Giant Dwarf Radio Play

“This could be really good or really lame”, I said to my friend Michaela the other week when I invited her to join me for the “Radio Play” at Giant Dwarf Theatre. I’d read about the event a few weeks ago on Eventbrite, and I heard Tom Ballard who wrote/directed the event on 702 ABC Sydney this morning.

“You know, we’re the only people old enough to actually remember radio plays”, I said to her as we met at the theatre. The crowd was very twenty-something, though we did spot a bloke who was actually older than us. “He’s here with his daughter”, Michaela noted.

The whole idea around tonight was to do a night of “modern radio theatre”, and I suspect it was a passion project, more than something which was seen as commercially viable. That said, there was a reasonably good crowd at the Giant Dwarf tonight.

As “modern radio theatre”, the concepts behind the sketches was also very modern: a sketch involving an orgy on the Lower North Shore, a piss-take on “Serial” (the new podcast from “This American Life”) which was really, really funny and, to be honest, a third sketch which I don’t actually remember a couple of hours later (obviously because we’re so old).

We sat right up the front and chose a seat which WE THOUGHT would avoid some degree of audience interaction. How wrong we were. “I hate audience interaction. Don’t go there”, Michaela told the host/writer/creator, Tom Ballard when he singled her out for some audience interaction. I’ve previously seen him doing standup and thought he was pretty average, pretty lame, to be honest. In contrast, we both agreed tonight was surprisingly good. In parts, it was probably a little over-written. But overall, it was a really great night of theatre, written and performed with passion. And it was great to see a bit of live radio theatre. Apparently, it will eventually turn up somewhere as a podcast. I’ll edit this item and post a link if/when it turns up, because it’s worth a listen.

Bagpipes

As I made my way to the Giant Dwarf Theatre on Cleveland Street tonight, I walked through the park near Central Station. In the midst of people playing sport, running around, and those sitting, enjoying the late afternoon/evening sunshine there was a bloke playing bagpipes.

On closer inspection, he wasn’t what you might stereotypically think of as a regular bagpipe player: he was youngish and he had an obviously Asian heritage. On top of that, his repertoire included “Advance Australia Fair” and “We Are Australian”.

I wasn’t the only one who stopped to enjoy his work. There was another bloke video-ing his performance, which I presume will eventually end up on Youtube. If you see the video, keep an eye out for me, the bloke who pulled out his phone to snap a couple of shots also.

Bagpipes near Central

Bagpipes near Central

When I posted this photograph to Twitter earlier tonight, a colleague noted he was probably forced into the park by annoyed neighbours. “No doubt the neighbours complained about the practice at home – nothing worse than badly played bagpipes!”, she commented. Actually, this bloke was pretty good I thought. He was tuneful.

I Chi Ban Japanese Teppan-yaki BBQ

Even though I’d warned my inter-state colleagues there would be some food-throwing involved, I don’t think they quite appreciated how much there would be until we visited I Chi Ban Japanese Teppan-yaki BBQ on Wednesday night. It was my suggestion we had dinner there, and today I received quite a few thankyou emails to say it was probably one of the most enjoyable “conference dinners” they’d ever been to.

It’s been several years since I’ve been there myself, but have some fond memories of the last I visited the restaurant with some colleagues. I remembered the food throwing, but I didn’t remember the care and precision with which the food was prepared: how the prawns were so beautifully de-veined, how the eggs were so beautifully prepared.

And then of course, it was “show time” with the chef leading us in a series of adventures where we had to catch bowls of food. One poor guy missed catching it and ended up with a shirtful of fresh egg. Another poor woman ended up with some rice in her hair. While not exactly covered in food, I’ve never been very good at catching things (have always been a little bit unco) I also ended up with a bit of rice decoration. But despite the apparent indignity of it all, we had enormous fun. “This was probably the best team-building activity I’ve ever been involved with”, one of my colleagues half-joke. So yeah, a great night.

And my favourite final comment was this : “I think a little karaoke after dinner could have taken it to a new level”. We kept ourselves nice.

Clovelly Beach

As I made my way down to the beach, I suddenly realised (through the unfamiliarity of the landscape) I’d never visited Clovelly Beach before. Sure, I’ve been for quite a few (mostly birthday) lunches at the Clovelly Hotel before, but never the beach.

I was at the pub again today for a terrific birthday lunch for a friend. After food, wine, some great stories and a cracking thunderstorm, I was beginning to feel a little tired. The busy week I’ve previously written about was beginning to catch up with me, and so I bid everyone a fond farewell.

With twenty minutes before the next scheduled bus, I figured a brief walk to the beach was in order. An opportunity to sober up a little too :)

Wow. “What a beautiful little inlet”, I thought to myself. What a great personal discovery. And next time I go for a birthday lunch at the Clovelly Hotel, I’ll definitely schedule a visit to the beach as well the pub.

Andrew Olle Media Lecture

“Because I haven’t lived in Sydney before, I didn’t quite understand some of the references”, my friend Sue told a couple sitting at our table at last night’s Andrew Olle Media Lecture. Last night’s lecture was given by Kate McClymont, the Sydney Morning Herald investigative journalist who famously writes about crime and corruption in New South Wales. The woman in the couple then related a story about how she had purchased a house from one of the crime world figures mentioned in Kate’s speech. Between purchase and settlement, hers and a bunch of other houses were burned down in suspicious circumstances, I recall her saying. “These are very Sydney stories”, I told Sue.

“I remember Abe Saffron”, is a phrase I’ve commonly heard in social occasions with older journalists. “I reported on the disappearance of Juanita Neilson”, someone once told me. “She’s in a ditch somewhere in the Blue Mountains”, is a phrase you’ll also commonly hear. Everyone in Sydney seems to have a dodgy crime story. Indeed, I know quite well one of the “flamboyant figures” Kate often writes about.

Because of that sense of familiarity, her speech last night got a lot of laughs. I loved this anecdote in particular…

Not that I am saying journalists are infallible. We are human. We make mistakes. Look at me, I identified the wrong person in He Who Must Be Obeid, the book I co-wrote earlier this year with Linton Besser. When I was told that the book would have to be recalled, it was one of the worst days in my entire life. But a setback for one person is an opportunity for someone else. In the middle of my misery I received the following text message.
Thursday 21 Aug 2014 10.36am
Hi Kate, It’s John Ibrahim her (sic) could u pls send me a copy of ur book that be nice…thank u.
Me: Very funny! Who is this really? Kate
“It really is John,” he replied. I had last spoken to the nightclub boss several years earlier when we had run into each other outside Goulburn jail. “I don’t like what you write,” he said. “That’s funny, because I don’t like what you do,” I shot back, mentioning his penchant for threatening witnesses. He pointed out that the charges against him had been dropped.
We ended up talking about our mutual love of the TV series The Sopranos.

As much of her speech dealt with the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Sue and I both loved the fact the couple sitting next to us at dinner included Nick Greiner, the former NSW Premier who set up ICAC, and in fact became the first “victim” of investigation. Really interesting guy to chat to by the way, as was his partner.

The thrust of her speech was that, in many ways, investigative journalism, and investigative journalists are under threat. As well as for economic reasons, there’s the the issue of free speech and she mentioned the case of the Australian journalist, Peter Greste, currently in prison in Egypt.

But she also made the point that all journalism, to an extent, should be investigative.

People often ask me about the secret of investigative journalism. There is no secret. All journalism should use the same tools – curiosity, scepticism and the willingness to take the road less travelled.

The speech will be on ABC TV tomorrow night, and is well worth watching. You might even see me, as they often cross to images of the audience during the televised speech. “The one thing you need to remember is don’t drink during the speech as they’re bound to cross to you just as you’re having a glass”, I told Sue. I knew this from experience. There was one year when they crossed to an image of me twice during the speech: on both occasions I was sipping on a glass of wine. But there again, that’s “Very Sydney”, isn’t it?

Read the speech in full
http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2014/10/31/4118651.htm?site=sydney

Or listen here

Busy Week – Many Choices

It never rains. It pours. There are many weeks (and weekends) where I find myself sitting at home staring at the ceiling, or sitting on the couch scrolling through the television channels hoping desperately there’ll be something to watch. Dullsville

This week and next don’t fall into that category. Work is super-busy right now. On top of that, I have a number of after-hours work-related social occasions. On top of that, there’s a trip to Western Australian for work (with a bit of pleasure tagged on at the end). I’m looking for ideas on the weekend in Perth, by the way, which I haven’t already done, having spent a year of my life living there. I’m catching up with friends, but there are still some gaps in my schedule, especially on the Sunday.

And of course, I also have a “real life” which includes a birthday lunch on this weekend, my own birthday in November, and a bunch of unrelated social catch-ups.

The combination of all of these things means I’ve actually had to say “no” to a number of events.

Tonight, I had the choice of attending Art After Hours at the Art Gallery of NSW, or a recording of Now Hear This at the Art House Hotel. In the end, I chose Now Hear This, a story-telling night that eventually finds its way on to ABC Local Radio and Radio National.

I’ve attended a few of these previously, and I have to say tonight’s was the best. The room was crowded, the stories were great, and there was a lovely vibe. I even received a heart-felt thankyou from the host, Melanie Tait, for some of contribution I’ve been able to make. I even contributed what I thought was the most interesting user-contribution of the night to the theme of unexpected surprises. A lovely night, and an excellent choice.

I’m sure that in two weeks time I’ll be sitting on the couch twiddling my thumbs. :)

Love Dem Apples

Discovered a new shop on my morning walk around Surry Hills, this morning. “Love dem Apples” sells what appears to be “gourmet” toffee apples. Very tempting, though possibly a little too early in the day.