Category Archives: Marcel

Glebe revisited

As I mention on the photo blog, I went over to an old stamping ground of mine today: Glebe and Forest Lodge. One reason was to drop off copies of The South Sydney Herald at the bookshops whose proprietors I had interviewed (on Skype!) for my article in the July edition.

Bit of a private joke this:

glebe 001

Cornstalk Books was one of my destinations. The room above the shop – empty then – was the place all but the last issues of Neos were launched between 1981 and 1984. Memories!

glebe 022

In the $5 tray outside I picked up something of a treasure: A D Fraser (ed), This Century of Ours: Being an Account of the Origin and History during One Hundred Years of the House of Dangar, Gedye & Malloch Ltd, of Sydney, 1938. I am sure Jim Belshaw would be interested. (I’ll sell it to you for $100, Jim! ;)) I see it is $25 on that catalogue at the link.

This is the frontispiece by artist Raymond Lindsay.



Straying on to Marcellous’s territory

Last night I happened to listen to this concert on Classic FM:

Geoffrey Saba: Beethoven Sonatas
Geoffrey Saba, piano
Jennifer Hagan, reader
Beethoven Piano Sonata No 30 in E, Op 109 20’24
Readings from Beethoven’s letters (part 1) 11’59
Piano Sonata No 31 in A flat, Op 110 20’32
Readings from Beethoven’s letters (part 2) 13’14
Piano Sonata No 32 in C minor, Op 111 27’33
Gluck arr Kempff
Ballet Music from Orfeo 5’18

Fortunately I decided to listen through pretty good headphones instead of on my rather antique radio. The readings from Beethoven’s letters were sometimes amusing, I have to say, and the program quite wonderful. The real point is that it is the first time I have consciously noted a Stuart piano, which Marcellous writes about here. It sounded good to me.

And a footnote about the pianist:


1968 photo: Linked to source

Those book reviews I promised will appear tomorrow…

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Posted by on April 2, 2009 in Marcel, music, radio


Just a quick explanation of “Neil’s Shared Items”

Jim Belshaw is very fond of this aspect of my blog and has said so several times. Marcellous has noted a downside: it sometimes collects early versions of a post and keeps them on display, which can be embarrassing. In one case, though I am not sure Thomas noted it, I collected a post which has not even been published, but must have briefly been long enough for the Google Reader to grab it. It is a rather good post too, so I hope it appears some time.

All Google Reader does is aggregate in one place feeds from whatever sites you are interested in following. Whether a whole post or a part post appears has been determined by the blogger, or by their blog platform. In my own blogs I allow feeds a five line opening, not whole posts. Google Reader allows you to “share” these feeds with others through a reasonably attractive blog-like page.

Some of the people I have picked I know either personally or through some time exchanging comments on the Internet, some I have just come across and found interesting. There are some blogs I would like to include, but can’t because they don’t allow feeds. There are others – Aluminium is one example – that I decided against not on any grounds of quality but because I felt they were rather personal and meant for their usual readers rather than people in general.

Some of the “feeders” are very regular, especially if it’s a group site or blog. Others are irregular. They represent only a tiny bit of the blogosphere, but I always find myself stimulated, informed, amused, or sometimes annoyed, every time they post, so that I wanted to share. You should explore their blogs further by going to the sources which are always just a click away, usually on the entry title. That way too you may see if Marcellous has been rewriting. 😉 (I rewrite too, I should add, though not always.)

In the side bar here you have two options. One is a feed of Neil’s Shared Items which comes via Feedburner and lists the latest 20 choices. The other is the Google Reader itself which currently is kept to 65-80 posts – that is, kept to that by me: Neil’s Shared Items. This displays around ten posts per page. You will notice I preface my choices with a comment, sometimes very brief, sometimes a short essay! These are merely my responses and are in no way “canonical”. As I choose from what Google Reader offers around 10% of what is there, you can be sure any post I share is there for a reason.

Here is a list of the blogs currently feeding my Shared Items:

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Posted by on November 30, 2008 in blogging, Blogroll, Jim Belshaw, Marcel, other blogs, site news


Catching up on the October "Monthly" and a couple of other items

Marcellous has already referred to one of the items in the October Monthly, the thinking person’s Quadrant. 😉 It is a good issue, and you can read it all online for $40 a year, or buy it from the newsagent here in Australia.


Click for details.

Meanwhile at no cost to us the Arts & Letters Daily — despite a tendency to over-represent right-wing or neocon views? — has offered some excellent things as usual over the past week. For example:

  1. Stephen Hawking, The final frontier.
  2. Christopher Shea, Against Intuition though I distrust excesses of empiricism myself, on the grounds that much that really is relevant is often ruled out. Call that literary training, perhaps. Neatness is not all…
  3. The American Future: A History by Simon Schama – The Sunday Times review. A book I would like to read!
  4. Graphs on the death of Marxism, postmodernism, and other stupid academic fads by “Agnostic” on Gene Expression. While reactionaries would be drawn to this, the article is not as reactionary as it sounds. It is a neat bit of textual statistics, demonstrating a decline over recent years of some of the more turgid “theoretical” writing — or at least of certain buzz words — by statistically analysing the frequencies of certain expressions in a corpus of academic writing over a ten year period. For example, the occurrence of “social construction” looks like this:

  5. Ha Jin, The Censor in the Mirror. Interesting to me as M’s older sister, a journalist and literary critic/editor in Shanghai, once fell foul of the conditions Ha Jin describes.

Censorship in China is a powerful field of force; it affects anyone who gets close to it. Four years ago, I signed five book contracts with a Shanghai publisher who planned to bring out four volumes of my fiction and a collection of my poems. The editor in charge of the project told me that he couldn’t possibly consider publishing two of my novels, The Crazed and War Trash, owing to the sensitive subject matter. The former touches on the Tiananmen tragedy, and the latter deals with the Korean War. I was supposed to select the poems and translate them into Chinese for the volume of poetry. As I began thinking about what poems to include, I couldn’t help but censor myself, knowing intuitively which ones might not get through the censorship. It was disheartening to realize I would have to exclude the stronger poems if the volume could ever see print in China.

As a result, I couldn’t embark on the translation wholeheartedly. To date, I haven’t translated a single poem, though the deadline was May 2005. The publisher publicly announced time and again that these five books would come out soon, sometime in late 2005, according to the contracts. But that spring, the first in the series, my collection of short stories, Under the Red Flag, was sent to the Shanghai censorship office—the Bureau of Press and Publications—and the book was shot down. So the whole project was stonewalled. A year later, I heard that the publisher had decided to abandon the project. In the meantime, numerous official newspapers spread the word that my books had no market value in China.

The office that Chinese writers, artists, and journalists dread and hate most is the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Department. In addition to its propaganda work within the party, this department, through its numerous bureaus, also supervises the country’s newspapers, publishing houses, radio and TV stations, movie industry, and the Internet. Except for the Military Commission, no department in the Party Central Committee wields more power than this office, which forms the core of the party’s leadership. Its absolute authority had gone unchallenged in the past, though even the Communists themselves understand the sinister role it has played. Luo Ruiqing, who was the first to head the Propaganda Department after the Communists came to power, once admitted: “To let the media serve politics means to tell lies, to deceive the above and delude the below, to defile public opinions, and to create nonsensical news.”…

Just a sample of quite a few good articles.


奥运会 – Olympic Games – A view from China « Stumbling on melons

 奥运会 – Olympic Games – A view from China « Stumbling on melons is a must read.

Thanks, Marcellous.

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Posted by on August 27, 2008 in Chinese and China, Marcel, Olympics 2008, other blogs


Wal-Mart Watch

I am blogging Wal-Mart Watch today because I have read Thomas’s latest instalment Holiday Road – VI — thoroughly enjoying it, I hasten to add, and looking forward to more.

This long drive was broken up by a couple of lunch/rest stops. Again, we stopped at WalMart. After just the second visit, I was in love with the place. They have everything – clothes to food, DVDs to books, drinks to guns. I couldn’t not go to the gun section each and every time I set foot in WalMart. It was such a foreign experience – and only available in America for the most part. I’d never seen a working gun not attached to a policeman’s hip in my life – not in Australia, not anywhere in Europe, not anywhere. And here I was, staring down the barrel of a rifle that was affordable enough that, given the right credentials, I could have walked out with then and there.

WalMart really won me over with its prices. The United States, for the most part, is extremely cheap with goods and services. Of course, tourist centres aren’t, but get out of there and you’ll find that it’s dirt cheap for things. As these posts continue, I’ll be giving some more prices. For this one, I brought over 8L of Gatorade for $US10. That was 8 bottle, and would sustain me for a long, long time. Here in Australia, 600mL costs $3.30 at my golf course (and that’s the status quo price). I brought over a kilo of baby carrots for $3.

These are side-notes to Thomas, not a comment directly on his post.

Wal-Mart does come at a price it seems.

As for the guns: interesting. Now I am quite politically incorrect about guns, compared to some. One of my earliest memories is of my uncle’s place in Shellharbour which had guns on the wall in the lounge room. Uncle Ken was a crack shot. My brother, to this day, is a shooter. SBHS has Rifle Shooting as a sport, not without a degree of bleating by many, but I don’t object to that. It’s an Olympic sport too. However, I don’t envy the US its free access to guns, not at all. I couldn’t help recalling — as I read what Thomas said — one of M’s trips; there is this great photo of M in an arms bazaar in Peshawar, clutching an AK 47 while a smiling female assistant — M was grinning too — held a handgun to his head! Wal-Mart and Peshawar: interesting comparison, isn’t it? (As travellers I suspect Thomas and M would have much in common.)

I look forward to Thomas’s next episode.

And speaking of other blogs: Sie stehen nicht im Stau, Sie sind der Stau is one of Marcellous’s best yet, in my opinion: original and distinctive. Sometimes I think I should just give up blogging and leave it to Marcellous and Thomas…

I have a strange feeling The Rabbit would second that…

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Posted by on August 8, 2008 in America, Australia, blogging, M, Marcel, other blogs, USA


Music interlude

For Marcellous, after his series on the Sydney International Piano Competition. All the pieces below are mentioned in that series, but not of course these performances.

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Posted by on July 26, 2008 in inspiration, Marcel, music, other blogs


Marcel and the pilgrims, and other reflections…

In Beaudelaire « Stumbling on melons Marcel reports from the Opera House:

There were some signs of World Youth Day pilgrims about the place: one almost knocked my coffee from my hands with his little red backpack (a group had wandered into the foyer at interval wanting to look around – where’s security when you need it?). The forecourt was full of catering and other furniture being readied for the pope’s arrival, and we were for no very good reason rather officiously and without any apology or or explanation prevented from leaving by the exits on the level of the front foyer (I say for no good reason because the exit opposite the box office remained open).

Meanwhile conspiracy buffs, fans of The Da Vinci Code, and indeed anyone quite rightly critical of the trend of the present Pontiff in certain areas, not to mention some of the circus-like aspects of WYD, those “annoyance” laws, or the cost to the state, will be struck by the fact that he has holed up for the moment at an Opus Dei mansion on the outskirts of Sydney where, apparently, he can play Mozart to his heart’s content.

I spotted a few pilgrims myself yesterday, none of them actually inside Pitt Street Uniting Church between 2.30 and 4.30pm… But there were nuns catching buses as I came home, and others with those little red back packs here and there. I guess we shall see more of them.

Sirdan and I continued the Lebanese theme by dining at the more downmarket Abdul’s yesterday for our Sunday lunch. We had been upmarket last Sunday, as you may recall — but Sirdan can afford most things these days. The banquet was just as generous, but half the price — actually closer to one third the price. Yes, the upmarket has the edge in some dishes, but Sirdan declared himself satisfied with Abdul’s.

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Posted by on July 14, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Christianity, current affairs, Marcel, multicultural Australia, Sunday lunch, Surry Hills



Pause for some music

Thomas, who may well be packing right now, mentioned this a few days back:

Which also takes me back to The Albury Hotel some time last century…

And then I was also reminded during by back-editing here that in February 2006 I was the guest of Marcellous for a performance of Madama Butterfly at the Sydney Opera House. Not this one, but good nonetheless:

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Posted by on June 26, 2008 in blogging, Marcel, music, personal


More on Salam Cafe

When I found earlier episodes existed, I wondered how I had missed them: answer, they were on Melbourne’s Channel 31. Now of course with the new series being on SBS we can all see, and you can too if you go to my earlier entry Salam Cafe on SBS Wednesdays at 10 pm and click the screen shot there.

I have promoted one bit of the earlier series from the VodPod to here:

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Overdue catchup for Aussie gays and lesbians

There is no doubt this is good news, so far as it goes: Matching rights for gay couples, Government moves on gay reform, and Opposition gives qualified support. That last story:

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Well, isn’t this a surprise?

It is fair enough to mutter, but this is a bit rich coming from a notoriously tendentious source:

The Australian Institute of Public Affairs (AIPA) says the weekend’s 2020 summit was just a public relations stunt by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The conservative think-tank’s executive director John Roskam told ABC radio’s The World Today program that the summit was a blatantly political exercise.

He said contributors had been handpicked to provide Labor with a “false mandate” for policies involving more government spending and regulation.

Mr Roskam said Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson was a lone cynical voice among the contributors.

“I don’t think that anyone can claim that the Rudd Government has got a mandate from anyone other than its hand-selected friends,” he said… — ABC News.

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Posted by on April 21, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Marcel, politics, right wing politics


Quick note on the 2020 Summit

I think it is far too soon to judge the 2020 Summit just concluded in Canberra. Those of you still here in 2020 will be able to make the necessary judgments. I was, as I made clear, not in the camp of the cynics, however. I note that Jim Belshaw and Marcellous have both expressed views, both of them worth considering, though I really do find Marcellous too cynical on this one, though he does say he still has an open mind. It was interesting that at lunch (The Porter House) today Sirdan was very enthusiatic about it all; I don’t think anyone could accuse Sirdan of radicalism. (We also discussed Mugabeland, Sirdan’s birthplace, and expressed much satisfaction in the way this country of Australia, by contrast, handles political and social change.)

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Political and blog roundup

A few disparate stories today.

First, on Indigenous Australia, I see that Kevin Rudd has repeated serious intention on “closing the gap”; I also note that the overdue Apology has gone down well internationally.

During a visit to London, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced an annual progress statement on closing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. He said this will build on the promise he made to improve Indigenous life expectancy, which is 17 years shorter than for non-Indigenous people. Mr Rudd said that in a modern and prosperous Australia, there should be no reason for these gaps to exist…

Mr Rudd gave the undertaking at a two-day meeting called the “progressive governance summit.” Other leaders attending it include Britain Prime Minister Gordon Brown and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. Mr Rudd is half way through a 17-day overseas tour and his apology to Indigenous Australians has been regularly praised by world leaders he has met.

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Posted by on April 5, 2008 in Australia, blogging, Brendan Nelson, current affairs, education, Indigenous Australians, Kevin Rudd, Marcel, other blogs, Political, politics, right wing politics