Wednesday, March 21, 2018

March 21. Day 80. Explosive fun

If I was to choose a government minister to blow up, it wouldn't be Leeanne Enoch.
As a supporter of the arts, I throw my backing behind the Arts Minister.
Also she's the big sister of Wesley Enoch a playwright and former Queensland Theatre Company artistic director. That puts her in my good books.
That's not to say that I can't enjoy a joke at her expense.
Ms Enoch today launched the third annual World Science Festival in Brisbane.
Science Steve was on hand with his version of explosive fun. As instructed, Ms Enoch - who also happens to be the Science Minister - held a beaker. Science Steve set to work. The look on the Minister's face was priceless.
It was all in good fun and a great way to launch the festival.
For the rest of the week and all weekend I'll be at the festival with a group of journalism students.
If the past two years are anything to go by it will be rewarding and exhausting in equal measure. Watch this space.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

March 20. Day 79. A little bit of drama in my life

If anything, there's too much Drama in my life. I live with an the individual now known as Drama Being, a QUT Fine Arts Drama student. My office is less than 100 metres from the building that houses both the acting and drama students and is about the same distance from La Boite Theatre. In addition QACI, the performing arts high school is a very short distance down the hill. This means I barely raise an eyebrow when I hear something that sounds like a monologue or looks like a costume. If I witnessed a fight, I wouldn't know whether to call the police of applaud. So it came as not much of a surprise when I saw a group of students in costume standing on a street corner performing something. Another day. Another show. It was a real traffic stopper, mainly because it was right at a busy set of lights.
I love the confidence of these young people in taking their art to the street. I arrived late so I have no idea what the point of the performance was but I give them 10 out of 10 for effort and costuming. I'm sure those with a little less drama in their lives would have been more impressed by the shock value.

Monday, March 19, 2018

March 19. Day 78. Sinking my teeth in.

My father was a dentist. In the mid 70s, when we kids were in primary school, we all moved to England for two years in what was a hugely unusual and difficult endeavour at the time. We returned to Australia in time for my older sister to start high school. In those two years, times had changed and all his surgery equipment needed to be updated and replaced. It cost the equivalent of a small house loan to achieve it. I thought of that today when I took Number One Son to the dentist for his final X-Rays before wisdom teeth removal next month. I can only imagine how much kitting out a dentist surgery would be today. 3D crown printers, cameras on probes, real time nerve imagery.  It's crazy shit. I'm still impressed by TVs mounted in the ceiling. The rest of this equipment is something else. To think, back in the day we used to act as dental nurse on each other when dad checked our teeth on weekends. I still clearly remember suctioning up my brother's tongue by accident. Well it was accidental the first time. You could do that sort of thing in the 70s. Not any more. If fear of damaging this specialist equipment didn't kill such notions, the insurance risk would. But it taught me a lot not least of which was that I never ever wanted to be a dentist.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

March 18. Day 77. Me and my big mouth

One of my Sunday outings of choice is a trip to the markets. I'm especially fond of the ones in the city Botanic Gardens. These markets once lived in the Riverside Centre and in their heyday were huge. But with the amount of glass and concrete they were unforgivably hot a lot of the time.  Times change and so did the location. They are now much smaller and to my mind much less impersonal. They are also under nice shady trees and close to the ponds. It's all very relaxed and pleasant. I know where to find the stalls I like. Today it was beads I was after. I've got to know the bloke who runs that stall well. He used to live in Highgate Hill. He remembers I work at the uni from the time I walked down during a break at QUT Open Day wearing my very unfashionable QUT shirt. Today we hasn't there. He once told me her didn't make the trip from the Sunshine Coast if the weather was bad. Today was bright blue. By my reckoning that meant he had no excuse.
So I went and asked the market management and asked if they knew when he would be back.
They said it really depended on how his wife's cancer treatment was going.
 Well that certainly put my desire for beads into perspective....

Saturday, March 17, 2018

March 17. Day 76. Dog Day Afternoon

The only thing worse than self diagnosis, is booking a consultation with Dr Google. Today, I decided I had chronic fatigue syndrome. A person should not feel this tired, this often, I reasoned. I started consulting Dr Google but it made me tired so I went back to bed. It was about noon. I'd been awake an hour. I was awoken just before 4pm by Rumple standing over me and barking. I suspect he thought I'd died or something. He may have just wanted to get out of the house. It seemed like the sensible thing for us all to do. We went to the dog park. My dogs are pretty useless as dog parks. They seem to think that the parks exist as speed dating opportunities to audition new owners or something. In any event, they find a human with no dog hanging off them - usually because the dog is off doing that the dog park is designed for - and they go up for a smooch. Because if there's one thing my dogs lack in life it's affection - not. They played chase for about 20 seconds and then went off to find a human each to get a cuddle from. If I asked Dr Google, i could probably find a name for this sort of thing. But that would take energy and I have none...

Friday, March 16, 2018

March 16. Day 75. Randy the Rooster

If Randall the Rooseter's plan when crossing the road was to get to the other side, things didn't go well.
He was struck by a truck and dragged along on the road.
Fortunately for Randall, the occupants in the car following saw what happened and picked Randy up. He was delivered to St Vincent's Vet and into the caring hands of vet extraordinaire and my friend Dr Megan. For the past four weeks Randy the Rooster has been undergoing rehabilitation, first at the surgery and then at home with the rest of the  family pets. But suburban back yards are no place for roosters - council regulations say so. Randy the rooster needed a forever farm. Megan went searching and in Beaudesert found a mum with a couple of kids and a couple of chickens prepared to take a rooster. So we agreed to go for a drive.  I gave the mission a hashtag. #RandyTheRehabilitatedRooster'sRoadTrip. I also decided Nicole Kidnam could play me when they made the road trip movie. After Randy was handed over to his new forever home we headed off to lunch at the winery just down the road.  Albert River Wines is a fine place to go for lunch even if you don't happen to have a rooster to drop off just down the road. And because it was me that wasn't the end of the day's excitement. I rounded out the Friday with a Fame concert. This was my 16th annual Opening Clubs. Bid day. Awesome outcome - especially for Randy.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 15. Day 74. Hush little baby

 I was at South Bank with my (fur) babies this afternoon when two women approached. The younger woman was cradling a baby swaddled in a blanket in her arms. The other asked if her friend could pat the dogs. I agreed turning to look at the soft, pink bundle. They unwrapped the blanket and explained that this lifelike but lifeless bub was a Reborn. Okay, I hadn't heard the term before but I got the idea - extremely lifelike doll.
She was called Maisey. She cost $300 and had only just been picked up today. Maisey's "mum" had a collection of similar reborn bubs at home. I was offered a nurse. Instinctively I made sure the head was protected. I had to ask "why?" By this stage it had become clear that the younger woman had some form of intellectual disability. The other woman explained that she lived alone and her babies offered her comfort and a purpose.She changed their nappies. She nurtured them. She cuddled them. It seemed to me that this was $300 well spent. So much joy and no sleepless nights

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March 14. Day 73. A hard shell to crack

According to an online quiz, my spirit animal is a deer. This, apparently involves combining a softness and gentleness with a strength and determination. That's not wildly off the mark but it's probably true in some respects of just about everyone. Deer people are also able to move quickly .... yeah no.. Who would have thought? An online quiz got it wrong. My affinity is with the turtle. Slow with a soft underbelly who likes to try and present a hard exterior to the world but really fools no-one.
I needed a hard shell today. I was at one of those meetings where you should be issued with a shield not an agenda. It was uncomfortable, unpleasant. Later I needed a lie down followed by a calming walk with dogs. It helped. A bit. But I suspect many, many more feathers will be ruffled before this one plays out. Now where's my shell again?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March 13. Day 72. We interrupt this presentation ....

 It happens a few times a year. A student I don't recognises approaches me just before the start of a lecture. He or she requests the opportunity to make a short address before we get underway. The subject falls into one of two categories. It will be about a big rally coming up to protest education cuts or it will be a short campaign speech seeking votes in the student elections. I always agree. It pleases me that student politics isn't dead although signs of life are often difficult to detect. Today's announcement was on behalf of the National Union of Students promoting a rally in King George Square next Wednesday. It is weird how little the issues have changed in the 20 years I've been doing this job. The rhetoric is almost identical.
Whether or not I managed to stop in on King George Square next week remains to be seen. But I did make it tonight. It's Brisbane Comedy Festival and it would be extremely remiss of me if I didn't make at least one event. I laughed and laughed at Celia Pacquola. She started with as many F bombs as our student protest leader - perhaps more. But then the language gave way to some really, really funny insights about her life. I enjoyed it immensely. And in a week like this a good laugh is what we all need.

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 12. Day 71. An exercise in truth

"Would I lie to you? Would I lie to you honey? Would I say something that wasn't true? I'm asking you honey, would I lie to you?" So asked The Eurythmics in their song unsurprisingly named Would I Lie to You? 
Truth and trust. They are really important in a relationship.
They are really important to a journalist. Today I took a group of really motivated final year journalism students to the ABC at South Bank for a briefing ahead of next week's World Science Festival.
These are the future protectors of the fourth estate and the defenders of truth.
After the meeting I walked through South Bank stopping at one of my favourite places the Aquativity Park.
I love the giant buckets that randomly spill their contents over anyone standing underneath.
There was a young couple, the sort of couple that radiate new relationship standing nearby. "Go on," she said. "Stand under it. I'll tell you when to move. It's a game of trust. "
So he stood under it and he got soaked.
They laughed because that's still funny when you are in a new relationship.
To be fair to her - although I'm sure he'll never believe it - it was an accident.
He was standing under one bucket and she was watching it intently waiting for the fall. It was the one next to it that dumped its load soaking him. I nearly offered to play spotter for them. I could have added: "Trust me. I'm a journalist"

Sunday, March 11, 2018

March 11. Day 70. Bridging the gap

I can't pinpoint exactly when or why Brisbane decided it was necessary to light its bridges and buildings but I approve. I rather suspect that advances in technology made it possible and then it became a case of "if you can you should".
Doubtless there are good counter arguments. It's probably not too good for the environment to light things for no reason other than aesthetics. It might even be confusing for wildlife even though the lighting levels are low.
But it makes a statement loud and clear with no volume at all. Tonight after the theatre, Oliver and I made a detour via the city for a small spot of photography. There was no-one around until one other family group pulled up. The camera revealed that their intention was the same as ours. Before the lights that would never have happened - at least not at night. It may be pointless but it's pretty and that's reason enough for me.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

March 10. Day 69. All that glitters

Bloody weird weather today. It's the kind of weather I associate with Melbourne not Brisbane. It rained. It cleared. Repeat. I can't tell you the number of times I went to leave the house with the dogs only to abandon the endeavour. Finally we got in the car. It started bucketing down before we were out of the driveway. Having got that far, I really didn't fancy the Winkle whinging that would follow if we drove back in to the garage. I decided a brief scenic drive was the lesser of two evils. We stopped at the Kangaroo Point cliffs so I could take a photo of the rain drenched city - and then the rain stopped and the clouds cleared. I watched a bird land on the gold-leafed statue of the Angel Moroni on top of the Mormon temple. It blended into the grey sky and then as though a message was sent from the prophet, the sky cleared and there was blue. I took the pics and rushed back to the car. I didn't want the wet dog smell from the inevitable next downpour.

Friday, March 9, 2018

March 9. Day 68. Wheel of Fortune

Elise Greig and Meg Bowden
Talk of Wheel of Fortune probably takes your mind to the television game show where contestants spin a giant coloured wheel for the chance to guess phrases and win dollars.
Words such as saucy, intriguing and sexy are unlikely to be front of mind.
But as Brisbane audiences are about to learn there is more than one wheel and more than way to spin it.
This Wheel of Fortune is a modern take on La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler which was so controversial when it was written in 1897 that it  was banned and took 25 years to make it too the stage.
Pairs of lovers walk us through a roulette of encounters and sexual gratification all set in present-day Brisbane
Veronica Neave, who is cast as The Stage Actress, says the
production promises to be intriguing.
"It will be saucy," she said. "It will also be interesting. It's a multi-platform, multi-media. performance.
There's going to be live elements. There's going to be filmed elements. It's going to be an intriguing experience for the audience.
"The play has a circularity about it. It has this form that is quite circular."
Meg Bowden, who plays the Transexual, agrees saying there's a great deal of intrigue.
"It's a very sexy show," she adds.
"it's quite risque in regards to who's hooking up with who and who's sitting on the couch with who."
But Veronica says while it may be confrontational it is also relatable and there's every likelihood that audience members will see themselves in at least one of the relationships being played out.
"From the beginning of time homo sapiens have been trying to work out how to relate to another person. We are still unravelling that onion."
Meg says setting the play in Brisbane adds to accessibility of the piece.
"You find the couples in places you go to on a daily basis. That's something the audience can really relate to."
But while there is plenty in the way of fun and games, Meg reminds us that it's more than that.
"There is a serious element," she says. "It's all sexy and flirty and fun but if you dig down in it there are issues that we are addressing."
Cheating is one point in question.
"With any intimate relationship between two people there is always the risk of transgression," Veronica says. "There is always the risk that someone is going to suffer because of that. It's the risk that we take for love or for pleasure."
Wheel of Fortune is part of the Local program at Brisbane's Metro Arts Theatre. This three-play series is about bringing risk-taking plays to Brisbane audiences.
Veronica says the role of the independent theatre makers can not be under-estimated.
"It's profoundly important for our cultural landscape," she said. "The big funded companies have a certain brief. They have certain quotas they have to meet. They have all these KPIs because they are working with government money. But we don't have any money so we can do what the hell we like. We can take risks, we can have fun and we can talk about issues that are important. We have nothing to lose because we have nothing."
Troy Armstong, the producer of Wheel of Fortune, is the man who has taken all the risks.
He describes it as a hybrid production combining film and live performance.
"We are not trying to be tricky about it. It's just a different way of storytelling," Troy said. "Behind the scenes we are filming all of these scenes in their actual locations in Brisbane."
Tim Hill, the director of Wheel of Fortune, says the location is one of the stars of the piece.
Veronica Neave who plays the Stage Actress and Elise Greig
"It being about Brisbane was really important to me. I grew up in Brisbane. I've actually been away from Brisbane for quite a long time and have moved back. Troy and I really wanted to do a play that was about Brisbane, set in Brisbane and created in Brisbane. The actors are local, we are using local musicians for all the music, we are using a team of local writers to create the content. It really is a story for Brisbane."
Troy says Brisbane is losing it's small town Brisvegas tone and the cultural landscape is reflecting that.
"Our local artists are really coming to the fore, in a lot of casting and a lot of theatre productions. We are looking at local talent before we are looking at the talent pool that's beyond. We've got a number of artists from Sydney and Melbourne which are coming back to do the show. It says something about the independent scene here."
Meg says the independent sector is blooming and should be supported
"It's worth taking a shot on them because these independent companies put their heart and their soul and every penny they have into it. There's a lot of soul and passion that goes into it."
Ruby Clarke asThe Socialite and Stephen Hirst The Politician 
Wheel of Fortune is playing at Metro Arts from May 30 to June 9.
Tickets are available here
Listen to the full interviews here

Elise Greig and Meg Bowden

Ron Kelly as The Lawyer and Jacqui Story as The History Teacher

Jacqui Story as The History Teacher and Brendan Lorenzo as The School Boy 

Brendan Lorenzo (the School Boy) and Jacqui McLaren (The Au Pair)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

March 8. Day 67. The look of love

 Why do I love my dogs? Let me count the ways. Today was haircut day.
The dogs look even more adorable after their haircut. But that's not the issue.
The thing is how much I miss them in the hours they are away from the house.
It seems so quiet without them.
But it is also how excited they are when they see me. It is an outpouring of love. Or perhaps it is just relief that the haircut is over and they are have been rescued. I prefer the former.
And the excitement extends way after the trip home.  They look beautiful but most of all they look happy to be home - with me.