Monday, January 31, 2011

Hollywood on the Gold Coast

I have never been to Hollywood on the Gold Coast, so I don't know what they have going on there these days, but the old ads used to show Beetlejuice walking around. Walking funny. I guess he had some kind of spring-loaded stunt-tongue or something. Anyway, I always thought it was a pretty out-of-mind movie for them to be promoting in that way.

It (Beetlejuice) was on TV the other night and we just got to talking here about H on the GC and what other movies might be represented there. Feel free to make your own list of funny incongruous films at this point (mine was The Unforgiven, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, and Bridges of Madison County).

Dave suggested Trainspotting - I am giving him 4 and a half stars for that but 5 for myself for suggesting they have a ride where you go down the toilet like Renton, then come out down the coast at Seaworld, in a pool full of seals.

There would be queue around the block for this

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thank you for shutting up about MONA

By the time I left work today I was ready to strangle someone. Possibly myself.

Everyone went to the opening of MONA on Friday night, then went back on Saturday and/or Sunday. For readers outside Tasmania and/or the fine art world, MONA is the Museum of Old and New Art, a huge, privately owned art collection in a purpose-built architectural wonder. The whole shebang is open to the public, free. Pretty amazing. The word is that jet-ins from New York and Europe were gob-smacked by the whole thing, a bit incredulous that it could be HERE, just up the road from the Balmoral Motor Inn at that. The owner is a mathematician and professional gambler on a massive scale. He is going to live there, in the museum. It's all very Bond Villain.

image © felicetti pty ltd
I didn't go. Didn't have an invite to the party, but also just, you know, it's going to be there for while and I don't like crowds. It is unanimously acclaimed as amazing. One of my more clownsome workmates did not have an invite (I think there were about 2000 sent out) but weasled his way in. Each time I took off my headphones today he was regaling everyone with another story of his vodka-driven exploits. He climbed on the outdoor stage and made a speech just before the main act were about to come on. He was expecting to be scruffed by security but they didn't bother. After a while he says he got bored and hopped down.

It's starting to sound like I just don't like fun isn't it? I am certainly a misery guts at work. Clownsome workmate is actually a great guy and everyone loves him, but he is ON all the time, and it wears me down. Being at work today was like being the only one who didn't go to the Royal Hobart Show, when all around you people are donking each other with the giant inflatable squeaky hammers they brought home from it. You don't feel envy, so much as "shut the feck up!!!!"

Possibly its the media and marketing of MONA that's rubbed me up the wrong way. Every public pronouncement seems to emphasise how controversial and outrageous the art is. It's like the Turner Prize in the UK - always controversial and outrageous. Bond Villain has called MONA "an adult Disneyland", and "subversive". Like the Turner Prize it is grabbing 95% of the local mainstream media coverage of fine art. There is a LOT of good art being made that doesn't deal in sex and death, at least not directly.

It's a sad admission to make but most of what I experience as "art" makes me like "art" less. I am not gallery hopping but I am living and working on the outer edge of the art world. Once I was a kid who would bashfully admit to his sport-loving mates that he liked art. These days I don't even call myself an artist - I'm a bloke who does a bit of this and that but I am much more passionate about sport.

As an outsider looking in, one thing that does fascinate me is the completely positive reception the whole thing has got from the State Government, city council etc. The Premier and Governor were at the opening. Presumably they entered the Sex and Death gallery like most of the guests. Bond Villain is so keen to subvert something, anything. He has said he will be disappointed if people are not outraged, and that the only form they will have in the place is a complaints form. And the establishment are saying: "We love the wall of vaginas! We love the machine that makes food into realistic looking poo! We love the blasted corpse of a suicide bomber made out of Belgian chocolate!" They don't give a hoot about being subverted - look at the tourist dollars and the boost to the construction industry - and it's cost them nothing!

Villain says if people aren't offended, he will swap out the artworks for others in his collection until they are. What if the attendance drops off and the flow-on to the economy starts to flag? At what stage will we have a Bill Henson-type situation with the vice squad dropping in to confiscate the works? You have to imagine at some point Villain's dogged intention to upset people might outweigh the beneficial side-effects in the minds of the great and good who run the outside world.

And that right there is why people say I think about stuff too much. What I should do is shut up, get on a ferry, go out there, have fun, have a good look and THEN have something to say. OK, so consider this the Before instalment of a Before / After exercise.

Awesome Octopus Animation

A touching story of star-crossed octopi - thanks to Matt in Hamburg for the link.

Brazilian/Mexican Street View of the Week No. 5a

Whoever put together Mexico seems to have just copied and pasted a lot of this bit.

Brazilian/Mexican Street View of the Week No. 5

Beautiful downtown Ibirite, Brazil. Meet you in front of Loja 1 in half an hour.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cold tweets

I have been using Twitter a lot this week - it's kind of like a Dustbuster™ of the mind. Where there should be an interesting litter of stuff for me to turn into a blog post, all is clean, pristine and infertile. So I will repost some of this week's soggy Tweeet Bix, in the hope you will forgive me and we can all try to get back to normal.
1. Electronic sign by highway: 

(I don't know what came next). DEC is the local sports and entertainment centre.

2. I always saw whaling as a black and white issue until I heard two words: "whale bacon"

3. Best sight of the day: 2 men carrying huge metal bowl of cauliflowers

4. Michael: "I have thought up a new kind of bomb! All I need is sticky tape, a rubber band, and an ordinary bomb!"  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

You guys - my telephone has a camera in it!!!

These pictures have been stuck inside my telephone. I have just succeeded in getting them out, but now they are stuck in this typewriter/movie show thingamy. Help!


Handline O'Flaherty
Cruisin' the hood
Christmas means colanders

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Super Evil want to talk about their logo

 Michael to Marcus over breakfast: "You can tell Voltar is the leader of the League of Super Evil, because their logo looks like his head."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This is a list I am going to return to and edit, adding people I hear about that I think are pretty amazing.
  1. Albie Sachs - South African lawyer, judge, activist. Survived assasination attempt by South African government in 1988.
  2. Robert Axelrod - Professor of Political Science at U. of Michigan. Studied the evolution of co-operation.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Is flying a motorbike difficult?

No, not really. A clip from a film I have never heard of called Megaforce, courtesy of John Hodgman

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Train journeys 3 - Ripponlea to Moorabbin return

Ripponlea to Moorabbin return (changing at South Yarra), Melbourne, 1999. 
I moved to Melbourne at the end of 1998. I was setting up a flat, and I had just discovered Ikea. I had my heart set on the star item in the catalogue - a $32 dinner setting for 4. They had two stores in distant suburbs. I decided to get out there by train the next Sunday, no matter what. On Sunday it was raining like standing under the shower. I was saturated by the time I got to the station. It took forever and two trains to get to Moorabbin. I had dried off a bit, just in time to get drenched again. Ikea was handily located 25 minutes walk along a major highway from Moorabbin station. I got there, damply claimed my box of crockery, glassware and cutlery, and turned around and walked back down the highway. On the train home I clutched my dinner set, as a puddle formed around me. By the time I got in the door, it had probably taken me about 5 hours to join that big, happy Ikea family.

Train journeys 2 - Peru

In 1989 I went to South America with a good friend who was born in Peru. After we had a mild falling-out, I set off on my own for a while. I didn't keep a journal on this trip but I wrote it all up when I got home. Here I have walked the Inca Trail with some casual acquaintances, and now have to rush back to Cuzco.

Cuzco, the brownest town of them all.
I'll start at Machu Picchu. I was wearing my trusty Acasio camouflage watch (bought for about 1500 intis in Lima) which told me I had very little time to reach Las Ruinas station for the train back to Cuzco. Because of tactical errors, bad luck and a lack of assertiveness, I was lumbered with returning my boots, our tent, Charlie's tent, three sleeping mats and two sleeping bags to Cuzco. I had to run down the goat track (I could not afford the bus) to the station, carrying all the above, and suffering from footsoreness, back pains, a permanently damaged toenail, and grief at not having longer to spend at Machu Picchu, the tourist magnet of Andean America. On the way down I met an enterprising Chilean called Osvaldo who was on his way up to sell Sublime chocolate bars to the tourists at a 100% mark up. We had a quick chat while we got our breath. I was glad to be going down, not up, and he was glad to be carrying a good deal less than I was.
I have a vague memory of a shady path up to a small house. I think I bought an Inca Kola there, from an old woman. It must have been at the base of the mountain. There were concrete steps up to the quite modern station. Many Indian women were selling all sorts of fairly crappy tourist-type handicrafts. I spent quite a while there, just sitting and looking out at the green wall of jungle in front of me. There were quite a few travellers - some Italians, and a big Peruvian school group. I remember talking to someone who I think was half Italian and half German. I was waiting for the ticket office to open. When it did, they would not sell me a 4000 inti ticket - they insisted I buy a tourist class ticket for 75,000 intis. As I was completely out of money, but had to get back to Cuzco that evening to return the hired equipment, I had no choice but to walk down the tracks to the next station. This was a bit hair-raising, as there were two short tunnels to negotiate. When I reached Aguas Calientes station, there was a small crowd waiting there. There were quite a few travellers, and Osvaldo with his wife and a friend. There was also an Israeli boy, and his French-Jewish girlfriend. Between the six of us we had a fantastic multi-lingual conversation, translating for one another and waving our hands.
 When the train finally arrived, everyone jostled for position on the edge of the platform. Before it had even slowed down very much the Peruvians were on and finding themselves a seat, or a space to stand. By the time I climbed on the train was very solidly packed. I found that there was quite a bit of space in the toilet, and I decided to settle for that. It didn't smell too good, and there was only one tiny window, but there was room to put my collection of gear down and sit on it. The toilet was not used, except by one little girl accompanied by her mother - we all turned our backs.
The trip took about four hours. The Israeli I met earlier was travelling with about six others. The boys among them were taking turns riding on the coupling between carriages, as there was not room for all of them in the tiny nook they had found on boarding. They were by the little door at the very head of the carriage. They simply propped it open, and whoever was outside joined in the conversation, singing etc, until they decided to rotate positions.
They were in a good mood and so was I. I had just completed the toughest walk of my life, and I felt strong, and independent. I was very pleased that I hadn't let the theft of my gear stop me from doing the Inca Trail. I passed the time singing entire Midnight Oil albums from start to finish, much to the amusement/bewilderment of the Peruvians I was sharing the toilet with. Occasionally I got a turn by the window, gulping fresh air and peeping at the Urubamba Valley trundling by. The train was certainly not an express.
 After an eternity of stopping at little stations, letting a few off and cramming twice as many on, we reached the pass above Cuzco at twilight. For about an hour we went to and fro on the switchbacks that gradually lower the train down the hillside. Eventually we pulled into the station. I tagged along behind the Israelis, hoping they were heading into the centre of the city, because I had no idea where I was. Luckily, they went past a few landmarks I recognised, so I shouted goodbye to them and headed for the Hostal Suecia. I put my things down but postponed relaxing until I had returned the hired gear. That done, I went back to the room I shared with Charlie and Mike, who I'd walked the trail with. They were staying in the Urubamba Valley a little longer. I took my shoes off, and wrote in my sketchbook 'I'm back'. Later that night, an Australian staying at the hostal told me Hawthorn had won the Grand Final, although Ablett kicked eight goals for Geelong.

Train journeys 1 - India

I have just watched The Darjeeling Limited with Elf. We both loved it - I will write a little review later. It is set on a train in India, and for now it has got me thinking about Great Train Journeys Of My Life. Starting with;

Jodhpur to Delhi to Shimla, India, 1998. I invited myself along on a trip to India my friend Bree had planned. She was meeting up in Delhi with an old friend named PJ who was flying from London. It was a strange idea of mine, really, and I don't think it worked all that well, but I did love India. This is from my journal, 29-30 Sept, 1998
[Written in Delhi, 29 Sept] At the Jaisalmer bus station Bree did a song and dance act, which attracted dozens of onlookers. One Indian asked our names. PJ said she was Doris, he introduced himself as Maurice, so I was Horace. Very dry wit, he said he murders tourists. We asked how - "On camel, I stab them, they fall on the sand".

Clownish bus company flunkies stood around sucking popsicles, as useless as each other. Nasty overcrowded 5 hour bus trip to Jodhpur, then into a restaurant, then onto our first train.

Our names were pinned up by the door of the carriage. Everyone quiet, reserved, middle class Indians, no shouting. 8 berths; PJ, quiet young woman, QYW's mum, Bree, me, QYM's little dad, mum and dad of baby with huge head. Baby had bulging eyes, didn't cry at night though. Sad little scene. Mum smiled at us faintly. We offered them seats. The top berths were permanently out - seat backs swung up into middle berths. Three fans to negotiate up top. Middle (me) cramped and hard to manoeuvre. Slept with legs flopped on top of pack. Slept reeeeeeasonably well. The "outside" berths are shorter and narrower. A rude young sporty-dressed man ordered little dad out of his way. Bad snotty macho wanker Magnum PI-moustached type of Indian. Need slapping.

Got in very early, feeling so sticky after 21 hours of travelling. Sunrise as we struggled along the platform. Took forever to find the tourist ticket office. A fat sikh kindly pointed us to a government tourist office, saying "see, green sign, like this one". Across road, up some stairs and not in the station. Icy air con. A man there told us there was no train to Shimla for 3 days, and as there is nothing to see in Delhi, why don't we take a bus instead? He would sell us bus tickets for US$30 each. It was a scam. As we left in disgust we passed the fat sikh sitting downstairs taking a break between swindles. Writing this in Ajay Hotel, Delhi. Shitty room. Basically clean, but walls totally pocked and scrawled, small. Dark. Feeling better though.
Enough fans for ya?
[Written in Shimla, 1 Oct.] Left Delhi at 5.30am yesterday, walked to station OK, onto train OK, seats OK. Opposite us were a nice family from Delhi going to Chandigarh. Chatted pleasantly, Bree played join-dots game with kids. He's an engineer, "integrated resource planning" he said. Blind peddlers came through, girl clacking stones to guide them - gave her 2 rupees.

After one stop train filled with commuters, who soon filed out again. From Chandi - Kalka quite empty. Hurried across Kalka station - toy train 2nd class totally full. Bree tried to get 1st class upgrade but no good (numbered seats). Very late leaving, squeezed on in 2nd, more people squeezing on in turn. Occasionally someone's 1st class ticket would come through, and they'd hurry off. Winding up through first hills, factories and factories, everyone looks at the train, kids wave. Circus-tent type things in quite a few places. Noticeably cooler. Couldn't see much standing up. Some people riding on the water tender; emptied out a bit, even when two soldiers piled huge bedrolls on and clambered in after them.
The soldiers, the open door, the foothills of the Himalayas
Settled into comfortable rhythym, girls chatting to a family near them. Beautiful views now, doors open, windows open, all hanging out. Went to ride on the tender for a stop. Very crowded out there now, everyone roaring when in a tunnel. Several long waits for train in opposite direction to come through.

Rumour that we wouldn't get in till 8pm. Bought crunchy fried bread, quite good. Finally stopped at a station and word filtered through that there was a landslide on the track. We got off and everyone piled onto the road to flag down buses/trucks. We were lucky, after maybe an hour we scrambled onto a bus, and all three of us even got seats eventually. Mountain buses (not ours) were taking corners heeling at a nasty angle.
Shimla, former summer capital of India
Shimla sprawls over the mountainside. We walked miles up from where we were let off the bus, to the main drag. YWCA wouldn't have us, Loveen's full, we ended up here [Gulmarg Hotel, 935 r per night, fancy and expensive.] Going to try for another hotel tonight. Tea last night at a Nice Restaurant, with international music that was just abysmal, Bree went into hysterics. Glossy plastic tablecloth that stuck to my knees. Drinks freezing cold but OJ was reconstituted.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Places that have inspired pants

Some historic pants.
The following places have all given their names to types of gentleman's strides. In some cases, the clothing may have inspired the place. Geographers, lexicogaphers and pantologists all make competing claims. It is not for me to adjudicate.
  • Dongari Killa 1, India - dungarees
  • Nîmes, France - denims
  • Genoa 2, Italy - jeans
  • Trousers Point, King Island, Tasmania - the ordinary Western trouser
  • Bermuda - the eponymous shorts
  • Jodhpur, India - the eponymous pony club pants
  • Capri, Italy - capri pants 3
  • Tracksuit, Nova Scotia - Australia and New Zealands's most popular pants 4
1. Also a member of the Wu Tang Clan
2. Known in French as Gênes
3. "Capris acceptance in the United States was influenced by the 1960s television series The Dick Van Dyke Show. The character of Laura Petrie, the young housewife played by Mary Tyler Moore, caused a fashion sensation – and some mild controversy – by wearing snug-fitting capri pants during the show's run. After a drop in popularity during the 1970s through the 1990s capris returned to favor during the 2000s. Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal wore capris in the majority of his matches before 2009." - Wikipedia
4. Morgan and Gallop poll, "What do you think of pants?" Aug 2007

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I suddenly started writing letters in December 1985. I was on holiday in Sydney with my family, and I really felt the urge to keep in touch with all my schoolmates from Grade 12 in Burnie, who were just then scattering to all points. Well, mostly Launceston and Hobart. When I got back from Sydney and moved to Hobart myself, I kept writing, even to the people who were just across town. I had discovered an outlet for feelings and ideas that, for me, speech didn't ever provide.

This was a time when most of my close mates were girls, and I was busily trying to work out how to make that a plus. I was not a wimp exactly, but pretty unthreatening I guess. I had a long term crush on one of the girls, and was massively in denial of the obvious - that we would always be just good friends. It appears, from decoding the replies, that many of my letters to girls were attempts to work out what made them tick. Must have been very wearing for the girls, some of whom are (incredibly) still friends. I was (and still am) pretty phone-phobic. One girl lived out in the country. I walked 17 kilometres to visit her one day and she wasn't there. I hadn't been prepared to phone ahead and check.

Yesterday after 25 years I finally threw out most of the big bag of the letters I got back. I skimmed the letters before chucking them out.

A few of the keepers.
I am keeping the ones from my family and from blokes. [And a few with really great handwriting, for an art thing I have in mind]. The blokes' letters have actual information about stuff going on, music, sport, things that were happening. And as a bonus, they don't make me cringe. The ones from Mum are very funny to read now. In my first few months living away from home, it seems like we wrote each other every week. I spent the year living at a residential college, and I must have reported on the fairly dissolute ways of the inmates. After the annual College Ball, Mum's next letter says "you can probably get the shirt clean if you bleach it carefully", and "how did your chair get burnt in the first place? You must have been sitting awfully close to the bonfire!"

Once I had grown up a bit and given up on ever understanding girls, I used to write letters as a sort of substitute diary. Writing stuff down gave me a chance to analyse it and think about what was happening in my life. The letters were a sort of proto blog in a way. I will feel I have got better at blogging when I can make it somehow a bit more like a letter - one with bits and pieces thrown in at the last minute before the walk down to the letterbox. Stuff that might not make sense in any way other than "this was here and now I have sent it to you there".


When you are walking with an umbrella up, on a still day, do you ever just let go of it and let it drift along on it's own a bit? You have to catch it again fairly quickly of course, or it falls out of your hand, but not as quickly as you might think.

If you are walking home, let's say, the umbrella just keeps on heading home on its own, for half a second. If you lightly regrip it and arrest it's fall, then let it go again, it continues to sort of autonomously drift homeward. It feels very slightly as though the umbrella is just a pleasant, undemanding (yet useful) companion - who could be doing anything at that moment (shopping, snowboarding, on Facebook), but is happy to just be out for a walk with you.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Michael calls these bugroglyphics, and claims to be able to read them. He claims that the top one of these is about Cradle Mountain and Mt Wellington, while the middle one is about a "fat monster".

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Mouth radio

This morning at athletics I overheard Michael telling another kid about his "brain-powered mouth radio". When I asked him about it he said "Yes. It's got heaps of songs on it". Mostly mangled Christmas carols if what I've heard is any guide.
Cutaway view of storage unit for the BPMR

Dateline: hammock

This is the first post I have ever written in a hammock. And so far it's going fine, d'you reckon?

I am supervising neighbour children in the pool. It's been one of those days where someone runs past you and asks for a vegemite sandwich, and you have to ask them their name. Imp and Ed came over with the girls, and brought with them some tiny yet troublesome blonde girls. Now there are two boys in the pool and two more lying on our small trampoline, with Winston. Marcus is well over visitors, and is downstairs having his weekly dose of internet games.

Our kids are big fans of Powdergame, which I think i've mentioned before. For Michael the computer is just a machine on which to play Powdergame. He will make a "cannon" out of "rock", fill it with "C4 explosive", "oil" and "fireworks", and then splash in some "magma". Kablooie.

Now everyone's out of the pool. Both of mine are down with the computer, and a bunch of visitors are playing a full-contact soccer match on our small deck. [...]  Since the last sentence they have almost broken a window, I relocated them off the premises, I joined in a game of 3 v 2 in a tropical downpour, then we wrapped it up when lightning started zagging in our neighbourhood. Soon after we got home there was almighty flash and the biggest clap of thunder I have ever heard in Hobart. They were about 2 seconds apart. The hound was a bit alarmed but he got over it very quickly, and there hasn't been any more.

Malaria prevails extensively

I am reading Schott's Almanac 2010, an excellent book Mum and Dad gave me for Christmas. Ben Schott collects a wide range of topical information, analyses the year in news, and then sometimes throws in things like this: from the 3rd edition of The Anglo-American Telegraphic Code (1891).

Like one of those old phrase books for dealing with difficult natives, this list of code words says a great deal about the circumstances where it was expected to be used. The heat is merciless, the jungle impenetrable, bribery is endemic and the white man has to bring civilization and extract a profit by any means at his disposal.
BARRACAN: A battle is reported to have begun.
FLANK: A fire is raging here. Please send engine.
KAVASS: A large number were killed.
MAHOGANY: Malaria prevails extensively.
MANNITE: The market should be manipulated.
RUSSET: Bank just robbed.
EDUCT: A large amount has been embezzled.
PANEL: Stocks have reached panic prices.
EXPEDITE: You can go to any extreme.
COMMITTER: Compulsion must be used if necessary.
ALOOFNESS: Agent is dead.
INSIDIATOR: How much is your life insured for?
But once the hinterland has been subdued, the swamp drained and the fire put out, there was time for the finer things.
HUB Can you recommend to me a competent housemaid?
CAUSSON Give liberally for charitable purposes.
TITMOUSE I accept with pleasure your invitation for the theatre tomorrow evening.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon

I am reading Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon. I can tell you now that although I am enjoying it, I don't think I'll ever finish it, as it's over 1000 pages. However - I loved a scene set in New York's theatre district, circa 1910. In one of the very very cheap theatres, a character was acting in an adaptation of Julius Caesar, retitled Dagoes with Knives.

Blyton Moments™

The other night the boys, Lana and I went up the back after dinner to play soccer and climb around on the cliff. Winston came too, and after a while Hattie joined us. Just six mammals, having fun in the sun. When bedtime rolled around my charges and I strolled back. With two boys, a girl, a dog and a cat following me home, I had one of those moments where I felt like I was in an Enid Blyton book.

Confession at a barbecue

Tonight we were at our buddies' place for a barbecue. They have two girls, 9 and 7. While I was talking to the dad, the 9yo came up and said "Um, I just accidentally called [7yo] a frickin' freak".

Cello Scrotum / Danger Biscuit

According to Schott's Almanac 2010,
  • there is only one pig in all of Afghanistan. He lives in the Kabul Zoo, and is named Khanzir.
  • Mindlab International did research on biscuit-related injuries and concluded that the most dangerous biscuit is the custard cream
  • 62% of people in the UK do not know the parable of the Prodigal Son
  • 35% of dogs in Scotland are obese
  • British Sandwich Designer of the Year (2009) was Thomas Allen of Buckingham Foods
  • The British Medical Journal announced in 2009 that there is no such condition as "cello scrotum". The author of a letter reporting the condition, published in 1974, contacted the journal and confessed that she and her husband made it up, inspired by the listing that year of "guitar nipple".
  • British travelers consider the Eiffel Tower to be the world's most disappointing attraction, followed by the Mona Lisa, and Times Square, New York.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Not cricket

Somehow I had the idea that the 5th Test, the so called "New Year Test", would start on New Year's Day. Around 10 I put on the radio, keen to hear the blokes-in-the-shed style warm up from the commentary team. Some ragging about someone's big night on New Year's Eve, someone else's silly hat, or beer gut, or new beard. And some analysis: will we win? Might they win? Might it be... a draw? Etc. Good simple manly stuff.

On the radio a lady was interviewing another lady. Turns out the test wasn't starting for 2 more days. The interviewee had bravely survived leukemia. She had 2 children and obviously this was all very tough on them.
Interviewer: And while you were sick you had a very difficult decision to make about your relationship with Frank.
Interviewee: Yes. Although he had done a terrific job looking after the girls while I was in hospital, when I came out he just continued as he had before. I was bald, I was very weak from the chemo, and he just couldn't see that. The physical abuse resumed and for the sake of myself and the girls' safety I just had to end that relationship.
Wow. And people think test cricket is complicated. Today the cricket started and I could just listen to the radio without all that thinking and feeling.

Garden bed, day 5

It's just about there. I am having so much fun banging in nails that I have probably spent twice as long on it as necessary. I really like the way the notes go up the scale as you bang in a nail. Donk, donk, donk, donk, donk.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Mementoes mori

Michael brought this beautiful drawing home from school. I think someone visited from the local museum, with some skulls for the kids to draw. Michael added the pygmy blue whale skull [top right] from memory - we saw it at the Melbourne Museum back in March.

In dimly related news, Michael was in a low mood this morning, muttering about how mean Elf and I are, as he often does. "Why do I have to live here?" is another of his recurring moans, with the popular variant "Why do I have to live in this world?"

Today he started another tack. "I wish I was an orphan!" I tolerated this.

"Do you know where I wish you and mum and Marcus were? In heaven!!!" Now I got a bit shirty with him.

Me: So - you actually wish I was dead? Hmm. And how would you like me to die?
Michael: Time bomb.
Me: Right. What about Mum?
Michael: Time bomb.
Me: Marcus?
Michael: Time bomb.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The hound-couch

Seen the latest in labrador-themed interiors? The hound-couch, a realistically dog-like daybed, approx five feet long. It is warmed internally, and gently relaxes you with six authentic dog sounds; wuffle, snort, yip-yip-yip (dream mode), yawn, sigh and burp.

Available in black only. Children not included. POA.

Inflatable pool world record beckons

Elf bought the boys a 2.5m circular pool for Christmas. It was from both of us of course, but she runs the show when it comes to gift selection and procurement. If she's lucky she gets a grunt of agreement from me, and nothing more. Of course when the gift is unwrapped to delighted squeals, I am beaming proudly and giving the general impression it was all my idea.

This pool had a few teething problems - it needs to be on perfectly level ground. Elf got hot and bothered about all the details, digging up and levelling the yard, while I had a cool drink and leafed through a magazine.

Yesterday, New Years Eve, it was finally ready. The kids had a splash, had fun, got out, and then at some point went next door to watch TV. I had been running around cleaning and so on, in preparation for NYE guests. I felt hot and sticky, and I thought, well, I'll jump in the kids' little pool.

Well, it's glorious! I can actually swim in it! It's not deep enough for freestyle but if I hook my feet over the side I can breaststroke OK. I swam a bit, then sat back and enjoyed the view - it happens to be set up in the spot in the yard with the best view. Elf brought me a piña colada iceblock. Heavenly. Then back to the exercise.

After 200 strokes (which I'm calling 100 metres) I climbed out feeling fantastic. And I was not that far outside the world record.