Monday, November 15, 2004

Tati and poultry

"I'm going to kill you!"

I was on the other side of the creek, but that was what I made of the sudden cacophony coming from over near the house. I started back across the creek, slightly handicapped by the fact I'd put my galoshes on my wrong feet, but Saj the mastiff had taken off as soon as he heard the uproar.

By the time I got there, he was circling the combatants, trying to break up the fight, but they were paying little attention to him. I ran at them, waving the empty bucket I was carrying, and they reluctantly broke off.

One of them, obviously the aggressor, had an angry look in his eye and a beak full of feathers. The other goose took off down the hill while I kept between them and Saj looked on.

Spring in the barnyard is never a time of peace and quiet but some days are worse than others.

Tuesday night I arranged my schedule around the next attraction in the Jacques Tati film festival. The 1967 comedy Playtime starts off like a reality show about tourists spending a single day in Paris – Art Buchwald wrote the dialogue for these scenes – but gradually Tati's unique sense of humour takes charge. Surely no film-maker has ever got so many laughs from the sound of footsteps!

Tati plays with us at first, keeping his hero Mr Hulot out of view but showing us instead some other men with raincoats and pipes. Hulot [Tati] is one of those characters who somehow manages to simultaneously be the calm eye in the middle of the storm and also be a catalyst for chaos.

The early part of the movie is full of satiric jabs at the glass-and-steel skyscraper world of the day, expressed by the wistful longings of the American tourist Barbara to see more of the real Paris and less of the ultra-modern metropolis.

Towards the end of the film, we get into an elaborate set-piece involving the opening night of a new restaurant. there's an enormous cast who are constantly in motion before our bemused eyes. The sequence seems to go on forever but you don't want it to end. It's simply enthralling.

Finally the movie was over and I was back in the street. Dusk had fallen and the little shops of North Hobart seemed somehow touched by the magic of the streets of Paris. I walked back to the car, music from the film still running through my head

Next week, Mr Hulot's Holiday, once dubbed by David Stratton "the funniest film ever made."

Leaving Julie's house after the evening feed last night, I stared up at the night sky. Was that just an unusual cloud, or was it an elongated streak of light? I leaned against the car for a moment, looking up over the hills.

The news media gave me the answer the next day. Cities as far north as Coonabarabran had been marvelling at the Aurora Australis. And possibly more to come. This is a bit unusual, since auroras are more common during the peak of the 11-year solar cycle but far rarer now, near the bottom of the cycle.

Look south (or north – towards the pole anyway) when you go outside tonight. You never know your luck.

It's been only six days since I cleaned up the ducklings, but they were all muddy again today and looking very dispirited. Cleared out their box but I then had to bathe them before I put them back into clean surroundings.

They panicked and struggled, although at least one of them decided when he was in the basin of warm water that Hey, this isn't so bad after all!

It's quite noticeable that while the chickens don't produce so much mud and muck, the ducklings and the goose turn their surroundings into a virtual swamp. I didn't think this was why they called them "waterfowl" but I could be wrong.

One of the news broadcasts yesterday mentioned it was the 15th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Fifteen years! Struth! You realise that means there are people contributing to this website who don't even remember East Germany, let alone the Cold War.

And a fond farewell to Amanda Keller and her television programme Mondo Thingo, which ended its run tonight on ABC-TV.

I'll miss her cheeky comments on popular culture every week.

The final episode was made up of segments from previous weeks, voted on by visitors to the show's website.

"Everything begins and ends at exactly the right place and time", read the small print at the end of the credits. A quote from Picnic at Hanging Rock

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