Thursday, July 30, 2009

High and low culture

On Monday, P., Frank and I went to Ariadne auf Naxos, a very peculiar piece by Richard Strauss which ostensibly explores the difference between high and low culture. The prologue to the piece was excellent, but the opera within the opera within the opera didn't quite make it. It might have been the direction as the roles were (on the whole) very well sung. Perhaps 'framing' the 'serious' opera in its own proscenium might have worked better. Or better still a revolve which allowed the audience to see the commedia characters reacting backstage. However, it was enjoyable, the music and the orchestra excellent. We followed up with a quick supper at EQ.

Other culinary delights this week were coquilles st-jacques au saffron and P.'s old standby osso bucco. Tonight a crack at crackling with roast pork and Frank and Michael H. for dinner.

Otherwise I've been working on the papers for the Canberra conference, as well as reviewing one of the worst manuscripts to come across my desk. Glad to see it go.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Going out and about

After Saturday slow food market and mall shopping, we had a quiet weekend, punctuated by dinner out (at Frank's on Saturday night, and Noel T.'s on Sunday night). It was very nice being fed, but we still have a fridge stuffed full of food. We're out again tonight at Ariadne auf Naxos at the Playhouse, which should be interesting.

My only other excursion was with P. and Frank to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image to a retrospective on the work of New Zealander, Len Lye (1901-1980). His pioneering experimental films with great soundtracks were used by the British Post Office for advertising, including such slogans as 'The rhythm of trade is maintained by the mails' and 'Markets are found by the power of correspondence', which are probably not true now but were once. Oh, and 'Post before 2pm for speedy delivery'. His kinetic sculptures are also excellent, and it was great to see a number of children absolutely entranced and delighted by them. The whole exhibition is well worth seeing and is FREE (until 11 October at ACMI, Fed. Square).

We followed up with an excellent and tasty lunch at Chocolate Buddha in Fed. Square, so the fridge didn't get dented yet again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Some enchanted evening

Last night, Frank, P. and I went to Patti Lupone and Mandy Patimkin at Hamer Hall. With minimal staging and accompaniment (piano and bass), they gave a real treat of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Stephen Sondheim and others. Though Mr Potemkin is a little past it in the vocal department, making some very strange noises, his magnificent stagecraft, and it would have to be said, hamminess, carried him through. Lupone was magnificent in every way. It was a hugely enjoyable concert, seeing professionalism at its best.

Nearing the end of the current draft of the research paper and nearly completing the auditing of the recordings. There are just a few quotes to check and another couple of interviews on this stage of the project.

Finally made contact with the Melbourne Hospital today and found that the FESS procedure would prevent me going to Canberra for the Cultural Awareness Training seminar on 17 August, so it is tentatively rescheduled for 4 September. That would suit very well. I'm not looking forward to it, but am looking forward to no longer having bacterially infected sinuses.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lots of variations

This week's shopping was in Brunswick as we needed bulk olive oil from Mediterranean Wholesalers, plus pasta and parmesan. As well, we supermarketed at Piedmonte's in Fitzroy, with its wonderful continental range, which seemed quieter than usual, perhaps as a result of the Global Financial Crisis with customers retreating to cheaper places, including Aldi.

In the evening, Rochelle J. dropped in after her sessions at the Crime and Justice Book Festival at the Convent. We had a good natter about what she is up to and finally tucked into P.'s vera bolognese which had been bubbling away on the stove all the while.

On Sunday, after the crossword, P. and I went to Federation Square to see the John Brack retrospective. It was wonderful to see his work in context: suddenly the mysterious 'pencil paintings' made sense. We also had a look at the Indigenous gallery which included a very nice painting by Darby Tjampijimpa Ross, and a very good exhibition about sky artworks by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. There was also a design exhibition of desperately impractical and uncomfortable furniture.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Another week spent mainly on the research project. Also, had an interview with Kath McL., the researcher, who is attached to our project, looking at publishing subsidies for the Literature Board of the Australia Council. In the light of the Productivity Commission's revolutionary recommendations this week, her work becomes even more interesting. The business of subsidising Australian literature could become much more busy (no pun intended).

Next day, we had a Melbourne team meeting for the project and compared notes on our progress towards final reports/papers and what to do with them. We have another meeting early in August to 'finalise'. The auditing of the (electronic) material is continuing slowly. It is hard to take more than about half an hour at a time, then you have to do something else.

By way of distraction, P., Frank and I went to Crazy for You, a rehash of a '30s Gershwin musical with added tunes. The original show is said to have had a wonky plot. It must have been wafer thin, as the 'improved' version was made of cardboard. The Australian's review heading said it all, 'Great songs, shame about the storyline.' However, the Production Company had given it a good, if not inspiring, performance with lots of young performers in the chorus.

Late today, I had a phone message scheduling my FESS procedure (to clean out my sinuses) for 7 August. I'll have to find out on Monday whether this will still allow me to go to Canberra a week later for the editing workshop on cultural awareness without bleeding all over the place. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lots of lunches

After farmers' market on Saturday (barramundi, venison and real milk) and Mall shopping, P. and I went to Fitzroy for lunch with Helen B. and Jean B. (down from Sydney). We had a good lunch and a good natter. On Sunday, Father picked us up to go to my sister's place for his 'birthday' lunch. Ian, my sister's husband, had cooked a luscious steak-and-kidney pie with oodles of accompanying delicious baked vegetables. We had a very lush birthday cake for dessert (two pieces for me!).

Last night, I went to the launch of Brian Castro's Bath Fugues. Marion Campbell gave a very erudite launch speech and Castro gave a witty response. The Readings chicken sandwiches were excellent as usual and there was a good crowd. No need to be rent-a-crowd as I'd feared on such a cold and wet, wintry night. The usual suspects were there and I was glad to catch up with Kathleen F. to find out what she was up to post-Melbourne Uni. ('Dream On') and let her know about Noel's treatments.

I'm still wading through the recordings of various conferences and interviews, which is slow but rewarding, though I took a break at lunchtime to make some steak-and-kidney for tonight, and start marinating the venison burgundy for tomorrow.

Friday, July 10, 2009

At the desk

Most of the week has been spent at the desk 'finishing' off the article/paper for the research project which is taking good shape, I think. I've now got to go back over all the sources to see whether I've missed anything, which will take a while.

Meanwhile, it was a week of very usual wintry food: steak and kidney pudding, soto ayam and roast pork. Our guests for dinner for two nights didn't make it because of illness (Sal and Dickins). Better luck next week.

My one outing away from home was to lunch in town with Jo B. and a visit at the same time to the exhibition at the State Library on 'The Independent Type, books and writing in Victoria' which had some great 'objects' including a possum skin cloak, but lacked real cohesion, perhaps because Victorian writing lacks cohesion. Back to the audio CDs and interviews.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Away from the fire

A good part of the weekend was spent away from the fireplace, though it kept itself burning the whole time. First the usual shopping at Victoria Gardens in Roz the Yaris. Then dinner at Frank's with pate and rollmops followed by pasta and dessert.

On Sunday, I picked up Denim the Wagon and took P., Lorraine and Frank to Heide for the modernism exhibition which I quite liked, though P. and Lorraine, who had seen it at the Powerhouse in Sydney, said it was only a reduced version with some of the installations missing. However, it was absorbing especially one of my favourites, Sonia Delaunay, though what she was doing in a predominantly Australian exhibition I don't know. Perhaps I missed something. We came home for a scratch lunch (a few goodies from Leo's picked up on the way) BY THE FIRE.

In the evening, P. and I went out to Dad's place where Kirrilly and Nick were visiting (for a wedding in Rosebud) and had an enjoyable dinner and a catch-up. They headed back to Nowra via Canberra today. Then home TO THE FIRE and Miss Marple, Women of the Sun and a smidgeon of Tour de France before bed.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mostly at home...

doing end-of-financial-year things. My only excursion was in Denim the Wagon (a new addition to the GoGet fleet) which is a largish Falcon station wagon which I was trying out before our weekend excursion. It gave me a shock when it beeped at me while in traffic, then I realised that someone had set the cruise control to 60 kph. I'll alter that on the freeway on Sunday.

I used the wagon to do some shopping which we missed in the weekend, and to visit George P. in Preston. He seems pretty well and now settled into Glenhaven, in spite of its limitations. His work is going well and we had a good mag. Coffee buying and a haircut completed the forays from home.

Now that the financials are done, I'm settling back into the research project which just passed 6,000 words.