Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Remaking '70s television

The Muppet Show has had a reboot no longer a vaudeville show it is now a late night talk show hosts by Miss Piggy. The show is mainly behind the scenes focusing on the lives and interrelationships between all of the Muppet favourites. Think The Muppet Show meets 30 Rock meets Late Show with David Letterman.

Ironically although no longer vaudeville, complete with Gonzo’s burlesque chickens, the new format is a lot more bawdy. The innuendo is ever present, there is no double-entendre, it is just single-entendre, plain and simple.

But it makes for an interesting premise, reformatting popular family shows from the 1970’s. The characters can change a bit, their voices can change a lot but the true fans will love it anyway.

Here are some suggestions:

Happy Days

Go back to the pilot episode when the elder brother Chuck goes upstairs, instead of him inexplicably disappearing he comes back down for breakfast the next morning. The new series has all the same episodes, major themes and in your face moralising, except Chuck is there to occasionally punch his little brother in the arm or fart in his face when he gets too obnoxious, bucko!

Also the character of Arthur “The Fonze” Fonzarelli is recast so the actor looks remotely the right age to have dropped out/been expelled from high school  only a couple of years  (not a couple of decades) prior to Ralph, Potsie and the Cunninghams starting high school.

Diff’rent Strokes

The story of orphaned black boys from Harlem being fostered by a wealthy old white man and his daughter living in a luxury Manhattan apartment, by today’s standards was racist and elitist.

Keeping with this exploitative “fish out of water” culture shock, let’s keep the wealthy white family. In the remake though have them take in some orphaned refugees and just for funsies - make them Muslim.

Oh the fun and hijinks, the audience can be smashed around the head with overt morals of acceptance, love and a sense of family like in the original. The catch phrases.

To build in the bawdiness, following The Muppet Show’s lead, the elder boy and the rich man’s daughter start flirting, once they are both of age. The sexual tension, the religious taboo.

Whachoo talkin’ about Mohammad?

The Brady Bunch

The remake of this family classic is simple, the storylines of the show could follow the real lives of the original cast. Don’t worry the innuendo will be ever present!

·         Mike – the father – comes out as gay.
·         Carol and Greg – step mother and eldest step son – have a clandestine relationship
·         Greg and Marcia – two eldest step siblings – hook up
·         Peter and Jan - two middle step siblings – hook up
·         Bobby and Cindy - two youngest step siblings – hook up
·         Greg – eldest son – always gets high
·         Marcia – eldest daughter – prostitutes herself for cocaine, before appearing on any reality television show that will have her.
·         Jan – middle daughter – despite her awkwardness and generally being disliked turns out to be the only one with real talent as a theatrical actor and exhibited painter. The family sponge off of her earnings. Mike’s architecture was never going to get the family through the GFC.
·         Cindy – youngest daughter – becomes an animal rights activist having witnessed the cruelty endured by Tiger (dog), Fluffy (the cat, who like Chuck Conningham mysteriously disappeared in the pilot episode) and Greg’s white rabbit )that he ruthlessly trade for a baseball mitt and a picture of Rachel Welch)
·         Alice – the housekeeper – is actually a god-bothering spinster bringing the moral element to such a debauched household and subversively trying to convert all of the family
·         Bobby – youngest son – chops off his finger in a backyard project mishap before being converted to religion by Alice and writing Jesus-y scripts

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Sunset Photography

Everyone wants to take the perfect post card photo of a sunset, but there is more to a great sunset photograph than than pink and orange skies. Below are some basics to get started. A tripod is highly recommended to help get the best results.

For more information about camera settings and composition techniques to take pleasing photographs at sunset visit

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sunrise Photography

Sunrise and sunset, are both considered to by times of golden light, the best time for photography. The light is softer and warmer and the colours richer. Here are some things to consider when taking photographs at sunrise.

Plan you shot and get there early to set up your equipment, compose your photograph and get the settings about right. The sun will rise quicker than you think and the golden light will soon disappear as the sun rises above the horizon.

To learn more about sunrise photography and other free photography lessons visit

The battle of the Tonys

Ray Martin has finished his review of the ABC’s discussion show and not a single hair on his head is out of place. This review was instigated by former Australian Prime Minister and dictator wannabe Tony Abbott because his government’s policies actions were questioned.

Ironically the review took nearly as long as Abbott’s Prime Ministership and will probably be longer too.

So what did Australia’s favourite journalist learn from watching every episode, and reading every transcript and tweet, besides that Q&A is not interesting enough to binge watch?

The show is a bit sexist, more men get to be panelists than women. With the Coalition in government and it being a political show this was bound to happen. The Coalition are not known for promoting women to the front bench.

Also for a Sydney produced and filmed live in Sydney, it favours Sydney based people when it comes to the audience. Surprise! What is surprising is its bias towards Sydney-siders when it comes to twitter comments from the general public that are published. Should we all set up fake twitter accounts so that we can participate in one of Australia's most popular hashtags #qanda? Like setting up ghost American account to buy online music at a cheaper rate and another one for downloading movies and television shows. 

Finally Mr Martin discovered that the show was not biased against the government. Another surprise! What he did learn is that the government of the day got more air time to present their policies and initiatives but equally were questioned more about their policies and initiatives. As we learned with the previous Labour governments, being able to explain a policy is critical to success

This makes sense as the Opposition really only has one policy. As their name suggests the Opposition’s policy is to oppose the government. It turns out this was something Abbott was very good at, opposing. Leading was not so much one of his strong suits.

It should be noted that Q&A has proven to be more, more interesting, more informative and more intelligent than Mr Abbott. In the battle of the Tonys (should that be Tonies?) Mr Jones has spent a much longer tenure at the top. 

So what is the answer to the question Australia enjoys being able to debate policy and the tussle between differing ideological opinions, and does not enjoy a government of Prime Minister that will not participate in the conversation. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Royal Cuts

Stop the press! Kate Middleton has had a haircut. Apparently this is not only news worthy but, worthy of being a lead story. A royal haircut.

This trumped the climate summit in France, the ever present threat of IS, arrests of suspected terrorists in Sydney, a drop in the Australian unemployment rate, and major sporting events.

Talking of hair, the latest Trumpism, as vulgar and bigoted as they are,

So did the future queen do anything radical to her hair; like colour or spikes or doing a Sinead O’Connor? No. Copying Diana’s famous blow-wave? Definitely not. She has merely reduced the length of her hair from ending around the height of her elbows when her arms are down by her side, to now be slightly closer to her shoulders.

She may or may not be growing out her fringe.

And this is international news!

What is bigger news is that this appears to be the first time she has had a haircut in the four and half years since becoming Mrs of Cambridge.

Think of the children, George and Charlotte. What chance do they have? Their father is follicly challenged and their mother’s hair grows slower than a glacial flow. Whatever hair they have now might be it, and with mummy Kate determined to replicate as much of Wills childhood in some bizarre if not slightly morbid tribute to his late grandmother it would not be surprising if George had is hair thinned on top from his mid-teens.

Imagine the flurry of activity amongst the international media if she ever changes from her nude pump-style shoes.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Photographing Birds

Photographing birds in direct sunlight will allow for faster shutter speeds, for birds in flight this is important for freezing the action and capturing clear images of the wings and the details in the feathers.

The faster the bird moves the faster the shutter speed. One of the holy grails of wildlife photography is capturing the fast moving wings of a hummingbird.

Be Patient

Be prepared to set up your camera equipment and then wait, relatively motionless. Movements can startle and scare off the birds. By remaining motionless the birds will not perceive the photographer to be a threat and may venture closer. The use of a hide can also help, and a vehicle can make for a useful hide if a permanent one is not available.

Wait for the birds to come to you, for them to fly overhead.

To learn more about photographing birds and other FREE photography lessons visit

Monday, November 30, 2015

Photography Remote Control

When using slow shutter speeds it is important to minimise or illuminate all camera movement as this will blur the image. A photograph of a night city scape will only impress the viewer if the lines are crisp and sharp. The slow release image of moving water creating a soft almost fluffy effect in the water itself only works when contrasted against the sharp clear image of the rocks, trees or pier pylon.

Using a tripod is essential. Equally important is the use of a timer or remote control.

Manually depressing the shutter release button will cause the camera to move, even if the photographer has the dexterity of a brain surgeon. The movement might only be slight and everything might look clear on the playback screen but print it or upload it onto a computer and the clarity will not be there.

To read more about remote controls and other free photography lessons visit

Christmas Eve

Growing up Christmas Eve was an unusual day, there was endless amounts of cleaning and preparing food, decorations and gifts for Christmas Day even if we were not having Christmas at home.

The evening was laced with excitement of the possibilities of the day ahead and yet was a period to be endured if not survived.

My family attended a local church all year round, not just for Christmas and Easter. The church we attended was situated in close proximity to the local public hospital. As such as a group from the church would visit the hospital each Christmas Eve and sing carols. Floor by floor we would search endlessly for an available power point to plug in the portable Casio keyboard. The acoustic guitarist and carolers would gather around. Well those who were not chasing their kids up and down the stairwells.

Many of the singers would be either in an article of clothing resplendent with a Christmas motif or be wearing “fun” Christmassy earrings or would have strategically place a bit of tinsel – woven into a hair scrunchie was poplar. Others would come in their Sunday best. We were as geeky as it sounds. It was the cliché so often depicted in sitcoms at this time of year.

As if the patients were not already sick enough they now had to deal with a band of nerds bursting forth tunelessly with carols. Moving from floor to floor, ward to ward we ensured that no one was going to enjoy a silent night.

The singing on each floor concluded with “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”, generally after four or five carols. It was always the youth and children who would try to start singing “We Wish You A merry Christmas” after two or three songs to try and reduce the suffering of all involved. Occasionally it would stick and the adults would be shuffling back into the lifts before and of the halls and been decked with boughs of holly or before the patient suffering unbearable migraines came out of their room and decked one of us.

The evening of carols would always end in the secure mental health facility out the back. We would sing for the patients residing here before being given a piece of Christmas cake and a glass of cordial.

Growing up in the church I am used to some terrible cordial, usually with so little cordial added to the water that it looks and tastes more like dishwater rather than a sugary drink. But nothing quite compares to the cordial served by the hospital. The predominant flavour, regardless of the colour of the beverage was plastic. If a kitchen hand had come out to apologies explaining that they had in fact run out of cordial and had instead added food colouring to melted down disposable cups, then no-one would have been at all surprised.

And not just once, it was plastic flavour every year.

Having concluded the caroling, we all returned to church suitably proud of ourselves for the midnight mass –that in fact commenced well before midnight. This was a service to get to early because all of the twice a year Christians attended. More visitors attended on Christmas Eve than Christmas Day. Even though Jesus is meant to be the reason for the season no-one wants the religious obligations to interfere with their capitalist plans of sharing unfathomable amounts of gifts food and alcohol.

Christmas Eve services were always timed perfectly to finish right on midnight. They had to be. The same youth and children who tried to curtail the carol singing on each floor would boldly proclaim “Merry Christmas” right on the stroke of midnight.

Like a benediction it quickly drew the service to a close.

If you are looking for a different way to bring some Christmas cheer to people in your life have a look at the photographic gifts including cards, prints, smart phone and tablet covers, notebooks and coffee mugs 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Free Food

I am a big fan of. No, I am not a freegan. I am not waiting out the back of bakeries for them to discard each day’s unsold products. I am talking about food that is provided as catering, or shared between colleagues.

Like when there is a work meeting or function at which catering is provided. Free food! This this should be consumed with appropriate decorum – nibbling not stuffing one’s face – but definitely still in volumes as though this may be the last food on the planet. Definitely keep eating until the service plates are empty, all but the egg sandwiches. These should always be left. How else are caters ever going to get the message that even if people do say that they like egg (most probably lying) there is no place for egg sandwiches in the workplace!

Even better when there is left over food from a meeting where the participants have not following the above rule. This means you get to enjoy the food without having to suffer through the presentations and discussions.

Shared afternoon teas in the work place or catered parties then social etiquette requires some levels of self-control, couple of items on the plate/napkin/hand a time. This does not prevent grazing, taking one or two items each time you walk past the table. It is then just a matter of planning a route that takes you past the table each time you need to move.

It is not acceptable to stock pile “for later” especially at the beginning of the event. Arriving at the table, pocketing your favourite items for later in case it runs out and then sitting down to eat the rest.

At the end of the event it is ok, however, to take an item or two back to your desk or “for the road” at the end of a party.

The other staple for a free foodie is the supermarket sample. A piece of sausage here a cube of cheese there. Get to a new supermarket during their week of opening celebrations and you can piece together an entire 3 course meal plus a cup of coffee!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Black and White Photography

Good black and white photography is more than changing a colour to monotone in Photoshop, choosing the subject and composing the image for black and white is key. Great black and white, or monotone, photography perhaps take photography back to its purest and simplest (or is that the most complex?) form.

In selecting the subject and composing the image, photographers need to consider; tonal contrast, texture and strong lines. 

To learn more about black and white photography and other FREE photography lessons visit