Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Weight loss loyalty

I enjoy food. Potato is one of my favourite with either mashed or fries being my preferred ways of preparing the humble spud. Which makes the potato gem (Tater Tots for American readers) my favourite of all time as it combines the two into balls of fried mashed potato.

When it comes to sweets it is chocolate. Sure I may entertain a slice of cheesecake or an apple pie every now and then but I will always return to my dark master… the cocoa bean.

Like Manu from My Kitchen Rules I am also partial to a good sauce.

These things are not conducive of maintaining or even losing weight.

I exercise regularly and yes I know it is good for my physical and mental health and I yes feel better having done it but the real motivation for exercise is so that I can enjoy my food.

So losing weight requires a bit of discipline with both diet and exercise.

It is the diet that is hardest. As I have explained I enjoy my food and instead of going extreme full on dairy, free, sugar free, gluten free vegan only to discover all of my meals have the flavour and consistency of dirt I am working on the principle of “everything in moderation”. This way I also think it has a greater chance of becoming a sustainable lifestyle choice.

Yes I have chocolate most days. But instead of a couple of rows from a family block (or more) per day, I now only eat a couple of squares. I am also more selective of the types and quantities of food I consume at meal times.

That said, losing weight it hard work. I think it should be more like airline loyalty points. People can earn points in many ways, not just by flying. And like points, members get status credits when they do take to the air.

In the same way you lose weight  in a number of ways. Substituting, milk, juice or soft drinks for water. Not having seconds. Riding instead of driving to work. One scoop of ice cream instead of two (and yes no scoops of ice cream might be better still). Grilling the chicken instead of frying it. This list of ideas is endless.

But what about the status credits. There is a fresh packet of biscuits in the lunch room at work. You know they are there, you have seen them, they are free and yet you choose not to take one. 5 status points!

The chocolate that you are very disciplined in rationing your consumption are just sitting there in the fridge tempting and teasing you every time you go to get a glass of chilled water. Every time you take the water without a companion piece of chocolate 7 -12 points depending on the brand.

You could stay snuggled up in bed all Sunday watching shows on Netflix with your cat or dog curled up next to your instead you get up and go for a walk, 15 points 920 if it’s raining.
You come home tired and just feel like pizza. It would be easy just to order one on line but you instead you use the 30 minutes it would have taken for the delivery to arrive to actually make your own pizza from fresh ingredients – with no oil and only the smallest amount of cheese – 25 points!

Then when you get to 300 points you instantly lose 1 kilo.

The loyalty should be rewarded.

Substituting meat for soy product in the shape of the meat it is replacing like tofurkey (turkey), facon (bacon) and notdogs (hotdogs)  steak is not acceptable and should be punished.

The inclusion of these products into a meal, or similar, should nullify any other weight loss activity for that day. You could have run a half marathon done 1000 sit ups, consumed  nothing but water and kale up until the evening meal of poserhouse steak and salad and the net result for the day is nothing.

Photographing Stairs

Stairs and steps are a popular subject for photography. They provide a strong repeated pattern, offer a symmetry and lead the eye somewhere in or through the image. Stairs, outside of a Hollywood movie are also static. Ok so an escalator contains moving stairs but they are contained within a stationery framework.

This provides a predictable and unvarying subject around which a photographer can often move to explore all angles to make the most of the shapes and the light.

Let the shapes and colours of the stairs themselves guide how the image is composed.

Stairs and steps are a popular subject for photography. They provide a strong repeated pattern, offer a symmetry and lead the eye somewhere in or through the image. Stairs, outside of a Hollywood movie are also static. Ok so an escalator contains moving stairs but they are contained within a stationery framework.

This provides a predictable and unvarying subject around which a photographer can often move to explore all angles to make the most of the shapes and the light.

Let the shapes and colours of the stairs themselves guide how the image is composed.

For more information about photographing stairs visit www.dftours.com.au/free-photography-lessons/stairs 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Review: Fever Pitch – The sultry story of Peggy Lee

This is the inaugural solo show for seasoned cabaret and burlesque performer, Camilla Cream. What a way to start a solo career!

From the moment she appears through the black drapes in her full length gown and flapper cloche hat and radiant smile Camilla Cream commands attention on stage. Opening with Fever Cream instantly has the audience in the palm of her hands as she warmly and enthusiastically enters into the audience encouraging them to become part of the show – even getting one woman to get up and dance with her.

Throughout the show Camilla’s honest and disarming style , and beautiful voice which is everything you want a jazz/cabaret performer to be keeps the audience singing and moving along with every song.

The show is a tribute to the life and music of one of the world’s truly great performers, Peggy Lee. The story starts at the end telly of Lee's death then works its way backwards through her career and personal life.  There are two costume changes during the one hour show. One of which occurs whilst Camilla is on stage – sort of. She goes behind the drapes to changes whilst regularly sticking head back through curtain to regales interesting and entertaining piece of Peggy Lee trivia.

Camilla Cream is definitely more comfortable and confident. when singing than she is during the spoken pieces in the show and opening night for a new show is nerve racking for even the most experienced performer. Having said that there is no reason she should be nervous presenting the monologues. Her chatty style is endearing and the witty side comments – both scripted and impromptu – garner many laughs from the audience.

Strictly a limited season, get your tickets now to ensure you do not miss this engaging and highly entertaining show.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

I'm Not-Milk Intolerant

Let me clear from the start. I love milk and I have no beef with lactose. In fact if I could have a cow in my yard plumbed directly into a single purpose tap in my kitchen like rain water I would. I would, but weird animal cruelty laws prevent such practice.

What I have no tolerance for are all of the no-milk products falsely claiming to be milk that fill up our supermarket shelves and refrigerators. Just being a white liquid does not a milk make.

Milk comes from the teats of female mammals for the purpose of feeding their newborn, and for people to make thick shakes and cheese. All mammals produce it whether it is a Cuban Solenodon an armoured pangolin. It is to be said that some mammals are easier to milk than others, fitting a milking machine on a field mouse is very tricky indeed and farming blue whales is near impossible – imagine the size of the paddocks that would be required.

My complaint is with the new-age, fancy pantsy la-di-da products that are self-titled “milk”

Soy milk, is the juice or possibly the sap of a bean that tastes like rotting wood. Mmmm yes please can I have double froth on my bean sap cappuccino!

Almond milk, is not milk. More accurately it should be called nut juice. I can understand from a marketing perspective that calling a product “nut juice” my limit its selling power to a very niche market, but it is a long way from being milk. My intolerance of almond milk is somewhat tempered by its high sugar content. All of the health conscious, self –righteous food snobs who are substituting real milk for this legume by product on claims that it is some sort of super food without realise that nearly all commercially available “almond milk” are so high in sugar that they may as well be drinking a full cream  Big M strawberry milk. Mmmmm milk, and it has strawberries so it is also a serve of fruit.

On reflection organic nut juice with no added sugar, would be a hard sell. Maybe this is a new challenge for teams on the Gruen segment “The Pitch”

Coconut milk. Right of the top this is not a nut, it is a drupe which is a category of fruit, so we are back into the juice category. If stirred it does have a colour and consistency that resembles milk however it has the flavour of drinking a glass of milk in summer during the 1970s and 80s just after oiling oneself up with le Tan to get that all over bronze look. (Before we realised that treating our skin like that of a roast chicken not only aged the skin quickly but could literally kill you.

In the same way that white wine is not grape milk and liquid paper is not ink milk, and wood glue s not sticky milk we need to stop naming liquids “milk” just because they are white. Is that racist? It sounds racist. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Not the News

That feeling when nothing is actually happening
My great dislike of reality television stems largely from the little amount of activity that actually occurs. The vast majority of time in each show is spent of either describing what is about to happen, or reminiscing about what has just occurred. Often this commentary is spliced into the show immediately after we have just witnessed the event they are describing.

The contestants’ self-descriptive pontification is so closely timed to the actual footage that even a goldfish would be able to remember what happened. What is even more annoying is how the talking head sections are also highly scripted and edited to try and create emotion and drama when very little actually existed. We know there was little emotion and drama because we just watched it unfold.

Now there is Gogglebox. It is a reality television show about people watching and (over) reacting to other television shows. Staying true to the reality television format the “cast” then talk about what they just watched and then reactions to it even though we just watched them watching and reacting to the show.

This is where television becomes meta, and by meta I mean stuck up its own arse. As the Gogglebox “cast” watch other reality television programs. Now we are watching someone cooking (stop crying, baking a cake it not worth crying about) and then talking about the experience of cooking being watched by other people who react to the cooking said cake and the pursuant discussion who then have to discuss their own experience of watching the person cook a cake and discuss the experiences of making this damn cake.

As an aside, since when did making a cake have or need a back story?

Unfortunately this is not the end of the saga. On line “news” sites now have articles about popular shows. If the argument of there just not being enough news in the world to warrant a 24 hour news cycle it is when an news source publishes an article commentating on people commentating on themselves as they watch other people commenting on themselves making a cake.

In other news the Australian government has forced Jonny Depp and Amber Heard to return to defend charges of illegally importing their dogs Pistol and Boo, only to drop the charges once in court. Let’s hope we get to hear commentary from the dogs themselves as they watch the court proceedings from their pampered kennel in Meudon, France.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Review: Lewis Spears - They Tried to Cancel Me Last Time

Each comedy festival I always urge people when buying a ticket to a show for a big name artist to also try their luck on someone they have never heard of before. Today I followed my on advice and saw Lewis Spears. They fact that I have not heard of him before might say more about my demographic than his performance.

From walking in the room it was obvious that I was the odd one out. I was aged over thirty, was not wearing black and had no facial piercings. Lewis has a huge online following, he plays to their sensibilities and they lapped it up. Some of the audience laughed heartily from beginning to end – one audience member laughed so much she needed a toilet break!

The blurb on the festival website describes Lewis as divisive. This is an accurate description. You might call him racist until he rips into white Australia, you might call him misogynist until he also tears apart men’s behaviour. You might consider his material homophobic and anti-sematic until he focuses his attention to Hitler (no spoilers as to how he addresses both topics in the one bit).

Lewis burst onto the scene after a run in with A Current Affair, which was taken hook line and sinker to a prank he pulled off about online trolling. His take on online trolls and anonymous comments was my absolute favourite part of the show.

Photographing Doors and Windows

If eyes are the window to a person’s soul then windows and doors are the, well the windows and doors to the soul of many buildings. As such they can be an interesting photographic subject. Architecturally the frames of a window or door create strong lines. In unusual building designs and partially ruined structures the windows and doors (or the gaps where they once were) create an easily identifiable and recognisable shape.

The window and doors can tell the story of the property. Their design may show the architectural norms of when it was built or the artistic whims of the designer. The materials used can give insight into the location and culture. Their state of repair might portray some of the buildings history.

To learn more about photographing doors and windows and other free photography lessons visit

Monday, April 11, 2016

No Glass - No Class

Throughout March and April I have been fortunate to attend a large number of live performances including numerous acts as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival but also international touring acrobatic and theatre groups. The performance venues have ranged from spaces that appear to be converted storage cupboard in a pub attic to some of Melbourne’s grandest theatres. All of them with liquor licences that allow people to consume alcohol in the performance space.

The cheaper end of the venue market allow punters to take any beverage into the theatre area in glass (bottles and glassware) yet the expensive up market venues only allow plastic.

Ironically it is the audiences in the former venues that are most likely to use the vessel as a weapon and occasionally a performance that might illicit the launching of missiles by its audience out of sheer boredom.

Why do the fancier theatres not trust their patrons with glassware?

Even more confusing is that the drinks when purchased from the in-venue bar are served in glass vessels, because it is a classy establishment. Only to walk across the aisle and be stopped by a vigilant attendant who demands that the drink be in a plastic container before entering the actual seating area. Patrons then have to either return to the very same bar line up again waiting to be served by the very same bar tender who then pours the exact same drink out of the glass container into a plastic one. Worse are the venues where the door attendant merely hands a plastic cup at the door and requires then to transfer the contents themselves before the glass container is whisked away.

Not classy.

What is also not classy is how cheap the plastic ware provided to patron. The general admission bar at the MCG on boxing day serves its light beer in better plastic cups than this.

A waste of time and a bigger waste of money.

Purchase decent plastic ware (if we cannot be trusted to go all Wayne Carey on the person sitting next to us) so it still looks half decent. Then it will be only one glass required per purchase – first cost saving – and there will be no need for an attendant at the door to treat the adults like children who are not allowed to touch the big people things – second saving.

If we buy a snack from the bar before the show or during interval will the door attendant also cut it up into bite size pieces?

That would be classy.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Review: Nina Conti - In Your Face

Now a regular at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Nina Conti expands on her previous concept of fitting a ventriloquist dummy face-mask to an audience member into a full show involving half a dozen audience members.

The routines involving audience members were wickedly funny. Not only does Conti demonstrate her wonderful abilities as a ventriloquist, but an enviable skills as an improviser.

Despite having some audience participants that were no where near as funny, talented or clever as her, Conti masterfully wrangles them to create a truly uniquely entertaining show.

Her set pieces with “Monkey” draw on some standard ventriloquist dummy tropes but to which Conti brings new twists, surprises and laughs.   The hypnosis piece was genius.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Free photography lesson - Live Performance

source: dftours.com.au
Photographing live performance can be a difficult prospect for a number of reasons, the lighting is not particularly helpful, the performers are continuously moving and getting to a position to take the photograph that neither interrupts the performance nor blocks the audience. 

To learn more about camera settings and techniques to photograph live performances visit http://www.dftours.com.au/free-photography-lessons/live-performance