blue – Blood on the tracks (1975)
Love sick – Time out of mind (1997)

High water (for Charley Patton) – Love and theft (2001)
Simple twist of fate – Blood on the tracks (1975)
Early Roman kings – Tempest (2012)
Forgetful heart – Together through life (2009)
Spirit on the water – Modern times (2006)
Scarlet Town – Tempest (2012)
Soon after midnight -      Tempest (2012)
Long and wasted years – Tempest(2012)

All along the watchtower - John Wesley Harding (1967)
Blowin’ in the wind – Freewheeling Bob Dylan (1963)