Wringing in the New Year

because this-evening is one during which I would dearly like to throttle Lui Stringer.

Unhappily for him – and me, I might add – it was decided to splurge more squillions of bucks on Sydney’s fireworks displays, this year, and have THREE of ‘em! Jesus H. Christ! – one at 9 pm for the little dears, a new one at 10.30, and then the regular monster at midnight.

[Stringer used to joke that Sydney, rather than being one of the crack capitals (as has been suggested in terms of the very large amounts of crystal meth the cops keep coming across), should be referred to as The Cracker Capital. Well, I think it was witty!]

But back to the marmalade one … The fireworks absolutely terrify him, the little large neurotic creature. I have ‘em showing on the telly, just in case it fools him into thinking that the noise is coming from there; but if you look at the map in the sidebar of where I live, and once you’re aware that there are identical … ahh … lettings-off going on at not large intervals all along the Harbour, you’ll quickly realise that if I opened any of my blinds, the two of us would be blinded (funny, eh?) by what’s outside. Not to mention the damned ROW! Yesyes, I know I just did …

So he rushes about wildly and hides under things; and it would be fine if he’d just STAY under something. But he doesn’t; he pops out suddenly and rushes in terrified fashion to another thing to hide under … and it really distresses me. There’s nothing at all that I can do for him; and if would just get under the couch in the study, he’d be safe even in his terms. And I wouldn’t have to agonise.

And so it goes. Lui gets wilder and so do I; while I chase him and try to grab him and thrust him under the couch, and he avoids me as if it’s all my fault.

I may throttle him tomorrow morning, when he’s least expecting it. Anyway: don’t you agree he has gorgeous soft fur …?

I’d forgotten about King Curtis!

Reading a post by Daniel of Northier than Thou, I saw a mention of a musician playing live at Fillmore East. Being a smart-arse, I commented that I had had a disk of King Curtis Live at Fillmore West. And that’s of course what brought him back to mind. HOW COULD I HAVE FORGOTTEN THAT GREAT SOUND?!

This was the album I had; and a ripper it was. I learned about him when I was travelling with a big band throughout Queensland in the early ’70s; I was Unit Managing a small film crew making a doco. about the band. And not only were they all terrific muso.s, but their personal taste/s in music tutored my own, I’m happy to admit.

So … here are two tracks from this album – my two favourites. They’re longish in terms of what you expect on a blog post; but that’s fine – even if you listen to 20 seconds of so, you’ll have a good idea. But note that “Memphis Soul Stew” is a track wherein the King introduces each band member, who plays a riff; and it isn’t for a while that they get to play as one. Up to you: but if you like blues rock and a big band sound, I can promise you it’s worth waiting for. (And btw, some of this version of the King’s band went on to huge careers – Billy Preston, e.g.) Whole band rockin’ at 5:42: and the very first time I listened to it yesterday afternoon, the King was saying “It’s simmerin’ nicely … I think it’s just right … and then you beat—” and I leapt to my feet and shouted “TWELVE!”. Wow! Music does that to you: gets into your head and you don’t even know it’s still there …

The first track is the one mentioned – “Memphis Soul Stew”; and the second is called “Them Changes”. How well do I remember the night when the band played in Melbourne to finish the tour, and after the show I drove some of them to a local nightclub … where they were begged to jam with the nightclub muso.s and tried to replicate this track. It was awful; but then, everyone was totally ripped, so no-one cared: we thought it was faaabulous!

Here you go, then: forget the vision – close your eyes and listen …

Times change: cleverness goes

Are you ready for a long rave?: well, here it comes, ready or not …

Recently I was doing a typical M.R. whinge to a contemporary about how I’m totally anti the way many human skills are being replaced by technology. I don’t mean people on assembly lines being replaced by robots, either – not even I would recommend the retaining of mindless crap jobs when machines do them better and faster. No; I was, in truth, thinking specifically of what at various times was my own job – Continuity on film crew (apparently these days called Script Supervision) – but not being honest enough to admit it. So now I do. Allow me to elucidate …

In the ‘70s and ‘80s in Oz, Continuity had a fair few things to do in her (it was always a ‘her’ back then) working day. She’d had to read the script very closely, looking for errors – in action, dialogue, timing or logic of any kind. For example, me at a Production Meeting:

At the gathering around the table, someone has just finished saying something, at which point M.R. raises her hand. Everyone else groans.

M.R.
(impervious, points to her copy of the script)
There’s a problem at the head of Scene 119: we see Jake sneaking into the shed and emerging with the rifle; but back in Scene 108 he gave it to Helen and told her to hide it in the summerhouse …

All turn dutifully to the page, read, and roll their eyes.

SCRIPT EDITOR
(frown: heavy sigh)
OK, I’ll fix it as soon as we finish, so that we won’t need to issue a blue page.

M.R. nods, satisfied.

M.R.
(flipping through script to next post-it)
And then, on page—

Indignant cries of protest from all, who thought they were about to break for lunch …


She had also to time the script to ensure that its entire action would fit into whatever was the required timeframe. She had to do a wardrobe and props breakdown so that she’d know in advance what the cast should be wearing and carrying and interacting with. And she had to familiarise herself with the action so that she could support the Director when he asked her things like “Have we covered this scene …?” – meaning, were the setups now in the camera sufficient to get across what was needed. And this was all in pre-production.

During the shoot, she had to

  • record the technical details of each setup, so that if by any chance a re-shoot was needed, all conditions could be matched
  • annotate her script with an identification and description of every setup, including any changes made to the dialogue by the cast (try to imagine my language when some of them liked to change it with every take!)
  • note everything that happened during each setup so that cutting points matched, and actors weren’t seen halfway out a door at the end of one shot and a metre back inside the room at the beginning of the next (MUCH worse than this has been seen onscreen!)
  • keep track of wardrobe and props so that a character didn’t run across the road in a striped tie and carrying one kind of gun in one shot, and enter a house in a patterned tie, carrying a different gun, in the next
  • be ready INSTANTLY to prompt actors with dialogue during rehearsals
  • be ready INSTANTLY to prompt them with action, ditto
  • take Polaroid shots of things that were going to be needed to be matched on a different day
  • maintain an incrementing record of each setup with the setup details, which would go to the film editor at the end of the day to help with the rough-cut
  • have a second, clean copy of the script in separated pages on which to record all the setup descriptions (with all dialogue amendments), which would also go to the editor
  • maintain a daily record of the shoot activities – amount of screen time shot and all that kind of thing – for the Production Office and its very mercenary drive …

and I’ve run out of memory. It was an awfully long time ago, after all …

Now s/he does almost none of that. To begin with, as everything’s shot on video, s/he has no need to remember anything: if there’s a query of the “How far had Peter walked when Bob called out to him?” kind, the camera will simply replay it so that everyone could see. Ditto with dialogue: any argument re who said what to whom at which point, and a replay will solve it immediately. The ’1st Assistant Cameraman’ (they tell me: in my day it would’ve been the Clapper-Loader) keeps all the technical records; Wardrobe and Props keep all their own records; one or other of the 2nd–umpteenth Assistants keeps the details for the Production Office …

In other words, today’s Script Supervisor is left to do … continuity! – in fact, to supervise the script. (Oh! – I get it.)

But, you know … today the industry is full of young smart-(_|_)s who think they know everything because they did a course at some Uni or Tech College; and the people lecturing at those places have hardly ever themselves worked in the industry. Today’s crew-members are mostly ridiculous haircuts and tight jeans and social networking; and they have no loyalty to the production. They feel no obligation to work as hard as they can. And yes, you are indeed reading the words of a grumpy old codger.

Sighh … It was a wonderful, exciting industry, once upon a time. We worked 6 days a week and roughly 70 hours; and we loved it. Impossible for a producer get a crew to do that, these days.

The film industry is certainly not a case of plus ça change

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

There you go! – to someone who for 31 years scarcely walked near the stove (in a multitude of locations), this is indeed JOY!

I’d tried to make bread about a thousand times. I’d gone to books of cooking people I admired and followed their instructions to the letter, but I’d never got within a bull’s roar of being able to knead the dough. For reasons beyond my comprehension I could not produce a dough that wasn’t too wet to handle.

And then I came across a recipe from a bloke in New York who makes a no-knead bread. This looked pretty wonderful to me, so I gave it a burl; but alas! – same problem. Even though his bread really doesn’t need kneading (!), the dough does need to be folded a few times. He and I exchanged emails for ages, and in the end the poor bastard gave up in disgust.

I, at this end of the continental exchange, looked at the last batch of wet dough I’d produced and thought “Oh, **** it! – why don’t I just COOK it?!”, so I did.

The result wasn’t this particular loaf, but one almost as good.

I then set about fining down his pretty simple recipe to the point where even he wouldn’t recognise it, and established the indisputable fact that IT WORKS EVERY TIME. It is the most yummy bread I’ve ever eaten *. It makes the best toast I’ve ever eaten. The sole problem is that because it has nothing in it but flour, yeast and water, it goes off in a few days and starts to show the first signs of mould on the crust – a sort of cloudiness, I call it. So the only solution is to eat it all within a max. of 4 days. And as it’s a small little loaf, I do.   :-D

* I am forced to be totally honest (otherwise Marc Bourbon will flay me alive): my bread is not as good as a baguette bought from one’s local boulangerie anywhere in France …

Soapnuts, anyone …?

soapnutsI’ve only just discovered them. Which means they’ve probably been around for years: I have a tendency to remain in the dark about [X] for yonks, and then cry, in pleased surprise, “Oh! – isn’t [X] WONDERFUL?” so that those around me snigger at my out-of-dateness (I just created that noun: feel free to plagiarise).

OK, who among you has used them, please? – and what do you have to tell me about them?

I bought a sampler of ’em (with little bag), and have just done a washload. Seems absolutely fine: no hideous pong as with every damned brand of front-loading washing powder on the market (apart from those claiming to be ‘scent-free’ that cost an arm, a leg and an ear!). Smells, rather, kind of … fresh. Only word I can think of.

I hopefully await some input on these from you who’ve known all about them since cocky laid an egg. Do not let me down! [grin]

 

I dream of a cool xmas

… and frequently tell those of you posting shots of snow-piled countryside/driveways/whatever how lucky you are, meaning it from the heart. Because what I dream of is having the seasons easily discernible; where if I awoke from a Rip Van Winkle sleep and staggered forth, I’d immediately know whether it were summer, autumn, winter or spring.

But down here in the southern hemisphere, xmas is just more of the same …

No, I’m obliged to admit that this shot doesn’t truly represent every day of this time of year – just a whole big lot of them.

What’s hard for me to comprehend is that this kind of scene is not only accepted by most of we Aussies, but actually welcomed! There are people living in Sydney who think something’s wrong unless the temperature is well above 30º throughout summer! Still, they represent only about – oh, I’d guess at, say, a measly 80% of the population …? Whereas we from the huge 20% section greet the approach of every summer with trepidation and loathing, to be brutally frank, and wonder how we’re going to cope.

Because it’s not actually the heat that worries us, we 20 percenters: it’s the bloody HUMIDITY. Read this, while you’re shivering up there in the top half of the world: and ask yourself how much you think you’d enjoy living in a bath-like atmosphere for months on end …

In my little 2-bedroom flat, up on the fourth floor and facing north-north-west, I’m largely protected from the grumpier ravages of Ma Nature: there are often evenings when I turn on the news to be informed that Sydney had a frightful day of wind ravaging, and trees are down right, left and centre!  But when it comes to the opposite end of the scale, and especially when humidity is involved, I’m in a kind of epicentre. This building is a refurbished one, with all external walls very, very thick (it was a stationery repository for a big bank, once upon a time); and once summer’s heat was worked its way in through the old sandstone, it doesn’t get out again. Not till the heat is over for a fair while, and people are thinking of cardigans!

Sighh … Oh misery me, eh? [grin]

Yes, I suppose I will manage. Again. I suppose I will be able to struggle through yet another summer of hideous and totally unwelcome humidity. I have to keep reminding myself of my home town when I start to feel too sorry for myself: over in Perth, they have heatwaves that go on and on … and on.   :-|

OK, I’ll shut my mouth and stop whingeing. But as for all you lucky so-&-sos up above the equator … all I can add to any festive season wishes is – enjoy your weather, too!

Doing what you do as well as you can

I have a secret hero. Well, me being me he’s not exactly ‘secret’, inasmuch as I’ve never been backward about my heroes, but always tended to let the world know about them. As now!   :-)

This is a bloke who’s paid to do a job. Like most of you (and even like me,  once upon a time). It’s not the easiest job in the world, as it involves dealing with people who can be tetchy to start with, and who often end up being tetchy when he has to tell them stuff they don’t want to know.

In my opinion, what’s worse than that is that he frequently has to deal with being being stupid. Like me. Often. They ask amazingly thick questions and can’t seem to comprehend his plain answers; after which they turn into the people in the par. above.

And then there are the ones who are plain rude, right from the beginning. Or who start out not being rude, but who, when given info. they don’t like because it doesn’t match up with what they had a hunch about, turn into the people in the par. above but one.

So there you go. His is a customer-oriented job, and I wouldn’t take it on for quids – even if I’d ever had that kind of brain!

my-heroI’m obliged to admit that he’s not alone in this job: there are lots and lots of others who do the same thing –  as politely, and possibly even as well!   ;-)   But as it’s he with whom I’ve been in the most contact regarding my questions, queries and requests for reminders, and he who has never once failed me (but even gone out and researched to find the answer!), he’s the poor bastard who gets outed:

SEASON’S GREETINGS TO ALL THE WORDPRESS STAFF!!! – you people rock, and we WP aficionados all know it and believe it.

And if you ever read this post, tsp  – which you well may not! [grin] – I send a special vote of thanks to you, my young friend, for all the help with which you’ve so uncomplainingly and good-naturedly provided me. Hello and goodbye for now to Rich Spees, one of the rather large Automattic team of brainiacs!

“Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time …?”

It’s 8 o’cock on a Monday morning, here in Pyrmont; and it’s not a public holiday. It won’t even be a public holiday tomorrow!

And yet, as I look over my balcony down to Pyrmont Bridge Road – a main thoroughfare that should be chokka with buses and general traffic (you’ve only got the far half of it: I’m a really shithouse photographer) as everyone is on his/her way to work, what do I see …?

Nothing.

No-one.

It’s really weird!

Well, no, it isn’t. What it is is symptomatic of the Aussie way of life. Everyone has decided that as it’s going to be holidays on Wednesday and Thursday, why bother going in to work on Monday and Tuesday?! The huge and ghastly development going on across Darling Harbour hasn’t shown any activity since lunchtime last Friday. I dare say I don’t need to add that there won’t be a soul at work anywhere next Friday.

We really don’t know what we’re doing, I sometimes think. We have some of the highest wages in the world; and even those who struggle on what seems to us a pittance are far better off than many others in western society. I think back to when I was a child and milk was delivered to our milk-tin (on legs behind the fence) every morning and bread to our breadbox (in the garage); and the reason for all that service dying out was twofold: (1) Jack’s as good as his master (we like to tell ourselves), and (2) because Jack therefore wanted more money, no-one could afford his services.

Yesyes! – I know that this is called ‘progress’. But honestly, to look down to the busy street I live on and see that! … it really does make me wonder if we shouldn’t wake up to ourselves a bit.

Or am I just being Old?

Opting out of Facebook

I’ve given up.

As I’m unable to force my business/author page to turn itself into the hero, and every activity I undertake relating to FB continues to append itself to my personal page, I’ve cancelled out. I’ve tried everything suggested to me as a solution by the people to whom I turned for assistance, including FB’s own Help!: in a couple of instances, the first time I did [whatever] it worked, and I was thrilled; but thereafter everything reverted to the author page’s being something I was obliged to work on manually, because nothing done outside could be posted to it.

I honestly do not see what benefit I can gain on Facebook, anyway, in terms of pushing ATLMD (as regular readers know, that is the reason behind my blogging). I mean, honestly. If I were an author of multiple books, perhaps; because then there would be lots of headings to set up and so forth. But I ain’t, and shan’t be for a while.

FBAnd – Facebook lovers please stop reading NOW! – I really don’t like it.

It doesn’t have enough variability of design – doesn’t allow one’s personality to show.

What it does have are many infuriating aspects – one of which is some bloody list of total unknowns it keeps pushing me to link up with. In fact, the pushing of various things within it has driven me bonkers since last Tuesday, when I started.

And with regard to that unwanted personal page, the screen-grab shown is totally relevant: that’s exactly what I wanted to keep screaming!

I couldn’t get FB set up in terms of linking to it from here. And there’d be absolutely zero point in having the bloody thing going if the blog weren’t showing it, eh?

It is a far, far better thing I do, here on this blog (she added, somewhat prosaically) … I LIKE my blog. I like the people who have joined me on it. I like the blogs I follow. It’s a process that keeps a solitary old broad happy. The same would never have been able to be said about FB.

I have spoken.   [grin]