Birth. More birth. More and more and more births.
We had 14 piglets over the space of a couple of days. Our youngest and oldest sows decided to farrow (give birth) at pretty much the same time. The youngest moved from her warm, insulated shelter with plenty of straw, to the far corner of her paddock, where she built a nest out of dry grass she found herself. Out into the elements, with her back just millimetres from an electric fence. Thankfully, she had an untroubled labour, though it did take her a week to move her brood back to her house.
On the opposite hill, bigger animals were birthing. Due on or after one Friday, all six of our calves were born early or on the date. Mallee, the bull who came on loan from a mate, has left his reputation untarnished. The first calf surprised me, a tiny slip of a black Lowline Angus, trotting next to his mum when I wasn’t expecting it. Then each day another appeared, including Priscilla’s new bub, a Jersey/Angus cross. An incredible deep, almost fawn coloured heifer (young girl), with the finer bone structure of her mum.
There is questioning, then there is questioning, but if you are going to ask, make sure you have a form guide sitting next to you.
Universal Sports (USA) commentators Steve Schlanger and Todd Gogulski clearly didn't when discussing Nairo Quintana’s recent Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) victory, casting doubt on its validity.
Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas is one of the brightest stars in professional cycling, and one leading a Colombian renaissance in the sport, riding for Spanish squad Movistar.
When I was growing up in Wollongong in the 80s and 90s virtually all car brands were represented in my family.
Mum and Dad drove a Nissan Bluebird and Datsun 200B, while my uncles and aunties had either a Holden Torana or Commodore, Ford Falcon, Nissan Pulsar or a Toyota Camry.
Most were mid-to-large size cars.
The biggest rivalry was between two of my uncles, the typical Ford versus Holden debate, which is better?
Tributes, of various flavours, followed the announcement that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had died.
Thatcher’s legacy at home remains a divisive issue in the United Kingdom. She had difficulty overseas, too, her footprints championed by some and reviled by others.
Thatcher’s domestic reputation as the ‘Iron Lady’ was boosted internationally during the 1980 siege of the Iranian Embassy in London. A group claiming autonomy for an oil-rich Arab region within post-revolution Iran held hostages within the embassy building for six days before the British Army’s SAS burst through the windows killing all but one of the terrorists.
Richard Frankland’s stoner comedy launches on Video-on-Demand platforms and potentially on DVD.
Writer-director Richard Frankland is chuffed that his road movie Stone Bros. is being launched in the US on April 9 on all the major cable Video-on-Demand platforms which together reach more than 50 million homes.
One of the wave of Indigenous filmmakers that emerged in the past 10 years, Frankland is developing two movies: a drama based on his play Conversations with the Dead, which will be produced by Tait Brady and executive produced by Rolf de Heer; and an untitled horror movie, a contemporary tale which deals with the clash between white and black cultures.
He’s also writing a play, Voices, to be staged by Melbourne’s Malthouse theatre, which Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) will direct, based on Frankland’s experiences as a teenager working in an abattoir in Portland in country Victoria.
Saffron is one of those spices that evokes memories for me. Growing up in the suburbs of Perth, my mother used to add a pinch of saffron powder to the rice that accompanied the curries we ate regularly. Also on the table was a bowl of cucumber slices in yoghurt, bananas in lemon juice and coconut, and, of course, a jar of Sharwood’s mango chutney. In an era before eating out became a regular occurrence, it tasted like the height of exotic dining.
I don’t use ground saffron now, preferring instead the tiny threads that are actually the stigmas of the crocus – with their signature aroma and intense orange-yellow hue, it’s a spice worth having in your pantry. In this case, I used it in Matthew Evans saffron-spiced apple teacake, and, unusually for me, I was organised enough to soak the threads in milk overnight as instructed, resulting in a small glass of bright yellow milk. The cake itself is an easy one and I took great delight in studding the golden batter with apple slices – it almost seems like too many, but it’s actually just the right amount – before topping it with brown sugar and cinnamon.
For once, my oven temperature seemed to be spot on and the cake was done right on time – risen and caramelised on top. It was hard to resist pulling a piece of apple out immediately, but I managed.
It's not just Dubai's architecture that seems to be out of this world, but its people are mostly alien too.
There are just over 2 million residents in Dubai, 80 per cent of them are expatriates.
Around 14,000 are Australian.
It's one of the very few places in the world where expats outnumber locals to such a degree.
Bill Murray has agreed to play a wise war veteran for first-time filmmaker Ted Melfi.
Given how difficult he is to contact, it is amazing Bill Murray is ever in a film. The comedic legend does not have an agent or a manager (he fired them over a decade ago), so if you’d like to approach Murray about appearing in your movie you have call a 1-800 number and leave a message on the answering machine. If he’s interested he’ll call you back. Some filmmakers are more persistent than others: Sofia Coppola claims to have left over 500 messages on the service just to get Murray to look at the script for 2003’s Lost in Translation. Robert Downey Jr. recently admitted that he had suggested Murray for a role in the original Iron Man, but the producers never heard back from the deadpan actor.
Nonetheless, Murray works steadily, if to the beat of his own drum. With Hyde Park on Hudson, where Murray plays revered U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in cinemas now, he already has roles underway in George Clooney’s The Monuments Men, where he joins an all-star cast of the director, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett, in the story of art historians trying to secure purloined Nazi loot at the end of World War II, and the next Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anderson, who changed the perception of Murray when he snared him for 1998’s Rushmore, is making a period comedy that also stars Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Jude Law and Saoirse Ronan.
Murray’s latest commitment is to the independent comic drama St. Vincent De Van Nuys. The feature debut of writer/director Ted Melfi is the story of a 12-year-old boy who following the divorce of his parents comes under the unlikely care of a new neighbour, a misanthropic retired war veteran. Murray, naturally, plays the latter, bestowing choice wisdom on the child, while the boy’s struggling mother will be played by comic actress Melissa McCarthy. The cast is rounded out by Sam Rockwell and Chris O’Dowd.
Thompson takes St. Tropez
The French writer-turned-director Daniele Thompson, who grew up in the cinema thanks to being the daughter of famous comic filmmaker Gerard Oury and actress Jacqueline Roma, looks likely to continue her run of deft, crowd-pleasing comic melodramas that already includes Jet Lag and Orchestra Seats. It Happened in St. Tropez will tell the story of two disconnected middle-aged brothers who are drawn closer together when one loses his wife just as the other’s daughter marries. Thompson, who writes with her own son Christopher as her father did with her, has cast Eric Elmosnino (Gainsbourg), Monica Bellucci (Irreversible) and Kad Merad (The Chorus).
I never thought practising a wheelie would end in international scandal, but there you go. It just goes to prove you never know what's around the corner when you're a pro cyclist.
Remember last week how I mentioned that Peter Sagan caught me pulling wheelies outside the team hotel? Well, he came up to me on the Saturday before the Tour of Flanders and apologised for the way his team-mates had been heckling at me after he told them what I'd been up to.
I thought that was a great gesture from a guy who didn't need to give me the time of day, let alone apologise.
Anyway, Peter and I got talking in the hotel - well, as much as an Italian and a Slovak can get converse in their second languages - and we got on to the topic of what other crazy stuff he could do to celebrate a good result.
Identifying with characters in crisis can be frightening.
It’s a few years since I saw Rowan Woods’ Little Fish in the same 24-hour span as Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek and was struck by how much more fear and tension I felt during the former. Admittedly, I remember distracting myself in Wolf Creek with thoughts of camera angles and editing style, but it was my identification with ex-junkie Tracy, played with extreme believability by Cate Blanchett, that made me feel so much.
[ SBS ONE Film season: full schedule ]
I was reminded of this when I re-watched Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful, which screens on SBS One at 9.30pm this Saturday. For me, like with Little Fish, it is one of those films that embed you in the heart of the character and make you go through what they’re going through to such an extent that you feel almost ill with tension. You feel as much as you watch.
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