Saturday, December 28, 2013


Jason is a connoisseur of the nap.  However he would never call it a nap.

Instead, he has a 'sit-down-rest.'  After a long day at work he will say, "Aah.  I need a sit-down-rest."  And he sits on the couch with a glass of water, staring.  Or watching something mindless on TV.

More tiring situations call for a 'lie-down-rest'.  Then, he will lie on the couch with his eyes shut, sometimes curling up on his side.  You see my confusion with actual napping.

In the lead up to exams he prepares with 'mental study.'  This is lying on the bed with his eyes shut, gently snoring, next to a textbook.

I have a growing appreciation for the sit-down-rest. But my true talent comes from my mother.  She is renowned for falling asleep in any situation that requires her to sit still for more than about 15 minutes.  In the car, on the couch, at the movies.

This is a really useful skill for long-haul travel.  On a trip back from LA, Jason took a sleeping pill at around 11pm because he's terrible at sleeping on planes.  I went off to sleep sans sleeping pill and woke at 9am the next morning.  That's TEN HOURS of sleep.

Meanwhile, Jason hadn't slept a wink but was confused enough from the sleeping pill that he couldn't follow the in-flight movies.  I suppose what he really needed was a nice lie-down-rest.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Perry street: A Field Guide

Quite a narrow street, Perry street has period bluestone speed humps at each intersection.  A peril for speeding fixies and low-riding cars.

The north side of the street is mainly old factories. This one was a clothing manufacturer until a few months ago, it's empty now. 

The south side of the street has commission housing.  The projects, if you will. 

There are some great old places just waiting to be done up. 

Other places are falling down. 

 Or overgrown.

There are some lovely trees: 

But don't get lost in the desert!

 These two never made it out:

Beyonce's scouting crew overlooked this gem for her music video. 


Perhaps they didn't realise the street has a full complement of emergency services.

Perry street!  A great place to get lost.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

documentary project

Alright, so I fell off the documentary wagon around August, but i've tried to make up for it in the last couple of months.  At the moment I'm scoring 10/12 for my 2013 resolution to watch one documentary each month.

Room 237
A documentary about 'The Shining' conspiracy theorists.  The guys are completely wacko, and they miss the art of Kubrick's film in all their theorising.

In Bob We Trust
Father Bob Maguire with his long-term yid sidekick John Safran.  I loved Bob's fast-paced comic narrative history of Judeo-Christianity, complete with a montage of Christian films. He is extremely intelligent, and he places his faith in the context of a broader history of philosophy and literature.

Lygon Street- Si Parla Italiano
We watched this on cheap Monday night at the Nova, in a cinema filled with Italians.  So it was an audience-participation piece, really.

Stories We Tell
Sarah Polley's family talk about her mother, her mother's death and her father/s.  All of Polley's relatives and friends are charismatic, good-looking artists.  Beautiful.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Slow TV

I am fascinated by Slow TV. Particularly its Scandinavian iteration, which shows real-time footage of a mundane, physical activity.  For example, they broadcast 134 hours of footage from a boat sailing up the Norwegian coast, 8 hours of a log fire burning and 5 hours of knitting.  Apparently it is incredibly popular.

Its popularity is no surprise to me. When I worked at the Children's Hospital, one of the TV stations was a live stream of the new hospital being built next door.  The patients'  parents loved watching the work site. They would watch the earth-moving equipment digging for hours.  Some parents would give me daily updates on what was happening 'on-site.'

I think the key features of this type of slow TV are: 
1. lack of narrative
2. lack of commentary. 
3. ideally, the viewer's lack of technical knowledge of the task. I don't think it's really 'slow' if the viewer is able to critique the activity.  It seems 'slower' if they are a detached observer.  Watching a construction site would be slow TV for me, but not for a carpenter.

These criteria fit with Warhol's original 'slow' films, 'Sleep' (a guy sleeping) and 'Empire' (eight hours of the Empire State building).

I often finish work *late* in the night, arriving home  hyped up from a busy shift. There would be nothing better than watching someone knit for an hour to prepare me for bed. Televisual meditation. Last year I tried to watch Breaking Bad and it was way too stressful.  I finally gave up after doing a trauma shift, arriving home at 1:30am and watching the episode where the dude's head gets crushed by the ATM machine.  Suffice it to say, Breaking Bad is not a 'night night, sleep tight' television show.

But more than being relaxing, I like the aesthetic of slow TV- engaging aesthetically in a mundane physical activity.  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's raining.

So I just spent eight idyllic days in New Zealand's south-west.

By idyllic I mean constantly grey, rare glimpses of sun, almost unremittingly bleak but isolated and beautiful.

On my second day the rain dumped almost continuously for 24 hours, leading our group to cancel all plans and retire to our beds reading.  What a great day, listening to the rain on the roof and reading a rather odd New Zealand novel called, 'The Scarecrow.'

We hiked the Copland track to Welcome Flats, 18km up through the rainforest.  It is so wet in this region that the more experienced hikers didn't carry water bottles- they carried cups to drink from the pristine streams.  Amazing!  The following day some people hiked to Douglas Hut and back.  I hiked only halfway and lay in a meadow reading and napping.  You may notice the pattern emerging.  Nothing enhances a nice reading-nap like a grassy meadow with 3000 metre peaks and waterfalls in every direction.  

Other highlights were soaking in the natural hot pools (again: views of 3000 metre peaks, rainforest and waterfalls), kayaking through the forest in Hokatika and discovering that the NZ sandflies had no interest in me.  And, of course, the rain.

This poem from the Haast Beach visitor centre neatly captures the situation:

It rained and rained and rained 
The average fall was well maintained 
And when the tracks were simple bogs 
It started raining cats and dogs. 
After a drought of half an hour 
We had a most refreshing shower 
And then most curious thing of all 
A gentle rain began to fall. 
Next day but one was fairly dry 
Save for one deluge from the sky 
Which wetted the party to the skin 
And then at last the Rain set in!