I had a slightly odd encounter with a patron at MPOW, and I feel I should have coped with it better. The guy was obviously a hippie type (woolly clothing, patchouli facial hair etc) and, after a straightforward directional enquiry, he leant over the counter and pointed at my bottle of Diet Coke.
"You don't want to drink that you know, full of aspartame."
I was slightly taken aback and muttered something about having drunk so much of the stuff it would have killed me by now, which he followed up thusly.
"I'm a nurse and all my MS patients drink this stuff. Seriously."
I said something else non-commital and he went on his way, but it's been bothering me since for a number of reasons. They are a bit of a tangle, so I'll revert to tried and tested list format.
I know the aspartame scare stories are bullshit, but I didn't want to offend the bloke by telling him so. This was partly natural reticence but mainly, I think, because I was trying to be professionally nice at the info desk. But hadn't he shifted the conversation onto a personal level in the first place? Should I have been more bullish in expressing my trust in evidence-based medicine and all the benefits it has brought the world?
There is an odious undercurrent in his attitudes towards his patients. "The poor woman has MS but, you know, if she hadn't drunk all of those diet drinks...". It sounds like a blame-the-victim framework to me. I also find it worrying that a professional nurse (if indeed he was) could weigh scare story internet memes above the medical literature.
Who looks at somebody as obviously overweight as me and thinks "You know what that bloke's main health problem is don't you? Nutrasweet." But he wouldn't have called me fat would he? That would be rude.
2012* has been a great year for movies thus far, has it not? The pre-Oscars period has always been a good period for the middle-to-high-brow releases but, thanks largely to large dollops of cine-nostalgia, the last couple of months have seen a number of films that really hit my sweet spot.
In particular, I have really enjoyed these four gems.
Despite being pitched at the family market, you could pick this as a Scorsese film. It’s not just the visual flair and references to classic cinema, there’s also the moment where a character basically looks into the camera and states “Time has not been kind to old movies”. Marty spends a lot of time on film preservation, and it is interesting to see this passion appear in his fiction work.
I found it a wondrous experience, but younger viewers will likely be baffled by the second half, which concentrates on an old man’s regrets rather than the adventures of the preceding hour.
More retro happiness. I’ve actually had trouble persuading people that a silent, b&w film can be so fun but presumably Oscar excitement will help box office significantly. I’m still trying to figure out how much substance lies behind the surface panache but, really, who cares? It’s a blast.
Like Hugo, a plot about the cost of passing time may be lost on the kids but my whole family enjoyed this classic Henson mix of daftness and sentiment. I’ll never forget the bit with the singing chickens during which all four of us were laughing together, a rare occurrence indeed. The early, smalltown USA musical numbers are a treat, reminiscent of classics such as The Music Man, and if Man Or Muppet doesn’t win the Best Song Oscar it will be a travesty of Driving Miss Daisy proportions.
The three other movies I would recommend unreservedly, but this is a little more difficult. Several people I know have struggled to follow the plot, which is pretty byzantine. Having had the advantage of prior experience (both book and TV series), M&I had no problem keeping track of things; perhaps for others a second viewing would be rewarding? Plot aside, both the direction and the outstanding cast are top notch, and never has the phrase “It was nothing personal” felt more brutal.
It’s been a busy few weeks, revolving around a variety of events at the ever-enjoyable Sydney Festival.
Festival First Night
Hyde Park was buzzing on the opening day, with lots of kid’s stuff in particular. It was peculiar to see the lead singer of The Presidents of the United States of America (remember them?) doing his children’s entertainer schtick, but it was when I ended up on stage playing live action Pong that caused the real hilarity.
Starspotting: Norman Jay stood on top of a London double-decker
Tis Pity She’s a Whore
I love me a bit of blood-drenched Jacobean psychohorror, and I’ve long been an admirer of the Cheek By Jowl company, so expectations were high. Happily, expectations were met and an adventurous and smartly restrained production flew by.
Starspotting: Andrew Denton chatting with Malcolm Turnbull, while Bob Hawke looked on with suspicion.
The divine Polly in finer fettle than I've ever seen her. Let England Shake was one of the albums of 2011 and this highly theatrical performance showcased it perfectly, all in the wonderful setting of the State Theatre.
Starspotting: Dangermouse – the record producer, not the nemesis of Baron Greenback.
There was a terrific Spiegeltent in Parramatta this year, they seem to be making an effort to shift the festival's centre of gravity westwards which suits us. An ideal location, then, to see a fine singer/songwriter doing his thing, and in particular to see exactly how he accomplishes his astonishing guitar playing.
Starspotting: Celebs in Parramatta. I don’t think so, darling.
BUG with Adam Buxton
Basically a bloke showing some reallyreally good pop videos on a big screen with some amusing (or occasionally misfiring) bits of chat and silliness in between. This made me giggle:
Starspotting: Erm, does the acting editor of Madison magazine count?