31 January 2013

What's Happening in the World

Society seems to get more violent every year. People are much less tolerant of each other that they were a generation ago. What’s the cause of that, is it television, lack of parental control during childhood and adolescents? Lack of respect for others or other people’s property? Whatever it is we see more violent acts every night on news bulletins. Take Road Rage for instance. How many of you have been at the blunt end of verbal or even violent abuses on the road. I have. Some years ago, when I legally entered a roundabout, being the first one to do so, a young P-plate driver who was at least 50 meters away when I entered the roundabout, sped up to me followed me shaking his fist and pointing his middle finger into the sky. He followed me to the next red light, then jumped out of the car and was about to come up to me when he saw that I had stopped next to a police car in the next lane. That seemed to change his mind and he snuck back to his car and started to behave himself.

A couple of weeks ago we saw an incident on the news, where an irate driver overtook an ex-policeman, then backed up and hit him. He did this several times before he eventually jumped out of his vehicle and jumped onto the other vehicle smashing his windscreen, all very nicely captured on the ex-policeman’s car-cam.

He ended up in court where he claimed the footage shown was a fabrication. Other people also came forward who had been harassed by the same driver.

I started to look into car cams and found they are actually not very expensive, so I went out and bought one. It only cost me $40, mounts easily on the windscreen and records out of the front wherever we drive. It’s fun too, watching the footage when you get home.
Our new Car Cam

28 January 2013

If it Doesn't Rain, it Pours

For a few months now we have been complaining about the lack of rain here in Brisbane. Gardens were dying, Lawns were looking brown and shriveled and water tanks mainly empty. Everyone was hoping for rain. Well, it came with a vengeance, in the form of tropical cyclone Oswald that hit the north coast of Queensland and then made it’s way down the coast devastating coastal communities on the way with high winds and river floods.
Many homes destroyed (Picture Courier Mail)

It arrived in Brisbane on Australia Day washing out planned festivities and drenching the area with an abundance of rainfall. So much so, that the government decided to open the floodgates of our water dams to make room for the expected river water from the catchment areas.

On the way down the coast, ex cyclone Oswald caused seven tornados mainly in the Bundaberg area, wiping out dozens of homes and causing million dollar damages on land and on the seashore where boats were tossed about like match boxes.
A wet Noisy Miner bird took shelter under our balcony railing this morning
The worst is over for us as the low now moves into New South Wales on it’s way to Sydney.

We just inspected our garden and discovered one of our trees has taken out our Hill's Hoist, but nothing else, so we are pleased about that and feel sorry for the numerous people who’ve lost their homes, some of which had just been repaired or rebuilt after the last devastating floods in 2011.
One of our trees crashed into the washing line
Brisbane and Ipswich are expected to be flooded again tonight and tomorrow night with the amount of water coming down the rivers and a high tide at the same time. 

26 January 2013

Happy Australia Day

It's Australia day today which will be celebrated in a soggy Brisbane. Heavy rain is forecast, a remnant of tropical cyclone Oswald visiting us from north Queensland. Which is a shame really as it is a long weekend and lots of people planned to celebrate at barbeques all around the region. Most official festivities have been cancelled. We do need the rain, though as it is very dry and our garden looks very sad, so at least the garden loves the rain.

Our son-in-law was on national TV this morning on Sunrise Weekend on Chanel 7, live from Hollywood. Bernie is an actor and together with lots of other Aussie actors resides in Tinseltown, together with our daughter Sonya and our grandsons Fox and Banjo whom you probably seen on Diane's blog many times.

Bernard Curry, who just returned from filming one of the leads in a new film called '3 Pegs', in South Africa, together with Brett Tucker (Spartacus: Blood and Sand) and David Hofflin (Alcatraz) have formed a band called 'Bernie and the Budgie Smugglers.' Instead of just playing in Los Angeles, this morning they entertained the whole of Australia with a few bars of 'We Are Australian.' We're proud of you guys. 

22 January 2013

An Occasional Blogger

That's me, I guess. I don't post regularly.  Quite often I miss posting, what could be called mildly interesting stuff. But as we're about to embark on teaching blogging to students of the local U3A, I guess I should make a concerted effort to upload more posts, mainly to keep me from losing my ability to blog. So I will endeavour to concentrate more on uploading posts.

Another enjoyment I shall forgo while teaching students which is probably a good idea.  

18 January 2013

Blogging for U3A

Most of our regular visitors know that Diane and I are very heavily involved with the University of the Third Age here in Logan City with the Camera Club. But we are also bloggers. Diane has recently been invited to join the management committee of the Logan Branch of U3A and has been asked to build a blog to promote the organisation.

So, for the last week or so, she has been very busy creating the 'U3A Logan Blog.'

Diane is creating the U3A Logan Blog

Check out Diane's new Logan U3A Blog where all the classes offered are listed. CLICK HERE

Besides the Camera Club, we have also undertaken to run courses in Blogging for members of U3A. These courses will be held over 4 weeks, with 2 hour classes, starting at the end of February. The response of the members was great, so much so the the first course is fully booked. We are planning to run another course sometimes in April.

Check out the short course we are offering on Blogging, CLICK HERE

15 January 2013

Hitchcock the Movie

It’s becoming a bit of a habit with us on Tuesdays to go to the movies with friends Ann and George. Well you can do that when you’re retired, can’t you. We drive quite a distance over to Graceville to the Regal Twin. Two small boutique cinemas always screen excellent movies. Last week we saw ‘Quartet’ and today we saw ‘Hitchcock.’

Anthony Hopkins is 'Hitch'
 This is a love story between the famous Hollywood director, Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). Alfred Hitchcock, ‘Hitch’ is bored after completing his latest movie ‘North By Northwest’ and is searching for his next project. He comes across the 1959 suspense/horror novel Psycho, by Robert Bloch with the screenplay by Joseph Stephano. Hitch is hooked and determined to make this his next film. But the powerful studios are not willing to finance such a controversial project, especially as they anticipate nudity in the shower scene.

Scarlet Johanssen is Janet Leigh

Hitch finally convinces Paramount Studios that he could finance the project himself and would forgo his $250,000 director’s fee in lieu of 60% of the profits, the film would make.  So he’s on the way. He casts Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johanssen) to play Marion Crane and Anthony Perkins (James D’Arcy) as Norman Bates.

The story really takes shape as Alma, who has previously always helped Hitch with his movies now is co-writing a script with a friend and is frequently absent to the annoyance of Hitch who is jealous.  But Alma is also jealous of Hitch’s roving eye with his leading ladies.

Hitch and Alma edit Psycho

The film completed, Hitch is unable to successfully cut it into the film he had envisaged. He finally pleads with Alma for help, which the ever faithful spouse provides and after convincing Hitch that they need music in the famous shower scene, Psycho is ready to be screened but Paramount, still not convinced about the project, grant him only 2 cinemas to screen the movie, without a Premiere. Hitch counters with a very clever marketing strategy, by placing riot police at every screening, which gets the success he so rightly deserves. Psycho ended up being the most successful film Alfred Hitchcock ever made.

There are lots of behind the scenes shots which many film buffs will find fascinating.

Once again, I liked this movie and can can recommend it.



08 January 2013

Quartet the Movie

We went to the movies this moring with friends to see Quartet. I can highly recomend it.


Just released, Qartet is one of those great comedies only the Brits can produce, although with the help in this one by freshman director Dustin Hofffman.

Picture the scene: We’re in Beecham House,  a retirement Home for retired opera singers and musicians, similar to the Casa di Riposo per Musicisti in Milan, founded by composer Guiseppe Verdi himself, only this one is in rural England, but it even looks similar to the original. The residents, instead of playing bingo and bowls are practicing their former metier in music. There are singers rehearsing Gilbert and Sullivan, while others play orchestral instruments including trumpet and clarinet.

Enter retired opera diva, Jean Horton (Maggie Smith / The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) who was once married to tenor Regy Paget (Tom Cortenay / Little Dorritt) for 9 hours. Regy never forgave Jean after she confessed having an affair with another opera singer just after their wedding and has been trying to forget the unfortunate incident all those years ago. But now Jean has moved into the same home and old wounds are opened up again.

Beecham House is run by Dr Lucy Cogan (Sheridan Smith / Benidorm) and money is tight to keep the home operational. Another resident, Cedric (Michael Gambon /Maigret), a former director of opera, sees an opportunity to reunite the famous quartet for an anniversary concert to celebrate Guiseppe Verdi and to raise much needed funds to keep Beecham House going. The Quartet consisting of Jean, Regy, Wilf (Billy Connolly / The Man Who sued God) and Cissy (Pauline Collins / Shirley Valentine) who suffers the onset of Alzheimer’s but never-the-less tries to convince Jean to join them.  Of course Jean thinks resurrecting the quartet is preposterous and refuses to consider doing so. But petty jealousy between divas finally delivers the quartet to the stage for a last performance of the famous Rigoletto quartet in Act 3.

There are some very funny lines in the script by Reginald and Donald Hardwood, beautifully delivered by an outstanding ensemble cast.  Billy Connolly as the resident dirty old man is superb, as is the conductor, Bobby Swanson (Andrew Sachs / Faulty Towers). Anyone with an ounce of love of comedy, opera and classical music will highly enjoy this movie. Anyone not enjoying ‘Quartet,’ I feel sorry for you.