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Monday, 19 December 2016

Mercure Canberra - Best value accommodation in town?



Built in the late 1920's to coincide with the building of the (provisional) Parliament House, this historic hotel has lots going for it.
  • Great location - 10 mins walk to the Canberra Centre (downtown shopping mall), bars, restaurants, Canberra Theatre, 5 mins walk to the Australian War Memorial and the start of trail to Mount Ainslie.
  • Cheap on-site parking ($10 a night)
  • Great food (choice of two restaurants - up market or bistro).
  • Public bar and bottle shop.
  • Clubby decor - open fires, wing chairs, couches in public areas, with quirky touches like a 30's radio unit, old telephone switchboard, huge fish tanks in the corridors.

Central courtyard



Cheap pub food in the beer garden - Lamb shanks, Chicken Kiev
This was our last stop on a road trip which included upscale Accor properties (Sofitel, Pullman, M Gallery), so this 3 star hotel is punching well under its weight.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

"Kylie on Stage" Arts Centre Melbourne. Free exhibition

From Showgirls - John Galliano
Centrepiece with giant concert clips
Boy George designed piece on the left
Kyborg
The Arts Centre (the one under the metal spire) is 5 minutes walk across the Yarra River from Flinders Street Station/Federation Square. You can always rely on  Arts Centre Melbourne to come up with an impeccibly compiled (FREE) exhibition throughout the year. This one closes January 22, 2017.

Kylie Minogue has donated stage outfits, sketches and memorabilia covering over two decades of international touring. Designers include John Galliano, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Dolce & Gabbana. Patsy and Eddie would approve.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Amazing cinematography in "Mr Robot" Season 2, Episode 9


 Sam Esmail's series has always been visually stunning with inventive framing and compositions. This week was no exception. The shot with Elliot and dad outside the prison, camera mounted at their feet.
Photograph USA Network
Photograph USA Network
The scenes with Phillip Price facing off White Rose were equally stunning. One shot has the two umbrella men taking up only 5% of the screen. In another, they are strolling through a formal garden. Classically composed. Reminded me of the shot in Resnais's "Last Day in Marienbad" combined with a surrealist painting.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Five things I learned from "Mr Robot" Season 2, Episode 8


  • The show is still great without Malek and Slater (but I am missing B D Wong as White Rose and that cute Scandi couple, the wacky Wellicks).
  • Darlene must stop wearing short shorts, she is going to freeze in New York.
  • "Danse Macabre" is still a great symphonic poem.
  • Angela does great karaoke with Tears for Fears' "Everybody wants to rule the world".
  • Dom's obsession with "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion"

Friday, 19 August 2016

"Mr Robot" Season 2, Episode 7 highlights


  • Joanna's colour motif is definitely stark white and scarlet.
  • Sam Esmail playing with the audience (Elliot's prison switcheroo)
  • "Maybe next year..." (Phillip's response to Angela's birthday rebuff)
  • "Can you let go of me please?" (Elliot being hugged by the Christian counsellor)
  • Don't mess with Leon.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

"Mr Robot" Season 2, Episode 6, review

Despite "The Guardian" TV critic's theory about the demise of second seasons of critically acclaimed shows*, this episode proves that Sam Esmail is still full of surprises and "Mr Robot" is still one of the smartest things on television.
The "family road trip" 80's sitcom was inspired, complete with video-format, cheesy credits, laugh track, commercial breaks, back projection and a cameo by Alf.
Things get darker as the sitcom-from-Hell continues.
The middle part of the episode - Angela junior hacker - is more like a caper movie.
Getting a bit sick of Ray. Do we need this subplot?
The final scene with young Elliot and his dad in family car (a nice bookend for this episode) is satisfying as well as quite poignant.



*Anyway, I liked Season 2 of "True Detective". Season 1 was brilliant but got a bit wanky toward the end. Season 2 of "Fargo" maintained the quality of the first season, so the above theory doesn't hold up.

Friday, 5 August 2016

5 Things I liked about "Mr Robot" Season 2, Episode 5


  • Elliot's recount of his hacking of the public library at 11 years old.
  • B.D. Wong (TV's go-to actor for Asian supervillains, see Hugo Strange in "Gotham") has a terrific scene with Dom showing her his treasured wardrobe collection (and clocks).
  • Love Dipierro's Kojak-inspired Chupa Chups (she is now my favourite character, certainly the most sympathetic).
  • Mrs Wellick (Stephanie Corneliussen) gets even weirder in this episode (the bit about drugging the underling so he knows the reason for his death, while cradling her baby).
  • Creator Sam Esmail demonstrates his directorial prowess with the final shootout scene.

Friday, 29 July 2016

5 things I liked about "Mr Robot" Season 2, Episode 4.


  • "The Careful Massacre of the Bourgeois" low budget slasher flick.
  • The masterful use of Gustav Holst's "The Planets" in the opening scenes.
  • Whiterose's elegant boudoir (shades of the French Provincial bedroom in the closing scene of "2001: A Space Odyssey"). For other Asian transvestite hackers, see Cinemax's patchy, but good fun, "Banshee".
  • Elliot's fairy tale dream - street dinner party.
  • The symmetrical composition of shots in the Court Square subway station and the park during the chess showdown.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

70's - 80's film references in Netflix's "Stranger Things" Season 1


  • Stephen King's "Stand By Me" (train track scenes, being hassled by older bullies)
  • Stephen King's "Firestarter" has a girl with telekinetic powers, likewise King's 1976's adaptation "Carrie".
  • Opening titles are a homage to 80's graphics accompanied by John Carpenter-esque electronic music ("Hallowe'en", "Escape from New York")
  • The monster is a cross between "Alien" (tube down Will's esophagus) and  John Carpenter's "The Thing". 
  • Teenage romance and misfits - John Hughes comedies, take your pick. The Duffer Brothers chose great English alternative music, too. But this is another matter.
  • "E.T." - BMX bikes, El(even) is hidden in a bedroom closet, a garden shed, shown Star Wars models by her new friend, a mysterious government agency is pursuing her. She even points (E.T.like) in on scene.
  • Film posters on kids' bedroom wall: "'The Evil Dead"
  • The monster's shape making a wall elastic-like ("A Nightmare on Elm Street")
  • Dustin refers to El as the "weirdo on Maple Street". Am I drawing a long bow with the last one?

Friday, 22 July 2016

My past is now my present - being a carer


1965
2016

Fifty-one years later, I am back living in the family home. My 92 year old dad is living here. He has mobility and incontinence problems so I have taken on the role of carer. When he stays (for respite care, 4 weeks a year) at an aged care facility, he comes home worse than when he was admitted. 
I arrive at his place around 6:30 a.m. and leave before 5 p.m. This means I don't miss "wine o'clock" with my wife. A valuable unwind session.
I have routines in place to ensure he has an easy night - automatic lighting, light dinner set out on his tray before I leave, personal alarm pendant, commode in his bedroom, nighttime Lipitor on bedside table, heater to switch on/off.
If he has a bad day, I'll stay over. Sleeping in the bedroom I slept in 51 years ago. 
I cycle to my father's place. Travelling along the same streets I walked to primary school and high school on. 
I don't know how long this arrangement will last, but at the moment it's working.


Tape on carpet shows way to the bedroom
Things that make my life easier at the moment:
1. Split system heating/cooling with auto on/off timer.
2. My dad's electric tilt/lift chair
3. A Carpet Shampooer
4. "Piss mats" in front of toilet and commode (for bad aims). I cut up old Manchester that has been in the linen press since the 60's and 70's. Disposable. Saves on washing.
5. Netflix - finding TV shows that my dad enjoys - "Fawlty Towers", the  British "House of Cards" Trilogy, "Father Ted", "Doc Martin".

5 things I liked about "Mr Robot" Season 2, Episode 3


  • Jerome's Coney Island back story
  • Eclectic music choice - Dusty Springfield, Willie Nelson
  • Phillip Price's occasional channelling of Christopher Walken
  • Elliot's rant on religion
  • Ganja gran

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

5 things I liked about "Ray Donovan" Season 4, Episode 4

This show has gone from strength to strength due to the screenwriters and ensemble cast. Season 4 could be its best. It's certainly the funniest, thanks to Micky (Jon Voight).


  • Dabney Coleman (last seen in "Boardwalk Empire"?) as the movie legend with a secret.
  • The motel owner (Diane Ladd) seducing the hapless Micky in the aging Cadillac.
  • Ray singing Bob Seger - karaoke. Who knew Liev Schreiber could hold a tune?
  • Abby's therapeutic bar session with Deb's "friend".
  • Hank Azaria (Ed Cochran) returns!





Sunday, 17 July 2016

Remember when....?


  • When a skyscraper was under construction, the workers would mount a cut tree on its highest point. I'm remembering this as an Australian kid in the early 60's. I'm assuming it was a European tradition as many workers were European in the 50's and 60's.
  • Front doors with central knobs were cool in the 60's. Now dumped in solid rubbish collections.

Friday, 15 July 2016

5 things I liked about "Mr Robot" Season 2, Episode 2


  • Ray's basketball court philosophizing. What does this dude want?
  • Danish actor Stephanie Corneliussen (Joanna-Lady Macbeth-Wellick) reminds me of a young Liv Tyler. Interesting that Martin Wallstrom (the lovable Tyrell) is also Scandinavian.
  • The beautifully directed $5.9 m bonfire scene.
  • The lawyer's bar joke with Angela. Angela is a force to be reckoned with in this season. Those motivation tapes are a worry.
  • Channel surfing with Joanna's new S&M buddy (Nancy Grace to "Vanderpumps Rules").

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

5 things I liked about "Mr Robot" Season 2, Episode 1


  • The cleverly edited Obama TV speech.
  • Elliot's Seinfeld-spouting buddy, Leon (Joey Bada$$ - great name for a rapper)
  • The elegant framing in many shots
  • Amazing musical score
  • When was the last time you saw "Intermission" in a TV show?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Fitzroy Island National Park, see the Great Barrier Reef, without the crowds

Image result for fitzroy island nudey beach
Nudey Beach
Image courtesy: tripadvisor.com.au
Fitzroy Island - less tourists. only 45 minutes from Cairns by boat, possessing one of Australia's (largely unknown) beaches.
While boatloads head off to Green Island and pontoons further out on the Great Barrier Reef, Fitzroy Island is quiet and full of surprises. No wonder it's a National Park.
I stupidly left my camera at the hotel. The journey (by Fast Cat) is interesting as it follows the scenic, untouched Queensland coast before heading across to Fitzroy Island.
A spectacular rainforest bushwalk (one of several self-guided trails) leads you to Nudey Beach (not a nudist beach). It is only 20 minute walk from the central dock (Welcome Bay). The coral reef is only metres off the beach. There is also good snorkelling in Welcome Bay. 
If you don't swim, you can take a glass bottom boat tour or visit the turtle rehabilitation centre (organised tour only).
For bushwalkers there is a more challenging circuit trail to the summit and lighthouse (perfect for a full day visit). 
There is a resort (looked 3 star, not that flash) on the island if you want to stay longer.
I only stayed for a few hours (1:30 p.m. boat from Cairns, departing Fitzroy Island at 5 p.m.) but had enough time for lots of snorkelling (coral gardens - brain coral, staghorn, etc, clam, stingray, parrot fish) and a leisurely walk and another snorkel at Nudey Beach.

For more info: fitzroyislandcairns.com

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Where to stay in Palm Cove? Pullman Resort, The Reef House or Grand Mercure Rockford?

Trip Advisor is an invaluable resource, but some reviews are oncers. My wife and I have travelled to Far North Queensland for over 15 years. So here's my take...

If you want to be right on Williams Esplanade go for Reef House or Grand Mercure. Heaps of cafes, restaurants, free beachside barbeques.
If you want more seclusion, go for Pullman. If don't want pool noise, ask for an apartment not facing the pool (best block: rooms around Staircase 1 (North-west corner is the quietest, e.g. Rooms 107-110 some of these have plunge pools/ 208-211/ 308-311/ 408-411) or Southern Block far from large pool.
Couples who want quiet sophistication and a spot of history, go for colonial style Reef House. The complimentary evening punch and canapes in the Brigadier's Lounge is very classy.
Reef House, one of two pools

Reef House restaurant is right on the Esplanade

Deadman's Gully, adjoining beach
It's setting is perfect. Rainforest, mangroves, boardwalks, still direct beach access.
Best pool? Rockford is huge. Beautifully landscaped with century-old paperbarks.
Twilight at Rockford/Drift Apartments
Boardwalk starts at Pullman Resort and Spa

Some of these Melaleuca were there when Capt James Cook visited in 1770. 

Rainforest trail/cycle track links Clifton Beach



Town planning edict: No structure can be taller than the paperbarks




The downside about the Pullman Resort Palm Cove (Sea Temple) is that the pool area can get noisy. Kids shouting echoes around the U-shaped buildings. Listening to "Marco Polo" for an hour can be wearing. The (so-called adult) jacuzzi is usually kid-soup during the day. Photos below are on a quiet, rainy day. Apart from that it's an excellent resort.
Pullman pool area, Lagoon Bar

View from top floor apartments, ocean glimpses. Pullman Resort

In summary:
Travelling with kids - Pullman, or the more moderately priced, Grand Mercure Rockford.
No kids - The Reef House.

Tips

  • Large bottle shop behind Rockford Apartments or 5 min walk from Pullman.
  • Clifton Beach (3km) has a large supermarket (Coles).
  • Take the bus to Cairns for $5.50.
  • If you travel mid year there is little chance of stingers in the water.
  • Crocodiles? Don't push your luck, don't swim at dusk or night. But around those times, I'd be worried about sharks, also.
Tourists love this photo, plus the free bottle of vinegar placed strategically along the beaches, not for your chips but for stinger wounds.



Friday, 17 June 2016

Bodysurfing in an Australian winter, Palm Cove, Queensland

Like a washing machine, but great fun
 It's the middle of June in Palm Cove (26 km north of Cairns). Usually the water is placid, with ripples, rather than waves. But with quite strong south-easterlies, the waves (up to 1.5 metres) can get quite interesting. I never expected to be bodysurfing here but I was getting 20 metres trips into the shore. No one in the water. The water was 26 degrees Celsius. So what if it decides to rain.

The next day, waves were more moderate, but still catchable. It's more of a challenge anyway. Judging which wave to take occupies my tiny mind. I might have looked like a bit of a wally to joggers, dog walkers and tourists strolling the beach, but what the heck.

The following day, looking north to Clifton Beach.
Where are all the people?

Monday, 13 June 2016

Qantas Domestic Business Class Review MEL-CRN

The Melbourne-Cairns run still uses the aging Boeing 737-800. Cloth seats, no personal TV screens, no USB plug, no Streaming. Yes, I know Qantas are progressively refurbishing these aircraft, but this is no consolation if you have to fly on that leg.

Check out breakfast below. Poached eggs (a brave choice, as a soft poached egg can be a rare thing), kale with the texture of slime, dried up mushrooms and stodgy vegetables on the side. Yum. You used to get toast on Air New Zealand Business. Those were the days.

With dated interiors, fittings and the one way price of AUD$1040, you expect something better. No wonder most passengers are using reward points redemption, Frequent Flyer upgrades or travelling on an expense account.

Don't get me started about the number of Economy Class passengers who nip through the curtains to use the toilets up front.


Yikes! What be this?


The sign should say: "Economy Class, I'm Free"

Welcome to the 1990's 






Should Economy Class passengers use the Business Class toilets?



When my wife and I travelled 'cattle class', the forward curtain was the sacred no-go zone. Those buggers paid up at least three times the fare so they were entitled to the benefits.
Nowadays it seems anyone can quickly nip through for a call of nature. Fair enough disabled or frail passengers, if the walk to the rear toilets is too taxing (perhaps seat allocation near toilets would have been a thought, though). 
On a recent flight Qantas flight Melbourne-Cairns, there was no queue at the rear toilets but cheeky buggers, too lazy to venture down the back, barged through to the closer Business Class toilet. One dude even chatted with the galley crew while he was waiting.
Mothers with infants think their cute kid will guarantee them easy assess to all areas. I don't think so. Cabin crew look the other way for a quiet life. This has been observed on numerous flights.
Comments?

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Vintage James Bond - 007 novel car scenes


  1. "Dr No" 1962 - the hearse plummeting over a Jamaican cliff. Bond makes some sardonic comment (the first of many in the series) like "They were on their way to a funeral."
  2. Bond pulls up outside Government House, Kingston in a Pontiac convertible, a slumped (body in front seat). He turns to the sergeant with the throwaway line: "Make sure he doesn't get away."
  3. "Goldfinger" 1964 - Bond tailing Goldfinger (in the 30's Rolls Royce) through the Swiss alps (the 60's version of sat nav.).
  4. The DB-5 making short work of Goldfinger's Korean henchmen. I never tire of the ejector seat.
  5. In a Kentucky scrapyard, Oddjob's Lincoln Continental being compacted into a nifty cuboid.
  6. "You Only Live Twice" 1967 - A baddie-packed Toyota Crown being picked up by a helicopter with an electro-magnet, then dropped into Tokyo Bay.
  7.  "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969) Tracy (GoT's gran Diana Rigg) gatecrashes (literally) an alpine stock car race to escape Blofeld's henchmen. Bond, gobsmacked, is in the passenger seat (for once).

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

A Tribute to Bill Collins ("Mr Movies") Australian TV's finest film critic

Image result for bill collins movies
Image: Fox Classics
He has been a part of Australian television for over five decades. Now in his eighties, Bill Collins (OAM) hosts classic movies each week on cable television (Fox Classics) after doing the same gig on free-to-air television in the 70's, 80's and 90's. His passion for movies, particularly from Hollywood's 'golden age', makes his commentaries more interesting than the actually films. 
You can tell he was a former school teacher - the way he speaks to his audience. 
"Have you read .....?"
"You really should read ....."
Collins is a bibliophile. Over the years he has amassed a huge library of novels (particularly out-of print and limited editions), movie related books and soundtracks. He assiduously researches the coming movies he will host - no Wikipedia or IMDB with this guy.
During "Intermission" Bill will wax lyrical about casting choices, camera work, costumes, musical scores (don't get him started on Erich Korngold or Max Steiner!), anecdotes and adapted screenplays vs original novels. It isn't unusual for him to have a book review interlude.
His taste in movies is eclectic. One night he hosted the confronting "Wake in Fright" (1970) back to back with sci-fi"The War of the Worlds" (1953).
Catch Bill on YouTube. There are stacks of clips from the 80's and 90's. Start off with his introduction to "Manhattan Melodrama". It'll knock your socks off.
Love Live Mr Movies. A living legend of the airwaves.

Image result for bill collins movies
Image: You Tube

Monday, 16 May 2016

Fitzroy, fascinating inner city Melbourne, tourist-free. An easy walk from the CBD.

Most tourist buses stop at Captain Cook's Cottage. Dull. The Chinese tourists have to endure this. But Melbourne gets interesting on the northern side of Fitzroy Gardens.
After the stately homes and medical offices of East Melbourne, you come to the wide thoroughfare of Victoria Parade. Cross this and you are in Fitzroy, one of Melbourne's first suburbs.
A fascinating blend of inner city slums, hipster heaven and stylish inner city living.  On Brunswick and Gertrude Streets, there is an enormous range of bars, restaurants and trendy fashion shopping. Because of its well preserved Victorian architecture, film and television productions often use this area (see photo below). All this is an easy 1 hour walk (round trip) from the edge of the CBD.
 Fitzroy Gardens, northern edge, near Albert Street, CBD in background

Graceful Victoria Parade with central tramway (think New Orleans' Charles Street)


Trendy Gertrude Street

Looking up Brunswick Street toward St Patrick's Cathedral and CBD

Beautifully renovated home in Gore Street

Fitzroy "Town Hall", Napier Street, on this particular day,  the set of a TV production - Network Ten's "Offspring"

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Unusual Hollywood work choices.

You do what you do to make a buck in Hollywood, I suppose. Like everywhere else. Here's some contrasting job choices from directors and film composers:

  • Ted Kotcheff directed the disturbing "Wake In Fright".... but also "Weekend at Bernie's".
  • Another Canadian, Bob Clark, made the timeless "A Christmas Story" .... but also "Porky's".
  • John Huston made classics in the 40's and 50's .... but also the abysmal "Annie" and "Casino Royale" (early scenes).
  • Multi-talented Elaine May directed "A New Leaf" .... but also 80's turkey "Ishtar".
  • Hitchcock's amazing films span over 50 years .... but there's "Under Capricorn" (1949) and the two 60's spy duds "Torn Curtain" followed by "Topaz".
  • Charles Fox wrote the score for "Barbarella" (okay, it's a guilty pleasure) ... but also "The Love Boat" theme.
  • Steven Spielberg's go-to composer John Williams started his film career as "Johnny Williams" writing incidental music for the first season of "Gilligan's Island".
  • John Barry, early Bond musical scores, won an Oscars for "Born Free","Out of Africa"... also wrote a shampoo commercial for British television.



Wednesday, 27 April 2016

"Hypothermia" and "Strange Shores" by Arnaldur Indridason. Two books that must be read together


Subzero temperatures, Arctic storms, frozen fjords - great poolside reading on a sweltering afternoon.

This time Erlendur investigates suicide, sex and seances. Another cold case (sorry) that stirs up memories of his 8 year old brother's death in the snowstorm. Like a recurring nightmare, he returns to the ordeal and its aftermath. He relives painful memories of childhood summers in the East Fjords.
I defy the reader not to be moved by the final chapter.

"I'm interested in stories about ordeals in the wilderness" intones the obsessed Inspector Erlendur in the follow up book, "Strange Shores". This novel should be read in conjunction with "Hypothermia" as you find out more details about Erlendur's obsession and subsequent guilt about his brother's tragedy.
"Strange Shores" is all about guilt, graves and grief. The haunted Erlendur returns to his birthplace, Bakkasel, to discover how a young woman, Matthildur, disappeared in the late 1940's. I love the way this 'lone wolf" finds other similar characters in his investigations (the fox hunter, Boas; Matthildur's sister, Hrund and the tormented Ezra).
The latter section of "Strange Shores" includes a gristly Edgar Allan Poe-like tale. The last few chapters will knock your socks off.
I am now a convert to this guy's writing. Goodbye, Jo Nesbo.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

"Penny Dreadful" Season 3 Highlights

Great to see the quality has been maintained in Episode 1, as well as the tongue-in-cheek tone.
The camp Professor of Antiquities (so pleased he's back) sets the scene with this exchange to the tortured Vanessa (the smoky voiced and sexy Eva Green): "I like what you've done with the place!" This leads to a return visit from Patti LuPone, now reincarnated as the savvy shrink. Her secretary is Renfield (an inspired way of introducing a new character). More fun in a disused factory with scuttling-choreographed minions of Dracula.
John Clare, alias the Creature (Rory Kinnear), has a poignant scene in the stranded Arctic ship.
In New Mexico we have a terrific Sergio Leone/Tarantino-esque train shoot out. More new characters with Doctor Jekyll (an old school chum of Victor F). Jekyll looks Indian (a link with ITV's recent confusing reboot of "Jekyll and Hyde"?).
John Logan plays with time here. Mary Shelley's novel was published in 1818. While R. L. Stevenson wrote his short story in 1886. Any way it's now 1892 and London is decked out in black for the death of Tennyson.

Episode 2 features a delightful magic lantern show recreation.
Dorian and Lily create havoc in a Hellfire Club setting. Jekyll has a nifty laboratory in the basement of Bedlam (where else?) with a barber's chair for his subject (a nod to Sweeney Todd?).
The American Indian belief in Shapeshifters is cleverly integrated with the story of lycanthrope, Ethan. His family name of Talbot is the same as Universal's Wolfman from the 1940's (Lon Chaney Jr played Lawrence/Larry Talbot).
The final reveal of Dracula's identity ensures fun and games for Vanessa in the coming episodes.

Episode 3
Renfield gives a nod to "The Shining" when he produces reams of "Vanessa....." instead of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".
Vanessa reprises her sexy medium bit from Season 1, this time with her shrink.
Sir Malcolm verbally rips a red neck train passenger to shreds. The one scene that isn't strewn with gore.
Dorian and Lily's new protege, Justine, resembles a 1950's Shirley Maclaine (think "The Trouble with Harry"). Incidentally, you have to pity their maid. The blood-drenched parquetry floors and sodden bed sheets!
It is hard to see Henry Jekyll as Clem Fandango in "Toast of London".
That Hall of Mirrors scene has fun with the vampires and reflection malarkey.

Episode 4
An ambitious two-hander between Vanessa and orderly John Clare (pre-The Creature) with most of the action confined to the padded cell. Eva Green and Rory Kinnear are consummate actors, so the hour never drags. I particularly liked the reference by Clare to "the frozen North", so important in his next life as The Creature.
I suppose next week we are back to flashy sets, the Wild West, laboratories and buckets of gore.
Unfortunately we have to wait until Episode 6 to see the return of scene stealer Ferdinand Lyle (Simon Russell Beale).

Episode 5
What's better than one 'mad scientist'? Two, of course. But how long will the Frankenstein/Jekyll dream team last?
Back  'out West' we have a novel sand castle building technique and a campfire scene (minus Mel Brooks' baked beans). How come super-witch can command myriad serpents but can't conjure up a canteen of water for her parched throat?
Brian Cox (Talbot patriarch) has a terrific scene in the family chapel with the prodigal (evil?) son.

Episode 6
Farewell Prof. Lyle. You will be twuly missed.
A lovely scene with John Clare and his ailing son ("Are you an angel?").
Lots of knives (a spot of fencing) in this episode. Very 'Go sisters'. Lily's self-defence lessons for the ladies of the night (Justine is a little too keen). Vanessa teams up with the indomitable Catriona Hartdegen for future vampire-hunting. An eventful steak dinner at Chez Talbot and a rootin' tootin' gunfight. Even though John Logan is not writing these current episodes, they are truly satisfying.

Episode 7
Lily's "Rise up!" speech to her sisters crawling along Dorian's vast dining table.  Dorian Grey, Frankenstein and Jekyll (representing Victorian males) kidnap Lily (the voice of the new woman, new in more ways than one) to force her to be a 'proper woman'. John Logan's script this episode.

Episode 8
When was the last time you saw the word "miasma" on cable TV?
Samuel Barnett's Renfield is a delight. Being born in Whitby must have looked too good to be true on the actor's resume.
Dracula gets to do the "children of the night...what music they make" line.
Lucky there was a full moon in the last few minutes. Great final scene.

Episode 9
The series went out on a high. Loved gun-slinging LuPone ("I'm a native New Yorker").
All loose ends tied. Did I miss what happened to Renfield? John Logan even got some pathos from Dorian Gray ("I'll always be here.").
Classy closing scene.


Sunday, 24 April 2016

When tourism helps the environment - Keep Bali Clean

Nusa Dua Beach, Bali, Indonesia

Every morning workers from beachfront hotels, restaurants and bars rake and collect rubbish (predominantly plastic bottles, wrappers) dropped or swept ashore. The beaches of Kuta and Legian are noticeably cleaner than this time last year. The Keep Bali Clean initiative (started in 2014) seems to be definitely working.
Laneways and main streets have organised stacks of refuse, ready for collection. Less dog droppings also this year.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The other side of Legian-Kuta - away from the tourists

Venture down a "gang" (lane)
 Just 10 minutes walk from the tourist areas of Jalan Legian, on Jalan Patih Jelantik, is another side of Denpasar. No spruiking ("Transport?", "Excuse me, I'm not selling anything ..."), nor tattoo-covered, beer swilling bogans "That's awesome, Jayden!").
Towering fig trees, quiet temples and interesting curio shops.



Solitude, 20 minutes from the Legian Beach

Nautical fittings shop - great for the yuppy beach house
Tribal art and antiques
Native American kitsch (next door)
Clever re-using of materials - handbags, flooring, steps


Friday, 22 April 2016

Low impact exercise for 50+ year olds, body surfing & water aerobics

Surf at Legian Beach, Bali

video

Each morning I see red-faced seniors jogging along the beach. I prefer to kill two birds with one stone - body surf as well as water aerobics. 
After catching each wave or waiting for a good one, you are moving through the surging water (see video) around 50 - 100 metres between waves. Catch 20 waves that's 1-2 km of low impact exercise. Cup your hands to increase resistance through the water. Great to tone up your arm and leg muscles. My dicky knee feels a whole lot better with this treatment.