Audiobook Review- Mythos: The Greek myths retold by Stephen Fry

What can I say? The book’s title says it all!

My wife and I have been avid fans of Greek mythology for a while now, for me it started when we listened to the entire Percy Jackson series a number of years back, while my wife’s fandom of Greek mythology goes back to her childhood, when she grew up reading her hardcover Greek mythology encyclopaedia. And to top that off, we’ve always enjoyed TV programming featuring Stephen Fry – so we were bound to enjoy his Mythos audio book!

Now when the book’s title states that it’s a retelling of Greek mythology by Stephen Fry – it literally does mean that the book is a literal retelling of the classic Greek tragedies and triumphs by Stephen Fry – but retold in his witty and sardonic style. Don’t be expecting a free-flowing epic tale of gods and monsters! But expect a 15+hour long, back-of-the-book style glossary, listing out countless titans and gods, but retold in short stories, in a style fitting for a 21st century entertainment consumer.

Let’s just say, expect to be more educated, than you’re going to be entertained (although Stephen Fry’s narration and delivery is all together entertaining). But what stood out for me after listening to Mythos, was the realisation of how much of ancient Greece has influenced our modern day English language, and how these stories have seeped into our consciousness knowingly and unknowingly through other famous pieces of art, plays and even in cartoons!

While listening to Mythos, I was reminded of the power of the human imagination; how all these characters, with unique personalities and attributes, each with highly complex relational ties with each other, were all dreamt up and then passed down through the generations to the present day. How centuries and centuries ago, they used tales to explain ‘why the sun rises every day’ or ‘how the bee got its sting’, no doubt these tales were designed to explain to pesky and inquisitive kids who keep asking why? How? Why? How?!

And we have to reemphasize that Stephen Fry has a true gift in literacy, his humorous writing style made every page of this otherwise encyclopaedic-like book amusing, and having him narrate the Audible audio recording was a perfect touch to complete this experience!

If you’re interested to check out Mythos: The Greek myths retold, click HERE!

February Festivals and Things to Do!

After a smoky and hot start to the year, let’s see what February has installed for us? Here are my top things to see and do for the month of Feb 2020 in Ol’ Sydney Town!

The Big Bounce Australia– Sat 1 Feb – Mon 10 Feb

St. Ives Showground, 450 Mona Vale Rd, St. Ives NSW  

Catch the final 10 days of the Big Bounce in Sydney! You have to see it to believe it! It’s the world’s largest jumping castle ever- more like a jumping resort! Within this inflatable playground expect ball pits, slides, climbing towers, DJs, confetti blasts, snow machines, crazy dancing, and competitions! It’s all you want as a kid, all in one neat 1200sqm package! And parents, if you’re tempted to jump as well? Check out the times and dates for the adult only sessions! Come on, come on down! But leave everything sharp at home plz.

For more info and for tickets, click HERE!

ICC T20 Women’s World Cup Australia V India– Fri 21 Feb

Sydney Showground, Grand Parade Sydney Olympic Park, NSW   

To kick-start two weeks of T20 Women’s World Cup cricket action, the Aussies will be striding out to the pitch to do battle with the Indians! Check out the defending T20 World Cup champions defend their world title on home soil! Be ready to watch the little white ball fly!   

For more info and to purchase tickets, click HERE!

Mosman Melted Cheese Festival– Sat 1 Feb – Sat 29 Feb

719 Military Rd, Mosman NSW (above the Mosman Club)

In the month of Feb, Mosman will be where you want to be at if you’re a cheese lover! Marketed as the ‘festival of melted cheese’, let the cheese melt while you savour their stretchy gooie goodness in summer! At the Furnery Rooftop, they will be serving up a menu featuring cheese as starters, cheese as mains, and you guessed it…… cheese for dessert! Lactose intolerant sufferers beware.  

Check out the menu and for more details, click HERE!

Raging Waters Sydney– anytime during summer

427 Reservoir Rd, Prospect NSW

With the drought and water restrictions it’s hard to maintain a backyard pool- so why not allow Raging Waters Sydney look after the water side of things, while you and your family just worry about the fun side! With over 30 rides, slides and attractions- including the H2Go Racers, the 360 Rush, a chance to chill out at the beach (while being in the Western suburbs), or lose yourself (or your bikini) in the brand new Whirlwind slide! Like they say, something for everyone!

For more info and for summer sale offers, click HERE!

Kokedama Workshop AT Bondi Beach– anytime

Merchant & Green, 96 Glenayr Ave, Bondi Beach NSW

Have you pretty much tried it all? Pottery, photography, massage, cocktail making classes? Why not try something new!? Kokedama anyone? Kokedama is an age old Japanese art form, a cousin of Bonsai- consisting of petite plants living off a ball of special soil and moss, bound by string. In the 1.5 hour class you’ll learn how to make your own Kokedama balls (x3), decorated with a variety of succulents or seasonal indoor plants. After the class you can hang them, keep them in bowls, or feature them ‘naked’. Max of 8 in the public classes- $110 pp.

For more information and to book into a class, click HERE!

Audiobook Review- The Lincoln Lawyer

All good things must eventually come to an end.

And isn’t that true with all things? My epic 2.5 month career break has finally come to an end, and in the final month I was binge  listening to the Mickey Haller series a.k.a the Lincoln Lawyer; and after a month I’ve finished the entire 5 book series and here is my brief re-cap of the experience!

After Michael Connelly’s most well-known character (Harry Bosch), Mickey Haller is Connelly’s second most  widely used character, creating 5 standalone novels where Mickey is the main protagonist (while Mickey makes a further 5 cameo appearances in books in the Harry Bosch series). The 5 books which make-up the Mickey Haller series are:

The Lincoln Lawyer (2005)

Here we meet Mickey Haller for the very first time, a well-known Defence Attorney who works out of the back-seat of his Lincoln town car – criss-crossing the court houses of LA to represent his numerous small time clients in front of overworked judges in the busy LA justice system. All the while, Mickey attempts to drum-up further business, trying to secure future clients such as drug addicts, petty thieves, and con-artists. But this day is Mickey’s lucky day, when he scores the big one! Landing the case to defend a wrongly accused Beverly Hills playboy, charged over the attempted rape and assault of a ‘working girl’ set on extorting his client for a big pay-day. However not everything nor everyone is who they seem to be!

The Brass Verdict (2008)

After the death of an associate, Mickey inherits all of the in-flight cases of the slain defence attorney- the good money making cases, and the not so good. Included in this windfall is the lucrative and high profile defence of a multi-millionaire Hollywood producer, accused of killing his wife and her lover in a fit of jealous rage. Mickey and his half-brother LA Detective Harry Bosch, partner up to smoke-out the real killer behind the case! However who responds to the heat, isn’t who they expected it to be!    

The Reversal (2010)

Mickey is enticed to cross the aisle, and for the first time he sits at the Prosecution table acting on behalf of the People to keep a convicted child killer locked-up behind bars. It’s an all family affair, with ex-wife Maggie McPherson as his second chair, and his half-brother Harry Bosch as his Investigator. But now with the once convicted killer out on bail, no one is safe while he remains free in LA!

The Fifth Witness (2011)

The defence of foreclosure victims seemed like a safe enough business model, mundane but profitable enough for the Lincoln Lawyer – until a foreclosure client of Mickey’s is charged with the murder of a high ranking bank employee. Now Mickey finds himself back in the criminal courtroom, defending an accused murderer. Although the times have changed, blackmail, manipulation, greed and murder remain the same in this new world he lives in!

The Gods of Guilt (2013)

And after 8 years, many things loop back around to where it all started in Book One of the 5 book series – a prostitute whom Mickey had saved in the first novel, shows up dead in ‘The Gods of Guilt’. Mickey is hired to defend her accused killer – after he is convinced of the accused’s innocence and the framing of his client by a much higher power. And as Mickey does, he stirs up a hornet’s nest to draw out the shadowy culprits to a confrontation in the safety of the court-room……But this time, has Mickey angered a power stronger than he can withstand?

Each of the 5 books in the Mickey Haller series are nail-biters, thrilling page turners which will have you enthralled right through to the end! And once you’ve finished with one, you’ll be unable to resist starting the very next! Throughout the last 30 days, I was literally returning one title back to the library, and that same afternoon I was already cracking open the next. I powered through them so quickly that they all started to blur into one another. But if I was granted a ‘do-over’, a second chance to pace myself to make the experience last longer? Would I? Never! Given a second chance, I’d binge the series all over again, they were such a great read! Each as unpredictable as the previous instalment!

If you haven’t already read/listened to the Mickey Haller series, I emphatically insist that you do so! To get you started, just click on the link HERE, and it’ll take you to the Audible landing page for all of Michael Connelly’s audio books- including the Mickey Haller series! Enjoy.   

Sydney Gig Guide Feb – Apr 2020

This is only a very small taste of the live gigs which will be touching down in Sydney in the months of February – April 2020. But we will be uploading new posts on a monthly basis to give you some advance notice in what hot live gigs will be arriving in Ol’ Sydney Town!

Live music

So Pop 2020

Qudos Bank Arena, 19 Edwin Flack Avenue, Sydney Olympic Park

Saturday 25 April 2020, after the successes of ‘So Pop’ 2019, So Pop 2020 returns to Australia and New Zealand with a whole new line-up of 00s Popstars! Acts include the Pussycat Dolls, Steps, Jesse McCartney, Smash Mouth, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Alice DJ, Whigfield, Reel 2 Reel, and Samantha Mumba! One stage! One day! One ticket! Don’t miss-out!

 Sydney-siders will have their turn to groove to these nostalgic beats, for more info and to purchase tickets click HERE!

Musicals

9 to 5 The Musical

Lyric Theatre, 55 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont   

From April 2020, the West End Musical smash hit ‘9 to 5 The Musical’ will be reaching our Sydney shores! Adapted from the film by the same name, 9 to 5 is a musical about 3 work mates  who team up to turn the tables on their sexist and egotistical boss! With a musical score penned by no other than Dolly Parton herself, 9 to 5 promises to be a whole heap of laughs, accompanied by music you’ll love! Live vicariously through these ladies as they rise-up against their crappy boss!

For more information and for tickets, click HERE!

Classical/Contemporary Music

Goldner String Quartet & Piers Lane

City Recital Hall, 2 Angel Place, Sydney

Saturday 4 April – Monday 20 April, Australia’s most recognised Pianist Piers Lane will partner with his old friends the Goldner String Quartet as the quartet celebrates 25 years of making music together! Piers and GSQ will be performing twice per day (2pm and 7pm), with performances differing from night and day (2pm Program 1, 7pm Program 2).

For more information and to purchase tickets, click HERE!

Comedy

Ben Elton Live

City Recital Hall, 2 Angel Place, Sydney

Friday 24 April, Legendary British stand-up comic, author, playwright, actor and director Ben Elton will be making Sydney audiences laugh with his all new stand-up show! See this talented writer and performer live on stage, after 75 sold out shows in the UK in 2009, Sydney audiences will be guaranteed a great night with Ben Elton on stage!

For more details and for tickets, click HERE!

Community Theatre

Beautiful: The Carol King Musical

Hornsby RSL Showroom, 4 High Street, Hornsby  

Thursday 30 April – Saturday 1 May, the Hornsby Musical Society will be performing ‘Beautiful: The Carol King Musical’, where it retells Carol’s life story through her vast library of hit songs. The music will take you back to her early days as a 16 year old song writer; partnership and marriage to the lyricist Gerry Goffin; the successes of their callaburation and prolific song writing; to infidelity and the ultimate break-up of their marriage- while Carol becomes a global success. An emotional journey through Carol King’s life, through her life of song.

For more information and for tickets, click HERE!

Podcast Recommendations- Kochie’s Easy Steps To Financial Success

Would you like to see more $$$ in your bank account? If your answer is yes, then you’d better check out this podcast!

No matter if you find David Koch a little bit annoying or not, but he does have his heart in the right place, as he wants to see you and your family achieve financial success in your lives! Free advice with no strings attached! Gold!

Kochie has recently released an 11 episode podcast series called ‘Kochie’s Easy Steps To Financial Success’, walking the listener through 11 easy steps in how you can maximise your dollar to help you achieve your financial goals, and ultimately make your retirement years more enjoyable!

Each episode is around 15 minutes in length, where Kochie speaks in simple understandable terms at a steady pace, so it’s super easy to follow, digest and to take notes if you’re the note-taking type. The 11 episodes literally cover off every financial topic under the sun, from more introductory topics like developing your financial goals, developing a household budget, managing debt, cutting costs, how to earn more money, to the more complex topics which we don’t like to think about like taxation, investing in shares, and insurance. *Shudders*. The most thought provoking of the 11 episodes was the topic of ‘To buy or to rent’, and Kochie floated the idea that perhaps renting might actually make more financial sense? Only if you’re diligent and you take the difference between the cost of rent and the potential cost of mortgage repayments, and invest that amount in something else? This approach I have to admit I’d never considered before. And I’ve never quite grasped the concept and when to use Negative gearing, and thanks to Kochie he has helped me finally understand when it’s a good idea to invest in property for its positive tax implications.

I’ve read some of the iTunes feedback to the podcast, some were glowing while some were pretty scathing 1 Star reviews. But I guess Kochie’s steps is targeted at middle-income Australia, so it’s an absolute privilege if you’re in a position to even consider implementing any of his financial suggestions. And I think his final episode resonated with me the most, in the end it comes down to your financial habits which are often developed when you’re a child. If you’ve always been frugal, naturally it’s a lot easier to save as an adult, regardless of how much money you’re making. But if your nature is to be generous to the people around you, and if you enjoy the finer things in life- then naturally the changes you need to make to squirrel away more of your salary will feel more difficult and feel like more of a sacrifice.

But I think it’s still worthwhile to just check out Kochie’s podcast, there are many gems in there, even if you’re only able to take away one or two suggestions which you can implement and maintain? Methinks that’s a pretty good outcome from a totally FREE podcast!? Yea?

If you want to check-out Kochie’s Easy Steps To Financial Success? Just click HERE! And if you’ve already enjoyed this pod, you can supplement what you’ve already learnt with content from Kochie’s web-site- Your Money Your Life, which has new content/articles uploaded there on a regular basis! 

Socials- Sydney Staycation 2019

You don’t have to always spend the big bucks and go away to have a good time on vacation- enter Sydney Staycation 2019!

With our bunch of friends, we weren’t able to find a mutually available weekend to getaway up or down the coast, so we made sure that we all blocked out our calendars for a Friday night and the consecutive Saturday – and this is what we got up to:

Friday night dinner

Korean BBQ @Jang Ta Bal  

L1, 73-75 Liverpool Street, Sydney

After work we all converged on Jang Ta Bal, a Korean BBQ joint known for their use of white-hot charcoals to heat your hotplates thus ensuring your food had a ‘smoky’ tinge.

We ordered a pretty impressive spread of meats to be barbequed (Wagyu beef, marinated and unmarinated non-wagyu beef, and marinated chicken), selection of mushrooms, and a great variety of pre-cooked Korean classics. My favourites were the marinated chicken- they were very tender (thanks to our group’s designated cooks) and tasty. While my favourite dish from the kitchen, was the Japchae glass noodles- imagine instant ramen noodles with a bit more of a spring to them, and it was served in a tasty sweet and salty sauce. Mmmmm.

As we were a group of 12 catching-up, the Korean BBQ concept i.e. cooking for each other and sharing all of your spoils, added to the fellowship of catching-up with friends! And part way through the meal, for an unexplained reason, the waiter gave us all a can of complementary soda each, ranging from Cokes to Calpis- which was pretty crazy as that’s a $36 RRP of freebies! And the entire meal totalled to only $460 which wasn’t bad, $38pp after tips.

Friday night dessert

Desserts @Darling Square Precinct

And after our tummies were filled with savoury treats, it was time to fill our second stomach with desserts! I have to admit, I love love bringing people back to the space which used to be the old Entertainment Centre, as I love hearing people’s surprise in finding here the newly developed Darling Square Precinct. It was after 8pm but all of the shops were still open in the laneways, from the food vendors to the non-food vendors. It had a real Asian night-market vibe about it all! And after checking out the laneways, we went off in our different directions to find and meet each of our own sugary cravings. People came back with purple rice and yoghurt drinks from Yomie; bubble tea from Bubble Nini Tea; and gelatos from Messina. We were one of those who returned with gelato- Apple pie bounty (scoop 1) and PBJ (peanut butter and jelly – scoop 2). Surprisingly two scoops in a cup was quite large and well portioned, so $6.80 for 2 scoops was quite good value actually, when shared between two. The apple pie had large chunks of crumbed biscuit base, while the PBJ was peanut butter, toasted bread and jam – but we didn’t find any pieces of bread in our scoop though.

And we sat under the trees, under the stars, enjoying our various sweetie treats. And then we parted company at 9.30pm, to do it all over again tomorrow!    

Saturday lunch

Vietnamese @Phu Quoc

Cnr John Street and Hill Street, Cabramatta, Sydney

As our Sydney Staycation 2019 continued on to the next day, we all met up at Strathfield station and trained it to Cabramatta. Talk about 30 minutes on a train and being transported to another country!? I think getting out to Cabra was the cheapest ticket to an entirely different world!

If you’re adventurous, just go down every alleyway, poke your head into every arcade and shop, and you’ll find something which catches your attention at every turn! Just as long as you keep your bearing’s and can always find your way back to the train station, you’ll be fine! There are food shops everywhere! From the best sit-down Vietnamese restaurants you’ll ever find in Sydney, to snack stores, bakeries, drink vendors, and fresh produce markets! And oddly there were heaps of pharmacies, toy stores, mobile phone accessory stores and jewellery stores, methinks more per square kilometre than anywhere else in Sydney!

And when we were hungry (although we had eaten so much the night before) we touched down at Phu Quoc for lunch.

Just when you think that Phu Quoc only serves all the usual Vietnamese staples you can find at any other Viet restaurant- just peer closer at the menu or check out their specials, and get ready to find dishes you’ve never heard of! For me, I’d never had the stewed beef in tomato soup with bread roll (bahn mi bo kho – $13.50), and my wife had never tried the pork leg, prawn, tofu, and blood jelly noodle soup (bun rieu – $13.00).

OMG, just when you think it’s the usual Banh Mi roll, so that you’d better dunk it well in the soup as it’s going to be dry? Think again! The bread roll which accompanied the stewed beef in tomato soup was next level! It was crunchy on the outside, but so soft and fluffy fresh on the inside! And it had been brushed with oil before it was baked, so it was oily and greasy, but oh so tasty! I could have easily eaten it all by itself, without dunking in the soup. However there was so much thick tasty tomato soup to soak-up that I just had to dip, before I devoured! And eventually when I got to the chunks of stewed beef, I found it to be so soft and tender- it didn’t take much chewing to breakdown the meat in your mouth, and it had nice melty tenderous veins! Mmmmmmm.

My wife’s noodle soup was tasty as well, with large chunks of pork leg, 2 large squares of pig’s blood, a king prawn and tofu. The noodle was vermicelli, and it came with a plate of fresh vege (bean spouts and cabbage) and a lemon, salt and pepper dipping sauce. *Drools*.

Saturday dessert

Desserts @Kayson Sweets

Shop 4, 59-61 Park road, Cabramatta, Sydney

And after lunch and walking around some more, searching for various snacks that we had once consumed in Vietnam, or recalled from a long-ago childhood trip to Cabra- we satisfied those sweet tooth cravings with a Durian and Avocado smoothie ($6.00 med, $7.00 large) from Kayson Sweets. And a box of green mango with accompanying pink salty, sour & spicy dipping salts from a street side grocer.

Then it was back on the train, back to Strathfield for the evening portion of our Staycation. But the one thing which stuck out to us whilst on the train was that, how easy and close it was to get to Cabra by public transport! We will definitely come back in the near future, and not allow another 10 years to pass before we do so.

Saturday night dinner

Dinner from Metro One and Taste of Shanghai

UberEats

And then we converged on one of our friend’s homes and played board games and card games (devouring some of our Cabra purchases), and just when we thought we couldn’t possibly have dinner as we were too full from 2 days of eating? The messaging of hunger pangs from our stomach to our brain override any thoughts of restricting further calorie intake! So we had to meet those needs by ordering snack packs and gozleme from Metro One in Ashfield, and dumplings from Taste of Shanghai Burwood – delivered to our door courtesy of UberEats! And as we ate, chatted, and played games with each other, it marked the end of an epic 24 hours of eating and the end of Sydney Staycation 2019! If aspects or the entire experience has piqued your interest? Just follow our gastronomic journey, as you have all the details now to replicate our 2-day feast! Bon Appétit!