Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sea-level rises and local councils

Newcastle architect Janet Henriksen shows the new height regulation brought in by Lake Macquarie City Council to take into account projected sea-level rises. Picture: James Croucher Source: The Australian

The current discussions concerning climate change, global warning and carbon tax have not mentioned a significant matter that is already a problem for many, an issue that was the subject of an article in The Australian last Saturday.  The article is entitled “Anger rises ahead of the sea” and it can be read at:

The summary for the article reads “Confusion between all tiers of government is causing angst for homeowners on the coast”.

Movie Moments: #96


Waterworld (1995)

More sci fi.  You may have gathered that I am a sci fi fan, both written and visual. I also like The End of Civilization movies, they present a blank canvas for writer and director to work on.  This is such a movie.  Whilst it is cool to rubbish Kevin Costner and his movies, I like him, I like most of his movies (although I didn’t even finish The Postman) and I like this movie.  Having said that, I still think that anyone who passes up Jeanne Tripplehorn to cruise the oceans must have been out in the sun on his own for too long.

It is the future.  The ice caps have melted and the oceans have risen several hundred metres.  Every continent is now covered by water.  Those remnants of the human race which survive do so by living on islands made up of scrap and debris, referred to as atolls, preyed upon by pirates known as “smokers”.  The Mariner, a drifter (no pun intended) who is a mutant who has developed gills and webbed feet and hands, reluctantly befriends a woman and a young girl said to possess the secret of the whereabouts of dry land.

Deacon: Let's have an intelligent conversation here: I'll talk, and you listen.


Prior to Titanic, it was the most expensive movie ever made.  It was widely considered to be one of the biggest box-office bombs of all time and came to be nicknamed "Kevin's Gate" after Heaven’s Gate and "Fishtar", after Ishtar, two previous mega bombs.  However, although the budget was $175m, after international sales and VHS/DVD returns, the film made about $100m profit.

Friday, July 29, 2011

No Bytes this weekend . . .


. . . but it will be back on Monday.

Funny Friday


. . . and that's when the fight started . . .

My wife sat down on the couch next to me as I was flipping channels. She asked, 'What's on TV?'  I said 'Dust.'

And that's when the fight started....

My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary. She said, 'I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds.' I bought her a scale.

And that's when the fight started....

When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her someplace expensive... so, I took her to a gas station.

And that's when the fight started....

I took my wife to a restaurant. The waiter, for some reason, took my order first. "I'll have the steak, medium rare, please." He said, "Aren't you worried about the mad cow?" "Nah, she can order for herself."

And that's when the fight started....

Movie Moments: #95


The Navigator, A Medieval Odyssey (1988)

An unusual movie that should be compulsory viewing for students of film, students of history and for those who love Celtic music.  Hear a sample of the soundtrack in the video link below.  The movie and its hauning scenes will remain in the mind long after you have finished watching it.  And it’s an Oz/Kiwi production.  Go Oz.

As the Black Death spreads across 14th century England, a small Cumbrian mining village hears tales of what is happening elsewhere, knowing that the infection is coming to claim them.  The villagers determine that they must make an offering to God for His protection, the placing of a holy cross on the steeple of the biggest church in Christendom, such task to be accomplished before the next full moon.  They are guided by Griffin, a boy with visions, and led by Connor, whom Griffin idolises. Travelling through the earth, they emerge in twentieth century New Zealand, amazed but determined to fulfil their quest.

Arno: The copper. An offering.  We’ve got to take the offering, Con, to the great church, to the far side of the earth


From Wikipedia:
The idea for the film originated when director Vincent Ward attempted to cross a German autobahn, which have no speed limits, and became stranded in the middle. This inspired Ward (while trapped on the motorway) to imagine what it would be like for a medieval person to find themselves in such a 20th century situation. He was also inspired by a report about two Papua New Guinean tribesmen who briefly visited an Australian city, and the child's myth of digging through the earth and coming out the other side. The original script was "a broad comedy, rather brash and funny and full of warrior gnomes".

The film is in part an attempt to view modern life in a way which makes it seem strange and fresh, as if seen for the first time, and speculation about what the ancestors of modern New Zealanders might make of them and their world. Ward has made several analogies between 1980s New Zealanders and the medieval characters in the film. He has said that "Many New Zealanders going overseas for the first time are trusting and almost medieval in their outlook" and has also compared the medievals' attempts to fend off the plague with New Zealand's nuclear free policy (alluded to in the nuclear submarine scene) and its consequences, particularly the Rainbow Warrior bombing.  In both cases a small community attempts to determine its own fate in the face of a larger power.m Ward also felt that there were more general similarities between the 14th and 20th centuries, in particular large-scale war and (in the context of 1980s fears about AIDS) terrifying disease. However he has also said that too much can be made of the film's paralleling of the bubonic plague and AIDS.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quotes: Maya Angelou


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (1928 - ) is an African American poet and author whose six autobiographical novels earned her critical acclaim.  The first volume, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969) was one of the first by an African American woman to publicly discuss her personal life.  She has been active in the Civil Rights movement, including active participation  as a coordinator in Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  In 2011 she was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.

Movie Moments: #94


Hardware (1990)

If you like your sci fi quirky, this one’s for you.  Not loved by the critics but a cult classic in some quarters, it is in the mould of the Bleak Vision of the Future movies (think Waterworld, Terminator, I Am Legend) and Post Nuclear Apocalypse movies (think Mad Max, The Road).  Definitely not a movie to watch with the gf if you’re planning a big night. The soundtrack is memorable.  A hard to get flick so worth buying on Amazon.

A nomad collects junk in the post apocalypse, radioactive wasteland (“the zone”) of what was once Earth, to sell to a scrap metal dealer.  Amongst the junk is the remains of a MARK 13 robot, which is able to self repair.  It does so and becomes a killing machine.

(Alvy is a dwarf)
Moses Baxter: How much for the other stuff?
Alvy:  Ten C's. That's as high as I go.
Moses Baxter:  Yep, Alvy. You're as high as you're ever going to go.
[Mo hands the bills to Shades and they head for the door. Alvy sneers after them]
Alvy: Very funny. Can I help it if my mother picked up a dose in the big one?
Alvy: [calling after] You just wait. All those years out in the zone? Your kids'll make me look like Narcissus!

Scenes from the movie with some of the soundtrack.  Ace:

Mark 13 in the Bible reads: “No flesh hsall be spared.” (Mark 13:20).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Margaret Olley


News report, Sydney Morning Herald 26 July 2011:

Prolific, free-spirited and much-loved artist Margaret Olley has died at her home in Sydney's Paddington, which has long been the subject of her many paintings.  Olley, who was 88, was completing work for a solo show due to open in September. 

Over a career spanning more than six decades, the Lismore-born artist became one Australia's most lauded and loved artists.  Olley was a generous arts benefactor who donated many works to public galleries over the years, including the Art Gallery of NSW and contributed towards its purchase of Cezanne's Bord De La Marne three years ago.  The painter often made the interior of her exuberant home in Duxford Street the subject of her still-life works.  With its flowers, fruit, vases, books and ashtrays, the over-flowing house has long been a mecca for Sydney's artists, bohemians and intellectuals.

Margaret Olley is the subject of a much published portrait by Sir William Dobell, as well as numerous other famous paintings.  She is the only person whose portrait has twice won the Archibald Prize, in 1948 and 1911.

Here are some of portraits of the late Margaret Olley:

Dobell’s 1948 depiction of Margaret Olley, which won him his second Archibald

Movie Moments: #93

Casablanca (1942)

A cult classic that everyone knows, won Best Pic, Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Oscars and which has the line “Play it again, Sam” (one of the best known misquotations).  What more is there to say?

Rick Blane runs a bar in Vichy controlled Casablanca, a city in Morocco.  When his past love turns up with hubby, a Resistance leader, does he run off with her or does he help her and hubby?  Libido or Integrity? 

Yvonne: Where were you last night?
Rick: That's so long ago, I don't remember.
Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?
Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.

The battle of the anthems:

Director Michael Curtiz' Hungarian accent often caused confusion on the set. He asked a prop man for a "poodle" to appear in one scene. The prop man searched high and low for a poodle while the entire crew waited. He found one and presented it to Curtiz, who screamed "A poodle! A poodle of water!"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Past Ads and Ideas


Byter Bruce Bills in a comment on a previous post asked for some more examples of strange ads and products from bygone ndays.

Here are a couple.

The first looks like it's from the 1940's . . .

Click on the ad to enlarge .

If you drive with the dog in a sack on the running board, it is only one step further to put baby in a box . . .

Movie Moments: #92


The Usual Suspects (1995)

A good Kevin Spacey film that has become a classic.  A complex story that leaves you thinking and a good acting performance by Spacey, who left the Oscar ceremony with the little man under his arm for Best Actor.  In his acceptance speech he said "Well, whoever Keyser Söze is, I can tell you he's gonna get gloriously drunk tonight."

“Verbal” Kint, one of two survivors of a massacre and fire on a boat, is interrogated by the police.  He tells them of the mob boss, Keyser Soze, who recruited them and what transpired thereafter.

Verbal: Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And like that, poof. He's gone.

Opening scenes:

In the Humphrey Bogart film Casablanca, Claude Rains speaks the line “Major Strasser has been shot.  Round up the usual suspects.”  This gave its name to a column in I Spy magazine, which then gave director Bryan Singer the idea of a movie by that name.  He and writer Christopher McQuarrie developed the poster for the film as the first visual idea of the movie.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Don't be afraid to let them show, your true colours like a rainbow

Aussie Cadel Evans has won the 2011 Tour de France.  Yay, go Cadel, go Oz!

Anyone who has been watching the race over the last couple of weeks will have seen the race leader at the various stages wearing the treasured yellow jersey.  But why a yellow jersey?  And what was that strange polka dot job won by Samuel Sanchez, why did Pierre Rolland get a white jersey and Mark Cavendish a green one that wasn't decided until the finish line?

For all the armchair sports people out there, here are the clues.  Even if too late for a bit of oneupsmanship this year, keep next year mind.  Drop it into the sports conversation at some stage and look cool.

Coloured jerseys:
·         The coloured jerseys in the Tour de France indicate various category leaders at various stages.
·         There is a presentation at a ceremony after each stage.
·         The riders have to wear their jerseys for the next stage.
·         If a rider is entitled to wear more than one jersey, he wears the highest ranking one.

Movie Moments: #91

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

In honour of Aussie Cadel Evans, what film to feature in Movie Moments that deals with bicycles?  American Flyers, an early Kevin Costner flick?  I like that movie.  Quicksilver, an early Kevin Bacon film?  I like that one too.  Nope, we’ll look at those in the future.  The Bicycle Thief?  Breaking Away?  BMX Bandits, an Oz flick with 16 year old Nicole Kidman pre Botox (pic below)? 

Nicole Kidman in BMX Bandits

No, let’s have a look at Man-Child Pee-wee Herman in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.  Actor Paul Reubens created the character of Pee-wee, portraying him in the 1985 film, followed by a children’s TV series Pee-wee’s Playhouse in the years 1986-1981.  There was another movie in 1988, Big-Top Pee-wee, which had a circus setting.  Reubens’ career nosedived after he was ridiculed by the media for being arrested for masturbating in an adult theatre in Florida., despite many celebrities protesting the unfair critical attention of the media.  He dropped out of sight for a period, shattered by the arrest and publicity, but from 1999 started making limited appearances as Pee-wee Herman again.  He has also stated he plans to make a third Pee-wee Herman film, tentatively called Pee-wee’s Playhouse: The Movie.

Pee-wee’s most beloved possession, his bicycle, is stolen.  Told by a dishonest psychic that it is hidden in the basement of The Alamo, he sets out to find it.

Simone:  I know you're right, Pee-wee, but...
Pee-wee:  But what? Everyone I know has a big "but”  C'mon, Simone, let's talk about your big "but".


Reubens was writing the script for a remake of Pollyanna, his favourite film, in which he would play Pollyanna.  Halfway through the script he noticed that everyone at Warner Brothers had a bicycle to get around the backlot.  He requested one and, upon being given his own bike, he developed the idea of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, abandoning the Pollyanna script.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Human-Animal Hybrids

In Greek mythology, a chimera was a monster that had the head and body of a lion, a tail that was a snake ending in a snake’s head.  There was a goat’s head protruding from the middle of the back.  Today the word “chimera” refers to any animal that has two or more different sets of genetically distinct cells working together.

I came across the article below in the UK’s Daily Mail Online (Yes, I know that British journalism is not held in the highest esteem at the moment) and it felt a bit freaky: animal-human hybrids.  I have set it out in its entirety. 

When I looked into it a bit deeper I found that human-animal hybrids, also referred to as chimeras and parahumans, have been the subject of research for years.  It has mostly consisted of the mixing of genes or cells from different species, e.g. adding human (and other animal) genes to bacteria and farm animals to mass-produce insulin and spider silk proteins, and introducing human cells into mouse embryos. In 2003 Chinese scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs.  Whilst such genetic engineering has not reached the stage of creatures walking around partly human and partly animal, nonetheless there have been debates as to the eithical, moral and legal issues.

This is the Mail Online article:

150 human animal hybrids grown in UK labs: Embryos have been produced secretively for the past three years

Daniel Martin and Simon Caldwell, 23rd July 2011

Scientists have created more than 150 human-animal hybrid embryos in British laboratories.

Movie Moments: #90

The Fly (1958)

Today’s Movie Moments continues the theme of animal-human hybrids.  It was a tossup between The Island of Dr Moreau and The Fly but the latter won out.  I mentioned yesterday that when I first saw Them! on the TV as a young child, it scared the bejesus out of me.  I tended to watch late night movies rather than kid’s shows.  The Fly was another that scared the crap out of me.  The memory remains with me still.  It was great.

(Watch the 1958 original rather than the 1986 remake).
A scientist who has created a matter teletransporter tests it on himself.  Unfortunately a fly enters the transporter chamber and, during the matter transfer, their atoms become mixed.  The scientist ends up with the head and arm of the fly, enlarged to human size; the fly receives the head and arm of the scientist, reduced to fly size.  The scientist has retained his mind.  He seeks frantically to reverse the process but the fly has flown.

Insp. Charas: I shall never forget that scream as long as I live...

This is the bit that scared me as a youngster:

There is a scene in this movie where Vincent Price's character asks his sister in-law what scientific breakthrough his brother has been working on and suggests, "...flatscreen?", one of the earliest mentions of such technology in cinema.

Soaps, Swans and Ducks

Cussons Imperial Leather has revived its 1970’s advertising theme based on the phrase “Simon, Tahiti”.  You know the ad, the one where Mum, Dad and the rugrat are in a really swanky bathroom with the rude bits conveniently obscured, Mum says “Tahiti looks nice”, Dad picks up the phone and says “Simon, Tahiti” and you then realise that they’re in a private jumbo.  As the plane banks, it causes the water in the kid’s bath to tip and the swan to slide.

See the ad at: 

The original 1978 ad can be viewed at:

I actually like the first one better but that’s another issue.

Movie Moments: #89

Them! (1954)

It’s interesting how the movies are a reflection of life at the time.  As an example, the baddies in the action movies used to be the Russians, then Colombian drug dealers, now its terrorists.  People saw the 1950’s as the dawn of a new age:  the war years were over, everything was bigger and faster, there were new products and means of production, technology was king, nuclear power was the go, space travel was being researched and  countries had enough atomic bombs to destroy the planet.  It’s not surprising therefore that Hollywood focused on sci fi flims, including the theme of giant creatures mutated by atomic radiation.  One of the best of these was Them! When I first saw it on TV as a nipper it scared the crap out of me.

Atomic testing in the New Mexico desert causes ants to become mutated to giant size.  When the army seeks to destroy the nest, it finds that the queen ant and others have moved into the city sewer system, threatening civilisation itself.

Dr. Harold Medford:  We may be witnesses to a Biblical prophecy come true - 'And there shall be destruction and darkness come upon creation and the beast shall reign over the earth.'


The Wilhem Scream can be heard four times in the film:
·         When the giant ants attack the crew of the ship at sea.
·         When James Whitmore’s character Police Sgt. Ben Peterson is throttled to death by a giant ant
·         When a soldier is struck by the falling debris in the sewer.
·         When James Arness gets separated from the rest of the Army and ants try to attack him. The ceiling falls in and while he is reloading his weapon, an ant tries to attack him.
There's also a scream off-screen from Peterson's partner, Ed Blackburn when he investigates the sounds made by the ants.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Funny Friday #1

Four married guys go fishing. After an hour, the following conversation took place:

First guy: "You have no idea what I had to do to be able to come out fishing this weekend. I had to promise my wife that I will paint every room in the house next weekend.

Second guy: "That's nothing, I had to promise my wife that I'll build her a new deck for the pool.

Third guy: "Man, you both have it easy! I had to promise my wife that I'll remodel the kitchen for her."

They continue to fish when they realised the fourth guy has not said a word. So they asked him. "You haven't said anything about what you had to do to be able to come fishing this weekend. What's the deal?"

Fourth guy: "I just set my alarm for 5:30am. When it went off, I shut off the alarm, gave the wife a nudge and said, "Fishing or sex?" and she said "Wear a sweater."

Funny Friday #2

(Click on above image to enlarge).

Movie Moments: #88

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Further to the mention of Ernest Borgnine in RED, who recalls him as the General in The Dirty Dozen?  When I first saw this flick at the movies (my kids laugh at the terminology “the movies”, although I am unaware as to what terms they use), I was bothered by the final scenes.  The movie tells the story of 12 WW2 military prisoners, most condemned to death, who are given the hope of a pardon by completing a suicide mission: to go to a Nazi officers’ R & R establishment and kill as many high ranking Nazi officers as possible.  This is accomplished by creating a fuss and having the officers take shelter in the underground shelters, then pouring in petrol through the vents and sending down grenades.  What caused the discomfort is that the female wives and partners of the officers also took refuge in the underground rooms.  Had the situation been reversed, that is, that the persons pouring the petrol were Nazis doing so on American officers and their partners, we would have been quite hostile.  And even irrespective of which party was doing it, is it right to deliberately kill civilian non-combatants?  Does it not breach the Geneva Convention?  Anyone have any views on this?

Refer above

[Kinder has just finished a psychiatric evaluation of Reisman's troops]
Major John Reisman: So what does that give you?
Capt. Stuart Kinder: Doesn't give me anything. But along with these other results, it gives YOU just about the most twisted, anti-social bunch of psychopathic deformities I have ever run into! And the worst, the most dangerous of the bunch, is Maggott. You've got one religious maniac, one malignant dwarf, two near-idiots... and the rest I don't even wanna think about!
Major John Reisman:  Well, I can't think of a better way to fight a war.
Capt. Stuart Kinder: These people don't know their enemy is the Germans. They think the enemy is their own United States Army!
Major John Reisman: Maybe that's because the Germans haven't done anything to them yet.

Pinkley becomes a General:

The movie is based on a real action unit known as The Filthy Thirteen, an airborne demolition unit.  Their story was told in a book by the same name.  About 30% of the movie is based on fact, although the unit was not made up of murderers and rapists.  The Filthy Thirteen were men prone to fighting and drinking who therefore often spent time in the stockade.