2017

I spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve with my large family; we spent the time together checking things out at Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills and on the foreshore at Semaphore. After these very traditional local Western celebrations we spent some time at home marking the New Year with prayers and blessings for the people who have passed away before us in the process of time which is realised in ritual with my Nepali family.

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Towards the end of 2016 things were seeming more awkward and strange than usual for just about everyone in the family pointing in both cultural directions; the issues that were playing on my mind included my elderly mother having surgery a couple of  days before Christmas, my own mental health which can get hard to handle sometimes as well as the obvious caution on mind related to world politics and how it seems to be shifting in a darker unknown direction. A few years ago I wrote about the way things were not going to shift backwards. Then I took to creating images instead of words.

Certain people passing away through the year tended to direct my thoughts towards their work and fine tune my own creative thoughts I think. I also noticed how much time I spent inside the black box. I have been thinking deeply about a story I want to tell; in order to do so I must appreciate why I want to tell the story. Does it need to be told? Could I possibly convince anyone else to invest in the story? It amounts to a lot of thinking. What I call deep thinking. It is like meditation at times and very inert. At other times it can be like total blackout; visions. Am I starting to become unstable? How can I tell?

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In order to shift my thinking along I tend to create aids designed to help me construct what it is I need to say; pictures. I like pictures at the moment. I like the open quality of a picture. You look, you see what you see. You make what you can of it. You can caption it, detail it from your own perspective. I like that.

Being ‘inside the black box’ to me means being in relationship with a camera. Understanding there is a captured moment composed of content and elements.

In 2016 a couple of people passed away whom I see as part of a team I was very briefly involved with, and before that they were both contributors to a team that developed my creative thinking when I was younger. Vale to them and anyone I am unaware of who has passed; a lot of people I’m sure.

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Absolutely fabulous The Movie

Director: Mandie Fletcher

Writer: Jennifer Saunders (screenplay)

I have always been an admirer of Jennifer Saunders since seeing her for the first time in a Comic Strip Presents piece, and then many things after that. I think her writing and creative work on Absolutely Fabulous is genius. Great writing, so funny, so outrageous at times, Edina ‘Eddie’ Monsoon really was the character we had to get to know if we hadn’t already bumped into her somewhere on some scale in life. For me when Ab Fab came along the situation comedy experience exploded; Edina and her family were really happening and it was great to see some of that punk comic exuberance Jennifer Saunders had always had unleashed.

I watch the series when I feel the need to laugh; now I have Absolutely Fabulous The Movie with the deleted scenes and alternative ending and I am very happy.

I love this smooth ensemble working their magic on the big screen. The shift onto the screen has satisfied my desire to see more than the series could ever afford. Saunders creates a fun story for Eddie, her granddaughter Lola and best friend Patsy to go off and “Have some fun,” as Eddie puts it. Edina starts off perky with a book deal in her sights but she fails to proofread the dictated manuscript before taking a meeting with her would be Publisher and the day goes downhill rapidly.

Patsy stumbles upon some news that may help Edina spruce up her business and makes a call; unfortunately the call comes on speaker phone during a PR Lunch of the Month meeting. Eddie is vulnerable; not as vulnerable as Jon Hamm evidently, who makes an appearance as Claudia Bing’s newest celebrity in her PR stable. Seeing the Mad Men lead crowd surfing a party and coming face to face with Patsy Stone is an awkward moment, horribly funny as the blending of UK and USA television icons can be, in a good way. Australia’s own comic genius Barry Humphries AO CBE makes a big bruise on the film and along with the Kylie Minogue dancefloor version of Wheels On Fire, longtime theme of the show it is nice to see the overall international Australian blend.

Dame Edna stalked her way through Ally McBeal was it? Eddie and Pats managed to rifle their way through some episodes of Roseanne. The Trans Atlantic and Continental connections have been well established in the series over the years; the movie brings the payoff.

I think Saunders has provided a very satisfying personal development for Edina and some moments for us to share with her that are so much more intimate without the confines of a television studio and studio audience.

Where some television doesn’t translate so well into the cinema I think this has done so brilliantly. The tone, the pace, the ensemble feel; even a few cut-away moments that you’d expect to see on the television are beautifully edited in to capture a detail that tickles a smile if not a laugh.

Edina the character I know and love simply glows on the screen; she could sidle up to any one of the First Wives Club and knock them for a six; she opens up as much as ever while those around her are often so closed away. The dreaming moments we see, when she is surrounded by some fantasy are not so farfetched sometimes; she tries, she really does. There are some things Edina does very well, one of them being having fun.

We get a very good serve of Eddie and Pats having a mini-binge at home, we see them out partying, we get some family scenes that include long historical references from the series along with nuanced echoes of some favourite arguments.

There are lots of ‘names’actual names, not just the ‘likes of’ and happily from the series’ very heart, the world of fashion. It is the now fashion moment that gets featured rather than musicians or actors or politicians, the film could easily have become a parade of mindless cameos by people which wouldn’t have necessarily hit a mark. There are a lot of cameos in the film but I think they are all either seriously well played piss-takes as with Jerry Hall, or the one “it actor” Hamm, which also works in a necessarily awkward way.

I think this is where the film and Saunders have really excelled, staying true to the oeuvre that has already built the world wide recognition of the brand, staying on-point with the characters and exploring their world.

This is over all a bigger, classier experience on the cinema screen, even sightly awkward depending on whom you saw the film with during its release. I saw it during a matinee performance and there were long silences where I do not think the audience completely understood the references while at other times, often slapstick, they laughed along; lighting a fag after running out of breath jogging for example.

I think some people will inevitably find their way into the original series through the film and they will notice the difference between the two products but the characters all fit their medium well. In the context of studio recorded live comedy in front of an audience the original series is loud and raucous, compared to location shooting and filming sequences the nuances are subtle and asides more realistic, these things all work for me. I think if you compare Ed O’Neills performances between Married with Children and Modern Family you get the difference immediately in tone and delivery; likewise comparing Edina/Saunders and her whole ensemble between the series’ and the film.

When the series became available as scripts in print and on video to take home, I got them and wore them out. Then they became available on DVD so I got the collection. The film is on BluRay and DVD. I have it on BluRay and I have already watched it a few times; each time finding another gem, another moment that is a refresher from the past. It is like that feeling you get when you catch up with someone whom you have known over many years. There they are, in all their current glory. Love them or hate them you recognise them. Well I love Eddie and her crew, I think Saunders and her crew deserve a medal.

 

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Scrapbook Clippings

Clippings

I was born in Australia. My parents had an old suitcase filled with the clippings they had collected on their travels so far, it was a fascinating trove for me; my family travelling before I was born to come to where they were now was a strange thing to think about. They kept things like ticket stubs and menus; their boarding passes for the vessel they travelled on. I think their box of clippings and ephemera inspired my original scrap book. My scrap book dates back to the 1970’s.

 

 

Over the years my collection of newspaper clippings and letters, photographs and ticket stubs has been damaged; at one point several portions of it destroyed. I have lost pieces here and there as I have moved around the country. These days it seems an odd thing to be carrying around.

 

 

The position of newspapers has changed in my lifetime. It was not unusual in 1974 to stay up until midnight waiting for the review of a show to come out in the morning paper. If it was a good review celebrations would be at The Pancake Kitchen, Adelaide’s only late night venue willing to receive a modest theatre crowd back then. Now you would be lucky to get a review in a newspaper if you were outside of the main interest of the newspaper itself. It is still valuable to get a review or a piece in a publication, but not so much a newspaper these days.

So I find myself hoarding a curious collection of clippings. When I interviewed Sir Ian McKellen he told me about his friend who was spending time putting Sir Ian’s collection in order. We chatted about this for a little while and by the end of the conversation I was determined myself to put all of my bits and pieces together. Not so much in order, and certainly not in comparison to anyone else least of all Sir Ian; but he did inspire me.

 

Shadow of StPats

He spoke of the usefulness of having things in one place and I agree. I see it deteriorate before my eyes. The newspaper yellows, becomes thinner. It will all come to dust. While I am able to potter around and put it here I will keep working on it feeling less distressed about it decomposing in the atmosphere. Here it can rest as data. Pictures and when I have time or inclination, words. I may never get the opportunity to tell my story in full. It would be something I would like to do, but seems a far off task to complete. Here I can look and see what there is to tell about.

Younger days in the 1970’s around Adelaide were difficult days at times. I know people are aware I was abused because the case has been tried and the men who abused me have been convicted. One of them has Home Detention and the other is due to be back on the streets in a year or so. The abuse happened in the 1970’s. Over the last decade 2005 – 2015 I was able to take the men to trial.

The complexities involved in looking over these times and finding the positive outcomes are many. On the one hand I see I had an extensive training in a range of areas as a young person, all of which serve me in my adult life, on the other hand I have distressing concerns, memories, emotional recollections, anxiety attacks, any number of odd distracting momentary experiences to contend with when considering my life.

Last Unicorn logo

Looking back after time it is easier to accept what has happened all the while knowing ‘moving-on’ can involve accepting the inevitable, nothing will change, it will always be there. So okay, the other stuff, the good experiences were really good. After I disentangled myself from the abusers to the extent of keeping away from them whenever and wherever humanly possible, I moved on to have some great experiences on stage and with art.

I enjoyed being involved on stage, in theatre, it gave me a world to focus on that contained control and order; there were people watching. Discussions and notes would be had in a process of review, rehearse and refine. I could understand all of that and enjoyed the process especially when working in collectives or ensembles that appreciated the process side of theatre.

In the 1970’s there was a great deal of activity around Adelaide’s theatre scene.

Unicorn Adelaide

 

 

Acting Company

Adelaide Theatre Guild Tempest

 

Last Unicorn

 

Saying Something…

Twitter’s mission is to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.

First published: Saying something.. Access2Arts

Access2Arts is committed to inclusion and diversity, working with artists, audiences and organisations towards creating the conditions for the full participation of people with disability in the world of arts and culture (the only barriers Access2Arts will accept are safety barriers).

There are some very strong parallel values there and as if that’s not enough both Twitter and Access2Arts love Katie Keys tweeting one #tinylittlepoem every day. And after I attended Katie’s #140characters workshop series, presented by Access2Arts, now I’m also in love with her.

Working on site in Adelaide’s ultra modern City Library in early-March of 2014, Katie met with a group of creative disabled people over a week in order to teach the fundamentals of creating and tweeting tiny little poems. A tweet has one basic form; it must be complete within 140 characters. This includes punctuation and spaces between words. There are many forms for poetry, including the ‘short form poem’ and the Haiku. It was fascinating to discuss as a group led by Katie the vast range of poetry and the extraordinary places where you can find poetry or poetic language.

We created group poems by each writing an original line, which was great fun and very insightful as to how we express ourselves as individuals. We worked on our own tiny little poems and listened to Katie’s story which was very inspiring. Writing a tiny little poem every day for a period of years has meant Katie’s amassed quite a volume of work.

We also delved into live-event-tweeting by attending Adelaide Writer’s Week sessions where we all had a go at tweeting what was happening while it was happening. Anyone who watches ABC TV will have noticed tweets cross the screen of shows like “The Drum”, “NX” or “Q and A” and there is often a ‘guest tweeter’ whom you can engage with via Twitter during programs like “Lateline” and “Q and A” so the idea is very mainstream, but tweeting poetry is something a little more creative than simply reporting on an event.

The best thing about the #140Character workshop (besides Katie Keys and our ‘creative-enabler’ Jude Aquilina) was the vast array of doors it opened in the mind. The workshop was valuable on many levels. It inspired and educated which also means it empowered and built the capacity of everyone attending in some way.

The discussions were broad and at times really amusing because we all know how insightful disabled people are; there were moments of hilarity along with the more subdued and circumspect moments we shared. There’s nothing quite so nourishing as a group of creative people poking and prodding at the same thing to see what will happen is there? Tiny little poems rock!

Watch out for poems told in tiny little tweets broadcast into the twitter-verse in the coming months.

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The #140charcters artist in residence program was funded by Arts SA and supported by the Adelaide City Council’s Library Service and City Library.

Zombie | An anthology of the Undead

Zombie 
An anthology of the Undead
Edited by Christopher Golden

What a great read. From John Connolly writing a short sharp zombie-take on Lazarus and Brian Keene twisting a short zombie tale into a romantic tome with The Wind Cries Mary, this is a collection to die for. Yeah, bad pun, but great book. Notable for an unusual style is Twittering from the Circus of the Dead by Joe Hill and Stephen R. Bissette’s Copper.

While it is not unimaginable to sit down and read a 500 page novel about the living dead, it is so much more fun to have an anthology collection like this one. Being able to read a short story or two in one day about zombies means the reader does not have to invest in the more time consuming novel for thrills.

I have discovered so much enjoyment in this anthology it encourages me to go and seek out some more work by authors whose work I have particularly enjoyed. If we look at it practically it is fair to say we are well into a time when a good long read is such an investment that one desires more at the end. Perhaps this is why so many books come out as part of a series these days. It is not a new thing, there have always been series’ of books in my lifetime that take the same characters on another long journey, or further along the same quest and that is great.

Having a sample slice of a writer’s output, enough for a taste of their style, has always been a good way to discover new work you respond well with. Certainly some writers are better at the short story than they are at the novel, and I guess that is a chance you take whenever you seek out their more protracted work after enjoying something smaller; some writers have yet to produce their novel as you read one of their short stories, but this anthology is different. It seems everyone included has at the very least produced a novel as a co-author if not a string of titles in the fantasy or horror genre.

I recommend it highly if you have a hankering for something a little pungent and threatening. Maybe it is not the best bedside book, unless you love your own nightmares, I am quite fond of something a bit spooky in those hours when I have woken and can not for the life of me get back to sleep. So even though I have read it from cover to cover and feel I have gorged well and truly, it will remain near my bedside because another thing about short stories that I really appreciate is you can easily read them again. In fact sometimes it is completely necessary to read a good short again and again on the basis that you enjoy the turns and twists, the style is really hitting the mark with you or you are trapped in a freakish loop of wanting to be afraid again and again. With Zombie I am sure to dip in and out many more times before it is offered up as a share book, sacrificed to a friend who also wants to read gore and horror. Top stuff.

Taste of Broadway |Carliss Retif Pond

Taste of Broadway

Restaurant Recipes from NYC’s Theater District.

By Carliss Retif Pond

This is a cook book I am stimulated by on two very different levels each time I look through it. One level of excitement is related to the anticipation one feels when imagining something nice to eat. The old juices start flowing and the brain begins to taste the imagined nourishment on offer. The other level of excitement is a kind of empathy with characters I’ve read about over the years. Seriously, after reading a certain amount of biographies and autobiographies particularly of American celebrities making it on the ‘Great White Way,’ this cook book presents certain depths I have never considered before; celebrities of old are probably best not described as celebrities in the context of contemporary days because they were great writers, directors, designers and performers rather than super-models and reality television hosts. Their old school celebrity was based on hard work and a slog I do not think is necessarily required to ricochet an unknown into the spotlight these days.

After reading a variety of their stories, it is a joy to read through many of these recipes from New York City’s Theater District. Author Carliss Retif Pond is a local resident who has eaten at these restaurants, along with thousands of others, locals and tourists all looking around, spotting the celebrity names. How many times have you heard a line like this, “We’re all human, we all have to eat,” in a movie or play? Often?

Reading about Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Dean Martin, Arthur Miller and various others hanging out at Sardi’s is one thing, but imagine how exciting it becomes to read the recipe for green beans at Sardi’s (Haricots Verts) courtesy of chef Patrick Pinon. Not just read it mind, but take that magic step into cooking it and yes, tasting it. Talk about getting involved… it is quite the stimulating activity and could become a fetish without much trouble.

For me this themed type of cook book presents a new type of interactive imagined travel reading, kicking off into menus created as composite experiences… maybe I should get out more. For the home entertainer, this is far more entertaining. The simplicity of many of the dishes shows a rich cultural diversity in this area of Broadway. You have your beetroot soup, chicken noodle soup, bean and pasta soup. That’s just the soup, and not all of it.

Ruminating through this cook book makes me consider the contrasting types of people who would be eating – hungry ones essentially – theatre workers can eat quite late in the evening, audiences like a meal before or after a show – it all bodes well for steady business, like any area with a large working population I suppose.

In the theatre people want nourishing healthy food, they need it to keep up their energy. Not a great deal of rich food necessarily, although there is plenty available in the best tradition. Pork chops, spare ribs, stroganoff, lamb shanks, shrimp enchilada, and the list goes on. I become quite the self saucing mouthful when I consider the side dishes available. On the imagined front there’s the history of prohibition and speak-easy’s to consider. Grog on the sly in the good old bad old days. Glimpses of these venues appear in films from all through history. Think of Tootsie, featuring Dustin Hoffman in the Russian Imperial Tea Rooms, opened in 1927 by former members of the Russian Imperial ballet for example, but there are many many other examples.

A worthwhile cook book to own – especially for the theatre and film buff I would say; the love to cook at home over fifties; younger cooks wishing to impress their elders would find something in here without a doubt. I suspect the simplicity and the taste are the main things we are looking at here. I think they are the elements that will stand out over all outside of the novelty context, but I must say the novelty context will go a long way with someone such as myself. The idea of cooking the food that some of these past masters have eaten – well it is a great stimulation and amusement.

Practical Sustainable Event Management Guide | Meegan Jones

Sustainable Event Management

By Meegan Jones

Sustainable Event Management by Meegan Jones is a well researched and neatly designed guide to making any festival or large event the most environmentally friendly, leaving the lightest possible carbon footprint; making it a very timely book that will go a long way assisting those who are seeking to manage events, work in Community Development and apply necessarily thoughtful values and sustainable procedures in the process.

There has always been a cost-cutting tendency from coordinators of big events to lessen the amount of rubbish on their event sites based on hard economic facts, but these days the rhetoric has drawn on the realities of climate change, and people’s understanding of how they can consume less to improve the planet. This is well evidenced in the book using profiles of Festivals such as the Glastonbury and Reading Festivals in the UK as well as Big Day Out and Peat’s Ridge in Australia to name only a few. Other sites included are in the US, Denmark and Portugal so the considerations are not restricted to one terrain alone. Bringing these concerns into one practical guide is a natural development of the trend to become more sustainable in business while being environmentally responsible and sustainable, and here, Megan Jones has done great work.

When you are dealing with groups of people that spiral into the tens of thousands all dwelling in the same area for any protracted length of time, taking stock of the way you do things saves a lot of money as well as time, energy, environmental impact, not to mention the comfort of that 85,000 strong crowd; and as time passes, if we are to see such things as Emissions Trading, increases of the price of water and energy resources, more Carbon Storing and other environmentally focused increases in costs, there need to be ways to practically implement the responsible checks and balances, you could almost call them ‘complementary therapies to your festival’. To use a simile, imagine the Festival’s good health were broken into the forces that give it life like it was a person, the finance to make it happen is its life-blood and the measures you take to sustain its life are the complementary therapies help keep it in good health.

Having this check list to go through, similar to the clip-board at the end of the hospital bed, you have something well thought through and clear at hand to double check and keep everything in balance I think it is brilliant and if I were trying to organise a huge event I would want it around to provide me with some of the wisdom it contains. Influencing the audience’s transport, socially responsible purchases, use of cleaning products in outdoor environments, recycling; everything I can imagine you’d need to know at this point in time has a credible representation here.

Jones describes it best in the Preface, calling it “a journey towards sustainability with tips, production logistics, projects to undertake and practical solutions to common challenges,” I agree, I think it is a great practical guide to sustainable event management.

This is an extremely useful book for TAFE and University libraries, possibly the best yet.

Sustainable Event Management
A Practical Guide
by Meegan Jones
384 pages, 234 x 189 mm

Publisher: Earthsca
Paperback –
ISBN: 9781844077397
AU $ 69.95