31 December 2006

Extras

I have been wasting hours on You Tube lately and I found this fantastic clip from Season Two of Extras with Ricky Gervais which is just brilliant.



Happy New Year.

24 December 2006

Up Above The World So High


Fly back to Adelaide for the Christmas weekend and the first thing that happens is another wedding. Almost. This was just a cocktail party to commemorate a cousin's wedding in England a few months ago. I scored the official photographer role for the evening, which kept me busy. I totally forgot to charge the batteries for my flash, so in the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson I decided not to use one. Somewhat ironically, considering his reputation for candid photography, this icon once chased a woman with a knife when she took his photo in public; I hope it was a butter knife. This lack of flash meant lots of shots in arid light and a fair while in Photoshop to come. At this point, here are a couple of my favourites.

During the course of the evening I sung Moonlight in Vermont accompanied by the pianist from the jazz ensemble that was entertaining the guests. (Not the one above, she was playing Christmas Carols in the foyer - to a drought of attention - but she liked the photo when I came down and showed her.) The crowd was in awe of my performance, or more probably it was shock. This all came about because I requested it from the singer and she didn't know it, but the pianist said he could play it if I wanted to sing. I had no choice at that point but to make a noble fool of myself. It's a very interesting song, each verse, not counting the bridge, is a haiku.

12 December 2006

The Coogee to Bondi to Coogee Run

This is Coogee Beach
This is the path that leads to Bondi Beach
This is a cliff betwixt the two
This is an agglomeration of rock where a lone soul stands
The path hugs the cliff
These are the boats that live in a cove
And some very steep stairsHere is another cove
Here is an old cemetery with ocean views resting on a cliff.
I am not sure why graves were so prevalent on this particular weekend.
This is just what it looked like.
This is how I really saw it
The next beach had junior life savers racing
And seniors practicing their life-saving drills
A sweeping vista
The first sight of Bondi
On the return a companion posed
I decided to cut through the cemetery and raced up a hill along a line of graves. My friend above said it made such a surreal site he wished he had a video camera.
At some point on this detour I recalled that famous line from Psalm 23:
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil...,"
but at that moment it simply occurred to me that,
"I am living in the land of death."
Not such a conundrum, after all, it is one thing to be alive and quite another to be living. In respect of both conditions - the reality of this existence - we all enjoyed a large breakfast after a quick dip in the bracing sea.
Then the time had come to drive home...
So that is photo-running.
If any photo you large with to see
A click upon it will make it be.

11 December 2006

Over the border

Time for a quick trip to Sydney on the weekend.

This is part of a statue at Sydney University called Gilgamesh.

I bought this cool t-shirt at a market in Glebe. The artist called it Nature-Nurture.


You might recall the historic cemetery in Newtown I mentioned in a previous post. One of the people buried there is quite famous, but she is dead now. Her grave was boring so I just tried to capture the feel of the place. At the entrance is an eloquent Moreton Bay Fig. This tree is just called Nature. The locals are very comfortable inside the cemetery.

On the way to dinner, an accordion player on King St serenaded serendipitously.

I ran with some friends from Coogee to Bondi on Sunday morning and I took my camera, so my next post will be a story as promised. I used my SLR so when I do get a small camera I think I will be able to cope with the weight!

08 December 2006

My New Hobby

I decided it is time I got a new hobbit.

It is to be called photo-running.

Having laid the framework, I just need a little digital camera to get it happening properly.

The inspiration came from a run the other night. This time I eschewed the trails, the defined tracks and beaten paths. My goal was a hill I often looked upon with envy as I caught the bus to work.

The nature of the peak called me - the few tall trees left stark atop the maximum reach of a sweeping rise amidst a desolation of bruised valleys. This objective was surrounded by spastic patches of plantation pine in varying stages of the great movement of birth and death, the landscape scarred by fire and rutted by heavy machinery.

Dashing through the constructed parallels of established pine forests. Careening down rutted hills strewn with the debris of failed plantations, haphazard saplings, and rocks to find only the occasional kangaroo track and sometimes meet their creators too. Speed only preventing the fall. Then bloody minded continuing up steep slopes of dirt and rock decorated only by the tread of the life size Tonka toys built in the pursuit of dominion over earth.

As I am a fool for philosophy I contend that this experience says something broader about humanity and that perversity of human nature which so often elects the hard way. Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Oddly, it was most satisfying to rest just before reaching the peak, as this affords the best view of the way come, and in truth the summit reveals the ephemera of existence, for so much is revealed that was unimagined.

Once off the roads, I met no human soul but I surprised many a kangaroo. One emaciated and truly pitiful specimen performing each pained hop upon a broken dead leg, its fate being to follow its limb soon. Also there was one curious cow, crows, hares, grizzled sheep and two eagles - I assume - elegantly circling the drafts at the peak.

From there I chose another peak and as the crow flew, so the man tried to run, that is, in a straight line. True, some measure of trespass may have been involved and there is an art to overcoming fences that only practise will preach; yet it was not through a land of verdant plenty that I moved and the heat saw no worth in raising an eyebrow under the circumstances.

The kangaroo is such a curious creature. If they were not so timid they would escape notice most likely seeming to be baked of the very soil upon which they stand to me.

This second summit then called steep, steep, steep and my calves screamed for respite often, but arriving saw me clear to a familiar trail again which loped homeward in short order.

The new hobby involves taking a camera and photographing the sights to help me make account of these short journeys; maybe a mini-recorder too, or even a secretary to take dictation, for I find I know myself well under such circumstances and oft think of the type of fanciful words contained herein. Like, I guess this blog has always been about my photos and telling a story, but this is just another dimension. If you want to see the real deal then check this out.

The only disadvantage to such photographic documentation is that it may well prove the extent of my exaggeration.

In the oft misquoted words of Shakespeare, "Farting is such sweet sorrow."

See ya.

03 December 2006

There are no supermen...

just ordinary heroes.



I noticed this recently. It is not just another pithy saying that fell from the lowest branch of a dwarf shrub and clubbed me. Someone who had precipitated awe and fear in me for years suddenly seemed just like me. It was only really self-pity which had always imagined there to be such a vast gulf between me and another. A feeling that I could never be what I wanted, so it was easier to settle on the idea that other people were just innately better than me.

Know what that is? Psycho-snapple. Which is technical for a bunch of freshly hewn haddock that has been sitting in the sun too long.

All a hero is someone who keeps going.

Therefore you get there.

That's an ordinary thing.

It really is.

The Beatles released another album - sort of. Wild ambivalence, senseless extravagance, glorious ants. You decide. Downloading a few tracks here and there I didn't exactly jump out of my skin with religious fervour. It's possible that you plain love them or hate them, but I seem to have a love-hate thing going with them. They are a cloak of the familiar and I start to itch when I put them on sometimes. So get back!

I am still waiting for a new album from Sufjan Stevens - a proper one. Christmas Carols don't really count, despite their unbearable hipness, except I love this track Sister Winter. Just click to listen. Amazing. A melancholy beginning with a rocking end. Merry Christmas.

Let me tell you that my favourite thing about God is that He is unconditional. If He tells you: "Try and be happy." Then that's the answer. Yes, the answer to everything. No strings attached. I am sure you have the question.



See, no Superman.

14 November 2006

What is a thousandeye?



I really wanted to take the chance to tell you about my friend Noivedya's blog.

Noivedya is a professional writer. He writes on a lot of different topics and knows how to make a fact or two dance for your entertainment, or the like. You see, a few weeks ago he linked to my page and wondered why I called my blog thousandeye. I decided I should tell...

There was an evening however long ago and in some other place while I still wore this face. People were talking about holidays and someone started joking and laughing about the word sojourn and how cool it was. They were rolling it off the tongue and relishing its taste. Then it suddenly appeared to me. That's right: appeared to me - this poem. Up until that point my awareness was a flower, nascent of the dawn. I was in the grip of tempest-fear, the very breath of death - but bliss was not made to be contained forever by the reach of mind. True, I may have cracked the cup, but one day I know I will drink straight from the bottle again; rather than catching drops, open-mouhed, like a fool in the rain. Yonder pilgrim, what is man?

When I sojourn

It will be through the thousand-petalled-eye

That breathes inside the sky

And lives inside the heart of earth.

So, it is definitely not that I take photographs and a picture says a thousand words. That is unbearably trite. No, a picture saves a thousand words. That is a much better idea. This world suffers of verbiage and as a writer prunes and shapes his words until finally, like a bonsai that perfectly expresses nature or experience, the result is ready for display - so with my photography: less is more. Less effort for more result. I guess, and I should ask Noivedya if now he has been practising his craft for a few years he would spend less time producing the same level of output.

Well, now is not the time for disserting upon the nature of creativity once again. Why do I do that? I think it is because it brings me back to the source and this makes my heart fond. Anyway, it is so easy to make a good Italian pasta sauce. The trick is to fry a lot of garlic and onion in a lot of extra-virgin olive oil until the onion has reached the colour of your oil. Then pour in a bottle of plain tomato sauce with a few tablespoons of tomato paste. When it is half way through the bubbling, add some more of the good oil. Don't let me limit you by listing any of the possibile additions, but remember that a restaurant is only as good as its olives.

By the way, this is my favourite post on Noviedya's blog. I spent some time bashing his car as a result but he failed to notice. Either he has reached an exalted state through meditiation which is uterly beyond my conception or he needs a new car.

(Pictures: Hanging around at the Fringe in Adelaide/2006 and members of The Mandala Project playing in The Adelaide Botanic Garden/2005.)

05 November 2006

Marriage

I just spent the weekend back in Adelaide as the best man for my brother's wedding. I have always found marriage to be a profoundly life changing experience. As can be seen from the before and after shots below.

Thank God for Google and it's assistance with writing my speech. Here are the best bits:

"I need to thank Steven for asking me to be his best man. It is a signal honour. Steven is my brother and there is nothing I would not do for him. By the same token, there is nothing he would not do for me. In fact, we pretty much spend our whole lives doing nothing for each other.

Steven, there are just three magic little words that you need to know to have an eternally happy marriage. They are, "Yes. You're right." It's just easier that way.

Enjoy your honeymoon. A honeymoon is best described as that briefest of interludes between, "I will," and "You better!""

Everyone was pretty happy with it and having put it together that morning so was I.

The wedding photographer was really cool. I was surprised to see him using a Canon 30D as I only have a 20D myself. He also only shot JPEG which makes sense when you take over 500 photos; there is just not enough time to mess around with RAW pictures in Photoshop. As he said, it is a good backup if you get the exposure wrong but you don't have that luxury with film. Certainly if I have to get something up on the web quickly then I shoot tiny JPEGs and maybe RAW at the same time in case I get anything really good that can be used later.

He got me looking at natural light in a new way and was totally against flash. He did a lot of group shots and posed people too. I took a few shots off his work but mainly did candid stuff, which is what I enjoy most. Below is the flower-girl and page-boy followed of course by the happy couple.





Anyway, it was nice to post again. Thanks for stopping by.

15 October 2006

Sydney



We drove to Sydney on Saturday and stayed for the day. I drove over a kangaroo on the way. It was already dead, but I was driving way too fast, like 150, and there were cars in the other lane so I had no choice but to let it go right under the middle of the car. Thankfully, no damage done, and I definitely slowed down a bit after that.

We went to Manly, and started with breakfast at Candy's. It was very reasonably priced, but the most spectacular thing about the place was the bathroom. Forgive me, I'll try not to post pictures of toilets regularly. In lieu of a light switch the paint scheme did the trick. The rest of the scenery was just as spectacular.



After that we stopped in Lane Cove before taking a quick dip at Coogee, below. That's just some random dudes in the middle shot. The break there is kind of rough. Catch a wave in and get ready to eat sand.







It was a 37 degree day and it is not even half way through October. This drought is serious. It has kind of snuck up on me, but it is a lot more noticable here than it was in Adelaide. Maybe it is sneaking up on everyone and suddenly we will all be used to six months of 30 plus weather a year. We'll all be dressed like in Dune and eating Soylent Green for breakfast or something. Slap me, I'm talking about the weather in my blog.

We had dinner in Newtown which is where the corporeal remains of Eliza Emily Donnithorne lie. Well, what's left of them anyway, her grave is in St Stephens cemetery established in 1849. She was alledgedly the inspiration for Miss Havisham in Dicken's Great Expectations. Miss Donnithorne was jilted on her wedding day and never left the house again. It's a pretty sad story. If there was a Gelatissimo store in 1830 then maybe she would have felt a bit better. I had the finest tasting gelato I can remember for a while.

Back home and went for a great run Sunday morning after a good sleep in. I reached the top of Mount Painter and was keen to go totally off the trail to get home but after I nearly sprained my ankle I stuck to tracks. The kangaroos made the side of the hill look easy. To run a bit further I went home the long way and hardly got lost at all.

It just turned midnight, so the weekend is over, and I'm going to bed.

05 October 2006

Settling In

Time to talk a little about life in Canberra. I like it. I have started running again most days. This is a great city to run in because there is hardly any city. Once I head out the door it takes a few minutes of running before there are paths everywhere into bushland. It seems that way, and in time I will be able to explore much. This kind of open space pervades the layout of the city. I moved here at a good time because spring just started and it is very mild now whereas it has a reputation for being very cold in winter.

Meditation has been going well. I feel like I am making progress. Last night I focussed on feeling that my essential nature, my soul, was not locked into all the experiences of my life. In truth, I am not that stuff at all. It was reassuring to identify with the universal consciousness, rather than the distortions that my mind has wraught from the various dramas of my life. I have to totally smash the face of sorrow, which may be a bit of a radical statement, but it's a challenge that has presented itself to me for years. Best to say that, sure all the junk may still be there in some form, but I am getting better at learning not to cling to it. I am actually enjoying the process of the good stuff in me being revealed and not concerning myself with the bad stuff appearing to be static.

It's like I have a treasure but gradually over the years it got wrapped in more and more layers of cotton or tafetta or polyester or newspaper or chinese take away menus until I couldn't even remember the treasure was there, or what it looked like. Now that I am peeling all of this stuff away, the process is showing me that I am in fact this treasure and this treasure is growing. I hope that is a good analogy, even if it doesn't quite relate to the last paragraph. It gave me joy.

Soon, I will take some photos of the new scene and post some pictures.

25 September 2006

I moved states

Not the most eloquent title for a post but very factual. I now live in Canberra, the capital of Australia. Thriving metropolis, hub of fine cheese production, none of those things and so much more. I am waiting for my own computer to catch up with me and I can't wait to put some more photos up, so check back in a week or so!

11 September 2006

Meditation Gifts

LOVE

If we don't come to know God as His Pure Love, then we will never know anything in this world. When we seek to discover our humanity we soon find our life to be a never ending complication, when we seek to discover our divinity, then our life has the chance to become a single simplification.

COMPASSION

What is compassion?

The transformation power in our lives?
The real breath of our hearts?
The smile of the universe?

God hand-carves a compassion staircase for each human being, so let it be your discovery.

06 September 2006

Eugoogoly

One man.

Five syllables.

Derek Zoolander.


Zoolander. I can't think of another movie which so remarkably juices the zeitgeist before throwing it back in our faces. What do they call that? I think they call it satire. This finely nuanced tale fully jusitifies repeated viewings. It is so eminently qoutable that if you are looking for a memorable qoute, just read the script.

Laughter really is good for the soul. It juggles the burden of our existence with glee. There is a special type of laughter which liberates us and that is when we laugh at ourselves. There sure is plenty here for me to laugh at, even though I never wanted to be professionally good looking for a living, and I can turn left.

In case you didn't know, the Malaysian government saw fit to ban the movie in their country due to the plot including the assasination of the Malaysian Prime Minister. Not everyone got the joke.


I am saddened by the prospect that Ben Stiller may have reached the apogee of his craft with this film as none of his work since has really satisfied me - but please don't make a sequel!

Ultimately the movie teaches us that if we want to win on the great catwalk of life we have no choice but to follow the example of Hansel and go monk.



That's right, "Pray to the Great Spirit."

Anyone can do it.

03 September 2006

On music and words

A few more holiday snaps for you.



My two favourite albums this year are The Avalanche by Sufjan Stevens and Moo, You Bloody Choir by Augie March. As I was searching for hyperlinks to them, I discovered a curious connection between the two. Sufjan has undertaken a project to write a tribute album to each of the 50 American States. He managed two for Chicago, the first being Illinois, which led me to The Avalanche. Illinois is an amazing album, it's a poetic symphony, and that ain't no hyperbole.

The Avalanche has a track on it called Saul Bellow (not one of the best mind you), but it turns out he is an author who wrote a novel called The Adventures of Augie March. Apparently, it is an example of bildungsroman. You have to hand it to the Germans, their language has a je ne sais quoi. Consider schadenfreude. Let me get back to you on Saul Bellow, I will try and read some.

My favourite novel is The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck, published in 1961. Fittingly, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature for 1962. I have read it at around ten times. It was a text for highschool English but I didn't appreciate it then. Ten years later I found myself reading The Grapes of Wrath by chance, which I found profoundly affecting at the time. (The music of Woody Guthrie really made sense!) Afterwards, I read nearly all of Steinbeck's oeuvre and came back to The Winter of Our Discontent. I consider it his finest work. It is the story of a man struggling with conscience and responsibility, but the protagonist, Ethan Hawley, is a mirror to his nation. Steinbeck is an expert at dealing with emotion, from the lowest to the highest, and The Winter of Our Discontent gently reaches the summits of human emotion. I highly reccomend it.

The second time I read The Grapes of Wrath, I really didn't enjoy it as much; but when I was about halfway through it I found myself having a long phone conversation with an Aussie dairy farmer about the minutiae of his life. Over sixty years later the struggle was the same. It was all there: the attachment to the land, the endless cycle of toil for bare financial reward and the close knit family. Steinbeck knows people. The Grapes of Wrath is a difficult book for highschool students, according to my sister. Teachers should use Woody Guthrie's music to stimulate interest. Okay, I admit I always wanted to be an English teacher!

To complete this post, I am hanging out for Sufjan Stevens to release his tribute to California, as much as the one for New York. If you haven't heard his music and want to check it out then search for him on elbo.ws. If you haven't been there before, it is great site that searches all the music blogs for whatever you like.