Sunday, October 30, 2011

Notes From The Hard Road and Beyond Into Sunday

Saturday Night on our weekend in Melbourne saw us all set for the Notes from The Hard Road & Beyond Concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. After 2 days of rain we were concerned it would be uncomfortable as our seats were just outside the under cover section.

Armed with Rain jackets, ponchos and a positive attitude we traipsed across the gardens to the concert site. A short walk and well organised we were soon at our slightly damp seats.

The show was billed thus

notes from the hard road and beyond chronicles an inspiring canon of songs from civil rights, anti-war and women's suffrage to environmentalism, feminism and the abolition movement in a glorious and daring celebration of the music of protest, rebellion, love and hope.
Weaving together music by Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Leonard Cohen, Pete Seeger and Green Day, to name just a few, notes from the hard road and beyond is a unique and joyous testament to the indomitable nature of the human spirit, expressed through music.
Pop meets polemic in a spectacular tribute to the lives and voices that have marked, and in some cases changed, the course of human history.

The line up was fierce with Mavis Staples, Joss Stone, Rickie Lee Jones, Paul Dempsey, Emmanual Jal, John Schumann and the Black Arm Band - this time featuring Archie Roach, Shane Howard, Mark Atkins, Emma Donnovan and stalwart members Lou Bennett and Shellie Morris. There was much to be anticipated.

The first half delivered almost without flaw - the graphic images accompanying the songs was heart stopping and gripping.  Mavis Staples stole the show every time she stepped on stage, with Rickie Lee Jones and Archie Roach delivering powerful performances. Roach most notably delivering shivers to the audience with his Took The Children Away. Donnovan's rendition of Strange Fruit was gripping and probably the highlight of the graphics used. The only odd notes were the graphics during Paul Dempsey's delivery of Leonard Cohen's the Future and Joss Stone's near pop rendition of I am Woman accompanied by some of the most powerful female voices (in Bennet, Morris and Donnovan). 

The second half was much less cohesive with songs Beyond about liberation and celebration. Emmanual Jal's Emma in the second half was a joyous and uplifing celebration (and I hope sent many in search of purchasing his great hip-hop). Jal's story is quite frankly unbelievable and immensely touching. His talent is huge. The Joss Stone Paul Dempsey duet on Throw Your Arms Around Me was strange as it appeared to be two artists completely out of touch with each other.

Rickie Lee Jones and Archie Roach performed Somewhere from West Side Story - strange but true and the combination worked! Roach then followed up with Into My Arms (by Nick Cave) but the transition was confusing. Staples again stepped on to the stage and the musicians all let her hold court (except for Stone - whose performance at this point reminded me of the Diva's concert where Celine Dion tried to keep up with Aretha Franklin).

The closing (well what should have been closing number) which had the whole cast singing Long Way to The Top was brilliant and there was no need for Stone to come out with a solo version of People Get Ready - strange.

The first half hit hard, the second left me lukewarm. I loved the experience but ache for what the second half could have been.

Sunday saw sun shining for the first time in our trip. An excursion towards the city saw us stumble on the Arts Centre Markets - great coffee and a heap of handmade and handcrafted items. I managed to spy (across quite a distance) hand-dyed yarn from Hawthorne Cottage picking up some sock yarn.

After this we walked along the river and found somewhere to have breakfast before heading back to the city for a wander around and a few ales overlooking the river before a trip to the airport where we enjoyed a 2 plus hour delay and missed the kick off for the RWC final.

A Taste of Mebourne

The weekend before last now we popped down to Melbourne on Friday morning.
Arriving around lunch time we dropped our bags off and headed into Federation Square.
Can I tell you how great the trams are in Melbourne - I know it's because the city is well laid out and organised (not quite in a Canberra kind of way) and is a true tourists delight to be able to get pretty much anywhere you need to simply and quickly.

First stop was lunch (no where fancy) just something to eat and drink before our afternoon effort. We tried Time Out at Federation Square. It was raining and grey and the upstairs at the Tourist information centre across the way was packed (free wifi and power!). The food was good and they were quick with the beer for T and the ginger beer for me.

We stepped into ACMI early afternoon - we started with the 25 years of David and Margaret Exhibition. The exhibition is small but perfectly formed with a collection of Margaret's earings on one side and David's film festival lanyards/passes on the other, the exhibition lets you know it has a sense of humour. A collection of photo's with various film luminaries from around the world and over the year adorns one corner. A veritable who's who of international film. Scattered around the exhibition is a range of memorabilia that enthralled this film buff. As only a museum dedicated to the moving image can there were a number of stations showing a sutie of clips many snatches of memorable reviews and some great skits/special apperances. There is also the chance to review a film with David or Margaret in a special greenroom set up. A fun exhibition and free!

After taking a quick break we bought our tickets and headed into the Star Voyager Exhibition loosely marketed thus.

Journey through the fact and fiction of space exploration from Fritz Lang to the moon landing, to Star Trek and Total Recall.

We spent a lot of time trawling through the much larger exhibition - particularly loving some of the old presentation materials and the early silent movies (especially the German ones!). This exhibit is very much an exploration of the fiction and it's connection to fact of our journey into space on film this exhibition is a delight. It does include some of the space flight video and some great Cosmonaut items.

The film segments are mesmerising (especially the ones you have seen). A highlight is the 3D film on Mars. A really worthwhile exhibition, especially for those that love Sci-Fi. Space 1999 &

After another short break we ventured into the Screen Worlds Exhibition a permanent and free exhibition entitled The Story of Film, Television and Visual Culture.

From the computer games you can play both native (ie as they should be) and  Wii Tennis vs Pong at the start to the complete Digital exhibition from original PC's (the Commodore  64 wasn't working!) to iPhones this exhibition is interactive and overwhelming. We spent the most time in the portion dedicated to Film and Television celebrating directors, animators, game developers and of course Actors, Films and TV shows. A highlight was the Zoetrope blogged by ACMI here it features Ty the Tasmanian Tiger a computer game character (Australian one too!) and is quite mind blowing.

Revisting Gallipoli, Neighbours, Kylie Mole, Crocodile Dundee, Mad Max, Picnic at Hanging Rock and a multitude of other Australian film, telivision and video/computer gaming delights with a range of articles and lots more video - mostly interactive. This is positively overwhelming (Yes that word again). We managed to cover all bar the digital culture (but did go visit the non-working Commodore 64).

Saturday saw us head into town for breakfast in one of the famous laneways (did I mention it was freezing and wet and more than a little windy). Following eggs and coffee we hit the shops. T bought some really nice new boots and I bought not much of anything. We were looking for a coat and shoes for him considering the weather might turn beyond ordinary to positively unpleasant. The coat was abandoned. Over breakfast we found a movie to see Red State an, at first glance, atypical Kevin Smith offering.

We headed over to Kino (Palace's fantastic stadium style seating venue in the CBD) around lunch time (well and truly full from breakfast). Slightly damp (it was pouring, we took our seats with the obligatory Choc Top and Water (seriously - anyone will tell you T can not see a movie without a choc top - there were protests once at Dendy Newtown when they ran out).

What can I say about Red State - it's strengths John Goodman, Kevin Smith's natural dialogue amongst peers and friends, John Goodman, a great cast, John Goodman, a couple of great jokes, the closing sequence (necessary to make the rest of the film bearable) and did I mention John Goodman. (Seriously a great actor). It's weaknesses trying to grapple with so much about blurred lines - fundamentalists and government agents who take a we know whats best for everyone stance, the bizarre comfort with violence and religion and children.

The film looks at a group of teenagers who get lured into a bizarre situation by the local fundamentalist Christian church who are taking things into their own hands. As the twisted tale continues violence, fear and a standoff with federal representatives ensues. The ending (a hearing on the outcome of the standoff/siege is an inspired rewrite and a comment on the amoral stance of those in charge.

I suppose would i recommend it - probably not. Did I regret seeing it - No.
3 stars.  Can't wait to see what Smith does next.

And don't go read about the original ending - I am so glad it ended the way it did. The original endign probably would have had me throwing things and screaming at the screen.

Saturday afternoon saw us head to Chapel Street where we bought a beer each after much traipsing and looking but nothing jumped out at either of us. We sat on slightly damp seats out the front of the pub. Eventually heading back to the hotel.

Next up Notes from The Hard Road & Beyond  and The finally Sunny Sunday.

Cleaning out the Clutter

In addition to cleaning up the blog and the blog roll I have been cleaning up at least on the digital stage as part of clearing my mind for new projects.

I have updated the iOS on both the iphone and ipad and cleaned out a heap of apps I never use as well as sorting out the most recent into groups/folders whatever it's called.

Bigger still has been the ravelry clean up. I have reduced the number of Tabs I have to just 2.
All about Jody (I know but it makes sense) and Ravelry.

On the All about Jody tab I now only have groups that I regularly read or contribute to. Makes my ravelry visits much quicker and allows me to get on with looking at the Friend Activity Tab (way more interesting) and the patterns feed.

I am down to just over 30 groups I still belong to but all their activity is on one page with the most active at the top.

I feel lighter some how!

I have also cleaned up the music on both the iPhone and iPod (yes iPod) and backed it all up.
A bit more yarn, fibre and fabric clean up at home and I won't know myself.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Protest Songs Celebration with Perfect Timing

The weekend just passed saw me in Melbourne enjoying the sights and sounds, but not the weather. The trip was timed with the closing weekend of Melbourne Festival to catch the Notes from The Hard Road & Beyond Concert.

Friday morning on arrival in Melbourne we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed to Fed Square ready to check out some exhibitions at ACMI. The trams terminated at Flindesr Street Station & Fed Square due to the protesters we were told.

As we had some lunch we noticed what appeared to be about half the police cars in Melbourne parked on Flinders and Swanston Streets.

As with any trip, you are often not as aware of the news places to go, things to do you see!

As the weekend unfolded we found that the Occupy Melbourne protest had been broken up with what appears to have been a particularly heavy hand, and the site they occupied (public space) had big fences put up around it. Puzzling? Yes. Ridiculous ? Definitely.

Stranger still was that the concert we went to see a closing night of the Melbourne Festival was a celebration of protest songs!

Sad that a city celebrating protests in such a superb way could produce a clash such as Friday.
Then the media pronouncements of the mayor yesterday in the Herald Sun are sad.
Check out Mike Stuchbery for a response to the Mayor's

More on the concert and Melbourne later.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spring Clean

Whilst my knitting languishes, a stocking stitch sock the only thing I have touched for over a week, I decided to tidy my blog in some snatched minutes.

A few weeks ago I moved to a cleaner look and today I renovated the blog list. Out with the old and outdated and in with the list I mainly read from Google reader.

Some notable additions The Sew Weekly - seriously a great project, 1Funkyknitwit - always visually stunning and Stump'd and Stump'd notes - tales of an Australian in the US.

Hopefully the use of Thumbnails might entice you on to explore one or more.

In case you are wondering the knitter in me is crying out for some thinking time to get started on the lace obsession or a cardigan.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Knitting Myth

You will have seen from my blog that I knit a bit, well ok a lot.

Like most keen knitters I know I tend to knit whenever I can - on trains, in waiting rooms, during non-critical presentations, at cafe's with friends and at home. I produce a great range of shawls, socks, cardigans and other garments.

To the average non-knitter there is not much to it - pick up some needles, yarn and a pattern and off you go right?

Wrong. This statement is so wrong.

If I am going to produce a garment I need to think about it. Yes, I know one of the joys of the actual knitting is not having to think to much while doing it. However, before I start I have thinking to do, a lot of thinking to do.

Starting any knitting project involves the following key steps

What do I want to knit?
Shawl, Socks, Cardigan, Jumper, Mitts, Hats, Baby stuff

For Who?
Me, T, O - other.

Plain, Patterned, Lace , Colourwork

Weight, composition, colour

Do I have/have access to a pattern?
Probably, where is it?

Do I need/want to resize it?

Do I have enough yarn?
Yes/no/not sure....Often the answer is not sure.

Can I get gauge (ie knitting with the same or different needles get the same dimensions for a small piece of knitting as the designer)

This often takes a bit of effort and time and rework.
Don't forget to wet block it and "Wear" it a bit to see if it will stretch, change shape or drape afterwards.

Often the Answer is no

What Modifications do I need to make?
Graph it, chart it, document it.

Finally I am all set now (unless I change my mind and go back to pattern or colour again)
Yarn and colour

Finally I can knit.

So the next time you see a knitter - appreciate the pre-work that went into that effortless knitting they are doing in front of you!

Back to my challenge.

Usually I am really good at this bit having things on the go and ready to start.
This month - October - has been particularly hectic for me. Multi-day work strategy sessions spilling into weekends and additional events and responsibilities with family, friends and other knitters (guild anyone).

The tragedy is I am running out of Knitting Thinking time and I am away (for fun this time) this weekend but without a new project ready to go on the needles.

I really only have tonight to get something going - decisions, decisions. I suspect a shawl or socks - only because I can risk skipping the whole gauge and swatching steps.

How is your Craft thinking time going

Happy Crafting.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Obsessions: Lace

I have worked out I am currently obsessed with Lace.

Kleio is done - Link to ravelry project including some pictures whilst awaiting blocking. It is a gorgeous Lace Panel and the stunning lace edge that is currently ruffling - the challenge is to not block that out. No sooner did I cast this cast off last Monday before I cast on another lace shawl.

Alivia is in progress - a gorgeous lace panel and a simple lace centre. I am up to the 10th repeat and think I will have enough handspun for an 11th.

The yarn is ordered for Violet a Ravelry link can be found here. I have ordered some Valley Yarns Cotlin (Cotton and Linen blend). A project that will likely result in madness I believe.

I am now thinking about both Gothic from The Knitter (issue 37) and Cameo Shawl from Rowan Lace.

And perhaps a Lace cardigan for summer.
Obsessed much?