Saturday, August 31, 2013

Culture vulturing again

On Wednesday night, Frank and I (P. stayed home) went to the Victorian Opera 2014 season launch. It was in the Domed Reading Room at the State Library, a grand venue. The season for next year is quite interesting including 'Into the Woods', 'La Traviata' plus a new Australian work based on a Tim Winton novel and other goodies. Their departing general manager, Lucy Shorrocks, pointed out how young a large portion of their audience is, something which bodes well for the future. Thursday brought the Melbourne Symphony with works composed and conducted by John Adams. The opener, a short piece based on a sports car ride prompted his comment that 'you know when it's modern music because the shifting of the furniture takes longer than the piece itself.' He followed this energetic piece with two more bursts of energy: a violin concerto and a pseudo symphony. It was an enjoyable and energising evening which the orchestra seemed to enjoy too. We had a so-so dinner trying Noodle King in Swanston St. So it was back to Yoyogi on Friday night when P. and I went to the Fairfax Studio for 'The Comedy of Errors' by the Bell Shakespeare Company. While of no consequence whatever, the production was excellent with great physicality and shrieking from the young cast. This morning, Gus the mover delivered our four dining chairs plus P.'s cabinet. He helped P. get it upstairs, a nearly impossible job which I certainly couldn't have done. The house is in a bit of chaos after all the moving in and out of boxes and junk and my having spent two days solid hard work on the new government job which has now gone back to the bureaucrats. Phew!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Text malfunction

I don't know what is going wrong with Blogger. Not only will it now not let me paragraph but it seems to have gone insane with italics. Oh well, at least, so far it is legible. What will happen next?

Brahms and eggs

On Monday night, P., Frank and I had a very good bar meal outside Blondie at the Recital Centre. The food was very tasty and good value. The wines were a bit dearer. Then we went to the Australian Chamber Orchestra which was, in fact, various configurations of quartet and quintet. They did pieces by Bach, Ligeti and Ives and ended with Brahms' Piano Quartet. They were joined by excellent pianist, Jeremy Denk who pounded the keyboard with great virtuosity. A splendid concert and good mix of old and newish. On Tuesday night, we were finishing a pasta dish when our new neighbours arrived with eggs and we had a wine and a good chat. They are very nice and sympatico. We both have Greens election posters on display out the front.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Greek vases

We began a fairly frenetic week of activities with a 'masterclass' at Melbourne Uni's Potter Gallery on Greek vases. After years of peering blankly at Greek vases in museum's worldwide, P. and I thought it was time to learn something about them so that they weren't so opaque. Drs Heather Jackson and Andrew Jamieson gave a comprehensible version of their impressive scholarship in a talk about the making and iconography of Greek vases. They had assembled about thirty or so of them on the table and, wearing white gloves, the audience were able to handle some of them. All of us were slightly terrified at the responsibility of handing them on to the next person. After inspecting the Sutton collection on display next door, they then unveiled their trump card. As Gypsy Rose Lee said, 'You gotta have a gimmick.' Five of their vases were fakes! The group identified the fakes fairly quickly after a few false calls. We were now 'experts'. After arvo tea, Assoc. Prof. Parshia Lee-Stecum gave a talk on how the vases could tell us about the Greek games and other aspects of daily life in Greece. The afternoon was enjoyable and though our knowledge of Greek vases is still a bit thin, we'll view them with a bit more knowledge in future.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tango opera

Last night, after a cheap-and-cheerful at Yoyogi, P., Frank and I went to Maria of Buenos Aires at the Recital Centre put on by Victorian Opera. It was a splendid production of a work by Astor Piazzolla (composer) and Horacio Ferrer (librettist). With conductor James Crabb leading with his bandeolon (piano accordion), the small ensemble played gorgeously the tango-infused rhythms. The cast performed both spoken and sung text and danced in a well-unified dressed and set show. Frank was less impressed. Today I sent off my comments about the revised novellas. Exactly as predicted, the next job is not turning up on time but four days later. We'll see.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Funerals and birds

Most of last week was spent on the 'self-help' book which is now with the author who will self-publish as an e-book. On Tuesday, I had brunch with Sal, returned from Hong Kong where she had a good fortnight, but will probably not return. Overbuilt, she says, and unplanned. On Wednesday night, P., Frank and I had a good Indian dinner at Marigold in Clifton Hill ( reasonable and tasty), then went to Lonergan and Raven's undertakers for the Collingwood Historical Society AGM with a talk by Nigel the undertaker about history of funerals in Melbourne. It was fascinating and a good marketing ploy as most of the audience will be potential clients sooner rather than later. It was a great idea by the society and a very atmospheric, dramatic venue. It was normal shopping on Saturday, a good brunch at the Johnston Street foodstore, then a visit to Noel in rehab. and some nursery shopping. In the evening, P. and I had a meal at Wagamama in Flinders Lane with their usual good formula. Then we went to 'Savages', a play by Patricia Cornelius. It was based on the story of the woman raped and killed on the Pacific cruise ship, but all occurred before that event. It was a very powerful play, very energetically performed. On Sunday, we picked up little Carmelita the Yaris near Frank's place, and with him headed for the McClelland gallery where there was a splendid exhibition of birds' nests (!) curated excellently by Janine Burke with items from the Melbourne Museum and Gay Bilson's collections. There was also an absorbing show of painting and objects with bird themes including a yarn-bombed peacock. We then went on to the Mornington Gallery which featured a Lisa Roet simian spectacular including a very moving short film and animation of the first chimp in space. There was also a David Larwill retrospective which was a bit one-note. Now back to work on a few bits and pieces, a report on an autobiography and quick check on two novels before a very big job next week.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A week in Brisbane

We've just returned from a week in Brisbane, mainly devoted to helping clear up Peter's mother's house. Our main job was the books, some of which have departed for Melbourne (I know, we need more books like a hole in the head). Joan, Peter's mum, had kept a mammoth amount of papers (statements going back to 1937!) so a lot still remains to be done. The week was a mixture of warmth with other members of the family, nostalgia and a whole lot of history (not all of it good). We stayed at an apartment hotel near Roma St Station, which was very convenient and okay and had lots of quite good meals, including a good one with Marcia, Anton and Simon at the East Leagues Club, definitely a glimpse into foreign territory, and a dinner chez Sue H. with friends Helen and Jan which was mainly seafood and delicious (the clam bisque and fish pie were outstanding). I have to reluctantly admit that Qantas did a good job. Home again now, and back to work and there's plenty of it.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Memorial time again

The last few days have been busy, so I haven't got a lot of work done. I've dropped in on Noel in rehab a couple of times and he is amazingly well and progressing into a bit of walking with a prosthesis. On Thursday night, P., Frank and I went to dinner at the reopened Commoner. The new menu is excellent and the srvings and taste sensations have gone up a notch to the point where, after a couple of small dishes and a couple of entrees, I couldn't savour the delicious-sounding desserts. On Saturday it was normal shopping (without markets), a very pleasant lunch at a justifiably busy Bayte in Johnston St. On Sunday, P. and I joined Ann de H. and Polly P. on the train to Williamstown where we had a splendid lunch chez Rennis as our annual memorial to Liz Kelly. Much laughter and animated conversation followed; a few politicians' ears would have been burning.