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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bmag March 19th 2013 - Tech-snobs, stacked glasses and jugs!

I’ve had a gutful of techno-snobbery. A couple of weeks ago, when I posted on Twitter “ Sydney Morning Herald going tabloid/compact from tomorrow. Is The Age doing the same?”, @BrettS69 replied “Do they still sell paper newspapers? Really?”

That same day I tweeted: “Two weeks ago, I rang bank to request something. They said they’d call back. I’ve now decided I should call them and no record of my initial call.” @Trimega responded: “Who calls a bank anymore?” And, I can’t begin to tell you how much e-laughter I cop whenever I admit that I still have an AOL email address.

I recently turned 41 and am starting to get an understanding of what it’s like to be ridiculed by the next generation. And I don’t like it. I do my best to keep up – heck, I know what Pheed is! But when I mentioned all this to a 60-ish fellow customer at the bakery the other day, he just nodded slowly, smiled and said: “You have a long way to go yet!”

So at the risk of sounding curmudgeonly and stuck-in-my-ways, leave me alone! Yes, I still buy the paper. Yes, I ring the bank. And while we’re at it, no I won’t use self-checkout at the supermarket, because I believe that’s taking people’s jobs away. I much prefer to buy from a shop in Brisbane than order online from overseas. I choose 2D over 3D. And I still have a street directory in the car! Look, I’m not anti-technology but I believe we should be allowed to make our own choices and move at our own speed, without the judgement of others.

And now, perhaps the most useful thing you’ll read today! We’ve all made the mistake of stacking glasses and having two stick together. My wife Nikki recently came home with a dozen tumblers, unusual in that they had lumps or bumps of glass all around the inside. They looked great but those bumps really knew how to hold onto another glass! The first night we used them, it happened! I just could not separate the two glasses!

So, I turned to Twitter and Facebook for ideas (as I said, I’m not anti-technology). Solutions on Twitter included “Run under hot water” (@LovelyWife), “Twist” (@LaurenTrim), “Tap around rim” (@RoBaumgart) and “Put them in the freezer” (@Edumak8). There was also this from @Jim_Pembroke: “Fill top glass with a good whiskey, straight, ice if you must, and drink. Repeat until the bottom glass blurs into obscurity”! And from @SEQMW: “There is nothing you can do except smash one glass. But which one? It’s like choosing favourite child!” Meanwhile, on Facebook, Neil Symes suggested “run it under cold water”, Kathryn Cruise said “bottom in hot water the way to go” and Bill McDonald wrote “small side to side shimmies, while gently pulling in opposite directions. Throw the odd twist in there. Make it look fancy!”

In the end, it was a combination of Twitter and Facebook solutions that did the trick. So write this down. From my mum on Facebook, “pour washing up liquid into the top where the two glasses are stuck” and from @RobertHoge on Twitter, “cold water in the top glass, place the bottom third of the bottom glass in hot water and give it a few minutes”. Hey presto! It worked! Once the ordeal was over, former radio host Ian Skippen turned blogger (for laughs, please check out www.ianskippen.blogspot. ) told me: “Never stick a glass into a glass. You can never decide which glass is half full or half empty. One glass is always half full. Don’t thank me. Just say...glassias!”

On the subject of glasses and drinking, a local winemaker showed me a simple method he uses to improve a bottle of red. Decant into a big jug, then pour forcefully into another jug and back into the first. Repeat, getting more and more dramatic, pouring from higher and higher. Depending on who you’re drinking with, you may want to pour the wine back into the bottle before serving. It’s all about aeration, of course. Nothing new there, but as we’ve found, getting the jugs out makes for an exciting pre-dinner show for guests!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bmag Tues 5th March 2013 - Entertainment outside Brisbane, Goodbye yesterdays

At the end of last year, I promised Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale I would see at least one show at the Ipswich Civic Centre this year. I’d been once before, to address a Rotary district conference, but never experienced a performance. I can now report that, as of last week, I’ve ticked off that particular new year resolution, having taken my son ‘Mr 12’ to see comedian and ventriloquist David Strassman. A couple of observations about the Ipswich Civic Centre experience.

Firstly, the motorway from Brisbane was virtually empty on a Saturday night. Unrecognisably so. Secondly, parking near the Civic Centre was a doddle and cost nothing. Thirdly, they allowed drinks in the auditorium – very civilised! The only criticism I’d make is that the stalls seating is flat on the ground and could do with being slightly sloped to improve the view from the back. But that’s a minor quibble.

So now I’m going to ask you the question Paul Pisasale put to me. Have you ever seen a show in Ipswich? What about Cleveland? Or Logan? As wonderful as Brisbane’s cultural venues are – QPAC, the Roundhouse, the Bille Brown Studio, the Judith Wright Centre, the Powerhouse – it really is worth keeping an eye on other (often council-run) venues across the south east. Within a stone’s throw of Brisbane are the Redland Performing Arts Centre, Logan Entertainment Centre, Redcliffe Cultural Centre and Ipswich Civic Centre. Bands, comedians and plays regularly include these theatres in their tours. In fact, David Strassman only played Ipswich and the Gold Coast this time around. There were no Brisbane dates.

And here’s a tip. If you spot a show going from venue to venue, compare ticket prices. Next month, British comedian Ross Noble is $59 at Boondall but $14 cheaper at the Logan Entertainment Centre. Guess where the Howsons will be seeing him. In May, The Book Club starring Amanda Muggleton is $40 at the QUT Gardens Theatre but only $26 at the Logan Entertainment Centre the following night!

What happened to yesterday?

There are many 50th anniversaries this year, from the Beatles debut album Please Please Me to the first episode of Doctor Who , the Great Train Robbery and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Iron Man first appeared in Marvel comics, Coca-Cola introduced its first diet drink (anyone remember TaB?), we were introduced to touch-button phones and Martin Luther King declared “I have a dream!” And in Italy, Sophia Loren starred in an Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning film Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow .

Of all those events, it’s the Sophia Loren film that has my oft-tangential mind in a spin! Have you noticed the way the media has started veering away from those three words? Not always, but increasingly. A Friday news report will say something happened “on Thursday” instead of “yesterday”. I first spotted this some years ago on CNN and BBC World News. Their presenters can be anywhere from London to Doha, Hong Kong to Washington. Their viewers are spread across the world where it might already be tomorrow, or can still be yesterday. It’s understandable, then, that they might use days of the week in place of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

But it’s creeping in here. Fairfax newspapers, including, seem especially keen on the practice. Brisbane Times managing editor Simon Holt confirms my observation:

“Primarily, it’s to eliminate confusion. While most sites do carry a dateline on the story, it’s not as evident as it once was when we picked up a newspaper. The other reason is that newsrooms are preparing content for multiple platforms. If [an online story appears in] the newspaper the following day, it requires all references to be changed to ‘yesterday’. While this might not seem like extreme double handling, you can see a need to streamline the process.”

It’s not just the media. Have a look at warnings on the Bureau of Meteorology website sometime. And already I’m hearing it in conversations. Sure, words come and go, and we can’t get too hung up on our constantly evolving English language. But what would a remake of Sophia Loren’s 1963 film now be called? “Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday”? It’s not quite the same.