Sunday, September 20, 2015

THE LION KING: Circle of Tears

I had never seen The Lion King, I really don't think I have ever seen the movie the whole way through. It's a complicated thing. I'm not a fan of anything Disney, and it came out about a year after I returned from Africa. I was all pur-leese, been there, done that, not going to see anything animated about it. The stage show confounded me moreso, my theory was there is NO way anything African could translate to the terms of my experiences.

Having said that, I love the music. Circle of Life, man, Elton knows how to manipulate your feelings, that is a killer of a song.

Over the years, I have had opportunity to see the show, especially when I was in New York, but didn't.

When I realised a new production would be playing when I was in Melbourne I knew I had to see, go and see what the fuss was.

And I admit to being excited about it, having absolutely NO IDEA what I was in for. 

I had great seats in the glorious Regent Theatre, upstairs second row middle/right on the aisle.


I could see two sets of percussions in the two boxes either side of the stage, I also noted stairs leading up to the stage. This intrigued me, knowing that would mean some kind of entrance or exit with the stage. 

And then the lights went down, and I saw the most spectacular opening to ANYTHING I have EVER seen...and I have seen a lot.

That first 10-15 minutes is NOTHING short of perfection, I am weeping now as I type a month later.

As soon as Rafiki (a Mandrill) appears on stage and sings her first note, Naaaaahhh (that gorgeous African spiritual chant), every hair on my body stood on end and endless streams of tears fell from my eyes. I hear male voices harmonising and realised they were upstairs, one very near to where I was sitting, the percussionists started, and then the animals began to appear on stage.

I just didn't know where to look, it was the most remarkable thing. And those people/puppets really really looked like African animals. Julie Taymor is an absolute genius. Then I realised more animals were coming through the aisles downstairs and headed towards the stage, including a giant elephant.

By this point, I was so moved, I was trying not to sob out loud, you know when you cry and your bottom lip trembles, yep that was me! Of course also the music had moved into Circle of Life, I was gone, I cannot believe I was so stupid not to have seen this on Broadway!!!

What Taymor does with puppets and people to evoke the movement of African animals is nothing short of miraculous. Her background was Indonesian Theatre and Puppetry and you can see that. She used bicycle frames with people pushing or peddling them to produce elands and impalas dancing across the stage. Stilts to perfect the steady yet wobbly gait of a giraffe, incredible masks for the lions and hyenas. The colours were right, the movement was perfect, the music heightened everything.

And the stage was full, so very very full. I LOVE a full stage, a grand spectacle, this was more than anything I have ever seen on stage.

After that opening I settled a little, but was pretty much emotional throughout. Now I am moved pretty easily, a crier, a sobber, this is true. But there was something so fabulous about what I was seeing, coupled with the music, that just set me off. I knew the basics of the story, so nothing was a surprise. The acting and singing was superb, the set design and movement between the sets swift and fluid. The orchestration and percussion work sublime. Seriously not a bum note anywhere.

In particular the buffalo stampede was nothing short of magic, so very cleverly put together, it seemed as if thousands of buffalos were heading off the stage.

Of course Act 1 ends with humour and the introduction of Pumbaa and Timon, and Hakuna Matata. And then in Act 2 the perfection of Can You Feel The Love Tonight, one of Elton's best, which I had forgotten was in the show, had me sobbing again.

I left the theatre with the songs in my head, a smiling yet red and puffy face. 

I have no more words, except if you haven't seen this, it is a must. There is a reason it is the most beloved stage musical of all time, and I cannot believe it took me almost 20 years to see it myself!

Friday, September 18, 2015


There was so much amazing surrounding the David Bowie Is exhibition at ACMI. They have ongoing talks and seminars, and are showing movies that have Bowie in them or are somewhat related.

And then there is the ACMI shop!

I bought many amazing things there including a Bowie mask, plectrums, pencils, a tote bag, postcards, and on my second shop an amazing Ashes to Ashes print.

I saw a double movie on the Monday night I was there.

First, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. This is a seminal live performance shot on tour in 1973, and his last show as that persona. Directed by classic music documentarian, D. A. Pennebaker, it is a thing to behold. It is mostly the show, but is cut with pre-show buzz of those attending, and a very chilled Bowie getting ready. It also has shots of the costume changes in between songs too. Remarkable stuff. But it's about Ziggy and the music, and what brilliance is on show.

I've seen this movie many times before, but never on the big screen. What an utter delight.

His voice is so very good. It seems like a dopey thing to write, I mean we all know he can sing, I've seen him live, I've experienced it. But just watching the film, that is what I took away. His depth and range is outstanding, and he just knocks it out of the park here. The band, especially Mick Ronson, are in fine form. And everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. It has a great line up of songs, including covers by Lou Reed and The Stones.
The second film of the double was The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I've seen this film a few times, I am a huge fan of Wes Anderson - he can do no wrong in my mind. And this is a visual masterpiece.

But why is it included in the Bowie stuff?

The Soundtrack of course. The movie is full of Bowie songs sung in Portuguese and it is beautiful. I had forgotten how much of the soundtrack was dedicated to Bowie.

The movie follows the adventures of Steve Zissou - played perfectly by Bill Murray - a Jacques Cousteau type character who is down on his luck and chasing a 'Leopard Shark' that ate his partner. The thing about this movie is Wes didn't have the budget for the underwater scenes, so he did a whole range of crazy out there animation and it works on so many levels, most of all visually. It's also got a great cast with Cate Blanchett, Owen Wilson, Angelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum (every movie should have Jeff Goldblum in it) and it's very funny.

The other event I went to was a talk with Melbourne's seminal Bowie expert, the humble, Bruce Butler. Bruce had a fabulous slideshow of photos and candid stories of his life with Bowie. He said he was not a fan, but boy he was. And his life generally was fascinating, yet he was incredibly humble and human about it.

What an hour of amazing, he started off telling the small crowd about how The Monkees made Bowie! He loved The Monkees and we all know it was because of Davy Jones that David Jones changed his name to David Bowie. Bruce believes the name change was part of the mystique and maybe things wouldn't have been the same had he remained David Jones. Maybe!

He took us briefly through his childhood love of records, leading to him getting to a job in a record store and on and on it went. He worked with Aussie bands, Do-Re-Mi, My Friend The Chocolate Cake, Steve Kilbey, Grant McLennon. He produced the show The Factory, is good friends with Molly Meldrum, and set up Virgin Records in Australia...amongst many, many other impressive things. This man is a superstar!

He spoke about his young love of Bowie and how he found out Bowie was to tour Australia for the first time. He and friends lined up at the MCG ticket box roughly a week prior to tickets going on sale. This was unheard of back then. A keen photographer, he has photo mementos of all of these stories, and so he shows us a photo of his friends lining up and Nick Cave - a friend of a friend, and at that stage relatively unknown - dropping by to see what they were up to.

On the day of the ticket sales, the MCG open up another window first, not the window they had been waiting at and people who had rocked up that morning got great seats and they got really crap ones. Not one to let such things pass without a fight, Bruce ended up on the news. Unfortunately the record store - the cult Gaslight records - where he worked part-time saw him, and realised he was not sick as he had told them, and he was called in to talk to management. They understood and he kept his job. Promoters were there and came up to him and exchanged their tickets for better ones.

Here is an except of this tale.

He told stories of that concert, were it rained the entire time, he had front row seats and his photos were amazing. He also ended up in Adelaide and Sydney for the shows. He had brilliant stories surrounding each show, lining up, the people he met, the photos he took, and of course the Bowie experience. We were in the palms of his expert hands, jaw agape...well, at least I was.

He ended up at the Sydney shows via Bette Midler, who he met en route back to Melbourne from Adelaide and told her about his adventures, she told him he should go to Sydney. She said she was with Bowie at The Sebel. She wasn't 'with' Bowie, but obviously knew him. She said there would be a party and he could come. And so he did!

Each time Bowie toured, Bruce was there and met him every time, each time getting more time or closer to the man. He said he was always pleasant and affable, kind and funny. Although he never recognised him from one time to the next. 

The information and photos came rapidly, it was amazing, I tried to tweet or take notes, I was just too in awe of his tales to capture the details. But I can assure you he was fascinating. 

The evening ended with a Q and A session. People asked all sorts of questions. They asked him his favourite single and album, Heroes and Low, which made me think about mine!

I always find it very difficult to choose favourites. I am 99.9% certain my favourite song is Starman. it embodies everything I love about Bowie, the shock (well, he would have been to young people back then), the lyrics, the groove, and the fact it is the one song that has stayed with me. 

To make up a Top Five (Yes, I do try hard to be the female equivalent of Rob from High Fidelity!) I would add Ziggy Stardust, Golden Years, Man Who Sold The World, and Modern Love. A top ten would include Rock and Roll Suicide, Heroes, Ashes to Ashes, Life on Mars, and Sorrow. I think. These things can change. I cannot rate any of these additional 9 songs in 2-10 order!

My favourite album is The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. But I also love Pin Ups, Hunky Dory, and Let's Dance.

Here is my piece about the actual exhibition.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


I've always had a bit of a fascination with Russia. To be honest I don't know a lot about it, just bits I've picked up from books, film, and chatting to people over the years. I've never studied it or even read a potted history. I know Russia from Ballet, Theatre, classical music, and Russian Literature. I know a little about The Romanovs and of course Catherine the Great who I've always joked I was named after. I was not. I don't think.

Years ago I saw the stunning piece of film called Russian Ark. Shot at The Hermitage, in one take, this fictionalised moving piece of art loosely showed historical figures set against the backdrop of the museum. I was in awe. It was stunning.

So when I found out Masterpieces from The Hermitage: The legacy of Catherine the Great would be in Melbourne while I was there I was excited.

I headed to the NGV, my favourite Australian Gallery, and lined up for Catherine!

The first section was my favourite, featuring dining settings, sculpture etc. It wasn't until after I left I realised I could take photos and it was too busy to turn back! In particular the table setting took my fancy, its detail was exquisite, so much finery, so much gold, I was entranced. I also noticed the cutlery was set differently too, the spoons and forks were placed curved up. I've never seen this before, must have been the custom back then.

I watched a lovely little film filmed in the winter Palace much like Russian Ark.

Each room I then went into housed amazing pieces of art, mostly paintings. The gallery itself was decked out just perfectly with warm colours and seating that evoked that era.

I was particularly taken by the Walpole Room, a vast collection she acquired from the estate of the Walpole's in England when they were in need of money. It was highly controversial and I remember an article in Vanity Fair a few years back about how the heirs were now trying to reclaim some it back, at least on loan.

In terms of paintings it is not my favourite era of art but they were impressive all the same. 

I did love the lesser known - to me - etchings and paintings of European cities from that time and history. In particular Rome, she was quite the fan!

This wasn't a large exhibition, but decent enough, I imagine only a small slither of what the collection actually is. One day I will head there myself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


As soon as I enter Lizotte's this wave of calm comes over me. It's like I've come home. I felt that way the first time I went there and every time since. It never grows old and I'll never tire of its perfection as a venue. 

The venue itself is old and glorious, the decor rock and roll and eye catching. It's intimate, you pay a little more for that privilege, as it should be. And for the most part the crowd is wonderful. I say for they must part because unfortunately you get the odd bogan or over-drinker and that can really spoil the vibe. This is not a venue to come and get pissed at. Thank god! 

We had seats upstairs, the best ones in that area. You look down on the stage, closeish and scenic.

Tonight C, J, L, & I were seeing Megan Washington. None of us had seen her live before so we were all a bit excited.

I first came across Megan on Spicks and Specks, a long time ago. It was an early show, she was relatively unknown, and Alan Brough was beside himself. He said her voice brought him to tears. I remember thinking wow and then later she sang and he was right. I can't remember what now, I think it was a jazz cover. I was sold.

Back then she was mostly doing jazz, contemporary and traditional. Also some soaring ballads. This is what I love hearing her sing the most, it's what suits her voice. It didn't take long for her to take off. I knew it would happen, she was supremely talented.

And so to the concert. The support was a dude called Simon playing in a band called the Tambourine Girls. (note I had been typing this as Tamborine even though I knew it was incorrect spelling due to the Lizotte's menu, thinking it was was not...shame!!!) Except they were just Simon and his guitar, amusing! He was a great singer/songwriter with a plugged in acoustic. My favourite type of artist. He had a great voice, reminded me a bit of Tim Hardin. He was cute, funny, and talented and had a lovely stage presence.

Halfway through Megan joined him on stage for a rousing rendition of The Everly Brothers' All I have to do is dream. Wow. They sounded great together and her harmonies had me in tears, not for the last time that evening. What a treat. 

He finished his set with grace and humor. I bought his CD later on when leaving, it is excellent.
After a break Megan took the stage, just her and a keyboard. she went straight into the music, not much chatter. I love chatter on stage, but not when it takes away from the music. Now, whilst I love her voice, have her albums etc, I wouldn't call myself a fan. I know her music enough to recognise songs, but not sing along or say that's such and such a tune. Sometimes that is a good thing I think, it takes away expectations, allows you surprises, makes you listen harder to the lyrics or notes. It enhances the live experience if it is seemingly new or rather not really familiar.
She mostly sung ballads, melancholy songs, the songs I love the most, the songs that suit her voice. Occasionally she told little tales, but mostly let her art do the talking. Simon joined her on stage for a few numbers too, they worked really well together.

She was a shy, humble performer yet commanding of the art, completely at home getting lost in the music, almost like sometimes she forgot she was on stage. And then every now and then it seems like she realised others were in the room, this is where the shyness and humbleness came in. So she was a mix of free spirit and confidence, and self consciousness to watch, which is utterly beguiling and incredibly charismatic.
And that voice: there are no words to describe such beauty, angelic and perfection come to mind, but really it is much more than that.
The set was song after song, fragility, melancholy, haunting beauty, and little snippets of irreverence and humour. Her voice an open line directly to her heart and soul, her playing strong and brilliant.

Towards the end she surprised me with a great cover of Shivers. It's a great, great song and one I've heard no-one cover well. She did, she got it, she kept it as it was meant to be sung just altering some of the warbly bits which work for Nick but wouldn't have for her. She used these to showcase her extreme range, stunning and it married her style to the original, this is how you do a cover well.
Towards the end she did some hilarious bit about hating encores and that she wasn't going to do one and we had to pretend she had done one and now she'd sing the hits. It was a funny and real moment. A lovely insight into the girl herself.
We all left feeling warm and happy, I know any time I leave Lizotte's I feel my soul has been well and truly fed. It you've never seen Megan Washington, she's a must, and real performer who sounds better on the stage than on a recording.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Tucked on the 3rd floor on the corner of a carpark entrance and Bourke Street this rooftop bar became my favourite place within seconds.

With a spring garden party atmosphere the layout was old style white garden furniture with mostly pink, lilac, and mint green decor. Parasols lay on the tables in the direct sunlight, and waiters were gorgeous and gay.

The menu was superb and difficult to choose from. Small nibbly treats, savory and sweet, and amazing cocktails. I went with the Winter Punch, a heady mix of rum, wine, orange, soda, and mint in a jug...and a raspberry cupcake. It was about 2pm.

The cocktail and cupcake were sublime, the atmosphere divine. Uber cool with a mix of people, some uber uber cool, some not so much. I definitely fell into the later category but it didn't seem to matter.

The afternoon was a glorious first day of Spring and I sat in partial shade, people watched, daydreamed at the beautiful sky, and wrote on my phone. 

There was a hilariously glorious group of well dressed people in the other corner, affecting Southern accents which added to their camp manner. They just made me smile. All talk of Bette Davis, Faye Dunaway, and Lauren Bacall...I almost joined them.

This has been on my check out list for ages and my friend J said it was a must. It was!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015


When I heard there was going to be a Bowie exhibit in the UK I never imagined it would travel to Australia but as soon as this was the case I knew I'd plan my next Melbourne trip around it.

When I was in Melbourne last year I joined ACMI to get a free ticket and discounts for anyone who would come with me. And so after all this time my friend C and I headed to the ACMI on a cool, drizzly but typical Melbourne day.

My first real experience with Bowie was watching Ashes to Ashes on Countdown and being very much drawn to the eerie filmclip. Drawn, but scared in equal parts, I've never been a fan of clowns yet I couldn't stop watching. I was 9. I'm sure I had heard his songs prior to that and after but it wasn't until 1983 that I really became a fan. 

The first vinyl record I bought with my own money was Let's Dance, I was 12 and I remember the day so clearly. Walking down to K-Mart to the record section and coming home with it in a special sleeve, it went on my little record player and didn't come off for ages. I know now it is not considered beloved by 'true' Bowie fans, but it will always have a special place in my heart plus how can you not dance to Modern Love and Let's Dance. In fact, it was that fabulous Australian filmclip, that gave me my love of red shoes. I got my first pair a year or so later and have always owned at least one pair since! So whilst I don't get fanatical about him - I really don't get fanatical about anyone - I am a huge fan.

So the exhibit!

I was beyond excited going in but you know, tried to remain Melbourne cool.

Like all exhibits at the ACMI, you walked down two large flights of stairs and we were confronted by this fabulous image! And not just the image, but the actual outfit!

Now you couldn't take photos inside, so these are photos of postcards I bought! I usually do try sneaky shots, but it was near impossible here.

We were given headphones, I took them reluctantly, I have always preferred to let my own thoughts do the talking at exhibitions, but this I was soon to find out an exception to my rule. The headphones were digital and had great commentary about the exhibition from Bowie, others, and had songs playing, and old audio. As you moved from one piece to another the digital audio cut in, it was very clever and incredibly hi-tech, you could move back and forth and it would change within seconds.

The first part of the collection was his childhood, influences, what was happening in the 60s and would have been on his radar, and early clips of him as David Jones. There was some fabulous memorabilia, clips, and sounds including David being interviewed on tele for The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-haired Men at 17.

The whole exhibit was chronological and so beautifully curated, I walked slowly through it. You do explore the exhibit in a solitary way with your headphones on, everyone in their own little Bowie headspace. You simply forgot others were around and got completely lost in Bowie. Occasionally I would step out of my little Bowie World and watch others, sometimes someone caught my eye or I just need to take a breathe. It was almost like being on Mars, and everyone was the Spaceman walking around in their Bowie like trance. It was a truly remarkable experience. 

At times I was singing, or dancing, you just couldn't help it, some others were the same, you exchanged wry smiles with them. But I was really surprised at how many simply did not interact in that way, I couldn't not jig along. It was an overwhelming thing to behold, so maybe they were in shock!

I'm just going to pick some of the key things I loved now. Well, I loved it all, but the things I loved the best or moved me, or I didn't know about!

Throughout the exhibition were pieces of his writing, mostly lyrics, some with crossed out words, some perfectly formed. I loved that his writing changed as much over the years as his image. These were lovely insights into his thought processes and a delight to see.

Starman Video - this is the great one with Mick Ronson on Top of The Pops, I have always loved this video and Starman is my favourite Bowie song. It was on a gigantic screen and I was transfixed, watching it 3 times in a row.

The Man Who Sold The World, live on SNL with Klaus Nomi, 1979: film clip and costume. I had never seen this particular clip before and was mesmerised, mostly due to the costume and the fact he couldn't move in it so it gave off a highly surreal vibe. I watched this a few times too, but it was in a small corner and a crowd had formed so I had to move on. Unsurprisingly I couldn't locate the clip, but here is the exhibition curator talking about it and some footage.

Ashes to Ashes costume - when I got to this piece I audibly gasped, seeing the thing that caught my imagination at age 9 for real was all too much. I had taken in so much at this stage (and unbeknown to me, was not even halfway there) the tears started to flow. As much as I am not a fan of clowns, this costume was like a portal back to my childhood, and it is a gorgeous piece of costume. The clip played on a tele beside it, the audio played in the headphone. I stood there staring at in, tears streaming down my face. I can be such an embarrassing being sometimes!

All the costumes and all the filmclips were fabulous, I was particularly drawn to the Life on Mars clip, such an iconic one with Ronson never sounding better and Rick Wakeman on piano, and Bowie looking fragile yet sounding strong. It's a great song with a great clip. That beautiful pale blue suit also on show.

A little thing caught my attention and made me laugh, a tissue with lipstick on it, in a perspex box. Bowie's of course!

I also loved watching a video of Bowie talking about The Verbasizer, a computer program he worked on that basically is a random word generator to assist with putting together lyrics for songs.

And this is the thing, he is such an innovative and creative persona, it's not only his image that has changed over the years, but what he does and how he does it. He really has never lost his edge.

As the exhibit progressed through the years, there were many things to watch, listen to, and look at. There was a screening room with clips from many of his film performances. Most of them highly amusing to watch. There was also a selection of his paintings, including my favourite, Head of J. O. (Iggy).

Then you came to a door and had to hand in your headphone, the end?


There was more, a room of live music from concerts over the years, projected on the walls of this new large area. And concert costumes, many of them. There was room to sit and watch, take it all in, many looked emotionally worn out. I know I was. I also got a bit emotional...again. We sat for a time and then it was time to move on. Through a long corridor with images of those Bowie has influenced over the years.

And up the escalator we went, a little shell shocked and quite overwhelmed...but in the best possible way. We walked out of the ACMI in a bit of a daze, it was cold and raining yet bright. We had been in there about three hours. It was a truly unique and remarkable experience. We found a warm spot in the hotel at Federation Square, ordered food and drinks and were quiet for some time. Still thinking about our experience, it took a while to actually talk about it. It sounds weird, but anyone who has been will know what I mean.

With the exhibition ACMI are really hitting it out of the park. So many other events supporting the exhibition, I will write about some of them soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


August was busy, crazy busy. But I managed some quiet moments and I felt great mentally. I did feel physically unwell most of it, fighting off a weird fluey bug, aching bones, headaches, swollen glands, sore throat. This came and went, came and went, and left me feeling tired and poorly. Not enough to have time off work or need to see a doctor, or even really be 'sick' but enough to slow me a bit, and want a lot of sleep. But you know, I survived!

At work I have been juggling multiple projects, on top of my usual work, each of them inching along slowly, but starting to form into something great as the month progressed. A few weeks prior to going on leave right at the end of the month I did have a minor anxiety attack when I looked at what I needed to achieve prior to my holidays to ensure they all came off as well as I wanted to, but I managed to work my way through them. This is the kind of stress I do well in...mostly...anxiety attacks aside!

One of my projects is a Social Media talk for seniors, I have done many of these before but not on this scale. It will be presented at the very end of September and will (hopefully) turn into multiple one on one sessions over the following months. At the time of writing it has been very popular which is incredibly exciting, and I had better actually finish putting the presentation together! The other project is one I have wanted to do for a long time, Rocktober. Children of the late 70s and early 80s will remember Rocktober! So Rocktober will turn Swansea Library into all things musical during October. I have a lot of things in the mix, and so far it is going as I hoped, more information to follow. The final project I can't talk about yet...but soon...and it's fucking fantastic!!!!!!

We also put up a magnificent Book Week Display, had schools visit us for storytimes, showcased local embroidery, discussed The 100 Year Old Man at Bookclub, had my baby storytime, and watched The Matrix at Movie Night. I really love the diversity of my work.

I have also been out and about in the community of Swansea and surrounding areas, spreading the word about Swansea Library, feeling like a preacher, but hopefully not coming across like one! This is an ongoing project for some years now but it's gaining momentum and I'm feeling the love with those I am collaborating with. This includes my wonderful team and the people we are working with, mostly schools during this past month or so. I am just hoping all this hard work will result in better statistics and more people walking through our doors. So much to compete with these days, but libraries are still relevant and exciting places to make sure you visit your local library!!

I started the month with a lovely family dinner, we don't do this as regularly as we should, but it's always fun when we do. My niece and nephew - the loves of my life - are growing up so beautifully and are smart, funny, but normal kids. My sister and brother-in-law are doing good!

I finally got to have a meal at Foghorn Brewery, at an ALIA (Library) function. I had their Foghorn Burger and their locally brewed Summer Ale - both great. It has a lovely atmosphere and interesting design, you can see the vats and beer brewing, very industrial, hip, and cool. After the long lunch, I took a long work in the sun, and then checked out a few exhibits at Newcastle Art Gallery. The bottom floor was closed for a new exhibit but upstairs had a few interesting small exhibits. Brett McMahon's Installation was large pieces of geometric abstracts and mixed media, I spent time looking at and meditating there. Different Realities by Peter Boggs was hypnotic oils including some pieces from/on Boboli Gardens in Florence, where I've been. They were lovely. Interior Lives featured pieces from the larger collection depicting domestic spaces and including some beautiful works by Grace Cossington-Smith, a National Treasure for sure!

I still had time to kill so I made the most and read in the sun before meeting A and L at the movies. We saw Trainwreck - we had planned on seeing the Amy Winehouse doco but it was pushed back a week so we choose another Amy - and it was a lot of fun. No Oscar winner here, but that's ok, sometimes you need a mindless movie to just take it as it comes and have a laugh. There is definitely something charismatic about Amy and a scene stealing character from the always remarkable Tilda Swinton. Afterwards we had planned on visiting Parry Street Garage but you couldn't book and there was a very long wait, so we ended up at The Junction Inn and had a great meal, followed by a Blue Heaven milkshake from Jims - that's so Newcastle!

M and I dined at The Clarendon and then headed to The Playhouse for Dylan Thomas: Return Journey, a one man show/play. Bob Kingdom embodied Thomas during this 90 minute show, he was wonderful, witty, poignant. The show was pieces of his life, I guess taking from historical information and fleshed out, laced with his beautiful poems. The pieces were very funny, wry witted, and just lovely. The poems were, without a doubt, show stopping stunning. Every night at The Theatre should be this good!

The following night I headed to The Conservatorium to meet L and C for Visual Arts. This was a wonderful evening of homegrown Novocastrian Music, Film, and Dance. It was a magnificent collaboration with performers ranging from very young to 86. The music was a joyous combination of jazz, classical, and choral works, all modern and all composed by Novocastrian Frank Millward. All the music was backed by interesting visuals which added to the experience.

I also had a long weekend where I chilled at home, walked, read, and slept and I really needed that. I do got out a lot for an introvert, so these quieter weekends are really important to help me recharge my batteries and give me the quiet I often crave.

The second last weekend was intense, soccer semis, the new Woody Allen, Amy Winehouse doco, Hamlet, and Go Set A Watchmen. Sometimes I don't think these things through!

Irrational Man, the new Woody Allen, was pretty good. Not one of his best, but certainly better than most movies out there. I loved the dialogue and script, particularly the first half of the movie. Emma Stone was a delight as always, and Joaquin Phoenix also good. Lovely to see Parker Posey in a small role, shame it wasn't fleshed out better. The ending left a lot to be desired, and the plot kinda reminded me of Crimes and Misdemeanors, I must rewatch to see if Woody is starting to rehash!

My nephew won his semis for Soccer which was exciting. It was a tight match and you can see these young boys starting to grow into fine, athletic men. I was away for the finals, but they went down 1 point. Apparently he was gutted, but put in a gallant effort. That afternoon I headed for my Book Club to discuss the controversial Go Set A Watchman. You can read all about my thoughts leading up to, reading, and of course our discussion of the book here.

J, L and I had Napoli for dinner. I hadn't been there since it opened, and was pleased to see nothing much had changed. It was still as busy and popular as ever, and the food amazing. Pizzas as they are meant to be eaten, just like we did in Italy. Afterwards we saw Amy, the Amy Winehouse documentary.

M, J, C, and I dined at The Clarendon (yes it's the place to go before the theatre, mostly as parking is shite in Newcastle, and it's nearby and you don't have to move cars!) before M, C and I headed to The Civic for Bell Shakespeare's Hamlet. I do love Shakespeare, and had seen Hamlet a few times before, but this was a superb production. I have been quite open in my love and then unlove for Bell Shakespeare over the years. I feel they went through a rough patch where they just either tried too hard or not hard enough and the plays presented were ordinary. I kept the faith until they ruined my favourite, Macbeth, with a very ordinary production including a Coles plastic bag for the witches cauldron and the weakest Lady Macbeth I had ever seen. I think I even dozed off in parts!! It took a while for me to see them again but they won me back with a very wicked and clever Richard III a few years old. Hamlet was very edgy, modern, with a stasi edge of spying on the key character, in terms of reporting what was happening, which sounds convoluted but worked well. Hamlet was sexy and wild and completely mad, also hilariously funny. In fact, the play had been tweaked to include far more jokes than it usually had and it was all the better for it. Hamlet is touring still, so if you get a chance, it's a must see.

The month ended as it began with a lovely family dinner out at Verda Luna, for my sister, A's birthday. We had amazing Italian feast, followed by delicious Red Velvet Mudcake back at my parents.

And the final weekend I flew out to Melbourne for 10 days. I will blog about that very soon!!!

And some photos...