28 September 2007

Giant stuff-up

After years of wanting to watch Giant, starring James Dean, I finally bought it on DVD the other day. The disc is double-sided and in my experience that means that the disc contains two copies of the film; a regular television-size version on one side and a widescreen version on the other side. I couldn’t tell which side was which so I just put the disc in the machine and pressed 'play'. At the end of the film I was a bit confused about the plot and there seemed to be a lot of gaps in the story line. I knew that Giant had been nominated for several Academy Awards, and James Dean’s performance greatly lauded, but I couldn’t see why. There were just too many unanswered questions.

I pondered this for a while and then had an “uh-oh!” moment. I put the disc back in the machine – the other way up this time – and my suspicion was confirmed: I had watched only the second half of the film.


24 September 2007

Accomodation recommendation

If you're ever in Adelaide you absolutely must stay at my brother-in-law's place in Campbelltown. They have a very comfortable mattress-on-the-living-room-floor-with-sleeping-bag arrangement and the best spaghetti bolognese ever. The toilet and bathroom are clean and well stocked, but you'll have to share them with six other people, so there is often a queue at bedtime. Throughout your stay you will be offered plenty of cups of tea, coffee and cold drinks accompanied by various snacks and, once the younger kids have gone to bed, there's chocolate.

Breakfast is a do-it-yourself affair, but there is plenty of choice and you have a full kitchen at your disposal. I opted for porridge followed by a cup of coffee and it really hit the spot. Other options include various breakfast cereals, toast with jam or vegemite and even bacon and eggs, but be prepared to clean up after yourself.

The location is superb with a park, playground and even a Torrens River walking trail, right across the street. It's a short walk to the Paradise Interchange and from there you can catch a bus to just about anywhere in Adelaide. Without looking at a timetable, I went into the city and out to Tea Tree Plaza a couple of times each, and I never had to wait longer than 15 minutes.

The whole house exudes a warm, welcoming atmosphere and I am very grateful to my brother-in-law and his family for their kind and generous hospitality. You guys rock!

17 September 2007

Cruel Runnings

The race starts with a surge as 10,000 bodies strive to cross the starting line all at once. I'm caught in the middle of the throng, trying to find my rhythm as we slowly press forward. I feel like I could walk faster than this, but with the crowd so tightly compressed there is nowhere I can go. I wait for the front-runners to race away and open us up like a concertina unfolding. The 2007 City to Bay fun run is underway and, after a sketchy preparation, I'm wondering if I'll make it to the finish.

We go about 200m before I can start to run at my own pace and I'm reminding myself not to go too hard too soon, as people of all ages race past me. I know that some of them will keep up the pace all the way to the finish, while others will be regretting their strong start by the time they get to South Terrace. We pass through Victoria Square at the 800m mark and I see two runners dashing off to the side to use the public toilets. Why didn't they go in Elder Park before the start?! I went before the start and I'm glad I did because I drank a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water before I left the house.

Just past the 2km mark we turn onto Anzac Highway and something feels very wrong. My lungs are burning and I realize to my horror that instead of controlling my rhythm by singing 'My Sharona' by The Knack in my head, I have actually had Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk' running through my brain. My pace has been way too fast and I'm now exhausted with 10km still to go. Bother! Come on, focus! Shorten the stride. Get the rhythm right. "Ooh my little pretty one, my pretty one..." Try not to collapse.

By the 4km mark I'm feeling completely drained so I grab a cup from the water station. Drinking from a cup while running and struggling to breathe is harder than you might think. I don't think I actually got any of the water into my mouth; I did, however, get quite a lot of water down the front of my shirt, shorts and legs. Great! Now I'm exhausted, wet and cold and my calf muscles are starting to ache. Runners are passing me in great number. That stretcher at the SA Ambulance emergency aid station is looking decidely comfortable. But I press on.

At the 7km mark the pain in my legs has spread to my shoulders. I catch myself daydreaming about lying on the grass at the side of the road. Come on! Snap out of it! "When you gonna give me some time, Sharona?" What can I feel brushing against my leg? I look down and see that the bandage that was supporting my right knee is starting to unfurl. By the time I grab the loose end, about two thirds of it have come undone. Another two steps and it would have been gone completely. As it is, there is just enough bandage left to support the knee, but only if I hold it tight. Now I'm running with one arm swinging and the other one holding the loose bandage. I feel very lopsided. Two teenage girls behind me start giggling. I would tell them off, but I'm hyperventilating and incapable of speech. I've also just had another frightening revelation: I need to do a wee.

There are toilets at the finish line, but none along the way, so at this point stopping would actually be worse than continuing. I try to run with my legs crossed and I feel like I'm sort of run-hobbling, holding the bandage, trying to push through the pain which is now also in my elbows, and trying hard not to wet myself; maybe if I don't think about it it will go away. "Doo-doo doo-doo doot doot - MY SHARONA!!" Sweat is running down my forehead from beneath my hat and into my eyes. Ten-year-olds are cruising past me. Just...keep...breathing...

At the 10km mark I spot two ambulance officers with a first aid kit. Hallelujah! I stop and ask them to cut and tape my recalcitrant bandage, which they do, and I quickly rejoin the race. I guess that the stop took about 20 seconds, but I feel like I can easily make that up because regaining the use of my right arm has given me an amazing burst of speed. I've caught my breath a bit and I only have to contend with the pain in my chest, legs, shoulders, elbows and now my ankles, being cold and wet, and trying to suppress the increasing urge to relieve myself. There is only 2km to go and I want to cover them as quickly as I can. I pass a slowing ten-year-old and think "Take that, Girlie!"

By the 11km mark I feel like my entire body is going into melt-down. My recent burst of speed has drained the last of my energy and my entire body is aching. I even feel pain in my eyes as I try to peer through an ocean of sweat. My only thought is to keep putting one foot in front of the other without collapsing. 'My Sharona' has never been sung this slowly. Eventually, to my great relief, I see the finish line in the distance. I try to open my stride to give the impression of finishing strongly, but only succeed in losing my balance and very nearly falling over, but for an impromptu, flailing, pirouette.

I stagger across the line and a wave of euphoria washes over me as I feel my jelly-like body slam head-long into the ground. Two ambulance officers rush to help me but by the time they arrive I have already regained my footing. I brush aside their offers of assistance and bob up on my tiptoes to survey the landscape. My exhaustion, dehydration, aches, pains and bruises must take a back seat while I attend to something much more important. I call out in search of the man who has become the best friend of all those who have a pressing, desperate need. "Kenny!! Where are you Kenny?? Kennnnnnyyyyyyyyyyy!!"

08 September 2007

Death By Jogging

I went for a 10km run today as part of my training for the City to Bay fun run in Adelaide next weekend. I enjoy running but it was tough today for a couple of reasons.

Whenever I go for a run, I head North from my house along a straight road for half the distance I want to cover, then I turn around and run home. Today I ran North for 5km into a strong head wind which is harder than it sounds. Of course, when I turned around I had the wind at my back, which made it easier, but I'd had to work a lot harder than usual to get there.

At about the 7km mark I was really huffing and puffing when I did one of those rhythmic farts that comes out a little bit more each time your foot strikes the ground. By now the wind was at my back and it blew the fart forward so I could smell nothing else for about 10 or 12 steps. Remember - huffing and puffing - I nearly collapsed on the road, choking on my own fart. Yuck!

03 September 2007

OK, so maybe I'm not quite as FREAKED OUT as I said I was.

I just wanted to see what sort of reaction I would get. As far as I know, only one person fell for my little fairy tale. While the photo of the "ghost tram" is a genuine, 35mm, single exposure image that has not been "photoshopped", the story of how I took it was entirely made up.

Well, not entirely; I was wandering around Victoria Square at 1:00am looking for things to photograph in black and white, but the tram was already at the station when I got there. I asked the tram driver when it would be leaving and he said "In about two minutes." I quickly set up my tripod, lined up the shot, focussed the lens and tried to guess what exposure time would give me a good result. I figured about 30 seconds would do it. All I wanted was to capture a clear photo of a stationary tram, using the ambient light.

Using my watch to time the exposure, I pressed the cable release to open the shutter and waited. After about 20 seconds the tram driver closed the doors and, about five seconds after that, the tram started to roll slowly out of the station (away from me). I thought my photo was probably ruined, but I also knew there was a chance that it would look good. I left the shutter open for about another 15 seconds just to see what would happen.

I was taking photography as a University elective at the time and I developed the photo in the University dark room. As soon as I had a developed print I brought it out of the darkroom to have a good look at it. Aldo, the lab technician, was there and when I showed it to him he said, "You've finally impressed me!". That made my whole week. This all happened in October 1994 and 'Ghost Tram' is still my favourite photograph.