Midday snorkel at Gordons Bay, ahead of the predicted heavy rain. Visibility was again better than yesterday. The swell was a bit stronger but not troublingly so. I saw a school of some large silvery guys that I don't think were ludderick.
Despite the dire predictions of the BOM, Randwick remained dry, and so I headed down to Gordons Bay for a late-afternoon paddle. The water was cleaner than yesterday, and the cold currents near the scuba ramp remain. I saw some pretty hefty stingrays but still no squid, nor the big groper.
Trying to slot in between the erratic rain and showers, I went for an early evening paddle at a pretty murky Gordons Bay. The water was a bit cold at the scuba ramp. I spotted a couple of small gropers and some larger ludderick in shallow water.
Some weeks ago I shared a table at Yen's with a young bloke who works at Westpac (after a decade at Optus, I seem to recall). He mentioned that Sofar was a lark: nights where musicians play in someone's lounge room. I meant to go to the one last Sunday at a warehouse in St. Peters but was defeated by weariness. Tonight, well, it was the same again but I instead muttered some clichés and headed down to the Protohub "creative space" near Oxford Street to see what it's about.
Paying a $10 "donation" at the door made it feel more like a regular kind of band night, and moreover one without a bar; I brought a single beer, but would (should) have brought more if I hadn't taken Betty. (Motorcycle parking on Campbell St at Taylor Square is a bit tight.) I got there by the strongly-suggested time of 7:30pm ("please respect our musicians"), which was early enough to park myself on a couch next to a young couple from Copacabana, down for the night. The bands started quite a while later, after the mid- to late-20s hipster crowd settled in.
Brian Campeau, a Canadian bloke with a guitar, opened the night. He was OK. Jones Jnr. consisted of a singer and a DJ, and possibly a bloke with a laptop too, but I couldn't see. They did some kind of r'n'b / motown / reggae happy stuff. The Green Mohair Suits, featuring Brian Campeau on guitar and another four guys (banjo, mandolin, slide guitar, double bass) did perhaps a Barbershop quintet, reminding me too much of O Brother, Where Art Thou?. The headline (so to speak) were the Blackchords (guitars, drums) from Melbourne. They were fine enough, but I can't remember what they did. Each got about 20 minutes.
Oxford St was very lively when I left at 10:30pm. I'd have stayed out if I wasn't toasted after a long week.
Paul Thomas Anderson's finest, even now. Somehow he extracted excellent performances from the entirety of a large cast, including Tom Cruise. I grant that it flags a little towards the end. Apparently I haven't seen this since 2006 but I remembered almost all of it.
And the book says: "We may be through with the past... but the past is not through with us!"
Instead of going to bed early after a tiring day and week, I found myself heading over to Newtown to do dinner and a beer with Jacob at the Carlisle Castle before going to see this flick at the Dendy. Jacob's mate Andy turned up just before it started. It was dry on the way over, wet on the way back, and my helmet was damp the whole time from showers earlier in the day.
This one is a well-made doco about the West Memphis 3, a trio of young blokes who were convicted of murdering three boys in 1993, and their travails with the justice system of Arkansas. As presented here the original trial seems quite weird (Satanic cults?) but I guess it was the time of Waco and all that. What was really depressing was how vindictive the State was; quick to convict, and with a futile appeals process. I half-expected them to just give up on the State system and try it on with the Fed. Eddie Vedder gets a lot of screen time, as do the other celebrity activists.
These days of erratic showers make it a little challenging to predict how comfortable it will be to take Betty anywhere. The biggest problem with water inside the helmet is not the visor fogging up but my glasses. After midnight I'm less worried about my skills (even in the wet) than about drunks and impatients.
Being in Canberra for NICTA's TechFest, I had the opportunity to hand my thesis in to CECS at ANU early in the afternoon. Afterwards I listened to Narjess explain her graph enumeration scheme, which made more sense to me than it had in the past. We met up with Leon at University House and headed over to a Malaysian place for dinner, incidentally stranding Tom S. at the dumpling house. I had hoped to spend a fulsome evening at the Wig and Pen but a respiratory tract infection got in the way of anything serious. Although Tom S. and I were notionally sharing a room at University House, I was fortunate enough to get us a family suite, and so he wasn't compelled to contract my disease.
Narjess made breakfast for Leon, her friend Greg and I on Wednesday morning — some kind of potato cakes, fruit, tea, Turkish bread. I then had a quick coffee with Leon, whose hard disk refused to connect to my MacBook Pro. After that Narjess and I got some lunch and headed over to Parliament House in time to hear Julia open the NICTA TechFest, and in my case, meet up with Jean Vuillemin. There were signs of a concert happening out front later that evening: a celebration of five years since Kevin Rudd apologised for past sins against the Aboriginal peoples of Australia. The barbecue in the courtyard turned out to be a pre-cooked affair in the corridors of power; when my pass fell off I was politely escorted all the way back to the start, which I guess was an appropriate beginning to the year of the snake.
The trip home that evening was a bit hellish; we left around 7:45pm, and though I thought I was clever splitting a cab with other NICTA people, I didn't make it home until 12:10am.
Jake was keen to go see the latest Tarantino, and our plan to go tonight turned out messy as we both got sick, and a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend came to stay the night. Some last-minute wrangling saw us commit to the project, though I hadn't processed the fact that he'd bought tickets to the Hoyts in the Broadway Shopping Centre when I gleefully managed to park Betty just a couple of blocks down the road from the George St cinemas. The good thing about her is that it's easy to do a U-turn even on these busy roads. It further turned out that he hadn't remembered that the tickets were for the 9pm session, so it worked out after all; we had time for a beer and a light dinner in Sappho's courtyard.
I enjoyed some parts of this, though it is a long way from the masterpiece that being #39 in the IMDB top-250 would suggest. The scene where Tarantino, sporting an Australian accent, gets blown up was priceless. I found the early parts atypically predictable, perhaps because I'd read too many reviews.
I took Betty down for an early evening snorkel at Little Bay. The water near the shore was tea-coloured, which a bloke and his wife told me was due to the decomposition of seaweed. Once I got out into the bay visibility was reasonable. The water had some cool-ish currents in it, and was pretty calm.
Earlier I drove with Sean up to Gordon for mrak's grandfather's funeral. I hadn't been to a full Anglican service before, which padded things out to two hours or so. The speeches from Peter (Mark's Dad), Mark and his brother Chris were excellent. Mike Carlton sketches Roy's life here, below the murk of Obeid et al.
Mark heads back to the U.S. on Sunday.
Hungover and seedy, I went for a paddle at Gordons Bay in the late afternoon; still too early to avoid the crowds, unfortunately. Today was just about perfect for it, and the water was clearer than Ben told me Clovelly had been yesterday morning. The water temperature is quite comfortable now.
Greene portrays a Catholic priest on the run in post-revolution Mexico. As well-written as ever, but not much there for me.
Finally I had a free Saturday and took Betty out to the Netrider learners session at Homebush. I organised to meet Joel (riding a Husqvarna) in Surry Hills at 12:15. We would have made it on time if not for me proposing we stay on Parramatta Road past the M4 turnoff; that took an age to get past all the traffic going to the markets.
I saw Simon on his bright yellow Ducatti Monster (400cc) on Anzac Parade, and guessed he was going too. The roads were a bit wet, but not too difficult to ride on. I learnt that the rear brake is a bit useless in these conditions when I locked up my wheel on Parramatta Road near Missendon.
The course itself is well setup, similar to the RTA's provisional test one. I did a few laps and stopped for lunch. Chris (BMW) was handing out some good advice, telling me not to use the front brake when cornering. I did OK on the cone weave, though I doubt I'll ever be very fluent at it. The U-turn was harder than it looked. I think the swerve and emergency brake will be easy. (Chris: just wait until the cones go out of your peripheral vision and jam on the brakes, and don't relax until they've finished measuring.) One poor bloke dropped his CB400, which is quite a nice bike, though I prefer Betty's styling.
Coming back I took the M4 with Joel, and it was a lot faster. The wind picked up and made things a bit uncomfortable.
Another early Brando. Anjanette Comer is just as luminous here as she was in The Loved One, but she has an almost non-speaking role and the whole thing really is quite weak.
My friend Nell sent me her novel that completes her creative writing degree at Newcastle. I read it as fast as I could, over about three days. She made much of David Byrne's lyrics for his song Once in a Lifetime, which got me thinking that, even at this point in my life, I've done many things multiple times that others do once or not at all; and I don't mean that as some kind of boast, an expression of privilege, but more of klutziness, indulgence and necessity. (At least some of these things embody the ethos of a dog returning to its own vomit, a kind of self-applied backward-looking Pottery barn rule.)
At his recent inauguration, Obama muttered "I want to look out one more time because I'll never see this again," and this is indeed a time for me to be doing some things for the last time in this life. I don't know of anything that expresses how empowering this sentiment can be 1as awesomely as Byrne's song captures the road to the middle class.