Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Recent google searches that found me

footballers with cheese names
eel whisperer hodgman
condom machines for sale
cheese zebras
are toothaches punishment
portable pigeon bathing apparatus
ocobo domination
sinus toothache when walking

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kelly's Trousers

Kelly's Steps are a reasonably famous olde time feature of Hobart, connecting the rabbit-warren streets of Battery Point to Salamanca Place. They are named after whaler, harbourmaster and explorer Captain James Kelly. I just learned that his brother-in-law was eaten by Maoris, after which he killed a number in reprisal.

He came to mind because I was reading an old newspaper article from 1987 written by Christopher Koch, who wrote The Year of Living Dangerously, Highways to a War and Out of Ireland among other things. He grew up here. He says of Battery Point;
It used to be 'bad', in my Depression infancy: a district of grim old poverty, it's cottages built for dwarfs. Now its an expansive historical filmset, full of tasteful paint and coach lamps: a real-estate man's dream. Here are the stone steps built especially for that Homeric whaling master, Captain James Kelly, whose trousers, in response to a bet, were proved to hold five bushels of wheat. Kelly's Steps take me down from the ridge on Salamanca Place as they once took him: and here is Hobart of the 1840s.
I have just added the bit about his capacious pants to his Wikipedia entry. Heavens, sometimes the 21st Century is just so much fun.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Currently sitting pretty: Iran and Tinker Bell

Just did a quick Google search to check who is currently "sitting pretty". According to the Internet;

'Ugly Betty' is sitting pretty
Delaware is sitting pretty compared to property tax elsewhere
Alonzo Mourning is sitting pretty
Furniture manufacturer is sitting pretty on its water savings
Hot and sexy Danielle Bux is sitting pretty
Prity Bhutani is sitting pretty
Buckeyes sitting pretty after West Virginia, Missouri losses
Cailin Alainn is sitting pretty for Fairyhouse
Sichuan's ancient Buddha is sitting pretty
The Australian end of the (Chrysler) operation is sitting pretty
Jelimo is sitting pretty for gold in Beijing
Moen bath sink faucet is sitting pretty
Tinker Bell is sitting pretty on a little flower
Iran is sitting pretty in Central Asia at the moment
Sky Blue Vicar is sitting pretty
Suzanne Kasler is sitting pretty with her new line of chairs
Sri Lanka is sitting pretty after 20 years of test cricket
Felicity Huffman is sitting pretty
Rovers Cruz is sitting pretty - but he's not just a pin-up
TV is sitting pretty with quiz mania
Forgotten man Alex is sitting pretty in pink
George Strait's 38th album is sitting pretty on top of both the country and all-genre album charts today

X is the new Y

Quotes, titles of articles, books, songs and albums, 2001-2009.

Big is the new small
Quiet Is the New Loud
Gay is the new black
Twelve is the new eleven
Random is the new order
Economizing is the new black
Awake Is the New Sleep
Gay cowboys are now the new penguins
Black is the new green
Black is the new white
This Is The New That
Down Is the New Up

Humans are the new dinosaurs
Hogs are the new deer - (Field & Stream magazine article)
Saving is the new spending

There's such a lot to tell

The boys always have a lot to tell us. Often with me it's when I am trying to listen to a poignant story on the radio, or trying to put in a big finish on the exercise bike, or when I am busting and just on my way to the toilet. It will always be something like this.

Marcus: Dad - what would happen if you burned ink?


Michael: In the centre of this galaxy is steam. Outside that is water vapour. Outside that is smoke. Then outside THAT is a kind of ... flamey stuff.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

2009 AFL Grand Final : Geelong 12.8 (80) d St Kilda 9.14 (68)

Last Friday night's preliminary final between St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs was so gripping, I fell asleep. Seriously, the two sides just had each other in a death grip like a couple of soldier crabs, and for minute after minute nothing happened. I had to keep shaking myself awake. St Kilda finally prevailed by seven points.

The Grand Final yesterday was a similar story, but I was wide awake for every bit of it. I was backing St Kilda. They had such a fantastic season that I thought they deserved to take the flag at the end of it. Geelong missed one they should have got last year, and were in danger of being labelled "under-performers" if they lost again. Ed came over to watch. Marcus and Michael were invited next door and left us to it for the first half.

The Saints had most of it from the start but didn't take their chances. Adam Schneider was right in front 15m out and tried to launch the ball out of the ground, rather than just do the natural thing. Raph Clarke looked out of his league - he conceded the first goal of the game, lumbering like a stegosaurus and caught with the ball on the edge of his own 50m. Geelong had few opportunities but converted each one. St Kilda finished the quarter strongly, and were tackling like ravenous beasts. Riewoldt was doing suicidal leaps in conditions that didn't suit him. Landed on his head once but was up and running in no time.

The second quarter was really Geelong's - they were 2 goals up with a minute left to half time. St Kilda goaled, then goaled again from the restart. Milburn made a big fuss about having touched the 2nd goal off the boot - so much so that before the ball was bounced St Kilda were awarded a free kick in the goal square.
Milburn: Fuggin muggin touched it mugging fug.
Ump McBurney: Free kick against Milburn for remonstrating with a goal umpire.
Milburn: I just bloody asked him...
Ump McBurney: You were demonstrative.

So, three goals in a minute to the Saints. At half time they were up 7.7 to 7.1. Not much of a lead but surely they just needed to start kicking straight. The boys came back at half time and brought Adrian and Cameron from next door with them. I can't abide pointless chatter during an important footy game, and Michael and Adrian did the right thing and stayed outside for most of the second half. Marcus and Cameron were pretty good, I didn't have to gag anyone.

In the third quarter things slowed down a bit. Jimmy Bartel started to come into the game for the Cats. He blanketed Lenny Hayes, and laid 16 tackles for the game, an amazing stat. One of Geelong's main sparks, Steve Johnson, was being suffocated by Steven Baker, and hardly saw the ball all day. The Saints players that most caught my eye during the game were Baker, Riewoldt, Hayes, Gram and Goddard. Baker and Goddard clashed heads, and Goddard went off to return later with the full curse-of-the-mummy look. For Geelong, I thought Taylor and Scarlett were brilliant down back, curbing Riewoldt and Kosi. Ablett gradually came into it after Clinton Jones had limited him early. My favourite player Joel Selwood was inspirational. He's only 21 but he had the confidence to make a speech at half time, and his teammates had the respect for him to listen. Paul Chapman shrugged off a hamstring strain to keep bobbing up, kicking a goal each time one was really needed.

And so it was in the last quarter. It started with Geelong still seven points down. Goal to Hawkins, one point the difference. A few behinds at either end. Rooke kicked what looked like the winner - Baker chased and just got there to touch it through, before crashing his shoulder into the base of the post. Selwood kicked another point, scores level.

The defining moment was a Dawson spoil on Ablett right in the centre. The ball bobbled loose, Scarlett toe-poked it to Ablett, he hoisted it to the goalsquare, Varcoe got his one good touch for the day and handpassed to Chapman who bent it around the corner for a goal. A minute later Rooke soccered a point. Still not over as under pressure Scarlett conceded a behind to make it an even goal the difference. Milburn took the kickout, Taylor took a towering mark and the Cats were home.

Immediately after I thought the Cats had been lucky to pinch it, and St Kilda unlucky. But luck only applies to things outside your control, and only if they had kicked straight would it be fair to say the Saints deserved this one. Its still the one skill in football that most affects the result, and they just didn't bring it with them to the MCG yesterday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Historic fridge magnets

Hey, Bombers fans. Wanting to commemorate your outstanding premiership success of 1897, but not sure how? Hey, Swannies. Having trouble remembering your victory in 1918? Well, let WegArt help! These fridge magnets date back to before the actual invention of the fridge.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Levi Stubbs Tears by Billy Bragg.

You can look at my nose and say "Billy Bragg,what is the answer to all the world's problems". Now, it's impossible to have one song that answers all the problems of all the world - except this next song I'm going to play for you now...which answers every single problem in your life whatever that problem may be. It may be that someone here's building a nuclear power station at the end of your road or it may be that when you get up in the morning and go for a piss it hurts. Whatever your problem is, this is the answer to it. All you have to do, all you have to do boys and girls is go home, put a kettle on, make yourself a nice cup of tea, sit down, put on a record by The Four Tops - everything is going to be alright.
Billy Bragg, Malmo, Sweden

10th October 1986.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Small world etc

Last night was the Amnesty International fundraising quiz night. I could not persuade any of my so-called friends to join my quiz team, so I turned up at the event alone. I felt obliged to go as I had helped with the promotions, and had assured everyone involved at the time that I'd be there with bells on, with all my mates, being quite a popular fellow y'know.

The thing was a sellout, despite clashing with a big footy match on TV, and I was only able to squeak in when some ticketholders didn't show. By necessity I joined their team, as there was just nowhere else to sit. I knew one of the team slightly but they were all very nice. Smart too - after three rounds we were leading the pack.

One of the team was a lively sixty-something chap called Pat. After one question ("Who was the last Tasmanian to win the Archibald Prize for Portraiture?" [A: Geoff Dyer]) - Pat asked "And whose brother did he paint?" I was a bit flummoxed. The sitter for the portrait was author Richard Flanagan. His brother Martin is quite well known, but I know he also has 3 or 4 other siblings. Anyway - turned out the answer Pat was looking for was himself - he's another brother.

I was very pleased with this, as although I think very highly of Richard, Martin is actually one of my very favourite writers. Richard is mates with my boss and pops up everywhere, while Martin is based in Melbourne and much more retiring. So I earbashed Pat for some time about how great Martin is and he said he would pass it on.

Martin's last book 'The Line' was written with and about their father Arch, a WW2 veteran in his nineties. I was pleased to hear that he's still with us, and going pretty well. He was a prisoner of war on the Burma Railway with Weary Dunlop.

So, I had a good night, was very pleased to meet Pat Flanagan and we even won the quiz, so I staggered home laden with bottles of wine, each with a big label spruiking the politician who donated it.

Basic vulcanology explained

Some of Michael's work from our holiday. He studies his various illustrated planets 'n' asteroids books so thoroughly, that he can recreate the diagrams at will. This is a cross-section of Earth (Crust, Mantle, Inner Core, Outer Core).

This one asks and answers the question "How does a volcano work?"

Slime King

If I was a snail, and I found out there was a snail named "Slime King", and it wasn't me, I'd be furious.

Return of the kangaroo-paw tongs

The other night the ABC showed a good doco about the old TV show Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. There was a lot of the usual farcical dramatic recreations, using the old "there happened to be an out of focus camera on the scene at the time, pointing not quite in the right direction" technique. Apparently the creators of Skippy were drinking scotch, smoking, laughing heartily and slapping each other on the back at all times.

The best bits were the actual Skippy clips. We found about 12 episodes on DVD some time back, but in fact there were 91 episodes. 91! There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments as some of the cast and crew would describe some outrageous production detail, then a series of clips would demonstrate the point.

For example, first the kangaroo-paw tongs were demonstrated by the one of the surviving production crew. Then a montage of clips where a tight close up on "Skippy's paws" showed her operating the radio, opening a screen door, typing etc etc. A marsupial specialist was on hand to confirm that kangaroos never, ever go "tsk tsk tsk".

I knew even when I was a kid that there were nine different kangaroos that played Skippy. I think once when we were in Sydney on holiday we went to Waratah Park where the series was shot, and met "Skippy". We were much more interested in the trampolines. At that time if there were any trampolines in Tasmania, we certainly hadn't see them.

What I did not know then was that the various Skippies spent most of their time on set in a hessian bag. When the shot was all set up she would be released. Kangaroos are quite happy in a hessian bag but are dazed and dopey for a few seconds when they emerge, before hopping off into the nearest scrub at top speed. This show revealed that every bit of footage of Skippy not hopping away was obtained in these short intervals after de-bagging. They then showed what happened after the director called "cut", which was usually Skippy going at quite a lick while the crew chased her with the hessian bag.

I was laughing my head off and turned to explain why to Elf who was reading and not listening to the TV, when, I swear to God, a wallaby bounced up onto our deck, up the steps and across the backyard.

According to Wikipedia its still being shown in Iran.

2009 TSL Grand Final: Clarence 15.11 (101) d Glenorchy 14.11 (95)

This year statewide football has come back. Marcus and I went to the inaugural Tasmanian Statewide League grand final yesterday with our mate Rob. Glenorchy Magpies were favourites to beat the traditional rivals Clarence Roos, having won the last two SFL flags. There was over 7000 at the Bellerive Oval for the big day.

As usual at any high-profile sporting event in Tasmania, organisation was farcical. The two sides lined up for the national anthem. This is the moment when the big crowd falls silent, and each team links arms down the line, all of the players trying to contain their emotions and focus on the job at hand. Time passed. Someone in front started singing the anthem (badly) to fill the silence. Players looked restless, unlinked and started stretching and bouncing. Finally the Clarence playing-coach pulled his players out and off they ran. A sheepish official came on the PA to say due to a technical hitch there would be no anthem. Someone didn't put the record back in the sleeve, perhaps.

The conditions were blustery and wet but the standard of footy was still pretty good. After an even first quarter Clarence jumped out to a good lead at halftime, and shortly after extended it to seven goals. Or so I heard. I waited until 10 minutes into the third to head to the shop for sustenance - usually a good time to go for short queues. There were about 500 people lined up down there. That seems incredible but believe me, I had plenty of time to count them while I waited to get to the front of my particular queue. I waited five minutes before I saw anyone depart with actual food.

When I did get back [to the relief of the rest of the party], the Pies were clawing back into it. Incredibly they got within 2 points, but Clarence had enough left in the tank to surge again. A Glenorchy kick-out landed right in Jerome Webberley's lap about 55 out. Without stopping to think he just bombed it back the way it came, and it sailed through post high for a goal. [Look out for him in the AFL next year.] The Pies took it forward and had a couple of chances at goal but they sprayed both wide. Clarence ran out winners by 6 points, despite Glenorchy winning three of the quarters.

The desperation and endeavour at the end was just wonderful to witness. The skill level, fitness and professionalism of Tasmanian footy will not often match that of the AFL, but there is no question the commitment of the players yesterday was no less than that at the top level.

Marcus and I had a kick on the [slightly] hallowed turf at quarter and half time, along with about three hundred other mostly men and boys. It is a kind of joyful mayhem that I always love. There are balls of all sizes going in all directions. Fortunately my catlike reflexes came to my rescue a few times when someone else's big 60 metre bomb was zeroing in on the side of my head.

Rob had parked the car at his mum's place near the ground. We walked back, popped in our heads to say hi to Mrs B, then tried to get out of the driveway. It was hell, but we finally managed to wriggle out, and get down to the T-junction without hitting any of the drunken pedestrians weaving across the road.

Then, there was one last golden moment for the afternoon. After a long wait to turn right, we were let in by legendary Test batsman David Stumpy Boon. Does it get better than that?

Friday, September 18, 2009

3 mirrors: 2 too many

On our recent jaunt one of our hosts gave up their bedroom and ensuite for us. In the ensuite they have that 3-mirrors setup so you see yourself in the round. Its unavoidable. As a result Elf and I are now on diets and are recommitting to the exercise bike regime.

It turns out that our mirror at home is quite flattering. I am pretty comfortable with my width but I am a now alarmed by my depth. I go way back - and leaving my shirt untucked does not, after all, make any difference.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Overheard 2

Marcus: Only the special marbles have names.
Michael: What's the black one called?
Marcus: Deathro.
Michael: Jethro?
Marcus: No, DEATHro.
Michael: That's a great name!

Overheard 1

Marcus: I'll give you a massage Michael!
Michael: Great!
[Marcus squeezes parts of Michael randomly]
Michael: Mmm - thats great! Now I'll give you a massage!
Marcus: OK
[Michael squeezes and twists parts of Marcus.
Marcus: Hmm - that's not really a massage. That's a chinese burn.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Obsolete Scottish Units Of Measurement

This is my new favourite wikipedia page.


Spot the made up one.

Back on the South Island

We are home again. Elf and I are back at work, but the boys still have a week of school holidays - they are hanging out with their cousins at Kingston.

The trip went really well, we enjoyed the travel and the boys were excellent. Thanks to Jacki and Tim, Felicity and Bill, and Vincent and Andy for putting us up and rearranging their lives for us. (Not forgetting the Golden Chain Motel at Seymour - with the least enticing swimming pool on the Hume Hwy).

As usual, photos and stories from the trip will dribble out as I get time.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A stumblebum kind of day

Just a quick note from the inner suburbs of Melbourne. Elf and the kids and I have lurched all over town today, with various public transport problems and toilet issues dogging us. At last we are home at our downtown pad, staying with Vincent and Andy and the twins Alastair and Isabelle. There are kiddie gates everywhere as they live on 3 levels. I have just spilled a beer downstairs across level 2 and parts of level 1, while grappling with a kiddie gate. A fitting postscript to a difficult day. Saw following graffiti near Burnley train station: SLOTH FRESH.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Random notes from the Lower Mid North Coast

Quoting the main story on the back page of Jacki's local paper, the Great Lakes Advocate:
The Old Bar Clams are worthy rugby union champions of the Lower Mid North Coast, having won a thrilling grand final 29-22, from the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins at an unforgiving Old Bar Reserve on Saturday. Too physical up front and too penetrative out wide, the Clams led 29-0 after just 53 minutes...

Slept at Jacki's in the "green room" - meshed-in sleep out that runs right across the back of the house. The first night was warm but windy. There is a small forest outside and the crashing trees in the wind woke us up periodically though the night. The dawn chorus was volcanic - the fauna may as well have been sitting on my shoulder. After that I went off to sleep. Was finally woken for good when I realised Marcus and Malachy had hit it off brilliantly, and were playing soccer in the green room with me as one of the goals.

I walked to the corner shop in Smiths Lake a few times while we were there. On my last visit I noticed at the back of the dairy fridge, a keg of Heineken and a few scattered stubbies.

Jacki and Tim both work at the Pacific Palms Recreation Club, a licensed gaming venue. In the pokies room, there is a large glass cabinet of odd things. Curling tongs, champagne flutes, sheet and pillowcase sets, coffee machines. If you win on the pokies you are entitled to a certain number of stamps. For 210 stamps, you can have a coffee machine etc. Jacki had been keen to get the sheets (100% cotton) but someone beat her to it.

Brin is 17. He was the youngest for many years until Malachy (6) came along. He has a marvellously strange sense of humour, which is welcome or not depending on how tired everyone else is feeling. It was he that named the rabbit "Frederick the Octopus That Lost 4 Legs In A Car Crash". Tim sent him to bed one night because he wouldn't stop saying "Hazam El-Masri" (famous bald rugby player with an addictively sonorous name).

Jacki's is a "TV on" household. They have Pay TV and are frequently pausing, forwarding and rewinding what seems to be live TV. Quite often the Weather Channel is on with no-one in the room. I sat and watched it for ten minutes - amazed that the hosts could perkily repeat themselves over and over: going around the Golden West one more time, having another little peek at the Northern Rivers, and here's a photo of fluffy clouds (again) sent in by Greg McBiscuit of Orange - thanks Greg!

Jacki drove us to Taree to catch the train to Canberra. On the way we were passed by a large police van and two 4WDs, all with Riot and Public Disorder Unit signage. Sometimes the mainland is just scary.

Drink, Drive: Die In A Ditch

The above is an actual public education billboard by a major road in Canberra, where we are now. We came by train from Taree via Sydney. Taree was all sunshine and palm trees and the promise of spring - when we arrived at 10.30 at night, Canberra was a cold, damp and grimly floodlit series of roundabouts.

We are staying with Elf's parents, Bill and Felicity, in suburban Weetangera. Marcus has had some kind of bug, actually threw up in the car between the 13th and 14th roundabouts on the way here from the train. He is much better now but for a couple of days we took it slow. The four of us plus Bill went to Questacon, the Science and Technology Activity Centre, yesterday. Poor Marcus dragged himself around but wasn't able to really enjoy it.

Late last night Elf's brother Fred arrived for a couple of days. He is a science and technology activity centre in himself. He delighted the boys and the rest of us too with some experiments this morning. He made a loudspeaker out of a short plastic tube and a bit of balloon; made a water jet out of a bit of glass tubing that he heated and stretched, with water forced into it by gravity feed from a bucket upstairs; focussed the water jet on the stretched rubber and the most amazing howl arose. He has a small lab in the garage dating back to his years growing up here. Among his bottles and jars is a large container of mercury, amazingly hefty. Given to him by Grandpa Ware, retired dentist. We'll be catching up with him in a few days.

Also last night Elf's sister Imp arrived for one night, in town on business. She reported from the soccer trophy day (that we missed) that Miah, on receipt of trophy, had a good look all over it and then exclaimed "the people in China know my name!!"

The tapwater here is quite chlorinated. Deep in my smell cortex this sets off memories of travelling to Peru - I don't think I have been anywhere else where the water fairly shouts "For your safety I have been disinfected by the government".

There's a poster of the principal Egyptian gods on the wall in the kitchen. Michael impressed all by pointing and saying "that's the crown of Upper Egypt and THAT's the crown of Lower Egypt". Marcus, remembering the same book from the library, went along saying blithely "he's God of the Sun, he's God of the Dead, she's God of the Sky, he's God of... er..." Michael: "Liberty?"

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Michael dreams amid the palm trees

Yesterday morning Michael told us that he dreamed he and Hatty [our cat] got married. "But we had fish in our hands instead of flowers". He just came to ask me what I was typing. I asked if he could remember anything else. "Then we had kittens."

We are still on the mid-north coast. Yesterday we explored further. To get to where Jac and Tim live you have to drive along a narrow strip of land that is part of the Booti Booti National Park. The road is hemmed in with greenery so you don't really get a feel for where you are, but yesterday we went up to a lookout and saw this.

Then we went to the supermarket in Tuncurry. While Jac did the shopping we roamed through the shopping centre. Next to the Wiggles ride for kids ($2 a try) were some massage chairs for adults ($2 a try).

On the way home we dropped in to look at Jac and Tim's actual local beach, Cellito Beach. Pretty nice.