Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Pulp

I just watched an old Roar Film documentary I had never seen, Pulp. It was the story of the Burnie Paper Mill, and the contemporary opera based on its' history which was put on there in 1996, by IHOS Opera of Hobart.

The Pulp was like a big smelly backdrop to my growing up years. They were also the No Dams years and Lake Pedder years, and young would-be greenies like me were pretty resentful of big industries generally. The low point was a front-page story in The Australian labelling Burnie "Australia's dirtiest town". Even Midnight Oil wrote a song about the grey sand and the effluent pipeline.

We would wind up the windows when we drove past to try (in vain) to keep out the smell. It was kind of meaty. The Pulp always looked very shabby, until 1988 when Burnie somehow scraped together 23,000 people to justify city status. The Queen popped over to officiate, and the whole massive site got a lick of paint, and all the broken windows were covered up by half a mile of aluminium siding.

Those are my memories of the Pulp. I really enjoyed the film as it gave a lot of old-timers who worked there for years a chance to tell their side of it. It was beautiful to see old footage of Burnie in the heyday of the Pulp. My brother-in-law Howard worked there, but we were not a Pulp family like many in Burnie. Kids left school and straight away went to join their dad in the machine room or their mum in the paper counting room. Younger kids went to the Pulp Christmas Party each year, and even got birthday presents from the Pulp.

I admire IHOS's work. I have been to a few of their operas, though I didn't see Pulp. The first time I attended one I was overwhelmed. Pulp was the first time they had done any community arts work, but they seemed to get the hang of it. There is a definite IHOS style to what they do - they could be accused of looking for themes on which to hang their greek-chorus-plus-sparks 'n' explosions style. But there were full houses every night, so the community support was certainly there. I saw a few faces I recognised.

Anyone who would like to see the doco, (featuring a slim Con Koukias) let me know, I'll send you out a VHS.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fonz Facts

Straight from Wikipedia.

Censors initially refused to allow Fonzie to wear a leather jacket, thinking that it made him look too much like a hoodlum. Garry Marshall (creator of Happy Days) got them to compromise, agreeing to allow Fonzie to wear his leather jacket when in close proximity to his motorcycle (since a leather jacket is a legitimate piece of safety equipment). To ensure that Fonzie would wear the leather jacket at all times, Marshall instructed the writers to put him near his motorcycle as often as possible, even going so far as to have him ride it into Arnold's. Even so, for some first season episodes, he wears a white jacket. Eventually, the censors relented, and Fonzie was allowed to wear the leather jacket even when not near his bike.
Fonzie actually wore two leather jackets regularly - a black one and a dark brown one.

On an episode of Happy Days, Fonzie met Mork, a wacky alien. Played by Robin Williams, the Mork character proved so popular that he received his own spin-off series, Mork & Mindy.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Since our recent visit to the Cascade Brewery Fair, (where he had a non-alcoholic cider) Michael calls the brewery "the fizzy place".

Tiges break through

I had a terrific night on Friday. Soccer had a late kick-off, so I was able to watch the first half of the Richmond v Melbourne bottom-of-the-ladder clash. By the time I hopped in the car, Richmond were ten goals up, and despite their abysmal record I knew deep down they couldn't lose. Marcus watched the first quarter with me, then went to bed a happy boy, having been assured by Dad that this time, it was really going to happen. Melbourne had the unmistakeable look of a team who thought they would just have to turn up to win - they were dire.

At the soccer we again won pretty comfortably. Sucking in huge lungfuls of air at half-time, I noticed on the TV in the bar that Melbourne were stacking on a comeback. Fortunately I had to direct my attention elsewhere when our game re-started.

We finished (11-3) just in time for me to get a beer and enjoy the last two minutes of the first Richmond win of 2007. In a beautiful bit of synchronicity, the Kingborough Tigers also posted their first win for the season with a stirring comeback against Brighton, in the SFL's bottom-of-the-ladder game.

To quote in full an SMS from a fellow sufferer: "Tiges. Richo. Win. Kickstart. Finals. Flag."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

House Update 17

Look, no scaffolding! We are now only weeks away from moving in.

Organic Dog Kimonos

Are you sick and tired of wading through crappy non-organic dog kimonos, looking for one that is tender on Woofy's skin, but kind to the environment?

Well - here it is.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Roar goes grand

Roar Film is on the move. We had a chance to inspect our new premises on Friday. Note the wide range of door sizes.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Denzil Don footy goes home

Back in February I found an old "Denzil Don" brand football on our lawn. It had some signatures on it. On inspection I worked out it was from King Island (home of Australia's only three-team football competition).

Coincidentally, only days after I found it, my employers Roar Film got the go-ahead from SBS to make a series about country football, featuring King Island. The first shoot happened earlier this month. The crew took my footy over there to see what they could find out about it.

They were blown away by the reaction. People gathered around and helped identify the names inscribed on it. Steve and Marie even met a couple of the footballers, now in their nineties. The ball was a memento of a game against either Flinders Island, or Redpa (near Smithton) - both of whom used to play annual matches against a K.I. combined side. One of the old blokes, named Snow Watkins, has just had his driving license revoked, as he is blind as a bat. He was caught one night driving his tractor to the pub. It's now in the middle of a paddock with its tires let down. Snow's brother Splinter has also had his driver's license taken away, but he's very proud that he's still got his Kelp License.

Roar will visit King Island again to film the grand final in September. I hope I will get a chance to tag along and carry some sound gear or something. It sounds like a really lovely, slow-paced place to visit. I have always got the impression that King is to Tasmania what Tasmania is to the rest of Australia.

Risking head and shin

Marcus is continuing his love affair with all things footy. Michael will sometimes come along for the ride - particularly if footy songs are involved. They both ask me to sing as many club songs as I know to pass the time in the car while Elf goes into a shop or something. A new song I have recently learned from King Island goes (to the tune of Yellow Submarine) "We all play for the Grassy Football Club, the Grassy Football Club, the Grassy Football Club..." They like that one. I can do North Melbourne, Melbourne, Carlton, Collingwood and Hawthorn, and bits of the others. The newer ones are unspeakably bad.

I like the sentiments of the old ones, like "The premiership's a cakewalk" and "Out we come to play, just for recreation's sake and pass the time away".

Tonight at bedtime the boys regaled Elf with When the Saints Go Marching In, and after lights out I heard a vigorous version of Tigerland. Its the first time I have heard them sing anything together, and it brought a tear to the eye.

Taxation Olympics

We went along to the Cascade Fair at the brewery today. It was a little shambolic, but the boys had fun anyway and scored matching black CASCADE beanies. There were something like 150 people there when we arived, trampling the lovely lawns to brown mush. Showbags were sold out long ago, and when we saw what was in them we realised it was a bizarre compendium of tat. Which I guess is what "showbag" means really.

The highlight was chatting to a lady Elf knew slightly, who mentioned the queue we were in was "nearly as long as the queue for the buses at the Taxation Olympics." She works in the ATO, and it appears every year the taxfolk descend on some spot (this year Hobart), and play volleyball. I asked if they argue the nitty gritty when a rule is in dispute? Apparently, yes.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Summer never ends

Here is a sight to gladden the heart of any Australian dad - the boys playing cricket. It didn't last long, but they organised it themselves and I was very proud. Michael got his first delivery right in the"corridor of uncertainty". You can see Marcus is treating it the way he treats everything, with a big heave to the leg side. I have tried to bribe him by offering double for every run he can get on the off side, but he won't be tempted.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Knackered 10 drew Red Devils 10

Daniel and Adrian were otherwise occupied this week, so we took the field as a tight-knit team of three. Our opponents numbered 8, and used the full-squad-transfusion tactic to swap the bench 4 for the on-court 4 throughout the game.

We were not surprised to be 3-0 down pretty quickly. They offered us one of theirs, but as they had all taken the field for Red Devils already the ref wouldn't allow anyone to change sides.

Pretty soon we got on the scoreboard anyway. They were young and fit like most guys in the roster, but not all that skilled, and a bit lazy. Paul went wild and netted four goals in as many minutes. As goalies are confined to their semicircle, it was 2-on-3 in the outfield, and our 2 were running hard enough to shut down their 3, steal the ball, run with it, shoot and score.

I was pretty shot after about ten minutes of this, but we were keeping up on the scoreboard. We actually staggered in to half time in front about 6-4.

They came at us quite hard after the break, but never quite got in front. As time passed we started to believe we could do it. With one minute to go it was 9-9, and I was prepared to settle for the draw. Then Brett slotted another goal, and we tried to run down the clock.

I was keeping at this point, and the boys kept passing back to me. I took my time, rolled it out, got it back. Eventually Paul got sick of this, tried to make a break downfield, lost the ball and suddenly a powerful shot came back, took a deflection off him and cannoned past me for a goal. 10-10 with four seconds left. A bit disappointing but a pretty good effort all the same.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

I've taken the first week of the school holidays off work. Today at the library Marcus chose a DVD of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. It was probably first shown when I was about his age - I think it was made in 1972.

The credits are made up of Dons, Alans, Maxes, Bills, Kevins, Jeans, Bevs, Cheryls and Joans. Seventies Australia.

In the first episode, we see Bev at the beach put her baby's crib into a basinette (with wheels) under a tree. Bev and her hubby Alan go off in a kayak. His trunks have a belt. Shortly we see a possum nudge the bassinete and the wheels become unlocked. It rolls (yes, across a beach) to the waters' edge, in a homage to Battleship Potemkin. Baby floats away (in a homage to the Old Testament)and is rescued by the deft paws of Skippy. Sonny wonders aloud what to feed the baby - Skippy hops out the door, camera cuts to deft paws plucking a fat tuft of grass.

EH Kingswoods and XB Falcons abound. While the police and rangers search for the baby, Alan stares out across the water and smokes intensely. Police wear bad suits. Finally the baby is located with Skippy. A relieved Alan drives away in the Kingswood, with Bev holding the baby in the front seat.

Episode two - the big parade. The boys are on the back of the float as Ranger Matt and Ranger Jerry tow it behind the jeep. Unbeknownst, a diamond thief is hiding in the shrubbery of the float. No-one has ten cents for the toll when they go across the harbour bridge. Hand holding a coin emerges from undergrowth. After they have rumbled away, the tollbridge guy does the 3rd worst double take in TV history.

As they are cruising down George St in the big parade, past the Premier (Robert Askin playing himself I think) the thief emerges and Sonny and Mark fight him continuously for about seven minutes. Mark says "grab his leg Sonny" about four times. Mark and thief swap hefty punches, and a few elbows to the head. Sonny eventually joins in, "smack" sound effects to prove he is connecting. I don't think today there are any children's shows, or adults ones for that matter, that would show a ten year old and his 16 year-old brother in a punch-fest with a grown up. Matt and Jerry miss all this as they can't see anything from the jeep.

When they get home Sonny is asleep. Everyone laughs about his "big day", and there is no mention of concussion.

I have to declare that as a kid one of my favourite 45s to spin on the radiogram was the Skippy theme played by the Eric Jupp Band. I'm sure Sally and Jacki can remember the B side.

Friday, June 01, 2007

House progress 4

The house is only four weeks from completion date, and seems to be on track. Greg the builder seems happy, and the problems we are encountering are all fairly small and solveable. Elf is very happy and excited, which is great.

Future beard

We are trying to cajole Michael out of nappies.

Elf: When you are a big grown-up you won't wear nappies will you?
Michael: No. And I will have a beard on the bottom of my nose.

Dob one at lunchtime

From a terrific article by John Harms in The Age, on watching footy at the pub.

The pub was in that transitional period where the afternoon crowd, having done their lolly on the races, are half-tanked and trying to leave. I got talking to a local plumber from up the street. He was a Collingwood fan ("Mum was Collingwood").

"Did you play?" I asked.

"One game for the Fitzroy thirds in 1959," he said.

"Good year for the Royboys," I said. He missed the significance of it. [Fitzroy firsts won the night premiership]

"Yeah. Against Carlton at Princes Park," he said. "Kicked a couple."

I was impressed. "Kicked one at the MCG as well," he added.

He saw my puzzled look. "Did a job there once," he explained. "Took me footy. Dobbed one at lunchtime."