Great doco from 1969 — a world away now!

The Commonwealth Film Unit here in Oz has over the years made many documentaries, some awful, many really excellent, all of course propaganda either for home or overseas consumption, sometimes both. I have recently enjoyed a 1969 offering. available through the excellent National Sound and Film Archive.

The NFSA’s mission is to collect, preserve and share Australia’s vibrant and diverse audiovisual culture as embodied by our evolving collection – reflecting who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. 

Audiovisual technologies enable us to capture moments in time: moving image and sounds in their most vivid forms. At over 3 million items, the NFSA collection transforms these records into ‘living memories’ – the many facets of Australia’s peoples, cultures, ideas and beliefs, both over time and across the land.

The collection invites all Australians to connect, no matter their background and life experiences, and find common ground and a shared sense of community. All can access it to celebrate our cultures and learn from our history to build a better future. 

The particular item I saw is After Cook (1969):

Made by The Commonwealth Film Unit 1969. Directed by Donald Murray. Narrated by John Meillon. A survey of everyday life throughout Australia, emphasising the outdoor and rural element contrasted with modern, urban living and culture. A look at the Australian people, their character, attitudes and way of life. Every three years or so Film Australia made a general film on Australia. At its most basic the film would have a landscape sequence, then a farming sequence, then transport, then cities, then sport and night life. It would probably contain a mining explosion, a ballet class, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and kookaburras. After the first few films, the makers tried to find a new approach – to present its as a quiz show, or a computer report, or a film script conference. After Cook had as its working title ‘Fellow Countrymen’. Helped by the fact that it was made on 16mm with practicable synchronous sound, it is in its final version the warmest and one of the least predictable of all the general ‘Australia’ films.

Here are a few stills I captured:

A steelworker
Political demonstration in Sydney advocating — successfully — lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.
Shopping at Paddy’s Market, Sydney
Volunteer firefighters — bushfire in Sutherland Shire. Rather more sophisticated nowadays.
Family at a picnic playing cricket
CWA — Country Women’s Association — meeting
Country school-teacher
Ballet class

And so many more vignettes, so evocative for me — — some great footage of people going about their business in a very different Australia. This is the place I knew when in my first school appointment, Cronulla High, almost a lifetime away! In fact the Class of 1968, who have their own special private group on Facebook — I am a member! — are now like me septuagenarians! Can you believe it?

If you want to see it:

A touch of nostalgia — photos I took in October 2008

These come from the photoblog that I started after my friend Sirdan gave me his old digital camera! They are thus from 13 years ago!

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Central Station, Eddy Avenue — SGHS students heading for the trains. Now there are tram lines here!
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Hay and Pitt Street pedestrian crossing
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Jacaranda, East Redfern
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Ward Park, Surry Hills
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A Surry Hills lane
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Moore Park, Sydney Boys High on a cold spring day
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The English staff room, Sydney Boys High. The desk next to this sink was mine at one time!

Let’s do the timewarp again: 2020, 2011, 1991!

Strap in! We’re spinning back!

I’ve been through Bogan Gate!

Posted on  by Neil

Over 50 years ago now! I posted about the experience in 2008.

I flew to Parkes and then caught the wheat train to Trundle via Bogan Gate. There was a passenger car on the back. It was a very slow train, taking almost all day to get to the end of the line. Just how slow you may see for yourself, though this one has no passenger car on the back…

…Blogger and broadcaster James O’Brien recently posted PARKES TO GRIFFITH.

Along the way we had also stopped at Condobolin (which I’ve blogged about separately) and the wonderfully named, “Bogan Gate” made famous a couple of years in this You-Tube video.

It is hilarious and informative! Scored 95,306 views since December 16, 2015. Mitchell Coombs was around 19 at that time. He has gone on to a career in media and is a powerful advocate for acceptance and diversity. I have selected just two of his many videos that have followed that Bogan Gate tour. I strongly recommend exploring on YouTube (or Facebook) for yourself….

2021: Particularly Facebook where he posts at least one story a day! I always watch them. And if you go to the original 2020 post there is more of his work.

It appears I took a rest from blogging on 14 October 2011.

Back again

Posted on  by Neil

Took a break from the internet for the past day and a half. Partly I was busy doing other things, partly I was reading. Reading went well, but there are future posts on that…

Meantime the same jerks are in the news. Who cares? Really!

Yes, back when Tony Abbott was actually (unfortunately) relevant. Before his attention-getting tour of Taiwan where he did a good version of this:

The day before I had posted:

Oh Lordie, Lordie! I am posting from Carbon Central NSW and the sky…

Posted on  by Neil

… is still there.

Indeed The Illawarra Mercury leads today with a far more exciting story.

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The carbon tax did feature a few days back, as an incidental:

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Didn’t quite work out though. First, in 2014 Gujarat NRE changes name to Wollongong Coal. Then from 2019: Wollongong Coal Ltd v Gujarat NRE India Pty Ltd [2019] NSWCA 135.

Now the big leap back to preblogging days, indeed pre-Internet for me! Michael Xu and I were living in Redfern; it was our first year together. Enjoy — but you have to go to YouTube. It is worth it! “Ross Symonds presents a weekend edition of Seven Nightly News in 1991 from the Epping, Sydney television studios of ATN-7.”

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 75 — music and memories

In June I posted on hearing of the passing of a lovely talented woman The Albury Piano Bar — my second lounge at one time… Sylvana Bonnaci.

I knew her best from the Albury Piano Bar, but she sang at many other venues including Paddington’s Unicorn Hotel, another place I used to frequent in the late 80s and early 90s, and also the White Horse in Surry Hills. Not to mention her career on cruise ships.

At The Unicorn — 1990

Imagine my joy to discover a whole treasury of Sylvana on YouTube thanks to someone called dajen123. Here are just three. I went into a total time warp listening to all of them!

The Julian Lennon song “Salt Water”.

We are a rock revolving
Around a golden sun
We are a billion children
Rolled into one
So when I hear about
The hole in the sky
Saltwater wells in my eyes

We climb the highest mountain
We’ll make the desert bloom
We’re so ingenious
We can walk on the moon
But when I hear of how
The forests have died
Saltwater wells in my eyes

That one captures the feeling of the Piano Bar beautifully.
Oh yes!

And here is a whole show! This time at the Midnight Shift, also now just a memory… But what memories!

Clearly post-2000, probably post 2010. But what a voice, what a show!

So thanks, dajen 123, whoever you are! I suspect we must have crossed paths…

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 74 — five years ago…

They say this weekend will be the last in lockdown here in The Gong. But we have a new Premier whose right-wing zeal exceeds by far his common sense or respect for medical advice, so he has been fiddling with the rules governing the timetable for opening up. Not everyone is impressed.

Cathy Wilcox, Sydney Morning Herald

I do wonder if this will be the Premier’s Ruby Princess moment! Of course I hope not, but it may be “interesting” to review the Covid-19 stats for NSW in 5-7 days!

Now to five years ago — just a couple of entries from October 2016.

Crossing the Bar: Tennyson

Posted on  by Neil

This was a favourite of my mother.

Sunset and evening star,
         And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
         When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
         Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
         Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
         And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
         When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
         The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
         When I have crossed the bar.

I quote it today as yesterday at Diggers I learned that an ex-student from The Illawarra Grammar School, Peter D (Class of 1974), has passed away. He had been very ill for a long time. I used to see him and his wife at Steelers and, until recently, at Diggers. He was 59.

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Body language, cross-cultural communication, Trump etc…

Posted on  by Neil

I see Tony Abbott has gone into bat for The Donald. That figures…

Mr Abbott defended Mr Trump’s policies, which include building a wall between Mexico and the United States to repel migrants, as reasonable.

“Many of the Trump positions are reasonable enough,” he said.

Mind you, I don’t entirely disagree with what Tony Abbott says there about T’s supporters. It is worth reading David A Hill Jr, I Listened to a Trump Supporter.

She was a family friend, a good person. In rural Ohio, everything was tight. Money, jobs. If you really needed quick cash, she’d put you to work doing landscaping. She’d pay fairly and reliably for the area.

She’s voting for Donald Trump. I disagree with her choice, but I understand why she rejects Clinton so fiercely, and why she’s been swept up in Donald Trump’s particular brand of right-wing populism. I feel that on the left, it’s increasingly easy to ignore these people, to disregard them, to write them off as racists, bigots, or uneducated. I think that’s a loss for everyone involved, and that sometimes listening can help you to at least understand why a person is making the choices they make, so you can work on the root causes.

Hat tip to Alex Au in Singapore for that article.

Meanwhile The Donald himself lately does seem to be verging on the barking mad:

Florida: Donald Trump has denied a slew of new allegations of sexually predatory behaviour in an angry diatribe of speech in Florida, accusing the women who made them of fabrication and the media outlets that published them as being party to a conspiracy against him…

Mr Trump claimed a variety of forces including the Clintons and the media were seeking to rig the US election.

“Their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy. For them, it’s a war. And for them, nothing at all is out of bounds,” he said.

“This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on November 8. Remember that.”

Sorry. Did I really say “verging on” then?

OK, back to that second debate. I found myself riveted all through – yes I watched the whole show – by the body language, especially The Donald’s. What a study in proxemics!

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Pure monstering. The stills barely capture the effect that the pacing and scowling communicated. Not a nice man.

All that had me thinking again of what I learned from the 1990s on in my ESL studies and practice about cross-cultural communication, and the topic in fact came up earlier this week in conversation at Diggers with someone who spent considerable time in PNG and S-E Asia. A summary directed at business people is Different Cultural Communication Styles.

Factoring in personal space expectations between cultures enhances communication in any social or business setting. While Northern Europeans and European Americans feel most comfortable at an arm’s length away in a social interaction, Hispanics would consider that distance unfriendly. Knowing what is expected is helpful. Eye contact and touch etiquette also vary dramatically in different cultures. Asian cultures do not believe in touching in public settings, and they don’t favor direct eye contact. Like the Asian culture, Hispanics also view direct eye contact as a lack of respect. One significant difference between these two cultures is the way touching in public is perceived. Hispanics are a “high touch” society. Before meeting with a different culture, it is best to learn about these etiquette considerations.

That’s just one aspect. Oriented to schools is Communicating Across Cultures from the Victorian Education Department.

Interpretations of verbal communication can be culturally based. Misunderstandings can easily arise. For example in some cultures:

  • It is impolite to speak without being specifically asked by a superior, thus some students will not say hello, will not volunteer answers and will not answer generally directed questions.
  • It is not appropriate to refuse a request, thus saying ‘yes’ may mean ‘I am listening’, or ‘maybe’, or ‘no’. Avoidance behaviour rather than contradiction is used i.e. not doing what is requested is the polite response, as opposed to saying directly ‘no’.
  • Direct confrontation is to be avoided. It is more important to maintain the relationship, then to find an answer to an immediate disputed issue or problem. This contrasts with the anglo-Australian approach of trying to resolve issues by frank and open discussion of the disputed issue, clearly stating personal needs and preferences and direct bargaining tactics focusing on an immediate solution.
  • Asking questions when you already know the answer, which is a common teaching technique in Australia, can indicate a lack of intelligence in some cultures.

Then at the levels prom personal to international relations see the course Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts, particularly Michelle Le Baron, Cross-Cultural Communication.

The challenge is that even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is likely to happen, especially when there are significant cultural differences between communicators. Miscommunication may lead to conflict, or aggravate conflict that already exists. We make — whether it is clear to us or not — quite different meaning of the world, our places in it, and our relationships with others. In this module, cross-cultural communication will be outlined and demonstrated by examples of ideas, attitudes, and behaviors involving four variables:

  • Time and Space
  • Fate and Personal Responsibility
  • Face and Face-Saving
  • Nonverbal Communication

As our familiarity with these different starting points increases, we are cultivating cultural fluency — awareness of the ways cultures operate in communication and conflict, and the ability to respond effectively to these differences.

In a multicultural society in an even more multicultural world these are areas we all need familiarity with. Back to proxemics:

The difficulty with space preferences is not that they exist, but the judgments that get attached to them. If someone is accustomed to standing or sitting very close when they are talking with another, they may see the other’s attempt to create more space as evidence of coldness, condescension, or a lack of interest. Those who are accustomed to more personal space may view attempts to get closer as pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive. Neither is correct — they are simply different.

Mind you, Trump was being “pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive”!

Related: My 1998 UTS Grad Cert TESOL assignment A Japanese Backpacker’s year in Australia may even amuse you.