movie: fast five

Movie: Fast Five

Watching the trailer for the fifth movie in the fast and the furious franchise sets the scene well. This isn’t going to be a nuanced, character driven drama, but an action movie with one-liners, fast cars, and people hitting and shooting at each other.

In the earliest scene of prolonged dialogue in the film, the characters keep shouting at each other. This seems to be the main “furious” part, as from there, it’s more violence than fury between the anti-hero crew, the evil drug lords, and the American who is trying to bring them back to the US to face justice.

One of the anti-heroes – played by Vin Diesel – first appears in the film off-screen, with just the sound of the throttle of a V8 engine. It’s not until a later scene (at a suitably dramatic moment) that he’s even on camera.

Another main character – played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – is a classic movie hero of the Schwarzenegger school. He has the best one-liners, and is the biggest caricature out of the group.

Is it worth mentioning the roles of women in the film? There’s a mother, a pregnant lady, an attractive woman with a military past, and a number of girls who wear the kind of revealing outfits that you wouldn’t expect them to wear to an afternoon tea with their grandparents.

Out of the five films, I’ve now seen the first and the last, so I missed some of the character references that was made in the dialogue, but for the most part, you can turn up to this movie cold and make sense of it.

You’ll need to suspend your belief in the laws of physics. You’ll need to put up with a couple of sub-plots that make no sense, don’t advance the plot at all, and are just an excuse to drive fast cars.

But, if you’re after a popcorn movie with some explosions, an almost completely objectified view of women, and a lot of fast cars, then it certainly delivers.


DVD: The Dark Crystal

I first saw The Dark Crystal on the big screen when I was very young, and so I was keen to see if it has stood the test of time. This was an impulse buy: it was in a double-pack with Labyrinth which will probably be the next movie that I rewatch.

Thinking back over it, I only remember a few scenes from the film – the initial set-up, a couple of large set pieces, one or two lines, and the ending. As such, it seemed a much longer movie than I remember.

This is a kids movie (probably for older kids due to the ongoing sense of danger that is presented to the main characters) and a Jim Henson movie – there are all manner of puppets that inhabit this fantasy world. Some work better than others.

The bad guys have a sense of menace about them, but also a sense of foolishness: likewise the soldier creatures – they’re really not very good at what they’re trying to do.

And the ending – I won’t give the details on the off-chance you haven’t seen the film, but they use the 1982 equivalent of CGI for it, and I think it would have been better to stay with the puppets.

Nonetheless, it was a pleasant return to a childhood favourite. It’s aged well, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with my kids once they’re old enough.

Bird Cow Fish, Surry Hills

bird cow fish, surry hills

Single Origin Roasters coffee. 500 Crown St, Surry Hills. I’ve long wanted to have a look at this place, but had the sense that it was mostly for lunch or dinner. After seeing their stall at Eveleigh Markets, though, I realised that breakfast was an option, and so went to visit.

espresso bar - bird cow fish, surry hills

Looking at the menu, some of the mains are in the mid-$30 range: as a result, the decor is suitably high brow. This corner is the “espresso bar” and the rest of the place is the main restaurant, with even more upmarket place settings.

ricotta pancakes with caramalised figs & vanilla anglaise - bird cow fish, surry hills

The food is incredibly good: it feels a little pricey when you read the menu, and the portions are a little small, but it’s so tasty that you’ll be satisfied anyway.

half-serve of bircher muesli - bird cow fish, surry hills

The bircher muesli is topped with a seedless, tea-infused prune.

poached eggs with roast tomato, frisée & chorizo salad; sourdough toast (18.5) - bird cow fish, surry hills

A great combination of flavours and textures – poached eggs, roasted tomatoes, frisée lettuce and chorizo on sourdough.

virgin mary (8.5) - bird cow fish, surry hills

An ultra-spicy virgin mary – ask them to dilute it for you with extra tomato juice!

coffee - bird cow fish, surry hills

The decaf is really pleasant: it’s a little nutty at first, and the milkwork is really smooth. It’s better in the drink-in configuration: – the takeaway I had was a little less stand-out.

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Official bird cow fish website.


In the past I’ve raised money via movember for depression and prostate cancer, but there’s another form of cancer that I haven’t mentioned before, at least here: bowel cancer.

Second biggest cancer killer in Australia: 1 in 12 Australians will be diagnosed with it by age 85, it’s a big deal. But we don’t talk about it because it’s an uncomfortable subject.

There are a few ways to screen for bowel cancer. The scariest sounding one, though is a colonoscopy. I had to have one very recently, and I want to talk a little bit about what it was like to prepare for one, and what it was like afterward – I couldn’t find much online that was written in a blogging tone of voice.

The biggest problem with preparing for something like this is that you don’t know what to expect. When you find out that you need a colonoscopy, you talk to a surgeon, fill in some hospital admissions paperwork, and then it’s time to buy a “colon prep kit”. This (mine was $12.50) is a clear plastic bag with an instruction sheet and 3 sachets of powder.

Talk to people who have had the procedure (if you can find any) and you’ll hear fairly non-specific stories about how unpleasant the “cleansing procedure” is.

Let me walk through it, as I experienced it. It starts two days before the procedure with a heavily restricted diet. Breakfast was dry white toast.

dry white toast

Lunch was more interesting (and this was at work) – baked potato and pumpkin with steamed fish and some (bleh) cottage cheese. A little more flavour than the toast, especially with the pumpkin.

work lunch

For afternoon tea, jelly. I also had some black coffee and black tea during the day in meetings.

jelly at work

Dinner was more of the same, with a glass of apple juice.

dinner at home

And then, that’s it for day one. Day two (the day before the procedure) is a liquid-only diet. Sports drinks, slurpees, soft drink, jelly, chicken stock, and lots of water.

Then, at 5pm the night of day two (the night before the procedure), the cleanse begins. At 5pm and 7pm I had to drink a glass of this stuff: picolax. It’s a powder that really fizzes up when it hits water, and it has a lemon flavour to it.

Pro-tip: mix it up in a large glass, so there’s room to accommodate the fizzing. According to the instructions, it will be up to 3 hours after you drink this when you first need to run to the bathroom. For me, it was more like 25 minutes.


This stuff, the colonlytely, you’ll need to have prepared in advance, and kept cold. It’s not unpleasant tasting, but it has an odd gluey texture. The instructions recommend drinking it through a straw, and it’s good advice – drink it out of the glass and it will coat your tastebuds.

colonlytey and jug

You need to drink one of these glasses every 15 minutes, and you’ll likely spend most of that hour sitting on the toilet: I did. You’ll not want to be too many steps from a bathroom for the time you won’t be there.

a glass of colonlytely, with straw

One more pro-tip: if you have a baby in the house, you’ll already have baby wipes and nappy cream handy – you might like to swallow your pride and apply them to the relevant region to avoid any soreness or burning sensation.

7pm and it’s another dose of the picolax, and then as many trips to the bathroom as you need before bed. If you have a morning procedure booked, it’s nil by mouth from midnight, and then an early start to head to hospital.

I checked in to the hospital in the peri-operative unit, everyone I spoke to asked me the same questions (this is to make sure there are no mix-ups). Once admitted, I was given little hospital bracelets, they took my blood pressure, and it was time to wait again.

The next time they called my name, it was time to change into a hospital gown, with paper shoes and underpants (and a pink plastic bag to put my effects in, which is then stored in a locker to be handed back to you when you wake up).

paper shoes, underwear, and hospital gown, plus a bag for clothes

Then I was shown the way to a trolley bed. I walked over, and lay down, and then spoke to a couple of other nurses before an orderly (I think) wheeled me to the operating theatre. Being wheeled in a bed is a lot like watching a Kubrick movie.

An operating theatre has an annex where a wheeled bed can be surrounded by people: it was here that the only painful thing (apart from some pain from excess use of the bathroom) took place – having the canular put in. The anaesthetist said “sharp scratch” and it was done.

the damage for the anaesthetic

From there, it was into theatre, lying on my side, and then they put me to sleep. When I woke up, I was back in recovery (a space in the hospital where the beds are stored after surgery while the patients wake up). They gave me a glass of water to drink, asked me to get dressed when I was ready (I was still a little dizzy from the anaesthetic), and then I sat in the patient lounge waiting for someone to come and pick me up.

You’re not meant to drive (or ride a bike) for 24 hours after having the anaesthetic, and as such they won’t let you leave until someone picks you up. All told, I spent more
time waiting for the different steps of the time in hospital than the procedure itself took (the latter was about 40 minutes, I think), and when I woke up, apart from my throat feeling a bit scratchy, I wasn’t in any pain.

eating food again!

In the patient lounge, you can eat simple food again, and drink tea, coffee and water while you wait. They may even have sandwiches – I took it easy on the food and waited until I was back home.

If you’re in the situation where you’re trying to avoid having a colonoscopy because you think it will be unbearable, or you’re stressed about the unknown, I hope this helps you decide to go ahead with it. Early detection of bowel cancer makes a big difference to the success rate of treatment.

Lite Bite, Newtown

Lite Bite, Newtown

Glinelli coffee. 67 King St, Newtown. Spotted this place (sadly, closed) when walking back from RPA towards work one day. It seems that they would do most of their business with takeaway customers for the bus stop at the front of the cafe, so when I visit on a Saturday it’s pretty quiet.

The focus is on the healthy, low-fat menu options – there are salads and sandwiches, smoothies (with yoghurt and honey) and a range of coffees on offer.

where the magic happens - Lite Bite, Newtown

The decaf latte is quite okay: there’s no decaf grinder – a sealed container sits near the coffee machine instead. There’s a thick head of foam on the top of the coffee, but it’s not an amazing cup.

One of those places where I wish I could try the caffeinated coffee instead. Anyone tried it and cares to comment?

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