Thursday, 28 February 2013

MGM Movies - my guilty pleasures

Image Copyright MGM corporation/

I am starting at 1959 (I was around 4 years old, old enough to remember a movie, I reckon).

1959  The World, the Flesh and the Devil post apocalypse  New York - stunning street scenes
1960  The Time Machine George Pal triumph, creepy Morlocks, loads of fun; Village of the Damned you will never look at fair haired kids the same way
1961  Atlantis, the Lost Continent George Pal again
1962  How the West was Won incredible cast, MGM pulled all the stops out, James Stewart segment the best, Alfred Newman's kick ass score is perfect
1963  The V.I.P.s   glossy crap but compelling, a young Maggie Smith steals the picture from Liz and Dick; The Haunting (see my post "Films that scared the shit out of me"; The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (George Pal must have had a BIG office at MGM)
1964  The Seven Faces of Dr Lao Tony Randall has a field day so does William Tuttle (make-up chief)
1965  The Loved One (a brave try, crazy cast) ; The Hill (Sean Connery and Sidney Lumet - very tough movie)
1966  Mr Buddwing (You can't beat a good amnesiac plot.)
1967  The Dirty Dozen  Everything works in this action movie.
1968  Hot Millions (nifty caper movie with Maggie Smith and Peter Ustinov); The Legend of Lylah Clare (over the top Hollywood celebrities and secrets, campy fun)
1969  Where Eagles Dare (can be watched numerous times, much to enjoy); The Maltese Bippy (forgive me)
1970  Kelly's Heroes (I was desperate); Dark Shadows (It was released as House of Dark Shadows in Australia); Get Carter gritty Brit thriller, one of the first <R> movies I saw
1971  The Boy Friend (Ken Russell, Twiggy, Max Adrian, Glenda Jackson - an absolute delight); Shaft (blaxploitation goes mainstream); Pretty Maids All in a Row (delightfully sleazy Roger Vadim black comedy with Rock Hudson as the murderer)
1972  nil
1973  Westworld (Michael Crichton in top form, in 1973, this was so fresh and inventive - much copied - Yul Brynner as robot gunslinger, truly inspirational)
1974  nil
1975  The Wind and the Lion (John Milius's most consistent movie, knockout cast - Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, John Huston, love Brian Keith as Teddy Roosevelt) co-produced with Columbia
1976-1980  it's embarrassing, the Lion didn't roar much
1981  Clash of the Titans lots to like here, check out the Gods on Olympus (Larry, Maggy and Ursula), avoid the remake.
1982 Victor/Victoria - everything works in this film. Robert Preston, what a star. That voice!
1983 A Christmas Story Amazingly none of the studio wanted to touch this story about a kid wishing for a BB gun that is now a seasonal classic. Bob Clark had just directed teen sex comedy Porky's. Talk about a change in pace! Apparently Jack Nicholson was interested in the father part. Darren McGavin is incredible though - warm, grumpy and flawed (like most dads).

Disney movies - guilty pleasures

Copyright The Walt Disney Company/

As I was born in 1956, I will start when I can first remember seeing a Disney film.....

1959  Darby O'Gill and the Little People   probably saw it in 1960.
The banshees' Death Coach scared the crap out of me. Would have made a good ride ("E" ticket at Disneyland). They don't use that term anymore. Also pre-007 Connery was on board.
1961  One Hundred and One Dalmatians - liked Cruella's mansion art design
The Parent Trap the thing I most remember was the incredible queues of cars outside the drive-in to see this (this was huge in Australia) also seeing TWO Hayley Mills (split screen was movie magic). Few years later TV ripped this off with The Patty Duke Show (another guilty pleasure .... maybe another post?)
1962  In Search of the Castaways  I remember a crazy avalanche (?) scene set in New Zealand, wildly imaginative, typical Disney class, superb art direction/special effects. Hayley Mills meets Jules Verne.
1963  The Sword in the Stone You can't beat a classic story. Madame Mim is a dead ringer for a former teaching colleague (but I digress)
1964  Not Mary Poppins too long (140 mins) for kids, well I got a wriggly bum.
1965-1969 - nothing of interest to me
1970  The Boatniks only because of Phil Silvers and Joe E. Ross
1971  Bedknobs and Broomsticks only because of Angela Lansbury (117 mins, why were Disney movies so long?)
1972 -1976  to me, Disney was uncool
1977  The Rescuers;  Freaky Friday a return to form (we won't mention Pete's Dragon....)
1978  Candleshoe  Jodie Foster (again) with a great Brit cast.
1979  The Black Hole (I think I was the only one in the cinema) a brave try, great John Barry score but the ending....??!!
1980  Not Popeye  ...R.I.P.   Robert Altman directed this!!
1981  Dragonslayer - slow to develop, but a stunning film, the dragon will knock yer socks off, Sir Ralph Richardson, Alex North musical score. Highly recommended.
1982  Tron - ahead of its time, staggering design but a bit of a bore.
1983  Something Wicked This Way Comes - flawed masterpiece, not a crowd pleaser, very atmospheric, creepy Jonathan Pryce and tarantulas.
1984  Splash - finally Disney gets a hit! Forget about The Black Cauldron (has its moments, but read the three books, Lloyd Alexander's The Prydain Chronicles)
1989  The Little Mermaid using Alan Menken and Howard Ashman really paid off for Disney
1996  The Hunchback of Notre Dame superb Alan Menken/Stephen Schwartz score, too dark for kids
1997  Hercules wondrous Menken/Zippel score, reminiscent of Little Shop of Horrors, cool gospel singers/Greek chorus, James Woods as Hades. Perfect
2001  Spirited Away produced by Studio Ghibli, English version is very respectful though.
2004  The Lion King 1 and a half  Nathan Lane is hilarious, lovely movie send-ups; Howl's Moving Castle Studio Ghibli again but I found the Japanese version hazy, confusing in parts, talented voice cast - Billy Crystal, Lauren Bacall, Christian Bale
2005  Sky High fun for adults and kids - the Disney formula (entertainment on two levels)
2007  Enchanted the ending drops the ball but the rest is smart and a delightful 'Disney princess' tribute. Amy Adams is such a versatile actress. Alan Menken/Stephen Schwartz score is a delight.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Guilty pleasures movies from United Artists (apart from James Bond)

Copyright United Artists/
I am starting at 1960 (I was 4 years old, old enough to remember a movie, I reckon).

1960  The Magnificent Seven (itself, a ripoff of Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai) which sporned A Bug's Life and The Three Amigos
1961  One, Two, Three (Billy Wilder, James Cagney - enough said)
1962  The Road to Hong Kong (last road movie, dated but still fun, great final gag)
1963  Call Me Bwana (nice link with From Russia With Love - sniper in Istanbul scene) Cool score, hammy Hope
1964  Kiss Me Stupid (Billy Wilder again); Woman of Straw (classy production, Basil Dearden directed, Connery was really busy in 1964 - this plus Marnie and two Bond movies)
1965  The Satan Bug (killer virus rolling around in a helicopter over L.A.; What's New Pussycat (Woody Allen, Peter O'Toole plus 60's cool)
1966  A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Richard Lester jazzes up Sondheim musical, great cast)
1967  Billion Dollar Brain (Ken Russell doing a Harry Palmer movie! He killed the franchise, but this is my favourite. Glorious Richard Rodney Bennett score); In the Heat of the Night (stands up very well today, Poitier + Steiger, steamy small town atmosphere, sublime blues score.

1968  The Night They Raided Minsky's (Jason Robards paired with Norman Wisdom? Bert Lahr died during the filming
1969  Alice's Restaurant Late 60's time capsule, Arthur Penn had previously directed Bonnie & Clyde, cult movie with a capital C.
1970  The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (Billy Wilder, Scottish scenery, Queen Victoria and Irene Handl as Mrs Hudson, Christopher Lee as Mycroft Holmes - what more do you want?)
1971  Mrs Polifax - Spy (just for the cast: Rosalind Russell, Darren McGavin); The Hospital (Paddy Chayevsky script, George C. Scott, Diana Rigg, very black comedy
1972 Hickey and Boggs (reuniting I Spy duo, Bill Cosby and Robert Culp)
1973 Theatre of Blood (enormous fun with Vincent Price topping theatre critics, gruesome Shakespeare-themed murders)
1974  Juggernaut (Richard Lester's nifty British thriller on board luxury liner riddled with bombs)
1975  Rollerball
1976  Network (knockout script, Faye Dunaway has never been better; Carrie (great Stephen King adaptation thanks to De Palma)
1977  Annie Hall (" de dah!")
1978  Invasion of the Body Snatchers (love the ending, it's rude to point)
1979  The (First) Great Train Robbery (Victorian era caper movie, Connery, Sutherland, rousing Jerry Goldsmith score - recommended)
1980  The Final Countdown (nothing to do with the crap Europe song)
1981  nil
1982  The Secret of Nimh (the book is MUCH better)
1983  War Games (teenage Matthew Broderick battles a super computer, "Shall we play....?)
1984  To Live and Die in L.A. (French Connection director, flashy but empty, but I like the title)

Monday, 25 February 2013

Most overrated travel spots Most underrated travel spots

Destination Disappointments (overrated)
  • The Maldives
  • Koh Samui, Thailand
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Margaret River, Western Australia
  • Phuket, Thailand
  • Fiji (Viti Levu)
Big Surprises (underrated)
  • Zurich
  • River Kwai, Thailand
  • Downtown Los Angeles
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Brisbane CBD, Australia
  • Niue, South Pacific
  • Mexico City
  • Antigua, Guatemala

Sunday, 24 February 2013

"They Might Be Giants" - Sherlock and a female Watson but not Lucy Liu!

Back in 1971 a little gem of a film was released with very little acclaim, They Might Be Giants.  It must have struck a chord with the 80's alternative band of the same name.
Set in present day New York City, the plot concerned a deranged "Sherlock Holmes" (George C. Scott) and his sidekick, Dr Mildred Watson (Joanne Woodard was actually his psychiatrist).
Fast forward to 2012 - the hit TV series Elementary.

Ring any bells?

A manic Sherlock Holmes.....TICK
A caring female doctor sidekick with unresolved sexual tension in plot.....TICK
Set in present day N.Y.C. .....TICK

Stephen King wrote in Danse Macabre that there are basically only seven stories in writing. Interesting idea.

They Might Be Giants hasn't been on free-to-air television in Australia for decades. You can catch it (in 9X10 minute parts) on Youtube. Great supporting cast: Jack Gilford, Rue McClanahan, Al Lewis (remember The Munsters), F. Murray Abraham. Written by James Goldman. John Barry's rich score is particularly poignant.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

What is a nature strip?

In the suburbs of Australia we have "nature strips", called "grass/y verges" in some states, in U.S. I think they are referred to as "tree lawns". Americans always have the simplest term. I think "nature strip" is a bit pretentious.

 There is a delightful tradition in our area of leaving old timber or lopped boughs on this area with a "Free Fire Wood" sign. Now that's being a good neighbour.

This shot was taken in the middle of a hot Melbourne summer, hence the browned-off grass. It is a hassle to mow the lawn (some folks put in flower beds or rockeries, depending on how lenient the local council is) but I wouldn't like to do without my "nature strip". A true suburban icon.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Copyright of images

“Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research. Fair Use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.  Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favour of fair use.”

My suggestions for sat nav voice instructions

  • Christopher Walken
  • Carol Channing 
  • Robert De Niro (as Travis Bickell, "You talkion' ta me?")
  • Sarah Millican ("Turn left, flower")
  • Dylan Moran (see Black Books)
  • Joan Rivers
  • Jack Dee
  • Barry White
  • Barry Humpries (as Dame Edna Everage)
  • Paul O'Grady as (Lily Savage)
  • Paul Keating ("Next left, scumbag")
  • Kenneth Williams (I know this is impossible)
  • Julian Clary
  • Elmer Fudd ("I said Wight, Wabbit!")
  • R.A.F. pilots or Neanderthals from The Armstrong Miller Show
  • Father Jack (from the sublime Father Ted)
  • NOT Jeremy Clarkson
  • NOT Marlon Brando (mumble, mumble)
  • NOT Tony Abbott (He'd always tell you to turn RIGHT, and you can't trust a word he says)
Any suggestions?

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Jo Nesbo's "The Bat" ....Great expectations

After reading all the Harry Hole books with relish I was dying to read the first in the series. I should have known it would be different, having been written over ten years earlier and set in sweltering Sydney, rather than bleak, wintry Oslo. Other books reference this Australian serial killer case so my expectations were high.
Well, for a start, there is soooo much dialogue compared to the other books. As an Australian, it is clear Mr Nesbo has visited Sydney and/or done copious research. He has the Australian lingo down pat. The colourful characters of Kings Cross and Darlinghurst Road show this. It's just a bit crass, a bit obvious. I found Andrew Kensington, the Australian Aboriginal detective with a dark secret (no pun intended) totally unbelievable. I miss the bleakness and subtlety of the later novels. I suppose Mr Nesbo was finding his feet with the genre in 1997. He was in his mid-thirties when he wrote The Bat. His writing has certainly matured - he is 52 now.
We do find out why Harry decides to give up alcohol  The book improves by the half-way mark when Harry stops being an observer with the Sydney police and becomes a protagonist. Plus he goes on a nice old bender in Kings Cross. Harry finally does some nifty detective work 70% into the book. The homeless guy who skydives was a bit much. Once again, Harry uses technology and intuition to track the serial killer
The ending is pure pulp cinema, although I like the poignant coda.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Paramount movies - my guilty pleasures - no classics here

Image Copyright Paramount Pictures/

1961  The Ladies' Man (only for the knockout multi-level set)
1962  nil
1963  The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis's best solo effort - love "Buddy Love")
1964  The Carpetbaggers (delightful trashy - cross reference with The Aviator)
The Fall of the Roman Empire - Samuel Bronson productions were over-the-top historical epics with fat budgets
Seven Days in May  this is a classic, couldn't resist putting it in - haven't seen it in decades
1965  Crack in the World  great British sci-fi
1966  Assault on a Queen (only for the cool 'big band' musical score, Sinatra misfire)
1967  Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad  funniest thing in this movie is the title, the title was the theme song as well - so bad, you watch it with your mouth wide open.
1968  Barbarella .... of course, "my pretty-pretty..."   just for the opening titles, those snapping dolls and the origin of Duran Duran.
Danger: Diabolik  John Phillip Law again. Amazing 60's production design. Recommended.
No Way to Treat a Lady  Rod Steiger always plays the best nutjob.

1969  True Grit  "Fill your hands, you sonofabitch!"
The Italian Job - makes you want to buy a mini, plus Noel Coward and Benny Hill, "I like 'em big"
1970  W.U.S.A. great cast and New Orleans setting, Catch 22 (brave film adaptation, incredible cast)
1971  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory  Gene Wilder as Wonka nails it.
1972  Play it Again, Sam  great Woody Allen romance, priceless ending
1973  Don't Look Now dig the dwarf in the red poncho, incredibly creepy Venice locale
1974  The Parallax View (great Warren Beatty political thriller) Chinatown one of those films you could watch countless times and get more out of it .... it is a classic but it's my blog and I want to include it!
1975  The Day of the Locust (30's L.A.); Three Days of the Condor (Faye Dunaway, again)
1976  Marathon Man  "Is it safe??"  The Last Tycoon another 30's Hollywood setting, great De Niro performance;  The Big Bus funny disaster movie send-up
1977  Looking for Mr Goodbar Black Sunday (chalk and cheese)
1978  Heaven Can Wait  Dyan Cannon is priceless in this.... plus James Mason as an angel!
1979  The Warriors  nasty street gangs, it ain't West Side Story
1980  Airplane!  see Airport 75 first for added enjoyment
1981  Mommie Dearest ...say no more, Faye Dunaway=camp classic
1982  48 Hrs  Remember when Eddie Murphy made good movies?
1983  Trading Places  Remember when Eddie Murphy made good movies? Jamie Lee Curtis = great rack
1984  Top Secret! (from creators of Airplane!)
1985  Young Sherlock Holmes  Don't miss the quick scene after the closing credits!
1986  Ferris Bueller's Day Off   John Hughes at his best.
1987  The Untouchables  3 reasons: De Palma's direction of the baby carriage scene; Sean Connery; Ennio Morricone's sublime music

Lord Howe Island - Australia's best kept secret

It is about 2 hours flying time (from Sydney by Qantas turbo prop) in the South Pacific. It is part of Australia in the state of New South Wales. Only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at any one time.

Imagine a cross between Tahiti and Kangaroo Island (South Australia). Unique bird life. Amazing bush walks, rainforests, rock climbing. Snorkel, cycle and hand feed metre long fish on Ned's Beach. There is a range of accommodation available from self-catered units to upscale luxury lodges. Weather is mild throughout the year (20-25 degrees Celsius max, most rain in the winter months).

  • Food and alcohol are pricey if you are self-catering. We stuck a wine cask in our luggage.
  • Use visitnsw website.
  • The island is less than 1km wide in parts, total length about 10 km. Hire a bike. Cars are sparse.
  • Pack a jacket, can get windy. 
  • You can hire snorkelling gear there.
  • The local museum is very informative.
  • Walks range from 1 hour to full day.
  • It is hard to take a bad photo!

We couldn't take off for two days due to strong winds. But being stranded in paradise was hardly tough.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Ian Fleming's James Bond novels - my 'awards'

The novels that most resembles the Bond movie: Dr No (1958), From Russia with Love (1957), Goldfinger (1959)
Weirdest novel: You Only Live Twice (1964) A depressed Bond wandering around nutbag Blofeld's (Dr Shatterhand) Japanese Garden of Death.
Most consistent read: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)
Biggest return to form: The Man with the Golden Gun (published a year after Fleming's death, 1965)
Biggest disappointment: The Spy Who Loved Me (1962, told from heroine's viewpoint, mainly set in a upstate New York motel)
Biggest surprise: Live and Let Die (1954), Fleming's second Bond book is one of his best, shame about the film.
Culinary advice: melon wrapped with prosciutto featured in Thunderball (1961)
Most informative (gambling tips): Casino Royale (1953), Diamonds are Forever (1956)
Most outrageous scene in a Bond novel: Dr No - Bond ordeal in Crab Key, culminating in a fight with a giant squid.
Best book where Bond doesn't globe trot:  Moonraker (1955)- encounters Hugo Drax's rocket base in Kent!
Best short story: Octopussy (bears no resemblance to the embarrassing film).

Biggest regret: Giving my entire Fleming collection to the Salvos when we moved house decades ago. At least I have the e-books now.

Guilty Pleasures - 20th Century Fox Films

Copyright News Corporation/

1959  Journey to the Centre of the Earth (I saw it when I was four in 1960, giant lizards freaked me out)
1960  The Lost World (crap adaptation, but Claude Rains is fun)
1961  The Innocents (creepy kids and Deborah Kerr, chilling and dripping with atmosphere - must read the Henry James story.
1962  The Longest Day gargantuan cast, a who's who of 60's stars. Beach landing scenes are truly spectacular (without CGI)
1963  Move Over, Darling (Doris Day in the role planned for Marilyn Monroe) Avoided Cleopatra

1964  What A Way To Go (overblown but check out the cast of leading men for Shirley MacLaine (Dick Van Dyke, Dean Martin, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly - last two have the best segments - "A Lush Budgett Production" and 30's musicals send-up. Looks gorgeous, Edith Head went berserk)

1965  Flight of the Phoenix (compelling, have plenty of water on hand while watching this one)
Von Ryan's Express (Sinatra with a machine gun, Trevor Howard bristling) Omitted The Sound of Music (though I do like the concert scene finale)

1966  Fantastic Voyage inspired and imaginative, it bowled me over
Modesty Blaise utterly naff spy/ pop art mess, Dirk Bogarde is so camp, he makes Kenneth Williams look like the Duke - definitely a curiosity piece. Great music.
1966  How to Steal a Million stylish caper movie good chemistry between Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole.
1966 was the zenith of spy movies, ever studio wanted to get on the Bond bandwagon. United Artists had Bond and Harry Palmer. Columbia had Matt Helm. MGM had The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  The Italian studios did some crap rip offs. Fox had Our Man Flint. James Coburn was cool, loved Lee J. Cobb's phone ring tone).
1967  Caprice (more spylarks). Doris Day trying to look mod, Richard Harris looking embarrassed, Ray Walston a cross dressing villain. I thought this was cool, but I was 11.)
1967  In Like Flint was a terrible Derek Flint sequel, but I liked the Caribbean locale and the Jerry Goldsmith score.
1968  The Boston Strangler  Everybody wanted to used split screens in movies by the late 60's. They work well. Tony Curtis is really good.
1969  Hello Dolly (Bye, bye budget), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (first movie I saw without my parents)
1970  M*A*S*H (I never tire of this film, hilarious as well as searing, perfect movie, perfect cast)
Patton (1970 was certain a good year for Fox - let's forget Myra Breckinridge)
1971  The French Connection (best NYC chase sequence EVER)
1972  The Other (little Gothic gem, from the director of To Kill A Mockingbird)
Sleuth ....Class with a Capital C....avoid remake a decade later, awful.
1973  The Legend of Hell House (The Haunting, 1963, is a better version though)
1974  The Three Musketeers stellar cast, Richard Lester nails it. No wonder there were sequels.
Young Frankenstein (so many catch-phrases, so much to like, done with affection to the Universal 30's movies)
1975  Race with the Devil (compelling fluff, great car stunts)
1976  Silver Streak I love train movies, plus there's Gene Wilder and Patrick McGoohan (Richard Pryor was an acquired taste)
1977  High Anxiety (watch it just for Mel Brooks's lounge singer act...."Oooo... -xiety....remember, be good to your parents...")
1978  The Fury (Brian De Palma, great finale), The Boys from Brazil (an evil Gregory Peck!)
1979  the wise and sweet natured, Breaking Away; the ground breaking Alien (plus Sigourney Weaver in little knickers)
1980  All That Jazz (a bit of a wank, but the Broadway musical scenes are good, predating Smash).
1981  Southern Comfort (think Deliverance, Walter Hill is a good director, clever title), Eyewitness (same team as Breaking Away)
1982  The Verdict (flawless Sidney Lumet film, I really miss James Mason.)
1983  To Be or Not To Be (haven't seen the Jack Benny original yet, on my to-do list)
1984  The Flamingo Kid cute Matt Dillon movie with the ever-reliable Hector Elizondo

Late night television gems

Okay, so for some reason you are awake in front of the box (the television) in the wee small hours - say between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
 Is there anything worth watching on free-to-air digital? This post pertains to Australian TV. I should have said that first, I suppose.
We pulled the plug on cable once our daughter outgrew Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel and discovered the Internet (like her parents). Broadband is cheaper than monthly cable. No brainer.

For old farts, things aren't too bad (as long as you can navigate around the mind-numbing, yet weirdly addictive Home Shopping programs). So here are some gems I found in the local TV guide over the last two nights:

Old movies
I was waxing lyrical about The Seven Per-Cent Solution a few posts ago, suddenly the damn movie is on ABC 1 at 12:30 a.m. today!  Haven't seen the movie in 30 years! It's wonderful, by the way.
Last night you had Cool Hand Luke (Paul Newman at his peak), or ....Klute (70's cool thriller) followed by The Lavender Hill Mob (legendary Ealing comedy). At the same time on a rival channel, The Saint Takes Over. Anything with George Sanders is good value. That voice! Followed by The Saint's Vacation (sadly sans Sanders).

The ever-reliable Rage - yesterday's guest presenters, Margaret and David. Go figure. Great music videos all night.

Weird stuff
Horror in the Black Museum, dodgy English exploitation movie. Lurid and atrociously acted.
The Love Boat - I can't watch this without having my mouth gaping ... how did this show stay on for so long? It is so bad, it is addictive. I love the ship's swimming pool scenes.

Hart to Hart, Dangerman and last, but not least, The Avengers. I am sure many blogs have raved on about John Steed and Mrs Peel, so I won't. All this before the sun comes up.

On a stinking hot night, in an Australian summer, check out the box....

Caution pet photo-bombing my blog.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Films that have made me cry

  • The Grapes of Wrath Hank Fonda's "I'll be all around in the dark....I'll be everywhere" speech.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird Just the opening titles/music have made me tear up, by the final scene with Boo Radley (Robert Duvall), I am a blubbering idiot.
  • Silent Running I think this is brought on when Bruce Dern refers to Huey/Dewey "tending the forest"
  • last 10 minutes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, not the Director's Cut.
  • They Might Be Giants - final scene, a little gem about a deranged "Sherlock" and his female doctor in New York. Sound familiar?  No, not Elementary, this was made in 1971.  Read my later post about this little wonder.
  • Cider House Rules The final time you hear the classic line, "Good night, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England". There wouldn't be a dry eye in the house.
  • South Pacific (final scene when kids run in)
  • E.T.  .... I think I am good now.
  • Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, I have blubbered with an in-flight showing, lucky it was dark. I blame the Alan Menken music ... it's a cartoon for God's sake!
  • Seeing a live show (yes, I know I've gone off topic) is even worst - Sunday in the Park With George (scene at end of Act 1), Les Miserables (you can probably guess which scenes)
  • Television: I get a lump in the throat listening to Vanessa Redgrave's concluding comments at the end of each beautifully written Call the Midwife episode. How could you not tear up?

I'll probably think of more later ... but I'll publish now anyway.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Guilty pleasures - Universal Studios films

This is an old family photo, but I got sick of citing Copyright
I am starting at 1960 (I was 4 years old, old enough to remember a movie, I reckon).
  • 1960 Midnight Lace; Spartacus (chalk and cheese)
  • 1961 Curse of the Werewolf (Hammer horror, with a young, but still creepy, Oliver Reed) 
  • 1962 Cape Fear; That Touch of Mink (bleak black&white nail-biter meets glossy Eastmancolor fluff)
  • 1963 40 Pounds of Trouble (as a kid I loved the Disneyland locations); The Birds (knockout phone booth scene)
  • 1964 The Chalk Garden (had a crush on Hayley Mills); Charade (great Mancini score)
  • 1965 The Warlord (Chuck Heston); I Saw What You Did (creepy little William Castle B flick)
  • 1966 Gambit (lots of caper movies in the mid 60's), Blindfold (liked the bayou setting)
  • 1967 Thoroughly Modern Millie (fun, but too long)
  • 1968 Coogan's Bluff (Clint Eastwood, on the verge of superstardom)
  • 1969 Colossus, The Forbin Project (taut sci-fi sleeper about a supercomputer - years before War Games)
  • 1970 Airport (cheesy but compelling)
  • 1971 The Andromeda Strain (great start, stunning production design, but God, it is so talky; Play Misty For Me (Clint's first time as director - has he ever directed a crap movie, even Hereafter?)
  • 1972 Frenzy (Hitchcock back in London and a return to form - rape screen in dating agency office is a worry "....Lovely.....Lovely" - chills the bones)
  • 1973 American Graffiti;  Day of the JackalThe Sting (what a year)
  • 1974 Earthquake (saw it in "Sensurround", basically big speakers under the seats so they seemed to shudder in seismic scenes.
  • 1975 Jaws (of course)
  • 1976 The Seven-Per-Cent-Solution (what a cast, love to see it again)
  • 1977 The Last Remake of Beau Geste (very patchy, some good sight gags)
  • 1978 National Lampoon's Animal House ("To-ga, To-ga, To-ga!")
  • 1979 Dracula; The Seduction of Joe Tynan
  • 1980 Coal Miner's Daughter; The Blues Brothers
  • 1981 Ghost Story (the book's better, but look at the stars: Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Melvyn Douglas, John Houseman, Patricia Neal - like Cocoon does Horror)                                        On Golden Pond (another movie full of old fogeys - Fonda and Hepburn)
  • 1982 The Thing (holds up very well compared with recent remake, mind-blowing Rob Bottin make-up)
  • 1983 Scarface (boffo finale, but 170 minutes ????)
  • 1984 Sixteen Candles (this film and Ferris Bueller's Day Off are John Hughes' best films - delightful throughout, great ensemble cast, great score - as you would expect in a John Hughes flick)
  • 1985 The Breakfast Club (this is No3, Simple Minds music helps)

Television shows they should bring back!

Look at all the recycled crap being brought back -  90210DallasHawaii Five-OCharlie's AngelsMockingbird Lane (The Munsters) - granted, the last two got cancelled pretty damn quickly.

Here's my wishlist:
  • Thank God You're Here *
  • The Panel *
  • The Late Show *
  • Talking About Your Generation *
  • Father Ted
  • The Hour
  • North Square
  • This Life
  • Black Books
  • The I.T. Crowd
  • Drop the Dead Donkey
  • The Name of the Game (How old are you?)
  • The Avengers
  • The Samurai (the first Japanese show I ever saw)
  • Thriller (U.K. early 1970's)
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker
  • The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (ahead of its time - loved the way Dwayne Hickman would talk to the camera - and the dynamite supporting cast - Tuesday Weld, Frank Faylen, Warren Beatty, William Schallert
  • The X-Files (My daughter's pick)
  • Callan, The Professionals, The Sweeney, The Persuaders (My wife's pick)
Fat chance, but it's nice to look back.

* Australian shows

Friday, 15 February 2013

Teenage actors who have survived.... big time

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Third Rock from the Sun, 1996)

Helen Mirren (Age of Consent, 1969, first boobs I saw on screen). I think she was in her early 20's but it's my blog - so stuff it.

Dame Judi Dench (Talking to a Stranger, 1966, had to study it in Year 11, for good reason)

Jenny Agutter (have you seen Call the Midwife? Remember Walkabout, 1971, especially the swimming/hunting scene? Go to Youtube. Wow)

Jodie Foster (miscellaneous TV and Disney, Taxi Driver, 1976)

Jason Bateman (Little House on the Prairie, 1981)

Drew Barrymore (television work, Altered States, 1980,  E.T. 1982)

Nicholas Hoult ( TV stuff before About a Boy,  2002)

Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter from 2001, unless you have been living under a rock)

Emma Watson (ditto)

Nicole Kidman (BMX Bandits, 1983)

Lindsay Lohan

This is a work in progress.... 

The crappiest James Bond moments

In the interest of 'equal time', I am now going to slag off my favourite movie franchise.....

  • the last few minutes of Goldfinger (Did they run out of money? The tropical island looks like they are in the local botanical gardens. You can see the wires on Goldfinger's plummetting Gulfstream jet.)
  • Bond slapping his female colleague, Dink, on the bottom with the comment, "Run along, Dink... Man talk!"
  • Roger Moore looking tired in A View to a Kill
  • protracted underwater scenes in Thunderball
  • in You Only Live Twice some of the space scenes look like an episode of Thunderbirds (thank God for John Barry's score)
  • when Blofeld's white pussy goes apeshit (clawing desperately at Donald Pleasance) because of the explosions sounding off on the Pinewood set (volcano/rocket base), You Only Live Twice
  • Bond and Tracey prancing around like some demented shampoo commercial to the strains of Louis Armstrong's "We Have All the Time in the World" in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
  • all of Octopussy

I am sure you have others.

My favourite James Bond scenes

  • "Ninja training camp" in Nimeji Castle, You Only Live Twice, as an 11 year old, this was very cool.
  • Aerial shot of Bond fighting henchmen on Kobe docks rooftop in You Only Live Twice
  • Bond entering Tokyo subway in You Only Live Twice, meeting Tanaka in his private train.
  • Lincoln Continental and hoodlum getting crushed in Goldfinger.
  • Bond playing golf with Auric Goldfinger.
  • Jill St John with the brat in "Circus Circus" in Diamonds are Forever, "Blow up yer pants!"
  • Bond looking absolutely rooted before Diana Rigg skates up to him in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
  • In Dr No Bond leaves the dead would-be assassin sitting in the rear seat of his conertible. He turns to the Government House guard with the line, "See he doesn't get away".
  • Entering Dr No's underwater lair (early Ken Adam Bond production design, refined and maxed up in You Only Live Twice.)
  • Bond meeting Honey Rider on the beach in Dr No (this is a no brainer).
  • Bond with jetpack in the start of Thunderball (the rest of the film is a bit of a bore, surprisingly - the remake Never Say Never Again was infinitely better)
  • "Welcome back Mr Bond, I hope we can expect more gratuitous sex and violence" from Never Say Never Again.
  • Bond on the Orient Express talking wine with Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love
  • Aston Martin showing its stuff in the Swiss Alps (Goldfinger, of course)
  • Bond in the old DB5 with M (finger poised on the red gear shift button) in Skyfall
  • all the opening titles (even the new ones)
  • the excitement generated in the end credits before: "The End of ..... but James Bond will return in ......"

One hit wonders on my playlist.... embarrassing or still worthy?

  • "You're Unbelievable" - EMF
  • "Baby, It's You" - Promises (don't tell the wife)
  • "Love and Pride" - King
  • "Too Shy" - Kajagoogoo
  • "Love Plus One" - Haircut 100
  • "You Get What You Give" - New Radicals
  • "Temptation" - Heaven 17
  • "Bang Bang Bang f. Q-Tip" - Mark Ronson
  • "Fish Heads" - Barnes & Barnes
  • "Shut Up and Let Me Go" - The Ting Tings
  • "Sometimes" - Miami Horror
  • "We Are The People" - Empire of the Sun
  • "Wonderful Life" - HURTS

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Warner Bros. movies - guilty pleasures

I will start from 1960, when I was four because I reckon from that age you can absorb and remember the film.
Copyright TimeWarner Company/

  • 1960 Ocean's ElevenThe Sundowners (Robert Mitchum does a passable Aussie accent)
  • 1961 Splendour in the Grass (Warren Beatty + Natalie Wood)
  • 1962 Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?The Music Man; Gypsy (a good year)
  • 1963 Critic's Choice (Bob Hope&Lucille Ball)
  • 1964 My Fair Lady
  • 1965 The Great Race (too long but great production and superb Mancini score)
  • 1966 Inside Daisy Clover; Harper/The Moving TargetWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (another good year
  • 1967 Hotel, Bonnie and Clyde
  • 1968 Bullitt
  • 1969 The Illustrated Man
  • 1970 Trog (cringeworthy, Joan Crawford must have been skint)
  • 1971 Dirty Harry, The Omega Man (vengeful mutants to a lovely Ron Grainer score)
  • 1972 What's Up Doc?
  • 1973 The Last of SheilaO Lucky Man
  • 1974 Blazing SaddlesThe Towering Inferno (both comedies)
  • 1975 The Yakusa (check out the talent: Mitcham, Paul Schrader, Robert Towne, Sydney Pollack)
  • 1976 The Ritz
  • 1977 The Late Show
  • 1978 Capricorn OneMovie MovieSuperman
  • 1979 A Little Romance (really sweet movie, old ham Lawrence Olivier, a teenage Diane Lane)
  • 1980 Altered States (Ken Russell doing what Ken Russell used to do, Paddy Chayefsky was pissed off with adaptation)
  • 1981 Body HeatExcalibur (2 dynamite movies)
  • 1982 Blade Runner
  • 1983 The Right Stuff (remember when Hollywood blockbusters could still be intelligent and not comic/video game driven?)
  • 1984 Razorback (giant pig demolishes house, lounge TV showing Don and Bert's Wheel segment - great first scene, Mr Mulcahy)
  • 1985 Spies Like Us;  Mishimi
  • 1986 Little Shop of Horrors (Steve Martin is sublime, great film adaptation)
  • 1987 The Lost BoysInnerspace

Dog blog (by my dog) "Bark life"

My owner writes crappy lists so I thought I'd have a go .......

Favourite actors: Terrier Thomas, Danny Bonaduce, Robert Wagger, Kirk Doglas (he was great in Bartacus), MacCollie Culkin. Gene Collie
Favourite actress: Ellen Barkin, Ruff Gordon, Eleanor Barker, Sarah Jessica Barker, Jacqueline Bassett
Favourite films: Dog Day Afternoon, The Howling, Must Love Dogs, The Hound of Baskervilles (the Basil Rathbone version), Dogs in Space, Reservoir Dogs, Straw Dogs, Rambone : First Bloodhound
Best 2012 Oscar film: Zero Dachshund Thirty.
Favourite music: Bow Wow Wow, Bono, Boney M, Pointer Sisters, Joe Cocker
Favourite pop group:  of the 60's (The Fab 4), The Beagles; of the 80's, The Korgis, Jo Boxers
Favourite book: The Dogs of WarThe Bone Identity, The Bone Collector
Favourite song: Devo's Whippet
Favourite TV shows: Bones, Inspector Rex
Favourite cars: LandRover, Maybach
Favourite tipple: "Johnnie Walkies"
Favourite celebrities: Michael Barkinson, Joan of Barc
Celebrities I hate: Cat Stevens, Moggy Smith, Raymond Burrs
Celebs I'd like to chase: Katey Seagull, Steven Seagull, Samantha Fox, Deborah Mailman
Celebs I'd like to be if I wasn't a dog: Virginia Woolf, Ernie Dingo
Favourite leisure activity: dogging, walks in the park

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Stunning opening titles in films

  • Spartacus
  • Goldfinger
  • The Billion Dollar Brain
  • The Owl and the Pussycat
  • Seven
  • Charade
  • Taxi Driver
  • Walk on the Wildside
  • Lord of War
  • Catch Me If You Can
  • Bunny Lake Is Missing
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Fantastic Voyage
  • Vertigo
  • Skyfall
anything by Saul Bass or Maurice Binder for that matter

Copyright :Universal/Bryna Productions 1960/

A-Z of little luxuries I can't live without

A   alcohol - there, I have said it!
B   bagels
C   cruise control
D   downloading
E   email
F   furniture from Ikea
G   good musicals
H   holidays (a break from routine)
I   Internet (have no idea why it needs uppercase)
J   jets (preferably up the pointy end)
K   kitsch
L   lollies (especially chocolate)
M   massage chairs
N   noise-reducing headphones
O   old movies/open fires (dead heat)
P   puzzles
Q   Qi -  with Stephen Fry  
R   reading a good book
S   sat nav in the car
T   tequila/talking crap
U   upscale hotels
V   vodka
W   wine
X   X Benedict (eggs - okay, I was desperate)
Y   yoghurt
Z   "zzzzzz" snoozing in the hammock

Whatever happened to "ockers"?

It's a term you don't hear a lot now. Remember John Meillon's Wally Stiller character, Ted Bullpit - the urban ocker from Kingswood Country, Crocodile Dundee, Hoges & Strop or the female equivalent - the "You tell 'em love" housewife portrayed hilariously by the late and great Dawn Lake? Shit that's a long sentence - as an ex-teacher, I should be shot.
Ockerism is not about class, whereas the term bogan is. John Singleton (Singo is a Sydney ocker) and John Elliott (Melbourne) cultivated the ocker personae.
I recently watched The Adventures of Barry MacKenzie again. My, how we have changed. Now the Australian media is full of "new age guys" like Adam Hills, Wil Anderson and Charlie Pickering. Which is a good thing. Good role models for the Gen Y.
The satirical sting when out of Sir Les Patterson about a decade ago. No wonder Barry Humphries retired last year.

Image Copyright

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The A-Z of Dickheads

A   Abbott, Tony, no, too easy, try again: Anyone who gets a tat to be "interesting"
B   bottled water drinkers in Australia - waste of money and resources
C    cigarette butt droppers
D   motorists who text, etc.
E   escalator users who don't stand to the left
F   four-wheel drive owners living in urban areas
G  girls with orange skin from fake tans
H   hoggers of the fast lane
I   intonation - people who use fake accents when speaking English
 e.g. "When I was in Fiorenza, I ate spaghetti and drank vino in the piazza."
J    Jolly store greeters in Kmart. Whose idea was that?
K   Kleenex droppers
L   Listeners of Alan Jones
M  Movie theatre chatterers
N   Name droppers
O   Old blokes who wear the full Lycra cyclist regalia
P    Peak cap wearers (over the age of 25)
Q   Diners who persist in queueing in one direction when there are two sides to the buffet tables
R   Readers of Andrew Bolt
S   Story stretchers - when a simple 30 second anecdote becomes War & Peace
T   Texters in a busy pedestrian area.... Bump!
U   Unaware parents who name their offspring with "unique" names
V   Vice Principals who procrastinate.
W  Wearers of inappropriate tee-shirts
X    eXceptionally loud people
Y   Young people brimming with confidence, believing they know everything in their job
Z    People who write A-Z lists!

Monday, 11 February 2013

"Guilty pleasure" movies - from Columbia Pictures

I will begin when I was four years old, old enough to remember seeing the movie.

1960 Guns of Navarone *
1961 Mysterious Island
1962 The Notorious Landlady *  (great use of "A Foggy Day In London Town")
1963 Bye Bye Birdie *
1964 The Long Ships
1965 Bunny Lake Is Missing * (gripping black and white movie)
1966 The Silencers * (Dino is no Sean Connery, but Stella Stevens works)
1967 The Ambushers * (cringe-worthy dialogue, but great fun)
1968 Funny Girl *
1969 The Wrecking Crew * (last Matt Helm film - Sharon Tate is a trick)
1970 The Owl and the Pussycat * (stunning opening titles and score)
1971 The Anderson Tapes (great use of split screens); Dollars (another heist movie, ultra-long chase scene)
1972 Butterflies Are Free (Goldie Hawn again!)
1973 Oklahoma Crude *
1974 The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad (all hail, Ray Harryhausen)
1975 Bite The Bullet; Stepford Wives (another deadheat, couldn't decide)
1976 Murder By Death (wet Neil Simon effort but knockout cast)
1977 The Deep * (John Barry does disco, Nolte and Bissett in the Caribbean)
1978 The Eyes Of Laura Mars *
1979 All That Jazz *
1980 Seems Like Old Times
1981 Stripes
1982 Tootsie (a near perfect film, so I suppose it isn't a "guilty pleasure")
1983 Blue Thunder
1984 Body Double (Brian DePalma doing another Hitchcock hommage)
1985 Fright Night (stands up well, better than remake, Roddy McDowell - nice touch)
1986 Stand By Me (best ever Stephen King adaptation)
1987 Hope And Glory (watch for John Boorman's son, Charley as crashed German pilot)

1988 Vibes (Cyndi Lauper, Jeff Goldblum, Peter Falk in Machu Picchu - what is not to like?)

* denotes musical score of note (in my humble opinion)

Columbia Logo Copyright Sony Pictures Entertainment/
Vibes images Copyright

Words I like the sound of ....

They just roll off the tongue or have an onomatopoeic quality:

conurbation, schism, undulate, stum, flange, caccinate, bint, dongle, bollard, recalcitrant, garrote, trollop, arcane, thespian, nobble, irksome, poppycock, woggle, uvula, vacuous, pus, flaccid, smarmy, crypt, lob, quip, fug, codswallop 

Why old fart music is better than new music - another A to Z list

A  Alphaville, Aztec Camera
B  Bryan Ferry, Blondie, Blur, BAD
C  Cure, Clash
D  David Bowie, Duran Duran
F   Echo and the Bunnymen
F   Frankie goes to Hollywood, Funboy 3
G  Gorillaz
H  Hunter & Collectors, Hoodoo Gurus
I    Ian Drury and the Blockheads
   Japan, Joy Division
K   Kate Bush, KLF
L   Led Zepplin, Lou Reed
M   Madness, Morrissey, Mott the Hoople, Mental as Anything, Malcolm McLaren, Models
N    New Order
O   Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
P    Psychedelic Furs, Police
Q   Q-tips
R   Roxy Music, Ramones
S   Sex Pistols, Stranglers, Souxie and the Banshees, Smiths, Specials, Simple Minds, Spandau Ballet, Scritti Politti
T   T-Rex, Ten Pole Tudor
U   Ultravox
V    Visage, Violent Femmes
W  Wall of Voodoo, Winehouse (Amy)
X    XTC
Y   Young (Paul), Young (Fine Young Cannibals)
Z    Zevon (Warren), ZZZ Top - okay, not great, but great fun.

The above list is a joint effort with my wife, wiling away time on a long car journey.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A cheap bastard's guide to travelling

Here are some random travelling tips:

  • Travel agents are redundant. We have not used a travel agent for many years after several stuff ups - thanks, Flight Centre - and that grinning prat isn't even a pilot. They don't shop around for you and always want to sell you their "preferred" travel insurance. If something goes wrong with your flight booking once you have left the country, you are on your own. Deal with the airline direct. Airlines can beat all quotes on their websites. Cut out the middleman.
  • Flights  Investigate round-the-world fares, travelling return to a destination is sometimes more expensive than a round-the-world fare with Star Alliance or One World, plus there are no seasonal surcharges.
  • Travel Insurance  If you travel overseas more than once a year it will pay you to get a "gold" credit card that includes travel insurance cover (e.g. Amex). We have had two claims using this cover - both resolved beautifully. Do the maths - yearly card fee is around $200 - you can't buy much travel insurance for a family for $200. Plus you get perks like Qantas Club lounge access if you play your cards right. You also get frequent flyer points with your card.
  • Accommodation Use trip advisor website hotel reviews. Check out best rooms, views, proximity to supermarkets, restaurants, train stations. Use google maps to ascertain walking distance. Ask to see the room on check-in - this eliminates moving rooms later because of crap view, smoky smell, dampness, etc. Don't unpack until you are happy with the room. Always bring a plastic bowl, knife, spoon - invaluable for self-catering. We took a small sandwich maker once to Europe - amazing range of hot dishes are possible, from mini pizzas to warming up stuff. Yes, I know I am a cheap bastard. Don't forget to open a window if you have sandwich maker on - in case of automatic fire alarms. Many hotel rooms include microwaves now, anyway.  Pack a powerboard/extension cord and international  plug adaptor. Invaluable for charging, watching movies on your device in airport lounges when there is a delay.
  • Money  Download Oanda currency converter cheat sheet. Good to know best time for ATM withdrawals.
  • Transport  Walking and taking public transport is the best way of getting a feel for a city. Plus it is cheap. You can travel the entire Beijing, Buenos Aires or Mexico City subway network for less than a dollar. NEVER pre-pay for airport transfers in your home country. Many airports have integrated train links to the city. Even Los Angeles, a city renowned for its reliance on motor cars, has a brilliant underground system. We have travelled with our daughter from the age of two - using everything from the Rio de Janeiro underground to the river ferries in Bangkok.

Images Copyright;

  • One last point: Don't wait until you retire to do all your travelling overseas. Travelling with a kid, despite all the hassles, heightens the experience. But, let's face it, travelling before you have kids is even BETTER. Travelling as a couple, now your daughter is old enough to house-sit is the BEST.

Monday, 4 February 2013

South Africa - hire a car and do it on your own

In April-May 2003 we toured South Africa with our daughter (then 9 years old and omnipresent GameBoy in rear seat). Very few Australians go to South Africa, but they should. Hiring a car and doing it by yourself was the way to go. Accommodation ranged from ritzy hotels to self-catered cabins. We mainly used the Protea Hotels chain. We travelled from Cape Town along The Garden Route to Durban then through Swaziland to Kruger National Park and finally Pretoria. We dropped the hire car off at Johannesburg Airport.

Map: Copyright


  • Deciding where to drive in our little hire car, seeing more wildlife than on the "organised" game drives in Kruger.  Check out this photo taken out of the window while driving: when Nissan meets "King of the jungle".
  • Staying 10 nights at different camps in Kruger - it's BIG.
  • CapeTown and Robben Island Prison (home to Nelson Mandella for 18 years)
  • in the surf at Durban
  • Incredible National Parks - canyons, chasms, coastal scenery
  • Blydespoort and "God's Window"
  • Addo Elephant National Park
  • Staying at "Shakaland" Zulu Cultural Village - sounds touristy but, wow!
  • Maholoholo Rehabilitation Centre
  • Sun City - didn't gamble, too much else to see
  • great white wine

Rhino and calf, another "out the rental car window shot"

Any questions? 

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Where the f**k is Niue?

This is my first travel blog (trog?). In 2010 my family spent a week on this incredible island. Niue is 2400 km northeast of New Zealand. Population about 1300. Air New Zealand have weekly flights from Auckland. Go there if you like:

  • Whale watching (middle of the year)
  • Swimming with dolphins without the crowds
  • Snorkelling
  • Cycling (you can cycle around the island in half a day with stops)
  • Hiking through weird coral chasms
  • Swimming in vast, subterranean water holes
  • Fresh fish (listen for the icecream van chimes outside your door - fantastic tuna)
  • Having a G&T at sunset after a day doing NOTHING.
Processed food is expensive but you can bring any foodstuff with you - no customs check. The locals bring KFC back when they visit relatives in Auckland.
Niue uses NZ currency. Fast internet. Buy your duty free booze in town (it's like a warehouse with a front counter).
We recommend staying at Namukulu Cottages and Spa, run by Canadians, Brian and Teresa. Our daughter loved their two boxer dogs. Great pool, comfy units, killer sunset view.

Photos don't do the place justice but here are two: coastline and coral chasms - very "Lost World" and  swimming in crystal clear pools in a cavern straight out of a Bond villain's secret lair.

1968 A very good year

  • My first year of high school, best year.
  • First disco, okay it was a social in the school library but I thought I had made it.
  • Best joke of 1968 :"Have you heard about the half Japanese, half black guy?  Every December 7, he attacks Pearl Bailey?" 
  • Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space OdysseyGet Smart, Laugh In, The Monkees, Hair! and Barbarella of course.
  • first taste of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  • listening to MacArthur Park on 3XY with the transistor under my pillow - our version of i-pod.
  • end of year excursion to Point Leo Beach, a strangely erotic glimpse of Diane B.'s clump of underarm hair when we were digging in the sand. Innocence.

If you want a time capsule that says "1968 cringe", watch and listen to the music in the opening titles for "The Wrecking Crew" (Dean Martin spy spoof). Guilty pleasure. You Tube it.