Saturday 22 May 2010


“It is better to be unfaithful than to be faithful without wanting to be.” – Brigitte Bardot

For Music Saturday today a Neapolitan song sung by Gigi Finizio. It has all the characteristics of an Italian song from Naples, including lush melody, rhythm and emotional lyrics, all brought together by the inimitable voice of Gigi.

The song is called “Odio” (“Hate” or “I Hate”) and is the passionate cry of a lover whose love has betrayed him and who now sleeps with another man.

I try to distract myself
So as not to think
Of this childish game
For three…

I hate you,
I hate him,
I hate all things
And this life…

Thursday 20 May 2010


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” - Anne Frank

Last Wednesday night I went to a fund-raising dinner at Box Hill Institute, which it had organized in association with the Rotary Club of Box Hill Central. It was for a very good cause, a project that was started with Federal Government funding, but which now has to continue running under its own steam. The project is called “Our Patch” and as the Institute says, “…it is a creative training social enterprise created in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs to build employment skills in sustainable gardening and cookery.”

The program is and educational initiative where students are trained in food production and preparation from plant to plate. Vegetables and fruit grown in the “Our Patch” garden are transformed into meals in Box Hill Institute’s kitchens and served at local community events. It is a creative training social enterprise, which gives job seekers interested in horticulture an opportunity to work in production gardening, and develop practical skills in sustainable gardening. The program also includes planting and establishing crops, harvesting crops and landscape gardening. The training programs also allow for students to take the produce and transform it into attractive, nutritious food and serve it according to hospitality industry standards.

The dinner was an event that celebrated the achievements of past students (some of them now restauranteurs or award-winning chefs), current students and staff. The students under the direction of professionals prepared and served all the food in the Box Hill Institute’s excellent function room associated with its training restaurant, “Fountains”. The night was a grand success and much money was raised, which will certainly contribute to the continuation of the program.

The Rotary Club of Box Hill Central which does an excellent job of fund raining, community support, international programs and generally much good work in enabling people’s potential is a staunch supporter of the “Our Patch” project. They made their presence felt at the dinner and it was good to hear of their other fund-raising activities and aid programs.

Now to the dinner itself, which is only fair enough as after all this is “Food Friday”! The menu was created by Guy Grossi of Grossi Florentino Restaurant, one of Melbourne’s fine dining experiences and one of my favourites. The menu was prepared by Lorcan Shin-Yew of Charcoal Lane, David Robson from the Healesville Hotel and Federico Rodriguez from the Agrodolce Restaurant. The Front of the House was hosted by Therese Ryan from Mirka at Torlano Hotel.

The meal was excellent and the service exceptional, made all the more satisfying knowing that we were served by students in training (under the eagle eye of their teachers!). The menu of the six course meal was:

Tuna croquettes


Kingfish Carpaccio, with Eucalyptus Oil, Blood Orange, Pantelleria Capers, Watercress and Piquillo Peppers (accompanied by Trentham Estate Sauvignon Blanc)


Duck and Wild Mushroom Tortellini with Duck Jus and Caramelised Pear (accompanied by Trentham Estate Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir)

Main Course
Castricum Lamb with Herb Bread Stuffing wrapped in Caul, Young Vegetables, Carrot and Tarragon (accompanied by Trentham Estate La Famiglia Nebbiolo)

Peach Semifreddo Wrapped in Double Cream with an Amaretto Streusel Topping in a white Chocolate Case and Lavender Gelée Raspberries with Meringue Langue de Chat (accompanied by Trentham Estate Noble Rot Taninga)

Coffee or Tea with Handmade Chocolates

The vegetables of course were from the “Our Patch” garden and the food prepared by students of the Institute under the direction of the graduate chefs mentioned above. It was a delicious dinner, a valuable fund-raising event and a networking opportunity. However, I was also very pleased to see the labours of students under the guidance of their teachers and the great satisfaction on their faces at the end of a successful night when we showed them our appreciation by our applause when they were acknowledged.


“All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers.” - François Fénelon

The terrible situation in Thailand seems to be escalating and an end isn’t anywhere in sight. Having visited Thailand many times, I am both surprised and saddened by what I see and read in the news. Thai people are some of the most endearing, gentle and gracious I have met. To see the chaotic situation there and the increasing violence that occurs and has turned their daily life into a fiery, bloody nightmare is of great concern.

The latest atrocity is the death of nine people in clashes that happened in a temple designated a “safe zone” within a Thai anti-government rally site that was shut down in a military offensive. These deaths are to be added to the death toll from the hostilities at the Red Shirts encampment which stood at six yesterday.

A police spokesman indicated that the nine deaths resulted after a gun battle that raged inside the temple in early evening, several hours after protest leaders surrendered and told their supporters to disperse. Hard-liners within the movement refused to give up their cause and as hundreds of protesters rushed into what they thought was the safety of the temple, black-clad militants engaged in a gun battle with security forces, resulting in the fatalities.

The scene is tragic, especially if one considers the grim reality in the internecine civil battle where Thai is fighting against Thai. The possibility of a brother against brother confrontation makes the violence even more sickening, as is the case in any civil war. What makes these nine deaths more shocking is the lack of respect to the “safe zone” designation shown by both of the fighting groups of militants and security forces.

The untenable and insufferable situation of the political and social tensions in Thailand can only be imagined. However, one wonders how bad it must really be if a peace-loving, gentle people who for the most part live by the Buddhist precepts suddenly become so overwhelmingly violent and determined to overthrow those who govern them. But even a hardy camel will have its back broken by that final straw that makes its great load lethal.

Where to from here? A full scale civil war? An increasingly bloody confrontation where the country tears itself apart? A government that stops at nothing to remain in power? A king who remains hidden in the background and fails to act decisively in order to put a stop t the bloodshed? An international community that ignores all of this because there is no oil or other natural resources in Thailand worth its imperative intervention to preserve democracy?

internecine |ˌintərˈnesēn| adjective
Destructive to both sides in a conflict: The region's history of savage internecine warfare.
• of or relating to conflict within a group or organisation: The party shrank from the trauma of more internecine strife.
ORIGIN mid 17th cent. (in the sense [deadly, characterised by great slaughter] ): from Latin internecinus, based on inter- ‘among’ + necare ‘to kill.’

Wednesday 19 May 2010


“One summer night, out on a flat headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space. Millions of stars blazed in darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages. Otherwise there was no reminder of human life.  My companion and I were alone with the stars: the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon. It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators. But it can be see many scores of nights in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will.” - Rachel Carson

A short blog today as I have been very busy all day and tonight I had a function on that meant I was up and around from 5:30 am to 11:30 pm with hardly a break.

Our Share of Night

Our share of night to bear,
Our share of morning,
Our blank in bliss to fill,
Our blank in scorning.

Here a star, and there a star,
Some lose their way.
Here a mist, and there a mist,
Afterwards - day!

            Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886)

Tuesday 18 May 2010


 “A blog is a message in a bottle, both in purpose and likely readership.” - Robert Brault

I have a liking for those special days when Google changes its logo to reflect some anniversary, holiday or other day of special significance. For example, at Easter or Christmas or Tchaikovsky’s birthday or Earth Day. It’s a very nifty way of drawing attention to those special days and some of the graphic designs are quite ingenious, amusing, beautiful or fetching. If you wish to see some of these from different parts of the world, why not visit this Google page:

Now for some fun. How about personalising your Google search page so that it displays a message of your choice: Your name or your dog’s, or some expletive that is your personal favourite? Go to this site and set the display text you want instead of “Google”, and then set it up as your home page:

How about a search engine in Pig Latin? What a fun way to remember your school days!

And if you are really into the techie stuff, how about this version of Google Hacker with its choice use of numbers and symbols to spell out the words?

If you are feeling bad, how about putting a little devil in the Google logo?

Or if you are really hip, either emo or goth, how about these?

Seriously now, Google is also the scholar’s friend and is there to make internet searches more efficient and scientific. Here is Google Scholar:

And Google search in quadruplicate, so you can do four separate concurrent searches.

Ah, isn’t the internet wonderful? And by the way did you know why Google is called that? It is a misspelling of “googol”:
googol |ˈgoōˌgôl| cardinal number
equivalent to ten raised to the power of a hundred (10 100).
ORIGIN 1940s: said to have been coined by the nine-year-old nephew of E. Kasner (1878–1955), American mathematician, at Kasner's request.

Google the company, was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, often dubbed the “Google Guys”, who proved you don’t have to be good spellers to become billionaires…

Monday 17 May 2010


“A man calumniated is doubly injured - first by him who utters the calumny, and then by him who believes it.” – Herodotus

We watched a couple of films at the weekend, and as I want to review both in detail, I will save one for next week, beginning with the first this week. It was the Ian Wright 2007 film “Atonement”, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy (with a special guest star appearance by the great Vanessa Redgrave). This is a UK/French co-production and is made with the usual care the British take when they make period films. It is set around 1935-1945 and the recreation of the pre-war and war years atmosphere is exquisite with tremendous attention to detail.

The Tallis family is a British aristocratic family that has the typical lifestyle and estates that go with the blue blood. The first part of the film occurs in their idyllic country estate in pre-war Britain. Briony Tallis is the precocious 13-year old daughter who wants to become a writer and has the imagination to go with it. She sees her older sister Cecilia (Knightley) and Robbie Turner (McAvoy) at the fountain in front of the family stately home and she misinterprets what is happening. Robbie is the son of a family servant toward whom the family has always been kind. They paid for his education and now he plans on going to medical school. Briony is given a wrong note by Robbie to take to Cecilia and Briony reads it. She concludes that Robbie is a pervert, and in her eyes (obscured by jealousy as she has a serious case of puppy love for Robbie) he has done the ultimate wrong. When her cousin Lola is raped, she purposefully lies, and tells the police that it was Robbie she saw committing the deed.

The second part of the film follows Robbie to war in France and some poignant images on the beach of Dunkirk are interwoven with the now young adult Briony and Cecilia (both nurses) who are attempting to breach the rift that has developed between them. Faithful and loving Cecilia is waiting for Robbie to return from the war so they can marry. The third part of the film concerns an aged Briony (Redgrave), who has indeed become a successful novelist. She explains her last book, which is autobiographical and in which she tries to atone for the wrongs she committed as a young girl…

The film is based on the novel “Atonement” by Ian McEwan, which I have not read. This novel of his received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), National Book Critics’ Circle Fiction Award (2003), Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). McEwan’s fiction has earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories “First Love, Last Rites”; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for “The Child in Time”; and Germany’s Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for “Amsterdam” in 1998.

Even without reading the novel, I think I am safe to say that the author would have been pleased with the result. The acting was surprisingly good (especially with some of the youngsters – Saoirse Ronan as theyoung Briony was excellent), the cinematography and direction exceptional and the music by Dario Marianelli, quite impressive (with typewriter obbligato, a nice touch). Once again, although this film may be described as “chick flick”, I find that it of enough depth and interest to make it appealing even to mere males. I certainly enjoyed it and it was able to maintain my interest throughout. The movie has lots of good things going for it and deserved more than the $6.99 I paid for a DVD of it!

I would recommend this film to anyone who has an interest in period romantic drama, people interested in the psychology of children, those who are involved in second world war history (especially the UK/French side of it) and all who wish to see an intelligent, adult, engaging drama.

Sunday 16 May 2010


“Australia is properly speaking an island, but it is so much larger than every other island on the face of the globe, that it is classed as a continent in order to convey to the mind a just idea of its magnitude.” – Charles Sturt

For Art Sunday today, an Australian artist, Russell Drysdale (1912 - 1981). He was born in England in 1912, and arrived in Australia in 1923. Russell Drysdale is regarded as a pioneer of Australian modern regional painting. Breaking radically with the Heidelberg School’s romanticised and impressionistic view of rural Australia and bourgeois scenes styled on the European traditions, Drysdale used the originality of his artistic style and vision to effectively shape an alternative national identity based on his own honest vision of the harsh nature and distinctiveness of life within the Australian inland.

When Drysdale died in 1981 he was regarded as a national hero, his art was widely known and greatly admired. His images of rural country towns and outback landscapes, often with their inhabitants, were instrumental in defining a national identity at a time of tremendous social change in Australian history. For audiences in Australia and abroad, Drysdale's paintings reflected the essence of Australia and its people. Drysdale's themes, including identity, isolation, the land and its people, multiculturalism and indigenous Australians, are explored in his art.

"The Cricketers" (1948) is perhaps Drysdale’s most famous painting, and one of the most frequently reproduced images in twentieth-century Australian art. The subject of three figures set amid the stark walls of buildings in a deserted town, bathed in unnatural light, is a haunting and extremely original interpretation of a familiar sporting theme.

The painting was a loose commission from the English publisher, Walter Hutchinson. Hutchinson's collection of approximately three thousand paintings opened to the public in February 1949 at Hutchinson House, London, and was known as the National Collection of British Sports and Pastimes. Hutchinson wanted a painting of an Australian cricket match and asked his Melbourne office to arrange a commission from one of Australia's best-known artists. The request was referred to Leonard Voss Smith, a noted collector and dealer who worked for Hutchinson. Voss Smith mentioned the matter to Drysdale, who at the time was occupied with subjects of Hill End.

Drysdale's painting of country boys having an informal game of cricket against a building at Hill End was not what Walter Hutchinson was expecting, and he was shocked when the painting arrived in London. He cabled Melbourne and fired Voss Smith. The next day, having ascertained that Drysdale was indeed a distinguished Australian artist, Hutchinson cabled to reinstate him…