Thursday, December 28, 2006

On the Melbourne Geelong freeway

from w
Most of the traffic is going about 100 kph and we are halfway back to Geelong. Some cars are parked on the side of the road, car trouble and empty, or some kind of respite from the trip. There's a very ordinary car on our left which is hardly worth a glance. But then I see a man standing behind it. He's playing a violin.
We are going too fast to throw a coin into his hat - that's if he's really busking!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Collage of a city

from w
While the roast pork was cooking ready for a small dinner party, I cut up a magazine and made a collage (sort-of) based on an inner Melbourne suburb such as Richmond or Collingwood. So here are some of the experimental pictures starting from that one. The final one I made included white paint and a tree which gave it a bit more story than just chopped up pieces of paper stuck on.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sometimes we want to be left alone

from w
I drew this to illustrate a short story but it wasn't used. A cartoon was chosen instead by the editors of the anthology that gave away the punch-line.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

In the bleak midsummer...

from w
The weather is the topic of conversation this Christmas Day. A few days ago it was 27 degrees at night, 40 in the daytime, the sky beige from smoke and the sun red.
Last night was 6 degrees, and today about 12! Snow has fallen on Mt Buller where the bushfires are still going, and hail has fallen in Melbourne and also at Wyndam Vale (between Geelong and Melbourne) as we were eating Christmas dinner with a Lau/Lomaiviti family. A delicious lunch of prawns, snapper in coconut cream, dalo, chicken chop suey, Sri Lankan curried fried wraps, and then lote made from sago, pumpkin and coconut cream. It really hailed and the ground outside, formerly brown without even grass, was quickly covered in white!

The soaking rains of today and yesterday have been the best Christmas present of course.

I decided last night to stop grouching about not 'doing' Christmas this year when Peceli found a long lead and lit up the coloured lights on the verandah posts. They had been there, dormant, all year. Then we lit candles in the window and perhaps our ordinary Californian Bungalow looked more welcoming for Christmas.

We have had a lovely Christmas day - two church services (we even sang 'The North Wind is tossing the leaves' - about a dry brown Christmas, and then it started raining hard outside!) then dinner with a Fijian family. There were lots of carols on the TV all day.

The pics are from the Age newspaper and website - firemen at Mt Buller in the snow, a Melbourne house with a garden of hail, and a pic of the hail itself.

By the way, one of my favourite hymns is by Christina Rosetti and starts off with 'In the bleak midwinter'. A superb version of the song is sung by the Blind Boys of Alabama.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bond, James Bond and Casino Royale

from w.
We saw the movie Casino Royale from 6.30 p.m. last night as our house was too hot and we knew the movie theatres have air-conditioning. We took apricots and spring rolls for sustenance. Well, the movie was as expected - too violent for me - and didn't have the humour and silly one-liners of earlier Bond films. But it was still an excellent film with fantastic locations especially Venice in the final scenes. The opening sequence, violent of course, preceded an interesting titles section with cards and someone must have had a lot of fun making images on their computers! The card scenes - well-done but hey, I don't know how to play poker so it was a bit of a mystery about who was winning or losing!

Here are comments by two other writers:
Royale without Cheese!
Submitted by Michelle Alexandria on November 19, 2006 - 3:48am

I was originally skeptical about the selection of the blond haired, blue-eyed Daniel Craig as our next James Bond. From the moment Casino Royale opens with its gritty black and white, pre-credit sequence you know you are in for something different and you get sold quickly on Craig's take on Bond. It's dark, gritty, brooding, and at times surrealistic…

In a nutshell, Bond is trying to figure out who is funding several major terrorist groups. At the same time he finds himself at constant odds with M (Judi Dench). For the first time Dench actually gets to do some acting in a Bond film, in previous films they would trot her out to utter a witticism and then disappear for the rest of the movie. In Casino Royale she's a vital part of the story, but it's in the cliched boss trying to reign in her out of control detective kind of way. Somehow it works here and feels appropriate.

Director Martin Campbell's (best known for the Antonio Banderas Zorro films) minimalist approach keeps the film zipping along, at almost 2 1/2 hours the film never drags. Even the "climatic" poker sequences were engrossing. And I'm one of those people who doesn't understand poker or get its popularity, but Campbell made me care, got me interested in what was going on.

If you want your trademark Bond gadgets, cars, and gear, Royale will disappoint as this Bond drives a rented Ford (I think it was a Focus), that is until he gets back into M's good graces, then he's given the sporty Aston Martin. But even that car lacks ge-whiz gadgets; unless you consider a tray that holds a first aide kit and a gun cool.

The fun thing about Royale is that it really is an "establishing" movie. Craig doesn't come right out and say he's Bond, James Bond, or order the trademark Dry Martini, or Walk around in tailored Tuxes. As the plot progresses, we start to understand that Bond is a young agent who has just been given the 00 status. He's still not used to killing and hasn't quite picked out his drink of choice. One of the only gags in the film has Bond asking for a Long Island Iced Tea at a Casino.
Bond's romantic interest is Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) a by the book government accountant who is providing the money for Bond's high-stakes poker tournament. The chemistry between Green and Craig doesn't sizzle, it's just there. But the writing is what makes it work. There's a cute moment where he calls her Money Penny, and at the end of the film you get a sense of how important that name becomes to Bond in future adventures.

As if we didn't already know that the main goal of Casino Royale is to rebuild Bond and re-establish his character the film's amazing last scene had everyone in the audience clapping and cheering - at the same time the movie, just ends, with nothing really resolved, leaving you wanting more and waiting breathlessly for the next installment.

Casino Royale is one of the best films of the year, well worth checking out.
Final Grade A+
by Michelle Alexandria

Casino Royale

For once, there is truth in advertising: The credits proclaim Daniel Craig as "Ian Fleming's James Bond 007," and Craig comes closer to the author's original conception of this exceptionally long-lived male fantasy figure than anyone since early Sean Connery. "Casino Royale" sees Bond recharged with fresh toughness and arrogance, along with balancing hints of sadism and humanity, just as the fabled series is reinvigorated by going back to basics…..

Bond made his debut in "Casino Royale" when it was published in 1953, and while the novel was adapted the following year for American television (Barry Nelson played Bond) and in 1967 became a lame all-star spy send-up featuring Peter Sellers, David Niven and Woody Allen, it remained unavailable to the Eon producers until now.
As refashioned for this 21st series installment, the novel's focus on a high-stakes cards showdown doesn't kick in for an hour. But Craig's taking over as the sixth actor to officially portray the secret agent on the bigscreen (not including that first "Casino") provides a plausible opportunity to examine the character's promotion to double-0 status, which is neatly done in a brutal black-and-white prologue in which he notches his first two kills.

After the pic bleeds into color, Bond pursues a would-be suicide bomber in a madly acrobatic chase through an African construction site, at the end of which he happens to be filmed killing an apparently, if not in fact, unarmed man in images instantly disseminated on the Internet, to the enormous embarrassment of MI6. Welcome to the 21st century, Mr. Bond….

Even by this early juncture, the pic has emphatically announced its own personality. It's comparatively low-tech, with the intense fights mostly conducted up close and personally, the killings accomplished by hand or gun, and without an invisible car in evidence; Bond is more of a lone wolf, Craig's upper-body hunkiness and mildly squashed facial features giving him the air of a boxer; 007's got a frequently remarked upon ego, which can cause him to recklessly overreach and botch things, and the limited witticisms function naturally within the characters' interchanges…..
Script by series vets Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, along with Paul Haggis, hangs together reasonably well and is rewarded for its unaccustomed preoccupation with character by the attentiveness to same by director Martin Campbell, back after having helmed the first Brosnan entry, "GoldenEye," 11 years ago. Dialogue requires Bond to acknowledge his mistakes and reflect on the soul-killing nature of his job, self-searching unimaginable in the more fanciful Bond universes inhabited by Brosnan and Roger Moore….

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Three tiger cubs and what happened to the feral kittens

from w
Aren't they gorgeous - these Sumatra tiger cubs, eight weeks old, born at Melbourne zoo. The pic is from today's Age newspaper.

Well, I do love the look of tigers, but am not so enraptured by those four feral kittens born under our house over eight weeks ago. The saga continued: I told the 'owner' of the mother-cat, who spat chips at me when I touched a kitten - that the family should stop bringing large plates of food near the wall of our house because the kittens would not move on. So there was only bare cement when they crept out at night for a feed. Well, they did move on - to under the neighbour's house! They still have another twenty yards to go to reach 'home' the very next house.

Dragon Tree in Geelong Botanic Gardens

from w
Penny commented that the tree I drew was probably a Dragon's Blood Tree. Well, it seems so and it's sometimes just called Dragon Tree and the scientific name is Dracaena draco L and from the family: Agavaceae. I found three small pics of that species growing elsewhere. I'll go back to the local Gardens and do a more detailed drawing of the Dragon Tree - but on a cool day - and after the sunburn subsides!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Trees and leaves; variations using Photoedit

from w.
I was very sunburnt yesterday, arms and face,with a white band where I wore my scarf like an old hippy. I'd been at a picnic with a group of friends in the Eastern Gardens - partly in sunshine, partly under cloud. So last night, feeling so burnt up, I decided to get distracted by playing about with photoedit using the scanned pics. This morning my skin is coated with richly perfumed coconut oil. One pic looks like embroidery and I think the last pic looks like a Brett Whiteley painting - I wish! One day I might actually replicate some of these experimental pictures onto a real canvas!

Pessimistic moments in a Botanical Gardens

from w.
I strolled through the Geelong Botanical Gardens this morning and picked up various leaves in the fern gully area and did a few drawings including one of a special tree which needs props to keep it up!

Change and decay I see... some pessimistic moments but there was still the uncurling of the new frond, so tiny but alive. And the grass tree which I had drawn a couple of months ago, now was flowering.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Starfish and bling Christmas trees

from W.
A couple of things in Geelong I noticed were the starfish decorations instead of stars, and the numerous $2 shops chockas with junk bling items. But oh how we compromise. I ran into a friend in Moorabool Street as I lugged two bags of junk I had bought and we talked about 'ethical' Christmas shopping and how we don't really support locally made items but buy stuff made in China where workers get - maybe - 39 cents an hour. Hmm. I looked down at my shopping bags and realized I had bought twenty $2-3 items that were just bling and not useful at all.

But the motive was okay, I rationalized - little gifts for friends at a Christmas breakup party at Peppeino's Cafe Friday night. And, okay, they all seemed pleased to receive them. I kept one item for myself - a little Christmas tree candle-holder. $2.60!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Geelong houses lit up for Christmas

from w
Over the past ten years here in Geelong I have noticed that several households are brightly lit up with all kinds of relevant and irrevelant Christmas decorations. There aren't so many this year and some decorations have been stolen or vandalised. In our suburb of Newcomb there are usually about three or four that show a lot of attention to detail and are lovely for children to see.

An interesting point though is that the Geelong suburbs perceived to be full of wealthy people have very very few lights at all!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ten questions for wannabe citizens of Australia

There's talk about setting a test for new migrants when they apply for citizenship, stuff about mateship, culture, history, - thongs, shrimps on the barbie, pies, flags I guess.

Here are some questions, courtesy of Tracee Hutchinson in The Age newspaper.

1Which of the following is the most un-Australian?
A Hoping England wins the third Test
B Pouring a beer without a decent head
C Squibbing your round of a shout

2. What is a barbecue stopper?
A A total fire ban day
B An empty gas bottle
C Something cooked up by the Prime Minister plus talkback radio

3. What is a snag?
A A bit of a nancy boy
B An unfortunate incident with pantyhose
C Sausage

4. What is the mandatory relish for a meat pie?
A Tomato sauce
B Sunscreen
C Beer

5. How does an Australian TV executive get rid of female hosts?
A Cloning
B Droning
C Boning

6. Why did 100,000 people walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2000?
A To get to the other side
B To be part of a mob
C To ask Primy Minister to say sorry to indigenous Australians

7. What is mateship?
A A P&O cruise ship
B Secret men’s business
C John Howard’s barbecue stopper

8. What is the biggest threat to the Australian way of life?
A Germaine Greer
B Global warming
C A big stingray

9.What is Christmas Island?
A The place where Santa lives
B A popular tourist destination
C Euphemism for shameful disgrace

10. What was Graham Kennedy’s famous birdcall?
A a crow
B a kookaburra
C the orangebellied parrot.

Two Geelong photos by Theramas

One was taken under one of the Barwon River bridges, and the other the jetty at Eastern Beach.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Seniors Book Launch and a Dulcimer

from w
A seniors writing competition culminated in a program yesterday at the Wool Museum and winners' books were given out. A couple of my contributions were published including a short piece which I will post here. Colin Mockett was the organiser and host - he's a local identity with a talent for singing, drama and writing. Shirley Power played the dulcimer and sang Australian folk songs at the event.

My story 'Midsummer Night' is not exactly cheerful so don't read it if you need a laugh.

Midsummer Night

We join thousands of people at Eastern Park, watching the fireworks during the Scandia Festival. I frown at the cost, thinking of the homeless elsewhere.

'But you've gotta have something exciting for the small children to watch in wonder!' says my partner who enjoys the spectacle. He points out Smorgy's and I notice a straight line of lights. I can see the cars moving above Western Beach and St Helen's Beach.

'Remember that Easter Sunday at dawn there, ' I say. We shared toast and marmalade and sausages on the barbie with a doctor and strangers after we watched the sun rise over Alcoa.

He says, 'There's the wheat silos. I wonder if the Captain Cook is still docking there, waiting for wheat. After the drought…'

'Could be.' Bad luck Pedro the Mate has boils and is in Epworth. We had packed up three boxes for the policeman's widow for Pedro to take to Fiji on the Captain Cook.
'He's probably flown back by now. And the ship would have gone to Melbourne to get wheat there.'

I can't see the You Yangs which by daylight look like floating islands. Like Mali Island in Fiji.

There are numerous lights in the bay, many flashing, yachts at anchor or boats skimming along. I wonder where Geoff's yacht is these days. Olelei I think it was called. He'd shown us over it one day when it anchored near the Yacht Club.

'It's a good place to live, ' I say.

Where else can you have a city beach, city streets, libraries, a university, surf beaches 20 minutes away, and the Otways? We'd been here twenty four years. We often walked down to Eastern beach from the Shenton manse in the early years. The Council has spunked up the place no end with rows of dance-fan palms, truckloads of clean sand.

'Remember 'Uncle' Jack?' I say.

The second day we arrived in Geelong with the boys and a dog Suzie, we had found the beach swimming pool, with seaweed under foot. On the day of Peceli's induction into the parish Jack was staying with us - Jack with his slick black hair, straight moustache, large rings on his fingers, and empty tinnies under the bed. The boys had gone swimming with Jack that day. Though he was fifty-five, Jack insisted on going down the slide, knocked himself unconscious, damaged his back. My eldest son, then 11, rescued him from drowning by putting him on an air mattress and someone called the ambulance. Jack spent months in hospital and eventually died one lonely night on the Princes Highway where he had wandered. They identified him by the rings.

The fireworks have built up to a spectacular finish, and subsided.

'Ashes always follow fireworks,' I say, remembering sad times.

It is quiet now except for bursts of music from the Skandia tent sites and the mulled conversations of people walking about. Soon the beams from cars streaming away from Eastern Park signal it's time to leave.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The value of Christmas cards

from w
It's that time again to retrieve the addresses of kin and friends near and far, and buy more cheap cards that don't make out the season to be stupid and silly. It seems bothersome to do it, but when you receive messages of kindness from friends gathered over the years it is a good institution.

Often sad too. Yesterday we received a card from a close - though distant in kilometres - friend to tell us her husband had died four weeks ago. This really gave a crunch to our spirits. Fortunately we hadn't sent out our cards last week.

These days we don't send so many cards - an email circular letter suffices - it's really a catch-up letter on what happened during the past twelve months, and it's so good to receive similar emails from distant places.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bushfires in Victoria this week

from w.
It has been a disastrous week of bushfires in Victoria and especially noticed on Sunday which was extremely hot with dangerous winds. It is a bit cooler but the fires are on-going. Not near Geelong, but we do get the smoke haze occasionally. The worst fires the older people say, were in 1939 on a day they called Black Friday. A map here shows the extent of the state of Victoria that was on fire. The worst fire near us was in 1983 on Ash Wednesday that year and one of the pictures here shows part of a town where almost all the houses were burnt down.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Geelong, a good place to live

from W
I am cross and cranky today so can't write many words. Here are two pictures of Geelong, one showing a pier to Smorgy's restaurant and the Waterfront, the second one showing the entrance to the Botanical Gardens. Geelong is a good place to live! The photos are on the 2007 Geelong City Council free calendar that was shoved in my letterbox today and nearly went out with the junk mail!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Variations using pics of Point Lonsdale rocks and trees

from w.
Some turned out to be psychedelic, but here we go, playing about with photo-edit to create different colour themes and textures. Okay, the originals were probably better!