Weekly Photo Challenge: Muse

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Stylish in Shibuya

I’m lazy technically when it comes to photography. Part of the problem is that I have two sets of glasses and never seem to be wearing the right pair when I want to take a photo quickly. Which is frustrating because my muse is most certainly ordinary people, and for this reason the photography that I most enjoy is street photography, which requires spontaneity.

These lovely chaps cheekily photo-bombed me as I was taking photos down this street in Tokyo and then happily agreed to pose. Of course, my camera was on the wrong settings.

The other people-inspired form of photography that I love is portraiture, but I don’t get much time to do it these days. My good friend Kim is always a wonderful subject.

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For incredibly beautiful and technically perfect portrait photography, see Joshi Daniel’s blog.

For more entries to this week’s photo challenge, see The Daily Post.

Secrets from the Crime Scene – Unsavoury Delights

This year, I avoided the poetry bashing workshops at the Sydney Writers’ Festival and attended a couple of interesting panel talks, one of which—Secrets from the Crime Scene—I reviewed, and I thought I’d share it here.

Crime, it seems, pays handsomely for crime writers, not necessarily in hard cash but in endless material on the peculiar machinations of the criminal psyche. And mid-morning on this glare-bright winter’s day at the 2015 Sydney Writers’ Festival, The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf is packed to the raw, high rafters with an eclectic audience, from school-goers to retirees, dying to know more about what the panel facilitator, Tom Wright, refers to as “life as they imagine it might actually be led away from their fairly safe existences”.

Competing with the hiss of the venue’s overworked espresso machine, the conversation nevertheless flows easily amongst the Secrets from the Crime Scene panel: Kate McClymont, Fairfax investigative journalist, known most recently for He Who Must Be Obeid, an exposé on Sydney businessman Eddie Obeid’s corrupt dealings; Sarah Hopkins, criminal lawyer and fiction-crime author, her most recent novel being This Picture of You; and Michael Robotham, Australian journalist turned successful international crime writer, his latest book being Life or Death.

Kate, with her permanently quizzical left eyebrow, is an expert on the depths of Sydney’s criminal undercurrents, from the murderous mentality of organised crime and bikie gangs to the sociopathic undertow of white-collar crime. The audience roars when she says, “One of the things I really love about Sydney’s criminals is they are so stupid”. And vain: one of her regular informants, who was jailed for abducting Terry Falconer (subsequently murdered), whined to her that the actor portraying him in TV’s Underbelly: Badness “makes me look like a gay porn star”.

Michael says his books “tap into everyday fears” and that he often has to tone “down the truth to make it palatable, because people will not believe it in a book of fiction”, even though “truth always, always proves to be stranger”. Tom remarks on the frequent prescience in Michael’s novels as is exemplified by the story Michael tells of The Wreckage, a novel that was based on the idea “that $250billion of drug cartel money was laundered through major western banks, because during the Global Financial Crisis, banks were so short of funds, they waived all money-laundering laws simply to stay afloat”. The novel was reviewed by an incredulous Joe Nocera, financial writer for The New York Times, who said that no major Western bank would launder money for a drug cartel; it simply wouldn’t happen. With a larrikin air of perpetual amusement, Michael says that now every time there’s a factual report of such events, he sends Joe a tweet: “Say it ain’t so, Joe, say it ain’t so”.

Sarah, who has the demeanour of a meditating monk, rather than someone professionally mired in the mess of criminality and the constipated bureaucracy of social institutions, is more serious than the other panellists, but no less interesting. Through her creative writing, she questions who in our society gets to define what a crime is and the fact that, until recently, “criminal law wouldn’t reach its arm into the home” because “a crime, traditionally, has been about transgressions in the public realm”.  As Tom notes, her books are now very much focused on the notion that “the place where your body and mental health is most likely to be at risk is in the home”, an unsettling thought.

In response to a question from the audience, Sarah says she’s never been threatened by a reader, but Michael’s tells of his stalker and many “angry emails” from Americans who objected to this line in an early novel: “something didn’t quite look right, like seeing Bill Gates in board-shorts or George W. Bush in the White House”. And then there is the intrepid Kate, who has had her fair share of legal action and life-threatening phone calls in the middle of the night.

Crime writing—it’s a dangerous but thrilling life.

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Tom Wright, Michael Robotham, Kate McClymont, Sarah Hopkins

Weekly Photo Challenge: Off-Season

 

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Falls Creek is a ski resort in the Victorian Alps, Australia.

In the off-season (i.e. any time that’s not winter) it’s great for mountain-biking, fly-fishing and hiking, as well as high-altitude training for crazy extreme runners and cyclists.

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Accommodation-wise, we’ve stayed at Husky Apartments and QT and can recommend both for couples, particularly if you want to self-cater most of the time.

Although many of the resort facilities are closed outside of the ski season, the local supermarket is open most days, and a few of the restaurants run skeleton staff – in our experience, the staff of Stingray and The Last Hoot do an excellent job.

Off-mountain in the area, afternoon tea at Treats in Tawonga South is a must. Run by a welcoming, energetic team, the café serves a wide variety of meals and cakes. And you can plan a flip at the local gliding club on the same day-trip (perhaps before you’ve eaten :mrgreen: ).

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It’s the perfect place to give the lungs and the brain some fresh air.

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For more entries to the WPC, see The Daily Post.

 

Much Violence, Zero Harm

If I were a voodoo-hoodoo, my more annoying clients might experience the mysterious onset of a headache around 7:30 on a certain week night.

“Do you know why people like violence? It is because it feels good.”

Alan Turing in The Imitation Game

But the only violence I like is the kind that doesn’t hurt anything.

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Chu-daiko and Shime-daiko

So Taiko is perfect. Thus far, we’ve learnt the basics of the Miyake and Yatai-bayashi  rhythms, fantastic workouts for the body, brain and voice.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Vivid

I’ve lived in Sydney for longer than the annual Vivid festival’s been going, but this year is the first time I went down to the Harbour to take a look. It’s fabulous, the atmosphere, the music and the visual splendour. Tonight’s the last night, so if you’re in Sydney and you haven’t been yet, get rugged up, and head to Vivid tonight for a wonderful evening.

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Museum of Contemporary Art, Circular Quay, Sydney

For those of you who couldn’t make it, you might be interested in these Vivid 2015 videos from YouTube.

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Sydney Opera House

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For more entries to this week’s WPC, see The Daily Post.