Friday, May 30, 2014

Marvellous Martin McDonagh

After a very ample meal at Wagamama in Flinders Lane, P. and I went last night to the first play, 'The Beauty Queen of Leenane' from Martin McDonagh's The Leenane Trilogy. It is mainly about the twisted relationship between a mother and daughter, played with great panache by Noni Hazlehurst and Michala Banas. The trilogy, at 45downstairs, looks not to be missed. And a bargain: $84 for the three plays. The male cast, Linc Hasler and Dylan Watson were excellent too, and the whole play was rivetting: grim but with a lot of sharp humour. Not a good ad for the Irish tourist bureau (did it ever stop raining?). Now for the shopping.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday sweet Sunday

Today I did a bit more work on the big novel, plus got a present of a new chunk of the biography for review. It will have to wait a bit while I concentrate on the novel. The Sunday crossword intervened, but only for a half-an-hour as P. did so much of it first. Then pea and ham soup for lunch and off to the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. This concert was their new Octet (a sort of best-of) presenting works by Shostakovich, Brahms, Enescu and a premiere of a new work by Richard Mills. The Enescu octet, written when he was only nineteen, certainly gave the group a good work-out. They are taking this concert, I think, in the same form on a country tour, so it is, on the whole, very modern fare for the bush, earliest piece 1888 or thereabouts and the rest from the twentieth century onwards. Home for a good fish dinner from the Convent market: Lakes Entrance whiting fillets.

Not so big brass

Having done the main shopping on Friday as per our (maybe) new regime, we still visited the Convent market on Saturday morning and bought a few goodies. At home, we had a visit for a coffee by Kent P. P. made a roast chook for dinner before we headed off to Musica Viva for the American Brass Quintet. I'd wanted to go as the program mainly consisted of modern music but either that, or the fact that it was all brass, didn't appeal to the traditional Musica Viva audience. However, there were a higher than normal number of young folk in the audience. So it seems you either keep your traditional audience as it slowly dies off or foster a growing one. There were some older works from Morley (16th century) and des Pres (15-16th). One of the trombonists told the story of a group of women somewhere in the US who told him they liked the 'traditional' music which came from 'their time'. 'How old are you?' he asked. They also had more recent works by Lacerda (with lovely South American rhythms), Greenberg, Snow and Lovelock (an Australian connection). Somewhere during the busy day, I lost my credit card so had to cancel it and await a new one.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Marvin Gaye

After a good spicy dinner at the Malaysian eatery in the QVB, P. and I went to 'Let's Get It On: the life and music of Marvin Gaye.' It was a good show: Bert LaBonte and Jude Perl sang well and the band was good. The audience was disappointingly small which probably reduced the energy of the show a bit but we were in the front row (early buying of tickets for a very economical show) and enjoyed it very much.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

La Traviata

Last night, P. and I went to dinner at Yamato, Exhibition Street, for an excellent meal including yummy crab claws, tempura whiting and raw fish. Thence next door to Her Majesty's for 'La Traviata' put on by Victorian Opera, conducted by Richard Mills. It was an excellent production in every way: orchestra, singing, acting, sets, costumes, choreography and so on. The opera has the advantage of few longeurs, if any. Fine performances by the three main principals and the chorus all made for a stunning night at the theatre, the fourth in our series of 2 hour and 50 minute shows ('Night on Bald Mountain', 'The Turk in Italy' and 'Doris Day: more than the girl next door' were the others.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Gallery gazing

This morning, P. went to see a financial advisor, then we met at the National Gallery of Victoria for lunch at their fabulous tea rooms. I love their crustless sandwiches and cakes. Because it seemed quiet (no queues) we went to the Prado exhibition from the royal collection. In a smaller version of the Prado, by the time I was finished I was suffering from overexposure to religious art (those royals seemed to love it, or at least to patronise it). But it is well worth seeing, especially if you can go on a quieter day. My pick: a Tiepolo Annunciation and a caption that tells us that the Virgin's Himmelfart was only endorsed officially by the Vatican in 1950! But there are lots of wonderful paintings and only a small amount of dross.

Mushroom Sunday

It was a very quiet Sunday doing the crossword and having bacon and eggs for lunch. In the evening, P. and I went with Lorraine E. to the Commoner's Foraging Meal which is available at all sittings in May. It consisted of four courses: a croquette which was ultra-tasty, then a kind of mushroom soup with mushroom 'juice', mushrooms and a parboiled egg (very subtle, but delicious), then roasted mushrooms with greens, plus duckfat potatoes (yum!) and a chef's gift, barbecued cabbage which was quite sweet from its dressing. We finished with the ale pudding and cream, the only course without mushrooms. We thought it might be a bit spare, but in the event we were stuffed full and couldn't finish the main course (even the potatoes). We'll now have to do a budget and stop doing things like having two lavish meals in a row.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Saturday without shopping seemed a bit strange. However, it did make going out on Saturday night a bit less rushed. P. and I dined at Fatto in the Arts Centre. We were told there was no room, then the maitre d' chased us up the concourse to say there was a cancellation. Very good of him, as it was a long way. The meal was excellent, though a bit pricey for a pre-dinner eat. I had scallops, then carpaccio with very tasty chips, then a chocolate dessert. We then went to see Melinda Schneider (her mother was a yodeller) channel Doris Day with the aid of an 8-piece band and two singer/dancer/actor men. It was an entertaining but very laundered view of DD, but the songs and presentation were good even though Ms Schneider was a little off on some high finishing notes. She performed well. Doris loves dogs and currently has 14 of them. Schneider brought on three dogs (ignoring the advice of various Hollywood stars). She had secreted treats for them down her bra, so where did the dogs sniff? Very funny. The lesbian next to me and I laughed a lot.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Change in routine

Because P. is now 'retired', we can go shopping on any day that we and Frank are free. So today we picked up the ever-faithful Harley (whom the previous users had left with a full tank. Bless you!) and went to the Mall, Victoria Gardens. It was much quieter on Fridays so we might try it again. We then brunched at Bayte and shared multiple dishes, Lebanese tortellini, chicken kebabs with garlic sauce, stuffed zucchini flowers and tender lamb shoulder. It was all delicious and very good value. Go there! They stopped doing breakfast, but do lunch and dinner most days. Back to work on the novel.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Turk in Italy and Noel in Hawthorn

On Tuesday night, P. and I went to 'The Turk in Italy' (not 'The Italian Girl in Algiers') after a cheap and cheerful at Yoyogi. It was entertaining (also in the audience was the director Simon Phillips, hosting Geoffrey Rush) and a stylish, good production. A critic has complained about it being too broad but, really, as it has no substance whatsoever, what other outcome is possible? The Australian Opera has this time continued its policy of 'second' cast for Melbourne. While all the singers were competent, they lacked the power to really push the piece along. Even the excellent Emma Matthews 'powered down' a bit, except in her splendid final aria, which really stretched credibility dramatically. I let the Aus. Opera know my reservations when they sent a questionnaire next day. I doubt they'll take any notice. Next day, P. and I had lunch with Robin S. at Rosa's Kitchen in the city and it was quite splendid, then an equally splendid dinner chez Noel, who is doing well, though still with some problems. The novel continues apace.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cultural Solutions

Last night, while Sally and P. were at the MSO, I went to the Wheeler Centre to see the Griffith Review talk on their latest issue, Cultural Solutions. An excellent panel of the editor, Julianne Schultz, CEO of Big hART company, Scott Rankin, Marcus Westbury of Newcastle fame and the wonderful Robyn Archer all spoke about the ways in which artistic endeavour can effect cultural change. Like their previous talk on the last issue about New Zealand, this was stimulating and a very interesting account of the work of all the participants. One of Archer's current jobs is as arts advisor to the Gold Coast, a challenge indeed. I wondered when she is going to appear in a meter maid outfit. The MSO, under Richard Tognetti was apparently very good. Today was P.'s first day after the ATO. He seemed to settle in well. My father dropped in this morning for a cup of tea before his trip to Sydney later this week.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Art and Architecture

After a quiet Sunday, the crossword and bit of cooking for dinner, P. and I went with Lorraine E. to the Lyon Housemuseum in Kew for a forum which centred around the way art and architecture interact, particularly in art galleries. The speakers were Corbett Lyon, the owner of the museum, Jason Smith, Director of the Heide Museum and John Denton, designer of the new Australian pavilion for the Venice Biennale. Although they didn't say anything particularly new, the coherent picture which they gave on the issues clarified them and they gave some very good (some new) examples. After the talks and discussion, there was a tasty arvo tea (with my favourite crustless sangoes). We then repaired home for an early tea of fritatta, French onion soup and nibblies.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Night on Bald Mountain

Yesterday, it was a fairly fruitful Farmers' Market then normal shopping in an almost brand-new Howell the Yaris. Bayte was full so we brunched at Po Boy in Smith Street to try it out. Never again. It wasn't bad, just lacklustre. Very unspicy so-called spicy food. Cheese croquettes which seemed to contain cheese, but I couldn't taste it. In the evening, we went to 'Night on Bald Mountain' at the Malthouse. Director Matthew Lutton and his team did a fine job. It's a pity that Patrick White was not still alive to see Julie Forsyth's tour-de-force as the goatlady. The rest of the cast were very good indeed. A bracing night at the theatre which is fairly rare.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Working on

I've been given the okay by the novel author to work on the chapters which are already revised so am mastering the trackchanges mechanisms on my new computer (Word 8.1). It is a very good novel, so it will be enjoyable working on it. I've also had a very good chat to the biography author which I hope will bear fruit in the writing. Apart from that it has been a mostly restful week with most meals at home for a change. It might be tempting fate, but there's a chance I might fulfil Joe Hockey's wish for me to work till age 70 or beyond.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Helium part one

As a toe in the water, P. and I have booked three of the Helium experimental series at the Malthouse Theatre. Last night, we went to the first SEETHrough, a play devised by the performers Colin Kinchela and Gavin Walters, about the interaction between a whitefella and blackfella, friends since childhood. While it contained some powerful dramatic moments and some great imagery (centred around a cutthroat razor and a barber's chair), the whole show was a bit opaque. We had a very unexperimental fritatta beforehand, then went home for vera bolognese. The long novel is totally absorbing and entertaining. The author is revising parts of it so I can't start work yet. I am looking forward to it.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

A fun-filled week (sort of)

On Wednesday night, P. and I went to Frank's for dinner: pie and pudding, delicious as always. Next day, James the Handyman came to do a few jobs which have been hanging fire for nearly twelve months as potential handyfolk either never came to quote or never came to do the job. James did a good job and is quoting on painting the outside of the house which will be pricey because we will need to hire a cherrypicker to do the upstairs. I've started reading the long novel and, to my relief, so far it is splendid, as I had expected and hoped. I've finished the bits of the biography which I have got so far and am pondering advice. Normal shopping on Saturday, followed by the usual fine brunch at Backstreet Eating. In the evening, Frank, P. and I went to ANAM for a mainly piano concert which was very oddly programmed with a dinner break of an hour and a quarter, not quite enough time to release a whole town hall of people onto Clarendon Street and expect them to be fed in time. However, the concert with two visiting pianists and the resident piano co-ordinator was splendid, including two Mozart piano concertos (12 and 13) transcribed by him for string quintet and piano. Particularly good were two brackets from Bartok.