Early-evening snorkeling attempt at Long Bay, off the southern boat ramp, for the first time in ages. Visibility was horrible. Some blokes where trying to fish from the rocks.
The first hour flew past, with the second not far behind. I liked it just as much as the last time I saw it, perhaps a decade ago. The cinematography is fantastic, especially when Leah Vandenberg is in the frame.
Since my MacBook Pro got a new mainboard, and being told that the new Intel CPUs are not much faster (though more power efficient), I decided to upgrade it with 16Gb of 1600MHz DDR3 1.35v memory, for $181.56 from MSY. This old 2011 Sandy Bridge can handle those specs but Apple does not admit it; so far so good though, as my readings of the internet suggested it would be.
Addendum: Mac OS X leaks like a sieve. The purge command reclaims the "inactive" memory that the OS refuses to via automatic means. Looks like I was wrong to blame FireFox for being the fat pig that it is; there's a fatter one hiding behind it. After a purge the system typically has about 10Gb free.
Waking up without too much of a hangover, Pete R. and I had a light breakfast in Avalon and walked down to Bilgola Beach. It seems there is no equivalent to Bondi/Maroubra walkway up there; we were dodging cars along the Serpentine. I avoided the rip this time and just went for a dip in the beautiful and clean rockpool. We hoofed it back to Avalon via Pittwater. It's very pleasant but so very isolated. After that, back to Asquith and then a fairly cruisy drive down to Randwick. Tiring.
I drove Pete R. up to Avalon for the weekend. We caught the ferry from Palm Beach to the Currawong and walked back to the Basin, mostly along firetrails. There is some good backstreet parking around Palm Beach if you're prepared to walk a kilometre or two through some pleasant bushland. Afterwards we drove over to Whale Beach and enjoyed the strong rip, and then headed back to Avalon (to drink Pete's schnapps), then the Newport Arms for fish and chips, and then back to Avalon for more booze.
Son-of-Bowie Duncan Jones's second outing, which is somewhat similar to his first: where Moon gave us a man living the same life over again, here we get an eternal eight minutes of someone else's. Let's quietly forget the metaphysics and join Jake Gyllenhaal on a vacation in Michelle Monaghan's eyes. The ending chases a poignant-for-Hollywood moment with disaster.
Early evening snorkel from the beach at Gordons Bay. Loads of people around and pretty bad visibility, perhaps because the sun was hiding behind the clouds. I only saw a big fat wrasse. The search for squid continues.
The idea was to ride down to Kangaroo Valley via the Old Hume, and back along the Princes Highway / Grand Pacific Drive. I had lunch with JAS and Andrew T out front of the OMB at UNSW and got moving around 2.30pm. It turned out to be pretty dumb to take the Hume from its wellspring at Ashfield, as it is tremendously slow; I should instead have gone via Henry Lawson Drive or Canterbury Road and so forth. Oh well.
I headed down Campbelltown Road for old times' sake, and then across to Narellan and the Camden bypass. From there it was pretty cruisy down to Picton, where I got a snack at the local Vietnamese bakery. The Old Hume fuses with the motorway for perhaps 10km, and I got Betts up to 100kph for some of that. The roads down to Kangaroo Valley from Moss Vale are quite windy as they hug the hills constituting the Great Divide. There's not much to the town itself, and from there to Tallowa Dam is easy, but riding into the sunset spoilt it somewhat. I got there around 7pm and while rumour had it that there is a campground nearby, I didn't find it, so I ended up camping in the picnic area, which seemed semi-legit as the signs were quite specific about what was not allowed. (I wasn't keen on the large campsite at Bendeela due to reports of noisy party animals.) Dinner was a klutzfest of instant Hokkien Noodles and a banana, chased by some Twinings Green Tea (which is far more palatable than their other one mixed with ginger and lemongrass). While pitching the tend I got bossed around by a willie wagtail while some small Eastern Greys looked on from the safety of the dam side of the fence. One had a tiny joey that ducked back into the pouch when it got too much. Around 11pm a large wombat was noisily rooting around nearby.
The dam itself is not large, and to my chagrin the much feted fish lift was not in operation; I guess it's not the spawning season. The water seemed not too cold but I didn't take my swimming gear.
View Kangaroo Valley / Tallowa Dam in a larger map
Next morning I hurriedly packed up, had a banana for breakfast and headed to the Maccas in South Nowra for a second breakfast. (Actually given the energy content of their hotcakes it was more a case of the one meal for the day.) They still have free wifi, though I don't see them advertising it so much. Upon refuelling Betts, I found she only needed about eight litres to do 266km, and is clearly happier with these longer rides than the short city hops she usually has to put up with. She's a bit too small for comfort though; every time I stopped my sore bum and lower back complained more than I typically do.
The ride back was pretty windy. There is a massive duplication of the Pacific Highway at Gerringong that goes on for more than ten kilometres, I guess. I stuck to the highway until I got to Kiama, and then headed for the coast, and up through the Royal National Park, stopping for a ginger beer at the Scarborough Hotel, again for old times' sake. The traffic was a lot more placid than on the Pacific Highway or Hume. I got home around 2pm on Thursday.
Sunset paddle at Gordons Bay, off the scuba ramp. Quite nice in out past the rocks, but cool near the shore. I was too lazy to do much of anything.
I played Kate's homemade version of this with her in Brisbane: she'd taken some Scrabble sets and painted some coloured shapes on the backs of the tiles. This worked fine, apart from it being incomplete. Well, today I was at Bondi Junction with Dave and found the travel version at b.amused for $20, so I bought a couple of sets. The build quality is not high: the paint flaked off some of the tiles when I unpacked it. Oh well. I won my first game ever against Dave in Centennial Park later on.
With Dave at the 9.15pm session at the Verona, which was fairly packed. I enjoyed it about as much as I expected. Christian Bale almost completely disappears into his character, or would have if he didn't evoke Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder. I enjoyed Amy Adams's performance more than anything else I've seen her do. The story is a bit Argo-ish.
David Denby reviews it at length for the New Yorker, Dana Stevens mostly got into it, and Manohla Dargis at the New York Times.
Evening paddle at Gordons Bay, getting in ahead of a forecast thunderstorm. Quite pleasant in.
Paddle from the southern rocks of Gordons Bay. Beautiful in, but a little ruffled by the wind. Indian for dinner in Coogee afterwards.
Snorkel from the scuba ramp at Gordons Bay. The big blue groper was just nearby. Quite a few stingrays out in the bay. I also saw a large mostly-green groper with a blue head. Still no squid in so long.
I got suckered into buying this by Anthony Lane's awesome introduction; I was lucky enough to get in just before the dollar really tanked. Some of the articles are great, as are some of the cartoons, though most of the latter are of the twee sort that the New Yorker does all the time. Not all articles are pro-cat; many tell of cats getting their comeuppance from non-cat lovers. Some strike a balance, such as the excellent one on Bengal cat breeding by Ariel Levy. Some were dated. On the whole I enjoyed it.
It also got reviewed by the New York Times.
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.
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.
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.
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.