Friday, February 28, 2014

Pacific Highways

I finished the restructure of the autobiography and sent it to the author who seems pleased with it. 'Priceless' was the word used. I await its return in a new form. Once restructured, it will need a deal of cutting unless the author does it themself in the course of reorganising it. Preparations proceed for China but there are still a deal of small things to do: shopping, money etc. On Wednesday night, I went to the Wheeler Centre to a Griffith-Review-organised session on their latest issue 'Pacific Highways' which is about NZ and the Pacific. It's a very good and interesting issue. The panel, chaired by Julianne Schulz, the editor, consisted of the co-editor Lloyd Jones and authors Alison Wong and Anton Blank. Their Q & A on the panel was interesting and the questions were good. Wong came up with an idea about how national traits are fostered by landscape: in Australia, you get in a car and just drive in straight lines, in NZ, you twist and turn and go up and down. New Zilanders are better at innovation and accepting new ideas (like gay marriage), she said.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Musica Viva and Recital Centre come up trumps again

Last night, I joined an old university chum and her husband for a forty-year catch-up at Blondie in the Recital Centre, then was joined by Robin S. and P. for a concert by the Kelemen Quartet. Except they weren't the Quartet as the cellist damaged her wrist in Perth so they had become a trio pending getting a replacement cellist, not an easy thing to do at short notice. They did a revised program for their new forces: violin and viola with works by Mozart, Bartok, LeClair, Ross Edwards and Kodaly in a well-balanced and entertaining program. The full quartet is very much a family affair. The lead violin is married to the second violin and the absent cellist is the second violin's sister. Only the viola is not related as far as I know. They are all Hungarians by the way.

Monday, February 24, 2014

And Busy Sunday

After a quiet morning doing the crossword and having a simple soup lunch, P. and I went in to Hamer Hall where we joined Frank for an Australian Chamber Orchestra concert featuring Dawn Upshaw. As well as works by Grieg, Elgar, Adams and Rautavaara (not Maori, a Finn), the highlight was a song cycle by Maria Schneider on poems by Ted Kooser (the U.S. poet laureate). It was a fine and moving performance which reflected on the experience of cancer survival which the singer, composer and writer all shared. The last song: 'How important it must be to someone/that I am alive, and walking,/and have written these poems./This morning the sun stood/right at the end of the road and waited for me.' Or another: 'My wife and I walk the cold road/in silence, asking for thirty more years.' Then a brief stop at home before P. and I went to The Commoner for the first of their Sunday night guest chef dinners. This time Stuart McVeigh of Union Food and Wine teamed with The Commoner's Jake Kellie to create a six course delight with some unusual things (which is why we went). The prize for best dish (though it wasn't a competition) went to Stuart McVeigh for wood roasted beetroot with rhubarb, goats curd and smoked bone marrow. It was earthy and delicious. Kellie weighed in with salmon and sea urchin with foraged succulents, equally delicious. But the real prize for the evening went to The Commoner's resident sommelier with two major finds: a 2012 The Story Pinot Noir from Henty, Victoria and a 20120 Bella Ridge Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from the Swan Valley. Both were gorgeous as was the NV Pennyweight 'Constance' Fino Apera from Beechworth (sherry in the old language). A very fine and memorable evening. Even though the foreign wines from Piedmont and Spain were good, I think my taste has been formed by Australian styles. Now back to work on the autobiography.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Busy Saturday

Today, first up was a convent market where we spent heaps but got most of our meals for the coming week. Then off to the mall for more fruit and veg and supermarketing. We had a superb brunch at Backstreet Eating after we dumped the old computer stuff in the Council recycling centre. My cerviche was very tasty accompanied by confit potatoes with aoli and a very spicy Bloody Mary (but not as mind blowing as the ones at The Commoner). After a rest, we were off to St Kilda to join Frank at Cicciolino's where we had another good meal. I had the crab souffle followed by the lobster pasta then a creme brulee dessert. All very good. Then we continued along Acland Street to Theatreworks where Manilla Productions put on Songheim's 'Pacific Overtures' directed very ably by Alister Smith. It was an excellent and absorbing production making great use of paper (for sets and costumes). A very good cast made the most of the show.

Friday, February 21, 2014

New computer

Shane, from Computer Specialist Investigators, came yesterday and installed my new computer and fixed everything, transferred my files and so on. He was here for three and a half hours and I am very happy. The world is now in Cinemascope. I am still learning how to use the new formats but so far it seems not too hard. I've had a bit of trouble with BlogSpot but I'll try to keep posting. Meanwhile, off to the hospital for more pills.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New computer and planning

Most of this week has been spent on the autobiography, puzzling over its structure. Still no solution. Last night, Frank and I went to the City of Yarra planning department's presentation of their planning for residential areas to go to Minister Guy later in the year. It will be interesting to see how they go. There was vigorous discussion and some dissent from the mixed audience though it was fairly obvious that most people were supportive. Now, I'm waiting for the arrival of a new computer which will mean a lot of learning and installing and re-installing but, with luck, it will mean a better result. So my next post, if any, will be from the new machine.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Busy Saturday Springsteen

First up yesterday, we picked up Harley the Corolla and did the shopping (no market, no Frank as he was in radio training), then had a superb lunch at Bayte in Johnston Street. I had the chicken skewer with a shared side of potato and tomato relish (delish relish). P. had the smoked trout, which he said was superb. Good job too, as in the evening we went to the Bruce Springsteen concert at AAMI stadium. It started at 5pm with Dan Sultan in the unfortunate position of backup backup and half the audience or more missing. This meant no time for dinner first, so we were forced back onto the disgusting salty, greasy, overpriced crap that they were serving up. There were also huge queues for the bars. We were in the cheap seats (our own fault) so were a LONG way from the stage. The backup band, Hunters and Collectors were superb: clear and accomplished. Springsteen was good, though started over half-an-hour late with no explanation, then did the entire interminable, relentless set so went until nearly 11. He and the band were very accomplished to be fair, but, like the Chinese Tan Dun with the MSO the other night, they didn't know when to finish. The fans loved it and at times it was like 'Sing Along With Mitch' (remember that). It was worth going and I admire his fitness at probably more than my age, but, please give us a break.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Charcoal Lane revisited

Last night, P. and I joined Frank and Susan and Stuart P. (his nephew and niece-in-law) for a special Valentine's Day dinner at Charcoal Lane. For our sitting (8.30) we were the only table that wasn't a couple. Keep 'em guessing, I say. The meal was very good and well-priced for what we got. I had the duck salad entree with quandong, the salmon and scallop main and the wattle-seed pav. for dessert. Someone must have told Charcoal Lane (who have a new chef) that their portions were too small (for me they were just right). So what we got was really good 'value' but really a bit much to feel comfortable. However, it was very well done. The steak eaters were very satisfied with what they got and our vegetarian was quite happy with her special dishes. We must go back there for a regular lunch and dinner to see whether the same applies.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Visit to the vampires

This morning, I was out the door early to visit the vampires at The Club (Royal Melbourne Hospital) before my nephrologist's appointment next Tuesday. I don't know why I get so apprehensive about blood tests or injections because the Pathology vampires at The Club are so expert that you hardly feel anything. Similarly with Mary, the pathologist or Helen the nurse at the local North Yarra Community Health Centre. Now at home again settling in to work on the current autobiography which I'm really enjoying, though it has some structural challenges. I've just got a quote on a new computer and it's less that I expected, so, after I discuss it with P., I suspect it will be go, go, go.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Indonesian history and contemporary difficulties

Yesterday, late afternoon, I went off to the Asia Centre at Melbourne University for a screening of '40 Years of Silence: an Indonesian tragedy' with its director, U.S. academic Robert Lemelson. As well as being an intriguing film about the victims of the 1965 massacres, the author added some interesting facts as did the audience. One was the delight of our late PM, Harold Holt, at the murder of so many 'communists'. The other was that the father-in-law of the current Indonesian PM was leading the push for the massacres with the army across Java and Bali. Again, the Asia Centre has come up trumps. All free with drinks and nibblies to boot. This morning, I saved things I need to save from my old computer, which took most of the morning, then found that I haven't got enough RAM to instal Windows 8.1. As the computer is now nine years old, I thought that, as well as Windows XP needing to go (support finishes for it in April), I could do with a new computer as P. has been urging. My plea on Facebook for advice yielded calls for an iPad (impractical for working on large manuscripts) or a Mac (worth considering). Most useful was a contact for a computer advisor which I think I will need, at least for installation of a new machine. Others suggested purchase of more RAM, but I think this machine might give up the ghost some time in the not too distant. At least, while I ponder, I can get on with reading the current autobiography with a view to its structure.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Blak Cabaret

Last night, after a quiet day at home, P. and I went to the Blak Cabaret at the Malthouse as part of the Indigenous Festival. It was a people packed generous show, compered with flair by Kylie Belling. Some outstanding performers wee the comedy of Kevin Kropinyeri, the singing of Kutcha Edwards and the very engaging gumleaf player, Uncle Herb Patten. It was a very well-produced and disciplined show and exceptionally good value. Beforehand, we had a quick meal at Blondie Outside. The Malthouse cafe lost a lot of business by not being open.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Organising and China by proxy

It's been a patchy week: a doctor's visit to stock up on prescriptions before China (thanks Dr Fiona) and a visit from the plasterer to do a reccie for a quote on the fallen plaster in the front study. Victor is a very nice man who plans to restore the cornices which is a big and difficult job. I await his quote. As well, there is some argy-bargy with my Chinese visa relating to my occupation. I had to produce a new statement which made clear that I am NOT a writer or journalist, just a humble editor. On Tuesday, we went to Noel T.'s for a birthday dinner (mine) with Frank and Noel's longstanding friend Robina M. nee B. (Of 'You're soaking in it' fame). I went early to talk about her book, then we had a delish meal. On Friday, P. and I went to the special MSO Chinese New Year concert, conducted by Tan Dun and featuring two of his pieces. The first, a concerto for string orchestra and pipa (a kind of Chinese harp cum guitar) was excellent. Some of the other Chinese pieces were more like bad Enio Morricone, though P. said that was insulting to Morricone. The Mendelssohn and Prokofiev were excellent, but an excess of encores meant that an under two-hour concert took nearly three, what with a dignitary arriving a quarter of an hour late delaying the start. I suspect that the Chinese performers don't know when to stop. Afterwards, we had a good meal at Fatto in the Hamer Hall building. Good food, not too dear with excellent service (and picturesque waitstaff). Farmers' market on Saturday followed by a very good brunch as always at Madame Sousou's. John Lelleton, Maria's son, is back there as a semipermanent fixture.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Hot and quiet weekend

On Saturday, there was no market, either convent or farmers', so we picked up the ever-faithful Harley and, after picking up Frank and a parcel of his at the post office, headed to Victoria Gardens for the usual dose of horrors from Coles and the delights of the fish shop, Toscano's fruit and veg. and the gold-plated butcher. Then, after dropping the shopping at our homes, we went to Backstreet Eating, which is conveniently near Harley's parking pod, for another good brunch. It didn't disappoint. Frank and I had the special burgers which are disarmingly simple: a so-called Waygu patty (where have all the Waygu's gone? Long time passing), shredded beetroot, cheese and aioli but in spite of being spare, it was delicious with a soft roll. P. had a breakfast taco which among other things contained some bacon which he said was like pork belly. The rest of the weekend was spent mainly like lizards on rocks but in our case trying to escape the heat.