Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday walking

I’m back from the bookstore having found a number of picture story books that will be suitable to read to students during the workshops I'm preparing on literature and literacy. Good excuse to go to a book shop actually.
It is now raining steadily- not heavily but steadily- as I was walking there was a family group trying to manage their way through the rain. The youngest “freestanding” child was tagging along at the back of the group of two adults and four walking kids and one in a pusher. The kids had umbrellas but the parent didn’t. The youngest boy was tagging along behind and yelled to his father ‘Dad it’s broken’ referring to his rather large, for him, umbrella. The fact that he kept bouncing it on the footpath as he tried to see out from under it was probably reason enough for its being broken.
The picture gives a fairly good indication of why the umbrella may well have been broken!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What to do with reports to write??

Starting out the day correctly- the goal was to get as many reports done so that only a few needed doing either tomorrow or during the week after work.
I got going and got busy and got three down.
As a reward I allowed myself time to get a couple of pages done. At least it was better than cleaning the toilet or looking for the lost socks! The Adrian Texas one is part of the Debbie Hodge class "Scrap Year Events". The class is half way through and I have managed to keep up although today was getting the week's worth done in one fell swoop. Next weekend we are going away so I need to make sure I get organized as another class is starting next Monday. The new class is exploring the design elements of pages- getting things organized and what makes a good composition for a page. Exploring different elements. Just a little something to keep me busy!!!

I didn't do all these today! Just uploaded the next lot to Debbie's Gallery to hopefully win a copy of her book! Vain hope but great way to get some pages out there.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Liaison

It was indeed a glorious opportunity to see Laura Linney in the Roundabout production of Les Liaison Dangereuses. Last time I saw it was at Melbourne Theatre Company and I'm sure it was John Stanton in the the role Le Vicomte de Valomont (just checked and yep he played the role).
The costuming was fabulous- those frocks of Laura Linney's were frocks to die for. The set was an interesting use of curtains and curtaining and I liked the final scene where it had all fallen apart and so had the set and curtains.
The NY Times review described the opening as "hedonism becomes a gravitational force in Ben Daniels’s compelling turn as an 18th-century libertine in “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,”I couldn't agree more he was glorious and believably tormented by the change in his feelings and relationships- unlikeable but still understandably in a difficult place even if it is of his own making.
Laura Linney was described by the NY Time as having "established herself as an actress of peerless emotional transparency, capable of conveying a multitude of conflicting feelings through minimal means.
Here she is required to wear a mask of hypocrisy, and it doesn’t fit.' Unfortunately I have to agree but she is so beautiful and so wonderful to watch in all she does. Her program notes had "Jindabyne" listed first in her list of films- perhaps that was from most recent to earlier but great to have an Australian film listed in the program.
Despite all that I did enjoy the play and didn't have the nasty egg eaters near me or struggle with the temperature of the theatre. It was a good afternoon at the theatre.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Raining in the heart...of the city

When it rains in NYC it indeed rains. Fast flowing gutters and heavy downpours are not uncommon although on this particular evening it wasn't too bad. The worst part was the wind. Coping with an umbrella on such an evening is fraught with danger. In my case when you have a brolly that has already battled the wind and rain and has in part given up the battle, with two metal prongs poking out one fears for one's fellow rain walkers and so not only was I battling the wind and rain but also trying not to poke people's eyes out.

We walked up Broadway to Julia's for drinks after work and everyone put their umbrellas in her bath to dry out. No one hesitated about where to go and what to do with their umbrellas such is the commonality of the dealing with wet umbrellas.
As you can see some people had discarded their failing umbrellas in a relatively colourful placement at the rubbish bin. Margie did actually assist the composition by moving the red umbrella to give greater artistic merit to the shot. We walked back down Broadway from Julia's- Sue and Margie deep in conversation and me toddling along behind taking photos of rain soaked tourists , broken umbrellas, lights reflected and glistening on the pavement and trying to take a photo of myself reflected in the window.

The four of us

To go to the theatre mid to late week is often fraught with danger for me. I'm often relieved that there isn't an interval so that it finishes at a reasonable time. Although this show didn't need to be shortened and would also have been too disrupted by an interval.
The set was great- they must have been working their little hearts out backstage as they changed the scenes behind each of the doors. The logistics of ensuring that things were set in the right place so the actors could access things like laptops, notebooks, cups of coffee etc was really efficient.
The play it self covered an interesting aspect of friendship and envy.
The review in the NY Tines in one part said "Mr. Moses writes fluidly naturalistic dialogue, but you may feel as if you’re eavesdropping on the dorm-roomish conversations of two clever but not wildly interesting young men." In some part I agree with this view but I thought the emotional development by both young men was fabulous.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


We had our second meeting of the Scribblers group at Julia's. I was able to write about my journey to work. With apologies to Dr Seuss.

The sun it did shine
And to work! On my way!
My briefcase in hand
As I head for Broadway

At the corner,
I paused ahead a beehive?
The closer I looked
Twas really alive!

I looked and I saw him
The man over there
It wasn't a hat
Or elaborate hair

I looked and I saw him
The Cat on the Hat
And I said to myself
"Why does he sit there like that?"

"I know it is early
And the sun is so sunny
But why is he up there
Does he know that it's funny?"

I know what to do
Send texts to my friends
And see what they think
Of these fash-nable trends

The replies came in quick
The replies came in fast
They even came in
During my evening repast.

"Now that's something to scribble!"
Julia replies
Sue just said "Hmmm"
With a roll of her eyes

Then roaring with laughter
Ann sent through a text
Said Margie "what mushrooms
Did you have with your eggs?"

Then came the reply
'bout that cat on the head
Cynthia to Sue
Well at least it's not dead!"

With my friends quick replies
The sunny day just got sunnier
And that cat on that head
Made my Wednesday much funnier!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What do you do when you haven't finished the book?

Tonight at book club we were talking about "People of the Book". Given my recent cultural load I haven't managed to read it completely. I have been enjoying the book although following the discussion tonight I can see why in part it hasn't been as easy as I initially thought.

What is it about book clubs though that makes one feel on the edge? I am either defending my viewpoint or trying to defend the author. I find that I am at odds with most in the group at some point and then find that I am at the center of the main group at another. Odd!! perhaps not.

However the group is fun. The important things are dealt with- Peter brings the wine and we pay $5 and have booze all evening. He opens it and pours it for you- what more could you want! Well perhaps food? But that is dealt with too- we have take out delivered to Adrienne's 28th Floor apartment- a dishwasher deals with the nasty left overs like dishes and then we talk about the book and the books we have read.
And so tonight I am home replete- food, wine, conversation and my glorious painting is now hanging in the living room.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A day is a day

Having decided to try to keep up with my blog yesterday was a day where things just went "as usual". I had thought that the next class for the scrap booking class at Debbie Hodge's website was going to be posted- oops I was a day early so Tuesday is the day.
I am enjoying the class and the time that it forces me to create to get my photos into albums. If I hadn't been doing these classes or hadn't been with the scrap booking Meetup then I would have nothing done.
The current class is focusing on "events" although I am using it as a means to scrapbook the second leg of Route 66 that we just finished.
I also want to get my work blog started- the thing that is slowing me down? A name for it! pathetic! soon though.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The joys of spring

How lucky are we?! Our day started slowly again and we caught a cab up to 72nd Street and walked through Central Park to the Boathouse Restaurant for brunch. To get to the venue we walked through the garden in full bloom. The Cherry blossoms have begun to fall and other blossoms were out. The tulips were still showing a bit of life and as we passed one particularly section there was the most beautiful bird scratching in amongst the leaves.
The Boathouse is always lovely it doesn't matter what time of year. Today we met a number of other AUSSIEs who had chosen to be there today too. Outside there were turtles basking on the rocks at the side of the boathouse. We walked back through the park to the subway and headed to Yankee Stadium.

And so a day of theater of another kind- at the baseball We were perched up in almost the back row but straight behind home plate. It was a great day- the Yankees won and made 6 runs in one innings. It was early in the piece and really the highlight of the game. We enjoyed the spectacle explaining aspects of play to both Helen and Anne and making note of the guys selling hot dogs, drinks, peanuts and cracker jacks. We have come home to get our heads together for our new week. Jude and Helen need to spend time packing and getting ready for their trip to Memphis and Nashville.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Cultural pursuits

The day started out quietly enough- thank goodness. Just a gentle start to the weekend with a bit of work thrown in to keep me on the straight and narrow. Preparation of materials for a workshop and sorting through bits and pieces.
Then Jude and I headed to the Morgan Library to hear- yet again Ian McEwan in conversation with Steven Pinker.
We decided to walk there as the journey from 48th St to 37th St on Madison Avenue is an easy and pleasant walk. As we wended our way towards Madison Avenue in search of the shop that had the green jacket that Helen and Jude decided was perfect for me but we found that the store was closed as it was the Sabbath. However serendipity meant we passed a number of craft and jewelry suppliers along the way. The sign on the store took our fancy and as I lined up the seats and the sign a man emerged from the shop (looking a tad relieved to be out of there) and obliged us by sitting in the seats and waiting.

We arrived at the Morgan Library in time to get some great seats. Ian McEwan and Steven Pinker then had a "conversation' about conversations. It was a great exploration of how we think and talk about things in ways that don't explicitly convey what we mean or want. They explored the patterns and conventions of language and how they shape our thinking. The particular quotes I wrote down were by Ian McEwan- "For some people a conversation is only about speaking". When referring to a particularly dull introduction to a book he said "It makes ones heart race with interest."
After the conversations we were able to stroll around the Morgan Library- what a gem of a building and collection. The particular display we spent time in was the exhibition called "Illuminating the Medieval Hunt". The exhibition featured miniatures from the fifteenth-century manuscript Le Livre de la chasse. There were about two dozen manuscripts and printed books on display.
After the museum and library we visited Jude's friend Gabrielle in her apartment on the 13th floor which has a great view of the Chrysler Building and the balcony is extensive. Extensive enough to have a table and chairs at one end and then planter boxes all around. While we sat and sipped our champagne we were serenaded by a very vocal little bird- sparrow like but red head and whistling its little lungs out.
What a grand day.

Friday, May 2, 2008

An opera that has a happy ending?!

La Fille du Régiment was described as “exceedingly yummy operatic cake” and “the operatic show of the season” by The Times of London when it opened at Covent Garden last winter. Natalie Dessay’s voice and impeccable comic timing and Juan Diego Flórez’s remarkable musicality—complete with the famous high Cs that even I could discern were magnificent. Dessay and Flórez are an “operatic coupling made in heaven” raved the Financial Times. The staging was again a masterpiece. It always amazes me how we saw that fabulous set on Monday for Satyagraha (which had also been on on Thursday night) and then that incredible set for La Fille du Régiment. The mountains/hills surface were a map of the Tirol.
The story line was sweet as was the ending. The voices soared and managed to keep me engaged with both the music and the story- it was a great way to spend a Friday evening.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Even more cultural variety

After a day working it would seem impossible that I might have the energy to go out to a Writers Festival event but go I did. It was at the New York Times Center on 41st Street. A great auditorium with a great view out through the courtyard. Just before the discussion started they closed the blinds I presume so that we didn't get distracted or distract passersby!
This time it was to hear Ian McEwan and other writers speaking about American Literature as seen from abroad. I have to admit that it was the chance to hear Ian McEwan that drew me to the event and I hadn't really thought about what the subject of the talk was. Two other writers joined him, Yousef Al-Mohaimeed and Binyavanga Wainaina neither of whom I had heard of let alone read.
Yousef Al- Mohaimeed spoke through an interpreter to a certain extent although he was hampered by the interpretation and the complexity of the discussant's questions.

Apparently Yousef had only arrived today and was treated rather badly by immigration having been detained by them for three hours for no reason and very little explanation given other than it was his first time in the country and next time it would be a quicker journey through immigration!
The empty chair at each of the PEN sessions is part of the campaign to win release of more than three dozen writers and journalists held in Chinese prisons before the Olympic Games open in Beijing. It's also a "reminder that the silencing of writers in one country robs the entire world of their voices"
We chose to leave the session as the questions started given the habit that many have of making statements rather than asking questions.

Part of the reason why we left was to head for our next event. Jude and I dashed up through the light rain to Radio City Music Hall and a Dolly Parton concert. She is amazing- Dolly that is- Jude is too but the concert in particular highlighted the variety of skills and talents that Dolly Parton has. Her musical versatility and her capacity to engage an audience are fantastic. In one part of the program she mentioned her books for kids program that provides a book for children - one a month until the age of 4. Fantastic!Jude, Sue, Helen and I then walked home feeling that we really had had a great night's entertainment.