Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Das Leben der Anderen - and it's free!

Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, East Germany's Secret Police Listened to Your Secrets...

I managed to score a free double pass to see "The Lives of Others" at Cinema Nova for Tuesday night (20/3).

Not one to pass up a free movie if I can help it, I arranged to meet Logan in Carlton on Lygon Street after work. I drove straight in from work and Logan took a tram to meet me. We had a quick foccacia beforehand and then made our way up to the cinema. There was a good number of people already seated but we found ourselves two seats up the back so that we weren't craning our necks - the theatre was "cosy".

There weren't a lot of "young" people at this thing. I'd say that they were mainly in their 50s and 60s, but there were a few people who looked about our age. We hoped that this meant that there wouldn't be any wrapper-rustling or commentary for the hard-of-hearing (which would be slightly superfluous as the film was in German with English subtitles), no mobile phone text messaging or calls, and we could just sit back and watch the film.

We were about right. There was a bit of plastic wrapper crinkling but, on the whole, it was a pain-free experience. Having lots of loud laughers in the audience was sometimes a little disconcerting but maybe there were references in there that I just didn't understand. I was a wee stripling when the Berlin Wall came down and wouldn't have been aware of the existence of the sort of political oppression that was occurring under the Communists.

Even though there were many opportunities for laughter, it still would have been a scary time and place in which to live. The film demonstrates that to survive the regime, people had to bury their own morals and that the price paid by these characters before the destruction of the Berlin Wall was soul-destroying and unnecessary. It wasn't only the Secret Police about which you had to worry; your neighbours could turn you in at any time for a throw-away comment. A joke made by one of the Secret Police staff ensured a mind-numbing demotion to steaming open intercepted letters in a basement and punishment for the general public involved torture before incarceration or being made to disappear.

The coda to the film completed the story very nicely. After all the horrors, life goes on and can be beautiful.

I give this movie 5 stars; I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it heartily.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung

With feigning voice verses of feigning love...

I spent some of yesterday cooking a dessert for dinner that evening. Mmm, chocolate pavlova topped with whipped cream and crushed Peppermint Crisp (chocolate bar).

I decided that I wanted to see the Australian Shakespeare Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for my birthday and invite my friends along. I discussed this with Noshie a couple of weeks ago and thought that I would arrange to have a picnic dinner in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens and then move into the "seating" for the show. That way people could join us for dinner and not necessarily be forced into paying to see a show that they didn't want to necessarily fork out the money for and I got to see everyone for a little while.

It seemed to work. There were six of us who went to the show and about five others who just came for dinner.

Usually I would arrange to cater for everyone at one of my parties but this time I asked everyone to bring a plate of food to share and said that I would supply dessert. It worked really well. Bevis and his family came along and Wifey gave me a necklace she made for me herself, which is beautiful! Noshie said that she would contribute some money towards my ticket to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform King Lear later this year (starring Sir Ian McKellan) which she is coming to see with me - so exciting!. Another of my friends bought me an Asian cookbook which is very comprehensive and I immediately picked out a few recipes to try out - excellent! All I need now is to get myself a new wok and some bamboo steamers and I'll be ready.

We had dinner and then I served the pavlova. Bevis tried to tell me that we needed thirteen slices - he started by counting himself, finished by counting himself and also included Sweetums, methinks so that he could have three pieces for himself? The ants had also discovered my sugary creation so we forcibly evicted them (hilarity ensued) before I plated the food.

We said goodbye to Bevis, Wifey, Sweetums, Alison and her partner, and Gerri. The rest of us moved our rugs and cushions into the seating area and got set up for the show (lolly bags open, drinks organised, fluff that cushion, ooh the wind's getting chilly - better put on that jacket).

The performance was electric. High-energy acro-fairies (acrobatic fairies) buzzed, flipped and jiggled around the stage. The "rude mechanicals" performed their play about Pyramus and Thisbe with enthusiasm. There were pop-culture references aplenty and the minor deviations from the script added to the comedy and increased my enjoyment of the performance. "Dream" is one of the most understandable and oft-performed Shakespearian play which means that for some it can become quite stale but this troupe breathed fresh life into the bard's work.

I had a lot of fun and I want to send a thank-you to my friends for helping to make it such a great evening.

...So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Houston, we have lift-off

I think she's got it...

I think I've cracked it. Fingers crossed that it still works tomorrow once I turn off the computer and router at the wall and it forgets everything that I taught it to do today.

Riveting stuff, I know.

I have made our wireless system work. Yay! Logan was so excited that he immediately moved on to the next stage in the process and wondered when we could get our other computer connected wirelessly to the same network.

That kinda took the wind out of my sails. I would have liked to enjoy the fact that I had managed to comprehend a manual written by someone of asian extraction with the same level of English as an 8-year-old.

Why are all these computer manuals written as we we already have some idea of what is going on, anyway? Why do they only tell half the story? I followed the instructions that came with the router and it referred to items in such an obscure way that even when I'd found the right thing to do, I didn't know whether it was working or if I was breaking it so that it would never work again.

The first trouble I encountered was the manual referring me to other manuals that were on the internet which is difficult when you are trying to set up your hardware so that you can access the internet! Hello? Anybody out there think that this might have been a bit silly?

Sorry, I got a bit upset there. So, you can see why I wanted Logan to just enjoy the fact that we were connected wirelessly to the internet for a while before moving on and giving me something else to work on.

Because it is my birthday he arranged to come home from work early to take me out for dinner and that was nice. And he stopped off at the shops to buy me a bouquet of flowers which was also nice.

All in all, a pretty successful day, really.

Peace, out...