Brace yourselves

As a former PR guy this seems obvious

There is going to be a big shift in reaching an audience since Facebook has blocked a swathe of pages, links and websites in Australia.

Feels Good Man

Watched this documentary for our family movie night

I hadn't really followed the journey of Pepe the frog and it's a helluva ride, as well as being a comment on the power of internet-based memes.

The discussion of hyper-sigilisation in particular suggests how much impact symbols can have to unite people.

Afterwards I asked my clan to draw their own Pepe.

Pacific octopus

"The giant Pacific octopus is considered the largest octopus species in the world and inhabits the northern Pacific Ocean off the United States up to Alaska and around Japan

"The largest individual on record weighed an impressive 600 pounds and measured 30 feet across in length." 

Via FB

Hamburgers and chips in Leeton

My family recently undertook a comparison of five takeaway hamburgers and chips in Leeton

In the details below you'll see I've included some basic observations about each, as well as noting weight and price.

Our order at each venue was for a plain hamburger and a minimum of chips with sizes varying as well as prices.

Some venues asked whether we were happy to have tomato and beetroot in the salad and one asked if we wanted cheese, but we didn't accept as that might be considered a cheeseburger.

The plain hamburgers shared in common the beef patty, lettuce, tomato, beetroot and bun.

They each differed in ways that make this comparison an exercise with contrasts and I expect the ratio of ingredients will vary between preparations and probably changes depending on staff at each venue too.

We split these five hamburgers over two meals and bought our favourite from the first round a second time to assist in calibrating our taste buds.

It was also interesting to note the burger from Luke's was 9 grams heavier when we bought it on the weekend, compared to the second one we bought on a weekday.

Country Fried Chicken:

Burger had beefiest tasting patty and lots of lettuce.
327 grams / $8

Chips were crisp, golden and fluffy inside.
439 grams / $2

Golden Fried Chicken:

Burger had a sourdough bun with noticeable butter.
317 grams / $7.50

Chips were served, rather cooked specifically for the order and didn’t seem as crisp (but had been brought home in a plastic bag).
507 grams / $4.40

Luke’s Cafe:

Burger had oregano added to patty and a noticeably toasted sesame bun.
284 and 275 grams / $7.50

Chips were crisp and highly rated, possibly the oil.
519 grams / $3

Tourist Supermarket:

Burger had lots of fried onion, which gave a sweet flavour.
333 grams / $11

Huge serve of chips with some crispiness.
909 grams / $3

Amesbury Crossing Family Store:

Burger tasted grilled and seemed to contain more salad (tomato and beetroot were prominent as well as mixed lettuce leaves rather than just iceberg).
326 grams / $6

Chips might have been served and came home in a plastic bag in a box branded GFC.
258 grams / $2.50


It’s worth noting that family members had differing opinions but the adults largely agreed on the following preferences.

Overall the Amesbury burger was the favourite and Luke’s a second place, but they were quite different in the style of patty and the amount of salad.

Overall Country Fried offered the favourite chips, with differing opinions about second place but my partner and I preferred Luke’s. 

Cooking with beer

I've got a stockpile of home-brewed beer and little interest in drinking

So I started looking for ways to use it, aside from watering the garden.

Beer bread has been good, although sometimes flour isn't good for me.

The recipe is easy, just add 375ml beer to three cups of self-raising flour and a teaspoon of salt.

I've found it also works with soft drink to produce a damper-like dough.

It's even better with a tablespoon or three of brown sugar, a cup of cut-up dried dates and some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

I've also started using beer when a recipe calls for water and am finding it's good in many foods.

The pizza dough I made with beer was described as my "best yet" too.

Big Fish

The other day my son mentioned he'd impressed his history teacher by drawing John Merrick on the title page for his notebook

We discussed The Elephant Man and I mentioned it was a film that had brought me to tears.

As I continued reflecting I mentioned other movies that had a similar effect, like Bambi and King Kong and Big Fish. 

My son didn't remember Tim Burton's film, which surprised me as I recall crying while watching it a second time with my family.

So we watched the trailer and my son asked "what exactly is it that makes you cry?"

I began explaining the father and son theme, how the son doesn't believe the stories his father told him and so on. 

Then I started recalling the final scene, where the son takes his father to the river and my throat started to close.

Soon my eyes were watering and I knew I was about to start sobbing.

My son looked bemused as I excused myself from continuing.

I don't know why the film makes me cry, probably the theme, but it surprised me how little exposure was required to have an effect.

Sometimes I think it's important to cry in front of my kids but it surprises me how rarely they remember it.

The Beach review

Director Warwick Thornton has been going from strength to strength in his filmmaking

In some ways it’s only a short distance from the contemporary tragedy of Samson and Delilah to the 1920s setting for the neo-western Sweet Country (which comments on Australian race relations with a plot like something John Ford would direct), but he’s quickly established himself. 

Thornton has a confidence in his control of what he shows viewers, particularly in action that happens offscreen, and his style seems almost disproportional to the work he has produced.

With The Beach Thornton puts himself at the centre of a powerfully understated experience that appears ridiculously cinematic for a six-part television series, thanks to his son Dylan River.

It opens with Thornton arriving at a remote beach shack on the Western Australian coast and ends with him leaving, while the supporting cast amounts to birds, an animal (spoiler?) and some tasty sea creatures.

Aside from occasionally cursing at the challenges of the setting, his addresses to a group of chickens serve as a device for monologues as Thornton reflects on his life.

I had difficulty forgetting that there would have been a crew watching from outside the frame in those moments, but did not doubt his skills cooking sumptuous fusion meals from a few jars of supplies and meat from the surrounding landscape.

It’s remarkable that the economy in the storytelling required only a couple of scenes showing city life, especially a collection of beer glasses, to give a context for his reasons to escape to the beach for about two months.

Much of the pleasure in watching this holiday is the foraging and cooking he undertakes, but the deeper character development is told with symbols like the flashy jacket he takes off and doesn’t put on again.

In Thornton’s productions the Australian landscape becomes a leading character and The Beach will have you wanting to find your own isolated beachside shack, although this one was apparently purpose-built.


World Wetlands Day

Great pic shared by the Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists on World Wetlands Day, showing my Fivebough banner at the Swamp 

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower review

From the opening scene we learn the central character, Charlie (Logan Lerman), has been working through a personal issue as he writes a letter to an anonymous friend

Then he’s beginning high school and struggling to fit in, before he befriends a couple of older students and soon has a social life that involves partying with their cohort.

A memorable scene is when he first meets Sam (Emma Watson) and the camera takes Charlie’s perspective to see her face lit with a halo from the nightlights at a football game.

It’s soon clear that he is attracted to her, although part of that interest seems to stem from the kindness and compassion she offers after learning Charlie’s lost a close friend.

While this film is described as a coming of age story, it’s interesting that threshold is not crossed through the loss of virginity. 

The key plot development sees characters develop a sense of maturity through recognising the impact of trauma.

However, the film isn’t as heavy as this theme might suggest and is remarkably restrained in the way it handles the material.

Director Stephen Chbosky developed the screenplay from his own novel and the film maintains a quick pace that uses a variety of music to express character and mood, both within scenes and accompanying them.

The soundtrack is excellent and enhanced by Michael Brooks’ understated score.

I’ve watched this a couple of times now and found a lot to admire in the use of camera angles and flashback scenes to convey the internal world of the characters.

Watson’s acting carries a lot of the film, as she is required to cover a range of emotions, while accompanied by an energetic performance by Ezra Miller as her stepbrother.

There were many points where I thought I could guess the direction of the film only to be wrong, and I really enjoyed being surprised.


Ceci n'est pas une hot dog

For some reason I wanted a picture of Freud holding a hot dog