Friday, 7 April 2017

Got the internet working again

A couple of weeks ago I may have written about the internet going down here and the problem never really went away even after the telecommunications company sent out a technician to fix it. They did send me a notice by text message saying that they would be sending out another technician - so I needn't have worried - but somehow I forgot about this message in the usual press of everyday things.

This morning, the internet was down again and I tried rebooting the modem but nothing worked. Then I called the ISP and the guy reminded me that someone was coming out today to fix the connection. I remembered about it then and we rang off, then I went about my business - in fact I ironed the shirts - while I waited for the call on the intercom. Then I realised that the technician this time might not be coming to the apartment itself, but instead might be doing other things in other places to fix the connection. Anyway, I waited until midday - the zero time for the appointment to end this morning - and eventually the connection came back on because I could see the little icon change on the computer screen from "no connection" to "connected".

So now I have the internet back on, although how long it lasts this time is anyone's guess. We'll just have to see. Meanwhile, I have a glass of wine and a thought now about going out to get some lunch. I have been dieting but I have a regimen that allows me certain foods at certain times of the day, and I think a chicken schnitzel roll will be just the thing for me today.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Movie review: Ghost in the Shell, dir Rupert Sanders (2017)

The main character, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is a transhuman law enforcement android capable of tremendous feats of physical violence. This is a violent movie. Early in the piece, several senior figures in the company Hanka Robotocs - a government supplier that built Major - are targeted, and Major has to find out who is doing the devilry. She narrows the field down to one - Kuze (Michael Pitt) - who turns out to be a transhuman himself.

The plot turns on issues of identity. Hanka had told Major that her brain had been recovered from a person caught up in an accident but the story turns out to be untrue. In the process of unraveling the truth, people are hurt and killed including Major's fighting sidekick Batou (Pilou Asbaek) and scientist Dr Ouelet (Juliet Binoche). The stakes are high. And behind Major operates an outfit headed by Aaramaki (Takeshi Kitano) who reports to the prime minister and who has some independence from the company. In charge of the company is the shadowy Cutter (Peter Ferdinando).

As Major narrows in on the real identity and motivation of Kuze people are hurt, as we have seen. But the story becomes more complex and interesting. The relationship between Kuze and Hanka becomes clearer as the action moves toward the final battle between Major and the spider tank. Hanka is producing many lethal weapons for the government, it turns out, and not all of them were developed following ethical guidelines. This is a story where capital has a lot of answers to give to a lot of questions, which is not an unusual trope. But the problems of the plot are handled dexterously. In the centre of the maelstrom is the relationship between Major and Hairi (Kaori Momoi), who turns out to have a special relationship to our heroine.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Back into walking

It has been several months since I went walking. The hiatus was mainly due to the excessive heat of summer, which made walking uncomfortable. Now that the summer is over I can get back into it.

I went down into Darling Harbour today and came across an extraordinary sight. There were hundreds of mothers with babies in prams at the Darling Precinct, near the CBA buildings, all milling about and eating food from McDonald's. Some of the prams were in series, some in tandem. With some of the prams the babies faced backwards, with others they faced forwards. But the sheer scale of miniature humanity was staggering. There were mothers and babies on rugs on the grass, and mothers and babies sitting on the benches provided for the comfort of visitors. There were mothers and babies everywhere.

I continued on down Dixon Street and noticed that the council has installed lights in the footpath to signal to pedestrians when the traffic lights are red. Another tightening of the terms of existence in the public sphere, I thought. Another increase in severity of the level of control exercised over us by the authorities in their incessant search for obedience from the plebs.

Further on, around Harris Street, the traffic was quite heavy, and a new building site has sprung up where an existing building is being converted into apartments. There was a truck reversing through the Harris Street traffic into the driveway as I came upon the place. Everyone had to stop while the truck maneuvered into the correct position, including pedestrians.

I made my way back to Pyrmont and stopped in the sushi train restaurant for a few plates of sushi and a beer. Then I went home and got onto social media. I'm having a glass of wine now.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Remembering Cyclone Oswald

In 2013 starting on Australia Day Cyclone Oswald started tracking south down the Queensland coast at about 30km per hour. It went all the way down the coast into New South Wales and brought torrential rain to communities up and down the coast including those in the heavily-populated areas of southeast Queensland. I was living in the area at the time and I remember the downpours for two days that it took the system to pass over the area I was living in. The rain was literally horizontal, angled with the wind that thundered through the town for that time.

Today's Cyclone Debbie reminds me of those days. They were a time of fear and anxiety, when the weather takes control of the entire community, shutting down essential services and causing people to shelter inside. I am so grateful that we don't have these types of weather systems down here in New South Wales. They are terrible and bring an inordinate amount of anxiety to thousands of people.

In Sydney over the past three weeks we have had rain, but it has been a pedestrian, docile type of rain, not the grinding, pelting rain that you get with weather systems like Cyclone Oswald or Debbie. We are lucky down here to have pacific weather, calm weather that only occasionally steps over the bounds of comfort to cause problems for people.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Internet is fixed

On Wednesday I posted about the PC crisis which saw me buy both a new PC and a new monitor. The PC crisis, however, was immediately followed by an internet crisis, where the net slowed down to a snail's pace. It reminded me of when I moved back to Sydney in February 2015 and the modem immediately conked out as soon as I moved into this place. That seemed strange by itself, but because it is added to this new event things look doubly strange. How can a new PC cause your internet connection to go slow? It can't, said the Optus technician who came to my house this morning. "It's just a coincidence," he added.

The technician was only in the apartment for about five minutes then he went down to the building's communications room in the garage - he had gotten keys from the security office beforehand - and then he came back, put some things away in his bag and said that telecommunications provider Optus would be in touch with me probably within 24 hours. He said he wasn't sure where the problem was but agreed that the rain we had had so much of recently probably hadn't helped things. "Ït's probably the rain," he said.

So here I am again able to do internet banking. Which is a luxury for some but for us here in Australia it's just a normal part of life. We are surely blessed by such things being almost universally used. It takes so much of the effort out of banking, being able just to log in from your computer at home and transfer money from one account to another, and to pay bills online. I certainly don't take it for granted. People must think there's something strange about me when I go onto Twitter to say 'thank you' for being able to do online banking. Well, there you go. I'll just have to put up with people thinking I'm a little strange. Because I am thankful for this amazing facility. I'm also thankful to finally have a computer and internet that work properly, because life without either of these things these days is quite unthinkable.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A new computer

I had had some problems with the display of the computer because it was blinking repeatedly, and so I thought I could get it to cooperate by pressing some of the buttons on the right hand side of the screen. This was on Saturday. It worked and my call to the technicians was anyway filled and I got the guy to reset my iPad instead. Then when I booted the computer the next day, I got the same problem, so I called the technicians again. Meanwhile, I made do with the laptop, which is a less-then-optimal solution because the screen is so small and it is so slow.

Another technician came out and he tested this and that and told me that the motherboard in the computer was broken, so I would have to buy a new computer. This was on Tuesday morning, and I had a spare 90 minutes between appointments so I got in the car and went down to the electrical store at Broadway Shopping Centre and bought a new HP. The technicians sent out a new guy to install it and bring across the data files from the old one, but in the process of doing that work he found that the screen was still not working. Therefore the problem of the blinking screen turned out to be either with the video cable or with the monitor.

I got in the car and the technician got on his motorbike this morning and we went down to an electronics store near Ultimo TAFE and I bought a new monitor. We brought it back and installed it and it worked fine - I now had a new PC and a new monitor - and it was also bigger than the previous one, so I have abundant screen room now. It was also cheaper than the previous one - which, admittedly, had been bought in 2009 - so I was marginally happy. The new technician - who had done work on two days for me - called his head office and they discussed my case and decided to waive the fee for the second technician, so I will only pay for the first technician.

This is a good outcome anyway because even though the computer was not broken, most computers only last for about 4 or 5 years, it would have been time to get a new one soon anyway. I gave the second technician the old computer and monitor in case he could get the monitor to work. He took them home to his place in his car.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Went out to get some lunch

This morning I was woken up by the telephone and handled the call then got some coffee from the pot of cold coffee. Then I had some wine, and a bit later I went up the street to get some lunch. I had to go to the ATM in the convenience store first, then I ambled up the street to the kaiten sushi shop and ordered a beer. I sat down opposite two young men who obviously knew each other, and started picking the plates of sushi off the track.

It feels fine being without the girl. I do miss her and that's something real that I can contemplate when things get boring, which they might do on occasion. But I do miss her as well. I miss not being connected to her daily life, being excluded. It's something of an adventure. I won't stop loving her just because I'm away from her, it's just that the feelings are different in quality and quantity. There's no downside - I mean no irritations coming from her, that there might be if we were spending time together - it's all a uniform blank pain gap that needs filling.

I'll be busy all day tomorrow. There are appointments from 9.30am through to 4pm. I have to do lots of things and be in different places. We'll see how the 1.30pm appointment with the dietician goes. I'm frankly not looking forward to that one, as it means being open about my drinking, which is something I don't feel like doing. But I am fairly open about it here, on the blog, if anyone is interested. It's just that there'll be someone who is close to me who will be watching all these things, like what I eat, and that makes me a bit nervous.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Wrote two poems today

I got up this morning a bit early and made some coffee, then went back to bed and slept for a couple more hours. It was raining fairly hard this morning, and when I got up the second time it was still raining. I sat down at the computer and checked poems done the day before. I saw that one of them needed some more work, and I worked a bit more on another poem from last week as well.

Then I started work on a poem about the rain and it came out quite easily. I was happy with it except for the last two lines. I then went out to the sandwich shop to buy a roll - schnitzel, tomato, lettuce and onion - and came back with that and a two-litre bottle of milk, because I had been running low on milk. When I had finished eating the roll I took a look at this morning's poem again and decided to change the final couplet based on the fact that the sun had started to shine again. I had actually worked out some of the two lines - including the essential rhyme - on the way back from the shops. Walking has this effect on you, that it makes things flow.

After finishing the poem I published it on social media then started work on another poem based on some thoughts that I had had on my walk to the sandwich shop - that period of my life when I had quit smoking. Again, this time the poem came out quite quickly, and I tried putting the discarded final couplet from the poem about rain written this morning in it but then decided to do something different. I just had trouble finding a word to rhyme with "lungs" and decided that the half-rhyme "feeling" would be enough, and went with that.

Today was a very productive day, during which not only did I write two original works from scratch, but I also finished two other poems, improving them materially. I feel blessed because although it is summer the temperature is reasonable, and there was no sitting in the chair covered in sweat like there had been before, during the heatwave.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Grateful to live in a stable society

I got up late this morning and made some coffee, as usual, of which I drank two cups before going back to bed for about 25 minutes. But it was no good. I couldn't go back to sleep, and if you can't go to sleep what's the point of being alone in bed? So I got up and dressed, then went into the bathroom to get two prescriptions that my psychiatrist had filled out. I took a walk down to the pharmacy near Coles and enjoyed seeing people on the street.

There was the young woman walking her dog just up the street, and the crowds of people at the cafe in John Street Square having their lunch break sitting around tables and laughing and talking. There was the man in the hi-vis shirt going into the building that is still - after all these long months - being renovated. There was a workman threading cable down into a manhole cut into the pavement. There were three young women walking abreast up the street next to the cafe set into the casino, one of whom made way for me as we passed. I saw them all and reflected how lucky I am to live in a society where just going to the pharmacy - to buy subsidised medications that are completely affordable - is a routine part of life.

Here there is no scuttling from doorway to doorway to evade snipers perched on rooftops. There is nowhere the sound of bombs going off just down the street, turning neighbourhoods into piles of indistinguishable rubble. There are no tanks roving through the street machine-gunning people who must run out of the way. We might see from time to time a police car cruising at low speed down the street on the watch for trouble, but that is all. We are truly blessed to live in a country as devoted to peaceful pursuits as this one.

When I got back home I poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to write a blogpost. I thought about Fernando Pessoa writing his curious entries in his journal under the name Bernardo Soares, a "heteronym" he invented to express this aspect of his personality. Pessoa loved his city of Lisbon and was a great flaneur, walking around watching the people go past and cultivating an organic sense of the city in his fecund mind. I have been reading Pessoa since finishing the Karl Ove Knausgard series of autobiographical novels - I still miss lying down in the evening before going to sleep and reading his stories - because a dear friend of mine sent me his 'The Book of Disquiet'. And I have been enjoying it immensely. Knausgard is a hard act to follow, but Pessoa is up to the challenge, and keeps me entertained for the 30 minutes or so that I spend reading each evening in bed.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Got the car rego done

This morning I was up early to get the car to the garage at 8am for a registration inspection. When I arrived the floor manager said that it had been a year almost since my last car service, and he asked me if I wanted them to do another one. I said yes. When I had handed over the keys I walked out of the garage along Ross Street and luckily an empty cab was on the street, so I got in and came home.

I went back to bed and slept for a few more hours, then got up and went to the computer, logging onto social media. I put together the last pieces of the paperwork needed by my accountant to do the end-of-financial-year accounts. At about 11.30am the garage rang me to tell me the car was ready to pick up, and I left home, heading up the street to where the cabs congregate. I caught a cab to the garage and paid for the service and the rego inspection, then left and drove down Parramatta Road and Broadway to Quay Street, then I turned onto Harris Street and made my way home through the heavy traffic. The rains had made the traffic worse, with some streets flooded and cut off.

At 1pm I left home to take a package of papers to the post office to send off to the accountants. After paying, I went to a restaurant and ordered some noodles, had some sushi and a beer, and ate my lunch. Then I went to the psychiatrist's office and we talked for an hour. At the end of the appointment I left and went home, and went to bed for a nap. At about 5pm I got up and started on the white wine. Later, I had some food for dinner - just a little bit, including some mackerel on toast - and settled down to watching the TV in the evening. I thought about how lucky I am to have a warm, dry home to go to in the evenings, and how I can come and go when I please. It is a great blessing for me.

I have been writing poetry for the past two days, which explains why I haven't been blogging as much here over that period of time. The poetry came back to me because I have replaced my totems from the Queensland days - the magpies and the paperbark - with new ones. I wonder if anyone out there can tell me what my new totems in Sydney are? I have anyway been trying to be positive and helpful to others on social media. I hope that people find my participation to be of use. My aim is to be reliable and encouraging.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Writing poetry again

This morning I had an inkling about the first line of a poem and instead of ignoring the inkling as I would normally do I sat down to the computer and opened up the last Word file from 2015 and copied it with a new name: '2017 sonnets'. I had a nervous feeling tinged with excitement in my stomach as I wrote the first words of the poem I had started in my head. The next line followed and as I put it down I planned the rhyme for line three.

Thus it was that I started to write poetry again. It has been two years since I last wrote poetry. Exactly two years, it transpires (because I date all my poems in the Word file; the date comes directly under the title of the poem). The previous poem was written on 5 February 2015. After that: nothing for two years. Until this morning.

I went back to read the other poems from other years, including the prodigious year of 2013 and the next year of some output: 2014. There are only three poems in 2015. All my finished poems have been saved as PDF files, so that I can quickly go back and read them in isolation. Removed from the company of what precedes them and what follows them in the flow of writing they are more like themselves, and of course inside the folder on the hard drive they sort themselves in alphabetical (not date) order. Rereading the old items I felt something like that same nervous feeling in my stomach. It's as though when I read the old poems I am revisiting a mood, seeing again an image that I had first seen on that day so many years before when I wrote them.

But the interesting thing is that most of the poems in those years were conceived in the summer. It seems that I am most fecund when the weather is warm and the breath slips in and out of the hot body unencumbered by any chill or other temperature-based abeyance. Up in Queensland in 2013 and 2014 I was accompanied, as always in those days, when I wrote poetry, by the twin presences of the park with its enormous paperbark, and the cries in the morning of the magpie. The birds used to settle in ones or twos on my balcony up there in southeast Queensland. And the paperbark was like a sentinel for me - in fact I think on one occasion I likened it to exactly this type of thing in one of my poems.

Down here those things - those totems of my spirit - disappeared replaced by the sounds of the city. The helicopters that fly by over the CBD on their endless quests, and the cars that roar up the street nearby in the night and during the daytime too. These are the new totems for my productive soul.

The sensation of movement in the pit of my stomach is the thing that characterises the experience of poetry for me. I feel vulnerable, exposed. Perhaps that is why it has taken me so long to revisit the experience of writing poetry, now that I am down here in Sydney. I needed to build the ties that bind me to the new totems of my life here. Perhaps that is why it has taken me so long to go back to writing poetry.

Movie review: Paterson, dir Jim Jarmusch (2016)

Nothing much happens in the lives of Paterson (Adam Driver) a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey, and his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani). While he gets up every morning without an alarm clock at almost exactly the same time - he says there is something special about his watch - she stays at home and paints everything black and white (her favourite colour combination). They have a routine life but they support each other and love each other, and therefore also have a rich and full life. A night out at the black-and-white movies is something to celebrate.

Paterson's poetry - which he captures in a notebook with an elastic catch on the cover - is also something to celebrate for Laura, and she takes every opportunity to tell him what a great poet he is. Paterson is content. Even when Laura's bulldog Marvin eats his notebook he doesn't get angry. But after that happens we know he will continue to write because a stranger in the park who Paterson meets one day gives him a new notebook as a gift. (The stranger, a Japanese man, had come to Paterson because of his love of the poetry of William Carlos Williams, who had lived in Paterson while alive. Williams is Paterson's favourite poet.)

While nothing much happens, the things that do happen seem to have a meaning beyond their immediate significance. When Paterson meets a child who is sitting outside - he thinks he should wait with her until her mother returns to take her home - it turns out she is also a poet, and she reads a piece of her poetry to him. He takes home the first few lines and recites them for Laura.

Laura is busy with her own things, too. She bakes cupcakes for the local farmer's market, and makes a big stack of money. She also gets Paterson to buy her a guitar so that she can become a country-and-Western singer. She has dreams. Meanwhile, Paterson finds that having a mobile phone would sometimes be an asset when his bus inexplicably breaks down while he is out on his route, and he has to borrow someone else's phone to call back to base for help. He might have a stack of poetry books on his bookshelf in the basement, but he doesn't have a mobile. Paterson is a bit odd that way.

He's also odd in the way, each evening when he takes Marvin for a walk, he stops at the bar for a beer. At the bar we meet other people in Paterson's life, such as Everett (William Jackson Harper), who is in love with Marie (Chasten Harmon) although she doesn't reciprocate his affections. He also meets Everett one day when he is taking a walk in the afternoon, when he doesn't have anything on his plate. Everett is something of a philosopher, unlike Donny (Rizwan Manji), who checks off Paterson every morning before he starts his rounds. Donny always has problems at home that he complains about to people. Paterson has Laura at home and he never complains.

What the movie does so well however is to slow things down to a snail's rate of progress. We notice each smile and display of intimacy or dislike. We are drawn into this shadow-play of tiny gestures and our hearts almost start to beat at a more sedate pace. This is a film out of the ordinary. Most films these days hep us up to a high state of excitement with their special effects and explosions. This movie does the complete opposite, so when the Japanese stranger appears at the end we are primed for the explosion of emotion we feel as Paterson denies he is a poet. This doesn't put the stranger off his quest for meaning, however, as he works to experience what it signifies to be a poet in New Jersey.

Monday, 30 January 2017

We need more courage to be compassionate in social media

Today someone posted, quite plaintively, "Someone post something kind, please?" And I immediately understood her feelings; I replied:
I know what you mean. I think people need to be more considerate on social media, they think it's ok just to prosecute their own biases there. But it's not. We need to share things. Social media is a community. We create it when we share.
The thing is that I have had conversations with a friend lately about social media and the way she had been using it to complain about her life, when things had not gone well for her. I had remonstrated and told her that social media is not just a place to unload your grievances. You had to find things that others could also share, because it was about creating community. So the judgemental and divisive would not serve the ultimate ends of the platforms - mainly, in my case, Twitter and Facebook - as well as other kinds of post, posts where participation was more positive, guarded and compassionate.

Strangely, when I made that post in the comments area I was having a similar conversation with someone else at the same time on Messenger. I said there:
I try to feel good when I am doing social media, I seek out the good feelings in the air and in the atmosphere, and channel them to others.
She countered that while I was a nice person, she was not. "I don't like being here much lately," she said. Here's what she was replying to of mine when she said that:
But it's a conscious effort. I have to work hard at it. It's just as easy to be dismissive and uncaring.
And it's true. When we are divisive and judgemental we tear and rip at the fabric of social media, we shred the air with our cries and our complaints, whether they be on the personal level or even on the political level. We ruin any opportunity to find common ground, and merely celebrate our feelings of isolation - feelings, like the constant thoughts that we experience even in moments of downtime in our diurnal rounds - that form part of the suffering of contemporary life. This isolation is ruinous for the soul, it brands us as outcasts and leaves us feeling exhausted and alone.

Sharing, on the other hand, with an eye to creating community, soothes the soul-destroying wounds that we bear on our skin at every moment of the day and night. Wounds that open and bleed incessantly, making us feel pain. We need the soothing salve of empathy to counter this effect of modern life, in fact we crave it, but in our timidity we brush it aside as a dream and then again tear and rend the social fabric some more. It is just fear that we express in this way. We need more courage to be compassionate.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

On hospitals

It's so hot and even though it's getting late there's no point in going to bed because I've been dozing on and off all day and the night-time temperature will be excessive tonight, so I decided to sit a while and write about something that I talked to a friend about not long ago. We were talking about hospitals and I said to her that I always felt compelled to stand up for these institutions, places which we normally only enter with trepidation, and of which we only speak in critical tones.

I had a lot to do with hospitals last year when mum was getting sick all the time prior to her death. I could refer back and get the exact dates but it was roughly from November 2015 until she finally died in July 2016 that I had most to do with hospitals. It's only fair to say that I have the utmost respect for the people who work in hospitals, even though they are obviously overworked by their bosses, and spend most of their time running around in a frazzled state trying to bring succour to all the places where it is needed.

But it's more than that. People are more like themselves in hospitals. You can have the most lovely conversations with people - whether staff or patients or the families or friends of patients - in hospitals. The presence of mortality brings people closer to their real selves. They are genuinely friendly and when they ask after you - just saying "How are you?" - they really want to know. People are more empathetic, compassionate and real in the presence of mortality. I remember sitting in the waiting room at the Emergency Ward watching the people go in and come out. The TV was tuned to one of the awful commercial stations that we have but I was unlikely to watch it when the procession of characters - and the series of events they performed in, for my exclusive benefit - was so rich and varied.

One family would come in and go to the administration desk, where they would talk with a clerk. The daughter who was limping when they arrived would be called to the triage desk, and ushered into the doctor's area. An orderly would use his access card to buzz himself into the actual ward - where my mother lay, waiting to be processed - and disappear from view. I freely admit that I enjoyed these small events, and this endless succession of new people. I am a flaneur after all - as my friend reminded me - so taking notice of the small details of existence in public spaces is my specialty.

So here's to hospitals, those busy hives of restless humanity where doctors - young and old, male and female - tend to the needs of people when they are at their most vulnerable. And the nurses - young and old, male and female - and orderlies and other support staff - young and old, male and female - all going about their tasks with dedication and commitment. If we listen to them they can teach us something essential about being human.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Movie review: La La Land, dir Damien Chazelle (2016)

There's no definitive image that encapsulates the major themes of this movie so I just chose an image of Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) looking into each other's eyes. The movie was a nice surprise, as I wasn't expecting much from a 2-hour rom-com where the main character is Hollywood itself. But Stone and - to a lesser extent - Gosling do bring out the best the script and the songs had to offer.

The movie charts the relationship of aspiring actress Mia and aspiring jazz pianist Sebastian as they navigate the vicissitudes of life in tinseltown. The bad casting meeting and the underwhelming band practice are put to the test against the love and support the two young people show for each other. Mia eventually finds her feet - partially, it turns out - by putting on a one-woman show and Sebastian does a stint on keyboards with a pop band whose sound he in fact hates.

Interspersed between the acting scenes are musical numbers and it's here that Gosling falls a bit flat. He can't sing, that's obvious, and the director gives him a lot less work to do. He can play the piano though, and the film's producers make sure he gets plenty of work to do on the ivories. Stone can sing, however, and she gets lots of work. The songs are uniformly good. The signature tune of the whole piece, City of Stars, appears at tonic moments to remind us that it is the lovers and dreamers who make the world turn. In fact, Mia includes words to this effect in one scene where she has been called to perform in front of the casting agents for a movie to be shot in Paris, which turns out to be the hinge on which her career swings.

The ending is endlessly poignant and touching, although you wonder what happened to some of their promises to one another. I can't recommend this film highly enough, though, especially to those who like to walk away from the cinema with a lump in their throats.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Blowing bubbles

This morning I took a walk down to Darling Harbour and saw that they had put up the ferris wheel again, after taking it down for the New Year festivities. They have also set up a big sandbox occupying about 100 square metres on the esplanade, with wooden sides and wooden chairs on the sand for people to sit on. There was one man doing little jumps for someone sitting in one of the chairs at the front, presumably his son or daughter, to make them laugh.

Under the Western Distributor there was a person wearing one of those outsize cartoon suits used to entertain children, except the character being represented was a policeman. He had a yellow face, a light blue shirt, dark blue pants, and a badge over the right side of the chest. I thought it was an interesting, if back-handed, way to impose order on the crowds; the toon was walking where the crowds were thin anyway.

Further down, in front of the CBA building someone was blowing bubbles, and the bubbles drifted out across the thoroughfare crossing the foot traffic.

I went down to Chinatown and saw people already sitting out on the tables eating lunch; it was later than my usual walk, already midday. The noise-reduction hoarding around the worksite for the light rail - the trains have been stopping at The Star and will continue to do so until 23 January - had been moved, I noticed. More of the road at the end of Dixon Street was open to car traffic. I made sure to cross with the light. Then I made my way along Ultimo Road to Harris Street, turned right and headed up toward home.