Sunday, July 31, 2016
Of all the concerts this year the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's live performance of Raiders of the Lost Ark to the movie was the one I was most looking forward to. And we almost missed it!
Kids have a different sense of time and urgency to adults and just getting out of the house was a enough of a struggle. The Thai restaurant was just opposite the station, but it is never safe to assume a frequent and fast service when it comes to Sydney trains.
Google Maps said we would be a few minutes late. Okay, let's challenge the last bit, the walk.
Trackwork on the City Circle Line meant that we couldn't ride the Airport Line train direct to Circular Quay. Change at Wolli Creek, get out at Martin Place and run down Macquarie Street.
Only problem was that B doesn't do karate like Alex and I and doesn’t have quite the same fitness levels. So Google Maps was pretty accurate in the end.
Puffing, we showed the doorman our tickets and were ushered to our seats. Fortunately the conductor, Nicholas Buc, was giving an introductory talk. We'd made it just in time!
Our not cheap seats in the box had views of the orchestra, but the screen was a little bit obscured, a disappointment. Though I was here for the orchestra and the music, not the movie.
In my opinion the movie is a distraction, but it does serve to entertain the rest of the family and to force the orchestra to do its best. No room for lazy interpretation, they must be on the ball to synchronise with the screen.
And they were! This was the fifth live score performance I have attended, all with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Opera House and it was by far my favourite. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the great adventure movies and the score is by the greatest film composer of all time: John Williams.
Though I love almost all of his scores, the eighties were my favourite period of his composition; the second and third Star Wars movies, ET and the first three Indiana Jones films, all from Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Watching the orchestra below it became obvious how Williams created his lush sound: He utilises the full orchestra.
Strings, woodwind, brass and percussion, all playing at once, but playing counterpoint, multiple melodies and rhythms. There is so much the listen to, to listen for. The lietmotifs tell the story, the hint of exotic sounds from conventional instruments setting the scene. This is mastery of the orchestra.
The orchestra were mostly up to it, though the tuba sounded a little ragged at times. John Williams actually wrote a concerto for this frequently ignored instrument. I heard the Melbourne Symphony perform it a few years ago and Williams' certainly demands much from his tuba players.
The strength of Williams' score is evident in the the most exciting sequence of the movie, the desert chase. Both B and I were too busy observing the energy of the orchestra to watch the thrills on screen.
Alex was awake throughout the whole performance, despite its lateness after a busy Saturday, and, unlike Babe, there were only a couple of complaints from him. He is quite familiar with Indy's theme!
Harking back to the old days of cinema, there was even an intermission, after which the orchestra played Mutt's theme from the fourth Indiana Jones movie: Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.
Forget the so called Golden Days of cinema, the subject of the previous concert, this was Hollywood at its best. I'm so glad we made it!
Friday, July 22, 2016
The bureau says that today was Sydney's second warmest July day in recorded history. The middle of winter and more than 25 degrees. It would have been nice to be outside for more of it rather than in a stuffy office (though with a nice view).
Even at 11 pm it is still warm, around 22 degrees, though it has just started to rain. That beautiful soft patter of rain drops, soothing, ushering in sleep though it means forgoing its music.
Perhaps it is the low or the humid, the oncoming change, but there is a feeling of potential in the air, as if it is time for a journey. Instead, it is time to sleep and to hope for great voyages across the dreamscape.
Monday, July 18, 2016
Thursday June 30
Friday July 1
Saturday July 2
Sunday July 3
Monday July 4
Tuesday July 5
Wednesday July 6
Thursday July 7A full day Thinkspace workshop on Scratch programming at Sydney Observatory for Alex. He really enjoyed writing the three games and was very proud to show them off to me. A long way from writing text games in BASIC when I was his age!
Friday July 8
Saturday July 9
Sunday July 10
Monday July 11
Tuesday July 12
Wednesday July 13
Thursday July 14
Friday July 15
Saturday July 16
Sunday July 17
Friday, July 15, 2016
Following user requests I had added a set of column shortcodes to my Utopia theme. The shortcodes are currently just a way of adding a Bootstrap grid to the content, but as we will be replace Bootstrap with an alternative grid system in future this is a way of future proofing the content.
I found a couple of really useful tutorials for adding a columns menu to the TinyMCE visual editor in WordPress:
Bad move! Suddenly my other shortcode output was messed up. So I had to remove those lines.
The solution? Write a custom filter using regular expressions to remove line breaks between the shortcode tags and run it before the normal WordPress line break filters kick in. A regex tester proved very useful here!
$content = preg_replace('/(\[utopia_col_row\])([\s]*)(\[utopia_col)/i','$1$3',$content);
$content = preg_replace('/(\[\/utopia_col_)([\_\d]+)(\])([\s]*)(\[utopia_col)/i', '$1$2$3$5', $content);
$content = preg_replace('/(\[\/utopia_col_)([\_\d]+)(\])([\s]*)(\[\/utopia_col_row)/i', '$1$2$3$5', $content);
add_filter( 'the_content', 'utopia_cols_strip_breaks', 0 );
I had to use three expressions as there are shortcodes for rows and columns of different widths. Whilst WordPress is supposed to handle breaks between individual shortcodes, the issue here is that we are mixing different shortcodes together and the content between them should have paragraph and line break tags added. The code above only applies to the added shortcodes and seems to work well, so problem solved!
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