Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The cheapest transport in Cairns - Sunbus to Palm Cove

Background: My Australian family visits Queensland each year.

Palm Cove is closer to Cairns than the over-rated Port Douglas, with lots more charm.

Leaving from Lake Street (CBD), you can catch a 110/111 bus to Palm Cove (26 km) for $5.50 for one adult, one way ($2.70 Seniors/Concession).
You might want to use the day pass option, so you can hop on and off the bus, tour all the Northern Beaches, Cairns Zoo, Botanical Gardens/rainforest walks, shop at Smithfield Shopping Mall on the way to Northern Beaches (Palm Cove,Clifton Beach, Trinity Beach, Kewarra Beach, Yorkey's Knob).

Punctual service, friendly drivers, download timetable: website.

If arriving at the airport (6km from CBD) and there is at least 2 of you, I'd grab a taxi to Cairns. Only 10 minutes, taxi fare $20-$30.
Cairns Botanical Gardens/Red Arrow Track

Friday, 25 July 2014

"The Mimic" Series 2, Channel 4

Surprisingly we get a second series of this bittersweet little show. I thought six episodes pretty much covered Martin and his world but writer, Matt Morgan has more to tell. I enjoyed Morgan Freeman as a hobbit, the altercation with the living statue busker (why people worldwide enjoy these gilt painted plonkers, I'll never understand) and a quick Harry Potter repertoire.
After watching the second episode there is definitely a sameness about this little show. I think the producer should have stopped at the perfect first series. Highlights: the dying mum's video to her son (not maudlin, though) and the use of Kermit and David Attenborough as sex aids. Oh and we did get a smattering of Wogan in the mix.
Episode 3's highlights were "The Shining" routine in the factory and duelling impressionists in the tunnel.
In Episode 4 we got more Michael Caine(with this show and "The Trip" I think we have Michael Caine overkill).
Episode 5 (the stag weekend in the health spa) was the most satisfying so far. Nice to see the Peter Wright (Denise's uncle in "The Paradise") and Doreen Mantle (Mrs Warboys in "One Foot in the Grave") as Martin's dad and gran. Martin's prospective brother-in-law is a perfect foil for nervous Neil (Neil Maskell).
Satisfying conclusion in Episode 6.
Two delightful scenes: the mistaken identity bit in the toilet cubicle and the final scene with Martin swapping stretch limo for pink Fiat.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Jo Nesbo's "The Son" 2014 novel The sins of the father...

Not in the Harry Hole series, this stand alone novel is just as dark and shares many of the Oslo locations. Jo Nesbo explores the nature of morality and obsession in its two central characters: Simon Kefas (wily old school detective with a gambling addiction) and Sonny Loftus (escaped prisoner/heroin addict/avenging angel).
The reader is taken from Oslo's underbelly (the homeless, the addicts) to corruption in high places. Some nifty detective work (especially the red toothbrush DNA puzzler), a plucky young detective (Kari Abel), a nasty master criminal (The Twin) and three interrelated love stories make this a satisfying read.
How can you not like it, what with Sonny's Depeche Mode references throughout the book?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

"Ray Donovan" Season 2 Better than ever? F**k yeah.

You think you had a bad day?
Spare a thought for our hero (anti-hero):
In the first episode: a buried-alive nightmare, angry early morning sex with the wife, followed by marriage guidance/psychologist meeting, his son is suspended from school, hounded by the Feds/daughter arrested for possession, tricky shooting cover-up for a client followed by a quick night drive to Mexico for his boozed, sociopath daddy. At least he had a clean shirt for the Parent-Teacher meeting (which he changed out of before brandishing his baseball bat in Baja).
Cracking season opening. Bonus: Hank Azaria as FBI officer and scrabble/wife swapping fiend. Bit weird seeing Agador Spartacus from "The Birdcage" in this part.
Tequila-soaked Mickey swimming with talking Flipper (Rosanna Arquette) was the cherry on the Showtime cake.
By Episode 3 you realise that family is the core of this show, not sex and violence.  The resemblance between mother and daughter is uncanny. Elliott Gould is a trick in this show, stealing ever scene that he is in.
Nice to see Ann-Margret as the former Hollywood goddess.
Episode 7: possibly the worst 14th birthday party ever, saved by Ray and birthday boy dancing to "Walk this way".
Episode 8 guest appearances by /60's/70's star Richard Benjamin (weird hearing him say "couldn't find a clit in a forest of clits) and Paul Michael Glasser (Starky) as the sleazy producer. Knockout final scenes: bedroom fireworks at Chez Donovan and brutal street slaying. No wonder David Hollander (script writer) has been 'promoted' in Season 3, booting out producer, Ann Biderman.
Episode 12 season finale: series creator, Ann Biderman, wrote this one, lots of loose ends tied up, a classy swansong.

"Masters of Sex" Season 2, Showtime

It is reassuring to see that this show is just as engrossing as the first season. Complex 'grey' characters (e.g. the selfish, hardly likable Bill Masters), female bonding (e.g. Virginia and Lillian, Betty and Rose) and the welcome return of 'The Pretzel King' and his sardonic wife, Betty, the ex-hooker. I hope Danny Huston (last seen in "American Horror Story") is used as an ongoing character in this season.
The art direction in Episode 2 is a standout (Gateway Memorial Hospital set design). Bill's speech about sexual dysfunction compared to being labelled "deviant" could be this season's raison d'etre. I am really enjoying ballsy Betty, too.
Episode 3 (surely Emmy-nomination worthy) was primarily a hotel room-based two hander with Bill and Virginia discussing sexual identity, power and the psychology of boxing. The intercutting of the operation scenes concerning the hermaphrodite infant was poignant. This season gets better and better.
With Episode 4 and 5, integration and race relations is becoming a dominant theme. Nice to see Sarah Silverman return as Betty's old "friend".

Monday, 7 July 2014

C.J. Box "Stone Cold" A good Winter read for cityslickers

This is the 14th Joe Pickett novel. No 15, "Shots Fired" comes out in July, 2014. This is check-your-brains- in-at-the-Library-desk stuff, just relish a good read. Think Jack Reacher meets Bear Grylls.
Pickett, the Wyoming game warden/trouble shooter for the Governor, has a savvy wife, three dissimilar teenage daughters, the mother-in-law from Hell and a loyal Labrador, Daisy. Nate Romanowski, family friend, falconer and part-time assassin, is an intriguing character.
The author lives in Wyoming and clearly loves its wild, remote and desolate landscape. I knew nothing about Wyoming apart from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" featured Devil's Tower National Park. Mr Box has made me open up Google Earth and explore this spectacular scenery.
Curl up in front of the fire with a whisky and enjoy.

G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin 372 pages