Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bowling Shanes 11 d Bowling Boys Jack High Boys 9

This game swung around a bit. Boys up 0-1. Shanes up 5-1. Boys up 5-9. Shanes crept back to 8-9 down. Getting dark. Boys arrived late and their skip took longer to line up a shot than Matthew Lloyd. Bell rang just before I threw out the kitty with us one behind. Technically should have been game over, I believe. However we picked up three shots and bloused them on the line, 11-9. Shanes A were big 22-6 winners, and took home carton of stubs. Go Shanes. Thanks D'Eane for suppying the name of our opponents here.

World Festival of Magic

Marcus's friend Huon and his dad Tom asked us to go to a magic show with them, as they had free tickets. We met them down at Wrest Point Casino on Saturday afternoon. I don't go there very often; I was delighted to see they still have the large neon sign running along the building depicting dolphins gambolling happily with dollar signs. We all know how cash-focused dolphins tend to be.

Before we left Marcus said warily "I hope it's real magic. I hope he doesn't just ask us to close our eyes and then make a jail out of bones or something."

It was called the World Festival, but in fact featured only one American and one Australian magician. There magic was pretty good, but there wasn't a whole lot of variety. The main man, Tony, had a lovely assistant as well two lovely dancers (the Magic Movers). He boxed and then impaled his lovely assistant in about four different ways. Just when you were trying to concentrate very hard on the spot where the mirror/black thread/collapsible dagger probably was, the Magic Movers would start writhing in a sensual and eye-catching way. Suddenly all the dads in the audience would be clapping and agreeing it was amazing, no idea how he did that etc.

Tony and the ladies all did a lot of pointing with twirling fingers and snappy double-takes. Must have very strong neck muscles. There was a bit of S & M vamping it up going on, as the MMs would chain up Lovely Assistant, who thrashed briefly as though resisting, before going all "grrrr I'm a caged man-eater", Toto Coelo style. Tony had about eight costume changes, mostly sleeveless and caped.

It was all pretty loud. Wicked beats thumped throughout. "Saying the magic words" seems to be a thing of the past. One problem was that at the natural "wow" point for applause, the music was still at deafening volume. The MC had emphasised how crucial it was that Tony felt our love, so we tended to;
a) clap when we were impressed at the culmination of a trick, then
b) stop clapping while Tony and Lovely Assistant did some unneccesary dirty dancing unworthy of applause then
c) wait for music to die down and for Tony to give it the big "clap me" bow, then
d) finally give him an audible clap.

The scary music accompanying the grand finale was just slightly too much for Huon. We met outside afterwards and agreed that it was all pretty amazing, that Tony was a bit of a show pony and the girls were distracting but certainly decorative.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Peter Roebuck Watch

It's cricket season, and Peter Roebuck is back in action. As a cricket broadcaster he is fearless, forthright and amusing. As a writer he is verbose, tortured and exasperating. Today's offence against comprehesion:
Symonds also bowled his off breaks [...] and he made the batsmen work hard for runs. The Queenslander also prowled the cover region in the manner of a leopard informed that the Nutrigrain had run out.

Roebuck is also famous for caning three young cricketers who he was coaching, some years ago. He is a little bit old school.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Snib and Palp

Do you like short obscure words? Of course you do! I like them so much I have just launched a blog devoted to them. So far I have weighed in on jute, bing, flod, sept, ween, sile, bast, snig and sneb. Have a look, why don't ya? Drop me a line if you would like to subscribe in the low-tech way - I will manually forward the entries to you!

Untouchables 10 d Knackered 4 practice match

On Friday I was looking forward to a bruising physical soccer match with old foes Guidos, but they forfeited the game. Instead the guys running the competition had lined us up for a practice match against a new team, the Untouchables. By the obscure rules of the league, we were awarded bonus points for Guidos forfeiting to us - more than we would have got for beating them in a real match.

We only had three players ourselves, so I press-ganged a stranger who had just played a match to keep goal for us. Untouchables are going to go a long way, they were certainly a class above us, and we are easily on top of the ladder in our league.

Brett scored first, against the run of play. They soon hit back and pretty quickly we went about 5-1 down. We got back to 6-2 by half time - I had pounced on a defensive mistake and toed it under the keeper.

The second half was scoreless for about 8 or 9 minutes, and I thought we had a vague chance of getting close to them. I was in goal and made about five good saves in that time, probably my best goalkeeping effort yet.

Eventually the floodgates opened, and they rattled on four more. They were slicing us up with diagonal passes and we were too tired and flat-footed to reach them. We got a couple of consolation goals, one to Ben the guest star, and one more to me. I had my back to goal and surprised a defender by turning onto my left foot and finding the corner of the net. It was very satisfying and I have re-enacted that one a few times in quiet moments when I think no-one is watching.

We were reasonably pleased with our night's work, against a class side. It was enjoyable as they were very fair and actually complimentary about our efforts considering age and fitness level.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Show Day Picnic

After our late night Anna and I and our respective spouses and children got together for a picnic lunch today, Royal Hobart Show Day. I have only been to the RHS once, and maintain a solid abstract commitment to supporting it, while at the same time wanting to do anything with my free day but go to it.

We filled a washing hamper with food and led the kids up the hill behind our house to Wellesley Park, where I was pretty confident we would find a nice bit of dappled shade. We did, plonked there and and ate, and flopped about like seals for a couple of hours afterward. The kids clubbed together and worked out their pecking order, it was great to see. A tree was stripped of berries which were then used for decoration, sports and counting.

After a while we decamped back to the house for coffee. Today was the first day it has been hot enough to enjoy the broad shade that the wide eaves cast on our deck. We had the double doors wide open, and we really felt that we were laughing with friends and dining al fresco, like the people in real estate ads do.

Anna and Nick and Lily and Katherine actually passed Susan, Cameron, Saffy and Immy on their way out. The next shift of visitors was upon us. Susan et al have a standing invitation to drop in as they planted our beautiful apple tree, and need to check on it periodically. We are delighted that people love to visit the house and love to stay once they are here.

This afternoon, I overheard Michael say to three flies he was menacing with a clothespeg: "Straighten up, you bees!"

Stephen Cummings @ Republic

I went along with Anna to see Stephen Cummings play at the Republic Bar last night. Neal Haslem and his mate Philip were there too, so we gathered together to enjoy the show. Anna and I paid $15 to get in, whereas Neal and Philip had just come along to have the Special Lambshanks and lurked around when they heard SC was on the bill.

He was very good, very enjoyable. His offsider, who wasn't ever introduced but seems to be called Billy, is a Keith Richards style skull-with-hair, shimmery purple silk shirt and a very wide range of axeman facial expressions. He has left it too late in life to ditch his Guitarist hairdo I fear. Stephen was looking pretty well, silver hair erect, big mouth full of pointy teeth. The show was all acoustic, and came across kind of country-rockish although there are good pop hooks aplenty in there. He is a good lyricist, and he gave the songs plenty of time to unfold last night.

The last time I saw him live was at the laundromat in Elwood where we both lived, in about 1991. He was just doing some washing. I imagine him writing a song about it.. "Doin' some washing at the laundromat / nondescript guy walks in / he got brown hair / and glasses too / and I lost a black sock again"

Stephen talks and sings with a kind of mid-Pacific accent, which is a very Countdown-era Oz Rock thing to do. James Reyne and Richard Clapton spring to mind. Love is "lav" and thing is "thang" and baby is "bear beh". Stephen told a story that went on and on about living in Alaska in an igloo, with a baby polar bear, who went missing. Then he found him, and was dragging him back to the igloo, and the bear didnt want to go. Just when I thought it was going to end as a really dumb joke he said "as we got over the hill, I saw there on the verandah of the igloo waiting was my little polar bear. I had got the wrong one. I had made another mistake, in my life". And that was it - I loved it.

The crowd were pretty agéd, probably on average about 45. I was thinking about this, and how far from the supercool edge of contemporary sounds I am, when I noticed the guy leading the handclaps along to Who Listens To The Radio? was ABC newsreader Peter Gee.

The Bowling Shanes 12 d Late Boomers 5

Last week's match was rained out, so the Shanes convened on Tuesday night ready to blow away the cobwebs with some intense, focused lawn bowls. The Boomers are a middle aged two-blokes two-sheilas side. Both the girls tended to bowl flippers, released from 10-20cm above the turf and liable to do anything. There were a few bowled with the wrong bias, with even Hunter getting into the act.

We went out hard early and led about 6-0 before the Boomers sneaked a point back. Dave and I were in good form and had set up a nice head with 2 shots to us, which Dean blundered into, handing the Boomers their first points.

I was very happy with my form, carrying the kitty with my bowl about four times and being thereabouts about 80% of the time. I am told that pennant standard is when you can get the majority of your bowls within a mat's length of the kitty. I am not there yet.

We finished off the evening by picking up the lucky slab of Pale Ale. The Shanes are unbeaten after two and looking like serious contenders again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Io, Ganymede, Europa and Shane

On Saturday night Elf and I and the boys went out to the Mt Canopus observatory at Cambridge for a public access astronomy evening. Marcus is very big on space, and Michael was very very keen indeed. As we were driving out along the highway through Warrane, he asked "Is this Space?" When he realised that we would be just looking at the moon and planets, not driving to them, he calmed down a little.

It was a lovely evening to be out in the dark on a hilltop in the country. Unfortunately it was a little cloudy, so the only things we had a chance to see were close-ups of the craters of the Moon, and Jupiter, with its four main moons. I remembered the name of three of them from a National Geographic article I read long ago. I asked the fairly severe astronomer, who was sharing his telescope with the public, what the fourth moon was called. "Er... I don't know". I should think if you are going to bark at children "DON'T TOUCH THE SCOPE!, DON'T TOUCH THE SCOPE!" you should at least have some facts at your fingertips.

The boys had fun and enjoyed having a late night, even though we didn't actually get to leave Earth.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday in St Kilda

The next day it was time for the now-traditional post-ATOMS St Kilda brunch with some Melbourne-based buddies.

I had a terrible nights sleep at the Hotel Victoria in Little Collins Street. It's a friendly but slightly shabby place, with mis-spelled signs and strangely random lifts. The swearing in the street below my window punctuated the night, and slightly overlapped with the roadworks which started at 6.00am. The swearing was pretty much over by seven.

In any case, I got myself to Fitzroy St and had a lovely long chinwag with Michael, John, Carmen, Suparna and Alex, over a good greasy breakfast, at a friendly place called Banff.

I haven't seen John and Carmen since their wedding, so I had commanded that they take me home and show me their world (, and take me to the airport after). Carmen has three daughters aged 16, 14 and 11, from her first marriage - Alana, Elise, and Carla. The girls are John and Carmen's life to a large extent - driving them here, driving them there, arranging and encouraging and cajoling. A logistical challenge, at the very least. I admire John for the way he has parachuted straight into the emotional minefield of a houseful of strong-willed women, and has just unpicked his parachute and turned it into a set of curtains and a very serviceable pair of pants. Well done sir! He has a shed which I suspect he would defend to the death if it came to that.

The girls are all lovely - the two older sisters talk a mile a minute. When I said I always remembered their names as "Uh-something", "Uh-something else" and "Not-uh", they didn't throw me out, which was nice.

John drove me to the airport via his workplace, which is in the Tullamarine area. He has a surprisingly nice drive through the country (featuring cows) to get to work. Now I can picture where he is when he gets these confusing and inappropriate emails at work.

I caught up on some sleep on the flight home, but even now 48 hours after the awards I am feeling fuzzy, blurry and ... tired.

Pointy prizes aplenty

Roar Film sent me over to Melbourne on Friday for the ATOM Awards for Australian multimedia. We won four awards from a possible four, so a very heartwarming result for us. Last year we went over in force (about eleven of us), in expectation of picking up a number of awards, as we had seven nominations. We only collected one, and later turned into a surly drunken rabble roaming the streets.

This year only three of us went; Amanda the production manager, Will the creative director, and myself. We had five nominations across four categories, and Will also had been nominated for a student piece he did before he joined us.

Three of our nominations were for Australia and the Vietnam War, a CD-ROM we made for the Department of Veterans' Affairs. This was my baby to some extent - we produced it at a time when our then creative director was overseas and we had no production manager, so I handled a lot of aspects that would normally not be my job. We worked in a fairly clunky collaboration with **** Media of Melbourne, who did not follow our directions as closely or graciously as I would have liked. We were nominated jointly, so I was expecting to run into them on the night.

Although public speaking gives me the hab-dabs, I could see that it was a waste of time having me over there if I wasn't prepared to accept an award and say a few words. We'd only just arrived (late) when I suddenly found myself walking up in the spotlight to accept an award for Vietnam. I was expecting to share the stage and extend some hearty backslaps to the **** guys but they hadn't turned up. I thanked all the right people, apparently didn't come across as nervous as I felt, and got out of there in about 30 seconds. I think I said of **** Media that the project "would not be what it is without their input" which may have been my subconscious protecting me from an telling an outright lie.

I was nearly back to my seat when I recognised Peter Tapp from ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) who I assumed had jumped up to congratulate me. He looked surprised when I held out my hand and pumped his up and down - he was actually intercepting me to send me over to the other side of the theatre, where the fellow who presented the award to me was waiting forlornly to have his photo taken with me.

While I was being photographed from numerous angles I heard that we had won the very next category as well. By the time I was sitting down we had won another! Then we won the next!! The compere, Alan Brough, commented, "Roar Film are obviously the Titanic of this year's ATOM Awards." Vietnam won Best Secondary Education Resource, and Best Multimodal Production (the CD was packaged with a book and DVD). Celebrating Us won Best Primary Education Resource and Best Multimedia Learning Reference.

The awards were sponsored by Crumpler bags, and all winners were given one (worth about $50- $200) They have a fantastic website by the way. I scored one of these:

The final excitement of the night was when I won us a box of software we thought was worth about $4000. I have just checked it out and it's more like $500, but still a handy bonus. There were ten numbered stickers under random seats - I found number 4 under the vacant seat to my left. Nºs 2 and 3 didn't show up, so I got second pick of the table of goodies.

At the end of the night, Amanda, Will, Will's girlfriend Sarah and I mooched about looking for cake and coffee for a while lugging our armfuls of Crumpler bags, and our pointy trophies. We all had seperate plans for the next day, so it wasn't a particularly late night, but it was very enjoyable to have started the night with such a bang and spent all the rest of it with a lovely glow of victory.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

1st Surrealist Expedition to the South Pole, 1912

My Perth correspondent Phillip Vaughan sent this to me. It is from Antarctica, A Different Adventureby Jason Kimberley. I am honoured and delighted that when people read a caption like this they think of me.

Phillip adds that the book is highly recommended. But remember to wrap up warm before reading. And - they are serious scientists, not surrealists. I made that up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Bowling Shanes 14 d Wrong Bias 6

Lawn bowls season kicked off with a grand final rematch, on quite a frosty evening. I ate about six sausages to stave off the cold. While applying a bit of Grippo©, it occured to me that a drop of Deep Heat mixed in would have been a good thing. Off the back of this I am thinking of bringing out a range of scented Grippos.

Although, now I look at the tube, it appears Grippo is to put on your bowls, while Wilgrip is the one for your hands. Now I feel like a sham - all those old timers watching me putting it on my hands must have been laughing into their 6oz beers.

Anyway - after a tight beginning, we got four on one end and three on the next to blow away last year's champs. I bowled OK but will be better for the run. The rest of the team clicked like the seasoned unit they are. We have a few years together under our belts now, and our tilt at national representation at the 2014 Commonwealth games in Mozambique are right on track.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Group

Marcus has been telling us about his new Group. They get together at school at lunchtime and recess, and forage. They make tools from sticks (mostly pliers apparently). They find fossils. They make music by bonking rocks together. They make clothes from leaves (mostly hats apparently). Marcus, Matilda, Lana, Alex and Ebony make up the group. Initially Marcus did the fossils, then we heard Lana was on fossils and Marcus was on music. He said "some days we change our activities".

It took us a while to get the idea that this wasn't a teacher's initiative, this was something the kids just started. I aksed Marcus who thought of it, and was there a Leader. "Well, it was my idea, and I am the leader, but a grade 6 is joining the group soon so then he'll be the leader. He won't want a little kid telling him what to do".

I haven't seen any of the products of the Group's work yet but I'll report full details when I do.


I borrowed a jackhammer today, and did my first jackhammering. It was quite enjoyable in a wierd kind of way, to slice through concrete. Not as noisy as I was expecting either, but then I had ear protection which the neighbours did not. Tomorrow I will resume the battle and hopefully the old concrete slab (where the shed used to be) will be history by sundown.

I did a bit of manual sledgehammer and pick work as well, and felt very much that I was in Cool Hand Luke or some other old Deep South prison movie. Me and Jimmy Ray never shoulda done robbed all them darn liquor stores.

Knackered 22 d Zidane Headbutts 3

I didn't think ZDs were terrible, but they just didn't get many shots on goal. Whereas we had a shot every forty seconds and half of them went in. One of their goals was a penalty, and one came with about 2 seconds to go when we may have gone a bit soft.
This equals the highest score in any match I have played in, I think. (Burnie High d Penguin High 22-0 in 1982). Not much else to say about this really. Brett and Paul kicked most of the goals, and Cam was excellent in defence.

Wash, wipe and quarter 2 squirrels...

Mum unearthed this excellent book at a jumble sale - Food from the Wild by Jenny Urquhart. It is brutally honest about the tasty treats awaiting you in the English countryside, or possibly found dead on the road. It's amazing how many things are quite tasty as long as you wrap them in bacon before you cook them.

Common Mallow Malva sylvestris
... The young furry leaves if picked and boiled make a wholesome though not particularly delicious vegetable...

Hedgehogs are found in most open country but, as they are a valuable animal, eating slugs and snails and other destructive insects, they should not be taken for food unless absolutely necessary or unless found dead, killed by a passing car.
Grey Squirrel ... casseroled in a good, tasty sauce, even the rankest squirrel is made quite palatable and they are an abundant source of free food.

Rat ... If you ever have the need to eat rat, it is best wrapped in bacon fat and slow roasted.

Monday, October 08, 2007

School Fair

We mostly ignored the accelerating demands in recent weeks to devote ourselves to the annual South Hobart School Fair. We have a long range plan to get more involved in future years - we are going to have kids at the school for at least seven more years after all.

In this spirit we went along on Sunday merely as punters, spending money fairly freely. The highlight was Marcus going on a sort of bungy/trampoline ride. I didn't take my camera unfortunately, but I will always remember the look on his face as he soared in the air. The contraption was set up near the footy goals, and he went about as high as the top of the point post.

Many of the stalls were selling donated pre-loved things. My other highlight for the day was overhearing a mum say "No - we can NOT buy back all your toys".

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Michael tells our fortunes

I came inside from mowing the lawn, and Elf said to Michael, "read that for Dad like you did for me". He led me downstairs to a junk pile he had been rooting through. He had found and read aloud unprompted a note from a fortune cookie. He read it again for me -

"You will live to a rip [ripe] age, happy in the love and ress... respect of many children. This in... insert has a pro... protec... protective coating!"

Our gobs are getting sore from repeated gobsmackings.

Knackered 10 d Red Devils 7

Our star striker Brett returned from his extended holiday in Bali, sporting an impressive scar. He had the traditional Bali motorbike accident, and screwed up his ankle for three months.

We had the same lazy referee as last week. He gave about three free kicks for the whole game. Once you realise your game is essentially unsupervised, you can incorporate that into your playing style, but this suits some people more than others.

Red Devils tried a bit of rough stuff. It really gets my goat when you are simply marking someone closely, and they think a fair response to that is a whack in the chops.

They scored first, but we hit back with two beautifully finished goals from Mel. I am coming down with something viral, I felt very heavy in the legs, and I made a a lot of mistakes. We got away to a handy lead of about 6-2 but they pegged us back to about 6-5 at halftime. Again their passing wasn't so hot, but our goalkeeping was average. On the other hand their keeper is the best we have played against. The best teamwork I saw from them was when I was tracking a guy with the ball about to take a shot, and the biggest bloke on their team just stepped into my path as the other guy got a free shot into the corner. The ref plucked a bit of fluff from his navel and it was halftime.

The second half was quite tight but we stayed in front with goals when it mattered. I gave away a penalty when goalkeeping, by throwing the ball over halfway on the full, trying to find Brett. I used to do this all the time, but I had cured myself of it while Brett was away. He had been on court about five minutes and I did it again. Fortunately I saved the penalty (taken by the goose who hit me in the jaw).

We are on top of the ladder now with a percentage of 177. Cam is off to England for 3 weeks after the next match, and I will miss one of our next 3 as well, but we have got the depth to cover now. We are on a 6 match winning streak, with 4 matches left before the finals.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Health check

Very sore right jaw.
Arthritis in left middle finger top joint.
Arthritis in right big toe.
Pain diagonally through right foot.
Bruises on shins taking time to go away.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

India was scratchy

I just found this photo of me, the day after falling off a cliff in India. Quite apart from the major bruising all over my back, I was one big abrasion from fighting my way through thick scrub.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Colour Lovers

Old Newspapers
Kelvedon Beach
After Baling
Deloraine Dougals
Bike Under Water

Knackered 16 d Sohos 6

It's getting monotonous now - a younger, fitter team with reasonable individual soccer skills meet a grey-haired team who know how to pass to each other, and get a flogging. There were only three of us this week, and to be fair to Mel I don't think she has any grey hairs yet. Sohos lent us a player, who was handy but not outstanding. It was about 6-4 to us at half time. Pretty soon in the 2nd half they threw in the towel. One guy was trying to score the most incredible solo goal in history, and one was just trying to break my leg. The other two were not that good. I put away about ten goals.

Geelong 24.19.163 d. Port Adelaide 6.8.44

Although this was the most one-sided Grand Final ever, I really enjoyed it. Geelong had been so good all year, it was very satisfying to see them take it all the way to the last minute of the season, and totally bury Port. They played attractive confident footy right from the the first bounce, after looking a bit nervy last week against Collingwood. Although Port beat Geelong only a few weeks ago, and sailed through their preliminary final almost unopposed, they were outclassed yesterday.

I had tipped Paul Chapman of Geelong to take the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground, and I think he was robbed. He took a memorable mark, kicked 3 goals and pumped the ball inside 50 on countless occasions. Port Adelaide get up peoples' noses, and will be popular losers right across the country. Its a curious phenomenon that despite the club rivalries, there is a certain amount of fellow-feeling among Victorians when one of their own is up against interstate raiders in the Grand Final. Whereas Adelaide Crows fans would be pleased at punch at seeing Port pounded to a pulp.


It's been Old Testament weather this weekend. Starting on Friday night, with the strongest wind I can remember battering the house. In the old place it would have been whistling right through us, but the new place is pretty "tight". Elf was very worried all night that our solar panel would take flight or at the very least a pipe would rip loose and gush water through the roof. Although I was also awake for hours and feeling pretty nervous, the panel never occurred to me at all, thank God.

Saturday night started to go down the same road as soon as it got dark. It wasn't frightening, but unpleasant. No-one was surprised when the power cut out at about 9pm. During the night I woke a few times to the sound of the 2-way radio on high volume, coming from an Aurora truck somewhere out in the street, where they must have been trying to fix the power. I hope those guys get triple time and half, they certainly deserved it being out there in those conditions at 3am. After a while the lights all came on and the truck drove away.

At times like this I wish I still had a little turntable, so when the power comes on the record slowly winds itself up to speed - that always happens in movies. Ideally it would be something like King of the Road by Roger Miller.