COVID-19 DIARY – REVIEW OF THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY FLYING MUSUEM AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

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                                    Copyright Lloyd Marken. The view of Oakey airfield.

At the gym on Friday night I saw on the TV that India became the second country to pass 9 million COVID-19 cases. The only one since the U.S.

Per chance I was about to catch up with my brother from another mother the next day who had family in India. 

It was a scary time but we intended to have a nice day out in each other’s company.

 

November 21

 

We were driving out west to the small town of Oakey.

Famous for the race horse Bernborough and where I had recently been reminded my grandmother had been born.

As a result I wore a hat that my grandfather had worn in travels when I was a boy. The hat fitted his head better but I wanted to wear it and pose at the statue of Bernborough like he had in a photograph many years ago. 

It’s true.

They live on in us.  

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                                Copyright Lloyd Marken. Me with Bernborough.

I was with my wife Karen, her sister and her husband, as we had been a few weeks earlier when we travelled to Capriccios Pizza in Maleny in the wake of his Uncle passing from COVID-19 in India.

I’ve never met a man who didn’t work harder. As we drove along he passed along information of everywhere we went. A ride share worker who had previously driven cabs and worked his way up in trucking to drive semis interstate. He knew when we were coming up to the well known Fernvale Bakery in Ipswich, he told us of businesses off the main track he’d gone to as we started to get out in the country. He quietly advised and offered stories of so many places.

We did stop at the bakery in Fernvale although I went for the sweets rather than their famous and beloved pies. We will have to return and partake properly.

Around people I truly love I relaxed a little and even started to sing songs like Don McLean’s American Pie and Cold Chisel’s Flame Trees. I am not a singer so spare a thought for the poor people in that car who had to conjure their best poker faces as they realised, “Oh man Lloyd’s really going for it!”.

It was a beautiful sunny day,  the Museum is housed in a hangar that is located on the perimeter of the fencing of the defence base. You do not need to enter the base to enter the museum as a result. Very cleverly located. 

 

Maintained by local volunteers it is a wonderful display of aircraft and stories from Australian Military Aviation. 

I wrote a review which I was lucky enough to have published on Weekend Notes which you can read here Australian Army Flying Museum – Brisbane (weekendnotes.com)

 

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We had a late lunch at the Oakey RSL Club.

 

 

Having driven north from Ipswich through Fernvale, past Wivenhoe Dam and through Esk I decided on the way back we would drive through Toowoomba.

I was hoping we would find the University of Southern Queensland campus where there is a beautiful Japanese peace garden but we actually googled just a public garden in Toowoomba and ended up there. A callback to simpler times when sometimes you just turned down a road and found you were where you wanted to be.

The Japanese Garden are well known and are quite beautiful and peaceful in these troubled times.

At one point we went over a bridge and looked down at ducks in a pond. In the late afternoon I exclaimed with excitement when I saw a creature underneath the water and realised it was not a fish. I grabbed everybody’s attention and the words escaped me on instinct “Look a platypus!”

A platypus sighting at that time of day with those amount of people would have been very special indeed but alas what became abundantly clear in the next couple of seconds was we were looking at turtle.

Oh well, still pretty special.

 

 

As we drove out of Toowoomba my sister-in-law spoke of working as a speech pathologist in the town years ago making long commutes for the job. My wife had also worked around as a speechie. 

In the late spring of Australia, the jacarandas were in full bloom in Toowoomba and so much more beautiful there. 

It was only a 2 hour drive out of Brisbane but it had been years since I had come to Toowoomba and I had no memories of Oakey. Seeing this part of the world buoyed my spirits in the way only getting out and about can. I understood I was becoming older and now came to understand weekend trips as a child where we were packed out and driven out to dams and beaches that held no interest for me then.

As much as I appreciated my freedom which earlier in the year had not been possible and was not currently for so many around the world. 

What I appreciated more was the company I kept. 

It was a good day out.

 

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                                                             Copyright Lloyd Marken.

November 22

On the 22nd of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 57,939,958 confirmed cases globally with a daily increase of 625,981.

There had been 1,380,494 deaths globally with a daily increase of 9,831.

In Australia there had been 27,807 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 18. There had been 907 Australian deaths.

In Canada there had been 320,719 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 4,968. There had been 11,334 deaths with a daily increase of 69.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,493,387 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 19,875. There had been 54,626 deaths with a daily increase of 340.

In India there had been 9,095,806 with a daily increase of 45,209. There had been 133,227 deaths with a daily increase of 501.

Coronavirus news highlights: Delhi continues to post high Covid-19 numbers  with 7,486 new cases, 131 deaths | Deccan Herald

In the United States of America there had been 11,789,012 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 191,033.

America surpassed a quarter of million deaths due to COVID-19 on the 21st of November, 2020.

250,607 with a daily increase of 2,036.

On the 22nd of November there had been 252,460 deaths with a daily increase of 1,853.

Ballbag played golf over the weekend.

-Lloyd Marken

 

YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD KONG DOWN EVEN IF YOU SHOULD

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The eighth film to feature the monster King Kong is a mess of tones and idiotic character motivations but the titular character has lost none of his appeal and that along with some bright sparks of imagination maybe enough to hold audience interest throughout.

trailer kong skull island

The year is 1973 and American involvement in the Vietnam War is coming to an end. Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins), agents of government organization Monarch obtain funding to lead an expedition to a newly discovered island in the South Pacific shaped like a skull. They recruit an attack helicopter squadron from the U.S. Army, war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), geologists, and for a tracker/hunter James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) a former Captain in the British Special Air Service. Tooled up with bombs for seismic recording and ammunition galore they plan to fly in, do tests and observe before flying out three days later on the other side of the island. With the island covered in storm clouds fizzling with red lightning they take off in their open door gunships to see what they can find paradoxically armed to the teeth for what should be map drawing and yet completely unprepared for what they do find.

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What they find is a 100 foot tall bipedal ape who quickly takes them apart after their bomb dropping seemingly awakes the beast in him. Considering these helicopters are more than capable of flying to altitudes well over 10,000 feet it seems a special kind of stupid when these war veterans fail to change tactics in the face of overwhelming force but it ain’t every day you get set upon by a giant monkey. Besides such escapes would not only derail the plot but the set pieces which are the better parts of the film. The monsters and monsters fights never cease to be entertaining and inventive whereas the human characters often are either incredibly stupid or incredibly bland. Given the cast assembled that is a special achievement in itself.

Plenty of these actors you’ve seen do better work in other films, disappointingly Samuel L. Jackson’s Ahab like Lt Col. Preston Packard fails to convince as a leader who wants a winnable war and is prepared to risk losing more men in a personal vendetta against Kong following the initial onslaught. Image result for kong: skull islandBrie Larson fills out a tank top well but besides being one of the more sensible human characters never makes much of an impact. Image result for kong: skull islandTom Hiddleston fills out a tight T-shirt well but fares even worse.

Two performances manage to stand out, one is Shea Whigham as one of Packard’s men Captain Earl Cole who takes everything in his stride like the pragmatic war weary soldier that he is because what else can he do. John C. Reilly is the second in a role that should be thankless but becomes the most memorable. Playing a downed World War II pilot named Hank Marlow (geddit) who crashed on the island twenty eight years earlier he is part exposition and part comic relief but conveys the heartache of these years lost to the world. Image result for kong: skull island nixon bobbleheadThe filmmakers seemed to recognise the impact Reilly’s performance has and give him a credits sequence that satisfies in a very simple way and maybe nails the subtext that often eludes them. A good example of missed character opportunities is Hiddleston’s Captain Conrad (geddit) mentions a father who went missing in World War II but never takes an interest in a man of that generation who went missing from his family too during that same war.

The pacing is good, the first act rushing to get to the island where the action is but taking the time to establish the different characters. The film slows down in between major action scenes too to help us get to know the human characters more but for the most part the dialogue isn’t there and the decisions made by these people cannot enamour us to them. “Kong: Skull Island” suffers from the same fate as stable mate “Godzilla”, they got the monsters right but the humans fail to hold interest for the most part.

In place of the 1933 original’s “Beauty and the Beast” subtext there’s analogies about man’s thirst for war and the environment protecting the ecosystem. For all the fetishizing of 1970s technology and call-backs to “Apocalypse Now” though the best bits are striking new images whether it be Kong slurping squid tentacles like noodles, a Nixon bobble head on the dash of a crashing Huey or a soldier placing a carbine on a prehistoric skull.  Image result for kong: skull islandA bit more of the creative genius that went into these neat images being directed towards the screenplay might have elevated this into a classic. As it is, fans of monster films should find enough here to enjoy and celebrate, for the rest of us the blockbuster season has just begun and there surely must be better films to come.

-Lloyd Marken

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