Monday, April 30, 2007

Jobs for Poets

The paint companies must comb the Arts graduates of our universities for poets they can hire. Names for colours have always been laughable, but they have really gone up a notch lately. The following list sounds like the bill for The Big Day Out.

From the Dulux range:

Charmed Lute
Grotto Green
Pompeii Ash
Mr Mustard
Great Dane
Tan Wagon
Electric Eel
Luscious Lobster
Night Romance
Purple Statement
Deep Rift
Love Pat
Lickedy Lick
Disc Jockey

See if you can spot the one I made up. If not, I might give Dulux a call about a job.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's different up north

We drove to Launceston on Friday evening, to stay with Lynn and Scott, and their kids Isobel and Tom. The aim was to visit famous TV vet Dr Harry at his hobby farm on Saturday.

On the way up we were diverted into a paddock by a fatal accident, between Tunbridge and Ross. All heavy vehicles were lined up along the highway waiting for the road to be cleared. We happened along about four hours after the smash, so there were many, many trucks and buses. After seeing the wreckage were were astonished to hear there were survivors.

We were late into Launceston, and dismayed to find no-one at home at Lynn's. We had rung ahead to warn of our delay - we were all going to just head to McDonalds to get dinner into the kids, then get something more sophisticated later. We dithered around Launceston for a while looking for Maccas, and by the time we found it and drove through we had a call from Lynn inviting us back to try again.

It was great to see them all after quite a long time. Lindy and Sam and their kids Ellen and Tristan were there too. Michael threw himself straight into the fray, and could be glimpsed dancing around like a loon with the big girls and Tristan. Marcus and Tom did diligent jigsaw and Lego work together but separately. They gradually warmed up, to the extent that when our boys, Tom and Isobel were put to bed all in Isobel's room at about ten, they talked until midnight.

Meanwhile grown-ups had Thai takeaway and also rabbited on until midnight - a late night for Elf and I. It was wonderful to be with old friends. Lynn has amazing and depressing stories from the front line of teaching in Launceston's toughest suburbs. She is teaching kids whose parents she taught in primary school seven years ago. Lynn says if South Hobart Primary (about 140 students) was in Launceston it would have been merged long ago. State schools up there are fewer and bigger. Some are favoured with good maintenance and funding, some are not.

Our boys woke at six as usual, and woke Tom and Isobel. They all played nicely for an hour or so before they required us - we hauled ourselves up off the air mattress and addressed breakfast and clothes. The kids were great all together, and we just wish there was a good way to get them together more often. Launceston and Hobart are not really so far apart, but there have been so many accidents on that road lately, it's becoming a bit of a barrier.

After breakfast we headed out to Harry's, at Relbia, about 20 minutes from town. Very parched country, divided up by parched hawthorn hedges. The man himself greeted us, with a weird Madonna-style clip on microphone strapped to the trademark cloth cap. He started by telling us about the effects of the drought, the worst in the area in 150 years. He was pretty engaging. He started by showing us his ponies and thoroughbreds. One of the latter had a little shadecloth arrangement over his eyes, which he wears for about eight months of the year to prevent sunburn on his white-blazed nose. Tassie sun is not kind to white or even partly-white horses.

The boys' interest waxed and waned as we moved through the farm, seeing dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, fancy fowl, cats, turkeys and pigs. In the fowlhouse we had a lecture on incubation, which ended with Harry assisting a little chick to break out of its shell. Marcus was allowed to hold the one-minute-old chick.

In all I would say Harry's is a good investment, at $50 for the family. The tour took about two hours. Harry obviously misses the limelight a little - there was ample time for autographs and photos with the great man. The Clucky Chook Cafe where the tour ended may have had lovely food but the staff need to learn to smile and spend less time on their hair.

As we drove back to town we came upon a small roadside grass fire. Some people on a fat motorbike who had recently passed us heading the other way, either lit it themselves or must have sailed past and ignored it. Lynn and Scott and I all stomped on it until it seemed to be out. I noted a fish shop in Kings Meadows was selling Saw Shark.

We had lunch back at Lynn's, and the kids got down to some more intensive fun. Marcus and Tom sat on stools at the breakfast bar to eat, and looked like old blokes in a pub, nattering away. It was very sad to have to drag the boys away, but we wanted to drive home in daylight as much as possible. Michael cried and Tom (in his Superman costume) responded with a spontaneous hug.

The drive home was pretty uneventful. There are beautiful splashes of gold around the midlands at present, especially along the (dry) riverbeds. Rain started falling as we came in sight of Hobart, and continued through the day today, so hopefully it is falling on Harry too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wikipedia, goats, red hot tub, brain location

I love Wikipedia to bits. As I have been listening to Come on Feel The Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens, I have been reading the Wikipedia page devoted to the album, and following the links to the the people, places and things mentioned in the songs. (Work is a bit slow at present).

One song refers Chicago's baseball heritage, including the Curse of the Billy Goat. The people who edit Wikipedia are so devoted to categorising the whole world, that they have a link from this page to another entitled "Famous Goats". Of which they can only name two.

I am working on animations for a few Leonard Cohen Brothers songs at present. The LCBs are Nick and Mr Geale, who was my home group teacher at Burnie High in 1981, but now lives with his family in a swingers pad in Mt Stuart (with a large lipstick red hot tub that would fit all the members of Bucks Fizz and Abba at once). It is true that my last animation was for a tune by Radiohead, but they would probably not have heard about this yet. It has only been viewed by a total of five grown-ups.

Michael asked a few days ago "Your brain lives in your hair, does it?" He hasn't quite mastered the "doesn't it?" method of querying.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sufjan Stevens rocks

I am just getting into an amazing (and amazingly productive) American musician named Sufjan Stevens. The album I am listening to is called Come On Feel The Illinoise - his second album in a proposed series of fifty, one for each United State. It is supe-supe-superb and many critics called it the best album of 2005. (It takes me a long time to get to grips with music these days.)

Yesterday Graham showed me the 5 disc boxed set called Songs for Christmas - a mix of standards and Sufjan's own originals. I have just looked up the track listing, and I wanted to list some of his original titles. They are not all this daggy, but you have to love these ones:

It’s Christmas! Let’s Be Glad!
Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!
That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!
Ding! Dong!
Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time!
Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)
and Get Behind Me, Santa!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Smew and Tench

Ah, the delightful smew.

Oooh, the delicious tench.

I'm not sure which I prefer - Roast Smew with Tench Sauce, or Fillet of Tench on a Bed of Smew Biryani.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Knackered 14 d Sanganalanga 2

Indoor soccer, game 2. I did a bit better than last time, lasting the whole 40 minutes in the outfield. Lost count of the goals I scored. Won a beer voucher for best afield. It was much more physical than last time, but that suited me fine. The main reason for the score is that we had a full-time actual goalie as goalie.

The next day, I felt great - just a bit wonky around my arthritic big toe. On day two, started to feel a few other aches and pains around the feet. Day three, a slight strain behind my right knee announced itself, but feet starting to settle down. Back feeling a bit stiff. Today was day four, when all the lateral ligaments in my knees started to sing in tune. Feet now OK. Back starting to loosen up again. Countdown, three days to go until next game.


Joe was visiting from Launceston for dinner, and Kirsty had been staying with us for a few days, visiting from London. We had finished dinner and were just brushing the boys' teeth and urging them towards bed. It had been an exciting evening, as Joe had just told us that he and Jill are expecting a baby in September!

Suddenly the lights flickered a few times, then we heard a bang from the bathroom. The old exhaust fan over the shower bay had been switched on for some time, overheated and caught fire, then mostly fallen into the shower. It seems that when it stopped working properly, the owner put in a new heat/light/fan unit and left the old one in place and wired up.

Elf rang the fire brigade while Kirsty ushered the boys outside. Joe took charge in the bathroom, on account of his electrical trades experience. He bravely prised the burning plastic remains of the fan out of the ceiling before the fire spread up into the roof space, and then ladled water onto the flames (now it was thoroughly disconnected from the power).

The police and fire brigade were very quick in responding. There was a bit of smouldering insulation to put out in the roof but everyone agreed Joe had done a sterling job limiting the damage.

The boys were very excited by the fire engine and the whole business, although Marcus is old enough to be excited and worried at the same time. He needed lots of reassuring as we tucked him in that it wouldn't happen again while we were asleep.

We gave the owner the bad news today and we'll see in the next few days what is going to happen.

Is Berwick-upon-Tweed at war with Russia?

Well, not any more.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chicken anniversary

Elf and I will celebrate our sixth anniversary on Saturday. Neither of us could remember what the traditional gift is. I thought perhaps it was chicken. It appears to be iron, although one American site said "iron, candy". Some of the "modern" prescribed gifts on this site are staggering.

4th Appliances
7th Desk sets
11th Fashion jewelry
16th Silver holloware (?)
24th Musical instruments
27th Sculpture
28th Orchids
32nd Conveyances (e.g., automobiles)
41st Land
44th Groceries
46th Original poetry tribute
48th Optical goods (e.g., telescope, microscope)
49th Luxuries, any kind
100th 10-carat Diamond

Monday, April 09, 2007

Doors with sizzle

From a website extolling certain doors:

"FEDERATION. There is a certain Colonial richness about these doors. Maybe it is the timber or the stile and rail step construction, maybe it's the elegant styling; this is a range that will never go out of fashion and will always look at home... EURO. This urbane range of doors creates an undeniable statement of style... routed designs on both sides and feature exclusive square corner rout. They come pre-primed ready for painting or in exotic African Cherry veneer for staining, so you can create your own aesthetic sizzle."

Meanwhile on taps, we struggle with the eternal question - should we have a mixer tap in the kitchen? What would Elizabeth David have done? Once we knock over doors and taps that only leaves lights, drapes, carpet, dinner table, chairs, couch, benchtops, cupboards, handles, doorknobs, rangehood...

We visited our Moonah buddies the McKinnons a week or so ago. They are people who take rangehoods seriously. I have always been bemused and/or indifferent to the charms of the RH but they tried to turn me around. Cameron took off the filter covers and fired her up.


"That's sucking 45 cubic metres per second!" he shouted, with all the pride and enthusiasm of someone who has painstakingly tuned an engine themselves, for maximum performance. "Ha - souped it up yourself did ya?" I joshed. Cameron said "Yes, I did".


On Good Friday we had a visit from Cam, Sarah, Jasmine and Tommy. Tommy is seven months old now but it was our first meeting with him. He is a very cuddly, smiley and chubby boy. I quite enjoyed carrying him around. We introduced the Campbell-Joneses to the joys of Pitch Ha'penny. We walked down to the beach where Jasmine and Marcus braved the surf. Marcus had insisted on taking the big beachball with us, so Cam and I booofed it around awhile. I am hoping to shanghai him and drag him along to be in my indoor soccer team. Back home we had salad sandwiches and hot cross buns and coffee and enjoyed each others company.

It is very rewarding to watch your kids play harmoniously with those of your friends. Cam and I go back many years to playing soccer together at Uni. Marcus and Jasmine made friends at daycare independently, with no help from their dads. They are now at different primary schools, and so depend on help from us to keep their friendship growing.

On Saturday we went into town to visit Nick and Anna, Lily and Katherine. On the way I dropped into a bookshop to pick up my birthday present from Mum and Dad, The Line by Arch and Martin Flanagan. I haven't started it yet but I'll review it when I am finished.

We had more HCBs, home-made (dense and tasty) and shop-bought (the usual). Again, all the kids scamped about quite peacefully. Good old friendships can be comfortable in a lazy sort of way, but they can also be so refreshing, like a short rest on a bench while toiling up a hill.

Every morning the boys have been waking us at the crack of dawn. On Sunday it was no different. I cuddled them in bed while Elf went out to distribute choc eggs around the dewy backyard. I think we had too many this year really - a fat Lindt bunny each, and about 25 other small and medium eggs. No really big ones i guess. After they were all located we put them in a Wiggles bucket to share, and they have been shared out fairly evenly.

We took a long walk along Blackmans Bay, specifically to use up chocolate energy. We had not been there with the kids before, although it is quite close to our house, and a perfectly good beach. There is a blowhole but we have not been there at the right time to see it do its thing. It was a stunning day. Marcus took the photo. General diary note: Marcus is now sometimes calling Michael "Mike".

I mentioned to Marcus the basic story of Easter. Jesus died on Friday and rose again on Sunday. Good Friday is a sad day, and Easter Sunday is a happy day. A bit later he said "I think the Easter Bunny is pretend, but I know that Santa and God are real. Because how else do the presents get in the stockings, and how else did Jesus get born twice?"

I often wish I had strong simple convictions to pass on to Marcus, rather than a catholic upbringing struggling to keep its head above water in a deluge of Science and Reason. I try to impart the shades of grey in my view of the world, but he finds his own logic in all the information he receives at home and elsewhere, and it's always a black and white logic.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Marcus plans ahead

Last night Marcus made a beautiful letter to Santa. It's just like the ones that kids on TV sitcoms write, in every detail. He just has one request.

cen you
Giv Me
Moo pREsns
then LASt tim

House progress 3

Ah, that magic word - truss. We have roof trusses in place, so now we have an idea of our roof line. More pics here.

Rugby Union numbering

Do you ever see a Rugby Union player wandering down the street, and wonder to yourself "Is that bloke a Blindside Flanker?" Have you ever worn one of those fashionable tops with a big, seemingly meaningless number on it, only to have some visitor from the northern states call you a "tighthead prop"? Here at last is the guide to rugby positions and their corresponding numbers. Note that the correct title for the player who wears number 8 is "Number 8".

Loosehead prop 1
Hooker 2
Tighthead prop 3
Lock 4
Lock 5
Blindside flanker 6
Openside flanker 7
Number eight 8
Scrum-half 9
Fly-half 10
Left wing 11
Inside centre 12
Outside centre 13
Right wing 14
Full back 15

Monday, April 02, 2007

2007 AFL Time Capsule

Here is my final 8 for the AFL this year.


Grand Final: Sydney d Melbourne
Brownlow Medallist: Adam Cooney (WB)
Coleman Medallist: Quinton Lynch (WC)
Wooden Spoon: North Melbourne

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Shanes are bridesmaids again

For the third year in a row, The Bowling Shanes made the Grand Final, in what is acknowledged by all as the toughest Tuesday Night Twilight Lawn Bowls comp in Southern Tasmania.

This year we faced Wrong Bias, in a 15-end, last-man-standing, all-male bloke-off. With typical panache and elan, the DCBC had wrong-footed everyone, managed to get the twilight bowlers out in the sunshine, and then thrown us with their suggestion we bowl non-stop for three hours. Why the final of a 12-end lawn bowls competition should be over 15 ends is anyone's guess.

However. It was a terrific match, played at a very high standard. Every end was long - even the short ends were long. Bowlers were hitting the mark, however, and many of the heads (tight clusters of bowls around the kitty) would have looked at home in an A Division match. Dean was busy chalking bowls that had touched the kitty. We all found it very amusing when he drew penises on our bowls last week, but in deference to the occasion he settled for a simple X today.

We started the better and had a 5-1 lead. Wrong Bias chipped away and after 8 ends it was 5-5, a very tight game. Going into what would normally be the last end, the 12th, it was 7-7. Wrong Bias steamrolled us in the last four ends. I got us off to a poor start each time, which put pressure on Dave and Hunter, and left Dean with an impossible position to score from. We conceded 1, then 2, then 2 more. Needing six to win on the last end, we took desperate measures to give ourselves a chance of a big score, but this tactic left huge gaps for Wrong Bias to pick up another 2.

It was very disappointing to fall away like that, after being right in it for most of the match. We were a bit wobbly at times this season, and Wrong Bias deserve the glory, accolades and huge sponsorship deals that always flow to the DCBC TNTLB Champions. They will be household names, as we were back in our glory year of 2005.

And so, as we put away the Grippo and the measuring tape for another winter, we turn our attention to indoor soccer with its shouting, its friction burns and its complete lack of clumsily-drawn genitalia.

Exhausted but victorious

On Friday night I returned to the indoor soccer court after a few years off. My team is called either "Exhausted" or "Knackered", I can't remember. We played a nameless team in blue, and came back from well behind to win 7-6. When I first played years ago in Melbourne, we played six a side, in an indoor cricket net, with a small leather ball, I think. I don't remember it that well. After I gave up outdoor soccer I played for four or five years in a indoor comp on a basketball court, with a soccer-ball-sized tennis ball, if you know what I mean. Very light, bright green and fuzzy. It was six-a-side in quite a large space, and goalies could roam about if they wanted to.

My new team play in an indoor cricket net at Bellerive. It is four-a-side, and the goalie is confined to his little semicircle. The other three have a lot of space to cover, and because of the net, the ball never goes out. So it's like squash, with added tackling and less breaks. It goes for 40 minutes and I was gasping for oxygen after about five. I had a couple of longish stints in goals which helped me recover a little.

I felt like I fit in to the team OK, scored a couple of goals and really enjoyed it. The referee was very professional and that makes a big difference to me - I used to waste a lot of energy sounding off at the feeble refereeing. One of the younger guys on the opposing side was the dead spit of a boy I played soccer with at high school - it occurred to me later that it might be his son. Spooky.