Mostly read on the short (~6 hour) flight from Doha to Zurich. Somehow I mostly slept through the long leg (~14 hours) from Sydney to Doha. Qatar Airways must hire a lot of Russian pilots, and they seem less bothered about safety than any other airline I've flown with. The stopover definitely evokes this book, as did the previous one I read.
This is a tale of recent-day enslavery and possibly human trafficking in the Gulf states. It's at its best when talking about the harrowing conditions of the first-person goatherd / general dogsbody who was sold a visa for a construction company but got abducted by an opportunistic Arab ("arbab") with pens (essentially a feedlot) on the edge of the desert. The author claims to have sourced this from someone's direct experience (see Wikipedia for details). There's a lot of empathy demonstrated in his connection with the animals. My only real beef was the slow progress through the desert. I wonder if things are improving at all.
The Arabic translation was apparently written by an Indian expatriate in Doha.
Last gasp soak at Gordons Bay. I had some vague aspiration to see if the squid had come to say goodbye, but the water was too filthy to stick my head into. Quite a few people on the rocks, soaking up the sun, but only five or so in the water, and the surf lifesaver boat that seemed to be drifting out with the tide. A beautiful day, perfect temperatures all round. Had a snooze on the headland and lunch at Yen's afterwards.
Kindle. One problem with working full time is that it leaves little time to read, and makes it harder to plough through things that don't meet their initial promise. Shaj Mathew in the New York Times sold this to me as an innovative take on Indian guest workers in the Gulf states, which has vaguely fascinated me since mrak worked in Doha on the Asian Games with some skillful blokes from Kerala. Unfortunately this composition feels derivative, conservatively stuck in the usual transgressive ruts, and while there's some colour and imaginative licence taken there's not much new insight. Perhaps the highlight for me was the insurrection by the brown men grown on plants.
I should probably have treated Mathew's review with more caution: he holds guest workers up as "arguably the least privileged class of nomads", which on its face is indefensibly crass. The second half of his review (read just now) is accurate. I guess I'll have to see if Benyamin's Goat Days is worth a read.
Rode down to La Perouse in the early afternoon for a late lunch at Paris Seafood. Not much traffic in the city, but loads down on the peninsula, and the restaurant was packed. Went for a soak at Frenchmans Beach, placid as ever, decidedly unpacked despite the cars. Finished off my book on the sand to much relief. Perfect day for it, I only wish these were longer.
At the dear old Verona, 8:50pm session, spur of the moment, $16.00 for the ticket and another $4.50 for a coffee. Earlier I had a penang and roti at Time for Thai, tasty as ever. A scan of A. O. Scott's review led me to think it wouldn't be as dire as it turned out to be; so dire in fact that there were only two other people in Theatre 2. It finds many things to allude to (the abusive drinking evokes Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and the ending is almost pure Fight Club) while having almost nothing to say itself. Hathaway's solution to being on the receiving end of controlling violence is to get her kaiju avatar to dispose of the bloke in question. It's a bit like the utopians who propose technological fixes for everything, but I'm probably too obtuse (or disengaged) to properly interpret the metaphor. I found it strange to set some of it in South Korea but not have a Korean director. That might have been awesome.
Vale, John Clarke.
Third time around, last seen seven years past. The IMDB rating has gone for a slide, as has Mickey Rourke's revival. Time for another tale of the washed up?
Late afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay after meeting my parents at Wentworth Falls for lunch. Rode over under blue skies. The water seemed fairly clean. Had dinner in the park just north of Coogee beach. I tried to time it a bit but still had to ride home in some moderate rain. The clip on my helmet that keeps the visor in is failing, which actually worked out OK as the extra airflow stopped me from fogging up. I mostly did 40-50kph and the light traffic was placid and didn't seem too bothered.
Rode over to Randwick around 2pm for a late lunch, a haircut and a snorkel at Gordons Bay, off the scuba ramp. Quite a few people, many thoughtlessly blocking the ramp as if it were a child's play area. Visibility was OK, the waves not as threatening as on Thursday. Saw a couple of flutemouth, some large wrasse. Another totally perfect early Autumn day, a run apparently to end tomorrow with another bout of showers.
Working long days, and the sun is out, so I sneaked off for a midday lunch at Tum's Thai in Randwick and a snorkel off the scuba ramp at Gordons Bay. The tide was low and it didn't seem too rough getting in, but without my flippers getting out proved challenging. Didn't see much, just some large ludderick and small gropers. Warm in, warm out, no wind. Three people looked like they were going diving with some strange gizmos I didn't recognise. These turned out to be some kind of propulsion device, and as they weren't carrying air tanks I expect it was some kind jetski-like thrillseeking.
At The Ritz, 12:10pm, $16. Rode over from Glebe under grey skies. The queue was huge, loads of kids, but it turned out that most were going to see Beauty and the Best — theatre 3 ended up about two-thirds full. I was going to sit in the front row but really, even from the third the screen is too high. This was OK but not as fun as The Lego Movie; the default mode was to ramp up the frenzy and lay on the one liners at every opportunity, but it succeeded best when poking retcon fun at all previous outings. The Batman character was better in smaller doses ("First time!"), and they tried a bit too hard with the plot. Could they not say Dalek? Had a late lunch at Chao Praya, a coffee at Kokkino Kafe, tried to do some thinking/work at UNSW Library (some rain during), rode home under blue skies.
The 1995 anime, third or fourth time around. All I remember is that the voice acting (English language version?) is not very good. I wonder if anyone will imagine a non-violent dystopia, one where the matrix works fully properly, or Neo hacks rather than kung fus. Prompted by the new one with Scarlett Johansson, which I doubt I will see.
Notionally $20, but apparently $21.40 + $1.50 booking fee, booked 2017-03-22. Dave gave me a lift to Marrickville in the rain, and I walked home after. I saw these guys back in 2002 or so, at The Basement, but tonight I wasn't really in the mood. They chugged through their songbook somewhat hastily, and at least some of the crowd got right into it.
Another perfect day, a repeat of Monday but warmer. Another morning meeting, after which at 11am I rode over to Gordons Bay for a paddle off the scuba ramp with my mask but no fins. I saw a school of squid: mature, mottled, I counted 16. I wonder if they were the ones that spawned back in 2014, when I last saw squid at Gordons Bay. Also a cuttlefish, large and brown, a stingaree, the small garfish near the surface, some small gropers (but not the big boy), the usual wrasse. Some women had put their handbag dog in a floating donut and were trying to navigate the scuba ramp as I exited. I had a nice calm ride over in thin traffic, and the same back; this is the perfect time to go. Lunch at Tum's Thai.
$10 + $0.30 booking fee, booked 2017-03-17. As always, I booked before I'd really thought it through. Opening night, a sympathetic crowd, packed, late start. The Cellar foyer was stuffy but we were OK once seated.
I saw this with Kate, under the influence, back in the late 90s, and had memories of being a little too close to the action that night; this time I was in the front row and oftentimes making too much eye contact with the cast, barely a metre or so distant. This revival was anodyne, and you'd have struggled to follow the plot without prior exposure. In particular they omitted the key scene where Alex attempts suicide towards the end. Some of the acting was solid. I'd remove the intermissions and maybe rework the narrative bits to paper over more of the discontinuities.
Last week I went to their Gaslight but left at intermission to go pick Dave and Evie up from the airport. Again a solid production, but I couldn't fathom why they'd put on something of the Saturday-night-on-the-ABC genre.
After a 9am meeting, I figured I should go for a late-morning snorkel. The ride to Gordons Bay from Glebe was less painful than at peak hour, though Sydney traffic remains as asinine as ever. The skies were grey, the parking lot full of newbie scuba bunnies and predatory scuba dudes, but it was nice in. Good visibility, a tad cold at the shoreline, warm out, not too rough. Loads of sizeable fish: I saw two or three large female gropers, with entourages, but not the big boy, a school of luderick hanging around some rocks, the usual small fry, and a couple of schools (of 3 and 10 individuals) of long, thin pointy fish that Google tells me are flutemouth (smooth or rough I know not). I wish I still had my waterproof camera. No squid. Sniff.
Afterwards I grabbed a quick and not-too-pricey lunch at Clovelly and headed home to complete the day's work.
Kindle. From 1986. Short, punchy, not much like his later stuff, and dare I say the real story that inspired it is a better yarn. See one of his memoirs. Some of the imagery is pretty amusing.
Late afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. I managed to get there (overland!) from the motorcycle park at Barangaroo-ish in about twenty-five minutes. The water was cleaner than yesterday, the day just about perfect. Not too many people about.
After too many days and weeks of rain, yesterday had just a couple of splodges, and today was picture-perfect sunny. I had a felafel roll from Erciyes in Surry Hills for lunch (decent, but there's nowhere outside close by that's worth sitting at) and an iced coffee in Centennial Park (so-so), and got to Gordons Bay around 5pm. There weren't too many people around, which was a little surprising after last time. The water was supposed to be 24 degrees. Loads of tree detritus near the shore and the southern rocks, but quite clean out in the middle. A singular blue bottle. Ate my dinner on Coogee's northern headland, back to Bondi Junction for a Brenner hot chocolate and old times' sake. And a burn along the Syd Enfeld, New South Head Road, etc.