Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lawn Bowls' Night of Nights

The season ended with a predictable shemozzle. On the night of the "finals" all teams played two short games. We rapidly ran into trouble in our first game, against Walkers Coaches, and lost something like 11-4. So that was it, as far as we were concerned. The team we were supposed to play our second game against seemed to have forfeited, so we drifted to the bar. Bemoaning our performance and berating the stupid finals system, we all felt very sorry for ourselves.

To lighten the mood I announced that this was my last game. Dean was aghast. I had already had a quiet word to erstwhile Bowling Shane, Richie Angus, who was spectating. He said he would be happy to slot into the lead role next season.

As I revealed in a blog exclusive some weeks ago, I am giving up bowls to concentrate my meagre spare time on soccer. Bowls is fun but is not doing anything for my fitness. I have many happy years of bowls ahead when I am in the 65-115 age bracket. My brittle feet and creaky legs might only keep me going for one or two more years of soccer, however, and for now that is going to be my sole sport.

After a bit of mooching we were called out to play against three characters who were floating about like flotsam. Richie was quick off the mark to make up four. Dean was reluctant to rise from his seat, and on arriving last was told he had to play for the other side. The flotsam claimed to be a real team who also had drawn a forfeit, but we never really believed them. We beat them comfortably.

When all games were complete it was obvious Wrong Bias were the champs - having won both their matches handily. Master of Ceremonies Merv drew the lucky scoresheet for the carton of stubbies. Then he blithely announced that the winner of the blue roster, and the best team all season, was The Bowling Shanes. We were stunned, and appeared ungracious as we shambled out onto the green, held up our as-yet-un-etched medallions, handed them back and shambled off again.

Wrong Bias were cross. We were confused. What about all that stuff about "finals"? Why play tonight at all? Merv came past and confided, "The Wrong Bias boys are pretty pissed off, but aaah - stuff 'em eh?" I shook their hands on the way out and there were no hard feelings.

So. I will hand the size 4-and-fifteen-sixteenths Cross of Lorraines over to Dave and hopefully he will have many happy seasons, and perhaps will hand them back in 2033 when I turn 65.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Suddenly Uncle Laurie

We gave Bill a bag of bourbon-filled chocolates for Christmas. I tried one yesterday, and suddenly travelled through time back to my great uncle Laurie's groovy pad in Sydney, in the 1980s. I don't consciously remember there being a lot of liqueur choc around, but the synapses dialled it up immediately, so there must have been. And it would certainly be consistent with his world.

Laurie was Poppa's younger brother, a tailor, and a jazz musician. I wish I could say I heard him play, but I never did. Poppa himself was an extremely dapper looking jazzman in his younger days - we have an photo of him playing a tenor sax that could be an ad for Brylcreem. I have just called Sally to co-opt her memories of Laurie, and she has got the impression from Mum that while Poppa was away at the war, Laurie borrowed his saxophone and ended up being the family musician.

Uncle Laurie was a bachelor for much of his life, then suddenly there was an Auntie Faye. She was a glamorous Mae West-ish lounge singer, who is famous in our family for her appearances on the Mike Walsh show. Poppa and Grandma were living in a 5th floor unit by the harbour at this stage, in an affluent street of similar residential blocks. Their block was called Wolsely, and Faye and Laurie were just up the street in Edgewater. Their unit was very stylish. I remember an exercise bike and a special fridge full of small bottles of strangely unsweet fizzy drink, which we assumed were laid on for us kids. We were not familiar with the term "mixers". Sally remembers much more, including a room full of stuffed animals, a chihuahua named Xavier Cugat, and a marble and brass old-timey style telephone with a little music box beside it, upon which you were supposed to rest the phone to provide 'hold music' while you fetched someone. Xavier Cugat was a popular fixture at Laurie's tailoring shop. He once appeared in aWomens Weekly article about Sydney's little-known tourist attractions.

Laurie and Faye later built a house at Elenora Heights, looking over the northern beaches. This place was even more swanky, all done in a very pervasive black and red theme, with a lot of allusions to bullfighting and haughty señoritas. There was a massive black coffee table like a low dining table for six, supporting a black marble sculpted bull, a vividly glazed red ceramic ashtray the size and weight of an olympic discus, and a black tabletop lighter like a housebrick. He had a bar of course - every male relative in Sydney seemed to have a bar, apart from Poppa, who was a man of the straight and narrow road.

So Mike Walsh's people stopped calling at some stage, and Faye started singing on cruise ships. She had an affair with someone she met aboard, and left Laurie, who was terribly heartbroken. That ended badly for her, and she reappeared basically destitute, so Laurie gave her a job in the shop. When he died he left everything to Faye.

I wish I knew exactly what to bite into to call up all the rest of the dear departed relations from my youth.

Use method A or B to repeatedly switch pieces (1) and (2)

We gave Marcus a Rubik's Cube for Christmas. Elf had passed on to him a little logo-bedecked giveaway version a few weeks back, and he has spent many happy hours swivelling it about. He is pretty close to getting one layer all in the right places. The new one comes with instructions, which although clearer than those for the Teased Pearl Marble game, do not fill you with confidence. I jumped to the end to see how to deliver the coup de grace to the cube, and found this advice.

If the third layer's center pieces are not in their proper positions and facing properly, use first pattern A8 and then pattern B from step 5, except that sub-steps A8 and B8 should be changed to 90%.

Untouchables 18 d Knackered 4

This was our third game in a row against teams from the superior division. So far we had managed a draw and a creditable narrow loss. This time we really got creamed. It seemed like only about 90 seconds in that we were down 4-0, and it didn't get much better. They were fit, fast, skilful and merciless. We had a good patch where we clawed back to 8-4, then they knocked in ten unanswered goals. We had plenty of players, so fatigue is not an excuse. Andy, our keeper, had a bit of knee trouble and tended not to get down to anything below waist height. I scored two goals that I would describe as long range corkers, and that was some solace.

Friday, December 28, 2007

More ham, anyone?

Christmas sailed by in usual irresistible style. I am not the most Christmassy person, to be honest. I will make an effort to be more so next year, as a lot more organisation and energy is required of Elf when I am such a slug.

Elf's parents Bill and Felicity arrived a few days prior from Canberra, having brought their car on the ferry. They brought a delicious organic ham with them all the way from the inland. My mum and dad are down this way too, staying at the caravan park at Snug. They came up for Christmas Day, and joined us for lunch and dinner. Sally and Matt came for lunch and brought their pals Brita and Martin, visiting from Norwich, UK. As we weren't sure of numbers for lunch we did a bit of a cold smorgasbord on-your-lap arrangement. For dinner we had a roast with not quite enough chicken, but plenty more ham padding it out.

At lunchtime we forgot to make the cubed parboiled potato chunks into potato salad, so Elf roasted them in the evening. We forgot to put them on the table, so we took them with us to visit Mum and Dad for a Boxing Day picnic at Snug. At the caravan park I put them in the fridge, and there they stayed. I don't think get these Dutch Creams again - we will choose a more memorable variety of potato next time.

The boys had a lovely time, and they have been very well behaved despite some sleep deprivation. Marcus received a bag of marbles and a totem tennis set (among other things) and has been enjoying himself in age-old fashion with these. Sally gave Michael a huge bag of foam letters - now he has enough to make A PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS FILM.

More on Christmas when time allows.

Skeleton staffing

Hi there. I've been off the air for some time due to work overload and Christmas. Work is still very intense, but I find myself in a lull, waiting for content from other people.

I am working on a big educational site called DIY Documentary. It's about teaching upper secondary kids what documentaries are, the different styles and elements of documentaries, and how they are made. It's looking pretty good but really needs a lot of content quickly. Text needs to written and film clips need to be edited and compressed for the web, and voice overs need to be written, and recorded. Once the VOs are done I need to make matching animations. It has to at least look complete on January 3rd. On January 4th it will be presented at an education software show in London.

We've been asked to keep plugging away at DIY Documentary (and the other two projects that are bound for the same trade show) through the Christmas/New Year break.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Front yard progress

We now have a front path, of sorts. Elf has been labouring hard on the weekend, carting bark mulch to make it less slippery. It's still a bit steep, considering there is no handrail or steps. We have no time or money to do much else for now, so it will gradually evolve as time passes. Elf has also planted a new flowering gum where there used to be several. The parking space is complete, and the front retaining wall just needs a bit of capping off and backfilling across the old temporary access.

People's Patriotic Honeydew Collective

I am always interested in jargon, and this includes the names of varieties of livestock, fruit and vegetables. Fruit and veg often have names like Summer Sweetie, Golden Pearl, Super Crunch or Nisbett's Excelsior. I found an interesting exception in the local heritage seed company's stand at K &D on Saturday. Its a honeydew melon, sourced from the Ukraine, and its evocative soviet-era name is Collective Farm Woman.

Queen of Shovels

Playing cards with Marcus yesterday, he mentioned the above card. Of course: Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, Shovels.

Teased Pearls

Marcus and Michael were given some little plastic pinball games at a party last week. The spiel on the back is sensational. If the game actually lived up to the promises, it would outsell Halo 3 and be unputdownable.

Intelligent Marble
Intelligence and Lucky

Marble is a kind of game that is very mordern
now. It collects exciment fasciration. It's a ve-
ry interesting game. It can not only trains lover's
skill and intelligence but also is the best way for
lover to make friends. It's an intelligent game
for a family to be a happy field. Spring your
miracle, competite your level.

You'll surpass yourself intelligence and skill thr-
ough a sernies of intelligent competition actions,
competite your intelligence and your skill, partic-
ipate in together plagways. 1. The two parties will
judge winning or losing, according to the highest
grand total. The one who get the highest grade is
a big winner. 2. Before a game begins, players may
also engage to shoot the five provided plastic teas-
ed pearl early or late, getting the grand total. We
winner according to how many points it can reach.
Where there is a will, there is a way. The training
of will, intellivgence, skill will be your best ladder
of success, it is your best training way of defeating

Friday, December 07, 2007

Michael announces...

]In cafe, loudly] You ruined my life Mum!

[Moments later] You didn't ruin my life... SHE DID!!
[Points to innocent woman making him a milkshake]

[To a mum at childcare] God made me!
[The mum says that's nice and turns away to avoid rabid christians,
as she assumes we are.]

[Michael follows up with]
I'm made of meat!

Carol practice

Marcus and Lana working on a few tunes after dinner last night, rehearsing for the school Carols on the Lawn this evening.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bowling Shanes 20 d ABC Allstars 8

We took a little while to sort this mob out, but ended up with a comfortable win. Their skip was a precision driving demon, and saved them seven or eight points with a couple of crackers. There is one roster round to go, and we sit atop the wobbly ladder.

Sadly, this counts for nothing, as once again the clowns at Derwent City Bowls Club have screwed up running the comp. Last season we had our finals on Sunday morning, as no-one at DCBC had noticed daylight savings was coming to an end. This time they have somehow scrambled their spreadsheet, and lost a few wins here and there. So Tuesday-week will be a winner-takes-all, one night lucky dip final. Whoever wins their match by the biggest margin will be crowned champions, and the preceding ten weeks have been essentially practice matches. I am slightly miffed.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Leaning towards 40

Michael Lean has turned 40. Well done sir. Who would have guessed as we giggled through Algebra and Geometry in 1985 that today, you would have two children and your own aeroplane, and STILL the most beautiful hair in the business. As for your prostate... well, we'll see won't we?

I attended Michael's shindig in Melbourne on Friday night. A bit of an extravagance, but well worth it I think. He booked a suite at the Sofitel and did it all properly. I dashed to the airport after work. Its quite convenient that you can check yourself in over the www now - as long as you are traveling light of course. Had quite the worst landing I can remember in Melbourne - actually hurt my neck. Hostie followed this up on the PA with "It is 7.55 local time, and the temperature outside is... is...I don't know what the temperature outside is". Virgin Blue - its all comedy.

The hotel was next to Southern Cross Station, where the Skybus pulls up. Its quite grand, and in fact calls itself Grand Hotel Melbourne - I mooned about for a while looking for the word "Sofitel" somewhere on it, but thanks to mobile phones I could call the birthday boy and he talked me in.

The gang was all there - lots of fly-ins from Tasmania like myself, and many more with Tasmanian roots who have resided in the Garden State for 15 years or more. The food was delish, and I was famished, so I wolfed down about a pint of sashimi. Among folks I have not seen for years were; Clifford Plumpton (recent successful Millionaire contestant), Chris Lynch (bald, living in Burnie & working with disengaged kids), Michael's wife Roz, and Yolande Love (mother of three and looking about 25), and David Jones, who I met once 20 years ago, he now does solar cell research and plays the stock market. John and Carmen were there, Alex turned up in usual tardy fashion, I had a good chat to Stu who I remember from Burnie in the eighties - it was that kind of night.

I was staying with Alex - we said our goodbyes at about 2am. Taxi were thin on the ground - we found one somehow. The next day it dawned on me we were roaming around King St, in the tiny hours of Saturday - not a smart place to be really. Come to think of it some of the girls standing by the kerb wearing micro skirts and thigh boots might not have actually been after taxis.

The next day Alex and Suparna took me down the street (past Deb Conway's house, and then Deb Conway walking her dog) for coffee at the Windsor Deli - a nice little place with one (1) table. They dropped me in Carlton on their way to a picnic with Alex's parents in the Yarra Valley. I strolled over to Vincent and Andy's house to see them and their newish twins.

Everyone there was looking frighteningly healthy, especially Alistair and Isabelle, who must be about 5 months old now. I held Isabelle and she regarded me levelly - she may never have seen such a ludicrous moustache before. It was terrific to see the kids looking so well. They were about 6 weeks premature, and I remember that even Marcus who was 3 weeks premature took a good while to start to fill out properly.

I had neglected to plan how to get from Carlton back to Southern Cross. Vincent stepped in and got me there about 30 seconds before a bus departed for Tullamarine. I walked into the airport as my flight started boarding. I found a "check yourself" terminal and checked myself. People were still dribbling out of the boarding gate when I got there, so I had time to repack my hefty bag. Flight was uneventful. Elf and the boys met me and I got back into the swing of things rapidly by dropping Elf at home and taking the boys to the pool.

That was my third flit to Melbourne this year. I'll be staying put for a good while now.

The Shortest Highway

The Chandler Highway in Melbourne is 2km long. It is extremely silly. From one end you can see the other end. Most of it is an overpass. I am proposing that it was named after Herbert Chandler, Minister for Main Roads in the Bolte administration, in 1966. I am also proposing that he was a midget. These may or may not be facts, I am just putting them out there to see what happens.