photo saturday: rooflines

little tin libraryowl with lamp

roof kissdudley
This week is brought to you by:
  • me being in a horizontal position for almost the whole week
  • my chiropractor for being awesome
  • all of the BBC history programs starring Ruth Goodman, Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn (seriously, there were days were I didn't do anything except watch those all day long... for the record, Victorian Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, Tales from the Green Valley... I still need to catch up on the more recent series though)
  • a really good vegetable soup I made, with some added dried beans/lentils.
Really, that pretty much sums up the whole week.

The only additional part was Thursday when Ma came down in the morning thanks to La Cousina and hung around all day doing her own thing while I stayed in bed until it was time to go get food and see Le Gateau Chocolat's Cabaret Festival show.

Also, I saw my chiro twice, once on Tuesday, once on Friday... and my back is much improved. In fact she managed to get it to remember that my legs are in fact essentially the same length and it didn't need to make me all lopsided. But I'm still not completely back to normal, so there's another couple of visits next week.

I also need to do my very best to clean the damn apartment for an inspection next Thursday. I'm also going to clear out of the apartment for a couple of hours so that I don't need to have any kind of conversation with the person from the land agent.

Saturday was, to be honest, a little frustrating, all things considered.

I did the shopping in the morning, then headed down to Ma's about 11am or so... we headed over to the shopping centre so that she could pick up a few other things, but by the time we were done with that I was officially over the whole thing and headed off pretty soon after we got back.

Part of the issue was just sitting in the car for the drive down... then just being on my feet and walking for the length of time it took us to do the usual circuit, standing and walking is still a little exhausting to be honest... and factor in the knuckledragging mouthbreathers who inhabit Ma's shopping centre and I was officially just over the whole thing. Add in the fact of trying to keep an eye on what's going on with Ma while also trying to do my own thing, and the whole thing was just tiring and frustrating.

So I was very happy just to come home, collapse on the bed and watch random crap for the rest of the afternoon/evening.

And that's about it really...

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cabaret: le gateau chocolat - black

adelaide cabaret festival: le gateau chocolat - black
Le Gateau Chocolat has been wowing Adelaide crowds since his first solo Fringe show in 2011 but this is the first time he's been invited to be part of the Cabaret Festival, and I personally think that it's about damn time.

The show he brought to the festival, Black, is a dark show... in all senses of the word. It's also the most personal, most revealing, most adult and without doubt the bravest show he's ever done... and one of the bravest shows I've ever seen.

Black is about the colour of his skin and his identity, the songs and performers he's chosen, but it's also about the absence of light (both literally and metaphorically) and, at it's core, Black also represents the spectre of depression.

As I said, this is such a brave show... and Chocolat has already presented two very brave and personal shows, Icons and Duckie, but Black lays his soul very, very bare. As such, it's a very different show from any of his others... this feels (and, to be honest, is) much more of a one man musical play, and in a lot of ways actually felt like the very "grown-up" version of Duckie.

What I hope though is that there is eventually a companion piece to this, Light, if you will... that tells the other half of the story, how Chocolat and his onstage avatar Little Black manage to both realise their dreams of being the big black opera diva but also make the lightbulb of his happiness shine as bright as it possibly can do, bathing that stage in light.

Also, the story of Little Black which is shown throughout the show with beautiful animated artwork and a voice over that sounded strangely familiar (Johnny Woo maybe?) really moved me to tears, but also made me want the story to be finished and turned into a children's book... I want it on my bookshelf but I also want to buy a copy for every parent I know.

I also feel like this is the first time I've had the opportunity to hear Le Gateau Chocolat perform in "real" venue... and I know I've gushed about his voice every time I've had the pleasure of seeing him perform, but having him command the stage on the Dunstan Playhouse was a whole new level. Even the opening number which was entirely in German (I think) and hence a complete mystery to me was so beautifully performed and stunning to listen to.

He also commanded that stage in a way I've never seen him do before... don't get me wrong, he's charmed audiences before, but this time there were points where you knew that the audience wanted to applaud, but the show and Chocolat wouldn't let them (it also did feel a little weird at times wanting to applaud such raw emotions, so I'm happy the show was actually arranged the way that it was)... he held over 600 people in the palm of his hand for the entire run time of the show, knowing exactly how to twist and turn and caress us all until we were totally at his mercy.

And speaking of the Playhouse, the lighting design has to be mentioned... Black is a dark show as I mentioned, not just in tone but literally quite dark, with the lighting used very sparingly and at times to great effect.

Which isn't to say that the show is without lighter moments... from the tips for fat people to the brilliant NHS Direct song to the hilarious introduction to I Wanna Dance With Somebody (although the way he finishes that song absolutely WRECKS me every time), but this really is an emotional journey that he invites the whole crowd to join him on.

I'm just very, very glad that Le Gateau Chocolat is still here and lets us into his world, even if only briefly.

And for the record, happy 35th birthday, you beautiful, amazing man!

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cabaret: kim david smith - morphium kabarett

adelaide cabaret festival: kim david smith - morphium kabarett
His Vampness, Kim David Smith, has returned to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival this year, and he once again proves that he's a consummate performer.

I know I've said it before (probably in relation to all three previous shows) but Smith's slightly deranged, somewhat evil and incredibly vampy stage persona is someone you want to seduce you and someone you're slightly frightened might stab you in equal measure at an moment.

And I'm okay with that.

The false eyelashes, bondage harness tuxedo shirt and top hat ensemble suited not only Smith (and yes, we were in fact looking at your boobies... there were times when they were a little hypnotising, especially from front row centre) and his music, but also the Spiegeltent venue.

Much like last time, there's much of the hypnotic, sleek snake about his performance, but there seemed to be a little more of a comedic edge to his between songs banter this time. Although his ability to absolutely mesmerise and capture an audience hasn't changed.

I think almost all of the songs were ones I'd heard in previous shows... but that tends to happen when you've been to all of the shows.

Old tunes like Pirate Jenny, Black Max and Padam Padam all make a welcome return as his own interpretations of songs like Dracula's Tango (Sucker For Your Love) and Nature Boy. I will say that the decidedly unhinged arrangement of Pirate Jenny and the fact that Dracula's Tango takes a brief Kylie detour in the middle make them personal favourites.

Accompanied once again by pianist, Amanda Hodder, and the cellist whose name escapes me, were both excellent, mostly melting into the background but playing flawlessly throughout.

It's always an experience to see Kim David Smith... and he's both too, too much and never enough all at the same time.

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photo saturday: tales of the broken

spartan fall down part 1dry ship

red shipspartan fall down part 2
This week did not go according to plan. Which is also why this is a day late.

Granted, this week actually had very little in the way of an actual plan, but the wheels definitely fell off the bus in the middle of the week.

Long story short, I threw my back out again. Yaaaay. Not. And thankfully not in the really bad way I've done before, but enough to make me both go and see my chiro and take to laying down on the bed to watch stuff on YouTube.

Before that though, I made possibly the best and worst tomato soup this week. The best because it was SO packed with flavour that it was ridiculous... I roasted the tomatoes for about three hours in the afternoon, before throwing them into the pot with some stock and some tomato puree. That may have been the problem... I may have overegged the pudding as they say. It was just too damn tomatoey... but it was still amazing. I was very conflicted. However what I did discover is that frying up some mince and then adding a serve of the soup made the best bolognese sauce I've ever made.

So a serve of the soup went into the freezer so that I can do that again later.

Anyway, Wednesday morning I got up, went on my walk, came home, washed the dishes from the night before, started making breakfast, put the laptop on... then realised I needed to charge my phone... so went into the bedroom, bent down to pick up the cord and PING! Like almost literally "ping"... if I'd been in a Warner Brothers cartoon you would legitimately have heard that sprung spring sound effect.

And then I was pretty much the walking wounded for the rest of the week.

I called my chiro, and couldn't get in to see her, but did get in to see the other half of the partnership the following day... which helped, but it's taking it's time.

And I'd intended to go into town to the markets and run some errands on Thursday, so that didn't happen.

I did manage to get myself to Tink's place on Thursday night for my haircut though. I considered cancelling, but it ended up being fine, both from getting myself there and making it through the process of the haircut to be honest. And nothing new to report there... it was a pretty by the numbers kind of haircut.

Friday I essentially gave in and doing a little housework in the morning, I spend the whole afternoon laying on the bed watching YouTube.

Saturday morning was... interesting. I'm basically walking slightly below regular people speed, which for anyone who knows how fast I actually walk is basically torture. But being able to push the trolley around the supermarket wasn't too bad. Getting the shopping out of the car and up the stairs to the apartment would have been better if people who park in front of my apartment building could park like somebody with a brain and not just leave giant gaps that are impossible to park in but also mean that you can't park behind them. Annoying.

I did think that the drive up to Ma's to take her her shopping and pick her up for the Cabaret Festival show we had in the afternoon might be problematic... but actually it was fine. I managed to get myself in the perfect position, and set the seat a little more upright than usual which seemed to help.

It's still a long(ish) drive though, so I was glad to get out of the car.

And, also for the record, Ma is definitely on the mend. Her doctor is very please with her progress, she can start taking the sling off when she's at home and she may be able to start driving again (at least for short trips) in a month. So, big yay there.

After I'd had a stretch, we headed back to my place, stopping off at Officeworks on the way to find Ma a stress ball to use on her bad arm, then detoured just before we got to my place for a quick visit to the Haighs factory. Because of course.

Then we came back here for a while before heading into town to find somewhere to park and running a couple of errands before the show.

It ended up being something of a walk... nothing that neither of us hasn't done before... but given that my top speed at the moment is drunk toddler and Ma hasn't really done anything or gone anywhere that required much walking in what, three weeks now... yeah, we were struggling a bit. Especially getting caught in the tide of bogans headed to the football... and trying to both make sure I was okay as well as trying to keep an eye on Ma... yeah, not a lot of fun, I'll be honest.

Fortunately we were able to go straight into the venue as soon as we got down there, so there wasn't a lot of standing around... because I did a LOT of standing yesterday. If I wasn't sitting in the car or the hour I was sitting in the show, I was standing and walking. Which was probably really good for me, but not really something I can sustain on a regular day. And by the time we were heading back to the car there was just a lot of random noises from both of us at various times.

After the show we headed down to Burger Theory for dinner which was nice and then I drove Ma home before heading back. When I got back I essentially gave up on being upright and spent the rest of the evening laying down.

This morning my back actually felt a lot better, but I'll be honest, sitting down writing this may not have been the best plan ever.

But I was already planning to go and see my chiro at some point in the upcoming week... so that's definitely going to be a thing now.

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photo saturday: the least exciting birthday weekend

mermaid's tailtwo years on

pink mountainstruck saviour
Okay, first things first...

Ma had her second operation on his shoulder at the very end of May, and is now back in a sling and on the mend.

The doctor called me after the operation, which was very sweet of him, to tell me everything went well, and Ma's physiotherapist seems to think that even this early on in the process (two weeks on Tuesday), her shoulder is about at the stage that they would expect it to be in two more weeks. So that's all pretty good news.

It does mean that we're back to square one with everything else though, but hopefully she'll be improving in leaps and bounds and will be back to her old self before we know it.

This is also why there wasn't a post last weekend... she was staying with her friends so that a) she had somebody with her and b) didn't have to deal with any stairs.

But that also meant that I didn't go up to her place last weekend since there wasn't a lot of point.

So, rolling back the clock slightly...

A couple of Sundays back now, I went to see a documentary on Armistead Maupin as part of the American Essentials Film Festival... and it was fantastic. Interestingly enough I may very well have been one of the youngest people in the room, but most of the crowd were gay gentlemen of a certain age. And because the Universe has a twisted sense of humour, while I didn't know anybody else in the room, I was sitting right next to one of the two guys from the gay men's art group I posed for a few weeks back. Because of course I was.

I will say that the documentary made the final three Tales books make a hell of a lot more sense (from the perspective of who the main characters were and why they were written at all after so long). I'm also really interested to read Maupin's biography that he's currently working on, which should be out later in the year.

Otherwise it's been a couple of weeks of not very much of anything. I had a chiro appointment at the end of last week, so I headed into the city, had my appointment and then had a bit of a wander around town... although it's always a little bit less exciting when you don't have money to spend on inconsequentials.

And then at the beginning of the week I got a message that The Nuthouse was going for drinks. I will admit I was a little noncommittal originally, but figured I had to go and do it at least once.

What I didn't realise until after I'd already decided was that I also had the first of the three Cabaret Festival shows scheduled for the same night... although luckily not until 10:30, so I was able to go to drinks, be last man standing as usual, get some dinner and then head off to the show.

Downside being that because I wasn't going to get out of the show until after midnight, I really didn't want to walk home and the buses don't run that late, so I drove in and only had a couple of drinks early in the evening.

It was actually nice to see the people who showed up... and I got a nice chat with a number of them. As sometimes happens, especially either around a long weekend (also, side note, I actually had no idea this was a long weekend until someone mentioned it on Friday... because why the hell would I even remember that?) or at less than a week's notice, it was a reduced crew, but it was all good.

Weirdly it feels both like quite a long time since I've seen them all, and also no time at all.

The last person (La Ninj) left sometime after 8... so I ordered some food, had dinner and then wandered down to the Riverbank. I still had an hour and a half to kill, so I end up having a wander along the river, taking some photos and listening to a podcast to fill in the time, which was quite nice.

And given that Briefs is a show I generally to a lot of cheering and whatnot at, and I also have a tendency to lose some of my voice at the pub, I was a little bit screwed... I think I made it though about the first half hour of the show before my voice gave up on my completely (or at least made it so that I couldn't cheer all that loud). I didn't lose it, but I've been more than a little husky today.

By the time I walked back to the car after the show and got home it was pushing 1am, so it's not really a big surprise that I had a bit of a slow start this morning.

And I clearly wasn't firing on all cylinders when I left the house, because I went out without my wallet. Fortunately I did have cash on me... so I bought my groceries with cash. It's not the first time I've done that, but previously I've had Ma to bail me out... I'm just glad I had the money with me.

ma's 70th birthday presents - beforema's 70th birthday presents - after (not particularly exciting tbd)

This week was also Ma's 70th birthday... but given that she only came out of the hospital the week before, there wasn't a hell of a lot we could really do to celebrate. I'm just thankful that we never got really organised and made any plans for this particular birthday.

The Pop! Vinyls seem actually even more appropriate right now to be honest, because these are what caused the whole bloody arm dilemma in the first place. Ma was heading over to the shopping centre to see if they had either of those figures in stock so she could put it on her list for her Secret Santa.

As soon as she told me that I filed it away in the back of my head, but I had to wait until Christmas before I could do anything about it because I had to wait to see what she actually got (turned out she got a completely different, but totally appropriate Pop)... but as soon as that happened I jumped online and ordered these two.

The perfume was just part of the stockpile I bought before Christmas... whenever we see her favourite perfume on special I like to stock up so that I can ration them out at Christmas and her birthday.

And it turned out that Me From Last Year had already bought a card... I don't know if I mentioned it at the time, but after I'd run around looking for cards for both Ma and Owlgirl's birthdays last year I decided to go and look in one last place and bought cards for both of them which where better than the cards I'd already bought... so I quite happily went with what I already had to hand.

Also, the slippers were because she asked for them... granted she asked for a couple of pairs which I got for her and she paid me back for, this was an extra pair I just threw in because why not.

Like I said, we didn't do very much of anything... I spend most of the afternoon with her, we watched a godawful movie on teevee (and amused ourselves by making fun of it, at least until it got really frustrating by the last third or so) and I did a bunch of stuff for her she couldn't really do for herself.

So it was quite literally the least exciting birthday weekend either of us have had in quite a while (if not ever).

It's also definitely something we'll have to make up for later.

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cabaret: briefs - close encounters

adelaide cabaret festival: briefs - close encounters
It's time to phone home, live long and prosper and let the force be with you... the boys from Briefs are going intergalactic...

This is the fourth time I've seen the boys (2016, 2015 and way back in 2010), and the first time they've appeared in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. This is also a brand new show (I'm not sure if it's the one they brought to Fringe this year or not) and they definitely lean into the "close encounters" intergalactic theme, very successfully.

And there are some new faces this time around which definitely gave the show a new energy.

Returning as part drag dominatrix, part alien circus ringleader, part high fashion model is Fez Faanana aka Shivanah, once again letting his/her (I never quite know the correct pronoun to use for Fez... I'm going with she/her for the rest of the review though I think) fantastic energy get the crowd in the mood... Fez did seem oddly hyper in the opening night show, but I'm putting that down to first show nerves as she's always seemed quite laid back in the past, but seemed to be tripping over her words in the rush to say everything. Not that that's really a criticism, I just really wanted to tell her to take a breathe and slow down a little.

I always enjoy her "real talk" section at the beginning of the show... especially the giving thanks section, which is oddly grounding for such a small part of the show.

And I want to take a moment to shout out their costume designer, Dallas Dellaforce... he's done amazing work for the Briefs crew in the past, but this time he's really excelled himself... from each and every one of Fez's outfits (although hands down the best outfit was the green masked extravaganza)... to the incredibly, INCREDIBLY sexy stormtrooper lycra suits for Louis Biggs, Thomas Worrell and Dale Woodbridge-Brown (especially Thom's elastic harness version). And Louis's mad scientist outfit somehow managed to be incredibly sexy even while he was completely covered (more on that in a second).

I was also in love with Dale and his White Rabbit/March Hare ensemble... there was no Evil Hate Monkey this time around, but Bunny Dale filled out that role beautifully. Also, I really want to know how the hell he did his alarm clock routine... that was both insane and incredible... and I kind of wish it went on a bit longer.

One of the other highlights was, as previously mentioned, Louis's mad scientist combination juggling/strip tease routine... in part because he's doing actual chemical experiments on stage in the midst of everything else. It flies by entirely too fast to really take in what he's doing, but it's incredibly impressive. Also, the way that his outfit comes apart as he goes along... holy fuck. It's never been a secret that Louis is my favourite Briefs boy (and I won't lie... I really miss the naughty nerdy schoolboy/Rubix cube routine he's done in the past), but add in that outfit and the man is walking sex.

I was also fairly mesmerised by everything Thomas did... but the "caged bird" number with Fez (and the aforementioned green outfit) was breathtaking. But to then follow it up with his strategically placed stormtooper outfit number... suffice to say my socks were blown clean off. He's always been amazing, but there's just something about this new show that really lets him take it to another level.

It was also interesting to see that they've changed up the raffle prize with this new show (although I'm sad that I missed out on being able to maybe one day win the previous prize), and the new prize is actually a fantastic little number in and of itself. And given that there are now four possible prizes, I'm very interested to see what the other three entail.

I also oddly enjoyed the very strangle number that new boys Harry Clayton-Wright and Thomas Greenfield put together. They'd both done solo numbers earlier (if you can technically count Harry running around the stage and streaming hysterically a number), but there was something I liked about the number together. I will say that Greenfield has a performance style that's a little... intense. But it was an interesting (if decidedly weird) piece.

While it didn't necessarily feel as "polished" overall as the previous show did the last time I saw it, they did have a long time to really refine that down to that point, whereas this still feels a little new and there are a few rough corners that will disappear with time.

But overall it was an incredibly night out as well as being a brilliant addition to the Cabaret Festival lineup... and as usual I left completely hoarse from cheering and with sore arms and hands from all the applauding.

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