Archive for April, 2019

When should you put up your Christmas tree?

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Photo: iStockDecember 1 is the day when everyone is allowed to put up their Christmas tree.It’s tradition, right? Bad luck to go early?
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The Obamas already have their tree, but won’t flip the lights switch until later this week. Boy and girl Scouts were selling fresh Christmas trees at Bunnings on the weekend. If you went by the timing of supermarkets, your tree would have been up for three months already.

Actually, the rule is, there is no rule. Only the rule you grew up with.

Monash University Professor GaryBouma, sociologiston religiousdiversity, saysfamilies and individuals abide by the traditions of Christmas that they grew up with as achild at home.

“It really is what you grew up with, but for some of us it is alsowhen you have the time to throw the thing up,” Professor Bouma said.

He said thetradition of resisting putting up the tree beforeDecember 1 is a strong one in Australia, but not everyone abides by it.

Many Christians will only put up decorations on the night beforeChristmas Eve and never during Advent, which began on Sunday, November 27 this year.

“Traditionally, for many Christians,Advent is a time offasting – none of this extra food that we do normally inAustralia- and you can’tsing Christmas carols,” Professor Bouma said.

“But in Australia I’ve noticed that the partying starts about now,” he said.

He said the Christmas tree was essentially unknown in Britainuntil Prince Albert, a German, brought it to the masses. At the time, periodicalslike theIllustrated London Newsbegan describing the royal tree in intricate detail.

At the White House, President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will “flip the switch”on December 1, but took delivery of their huge tree on November 25, giving others the right to start thinking about doing the same. It isn’t always on December 1 though, last year it was December 3 – making it the first Thursday in December.

So when should thetree that takes up a lot of space in your lounge room come down?

For some, the tree must come down by January 6 – or the Epiphany when the three kings are said to have arrived. What exactly happens if you don’t pull the tree down by thenisn’t clear. Some sayhobgoblins will come to wreck your house for an entireyear if you don’t pull it down by then.

“There is a largetraditionofChristmastrees coming down by theEpiphany, but that is not true in France. InFrance, it starts amonthofcelebrations and eating,” he said.

The Epiphany heralds the arrival of thegallettederois- the cake of kings – apastry and marzipan affair baked in rings.

Professor Boumasaid the tradition of pulling down trees in Australia by January 6 might be because of the warmer climate.He saidin Europe and America the trees would often stay up well afterChristmas, until they driedout and became a fire hazard. He said those trees were heavily hydrated compared to Australian fresh Christmas trees, which grew under drier conditions.

“They are bad enough when they are new and full of juice but they dry out and become tinderbox,” he said.

For others it is when they get tired of the cat attacking the tree and pulling off the decorations.

Professor Bouma said the good thing about the great Christmas tree dispute is that it makes for lively conversations.

​”I don’t want tocomplainabout Christmas tradition crossing civilisations. People will have disputes about local variations and this enriches conversations and traditions that families find terribly important,” Professor Bouma said.

Brisbane Times

CONDAs honour Julie Black for lifetime of achievement I photos

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

CONDAs stage revival I photos Jerry Ray
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Elise Bialek

Tayla Choice

Theo Rule

Alex Sefton

Katy Carruthers

Scott Eveleigh

Theo Rule

Julie Black

Julie Black

Patrick Campbell with the cast of Suicide Incorporated.

Cheryl Sovechles

Daniel Stoddart

George Francis

Lyndon Buckley

Tallulah Cobban

Nicholas Thoroughgood

Tom Rodgers

Anna Kerrigan

TweetFacebookWicked bewitched the City of Newcastle Drama Awards judges in 2016, winning five categories and a majoraccoladefor veteran director Julie Black.

The flourishing Newcastle theatre community celebrated its 38th annual awards night in a sellout ceremony hosted by Mathew Lee and Mitchell Cox at Wests New Lambton on Saturday.

Mrs Black, who has directed all but one of Metropolitan Players’ productions since 1983, won the major honour of the evening, the CONDA Inc Award for outstanding contribution and achievement in Newcastle theatre.

Wicked, which set a box-office recordon the Civic Theatre main stage in September, was hailed as best musical production and earned MrsBlack best director of a musical.

The alternative telling ofthe Wizard of Oz story also won trophies for Tayla Choice (female lead in a musical), costume designers Bev Fewins and Steven Harrison, and George Francis (hair, make-up and wigs).

CONDA Inc president Daniel Stoddart said the longest-running theatre awards in Australia were representative of the lower Hunter’s increasingly vibranttheatre scene, which includes up to 40 companies and a handful of festivals.Twenty-five of those companies nominated 65 productions for this year’sawards.

Mr Stoddart, who runs youth theatre company Hunter Drama,said rapid growth in the number of young people on the region’sstages in the past 10 years had invigorated the performing arts community.

“It’s growing very, very quickly. A lot of the younger people are starting to create their own theatre companies any time they want to put on a show, which is kind of exciting,” he said.

“In the last 10 years, youth theatre has just boomed extraordinarily. Now some of those people are getting into their early 20s and they’re taking that passion through and they’re all starting to experiment with their own ideas.

“Young people have more to say than older people. Thatcan’t be underestimated, the voice of an opinionated young person with a bit of passion and something to say about the world.”

Mr Stoddart said the days of safe, predictable theatre in Newcastle were largely over.

“The majority of it is challenging work now, particularly all of the stuff that’s being recognised with nominations, all of the fringier stuff, a lot of the contemporary, modern plays.

“Not just edgy in terms of content. For example,WickedandShrek The Musicalare both musicals that have been on Broadway in the past 10 years, as opposed to doing Rodgers and Hammerstein. It’s all new.”

Wicked was one of 13 productions that won CONDAs. Eight companies, two of which staged shows in association with other groups, and a school organisation shared the trophies in 22 categories.

Best drama went to the Peter Campbell-directed Australian premiere ofSuicide Incorporated, the first production of James Chapman’s Knockand Run Theatre, which the judges praised as a sensitive examination of a difficult topic.

Manning the Fort, staged jointly by Tantrum Youth Arts and Catapult Dance at Fort Scratchley, won awards for choreography (Cadi McCarthy and Marnie Palomares), lighting and audio-visual (Lyndon Buckley) and sound design (Huw Jones).

The production told the story of the women who helped to operate the fort in World War II.

Three productions, Opera Hunter’s The Marriage of Figaro, Stooged Theatre’s Punk Rock, and Newcastle Theatre Company’s Noises Off, each collected two awards.

Alex Sefton, who played the title character in The Marriage of Figaro, was voted best male actor in a musical and Susan Hart won for musicand vocal direction.

Daniel StoddartPunk Rock, a bloody tale about students preparing for end-of-school exams, won acting awards for Scott Eveleigh (lead role) and Jerry Ray (supporting role).

The Newcastle Theatre Company comedy Noises Off received the best ensemble trophy for actorsLynda Rennie, Brian Randell, Andrew Black, Rebecca Wall, Jennifer Halliburton, Paul Sansom, Tracey Gordon, Jay Smith and Michael Smythe, and won for best set and props design (Adelle Richards and David Murray).

Three other NTC productions won awards. Katy Carruthers collected the female lead acting gong for Other Desert Cities, about a dysfunctional Christmas gathering, Elise Bialek won best supporting actress for Proof, and Cheryl Sovechles won best director for the reflective Anzac Day dramaThe One Day of the Year.

Saviour’s Day, a drama about Cyclone Tracy written by Theo Rule for Grainery Theatre Company, was named best new play or musical written for a local company.

There’s Something Strange About Marvin McRae, staged by the Hunter Catholic Schools Aspire unit, won the CONDA for best special theatrical event.

The under-18 acting awards went to Nicholas Thoroughgood (Lindsay Street Players’ The History Boys) and Tallulah Cobban (Tantrum Youth Arts’ Trailer).

Rebekah Abel, 17, and Tom Rodgers, 16, won the CONDAs’ newYouth Ambassador Program awards.

Mr Stoddartsaid Hunter theatre companies were working hard to meet audiences’ higher expectations.

“The requirements are extraordinary now. It’s notjust a matter of putting on costumes . . .The benchmark has been reset with shows in recent years like Phantom of the Opera and Wicked.

“In order to have a well recognised and well respected show, you do have to go that extra mile in Newcastle now.”

Mr Stoddart said the young people in the industry had also helped change the awards themselves, from a “lofty” ceremony to a more rousing and collegialcelebration.

“I think it’s a representation of the tone of where we’re up to as a theatre community.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘demonstrated a serious failure’ to protect children: Royal Commission

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

The Jehovah’s Witness organisation in Australia failed to protect children in its care, an inquiry has found. Photo: John Donegan Royal commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan. Photo: Jeremy Piper
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The Jehovah’s Witness Church in Australia failed to protect children in its care from sexual predators, a report has found.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse delivered its report into the organisation on Monday.

It stated that: “Children are not adequately protected from the risk of child sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witness organisation and [the commission] does not believe the organisation responds adequately to allegations of child sexual abuse.”

Survivors of sexual abuse within the church and senior church members appeared before a public hearing last year.

The inquiry heard the church received allegations of child sexual abuse involving more than 1000 of its members over a 60-year period but did not report a single claim to police.

In its report on the inquiry, the royal commission found that the organisation’s general practice of “not reporting serious instances of child sexual abuse to police or authorities, demonstrated a serious failure on its part to provide for the safety and protection of children.”

The royal commission determined that the church’s response to allegations of child sexual abuse were outdated, including a rule that there must be two witnesses to an incident, which “showed a serious lack of understanding of the nature of child sexual abuse”.

“It noted the rule, which the Jehovah’s Witness organisation relies on, and applies inflexibly even in the context of child sexual abuse, was devised more than 2000 years ago,” the report found.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses approach to handling claims internally was not appropriate for children or survivors of sexual abuse, the report found.

“Survivors are offered little or no choice in how their complaint is addressed, sanctions are weak with little regard to the risk of the perpetrator re-offending.”

The head of the Jehovah’s Witness community’s service desk, Rodney Spinks, said the church is taking the royal commission’s work seriously.

“We want to benefit from the process; everybody does,” he said.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia are scheduled to appear before the commission again in March when a public hearing will examine current child protection policies and procedures.

1800 Respect 1800 737 732

Blue Knot Foundation 1300 657 380

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Daily World Dispatch – Fidel Castro and a bucketful of bolivars

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

“He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”
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The origins of this quotation – like so many that have universal currency – have become unclear.

Was it Franklin Roosevelt or Allen Dulles or Dean Acheson who said it? Was the subject Anastasio Somoza or Rafael Trujillo or some other Cold War dictator?

In the end, the reason such a quote survives is not because it tells us something about a specific speaker or subject but because it resonates with our sense of the way the world is.

So that when the Latin American dictator who defined himself above all as not being the USA’s SOB died, we got to witness a lot of cant and hypocrisy.

Anyone in Washington who talks now about Fidel Castro as a dictator needs to talk about whether Fulgencio Batista was a democrat. And to those who protest that long decades have passed since the days of Batista, I re-direct you to the quote above, which could at different times in Western history have been applied to Augusto Pinochet, Efrain Rios Montt, Manuel Noriega, Leopoldo Galtieri, Hosni Mubarak, Saddam Hussein, Ferdinand Marcos, Jean-Claude Duvalier and even Josef Stalin.

Those who rail against dealing with Communist one-party states while doing all they can to attract business from the People’s Republic of China also need to wonder whether they too could one day be open to the kind of mockery Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is experiencing. British and Australian citizens don’t need to wonder – they flew flags at half-mast for the king of Saudi Arabia within recent memory.

Yet those who want to suggest, as Castro did, that history will absolve a leader – something Tony Blair also said when invading Iraq – need to think more clearly about any leader’s duty to those living in the here and now. In the end, it is not history’s job to canonise or absolve but to record. And that involves the voices of those who lived under the leader. It is in listening and responding, rather than in issuing interminable speeches, that real absolution is likely to be found.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Gilmore Girls’ famed ‘final four words’ lead to shock and questions from viewers

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in Netflix’s The Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Photo: NetflixSPOILERS
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Seasonal beverages in hand, Gilmore Girls fans have no doubt binged the hell out of the show’s long awaited revival: the four-parter Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, which debuted on Netflix over the weekend.

A bite-sized return to Stars Hollow, the reboot was supposed to give fans a satisfying glimpse into Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory’s (Alexis Bledel) lives in the nine-odd years since the series wrapped up, and maybe clear up a few loose ends long left splayed (Team Dean? Team Jess? Team Logan?).

Well, that hasn’t happened. With four parting words, the mini-series already has viewers taking to Twitter to caps-lock bash, “MORE! MORE!”

As is now TV lore, the show’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino had long hinted that she knew how the series would end – the “final four words” that would put a cap on the series for good.

But, departing the show ahead of its seventh and final season in 2006 due to contractual disputes with network The CW, she was unable to see her vision through – until the new Netflix series.

Fall, the mini-series’ final episode, finally revealed those ever elusive, and long speculated, last words. Our Gilmore girls have a very very imporant message for you. (Hint: It’s about the last four words.) https://t.co/ZBgcW7Xf9Upic.twitter南京夜网/F0734nDTDf— Gilmore Girls (@GilmoreGirls) November 18, 2016

“Mum…”, Rory says, sitting alongside Lorelai in a fancy pagoda on the day of her wedding to Luke.

“Yeah?”, Lorelai replies.

“I’m pregnant,” she reveals.

Reactions to the words, from both viewers and cast members, have run the gamut.

Some have swooned at the symmetry, pleased at the callback to Lorelai’s experiences as a young single mum in the original series.

“I was surprised for a minute and then it made complete sense,” star Lauren Graham told The Hollywood Reporter.

Others, and by others I mean pretty much everyone else, have bristled at the open-ended finish, a lack of closure that’s inspired the exact opposite outrage to, say, How I Met Your Mother’s much-balked about concrete ending. #GilmoreGirlsRevival NOPE. No no no. I don’t accept that ending. A surprise 5th Episode please. Stat.— Kathleen McIvor (@kathleenmcivor) November 25, 2016Unless there are going to be another 153 episodes of Gilmore Girls, I feel very unsettled with those final four words. #GilmoreGirlsRevival— Allison Piwowarski (@allisonpiwo) November 25, 2016Almost ten years and still no closure? Are we getting more episodes? @GilmoreGirls? HEARTBROKEN and upset . #TeamJess#GilmoreGirlsRevival— Blair (@BlairHoldenx) November 27, 2016So there had better be a second revival cos that last sentence knocked me out. @netflix you can’t do that to people #GilmoreGirlsRevival— Meagan Tanti (@MeaganTanti) November 25, 2016Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by Amy Sherman-Palladino #GilmoreGirlsRevival— Marisa (@marisajglenn) November 27, 2016

Fans are now waiting on news that might wrap up Rory’s storyline. Like, for starters, who’s the baby daddy?

In promising news, Sherman-Palladino has stoked viewer hopes in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, hinting that, despite the hyped ‘final four’, the end is still unwritten.

“We really had a very specific journey in our minds and we fulfilled the journey. So to us, this is the piece that we wanted to do,” she said about the Netflix series.

“The whole thought about, is there more, is there more, is there more? This has to go out into the universe now. We’ve got to put this to bed. And then, whatever happens, happens.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.