August 29th, 2008

Last weekend we celebrated Christmas at Leura Dairies, an award winning eco retreat in the Blue Mountains (although there’s nothing eco about my 45 minute showers), a very similar trip to the one I wrote about 4 years ago to the day. Doesn’t time fly! Here is Amy in Leura downtown where it really did feel like Christmas –

Amy with Rudolph, Santa and a Cappucino; the life blood of Champions

Rach had organised for us to stay at Leura Dairies which is a converted dairy which had a main house, a workers cottage (where Amy and I stayed) and a studio apartment – and also an out door hot tub!

Leura Dairies

We drove up after work on Friday taking the express toll route out of Sydney, it is a fantastic way to get out of the city as it is very fast but the downside is its about $20 worth of tolls! It was cold up in the mountains but warm in the house so we relaxed and had a few drinks with the 17 other guests we had for Christmas!

The next morning Matt played us a potential new track for the band BhangLassi which was great and we had breakfast in dribs and drabs as people got out of bed in the morning after a heavy night of boozing. After burning myself on the grill cooking bacon Amy and me headed up to Leura where we looked around the shops and then headed to Echo Point.

Echo Point is underrated as a spot, kind of like the poor mans Three Sisters, it is one view point down from the Three Sisters at Katoomba but offers the same view, you also get to see the Sisters from a different angle, rather than real close up. Here’s Amy and me in the way of the view at Echo Point –

Echo Point Far Away in Time

We got back and dinner was already being prepared, cooking Christmas dinner for 19 people is no easy task. We talked about how hard it must have been in our grandparents days when they had families of 12 and had to cook like this everyday (although not sure they had Christmas Dinner everyday). Everyone was given a certain task to do Amy’s was to make a starter and mine was to make a dessert.

Jacqui, Sleiman and some Brussel Sprouts

Christmas evening was great fun, things started to get a bit crazy with Christmas Hat making which Mike was really into and Alita’s creative side meant we had some fantastic creations –

Mike, Sleiman, Alita and Mel – Crazy Hats

When dinner was ready we had the Christmas tunes pumping out of the ipod and the fire was roaring it was very Christmas like, except for the Australian guests who thought it was a bit strange (particulary those from Queensland Mel and Amy).

Christmas Dinner

We held a secret santa game where we sat in a circle and a person choose a gift, they opened it and if the person sitting to the right of them wanted it they could take it it was a great way to do secret santa. I got some playing cards and Amy got some Brazil Nut Body Butter from the Body Shop.

After dinner we played the game which I invented with Amy (although it may have been invented before hand I’ll have to look it up) where you use an iPod or iTunes and you play the first 2 or 3 seconds of a song and you have to guess the name of the song and the artist and for bonus points the year. To finish off what was already a fantastic evening the subbuteo was ironed out and a championship was help – we even had stadium style spotlights for the games –

Subbuteo Championships at Leura Dairies

A fantastic weekend I wish it was Christmas all year round!

August 5th, 2008

Last night I watched the film “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” a film by Stanley Kubrick, starring Peter Sellers.

I added this film to our DVD rental queue after watching The Life and Death of Peter Sellers which was my favourite film of 2007. I think watching the Peter Sellers film before watching Dr. Strangelove is definitely a good idea – Peter Sellers is excellent in this film, playing the roles of the President of the United States, an English Group Captain and Dr. Strangelove – an ex-Nazi physicist who has become the President’s scientific advisor but who has tendencies to drop back into his old Nazi ways, calling the President “Mein F├╝hrer” on a few occasions, one of his hands also has a mind of its own – doing the Hitler salut whenever he gets excited about something, such as a doomsday event.

Dr. Strangelove

The film is based around a military general that orders a first strike nuclear attack on Russia, without the authority of the President. The “war room” is where a lot of the action takes place and in this short clip the President of the United States (Sellers) has to talk to Dmitri Kissoff, the Russian Premiere on the hotline to tell him what has happened, it is a genius piece of monologue by Sellers and apparently was mostly unscripted apart from the first few sentences –

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The bomb Dmitri, the Hydrogen Bomb

The film is very dark and some people might not get the humour, as its mostly not laugh out loud funny at any moment but it dark comedy makes it brilliant, especially for a film which is 44 years old. A few anecdotes about the film –

* It was due to be released on November 22nd 1963 however Kennedy was assasinated that day and a film about a president trying to prevent a nuclear war being released wouldn’t have gone down well in a country which didn’t have one.

* There’s only one female in the entire film but the film is entirely based around sexuality, the general who orders the nuclear strike believes that water flouridation is a communist conspiracy to impurify “bodily fluids”

* One of the crew on the bombers was James Earl Jones who is the voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars, it was his first motion picture.

* When Ronald Raegan became President of the United States he asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff where the “war room” was – probably from watching Dr. Strangelove. The war room was fictional at the time.