Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sad tale of the Flaccid Fern

The beautiful Tree Fern that grew in our front garden has been transplanted to the back with varying success. It was growing so well out front that it became a hazard to the Gas Meter Reader and the verandah.

Tree Ferns are apparently not as easy to move as their cousins the Dicksonia fern so we are hoping that the new location below the Red Cedar and surrounded by other ferns will aid in its recovery. At the moment it looks very flaccid and dejected but the soft mist and gentle rain of the past few days may prove beneficial.

The rest of the garden is bloomin' marvellous. The Native Frangipani is in full fragrant flower, the Isopogon and Mountain Devil are looking pretty and the Port Wine Magnolia fills the late afternoon with its rich scent.

The Fruit Shop cont...
The most recent information about the exciting "park your car in the shop" incident is that the driver was wearing THONGS which became caught in the accelorator resulting in the potentially fatal collision with the shopfront. Even after the car had travelled as far as it could into the building the motor was apparently still running at high revs. I was on my way to buy something for dinner and sill get a cold shiver when I think what might have happened if I had been 20 minutes early.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Call me Alec

"*Alec! - Bring up the lights so I can talk to the people""

While I'm not a big fan of Jerry Lewis I cannot fail to admire his sheer tenacity and professionalism. Last night this 82 year-old Comic veteran performed his stand-up act to a big crowd of adoring fans for over an hour.

It was a very, very, simple show technically, so I had plenty of time to watch this American Icon deliver a routine that would have sounded hackneyed coming from a younger comedian.
65+ years of experience on the Boards has given him a slickness and ease of delivery that belies his age, though his jokes and comments often bordered on the offensive.

After watching the rehearsal earlier in the day I was impressed by his transformation from an aged geriatric in slippers and comfy trousers to the tuxedo-clad, suave Hollywood star. Despite the many omissions and deviations from the running sheet I was given at the top of the show his performance was constantly engaging. The only indication of his advanced years was his increasing breathlessness and a director's chair to sit on towards the finale.

In my advanced years I could only wish for a fraction of the energy and alertness of Jerry Lewis at 82 and he joins the ranks of Super Troupers I have been privileged to work for.

(*Electrician - boomtish)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Yams are Go!

The yams, aka Oca, aka Oxalis Tuberosa, aka Yummy Sweet Things, have been planted. the seed stock started to sprout in the storage box so I took the hint that it was time to put them in the ground.

Here we have several bags of Mushroom Compost mixed with some Peat soil and generous spadefuls of homegrown compost all mixed together in a sunny spot below the kitchen window.

I needed to have them close because of the antics of these fellows - the Bowerbird tribe are always on the lookout for a quick feed and I've heard that Yam flowers are considered a delicacy.

They are not short of a feed though - we left a full bed of lovely strawberrys for them to munch on in the vain hope they would leave our raised beds alone - you can see they're not keeping to their side of the bargain.

At the moment there is a squabble going on between the pushy Wattlebirds and the Bowerbirds over a bit of sourdough I tossed out - they match each other for noisiness though the Wattlebird is the winner in the aggression stakes.

An early trial of Yam horticulture is already showing signs of success - I put a tuber in a tyre bed with lots of compost and mulch and a little shoot is coming through. The leaves bear a strong resemblance to its relative the nasty weed Oxalis so I'll have to ensure I'm not nurturing a crop of them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Whales and Other Wonders

Back in the city, working the weekend (me, 2am Saturday night finish, the other, 7am Sunday start) so I had a chance to see Sculpture by the Sea.

The day was brilliantly fine with a deceptively cool breeze that disguised the fierceness of the sun. Past experience at this event has shown me that too much SP30 sunblock is never enough. The local Surf Life Saving Club had stands offering zinc cream and sun block for the price of a gold coin donation.

Despite this there were a lot of bare headed, lobster-faced people near the end of the walk that just had not got the message.

As with the past few years the sculptures were wonderful, some quirky and cute while others were graceful and elegant.

The delicate lace-like filaments of Kozo Nishino's dragonfly wing well deserved the Kinetic Artist Prize .

While the Whale Helicopter was a big hit with the kids about 100 metres out to sea we watched a whale, preceded by a pod of dolphins, gracefully travel south, rolling over now and then to wave a flipper in the air or arch down into the smooth blue water.
I wasn't able to catch this wonderful event on my little camera but it just made the day perfect.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Green Grass of Home

I don't know if it was because I was working away from home for a week or if the Spring weather has kicked in but everything in the garden is looking so lush and green. The rain of the past few days is obviously doing a lot of good - I swear some of the plants grow a few inches overnight.Down the bottom of the garden one of my favourite trees - the Red Cedar - is starting to replace the foliage it dumped in early Spring. It looks a bit skeletal at the moment but the new leaves are a rich red that will gradually darken to green and fill the space. It's an Australian deciduous tree that is native to the area but was aggressively logged in the past. I planted this 11 years ago and now it is over 10 metres high so I hope its seeds spread far and wide

The rich resources of Australian red cedar (Toonaciliata var. australis), which European immigrants found as they displaced Aboriginal Australians along the northern two-thirds of Australia’s east coast, catalysed the colonial exploration and exploitation of forests in this region. By the early 2oth Century, red cedar had been exploited to economic extinction in much of its range..
Fyfe and Patricia Bygrave

Friday, October 10, 2008

all about pitch ... black

"The Sydney opera theatre's aging lighting desk could use a drop of [magic] formula after a malfunction during the opening night last night of The Makropulos Secret, which plunged the stage and orchestra pit into darkness." SMH October 8, 2008 - 1:00PM

That could have been me (but it wasn't) - I've had the lighting desk crash before but not so publicly nor with such media attention - front page of the Herald no less! The whole incidence was a result of a Series of Unfortunate Events - main desk falls over - back up desk falls over - remedial action doesn't quite work for a few minutes - darkness on stage.

The article doesn't mention the fact that the Diva was lit by a follow spot and that the orchestra wasn't blacked out so there was no danger of her disappearing into the Pit.

As an "Aging Lighting Desk Operator" I can empathise with the Opera Theatre's Lighting Board, its long record of dedicated and reliable service obliterated in one night.
I know it's only an inanimate piece of electrical component but I really feel for this board and the bad press it received. For over 300 days of the year this "aging lighting desk" works hard to put complex shows on the stage, rarely getting shut down for longer than an hour. After 15 years of service how many other computers (or people) could claim this record?

One of the reasons it has taken so long to replace is there is no present-day equivalent that can match it for stability or flexibility. All five theatres here at the Opera House have a Strand 500 series controlling the lights for different productions with different requirements. It can do Rock & Roll, Orchestral, Avant Garde, Moving Lights, Special Effects, Audio Visual and anything else you can think of.

It may not have the glamour or Street Cred of the Whole Hog or the Grand MA but like our old '65 Chrysler Valiant Safari it just does the job to the best of its ability.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Spitting Distance

There are some shows that are a privilege to work on - this is one of them.
Minimalist set, simple but precise lighting and an engaging and moving solo performance by Khalifa Natour.

The tiny stage of the Playhouse is the perfect venue for this short (60 min) performance. The actor speaks in Arabic throughout, with the odd line in French and Hebrew, while condensed English subtitles are projected behind him. The words are soon overshadowed by the intensity and passion of his performance and even though the subject matter - the Israli/Palistinian troubles and the after effects of 9/11 - is not funny, there is a wry humour and irony that manages to creep through.

I finally managed to watch the whole show tonight without being distracted by technical issues and I found it engrossing. Khalifa's rich dialogue and expressive body language make up for the lack of staging and props and the few sound cues present only supplement his words with atmosphere and music. The lighting rig of 30 channels and 26 cues
is tiny but so skillfully applied it is a joy to work.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Soggy Cardboard

My working week has been a bit preoccupied with cardboard.
The final of Special Delivery, a wonderful kids show from Patch theatre, was on Sunday, while out the front of the House Polyglot Puppet Theatre braved the wet windy weather to entertain kids with piles of boxes.

Being part time I usually do 'swing' shifts covering the odd RDO or the initial Bump-in but I've been working consistently on the Patch production for over a fortnight and it's been wonderful working in the same venue for several weeks - especially the Playhouse. Special Delivery was special - a bit of mild slapstick, legerdemain and some wonderful music and sound effects from the Foley Artist made for a simple but highly entertaining show.

The down side of working every day has been more juggling of Home and Work demands, especially with the School Holidays coming up, but so far all the flaming torches have been kept up in the air. I've even manged to fit in a Knitting Meet at Gordon and a visit to the sadly, soon to be closed Rubi & Lana's.

Outside the forecourt looks like a shanty town. Even though there was a mild drizzle kids and adults had lots of fun building towers and tunnels, some complex, some just for the joy of knocking down. It only runs to the 7th of October as part of the 2008 Sydney Architecture Festival but it looks a hoot.