The Australian Chamber Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House: Bach Brandenburg ConcertosSun, Dec 08, 2013./noise/music | Link
My Christmas present to myself. They played four Bach Brandenburg Concertos: No. 1 in F major (BWV1046), No. 6 in B flat major (BWV1051), No. 2 in F major (BWV1047) and No. 3 in G major (BWV1048). For an encore they played the final (third) movement of No. 4 in G major (BWV1049). I enjoyed No. 6 the most, perhaps because it was a much smaller ensemble and the two blokes (Christopher Moore and Alexandru-Mihai Bota) leading on violas (no violins) enjoyed themselves so much. I was sitting in the front row of the choir, which was a mixed blessing; the hunting horns pointed backwards so they tended to blot out the rest of the instruments. The couple sitting next to me told me I was sitting where Barbara usually sits, and presumably her health issues prevented her coming today. Overall I'd prefer to buy a recording and listen to it multiple times than go to this kind of concert, if only because (irritatingly) the familiar bits were the best.
The timing of the screening of these interviews surely did the ABC no favours. Keating himself is mostly in fine form and O'Brien sometimes manages to keep him to account, which is impressive in its own way. I certainly miss Keating's efforts at communicating his vision and policy agenda to the public at large; the last three governments came to power as policy-free as possible, having learnt from his doing Hewson slowly. Gillard's recent travails demonstrate that the ALP cannot then switch on the sales pitch and charm. I wondered why Anna left him and what he's been doing since. The piggery did not get a look-in.
Idling on a Sunday evening at the Verona at 9pm. About five people in the audience. Who is the more plausible Ginsberg: a brave but bewildered Daniel Radcliffe or the more assured James Franco of Howl? Jennifer Jason Leigh plays his mother in an egoless performance; the scene at the end of her and Radcliffe lounging on the grass evoked her young self (e.g. Fast times at Ridgemont High). Elizabeth Olsen was fine; no idea what opprobrium she draws. This is the story of Ginsberg meeting William S. Burroughs (an excellent Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) at Columbia and thereabouts. The glue is Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) whose troubled life structures the narrative. Michael C. Hall plays David Kammerer as Philip Seymour Hoffman. The story stops just before Howl (I think), after Ginsberg is ejected from Columbia.
Met up with Pete Kirievsky at what he called the "Price Waterhouse Coopers bike parking" spot on Sussex Street in the CBD, and rode out to Homebush along Victoria Road. As he predicted, it has fewer lights and maybe less traffic than Parramatta Road. I met a mate of his from Azerbaijan, and a microbiologist from UNSW, but didn't want to embarass myself by attempting the course. I intended to ride up to Windsor with them, but bailed as Yoda wasn't there and there were a huge number of learners (~ 26). I headed back to Bondi Junction with Pete Kirievsky and his mate, again along Victoria Road and through the CBD. Nice day for riding.
Early evening snorkel attempt at Little Bay. Visibility was terrible, with some large (for Little Bay) breakers stirring up a lot of plant matter. There were a lot of juveniles near the rocks next to the beach. Some blokes were attempting to spearfish in the bay itself, which I think was futile.
Orson Welles. A Nazi embeds himself in a small town in Connecticut, and a war crimes investigator seeks to flush him out. The callousness with which they both manipulate the young wife (and that her father goes along with it) is quite off-putting. A large step down from Citizen Kane, which was made five years earlier.
The last two things I wanted to do with Betts was to take her across the Harbour Bridge and go camping, which had me looking for a campsite somewhere north, but not too far north; initially I thought the Basin on Pittwater would be a goer, but they charge something like $30 a night just for the site. The Marramarra Creek Camping Ground is probably the closest (legit) free spot to where I live. Its main drawback is that it is a 3.5km walk from the end of a dirt road.
I went with not much gear: sleeping mat, bag, tent, sandwich, three pieces of fruit, half a block of chocolate and only 1.8L of water. In particular, I took no cooking gear. The idea was to strap the old underused Kathmandu hiking pack flat on the pillion seat, but as that protruded too far, I attached it vertically to the milk crate. This worked out fine — the extra 10-15kg made no difference to how she handled.
I set off around 4pm, which by good fortune turned out to be ideal. Here's the route I took, there and back:
View Randwick to Marramarra National Park in a larger map
The traffic on the bridge was more considerate than I expected, apart from one or two pushy types. I also wanted to cross the Long Gully Bridge at Northbridge, so I tried (and succeeded!) to get on to Miller Street. From there to Hornsby was pretty straightforward. Galston Gorge (thanks Pete R. for the introduction to it) was fun, apart from the impatient cars, presumably locals. I bought a double-espresso Dare at the IGA in Galston, which seemed to be the only place selling these flavoured milks. Near as I can tell Fiddletown does not exist. Fortunately most roads off Cobah are signposted dead-ends, and Bloodwood follows on directly. The dirt-road turnoff to the national park is clearly signposted, and the remainder implied by signs pointing to other places. The Open Street Map data that backs City Maps 2GO lacks loads of details, but so does Google Maps; it can't have been too hard, though, as I got by with just my poor sense of direction.
I left Betts at the locked horse-proof gate (also effective against motorcycles). The walk seemed interminable; the first 2km or so is not too bad, mostly flat or easy downhill along an access road for the high-tension power towers, until the final descent to the creek, which is quite steep. From the bottom to the campsite is perhaps a very easy kilometre on the flood plain. The area is quite pretty, nestled next to the creek. I failed to get a fire going: my geriatric lighter gave up its flint before it ran out of gas, so it wasn't for a lack of persisting with poor technique. I slept OK, using the pack as a semi-decent pillow. The morning chorus was quite loud, and the walk out about as bad as I feared; I was damn happy to see Betts again, even though my legs cramped up a bit on the ride back to Maccas Dural for breakfast. Some black cockatoos put in an appearance at some point, and a wallaby attempted suicide in the early evening, apparently not realising that Betts is not a lethal instrument. I headed back to Randwick via Macquarie Park and Victoria Road, just to tick off a few more bridges. The traffic there was thick but placid. I'd hate to be doing that every day.
Next, if I can screw up the time, nerve and crotch muscles, is Kangaroo Valley.
Something like Toy Story perhaps? An imagined gawk at the insides of computers (here arcade games) ala Tron? The animation is OK but the plot is entirely hokey. I was sorely disappointed when the glitch turned out to be a princess - I was hoping she'd turn into a frog when he gave her a peck on the cheek.
The Sisters Grimm from Melbourne show Sydney how Sydney used to be. That's Agent Cleave on the poster. He and Olympia Bukkakis lead as ridiculously tattooed and gorgeous Southern sisters hell-bent on dainty intrigue. The production and acting are top-notch. Bessie Holland disappears into the patriarchal Big Daddy, becoming Colonel Sanders (and certainly not Hồ Chí Minh). Genevieve Giuffre is faultless as the deep-voiced Black servant maid, hiding behind a gollywog, and Peter Paltos rounds out a draggy cast with his Freddie Mercury looks. The house was packed, and for good reason: it is knowing and damn funny. The costumes and set are marvels (excellent work by Marg Horwell), and great use is made of the awkwardly-shaped stage. For all that I'm not sure there's more to this than a bit of a laugh. (I agree with Alan Harstein, but not with other reviews that suggest there are intellectual depths to this whole thing; I think those reflect how shallow most present theatre works are.)
While waiting in the tight-arse Monday queue ($15) I met a lady reviewer from Mosman and a bloke teacher who pointed me to Shit on your play.
Apparently I went to two previous New Music Network gigs this year: Synergy Percussion and Tangents. This one was in the Paddington Reservoir and was quite restful. The ambient noise (traffic, pedestrians, tourists) drowned any subtleties the two saxophones may have had.
Before this I went to the COFA annual exhibition. Several Tracey Emin-inspired pieces there, such as the chained lion in the semi-made bed, and the prize-winning laundry line with embroidered self-loathing. The undies looked far too clean. (GOMA in Brisbane has a Tracey Emin neon piece.) Whoever stuck some hands made from soap on the wall (also prize-winning) is very skillful but needs to work on the politics of placement. Contrary to what I'd been told, there was a small amount of glasswork there too. Apparently they have a Creative Robotics Lab now. Looks like fun.
Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly. Excellent animation. The story is rubbish; there is no fate here, just empty-headed sloganeering. The three young boys have the best lines, despite some heroics from the ladies.
From a review in the New York Times. One might be tempted to ask if we haven't seen all of this before: Infernal Affairs, The Godfather (right down to the execution of the police captain), and of course, that trademark Korean blood-spray (Stoker and its antecedents). This one does all that and adds some minor comedy; the be-suited minions are choreographed superbly, with makeup that tracks who came off worse in the last biff. Old Boy star Ji-hyo Song anchors the show. Jeong-min Hwang reminded me of Lou Diamond Phillips in The Big Hit: very lippy. Both he and the lead Jung-Jae Lee (with model-perfect looks and impassivity) are excellent, as is the cinematography. There are some absolutely beautiful shots. The plot is not worth overthinking.
On my return trip from Brisbane I camped at the Cypress-pine campground, Boonoo Boonoo National Park at Kate's suggestion. (She also suggested I go via Stanthorpe and Thunderbolts Way, but I was insufficiently mindful to execute that.) I drove up to the waterfall first as I got there too late to do the river walk. The pools there are quite beautiful, and the water not too cold but a bit scummy. There were a couple of German couples and a brace of younguns were hanging around at the same time as me. I wandered about a kilometre up the river walk track and found some more pools; contrary to my expectations the track meanders a long way from the river. The camping grounds were packed, with only a few spare spots. Several blokes (10?) had ridden down from Toowoomba-ish on some very fine motorcycles including a couple of BMW boxers.
Setting off from Station Creek, I aimed for a paddle in the Clarence River at Grafton. The helpful bloke at the information centre warned me of some spiny fish in the reedy shallows; I went in off the boat launch at Corcoran Park (yep, next to the sewerage treatment works). The water was quite warm and the current not too bad near the shore; I didn't venture out far.
Pining for the salt water, I headed off to Evans Head for some lunch (fish and chips from a delightful Kiwi lass). A friendly girl at the beach directed me to the surf club where some other people were attempting to swim. I ended up standing around in the waist-high breakers, which were dumping another 10-20 metres out. I don't think that beach is much good for anything unless it's blowing a storm.
Spent the night at Station Creek, Yaraygir National Park on Andrew T's suggestion. (I ambitiously bought a New South Wales National Park Annual Pass in the expectation of more camping this season.) Indeed the dawn chorus is something to listen to. I went down to the beach but got there far too late to swim, even if that is possible; it looked quite exposed and possibly rough.
For which David Bowie did This is not America. Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton (previously unknown to me), Lori Singer (the blandly perfect foil for Hutton). Young blokes doing stupid things: trafficking in drugs and government secrets. Based on a true story, I'm sure, with motivation coming partially from Whitlam's sacking in 1975, and the shenanigans in Chile.
Guy Richie yet again. McAdams does not survive the first reel. Downey Jr pays homage to Ledger in drag and lipstick on the train? (outcamping Stephen Fry?) A geeky anachronistic Einstein in the lecture theatre? Jude Law is workman-like; his disinterest in Kelly Reilly was approximately mine. If I wasn't told how clever and moral everything is I would not have an idea. Haven't we seen all of this before? — V for Vendetta not being the least of it. These guys did not avert the fall of Western civilisation; they embodied it.
I was going to ride Betts down to Campbelltown (specifically Campbelltown Road) with this gig as the excuse. The rain put paid to that, and I was giving Erina a lift anyway. As always they had some nice bits but it was difficult to get into the whole thing. I liked the gong as played by Bree van Reyk. They did some performance art-y bits in the middle - and I had to wonder if these came with the piece or were intended to spice up some fairly abstract sounds. The venue was the same as, very pleasant (and I do like the neon in the foyer). We had a drink and a light dinner at the cafe in between the sets.
Guy Richie, Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams (taking a walk from To the Wonder). Always something to see but can she act? Mark Strong was much better as the father in Kickass. Richie does the bare-knuckle fighting thing again, just like Snatch. Meh.
Early evening snorkel at Gordons Bay, off the scuba ramp. Not the best visibility ever, and not that warm out.