It's a completely cool, multi-purpose blog.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Tomorrow we head off on Big Trip 09. Can't wait to get going.

Even better, today M completed her final placement for her Masters in Clinical Psychology which she has been doing for ages. She completed the academic stuff a while back, so except for a brief bit of form-filling...she's done! She's ace.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seriously, dude- these podcasts will change your life

I am ridiculously middle class, in the left-leaning soggy liberal sense. I grew up in suburbia, the child of polytechnic lecturers, and I am devoted to the Guardian newspaper and its wonderful cryptic crossword.

As a corollary to this I am also a devotee of Radio 4, thankfully available online internationally (unlike most of BBC television). At the moment the comedy is at its best, because the News Quiz is airing as is the first post-Humph series of the sainted I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. Great stuff.

On a more serious note, the cerebral yet approachable In Our Time is also in full brain-expanding effect. Each week, Melvyn Bragg and three academics discuss a topic of historical, cultural or scientific interest for 45 minutes, expanding on its significance and tracing its development. There are hundreds of episodes available for download from the amazing archive, which I can't recommend highly enough. Last week I finished listening to every single episode and I reckon now I'll go back and revisit some favourites.

Kermode on Transformers 2

Transformers is the third worst movie I have ever seen after Dirty Dancing and the morally and aesthetically reprehensible Life Is Beautiful. The idea of a second Transformers movie fills me with a creeping dread, but at least we get this genius review as a result of its existence:

Monday, June 15, 2009

B1 = 4

Beth is 4 today. We had a small family get-together on Sunday which she loved, and it was great to be able to see my parents on the webcam too. M&I bought her a bike - that's a bit of a rite of passage, isn't it?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sydney Film Festival Round-Up

7 films at this year’s Sydney Film Festival, which is okay but there’s never enough time for everything. As usual, film selection was determined by timing and serendipity as much as anything else.

Here’s the gen on those I did catch:

Breathless: Grim Korean movie about domestic violence and its effect on children. Has that queasy combination, characteristic of much East Asian cinema, of shocking brutality and a sugary sentimentality about children.

44 Inch Chest: Reservoir Dogs meets Last Orders. Some very good actors (including Stephen Dillane, yay!) play London low-lifes hanging out in a warehouse. Could've been brilliant but doesn't quite take off.

In The Loop: Movie adaptation of brilliant TV political satire The Thick of It. Lovely to watch this in a crowded theatre, so the big laughs were a proper communal experience.

Overlord: A fascinating interweaving of historical footage and a fictional narrative about D-Day.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles: Surely the most hardcore art movie I've ever seen. 3 and a half hours long, no music, no camera movement, no close-ups, barely any dialogue, feminist...and Belgian. We observe the title character going through her daily routine 3 times, including household chores, dealing with her hopeless teenage son and servicing paying gentleman callers in the afternoon. By day 3 (about two and a half hours in), great significance has accrued for tiny changes in her behaviour and the violent denouement has been set up. Throughout the gruelling experience there were lots of walkouts and a growing sense of suppressed hysteria. Strangest of all, I think it may be a masterpiece.

The Big Parade: Splendid 1925 silent film about WW1. Performed with live music, the audience loved every moment.

Wake In Fright: Revived Aussie pscho-thriller about hard-living outback types. I'll never forget the scary kangaroo hunting sequence.

Here's a typical clip from Jeanne Dielman, I think this is from the third potato-peeling scene (oh yes), when Jeanne's ice cool manner is beginning to fray. Bear in mind, the whole movie is like this.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Faith is belief in something you know ain't so

I had a letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald today, responding to an earlier letter from a bloke whose sneezing cleared up after taking a homeopathic "remedy".

Double-blind faith

I'm glad Jim Gentles's sneezing cleared up, but anecdote does not equal data. Homeopathy has never been shown to work better than placebo in a properly conducted, double-blind trial, and there is no getting around that.

Tom Goodfellow Cherrybrook

Hmm, not sure about that "faith" in the heading, the point is that faith is belief in something without decent evidence and I was suggesting that evidence is the key thing. Oh well.

(Liz - forgive me)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Scariest book cover ever?

Scares the willies out of me...

Coincidence or what?

So we were at Avoca for the long weekend and everyone showed up wearing the same hat. What are the odds?


I was at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on Saturday, and as usual I took a moment to take in my favourite piece of public art, Brett Whiteley's Almost Once. I'm not sure why I like it so much, perhaps because it's witty and sweet whilst also being about death.

Colbert in Iraq

Featuring a pretty spectacular special guest.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Obama Orders Stephen's Haircut - Ray Odierno
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorStephen Colbert in Iraq

Thursday, June 04, 2009

4 hour Belgian feminist art movie from the seventies? Yes please!

It's an anomaly that those of us in Oz get the Queen's Birthday as a long weekend but the benighted souls of the UK don't. As usual, we're heading up to Avoca but my arrival will be delayed by the intervention of the Sydney Film Festival. As of 4pm today, I'm taking in 5 movies in 24 hours. Love it!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Nothing is planned by the sea and the sand

To Avoca with our friends and neighbours Paul, Monica, Madison and Hannah. Weather was pants but children, alcohol and boardgames all stepped up to keep us entertained.

I also sloped off for a couple of hours to catch Gomorra, which featured at least as many crimes against fashion as crimes against society. On Sunday I also took in the tremendous new Star Trek, and started watching the 4-hour La Belle Noiseuse on DVD. All I can tell you about the latter is that it features lots of Emmanuelle Beart as a nude model. Everything else about the movie has slipped my mind right now, can't think why. The Sydney Film Festival kicks off this week, so more obscure cinema-going coming soon.