26 January 2009


Another new year party! Sydney is going all-out for its Chinese New Year celebrations this year. The festival, which started on Friday, goes for another three weeks, so it overlaps with the Sydney Festival, still in full swing, by a week. Much to be seen and eaten and explored, in that case.

Oh – it's Australia Day today, as well, so for me it means there are going to squadrons of warplanes roaring overhead all day and masses of fireworks in the evening. We're going to get among the mayhem in Chinatown tonight: lion dances, street food and strings of noisy red firecrackers. Yay!

Welcome, Year of the Ox. 恭喜發財 - kung hei faat coi! Good luck and good fortune!

24 January 2009

Too darn hot

It hit 40.1°C today. That's 104°F. Too much summer all at once for my liking. Then the southerly came through at 6 and the temperature dropped 10 degrees in an hour. Ahhhh.

23 January 2009

Picking on Oscar

The Oscar nominations were just announced.
Yeah, all right. I'll go there. These aren't necessarily my personal favourites, but they're my favourites to win.

My picks are, appropriately, in gold.

Best Picture: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire."

Actor: Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"; Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn, "Milk"; Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler."

Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"; Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"; Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"; Meryl Streep, "Doubt"; Kate Winslet, "The Reader."

Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"; Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"; Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"; Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road."

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "Doubt"; Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"; Viola Davis, "Doubt"; Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler."

Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"; Gus Van Sant, "Milk"; Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"; Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire."

Foreign Film: "The Baader Meinhof Complex," Germany; "The Class," France; "Departures," Japan; "Revanche," Austria; "Waltz With Bashir," Israel.

We'll see how I went on 22 February, I suppose.

A rather more short-term prediction: Heath Ledger will be on the cover of tomorrow's papers here, while they'll be some guff about the massively over-hyped Australia scoring only a costume nomination, and grumbles about Baz, Nicole, Hugh and Cate being "overlooked". (There's some merit to the Cate angle: she drove Ben Butt, even when working with a puppet. Australia, by contrast, was craptacular eye candy.) It makes a change from Cate, a cartoon and a cameraman being the "Aussie chances". That, at least, we can verify tomorrow. Zzzzzzz.

Update: Ledger, as The Joker, on the cover of all three newspapers. And this in the Telegraph:
Exactly a year after his death, Heath Ledger has earned a posthumous Oscar nomination early this morning.Ledger was nominated for best supporting actor for his diabolical turn as The Joker in The Dark Knight.Cate Blanchett missed out on a nomination for her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.Romantic epic Australia scored a single nomination - for costume design for Catherine Martin.The film's director Baz Luhrmann, stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman and cinematographer Mandy Walker were all overlooked.
Ta da!

21 January 2009

Thank you for playing. Now get out.

A moment to lift the heart. Bye-bye!

Update: Maureen Dowd's op-ed piece in today's New York Times, 'Exit the Boy-King', is excellent.

19 January 2009

Black in name only

It turns out that black box flight recorders aren't black.

This is the flight recorder from the US Airways plane that landed on the river in New York. While it's somewhat blackened around the edges, it's not black. Being bright orange makes it easier to find.

In related news, as I was saying in this post, it's not legitimate news unless there's an Aussie onboard. And so, on the front page of the Daily Telegraph:
Aussie's miracle escape from Flight 1549
"There were no screams, tears, just a strange peace," the only Australian on board, 26-year-old Emma Cowan said.
The thoughts and feelings of the plane's 154 other passengers were unreported.

The angry man

My local supermarket is open until midnight. At about 11, two guys start to close down the deli section. It’s obviously a big job: they have to put away all that neatly folded ham, coleslaw, fish fillets and mystery meat.

I like to shop late when the place is pretty much empty. I shop fast and don't need obstacles like people hunting though the 50 different mouthwashes to get in my way. It’s just around the corner and I enjoy a little late-night retail therapy.

Last night there was a man standing at the deli counter. He was 50-something, about five feet tall, wearing shorts, a singlet and thongs. He was the very image of a short, fat Aussie man. He was barking at the deli guy.

“The sign says midnight. If you’re going to close sections down, you need to say it on a sign out the front.”

The deli guy was barely following where he was going, but I could see it coming a mile away.

“You know, legally I could sue you for false advertising.”

He screwed up his face, turned to the short, fat woman he was with and barked, “Come on. We’re going.” He marched out, hamless and muttering, past the checkouts, while she trundled along behind him.

As if he hadn’t made his point at the deli, he stood at the door and shouted, “Bloody hell, woman. Hurry up. We’re never coming back here.” He took a few steps outside and, as the automatic doors were closing, managed to bark out his parting shot: “Ever!”

18 January 2009

Now arriving at MC Escher Airport

There something strange going on in this picture on CNN . . .

13 January 2009

Goodbye to all that

The "Dick Cheney Lie Count" from last night's Letterman.

In related news, I got a press release today from the Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee – I have no idea why I'm on this list – saying that in the final week of Bushdom, Cheney will push Israel into a multi-front offensive with Lebanon and Syria that will give him the excuse to start a war with Iran that Obama will be forced to deal with.

When Clinton left the White House in 2000, the staff just pulled the "W" keys off all the keyboards.

07 January 2009

There's cutting edge and there's just getting it wrong

I'm not an apostrophe Nazi unless it's work-related. I recognise that English is complicated and that punctuation can be tricky, so I'm fairly forgiving – by which I mean I wince but I get over it – when I see things like "CD's" as the plural of "CD". However, this job ad caught my eye. They really need to fill this position.

06 January 2009

Barbie's resume

Barbie turns 50 years old this year and, like many mature-age workers, she has quite an impressive resume. Here's a random sampling of her work experience.

Air Force Fighter Pilot
United States Army officer
United States Navy officer

Art Teacher
Sign Language Teacher
Spanish Language Teacher
Student Teacher

American Idol contestant
Circus Star
Movie Producer
Movie Star
Radio City Music Hall Rockette
Rock Star

Health, Beauty & Fitness
Aerobics Instructor
Fashion Model
Mary Kay Star Consultant
Yoga Instructor

Ambassador for World Peace
Candidate for President

Flight Attendant
McDonald's employee
Police Officer

Olympic Figure Skater
Olympic Gymnast
Professional Figure Skater
Tennis Star
WNBA Basketball Player
World Cup Soccer Competitor


05 January 2009

Back to work: Ouch!

I went back to work today after two glorious weeks off, and it wasn't pretty.

I got in to the office very early only to discover a weird smell – something had gone off but we couldn't locate it. The computer network was acting up, I couldn't remember half my log-ins, and it took all my concentration to bang out a handful of stories. 

To make matters worse, it was a particularly beautiful day: sunny, warm with a soft, cool breeze blowing.

In happy news, I remembered to take batteries for the new electric pencil sharpener Chris and Emma gave me for Christmas, so all my pencils are deliciously sharp.

It'll be easier tomorrow, I hope. And it'll be deadline day . . . 

02 January 2009

A matter of inches: just how tall are our modern stars?

At 5’4” (162.5cm), here’s a group of statistically average height women: Drew Barrymore, Catherine Deneuve, Queen Elizabeth, Madonna, Britney Spears and Elizabeth Taylor.

At 5’9” (175cm), here’s a group of statistically average height men: Antonio Banderas, Albert Einstein, James Dean, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas and Jack Nicholson.

Tom Cruise is regularly characterised as being “short”, although he is just two inches shorter than the average man at 5’7” (170cm). (His ex, Nicole Kidman, is a smidge over 5’10” [178cm] in flats, which kinda explains it.) Men the same height as Cruise include Robert Downey Jr., Al Pacino and David Spade. Although statuesque in her proportions, Angelina Jolie is also 5'7".

An inch shorter: Dustin Hoffman, Henry Winkler, and Joseph Stalin.

An inch shorter still (5’5”, 165cm): Woody Allen, Fred Durst, Lou Reed and Charles Manson. Women of the same height: Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Lopez, Renee Zellweger and Marilyn Monroe.

Bette Midler and Kylie Minogue are both 5’1” (155cm), while Dolly Parton is an even 5-footer. So, too, was Queen Victoria.

01 January 2009

A flying start

At 11pm last night, Mike and I were having a quiet-ish margarita at the Bayswater Brasserie. By 11.30, with Amy and Janie, we were in a little boat leaving Double Bay wharf. We boarded the MV Flying Fish, moored in the middle of the harbour, and 10 minutes later the New Year’s Eve fireworks started, and this was our view. Awesome!