The incoherent blathering and deranged rantings of the self-styled Guru Bob...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Reading

I was in Sydney on the weekend for my little sister's 40th birthday party and was wandering around in the enormous Borders bookstore in Bondi Junction when I came across this little display shelf of best-selling non-fiction. As my phone camera is pretty crapulous at taking photos you may not be able to make out the author's name on the last book on the right - Manthropology by Peter McAllister.
Those of you who know JB from the old days or have read the Felafel books will know that Pete makes quite a few guest appearances in those books...
He has also surfed on my couch many times and is a great guy and a talented writer. He dropped into Melbourne from his current digs on Chaz's side of the continent as part of the publicity tour for this book.
At the time I picked up a copy and only recently got around to reading it properly. In it he examines how modern man would compare to his ancient ancestors in areas such as brains, battles and babes, and guess what we don't do to well...
I used to live in the most awesome bachelor pad in Brisbane with a couple of guys and we had the best ever SPACE PARTY to launch his last book - the sci-fi thriller Cosmonaut - which unfortunately never did as well at the bookstores as he had hoped. But who would have ever thought that when Pete said he was at university studying archaelogy and anthropology he really had a far more cunning plan in mind then becoming a modern day Indiana Jones. Instead he has turned it into a series of columns for Ralph Magazine (or one of those soft pron mags), a new book and maybe even a television series is on the cards..
Anyway I fully recomend this book to you guys - Chaz, Havock etc - it is funny and full of facts.
Plus you are supporting a proto-Burger from the days before the interwebby thingie...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kicking ass and taking names... old chap!

One of my last posts was about how I was setting up a team called The Burgers to grow a mo and support the Movember thing. I sent out an email to all of the usual suspects (Barnes, Chaz, Naut, HAVOCK etc) only to find that I had been pipped at the post by Naut who had set up a team called the Tom Selleck Allstars or some such name...
You can click on the link above to see how this lame-ass group of girlie-men have managed at their pathetic attempts to grow some facial hair - it almost makes me laugh out loud!!
The silly thing is that not only have I grown more manly whiskers in the time so far but I have also raised over THREE HUNDRED BUCKS for supporting men's health issues such as prostate cancer - the illness we all wish never to see or hear from...
This is more then that entire team of reprobates has managed combined.
So now is the time for all of you people out there to either show them or myself the colour of your money!
To make a (sizable) donation to my mo - please click on this link here or for those Tom Selleck people click at their link above. I mean it is embarressing that some of them have no donations at all!
After all (jokes aside) that is the reason that we are all looking like strange guys who think the seventies are still happening - it is all to raise money for a very worthy cause...
In the meantime I will be chowing down on the free hamburgers that you get from Grill'd when you raise over $25 in donations - see I knew there was a reason I called my team The Burgers...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

This one is for Barnes...

Article on weird show on the ABC about Robot Wars which was actually pretty interesting...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Are we men or are we MICE?

I was going to get back on this bike of a blog and talk all about my recent trip to Cairns, how great it was to get out and feel that humid tropical sunshine hitting me and my melanomas and the emotions of catching up with longtime friends after a prolonged departure.

But instead I am here to see if you will join me brothers? Can this ragtag crew of Burgers get-together and grow facial hair for men's health?

Yep - it is that time of year again when men throughout Australia start sprouting the unthinkable on their upper lip and Sweet Thang has said that facial hair won't have any effect upon our sex life as long as it is for a good cause. So I am joining the ranks of the brotherhood of Movember...

It is scary as hell but I can do it if you guys are with me... Join the The Burgers here and stop shaving! Or if you lack the testosterone to make a real mo then you can always just donate to the cause at this site.
Go The Burgers!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Been busy

I was just reading JB's blog post about blogs and realised that I have been most remiss in my netizen duties here, so will post a quick update about a few things.

I finally found a house whose owners were prepared to sell it within my budget - it wa spassed in at auction and I was the highest bidder. After a starnge three way discussion with the Real Estate guys they agreed to a price which suited me and before I knew it I was signing a contract... Settlement isn't until January though and the place needs some work so now my weekends are spent looking at renovation and kitcehn displays and worrying about money again...

I have also gotten a mild addiction to Company of Heroes at the local net cafe and find myself sneaking away there after work to take on whoever I can in an online game way too often.

While I have been lurking around Cheeseburger and Bluntie without making much of a contribution but have been spending a lot of time over at Facebook posting whatever inanities I can think of but am finding it hard to get into the whole Tweet thing...

By the way I just neded to post this - hilarious in-joke!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The more things change...

Last week we had a spectacularly succesful Burger get-together here in Melbourne with JB, where we were joined by an old uni-mate named Mr Dave Sag who also happened to be in town on a bit of a suprise visit. Apparently he is now involved in some sort of carbon trading company which sounded too good to be true.

However for those of us who have known Dave for a while, nothing would ever suprise us. Although today I was surprised to see that Dave was quoted in a front-page article in The Age on 'Carbon Cowboys' ...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

All aboard

We had a little bit of wind yesterday afternoon down here in sunny Melbourne. As I was heading home I saw this little scenario just down from the Essendon station. The funny thing is that the train will be full of soem very pissed off commuters because it was a V-Line which services regional Victoria so some residents of Bendigo and Catslemaine were going to be very very late getting home...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

State of the World

I see that the North Koreans have released the imprisoned American journos after a visit by Bill Clinton to make their case. I think it was Chaz who pointed out on JB's blog that our man Hu in Beijing probably won't get as much sympathy or support here in Australia because he doesn't look like us. It didn't seem to matter much to the yanks that the two journalists were of Asian extraction though, and although it may be ALP "Real Politik', it shouldn't matter to us either.

However which former statesman would we send to Beijing to get Hu released anyway? I can't see John Howard doing the job, now that he is a former PM he doesn't have to pretend anymore about all of that multicultural Australia stuff, Paul Keating would just offend them all over again and Bob Hawke - well I don't think we should bring him up do you? Fraser would just lose his pants again and that only leaves Gough...

Well my money would be on Gough, after all wasn't he the one who did a Richard Nixon and opened up relations with the PRC anyway?

Of course there is always the possibility that the reason that Rudd has been so inactive on this issue is that Hu really is an Australian spy? But I think that would be giving way too much credit to ASIS and too little to Rio Tinto...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mumbai madness

I recently finished a book called Sacred Games which is all set in Mumbai and is basically an Indian crime novel with some great central characters including depictions of life in that city, the way that crime and policing are carried out and a plot which includes Bollywood movies, gangsters, terrorists and hardboiled detectives. I enjoyed the book and it really gave some slight insight into a culture which is starting to really make its presence felt even on this side of the world.

However tonight I watched the last half of the ABC TV show Four Corners which I would really recommend to be compulsory viewing for you guys out there. It was about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and it was totally chilling, right down to the script which their controllers gave the terrorists to say to the media, that "this attack was only the trailor, the main feature is yet to happen..."

Scary times...

Friday, July 31, 2009

From Norway with love...

We all know that the only thing better than a zombie is of course a Nazi-zombie!
So this Saturday Barnes and I are going to join with Struggers in showing our solidarity with the beleaguered Melbourne International Film Festival who have been having lots of issues with JB's mates over in China lately.
We are off to see the acclaimed arthouse film from Norway called Dead Snow. Like all good arthouse films I expect to see lots of scantily clad Scandinavian babes, snow and of course chainsaws, blood and gore...
I think that this film will probably deliver and Barnes is getting very excited.
Of course we will have an appetiser at the local LAN games place with a couple of hours of Left 4 Dead which Struggers is proving frighteningly adept at these days and may even be able to grab a beer at the Festival bar before our movie.
So what is the catch - after all there is always a catch isn't there...
That's right the bloody film starts at 11.30pm and is quite literally the midnight session and then at 9.30am the next morning my dad is lobbing into town on a plane expecting to be collected, chauffuered and entertained all day on Sunday.
It will be good to see him as he hasn't been down all year but how the hell am I going to get out of bed...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Archealogical remnants

An old friend of mine posted this on my Facebook page - a scary piece of ancient history from about 1987...
Now some sort of weird collectors item?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Burger night out in Melbourne??

I have a confession to make - I have already seen Terminator: Salvation and thought that it was pretty damn good. Admittedly there were a few plot holes which we can discuss at another time but in general I enjoyed it as an example of BIG LOUD FUN... with some explodey goodness thrown in. However I understand that Barnes has yet to see it? So in order to rub in the fact that he hasn't seen it I think we need to all get together and see that other example of fine film-making Transformers 2 as an entre, find some Chinese food nearby to wash down with Tsing Tao beer and then follow up with a dessert of Left4Dead LAN action?

Of course over dinner we will be able to tell Barnes all about how silly it is that Skynet is able to identify the young Kyle Reese by his image when he has lived his whole life in a post-apocalyptic junkyard, question why earlier versions of Terminators would be human-shaped when the great big gatling gun they have instead of an arm is possibly a bit of a give-away in an infiltration unit and query the liklihood of undertaking a heart transplant in an open-air temporary medical facility.

So at present the plan is to get-together at Melbourne Central Cinema for the 6.15pm session of Transformers on Wednesday 24 June before heading over to Dainty Sichuan or somewhere similar for some cumin ribs and other treats before heading over to MC Internet on Russell Street to play some silly games...
Let me know what you think?

Monday, June 15, 2009

There goes the neighbourhood...

Someone has obviously decided to write the final chapter of the Underbelly saga down at my local Ville... lucky we may have found a new place to throw our hat into the ring for. But I don't want to get too confident, last time it all ended in tears...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Catching up

This past weekend for some reason we Australians celebrate the birthday of a woman who rarely if ever thinks about or comes to visit our country. In true Oz style we celebrate in the most appropriate way possible by having a holiday!!

So for the Queens Birthday long weekend Sweet Thang and I packed up a range of gear into our little automobile and headed out to the country.

An old friend of mine has a house on a small block of land in Sutton Grange which he ocasionally makes available to friends. If you don't know where Sutton Grange is you won't be alone but it is a stunningly gorgeous part of the world between Castlemaine and Bendigo. in the heart of good shiraz country here in Victoria.

So off we headed for the land of low clouds, gold rushes, bushrangers, cold nights, red wines and wood fires known as central Victoria.

On the way we dropped in to Kyneton to see some old friends and check out their house and baby, who has grown enormously since we last saw him. Then we arrived at the place got the fire going and then headed off to the Railway Hotel at Castlemaine for an amazing meal accompanied by Bress wines. I had the venison sausages with a beetroot mash and Sweet Thang had the best parma to be found in the state. For some reason chicken parmigiana has become the definitive pub food here in Melbourne and this one put most that I have tried to total shame...

Driving back to the house the 20 minute journey became quite a bit longer as we had to slow right down to get through low lying clouds on the winding road, but we got back to a wood fire and few more drinks for the designated driver (myself).

The next day we headed into downtown Bendigo to wander around and see what was on at the excellent Bendigo Art Gallery. It turned out to be the artistic circus which is the annual Archibald Prize. I have seen this show a few times at the AGNSW in Sydney and it always draws a crowd of people who want to see a range of portraits that are huge in scale and mediocrity. It was interesting to see that the former husband of Hughesy was featured there, a friend of mine called Ian Smith usually enters a portrait of the big man himslef, but this time it was another artist who got selected.

For a former gallery person like myself it is always a treat to visit the Bendigo Gallery - it was one one the original regional galleries in Australia, well over 100 years old by now and has had soem very good renovations over the years. The two former directors both went on to direct the Queensland Art Gallery and it has always been a place I would have loved to have worked at. Seeing it packed to the gills with visitors was actually pretty exciting too, any Director would love to get those crowds in the door.

Bendigo is a great old town that was made rich by gold in the 1800s and now puts a lot of time and effort in to attracting tourists for its art, food, wine and history. So we had a great wander around and then had an excellent lunch at an old bank that was chockers of wine. Then we picked up some provisions and headed back to our little shack for a big pot of Spag Bob...

We also managed to visit the excellent Sutton Grange winery which has never been open on previous visits and buy a bottle or two.
After a freezing night in the shack we had to pack up and head home the next day, but it had been a great trip away from the big smoke and has renewed our debate about whether we could make a 'tree change' and live soemwhere like Woodend or Kyneton and commute to work...

Which is probably the last thing we should do, but it is a nice idea!

Poster boy for the apocalypse???

Well who would have thunk it?

I walked into the local newsagency and started browsing through the most recent issue of The Monthly - the vanity publication of the chardonay socialist set according to Chaz's comment in my previous blog - and the cover article is by none other then our own JB!

However the Rhino sized kick in this article is that it is all about our very own Mr Havock! I can hear the screams from over the water already. However it does tend to show us a kinder, gentler and LESS LOUD Havock then we are used to.

If you want to you can even read it for free HERE...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Is this guy a spotty nosed precocious little oik?

Those of you who follow JB's various online incarnations will know that he loves nothing more then getting stuck into the members of the so-called Generation-Y, hence some of the recent carry-on over at the Blunt Instrument and the many frequent barbed comments by readers, bloggers and the man himself on the topic.

So I just can't help but wonder whether he will be following Gideon Haigh into the wilderness after the announcement of the new editor at The Monthly, a 23 year old reputed 'genius'. As JB has in the past been known to write the occasional column in The Monthly and can be fairly regularly found making a few 'learned' remarks - I was wondering whether he will still be writing there in a few months.

Of course I am probably betraying my own generational angst and leanings when I wonder whether he will be able to take direction from a 'numpty nump' whose only experience of a 'left-wing' leader in Australia was Paul Keating and then only beacuse he could see the television from his cot? However I am sure he is a nice guy as well.

Of course it all just a storm in a teacup as The Monthly is effectively the Australian media's version of a vanity publication. But it has made good reading in the past and my Dad did actually enjoy the gift subscription I gave him last year for Father's Day...

Friday, May 22, 2009

A soldier's best friend?

I would usually send this as an email to Barnes or JB for them to incorporate into one of their tech rants - but I just think it is so cool that I have to let you all know about it myself...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Heavy Metal

It is interesting that while JB is rambling on about the death of newspapers on his blog recently there is rebirth of interest in the original newspaper technology - letterpress printing.

On the weekend I went to the open day at the Melbourne Museum of Printing which was packed full of people after some good promotions in the media and online by the Museum and its supporters at The Narrows.

It was great to see so much interest in letterpress and there was a lot of interest in the fundraising sales of prints, t-shirts and other paraphenalia.

The MMOP also runs education workshops, provides studio access, tours and demonstrations and a Friends of the Museum Membership program.

36 Moreland Street



Opening Hours Sundays and Thursdays2.00pm - 6.00pm

Tel: 03 9689 7555

PS check out their website for much better photographs then mine.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Strong Stomache?

I bet that it isn't strong enough to cope with this ...

Although I am sure that Squire Bedak will approve and Abe will be looking for the sausage recipes!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Booktown - the sequel

On Sunday headed out past Havock's place to visit Clunes for the Back to Booktown event.

Sweet Thang drove all the way and it was good to get some serious kilometres under her bonnet - a long distance trip to the country is great for a learner driver - and she is actually starting to enjoy driving and I am starting to enjoy having my own private chaffeur as well.

The Booktown event was packed again - lots of people, heaps of stalls selling books as well as food, live music etc. While the food wasn't as good this year as last time - we enjoyed the trip, the browsing for books and the atmosphere of the old gold town.

There were booksellers from all over the place - I even saw one from Tassie - and they included specialist booksellers in military history, art, history, rare books, children's books etc. Sweet Thang actually bought more than I did which was a total surprise - she likes old hardbacks with weird titles and found a couple of classics as well as fossicking through the antique shops. I got an old art book from a place that was selling 'books by the pound' and a remaindered cookbook from the Goldfields Library stand.

However we ran into a few friends and caught up with them in the middle of the main street over a coffee, just before the last minute specials were all announced.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Zombie Attack Plan 2

I have been raving in an earlier post about this song - at my instigation Ryan has gone and posted it at Youtube here.

Go and check out the frenzied zombie dancing...

PS If anyone can let me know how you post youtube videos properly here on blogspot it would be much appreciated!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tassie pictures...

Catching Up

I had lunch with Barnes today and realised that I have been most remiss in my online world, so here is a brief catch up on everything since we visited Tasmania a couple of weeks ago.

The lesson was the next phase in my learning curve in the whole house buying thing. The bottom line was that we worked out our budget, went along to the auction of our 'dream' house and totally got our arses kicked by someone else with bigger pockets then ours...

Basically the whole experience sucked - we had been in to see the place about three times, it was great - good location, 'sustainable' design, recently renovated and covered by building insurance, heaps of space etc. All of our homework counted for nought though, it was sold to someone who walked in off the street, liked what they saw and sat through most of the bidding (which was mainly between us and another couple we have seen at quite a few inspections of this and other properties) then they walked in at the last minute when we were already over our limit and just bid all over both of us...

So we then had to rethink and recover over a large slice of chocolate cake and a few coffees, red wines and beers. Apparently the auction thing isn't so big elsewhere but here in Melbourne it is ruthless and frustrating. However now we know our limits and have everything sorted for the next place that works for us. So on weekends we are back on the house circuit, but with the Federal Budget and the June deadline looming for Uncle Kevins handouts - the whole thing is very daunting.

The other big thing has been the new show at work which opened last week to pretty good feedback from everyone concerned. It is great to see something which I thought of as an idea, actually come through to reality and I always enjoy when people actually start walking into the space.

We celebrated by going with some friends to see Arj Barker at the Melbourne Town Hall as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival. We all went to the Dainty Sichuan for a heart stopping dinner and Tsing Tao beers beforehand and all had a great time. I haven't ever been to a comedy festival gig since I moved here and it was an absolute hoot. Barker was hilarious and the crowd all were there to have grand old time.

This weekend we are looking at houses on Saturday (Preston, Coburg, Thornbury) and then on Sunday heading off for a road trip to the Clunes Book Town event. So will be dragging back some book bargains for the home library no doubt!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zombie Attack Plan

I was ready when the shit hit the fan

You watched it happen and i fuckin` ran

Now everyone`s dead and i`m the last man

It was all a part of the Zombie Attack Plan...

This image and the lyrics are by Mackay artist Ryan Vella who drew the graphic novel for He Died with a Felafel in his hand.
The song is part of a cool little CD of original songs that he will send you if you contact hima t his facebook site. I am trying to persuade him to post it online somewhere so we can use some viral marketing to make him the next big zombie download thing - because I have to say the song totally rocks - and not just for zombie freaks like me and Barnes (who will probably use it as a training aid)...
Anyway so if you want to get a good zombie holocaust song just drop Ryan a line and ask him to send you a cd - he is truly talented!
By the way saw the television advertisement for the next Terminator movie last night and now can't wait for the bloody thing - anyone up for dinner and a movie in early June?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Off the Grid

Just finishing up the first days back at work after a few days away in the southern provinces.

Sweet Thang and I had taken advantage of a ridiculously cheap airfare offered by Tiger Airways way back in October or even November - flights from Melbourne to Van Diemans Land for zero dollars plus tax - which worked out about thirty-five dollars each way per person. In fact I think the cab to Melbourne Airport was more expensive than the flight. So we took advantage of Singapore Airlines' stalking horse strategy to gain more international flight routes into Australia (which can be the only reason they offer such ridiculously cheap flights) and took ourselves down to Tasmania for a quick holiday.

We flew into Launceston on Thursday afternoon (following only a slight delay in departing), picked up a silly little car from the rental guys and headed up the hill to our lodgings at a slightly overdone B&B that billed itself as 'Victorian accommodation'. However the guy who ran the place gave us a quick once-over tour of the facilities and some very good advice on where to go for a feed. His recommendation of The Northern Club was a very good call for a couple of hungry travellers keen to start their Tasmanian food extravaganza...

This place supposedly used to be a 'gentlemen's club' but not the sort with brass poles in the middle of it, rather it was more like the establishment which Mr Bedak oversees in Wagga Wagga, all old timber and leather chairs. However a great menu and wine list got us off to a good start. Afterwards we staggered back up the hill to our lodgings and ventured into the 'lounge' room where we were hoping to partake of the complimentary port, tokay or muscat. Unfortunately we were confronted with a trio of fellow travellers from the UK who kept on reminding Sweet Thang of the 'bitty' people in Little Britain...

The next day we had to do the whole B&B breakfast thing with whoever else was there before heading off to see the sights of Launceston. As it was Good Friday, almost all of the town was closed - so we drive around the city centre and then headed to the Gorge (which is almost right in the centre of town anyway) for a quick walk and then headed off on our journey.

We drove up the Tamar Valley and eventually found a winery that was open and dropped in for a bit of a tasting. Then headed up to Georgetown, which sounded much more impressive then it actually was. Then we headed up to Low Head where we admired the semaphore system, the Pilots Cottage sand the Lighthouse for a wholoe five minutes before hitting the road again to Pipers Brook Winery to try the 'Blanc de Blanc' which Flinthart had highly recommended, before heading over to see the man himself.

FH had been slightly vague as to how to find his residence and it didn't register at all with the GPS when I tried to input it - so he is definitely living off the grid there, but it wasn't too difficult to find based on his directions. When we arrived a kid came running up to the car and I knew straight away that I was in the right place because Elder Son definitely takes after his mum in the looks department (which is probably a lucky thing)...

Flinthart and family extended the usual hearty loud welcome to us and we were immediately given an extended tour around the ancestral manse, which has become so familiar to those of us who follow his adventures and tribulations.

Anyway you can get the gist of the visit over here ...

From my point of view it was fantastic to see him on his own turf surrounded by his family and living a life which is truly extraordinary. I always worry about introducing Sweet Thang to my old friends because they are such a contrast to our 'inner city Melbourne life' and everything, but she is a bit of an old hippy at heart and had a ball with FH and family and just loved the location. FH put on a continuous feast of food and fun for us, so I don't know where he found the time to write an entry while we were there.

After the Easter morning celebrations at Chez Flinthart we headed over to the Bay of Fires for a great lunch at a place the B&B dude had recommended and then down to Hobart via the Heritage Highway. We dropped into Cambell Town to look for Sweet Thang's great-great- great- great Grandfather's place and then wandered through places like Ross and Oatlands which looked like they had just fallen out of a museum. Fortunately I work in museums and don't particularly like the thought of living in one, and our interactions with some of the locals only served to reinforce this thought...

Finally we reached Hobart and settled into our little apartment there. It was just around the corner from Salamanca Place and so we had dinner down there at a great place next to the Salmon shop. I think I may have eaten the Easter Bunny though becasue I went for the extremely rich rabbit and venison pasta dish...

The next morning being Easter Sunday we did consume a hell of a lot of chocolate before waddling out to greet the day. This mainly involved finding a suitable breakfast spot before heading over for more Easter celebrations with Sweet Thang's sister and her three year old kid.

The quick round-up of the rest of the weekend included lots more nice things to eat (seems to be a recurring theme down here but included a very silly and delicious meal at a seafood theme restaurant), a late night walk through battery point, another semaphore station (another recurring theme - they seemed to bring to my mind all sorts of Stirling scenarios) and a long time sitting around at Hobart Airport waiting for a much delayed flight home...

By the way beer people should keep an eye out for the great Tasmanian drop called Moo Brew!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In space no-one can hear you fart...

It is good to see that while the rest of us are worried about the Global Financial Crisis, the end of the War on Terror and overall day to day stuff, that there is a team of crack scientists in India working on one of the really major issues of the day.

A group of Indian scientists are currently putting a lot of time and well earned research rupees into developing a curry that can be cooked and eaten in space as part of that country's race for space...

As someone who loves the products of the aromomatic curry leaves and the chilli bush I want to be at the front of the queue to test this product when it becomes widely available. I am sure that Barnes will also see it as an important foodsource in the post TEOTWAWKI environment and when one thinks of all the benefits which the American space race has given us (teflon, etc etc) then this research may actually provide a jump start for the Indian economy as well.
Imagine the market impact of freeze dried vindaloo in a tube???

However one can think of more important things for the Indian scientists to do as part of any space race - like building rockets that don't blow up on the launchpad for instance? But maybe they have that bit already sorted out and we didn't actually hear about it?

Of course it has the extra extra benefit that it will mean that HAVOCK won't want to go to space either...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hidden Histories

At present I am reading a book called The Real Deadwood which purports to be a history of the town depicted in the HBO television series which I a recovering from my addiction to. In fact the HBO series has probably started a new gold rush of tourism for the actual town of Deadwood. But I don't think this book will contribute too much towards it as it is very put-downable and poorly written, however it is interesting to get the real story of some of the characters from the series.

One of the things which struck me about the show was that there seemed to be a number of similarities between the gold rush history of America and what happened here in 19th century Victoria. Visiting the genteel towns of Ballarat and Bendigo today, you would have a hard time seeing them as they were then, rough-as-guts semi-lawless frontier towns aflow with money and gold.

In fact the same could have been said about Melbourne and one of my favorite pictures at work is a very naive picture of Melbourne in 1836 which shows how rough and ready the place was. The thing to remember is that just 20 years later the town of Melbourne was setting up the first university and library in Australia, and would soon afterwards be a thriving centre of commerce and industry.

However the thing that is so appealing about a series like Deadwood wasn't the 'big picture' of history which it brought to life, rather it was the way in which the people and concerns of an era which is completely foreign to many people nowadays was able to become totally engrossing television. Rather then glossing over the less glamorous side of history it positively reveled in it..

So in this side of the water we have more then enough stories of our own to create some good television. Unfortunately it never really happens. The movie of Ned Kelly was strangely unsatisfying and the various outlaws and bushrangers of our history never seem to make a good transtition to the screen, becoming 'period costume dramas' rather than anything engaging or interesting. Even more recent histories like the current Underbelly series two, seem more like a bunch of guys dressing up in seventies clothes for a bad costume party then a realistic evocation of an era.

Anyway back on topic - I went to the launch of a new book the other night. Madame Brussells: This moral pandemonium which is published by the good people at Arcade Publications. They are committed to bringing to print some of the less known aspects of Melbourne's history and have published wonderful little books on the eccentric bookseller E.W. Cole and on the Making of Modern Melbourne and it has been working for them. Madame Brussells and her bordello was a name synonymous with the less salubrious aspects of 19th Melbourne, however in more recent times the names is associated with a rooftop cocktail bar which for some reason is deocrated with astroturf and the waits staff wear tennis outfits. However their jugs of Pimms are always a welcome treat...

Of course the books launch was held there which was fun and they will be having a more public launch a little closer to the site where the house of ill repute was actually located. So if you are in Melbourne on Wednesday 1st April at 6.00pm drop into the Coopers Inn (242 - 282 Exhibition Street) and take part in the official launch.

I am not sure if I will be there, I may be still reading my copy of the book, but it should be interesting.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wondering what to do with Uncle Kev's stimulus package???

You can always look here? Supposedly this is an Australian company with a pretty good product who are pricing their screens to make the most of Kevin's 900 buck handouts...
I would like to hear what Orin and any other tech-heads know about the product?
But it looks pretty good to me...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Alan Moore Knows The Score*

Barnes and I went and saw the Watchmen on Imax after our big feast last Friday. It was quite an experience and I thought that I must have been still hallucinating from all of the chilli in our Chilli Pork stewy thing - just like that episode of the Simpsons...

Arriving at the cinema we went and subjected ourselves to nearly three hours of imagery and loud sounds that were pretty bloody amazing. I had read Watchmen many years ago when it first came out as a graphic novel and basically set up the whole genre. The film is incredibly true to the book in so many ways - it replicates scenes and images exctly as they were depicted in the book, but it also suceeds in making the characters come to life as well.

I hacve heard some geeky criticisms of it on RRR that seemed to suggest that ithe films wasn't grungy enough and its CGI was all too slick. But I do have to ask these critics how else did they think a film-maker was going to replicate a 100 foot tall glowing blue naked man or a strange crystalline spaceship flying through the Mars atmosphere without some sort of CGI? I think it may have been a case of the technology having to catch up with the imagination of the original author/creator Alan Moore.

Anyway I enjoyed it a lot and so did Barnes (which probably goes with out saying) even though it was his second viewing in two days (he is committed to these things). He did mention Sharon's very pointed comment that basically the Director had replicated the graphic novel so closely that there was basically no room for any 'interpretation' by them. Which I think is right on the mark - if you compared the Batman 'Dark Knight' graphic novel with the film of the same name and there was nothing in common at all except for a 'gothic' sensibility, however a comparison between the Watchmen movie and the graohic novel is the graphic equivalent of 'word for word'...

If you want to know more then you will just have to go and see the movie and make up your own mind...

* lyric from Pop will Eat Itself song "Can You Dig It" on 1989 album This Is the Day...This Is the Hour...This Is This!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My first attempt at WW fanfic

Murph’s law

The camouflaged man crouched low in the bushes and scanned the blackness ahead of him along the barrel of his rifle. Suddenly there was scurrying movement ahead of him and then two low slung figures bounded away through the long grass towards the treeline.

“Well I guess I am not in Kansas anymore...” the old joke made him chuckle to himself under his breath as he watched the retreating backs of the two kangaroos through his night vision goggles as they passed his position. He would have taken a pot shot at the animals but he had heard that they made terrible eating and anyway this was supposed to be a fully tactical patrol of the base’s perimeter.

“When they got back to base maybe they could chuck a shrimp on the Barbie instead!” he thought. This time he actually laughed aloud as he recalled how that strange Aussie Quarter-Master named Havock had explained that Australians actually called them prawns and the shouting match that had ensued between the two groups of off duty soldiers last week, nearly degenerating into an all-out brawl.

Private Steve Murphy, known as Murph to his friends, felt rather then saw the shrivelling look that his patrol leader Corporal Wolf directed at him in the dark. He thought about explaining himself but realized that the patrol leader was probable too young to remember the Paul Hogan advertisements anyway. Besides which the whole tourism industry had taken a bit of a dive in the post-Wave world as well, in fact the concept of travelling anywhere for fun seemed incredibly stupid now.

So he kept quiet and moved onwards, stepping gingerly over some broken twigs.
Although he wondered what risk was there that anyone would hear anything in this godforsaken place they found themselves in now? After all of those years of thinking he would love to visit this country he now found himself stuck here patrolling a awful hellhole called Shoalwater Bay and it looked like he would be here for a long, long time...

It seemed like forever ago that his reservist unit had been called up and bustled over to Kuwait to wait for that new conflict to start. To tell the truth after 9/11 he had been busting his own chops to get over there and show the towelheads that they couldn’t snub their noses at the most powerful nation in the world in such a public and humiliating way.

However all of that had just paled into insignificance in the face of what happened next.

First there was the bewildering news about what they now called ‘The Wave’ which seemed to have obliterated the whole continental USA, and then all hell had broken loose in the Middle East. His unit had been happy to raise the black flag and let loose all of their rage and frustration on the enemy in front of them. But some of the things that he had seen and done at that time were now coming back to haunt him every night when he tried to sleep.

But he had to admit that the fighting was actually the easy part, no matter how tough it had been at the time. By the time the Wave happened everyone was primed and ready for a major offensive and so when the shooting started it was much easier to just fight and kill rather then think. The thousands of highly trained professional soldiers had just done what they did best at the time.
The thinking time came later when no-one was shooting at you, and it was much, much tougher to deal with…

It had hit the women particularly hard, especially those ones who were just reservists or national guardsmen with families at home. There were those ones who had thought that they had signed up for a short stint in uniform. Which of them would have ever expected that when they left their kids and husbands to head over to Saudi Arabia that they would be the ones who would still be left behind? Some of them may have thought that they could be wounded or even killed, but it had been inconceivable that their families would have been more at risk.

However it had also hit the guys pretty badly as well. Particularly once the frontline combat situation was all over. The ‘cleaning detail’ was the worst part and Murph had had more than his fair share of those, especially when he had pissed off Staff Sergeant Rhino by pinching his box of Cuban cigars.

Maybe he was just getting tired and cynical but there were just too many times when he had to clean up after some overmuscled young buck had suddenly been struck by the full realization that his 'ma and pa' weren’t going to be there for him when he got home anymore, in fact there wasn’t anywhere to call home and as a result had eaten one of their own bullets. It was getting so that there were certain officers who were calling for cracking down on soldiers having any access to ammo in their barracks. Especially after that recent incident with the grenades in the toilet block, the whole brigade had had to crap in a bucket for weeks afterwards.

However it could have been worse.

After all they could have been stationed in Germany when the Wave hit. He had heard that after the stories from Iraq had come out and the after that incident with the Israeli’s going nuclear on the whole Arab world that the Germany government had basically decided that it couldn’t risk having a series of heavily armed camps on its soil full of highly trained military forces who owed no allegiance to any existing government. The Bundeswehr had sealed off every US base behind a cordon of tanks, SAMS and soldiers, nothing went in and nothing came out until the US forces laid down their arms and walked out. But of course that was never going to happen. Apparently whole families were stuck on those bases living on nothing but MREs while the remaining US command structure tried to sort the situation out with the German government, after all no-one really wanted to get into a shooting war with people who until recently had been close allies.

And that was nothing compared to those countries which were trying to get any US serviceman they could lay their hands on to face war crimes tribunals for what had happened in Iraq before Israel dropped its nukes.

Coming back to reality from his pondering the past he ducked below the branch of a gum tree as the patrol kept on its way. The goggles gave everything a weird otherworldly green tint, but he didn’t really need them to know that there wasn’t much sightseeing around this broken landscape anyway. But supposedly that would all change soon.

According to that Howard fellow this would soon be home the largest concentration of American forces in the world. While not quite as hot as Iraq, it was certainly a dried out piece of dirt that used to be the Australian Army's training ground and as far as Murph was concerned they could keep it.

Murph had seen the Aussie Prime Minister when he had come to the base to give some speech and to be honest he wasn’t impressed with the short rodent like guy with a fixed grin whose eyes had flashed with fear whenever a black or Latino looking soldier had come too close. But he supposed that they would all have to get used to Prime-Minister-for-Life John Howard because he ran the place after all and now they would all be stuck here for quite some time.

“A new miracle of Dunkirk’ was what Howard had said in that speech and something about “making a new life here in the Lucky Country”. Unlike a lot of the other guys in his platoon Murph had read a lot of history books though and knew the whole ‘miracle’ thing was just the positive spin the Brits had put on what anyone else would call a crushing defeat.

He had to admit that it had felt like a defeat at the time too...

He had managed to avoid any of the long range patrols who had come back from the nuke zones, jumping off their Blackhawks stinking of sweat, fear and vomit even through their NBC suits. But even though the shooting had stopped no-one wanted to stay around anywhere in the Middle East any longer then necessary waiting for the fallout clouds to hit them. When the ships had appeared on the horizon there were crazy scenes on the docks and the beaches.

One particular sight stayed in his mind as row after row of Bradley fighting vehicles and Abrams tanks lit up like huge fireworks as the engineer teams blew them up with thermite charges because there wasn’t enough room on the ships for both men and equipment, and these days the men came first. The engineers had made jokes about how they were hosting was the world’s biggest bonfire but someone had forgotten the marshmallows, but in everyone’s eyes you could see the truth. They were all thinking ‘I hope we won’t need those vehicles where we are going’…

Back in the scrub at Shoalwater Bay, Murph carefully negotiated his way past an old rusty barbed wire fence from some ancient obstacle course. He knew this place well enough by now to know that they were nearly finished their patrol. Soon they would be able to relax and head down to the mess, grab a bite to eat and chill out in front of the television. Not that there was much to watch, but even here they did seem to have all of the old American sitcoms. There were a lot of other differences though… ranging from the weird plastic money through to the fact that they drove on the wrong side of the road and he wasn't even going to think about that obscenity they called football here.

When their convoy had headed out of the Gulf no-one had known for sure where they would be going. Rumours had circulated like wildfire through the unit. They were going to Diego Garcia, then they were off to Hawaii, then it was Japan or even Korea. No-one really knew what was going on in those places, anymore then they knew what was happening in the USA. Finally the word had come down the line that they were headed for Australia and everyone had cheered. They all knew Australia, or at least thought that they did.

When they arrived at the docks in Fremantle there were the usual speeches by the politicians. Murph supposed that Howard fellow was probably there, as he had recently declared martial law and made himself Prime-Minister-For-Life. But Murph didn’t see or hear him and anyway at that time he didn’t really know anything about the local political situation. There was nothing about ‘un-Australian elements’, 'state of emergency', ‘detention centres’ or even ‘house to house searchs’ at that time. Instead there was a lot of talk about ‘shared history and values’ and ‘mutual protection from mutual threats’ before they were hustled through a police cordon onto a train for a trip across a continent.

Murph had never been too keen on air travel but that was the longest and most boring train trip that he could ever recall. It was also about when the first of the ‘cleaning details’ had begun. Stuck on a train in a brutal looking alien landscape for hours on end, that was when the reality had started to hit a few of the men and women who had faced some of the worst firefights but just couldn’t face this new future. A couple of them had probably just thrown themselves out the doors of the train without anyone knowing, but Murph’s section had to clean up when one hardened Sergeant ate his 9mil in the crapper.

It had all been pretty messy and the train couldn’t stop.

The patrol continued on towards the main gate of the base and Murph sensed something different in the activity around entrance. The loud bass sound of hiphop being played very loud on a stereo came from the direction of the accoimodation tents and there were cheers coming from a crowd of troops clustered around the entrance. Groups of men and women were running towards the main tent where there was noise coming from a large screen.

“What’s happening?” asked the Rhino of the sentries as they reported in, pointing to the excited crowd.
“It’s gone man, the Wave, it’s gone… we just heard.”

The rest of the patrol absorbed this news. The Wave had dominated every aspect of their lives for the past twelve months and now just as suddenly as it had appeared, it was gone. Murph realized that this put a whole new spin on things, soon they would all be going home and everything would be okay.

But then again Murph had always been an optimist…
End of episode one of Murph's adventures in Oz...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Yeah right...

Ok it has been a while since I got the urge to write anything here. Basically have been frantically busy at work, weekends seem to be full of driving around looking at houses and apartments. So far spectacularly unsuccesfully I have to say.

However there has been some good news on the horizon, Sweet Thang got her new passport back, went down to Vic Roads and passed her learners test first time (I am probably too ashamed to rememberhow many times it took me as a late bloomer to just pass the learners test). So tomorrow she will be out on her first driving lesson - so if you value your skin it may be wise to stay away from any roads or streets near Essendon or Moonee Ponds around 4.00pm on Saturday.

Also managed to finish series one of The Wire which has been fantastic, right up there with Sopranos and The Shield as far as cop shows go. Well written and paced. Supposedly based upon real life, it certainly had the look and feel of the real thing. The strange thing is that now having gotten the bug I headed back to JB Hi Fi to buy Series 2 and the price has snuck back up from fifteen bucks to fifty again.

I also heard from Heather and Tim and they are both fine, a bit sick of evacuating their place after 3 separate departures, but this week has been cold and wet, the newspapers seem to be full of photos of CFA firemen singing or dancing in the rain and so I am hoping that the worst of the bushfires are all gone away for the next 12 months.

Tonight I am off to Mornington Peninsula for an exhibition opening and then back to the grind for the weekend. The pattern so far seems to be we drop in to an open for inspection and like a place and then when we make a return visit the rose-coloured glasses fall off and we see all the problems with it. But we are ever hopeful. The new Tomtom GPS (a very nice Birthday pressie) also takes a lot of the arguments out of actually findinga nd getting to places quickly though.

Next week Barnes and I are catching up for another Dainty Sichuan lunch followed by three hours in the Imax watching the Watchmen...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Surreal Times

It is hard to believe that this sort of thing is happening about 40 minutes drive from where I live. We have been watching and reading the stories about what has happened to people who may even include people I have met for all I know. At work a lot of people knew or had something to do with whole families who may now be gone, it is at times like this that it becomes very apparent that the whole six degrees of separation thing is very very true...

The scary thing is that I actually had a pretty good weekend. Which is why it all seems so surreal. Admittedly most of Saturday was a complete write-off because of the heat - it was just so incredibly intense - according to the news the highest recorded temperature in Melbourne's history at 46.8 degrees (centigrade) - but according to me when I ventured outside it was like poking your face into a blast furnace. I am not at all surprised that it was like a perfect storm of ingredients for massive bushfires - but was not at all prepared for the actual news.

In Queensland when it is hot the accepted wisdom is to open up your doors and windows and try and get some breeze into your place. Here in Melbourne the opposite is true, you close your doors and windows, put the blinds down and sit in the dark with the fan or aircon on full blast. We were blocking the bottoms of doors to stop any wind coming in because it was so incredibly hot it would have turned the house into a little oven.

We just watched cable television and I finished off my copy of the Berlin Noir trilogy by Philip Kerr which has just been the most awesome read, even the second time around. So sitting at home drinking lots of water, eating fresh fruit and reading - while not the most productive way to spend the day was certainly relaxing and enjoyable. The evening news didn't seem to have many surprises - the bush fires looked bad - but no worse then the annual bushfire news.

The next day we didn't really watch the telvision until really late in the evening on Sunday and by then the news had completely changed for the worse - whole towns destroyed, hundreds of people dead.

It seemed totally surreal - because on Sunday we had gone with a bunch of friends to celebrate my birthday at a Greek restaurant - ate heaps of wonderful food, dranks lots of red wine, and had an excellent time, so good in fact that we kept on going - up the road to Mr Wilkinson for drinks and later to some other place for bite to eat. Getting home very late, happy and inebriated... The next day was a continuation of the birthday theme because I had organised the day off to have with breakfast with Sweet Thang and then off to see Gran Torino which has Clint once again on top of his form as the crankiest grandad you ever did see.

So while I was celebrating turning $#%*, people elsewhere were already in mourning for their friends, family, homes and communities. It is terrible thing and we will all do whatever we can to help them now. I have friends in Blackwood (Heather and Tim) and Kyneton (Sam and Paulie) who all should be ok according to the news reports I have seen, but you never know and I haven't heard back from any of them.

The Premier has annouced an enquiry into it - but having felt the hot wind on my face on Saturday I know that there are no individuals we can blame for this - experienced bushfire survivors are all saying that even the most effective of plans was completely useless against these fires - driven by hot winds, drought affected countryside and lack of water.

As for those people who still deny climate change - for me sitting in a place where one end of the country is underwater and the other is suffering from the worst drought in recorded history - I can't help but think that there is a connection between these extreme weather events and the man-made climate change...

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Butcher's Grill

Last night went off to catch up with Bedak and Chaz who were in town accompanied by Nautilus, Bangar and Havock. Barnes had piked out at the last minute and everyone was already getting started by the time I turned up.

All went well at the venue, we had the separate dining room which seemed to come with dedicated waitress (who dealt with a bunch of big guys pretty well) who looked after us all very well. There were three small mountains of cooked meats and seafood in the centre of the table for us to get stuck into and lots and lots of red wine was also consumed.

The converstaion ranged across the usual topics - the demise of J-space, JB, Karada, Murphy, Lermontov, as well as jobs, life the universe and everything... Although Bangar's stories about duck executions, Havock's discussions about 'explodey goodness' and Bedak's farming tales must have made the rest of the place wonder what was going on in the dining room.

Afterwards we headed down to the Carlton Hotel to get our photo taken with the Rhino and things went pretty pear shaped. The door nazis wouldn't let us in because (and get this!) " No suits after 9.00pm" well as the only person wearing a suit (a grey Ted Baker) and having come straight from work - I took great affront at this. It made me think I was still in Brisbane because surely this wouldn't be happening in stylish Melbourne? This was the sort of stupid thing that one came to expect from going out in that town - but Melbourne bars have always been more laid back...

What really pisses me off is that I have been into that place lots and lots of time and this is the first time that something like this has happened. It also amazes me that in these GFC times a business can let the meathead bouncers at the front door turn away cashed up business - but it is their loss.

I have to say that if they had of just said - "you guys are too pissed" we probably all would have just gone 'fair enough' and moved on. As it was we went to the next bar down the road, who were more than happy to take our money.

So today I am feeling a little bit worse for wear and back at work. Nautilus took photos and I think we have to leave drop off a brown paper bag full of money in a public spot or he will publish them online... so had better go and hit the ATM!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

This week

Yep can't wait for the burger get-together tonight - Chaz and Bedak have come a long way to hang out with the old Melbourne crew. Of course there are last minute work hitches - I now have to host a litlle shindig here because my boss pulled out at the last minute, but it should be all over in time to get down to the Butcher Grill before entrees start.

Otherwise it has been a busy time - looking at the possibility of making a much belated entry into the property market (may have to grill Chaz about that) but am also concerned about all the doom and gloom - I am trying to work out of the next few months is the best time ever to buy or the worst time? Interest rates are down, prices are down and the government is throwing money at people wanting to buy - seems to make sense to me but I am open to suggestions.

On the weekend we did a bit of a recce - visiting a few open for inspections in areas we may be interested in. The weirdest was a townhouse in the old Pentridge Prison site, once one of Australia's most awful prisons but now being turned into upmarket apartments and townhouses! However I have heard that is happening all over the place and Boggo Road in Brisbane is also getting turned into apartments - at least one friend said to me he hopes that they have rooftop terraces?

I don't think so - most of the site is like a terribel A.V. Jennings nightmare although at least the part we looked at was in the old workshops and had that 'renovated old industrial' feel - bluestone walls, old cast iron lamposts etc. However the 10 metre high back wall overwhelmed the tiny little yard and I am not sure about the guard towers either. The actual 'townhouse' was also tiny - may as well have been in cell block A.

Although Coburg and Brunswick look pretty good in terms of access to work etc - all of the places were pretty small but that is probably just the case here in Melbourne. I am not sure about how far I want to commute every day...

Next week is my birthday so will be having some sort of get-together with some other friends as well.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Get into history

Finally finished Tom Wolfe book called 'I am Charlotte Simmons' on the weekend which was actually pretty good. I have waded through a few of his more recent tomes and supposedly he is the master of observation or some such nonsense. However you could claim some link between him and JB because I think he was one of the instigators of 'new journalism' (along with the madder then mad Hunter S Thompson) with books like the Electric Cool Aid Acid Test and other looks at 60s sub-cultures.
However seeing as the long weekend was all about commemorating the landing of the first colonists in Australia some many years ago - I hit a few historical books over the weekend as well.
I had picked up a couple of books that have recently been published by Arcade Publications about some aspects of local history. One of the great things about Melbourne is the support given to small publishers and these guys are small publishers who make small books (quite literally as the things fit into a trouser pocket) about the history of Melbourne. One about the eccentric bookselling genius E. W. Cole whose enormous old house is around the corner from my place in Essendon. The other was about 'Making Modern Melbourne' and was a great little condensed history of the city.
I actually finished both of them really quickly and then moved onto another book Flavours of Melbourne: a culinary biography which gives you an insight into the different foods of different eras of the city - from pre-contact through to colonial days, the gold rush, Marvellous Melbourne and I am now up to the Great Depression era. Each chapter outlines how people lived, the food they ate at home, where they went out to and concludes with recipes from the era - so if you want to know how to cook kangaroo steamer, devilled sardines or mock turtle soup - you can start there.
Finally on Oz Day after a traditional barbie of flattened tandoori chicken where I managed to set fire to the BBQ - we relaxed with some beers and watched episode one of The First Australians which should be compulsory viewing for everyone down here in Oztrailya...
So now I feel a much more well rounded human being and know some more stuff about my new hometown and the land of my birth.

You know its summer when...

I knew it was definitely summer the other day when I looked up from the back yard to see Elvis flying past.

For those of you who live OS this didn't mean that I had been partaking of too many presecription drugs, rather that I saw a bloody enormous helicopter that is based out at Essendon Aerodrome in order to fight bushfires. I think they come over from the USA because once we had dinner next to an entire group of yanks all wearing Elvis t-shirts at the local Indian curry place.

So it is bushfire season and bloody hot at present. I haven't been following the weather reports but the news is full of stories about railway lines buckling, trains being cancelled and yesterday morning on RRR they were talking about birds falling out of the sky, something that Sweet Thang swears she witnessed the other day!

I am sure we also drove past a temperature reading that said it was 47 degrees (celsius- I don't know what that means in American but it is bloody hot down here) the other day as well...

So at present whenever I venture outside it is like putting your face into a blast furnace and it is just too hard to get energised or enthused about much at all.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hunting Rhino...

Rhinos have always been something which fascinate us. But I have been concerned at the lack of any presence of our former Jspace compatriot known as Rhino.
At first I thought that he may have fled to escape the carnage in the Congo but apparently he may have just been looking for love?

But then again he is probably too smart to rely on the element of chance and so would be found advertising online or elsewhere.
But if so his shyness doesn't seem to be working as he doesn't want to photographed...
But then again this report indicates that he may have been succesful in his quest for love.
I just hope that the HDLW approves???

Monday, January 12, 2009

Spag skippy

On the weekend tried my hand at cooking up a pot of 'Spag Skippy' with some kangaroo mince I picked up at Coles.

Now as a cook I am not exactly up in JB's league, but I do know how to make a pretty decent bolognaise, or at least that is what I call it. It is based upon the stuff my mum made and I think she learned it from the old Margaret Fulton Cookbook back in the 60s (by the way I didn't realise she was a well deserved living national treasure before). However I know that what we Aussies serve up here is probably a lot more meaty and herby then any real Italian would recognise as a true bolognaise.

Now I have tried kangaroo on more then one occasion at restaurants and pubs. It usually comes grilled and is very, very tasty.

However I probably should have read this guy's blog or looked it up before I started because the bolognaise just lacked something, tasting very dead. Or is that the 'gamey' taste that I should have expected?

Now I have a huge pot of the stuff sitting in the fridge and neither Sweet Thang nor I are overly enthused at the prospect or polishing off the leftovers.

It is times like this that I wish I had a big dog...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Driving Ms Daisy...

Sweet Thang was meant to go and get a Learners Permit this morning. She had booked in to do the test and everything.

Now this is great news. I myself was a late bloomer when it came to learning to drive and only got my licence in my mid-thirties, because I got a job that said 'must have current drivers license' in the criteria. Luckily no-one actually asked about that until after I had started the job and had been rushing through those lessons. But once I got a license it was like 'hello - what have I been waiting for???' and I haven't stopped driving ever since.

I also have many other friends who were late starters in the motorist stakes for whatever reasons. In Sweet Thang's case, she has been an inner city girl for a long time, uses public transport because it is more environmentally friendly and rides her bike quite a lot, plus despite the whinging of various sections of the community Melbourne has one of the best public transport systems of any Australia city. I mean we have trams!!!

So when I met Sweet Thang and we started going out it was the most natural thing in the world to just say, 'hey no problem' whenever she needed a lift somewhere, or 'hey I'll just drop by and pick you up' if we were heading somewhere. However two years later and we are living together in the burbs and it is a major pain to have to always both go to the shops to get a few things, or have to plan my weekend around getting her to a hair appointment, or whatever.

It isn't major relationship counselling stuff, but it is just a bit annoying and niggling... I have dropped the ocasional hint about how she would love the independence and how it would make such a huge difference in her life etc etc. Not enough to enough to qualify as nagging, but what I would like to see as 'positive encouragement', but she has been immune to my entreaties and blandishments.

Until now.

She ended up staying on in Melbourne for a week on her own prior to Christmas while I was in Brisbane swanning around, having barbies with mates, looking for the world's hottest burger etc. Originally her work had said that she would be working up until Christmas Eve and she had made plans etc based on that, bought her plane ticket and was super organised. However about three weeks before Christmas they changed their minds and told everyone that the office would be closed from 20 December until 12 January as a 'cost-cutting measure'. So all of her plans went out the window and it was way too expensive to change her flight arrangements with such short notice because in Australia the flights that week before Christmas are just insane.

So she ended up staying at home for a week, feeling stuck in Essendon, with a perfectly good car just sitting outside unused. So she decided that it was time to make a change and go and get a license. Of course it is always better when someone makes a decision themselves, so it has all worke dout for the best.

However last night we hit a big snag. We spent the evening turning the house upside down looking for her passport (she is Canadian), which seems to have gone walkabout. The annoying thing is we are positive that it is somewhere in the house but we just can't find it anywhere...

So no ID, no drivers test!

So I am going to be continuing my limosine duties for a while longer.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chaz is coming...

For those of you who are also Jspace refugees you should be aware that Chaz is coming all the way from Perth just to have dinner with us here in Melbourne - details here.

It should be a good night...

By the way does anyone know where Minx is these days? She was a bit annoyed that she missed out on the last Melbourne get-together.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A long time between drinks...

I am sooo very excited...

Tonight I am off to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in concert at some dodgy place in the CBD.

Yes I am off to see the master of dark rock and biblical apocalyptic lyrics, the prince of porn star moustaches and comb-overs and the greatest purveyor of the swamp music and purloined southern gothic aesthetics.

The last big concert I went to was to see The Pixies at the V Festival in Sydney a couple of years ago, which was huge and corporate and I had a ball, just me and Sherriff Luke and his gal bouncing around and singing the words along with Frank Black and about 30-40,000 other people...

I am sure that this won't be on that same scale. Back in the days of student politics and all that stuff I actually put on a Nick Cave concert in the old main refec at UQ, I don't remember that much of it because I spent most of the night helping out at the bar and never got a chance to meet him - which was pretty stupid of me - but hey I was young and stupid then.

After that I saw him at a couple of Livid Festivals and remember after a great concert at the old Festival Hall in Brisbane my friend Julianne and her then partner Grant McLennan brought him along to Ricks Bar in the valley to have a drink with us. Once again I didn't have much to say to him then apart from the usual 'great concert' statements, which were pretty redundent.

Anyway it has been a few years since I have seen him play, it was always abit harder to make it to gigs from regional Queensland and I have kept up with his albums. However Sweet Thang is also a bit of a fan and just before Christmas I was reading an article about him playing here in Melbourne and I just went and ordered the tickets straight away on an impulse. We went to see the Nick Cave exhibition a couple of times last year (which I understand will be heading to Brisbane sometime soonish) and we have enjoyed his latest album way too much.

He is in Oz as the 'curator' of the All Tomorrow's Parties Festival which of course is not happening in Melbourne, instead the Victorian gig is miles away at Mount Buller - although why they would have a music festival at a ski resort in the middle of summer is not readily apparent. It is like a dream festival where someone gets the chance to put together their own best lineup of acts (the 'curator') and then it just happens. I have to admit to some confusion because I thought that it would only be happening at Mt Buller but there is also one happening in Sydney and even in Brisbane - so if you can get along to it you really, really should. Because it will just be amazing.

I am not sure whether it a definite connection but the title All Tomorrow's Parties is also a book by one of my favorite authors William Gibson and a song by Nico and the Velvet Underground...

Anyway I am missing out on the big gig, but pretty happy to get along and see Mr Cave and his band play tonight. As for actually meeting him again - if I am not starstruck again - I doubt that it will happen in the near future.

But you never know - apparently he has a new book coming out and that opens up all sorts of possibilities in my line of work.