Friday, April 18, 2014

The Book Thief

 *** no spoilers ***

The Book Thief is enjoying a well deserved wave of success both as a novel and film with Geoffrey Rush. Markus Zusak is a Sydney author and is undeniably one of our best. I was given the book as a birthday present in March and must be the only person in Adelaide who hadn't heard of it, hadn't read it and hadn't watched or wasn't planning to watch the film. It has gone around like wild fire. Adelaide loves a good book and will share easily which is how I came to receive it as a present. Adelaide people will not let you miss a good book. It is beautifully written the more so because it uses such simple language reminiscent of the style of Anatole France to tell a tale which draws you in bit by bit and then pushes home some unforgettable messages at the end. It is masterful in the way it has been constructed and deals with at era of Nazi occupation well. I have read a number of writings from that era in German and the one thing which Zusak has achieved is the German capacity to tell the truth but demonstrate the inspiration and irrepressible nature of good human beings. The Germans are a culture which can contrast light and dark well and Zusak has managed this in English so it is quite an achievement. Unlike others I could stop reading it. I read it in bits and could lose myself in it but I wanted it to last, I suppose, and I knew it would make me sad, but sad in a good way. It reminds you to stand up for what you believe in. This book will endure, I am sure, because the message is timeless and the style is not locked into a time frame or era. I recommend it to you, if like me, it somehow missed you.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Adelaide Oval



Everyone I have met who has been to the new , redeveloped Adelaide Oval is raving about it . About half my friends are AFL fans and they just love being able to go into town to see the footy. There have been capacity crowds. One friend said he was a bit worried the bridge would collapse because there were so many people on it, but he had reasured himself it wouldn't! This is how unused to  bridges we are in Adelaide. At Darling Harbour or on the Yarra you never think those sorts of thoughts. You just cross over and enjoy the view. There have been a lot of posts in my Facebook feed about the Adelaide Oval and how great it is. Driving out to Football Park has always been a chore for those in outlying suburbs and the parking has never been the best nor has it been easy to socialise there before or after the event. This way so many people can catch a bus or train into town, tourists can easily find it and see either the cricket in summer or the football in winter and they can have a meal before or after the match in one of our great cafes or restaurants.. There is tweaking to be done, but on the whole, this has given our city and our population so much joy already. There was so much discussion, and rightly so, but this new venue has now been welcomed with open arms. Our cricket pitch at the Adelaide Oval was picturesque and historic. We have let it go because we are not a rich city and we need to make the best use we can of our amenities. The bridge is a bonus. It is something which has really cheered everyone up. We need to make our city easier to be in and a place for people to relax and feel at home. I am pleased it has worked so well because it will help mitigate the pain of what was a very tough decision.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

No train is bad train

Yesterday we were all standing at the station waiting to go to the city. Two  new trains went in the other direction to Seaford. One was out of service. At 8.30am the train did not arrive, nor at 8.40am. At 8.50am there was a very quiet message over what was supposed to be a loud speaker system to tell us there was a problem with the switch and the train would arrive at 8.58am which it did more or less. It was packed. It was standing room only and it just got more and more ridiculously packed. Shoulder to shoulder. We became more and more squashed. To our credit, Adelaide people showed just how nice they could make such an uncivilised journey. We started talking to each other about different things and warning each other not to lean on the door because it was inevitable at times that some got pushed that way. We achieved the impossible of letting an old lady with a walking frame get to a seat and have it all to herself. We breathed in, we made ourselves tiny, we helped hold the lady and her frame. It was all too close for comfort and hard on those who stood for such a while. We were all so thankful for having a really good driver who was not throwing the train and us around.The old lady could see out the window and we protected her so she wouldn't feel threatened so encircled as she was and then sitting much lower than us and no easy way out. It was an exercise in trust and social skills which we accomplished well. Adelaide people just do things in such a nice way sometimes. Adelaide trains need to lift their game. I was late for the start of my film. Others might just have been  going shopping. Others would have had to be places...like work... on time. No train and then a squashed , unpleasant journey is not good enough. Nor is it Adelaide. I am thankful the journey back was up to our usual standard.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Digital Venous - Richard Gohl

**No spoilers**

Richard Gohl is one of our new Adelaide authors and I like to support and read our own. I can't say that I am particularly fond of science fiction books but I really quite liked this one because it dealt well with a number of pertinent social issues around family of origin and possible lifestyle issues in the future. You can get Digital Venous on Amazon. This is the first novel I  have read on my iPad. I still prefer a hard copy for novels but I have read short stories, articles and fact books on my iPad. It was an interesting experience to read a novel such as this on my iPad because I felt that all those things I thought about reading a proper hard copy were not relevant. I liked this book from the first chapter and it suited the digital medium well. The writer has a  really good economic style and the book moves along well so it suits Adelaide's predilection for having something to read no matter where you are. The chapters are on the shorter side and the iPad tells you how many pages so you can make a good judgement as to whether you want to read another chapter or not. This is a book by an Adelaide author which suits how we live. It also reflects how we think and talk. I found myself chuckling at times because the way characters were expressing themselves was just as we would to each other. There was an Adelaide authenticity to the manner of speech and thinking. It was more than that , though. It had, at times, a profound insight into what would confront us as adults and children if we took some of our technological advances to some intelligently thought out, logical conclusions. There were times I was thinking I was watching a TV show and so it did not surprise me when I got to the end and found out that Richard Gohl had written scripts for stage and screen. There is that digital visual aspect to it and it moves at the pace of a TV show. There is a good gender balance in the characters who are all defined well but I was a bit annoyed at times that more wasn't made of the relationships and characters which is why a TV show came to mind. I instinctively wanted to know them better and see what would happen. There is room for sequels to this book and I'd like that. I found the explanations of scientific and technological ideas and concepts were done in such a way they were not burdensome and I liked the imaginative construction of how normal life could be in the future. It did seem normal and it did seem possible which is why the issues which were confronted were worth being aired. We do need to think about these things. The author has a capacity for wit and an equal capacity for touching moments. I look forward to the sequels now as this was a nice way to pass the rainy afternoons we have been having.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

South Australia has a government!

We have a government. Independent Geoff Brock has supported Jay Weatherill's 23 seat win so that he can form government. The Liberal's won 22 seats. As we waited and waited and waited for a week Dr. Bob Such, the other independent who might have formed government too, was taken ill and the state is concerned this has happened now and everyone hopes Bob Such will recover soon. He and Geoff Brock had taken their roles as independents who would be asked to form government very seriously and had really done their homework. It was pretty impressive and no nonsense. For all the moaning, I think we have a really good result for us at this point in time. Irrespective of who wins the primary vote it is the party which gets the designated number of seats which wins. I well remember how badly Kim Beasley was treated after he lost to John Howard in a federal election. Kim Beasley had won the primary vote in a really tough election campaign . Those were the days!! Both he and John Howard had gone in head to head in a tough political situation. Kim Beasley got more votes but John Howard got more seats. That is how our system works. When Steven Marshall works that out, he will be more at peace with himself and do some positive reflecting. He has not been called incompetent as Kim Beasley was and for Kim Beasley to do what he did was extraordinary at the time. The media never consider what is really going on and what is really at stake. I think we have 3 people who can lead our state well and get us out of this Non Event mode we seem to have been ascribed. We are not inconsequential but it is how we are viewed and I think these 3 people will help change our image in a positive way. I had no idea the Liberals had changed leader. Isobel Redmond had not been very popular and then she went very quiet. Jay Weatherill had been very quiet too , probably because we had had enough of Rann and Foley and the arguments and messy politics. It was a tough position for Jay Weatherill to come into. He has found his ground now, though , with the Holden situation and then the rumblings about leadership. Jay is very considered in his stance and articulates his views well. He can also show some very strong leadership. Steven Marshall popped up during the election campaign and if he wants to win then he has to work for South Australia and he has to allow us to get to know him as we did during the campaign. The state has given neither major party ultimate power so they are both being told to show us what they are made of and that they are there for SA. Geoff Brock is a great addition since South Australia has a significant regional area which tends to get side lined. It would be great to see that part of SA emerge again strongly and be part of our vision. So I'm hopeful. I think the mix is right and if these three men can collaborate and set their own agenda it will make a significant difference to our state.They will all win in terms of their careers no matter who wins at the next election. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wow! Adelaide...just wow!

Little things mean a lot . We have not had a southern train for over a year. Our transport corridors from the south have been severely disrupted for two years because the other half of the Expressway has been being built. At this stage there are signs it is all coming together. I actually managed to catch the train into town for breakfast at the Pancake Kitchen. I hadn't organised anything too grand so if it had to be postponed or cancelled it would not be too disappointing. The train was gone for nearly a year, came back, went...is sort of back at the moment, but  today I got on a train to town!! I have one more trip on my paper ticket and then I can invest in the new Metro Cards which are vastly superior to any other ticketing system we have had. The journey to town gave me a real understanding of just how much work has been going on and just how much more there is to complete. I shall now be patient because you can see Adelaide is just waiting to blossom and burgeon. We have to get past this rebuilding and reconstruction phase. The new hospital is an architectural delight. I'd love to be inside the honeycomb part of it, but not sick. I'd love to see the view from the other side of that genius design. The hospital itself will be huge. It is still in an odd place and I still think it will cause congestion but we'll see. It was great to see the trams running along North Terrace and the Bank Street makeover is so well done. A very clever piece of street design and use. Next trip I shall go into the the Mall to see what I can see, but today I was really impressed with what has happened on our train line and the area directly adjacent to the station. Such an improvement and a really good look. Well done, Adelaide. It has been a pain but we'll be so pleased with it all when it's done!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Breathe in and relaunch

Image Lonely Planet

We were so positive and dynamic. We were full of good ideas, chatter and an evolving sense of self. Then came September 8th and all was silent. The pain was palpable. The deep seated anger has not gone away. People continue to be short of expletives and really vulgar metaphors to describe what is going on. No one likes Tony Abbott, to put it mildy. We are full of disbelief at the destructive nature of his manner of operation and his total incapacity to articulate considered and well thought out views. No science. No climate science, no right to seek asylum, no women, no information, no diplomacy, no NBN. The list is endless. From the time he walked in he has worn DeBono's black hat in a very stark and startling way. We never fail to be revolted and dismayed. His team is not governing. They are ungoverning. They are taking our strengths, our icons, our voice and blotting it all out. We had a productive,positive, international image and place and now our world is looking at us as though we have gone mad. Our international friends are still being our friends. They keep trying to show us the way. Canada sent a letter to congratulate Mr Abbott on his carbon tax repeal. He read it out in parliament obviously having not one skerrick of an idea that the Canadians are world leaders in carbon reduction schemes and are really hot on renewable energy. His post modern approach means he describes our knowledge and then makes us adhere to that which then determines our behaviour. Our main stream media is a no news media, we seem powerless to prevent the abuses of democracy around the country and the removal of the organisations and companies we need to stay sustainable and viable as a nation. The media cannot be blamed for this. They demonstrated on a daily basis that Mr Abbott's team had no real policies, no real thinking, no vision and were inept. Still we voted for them. But did we? Most of the votes did not go to him. It's the way seats are distributed. Then we found out nothing is being done about blatantly dubious tax claims, the vested interests with mining and media , the inappropriate tweeting at government  sanctioned level, the right for people to seek asylum, social justice policies and initiatives and the not so small matter of missing electoral votes. There is no sense that things are being followed through in the right way. The opposite in fact. The thought this will continue for 3 years is untenable. We just cannot carry on like this. We had the energy to fly and go a long way and we were full of enthusiasm. We are now stuck in a quagmire with the increasing knowledge this may well be quicksand and we do not have one thing in this country we can turn to. Not a leader, not the media, not the laws, not the constitution - although that is telling that our constitution makes no mention of a prime minister and cabinet. Maybe there was a reason other than the much preferred "assumption" explanation. We have returned to our parochial stance and given we live in a global situation now it is no wonder we feel all wrong. We are being pushed to accept what is going on and yet, the international community can see right through it. We have been going along with it. We haven't found a way to change anything as yet. A big lesson for us all. This ungoverning might have traction in our parochialism but on a world stage these people just do not stack up.