23 December 2010

Movember Tales

"well it wasn't an online convention for Buffy The Vampire Slayer...a fun way to raise money whilst looking like a gay 1970's porn star"

Last month I participated in a worldwide event that was something I have wanted to do for a long time. What was it? I hear you scream. Well, it wasn't an online convention for fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer (though the idea does have some merit) but rather the ever growing annual event called 'Movember'.

For the anoraks amongst us, Movember is an annual event whereby males (and, I suppose in some cases, females!! - eek), grow a moustache for the month of November. During this time the mo grower aka 'mo brotha' or his female support aka 'mo sista' raise money for men's health issues. It is, in truth, a fun way to raise money whilst looking like a gay 1970's porn star.

Now I would not know what a Seventies porn star looked like, but mo's were very big (and hairy) in that decade of glam rock, union strikes and slinkies. So I embarked on my mo growing journey. Where would it lead me? would I be able to raise money for this great cause? The answer was 'yes' on both counts.

The mo journey actually led me to, ahem, Luna Park, for the annual Movember party. Now I wasn't sure whether my sad Mexican bandit mo and I would fit in with the gathering of the brothas and sistas. So I arrived on a glorious Movember night with some trepidation. In hindsight I needn't have worried.

Walking through the ticket barrier was like entering the Twilight Zone. Every guy had a mo. Some sistas also sported a mo but their ones were definitely fake ones. Literally there were mo's everywhere. I really thought I had transported through time to an earlier era when mo's were de rigeur, A large number of brothas had dressed up for the part. So, obviously, there were a large number of Village People, lots of cops with the mirror tinted glasses, top gun pilots and even a guy dressed up as Paul Stanley from Kiss.

Walking around, whilst supping on a beer, was entertaining in itself. There were a bunch of elMO's. MOhatma Gandhi, MOahs ark (with a full ark to carry around), Sherlock MOlmes, MOnopoly banker and more Mexicans than you could poke a stick at! For the record I went in my work clothes and not fancy dress.

After walking around for a while I went on a few of the rides including the fantastic MOuse. It was then time for the Movember awards. These included Mo of the year, Lame mo, Mo sista, Mo in character, Mo brotha and a few other ones. I went into the big top together with hundreds of other mo's to see the awards.

The awards were good fun I have to admit. Even Baby John Burgess was there to present the awards to the winners. I was very amazed as to the lengths that the winners went to. There had obviously been some impressive planning along the way. It made my mo feel insignificant but at least I had one much better than the winner of the lame mo!

Afterwards it was dance time. Naturally it was retro and that great mo himself, Freddie Mercury, was being played regularly. Everyone decided to get down and boogie. I even glimpsed a Pharaoh being carried by slaves through the dance crowd.

Finally, I decided to head for the Dogem's before making my way home. It had been a strange but uncannily enjoyable night with lots of amazing characters. Long live the spirit of Movember!

FOOTNOTE: The mo and I amicably parted company on the first of December. The mo was last seen swirling down the bathroom sink.

24 November 2010

Heavy Metal Snow White and Beach Balls!

"my hearing has diminished or it could be I have too much earwax...Snow White did a backwards flip into the hands of a minder"

A couple of weeks ago I went with friends to the Acer Arena to see those loud and proud (and anti Napster) dudes that go by the collective name of 'Metallica'. Now I have seen them before on their last tour just after James Hetfield's well publicised rehab sessions.

Now I should say that I am not a huge fan of Metallica but certainly like some of their music and they do put on an awesome show. You always get 110% from them. I have also found them not to be as loud as you may think. Yes, they are loud, but I have heard louder groups. It could be that as I have got older my hearing has diminished (probably the case) or it could be I have too much earwax!!

You would have thought that these bad ass soldiers of metal would be snarling and growling all the time. Far from it, in fact. For the whole concert, until the end of it, there was not one swear word! not one 'fuck' or even a lame 'shit'. Maybe they are getting old too like me! Even Lars the drummer looks like a part time drummer who works during the day as a stockbroker!

The concert itself was great. There was a stage in the middle of the arena and the group, by and large, moved around a lot so that all four points of the arena got to see the group. There were some special effects - lasers and flames during the performance too.

Towards the end James Hetfield announced they were going to play a cover song of a group that strongly influenced Metallica when they were just starting out. Straight away my mind turned to Diamond Head and Blue Oyster Cult who were strong influences on them. I was, however, very wrong. The group in question was Queen and Metallica did a great version of 'Stone Cold Crazy'. Now I love the music of Queen but would not have thought that the camp theatrics of one Mr Mercury would not have influenced Metallica! This was the first of three surprises that night.

The second one happened towards the end of the concert. On the side of the stage was a young girl (probably 4 or 5 years old) dressed up as Snow White. She was wearing huge headphones - presumably to save hear tender hearing. For the life of me I could not imagine any of the Metallica crew having a daughter dressed as Snow White! Obviously it was one of their children. I could imagine a daughter of the band wearing a Gothic type outfit but not Snow White!

The final surprise happened during the second encore. From the (Pat) rafters of the arena hundreds of black beach balls were released onto the band and audience alike. There were beach balls everywhere!! Again, I don't really associate Metallica with beach balls. Maybe, a dead rat or something dark but not an item that you would take to the beach. To be fair to them the balls did have the Metallica logo on them.

In a perverse moment, one of the band kicked one of the beach balls off the stage and it hit Snow White fair and square in the face. David Beckham could not have done it better. Snow White did a backward flip into the hands of a minder. Within seconds tears were flowing as the little girl was rushed across the stage to the safety, one presumes, of her mother.

So there you have it. A great concert, a Queen cover version, Snow White and lots of beach balls. Have Metallica mellowed? Erm yes and no. They can still certainly rock with the best of them!

28 October 2010

Isn't It ironic

"my souffle making skills have improved beyond measure....obviously the architect had a sense of humour!"

A few long years ago Alanis Morrissette released a song called 'Ironic'. It was a worldwide hit and is probably her most well known song. For the nerds reading this, the single was released in 1996. The songs lyrics revolve around the great ironies that is life itself.

The reason for mentioning this is not to promote the song or Alanis' music career but to mention it because I have come across a few ironies recently. What are these type of ironies that I have discovered? Well, dear friend, read on.

A few weeks ago I came across the Mosman Daily. It is a local, free newspaper that is delivered to residents in the lower north shore of Sydney. Nothing unusual or ironic about that is there? However, the irony is that the Mosman Daily is a weekly newspaper!! You would have thought that given it's not so daily frequencies that a name change would have been in order.

Following on from this we have a couple of women's magazines that too are similarly ironic. Now I must confess that when I am at a hairdressers I love looking at the gossip magazines. To say they are generally trashy is a bit of an understatement. Having said that, my souffle making skills have improved beyond measure!

Anyway, one of these magazines 'Womans Day' comes out on a weekly basis. Similarly, the 'Women's Weekly' comes out monthly. To quote the words of the great Rove McManus "what the...". In fact, to call them magazines is quite ironic....

Moving away from magazines, Sydney has an iconic building that falls into this ironic category. In the CBD you will find a building called Australia Square. It is close to Circular Quay and boasts a revolving restaurant at the top of it. Nothing unusual with that, you would think. However, the irony is that Australia Square is actually a circular building! Obviously the architect had a sense of humour.

Well these are a few of my ironic things. Maybe you have some too. If so let me know. In the meantime I will leave you with this. Did you know that you can catch a bus in the CBD of Sydney to a place called Round Corner? To date I am still trying to find this place. Maybe it's around the corner after all!

12 October 2010

Questions and Answers

"allow for inflation and say something like 'well that's the $123,267 question...a tinker is a mender of pots and kettles'

Recently at a work meeting the Project Manager said a couple of things which got me thinking. Now I should state that the Project Manager said more than a couple of things, in fact he said quite a lot! In my experience they can talk as much as politicians (without th e rhetoric). Our Project Manager certain does suffer from a case of verbal diarrhoea at times. For the record, I do respect him and think he is very good at what he does.

Anyway, he said a couple of things that woke me from my stupor (be honest, does anyone find long meetings exiting?) and i used my cheap ball point pen to jot them down. What was it that he said that got my inquisitive radar going? Read on, dear reader and all will be revealed.

The first thing he sad was "well, that is the $64,000 question" That got me thinking, where did this expression come from? Also, if it is a fairly old saying shouldn't we allow for inflation and say something like "well that's the $123,267 question"

So I put on my Sherlock Holmes cape and started investigating this saying. Naturally Mr Google was my trusted and very able companion. This is what I discovered...

The phrase "the $64,000 question" originated from an American television show which was called, not surprisingly, "the $64,000 question" (they were very big on originality in the Fifties). For the nerds out there the show ran from 1955 to 1958. Basically contestants would be asked questions and would earn money starting at $1 up to $64,000. The questions would get harder as the contestant progressed.

The show became so popular that the President of the day, Eisenhower, could not be interrupted when it was on. Also, it was the only show of its era to knock "I Love Lucy" off as the number one show on US television. Nowadays we have "who wants to be a millionaire?" which is very similar to the "64,000 question" show.

The second thing that the Project Manager said was "I don't think he will give a tinker's cuss". Now I should say that the PM is English like myself. So I thought it would be great to look into where this originated from. This is what I found...

It would appear that there are conflicting stories regarding the origins of this. So the $64,000 question is what is the true origin? Well, I like the following version:

"Origin 1830 - 40 from tinkers' alleged habit of cursing frequently (hence weakening the force of a curse). For the Celine Dion fans out there a 'tinker' is a mender of pots and kettles, an itinerant.

So there you have it. Who would have thought that a long drawn out project meeting could be so enlightening!

25 September 2010

Boot Camp

"maybe they watched too many Vietnam war movies when they were growing up...whatever the case, these boot camp instructors are scary and dangerous"

There is a phenomenon that has overwhelmed Sydney and probably most other cities around the world - certainly in the western world. What is it? I hear you say. Well it's not Justin Beiber - though this young pup seems to have well and truly made his mark - even if he does need a haircut and should learn how to shave. It is, however, the phenomenon known as 'boot camp'.

Now, I for one am a great advocate of fitness regimes. Without a doubt they do help us all in our quest for a healthy life (mental note not to eat that chocolate bar that is staring at me!). However, the concept of boot camp truly baffles me. Let me explain.

I can understand people signing up for a boot camp, but I cannot understand why you would sign up to get fit and be abused at the same time! You see, dear reader, that a lot of the boot camp instructors seem to think they are drill sergeants in the army and spew forth military style commands. Maybe they watched too many Vietnam war movies when they were growing up or listened to too many ABBA records. .

Most days, as I walk to the local railway station, I see a few boot camps in action. Even when the weather is seemingly bad (ie: cold and raining) there is always an instructor putting his, extremely wet class, through their paces. I have visions of the instructor saying "give me 10, you horrible little urchin!". Sadly the urchin always complies.

So I have a theory about these type of instructors. Most of them must have failed their army entrance exam and want to exact their revenge on the rest of us. Alternatively, maybe they were picked on at school by pupils and teachers alike and decided to get even by becoming qualified instructors. Whatever the case, these boot camp instructors are scary and dangerous. Even more so than politicians and Celine Dion and that is saying something!

The crazy thing about it is that these manic instructors actually get paid to put people through the pain barrier and to spew forth a litany of abuse. To me it just seems insane.

If you really want to get fit why not just go for a run or a bike ride. Or failing this join a gym!

12 September 2010

5,000 and onwards!

A few days ago my blog finally cracked the 5,000 hit mark. Compared to lots of other blogs it's not that big of an achievement. However, to me, myself and I it is a landmark.

It has taken a tad over 3 years to reach this, and it is something that I never thought I would reach when I set out on my first blog back in July 2007. Now I cannot wait to hit the 10,000 figure - hopefully not in three years time!

A big thank you to all the visitors to my blog. My readership has increased and I now have a number of subscribers which, for me, is fantastic. Please keep reading my blogs and feel free to 'spread the word'.

Finally, I love reading comments - both good and, erm, not so good so please leave me your feedback.

My next blog will be published very soon - stay tuned!

25 August 2010

Supermarkets and DVDs

"I do not have a supermarket fetish but was in one to buy some bread (honest!)...you have probably spent too much time in a convent, monastery, collecting elastic bands or playing PlayStation!"

There I was one lunchtime wandering around a supermarket. Now I should state up front that I do not have a supermarket fetish but was in one to buy some bread (honest!). After I picked up a wholemeal loaf (healthy choice of course), I walked up and down a few of the aisles. Truth be known I was probably bored. It was then that I came across the DVD section. Now it should be stated that compared to supermarkets in other parts of the world, the DVDs available in a Coles or Woolies in Australia is very limited indeed.

The DVDs are normally kept close to the checkouts. My theory is that as you get bored queueing up to be served that you will grab a DVD and purchase it! Sure enough I was in a queue when I picked up a DVD to read more about it. It was a movie from the 1960's that had the biggest stars of the era. It had a rating on it, which they all do, and it was PG (Parental Guidance). Now there was nothing unusual with that but underneath it was written the words 'sexually alluring'.

This got my attention as I had never seen that before. Also, I cannot imagine a movie of the 1960's being alluring in a sexual manner. Although I am sure that sex was popular in those halcyon days. It still seemed a tad strange to me so I decided to do some investigation.

With my anorak in tow I wanted to analyse the words 'sexually alluring'.

First off, if you don't know what 'sexually' means then you have probably spent too much time in a convent or monastery, collecting elastic bands or playing PlayStation! For the purposes of this blog I will not elaborate on its definition.

However, 'alluring' is defined as - very attractive, enticing, tempting, seductive, fascinating and charming. All very good adjectives indeed.

So the interpretation of the rating for the movie (of which I cannot remember the title of) is that it is sexually enticing or charming! Hardly one to get hot under the collar about. There again it was the 1960's!

This has got me thinking about some alternative wording that could be used when rating a current movie. Now I am okay with the main ratings - G (General), PG (Parental Guidance), M (Mature), MA (Mature Accompanied) and R (restricted), but I have come up with some additional words to go with the rating. So here, dear reader, are my suggestions to the Classifications Board:

"contains crap acting"
"storyline too hard to understand"
"boring parts all the way through"
"guaranteed to send you to sleep"
"don't bother it is really bad"

If you have any other suggestions then please drop me a line....

07 August 2010

Slang and Things!

"yes I am an ex-banker. Please keep it quiet and don't spread it about...To me '101' is a bus number.

Recently something dawned on me. Now that is an amazing thing in itself. However, I realised that in today's fast paced society we are using more and more slang than ever before. Now I don't mean Internet slang like 'lol' or 'imho' but slang that is used in everyday life.

There were two pieces of slang that struck me as having become more popular. The first one is '24/7'. I know that it means that something is available all week. That is 24 hours for 7 days. Now if the Beatles had there way with the song 'eight days a week' then it would be '24/8'.

To me '24/7' means that the fantastic show 24, with Jack Bauer, will be shown on Channel 7! That would make perfect sense. Otherwise a person would say something like 'available all hours of each day'. I am not sure how '24/7' came to be so popular but it would certainly have been in the last 10 years.

Another modern day slang is '101'. What this means is a beginners introduction to say, risk management. In business circles '101' has become extremely popular. To me '101' is a bus number. It was the bus that took me from my parents home to my job seven miles away in a bank. Yes I am an ex-banker. Please keep it quiet and don't spread it about! Oh, that's banker with a 'b' and not a 'w'.

Technology isn't immune either. Recently Apple released the iPad. Now I have to admit the marketing around it is fantastic but personally I am a bit sceptical and will stick to net books and laptops. Having said that surely the iPad is a digital women's sanitary pad! Phew, I think I got away with that comment. No offence to all the ladies out there!

Terrorism has also contributed to our newly found slang. Who can ever forget the atrocities of 911? Obviously this relates to the events that unfolded on the 11th September in 2001. To me though 911 is the number before 912 and the number after 910. Our laziness in saying 911 in comparison to the 11th September are adding to the growing list of slang.

Well that's all I could think of for now so I'll be back 24/7 with a 101 on how to write blogs!

03 July 2010

World Cup And All That!

"great beaches, fantastic cities and Kylie Minogue (well maybe not Kylie)...my consumption of caffeine has increased dramatically"

I am feeling tired a lot recently. Now it's nothing with to do with long working hours, or going to bed really late or even collecting stamps. It's got to do with the football World Cup. Now, obviously I am not at the finals. After all, England overlooked me for Rooney. Then again, I could have probably played much better that Wayne! One day England will see my silky skills....at least in my dreams!

You see, living in Australia has lots of benefits - good weather, great beaches, fantastic cities and Kylie Minogue (well maybe not Kylie). However there is a huge downside. It is called 'time zones'. The thing is, if us in Australia want to watch one of the top world sporting events then we have to either stay up to the early hours of the morning, or wake up at, say, 4am!

Naturally, it can take a toll on you. A few days ago, England played Slovenia at midnight and a few hours later Australia played Serbia. This was followed by a large number of fans getting ready to go to work. From my point of view my consumption of caffeine has increased dramatically!

Despite the lack of sleep, it has to be said that the World Cup has been addictive. Admittedly the first round of group games were generally tedious at times. Since then the tournament has warmed up (unlike the Sydney weather) and there has been some great football (or soccer) played. Even Australia performed well after their drubbing to the slick Germans.

Now I am certainly no good at tipping winners but I did say Spain before the first game. Mind you, a week or two prior I was spruiking for Argentina. Whoever wins I am sure the last few games will be memorable. One thing that I will not miss after this tournament are the vuvuzelas. To me they do nothing to add to the spectacle.

So remember when you are at home, or in a club and its 7pm and the world cup is on the television, it is probably 4am here in Sydney and a lot of Australians with sleep deprivation!


06 June 2010

Rain and lots of it!

"I have been convinced that this weather is a cunning plan of ducks worldwide...you will see loads of English carrying a brolly or two"

Us Sydneysiders have just come out (fingers, toes and dangly bits crossed) of a very wet spell that lasted nigh on three weeks. Now I would be the first to admit that it is great that we have been awash with the life saving liquid, but there is a point where it gets beyond a joke (and I don't mean the one about the Englishman, Scotsman and Irishman!). The other joke is that the rain is falling on the coast and not really in the dam catchment area.

Now obviously, the downpours do not compare to monsoonal regions of the world, but they can certainly get to you nonetheless.

At present we have just entered winter and naturally the sun is rising later and setting earlier. So with the lack of daylight hours, coupled with grey and overcast skies, the city has been living in a kind of gloom recently.

For those who don't know, winter in Sydney is probably akin to a spring day in northern Europe. Certainly parts of Sydney will experience a few frosts at night but they are few and far between. The average day temperature is likely to be around 17C and the night temperature about 8C.

Anyway, I am digressing and I promised myself I wouldn't. Back to the topic of this blog - rain.

Every day for the past three weeks I have been woken not by my alarm, nor by birds chirruping songs, but by the hiss of rain hitting the ground outside. At this time of day the sun has not risen so it is dark. I quickly turn on the light and check to see if I have started to develop webbed feet! I have been convinced that this weather is a cunning plan of ducks worldwide to ensure that us humans evolve into a...duck! Once I have checked this I breathe a sigh of relief as my feet are still the same and start getting ready for another day of fun in the erm...rain.

The other thing to this wet weather is that you have to always take an umbrella with you. I cannot stand umbrellas full stop. The reason being is that as I originally come from England it is virtually compulsory to take an umbrella with you everywhere you go. Even if it is 30C and there is not a cloud in sight, you will see loads of English carrying a brolly or two.

So I have been battling the weather, carrying an umbrella and work related materials onto rain drenched trains during this wet period. After three weeks I say "enough is enough".

Hopefully the next few days and weeks will be kind and Sydneysiders will get to see the sun in all its glory. However, since I started writing this particular blog I have noticed that the heavens have opened up again. Oh well, I better re-check my feet....

23 May 2010

The Blackberry Concert

"you know the type - accountants, lawyers, bankers, stamp collectors, Celine Dion fans etc...I started to cringe. How tight was his Levis?"

Recently No Worries and I left the gals with a friend and headed into the big smoke that is Sydney. This is not to say that Sydney is covered in smoke as it is not (unless you include the New Years Eve fireworks). We decided to have a night to ourselves which is very rare these days....

I had two tickets to see a concert that had two of the biggest music names from the 1980's performing - Spandau Ballet and Tears For Fears. Now I grew up on both groups but in the last couple of years have really become addicted to the music of Messrs Orzabal and Smith aka Tears. They truly are talented song smiths, great musicians and fantastic singers.

So after a meal at King Street wharf (which I have to say was very average given the reputation of the restaurant we ate at) we headed to the Ent Cent. Better know to all as the Sydney Entertainment Centre. We got to our seats just before Tears For Fears got on stage. No Worries, in her inimitable style, commented "everyone looks quite old!" This was probably true compared to her age (mid thirties). I had to remind her that the vast majority of fans would have grown up on the music like myself.

It was noticeable that the audience looked predominantly like they were white collar workers. You know the type - accountants, lawyers, bankers, stamp collectors, Celine Dion fans etc. I looked around the arena and saw that a lot of people were reading, presumably, emails on their mobile phones.

It was No Worries who pointed out to me that the people close to us were all using Blackberries as per Barack Obama, and many others. She was correct. Everyone was either busy on their mobiles or playing solitaire on them. At the time I certainly thought it was an astute observation.

The concert started and Tears For Fears were fantastic. They started off the gig with "Mad World" and then went into their biggest hit "Everybody Wants To Rule The World". I was wondering what the encore was going to be given that their most popular song had just been performed. In case you were wondering it was "Shout". Halfway through their set they performed my fave of theirs "Woman In Chains".

I was wondering who was going to do the female vocals as per the original. For this gig they were sung by a shaven headed guy. He hit the high notes so well that I started to cringe. How tight were his Levi's? was my constant thought. I am sure the other 10,000 fans thought the same. Subconsciously I crossed my legs. What ever the reason, he could sing extremely well. The concert finished and then there was a thirty minute break until the lads from Spandau Ballet were on. Again the corporate crowd were on their Blackberries again. This time, I suppose, to tell everyone of the Levis singing guy.

Before we knew it Spandau Ballet were on stage and gave two hours of absolutely fantastic music. The musicianship was top notch as was Tony Hadley's singing. For the anorak brigade out there, the group started with "To Cut A Long Story Short" and finished with "Gold". The music was not as rocky as with Tears but nevertheless fantastic.

After ninety minutes the group went off before the first encore. In the days of yore, people would get out their cigarette lighters, light them up and hold them high. In a big arena it could be visually appealing. Nowadays this isn't the case. We have moved on as a society. So what do us fans do now? We get out our Blackberries push a button or two and hold it up in the sky. I refrained from doing this as I don't have a Blackberry and my Nokia E65 was a dwarf. Still it was strange seeing all these mobile phones in the air.

Spandau came back on and did three more songs before leaving the stage for the post concert festivities. Interestingly there was not one swear word from either group during their performances. Surely this must be a world record!

As the fans started to leave in droves the Blackberries were out in force. Fingers were typing quickly to unknown recipients everywhere. What was being typed I have no idea. What is certain is that concert going has changed dramatically from the 1980's.

30 April 2010

Un-Advertising

"however this advert caught my eye (and nose and left ear)...now call me dumb or slap me about with a wet fish"

The other day I was reading the local newspaper when I came across an advert inside it. Now, I hear you say, there's nothing wrong with adverts in a newspaper. After all, it helps keep the cost of the newspaper down to a reasonable amount. This is very true indeed. However this advert caught my eye (and my nose and left ear).

So what was the advert that grabbed my attention?

Well, you see it was an advert for a local pet shop that was having a sale. It must have been a large pet shop given the number of sale items. In fact, it was one of the items on sale that struck me as being quite odd.

The advert stated, and I quote verbatim. "50% off all live fish". At first glance this seemed to make sense. Your long awaited addition to your tropical fish tank would be half price (no, I didn't need a calculator to work that one out!). However, a literal translation of it could be that this pet shop also stock dead fish. Otherwise why use the word "live" in the advert.

My mind started imagining little Johnny going to this pet store with his mother to get a new fish.

"Look Johnny, that goldfish is now half price. Shall we buy it?" Only for little Johnny to retort "I don't want a live fish, mummy, I want a dead fish!!". One could easily assume that little Johnny will either grow up to be a lead singer of a death metal band...or a Prime Minister!

I also recall many aeon's ago that there was an advert on television that stated that a certain shampoo removed all harmless alkaloids from your hair. Now call me dumb, or slap me about with a wet fish (don't do the fish thing to me as I might enjoy it), but if these 'alkaloids' are harmless then why would I want them removed from my hair!!

Even today I was walking in a Sydney suburb when I saw a shop that was categorised as a 'well being' shop. However, the actual shop was one that was selling mobile phones. From my point of view I find it hard to equate mobile phones with well being. To me something more holistic would fit that category.

So you can easily see that adverts do not always portray the message that they should do. Next time you are reading a newspaper or taking your pet stick insect for a walk take a close look at the things around you. If you do this you could well be in for a literal surprise!

27 March 2010

Cuts Like a Knife

"is when cutting cheese turns into an endurance sport....I have no idea of the cunning plan that this piece of sharp metal has for me"

During the last week something dawned on me. It was one of those moments when clarity is to the fore and you realise why things happen (not necessairly for a reason either). So I thought it only fair that I shared this with you, the reader, and the rest of the world. It appears that I have a fetish. Now before your sordid mind delves off into the realms of toe sucking, leather, bondage and gimps, let me explain. This is no ordinary fetish indeed.

Over the past 18 months or so I have, at intermittent periods, bought 3 knives. These are your typical knives that you would find in any household kitchen. They have all been utility ones so that No Worries and I can cut, chop and dice vegetables, meat and anything else we want to cut until our heart's content!

I always know when its time to replace a knife. The first indication is when cutting cheese turns into an endurance sport. One whereby you have to use all your force and energy just to cut a slice of cheddar! It's good for the muscles but not good for the empty stomach.

When things get to this stage I merrily traipse off to the local shops and purchase a new knife. At this stage I have no idea of the cunning plan that this piece of sharp metal has for me. Once home I take the knife out of its packet, wash it and give it a trial run. A smile expands across my face as I see the steel blade glide effortlessly through the cheese. I know then that all's well in the world.

Fast forward a couple of days and the fetish takes hold. What I have discovered is that every time I buy a new knife I end up cutting my thumb quite badly. Now this isn't when I am using it in food preparation either. It never hits me when I am using it for what it was designed to use.

For example, last week I was washing up after a scrumptious roast dinner (cooked by yours truly) when I reached into the sink and felt a sharp pain in my thumb. I quickly pulled it out and blood was starting to pour down it and onto the rest of my hand. The knife fetish had struck again. I imagined that had been waiting just below the surface camouflaged by the soap suds when it saw my innocent thumb. Then, quicker that the Global Financial Crisis, it struck inflicting a painful blow!

I could be wrong of course.

Contrast this to the previous issue about 8 months ago. Again, I had bought a knife but this time it waited until I had placed my hand into the cutlery drawer before it attacked me. Now again this may have been a coincidence but I am not convinced. The previous time I had been attacked on my thumb by merely picking it up from a cutting board.

So there you have it. Do I have a subconcious fetish for cutting my thumb with a new knife? Or are they really out to attack me? I'll let you decide.









20 March 2010

Musically Confused

"before I know it I am singing along (normally internally as I don't like scaring my fellow train passengers)...I even swapped the balck t shirt, jeans and beer for a shirt, pants and a bottle of chardonnay!"

Many years ago, when I was a mere strip of a lad, there was a song released called "Music" by John Miles. Some of the lyrics went like this "to live without my music would be impossible to do, 'cause in this world of troubles my music pulls me through". For the nerds out there in the blogosphere, the song was a number 3 hit in the UK during the tropical summer of 1976. It is an awesome song with a great guitar lick towards the end of it.

The lyrics really struck a chord (deliberate play on words) as it really sums up my view to music. When I am feeling down I'll get out a CD, or listen to my MP4, and play some of my favourite songs. Before I know it I am singing along (normally internally as I don't like scaring my fellow train passengers) and after a few songs I feel really great and all is well with the world!

I've always been passionate about music and when funds and time permit I will go to watch a band play live. Nowadays I am much more selective than when I was younger. Take for instance the last three concerts I went to and the concert I am going to watch next month. Talk about having a varied music taste!

The list starts off with Green Day. In my opinion American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown are two of the greatest albums released in the past decade. I went to see Green Day before Christmas with my good friend Jia. What can I say - fantastic, brilliant, passionate are just some of the descriptive words I could use to describe the gig. Who would have thought that there would be saxophones and harmonicas on offer at a Green Day gig. At one stage Billy Joe even played drums!!

Anyway, the very next day it was off to the Hunter Valley to the Wyndam Estate vineyards to watch Human Nature and the irrepressible Smokey Robinson. So from punk rock to soul and tamla motown all within 24 hours. I even swapped the black t shirt, jeans and beer for a shirt, pants and a bottle of chardonnay! Naturally a picnic was packed.

No Worries came with me and the afternoon and night was a glorious affair. The sun was shining and the music was top notch. Some of the audience left as Smokey had a penchant for talking in between songs which was boring for some. Still, despite this, the wine tasted great.

Fast forward to February this year and I had a chance to see the great AC/DC at Sydney Olympic Stadium (I refuse to call it by its sponsors name - its the punk in me!). There were 70,000 fans in the stadium all there to see, possibly, the last tour. Yeah they are old, yeah they looked haggard. But boy can they rock! Angus still has the skills and ability to send the audience into musical nirvana (another play on words albeit with a grungy connection). This concert re-confirmed my taste for heavy rock music.

Next up is a double header in a few weeks time. I am going to see Spandau Ballet and Tears For Fears. Growing up I was a fan of both these groups in between listening to rock music. As I have grown older I more easily appreciate their lyrics and musicianship. I really hope Tears For Fears do 'Woman In Chains' certainly an all time classic.

So there you have it. Punk Rock to Soul to Tamla Motown to Heavy Rock to New Romantics to Pop music. Am I musically confused? Yes, you bet I am, and proud of it!!

24 February 2010

Charlotte's Web Mk 2

"but can inflict severe pain (like a Celine Dion concert methinks)....there were literally hundreds of baby Huntsman spiders running everywhere!"

Recently No Worries, the Gals and I moved to a new abode. The move was a typically stressful one even though we only moved a couple of kms up the road! Moving is not fun at the best of times. As I type this tome we still have lots of boxes to unpack! Yes I know, we are lazy!!

Anyway, when we moved in we noticed a Huntsman spider in the kitchen at the top of the venetian blinds. For the uninitiated, a Huntsman spider is quite large, hairy and looks like a tarantula! Fortunately they cannot kill a human but can inflict severe pain (like a Celine Dion concert methinks).

I tried to kill it but it went into the bracket that was holding up the blinds. No Worries and I decided to leave it be as Huntsman's do kill insects including the much maligned cockroach. So we left it alone to its own devices. It seemed happy enough to hang around the top of the blinds so I certainly was not worried!

Fast forward a couple of weeks to one late Saturday night. We were just about to go to bed when women's intuition came to the fore. Now I am a firm believer in the good old women's intuition thingy as generally it is always 100% correct. Anyway, No Worries came out with the following comment:

"What happens if the spider is female and has lots of babies?"

I have to admit I was laughing internally, but my response was diplomatic.

"Nah, that won't happen. Why would a spider lay eggs in a kitchen?" replied I.

We went to bed having seemingly resolved that issue. The next day I got up early as I had to go to work. I went into the kitchen and could not believe my eyes. On the ceiling there were literally hundreds of baby Huntsman spiders running everywhere! I left the room, washed my face and went back to the kitchen. The spiders were still there!

I then went to our bedroom and told No Worries (who was still sleeping) the situation. To her credit she didn't say "I told you so".

While I was at work I received a phone call from No Worries. Apparently Huntsman spiders can have up to 200 babies at one time. The Gals had decided to watch 'Charlotte's Web' on DVD and had nicknamed our newly proud parent "Charlotte".

Despite this I had to get rid of the spiders. Much to my views on such matters I went and purchased an insect spray. I could not take the risk of having these spiders growing and potentially biting my daughters.

After lunch, I cleared the kitchen of items and set to work on killing the spiders. I certainly had a pang of guilt in doing it. I undid the blinds bracket and found out that Charlotte had laid eggs around some cotton wool inside the bracket. It appeared that she wanted a nice warm, safe nest for her babies. I expected to see Charlotte but she wasn't there.

Then she appeared. She didn't seem to be a happy bunny to put it mildly. Unfortunately for her she got squashed in the window and soon moved on to the great spider web in the sky. A few minutes later all the spiders were no more.

The kitchen was returned to its former glory!

So the moral of this story is never underestimate the intuition of a woman! It's a powerful thing indeed.

25 January 2010

School Excursion

"So far in life I had gone without seeing Miley Cyrus. In truth I was mentally scarred by her fathers' musical legacy...come on London 2012, drop synchronised swimming for whip cracking!"

A couple of months ago I had the privilege of escorting my youngest daughter and her school class on an excursion to the City Zoo in Sydney's west. I was eager to go as I had missed out on my eldest daughters' excursion to the same place the previous year.

Two weeks prior to this I had received a letter asking for parent volunteers to accompany the teachers on the excursion. As places were limited it was on a first come,first served basis. Naturally I filled in the attached form and had it back with the relevant teacher before you could say "Wooloomooloo"!

I had an agonising seven days wait before I received the news that I wanted to hear. I had been accepted as a parent volunteer! I was very excited.

On the day of the excursion we got to the school early. I had packed myself a lunch too as it was going to be a longish day. My daughters' teacher came up and gave me a badge. She advised me to wear it as it would identify me as being associated with the school. The badge has "staff member" written on it as well as the name of the school. I quickly put it on.

I was now technically a teacher! I actually felt like one too.

We set off to the City Zoo in a plush air-conditioned bus. The driver put on a DVD. It was Hannah Montana. Now so far I had gone through life without having seen Miley Cyrus. In truth I was mentally scarred from her fathers musical legacy. The song that, in my opinion, is the worst one of all time - "achy breaky heart". Not only was it woeful but it was sung by a person whose first name is "Billy-Ray" and he had the worst mullet haircut of all time!

So I was not expecting much from the younger Cyrus but I have to admit that I was truly impressed. The movie (whatever it was called) was really quite good. Apparently her father was in the movie too but I didn't spot any mullets thankfully.

We arrived at the zoo a little later than anticipated as the driver lost his bearings. All of a sudden Canberra was looming closer. Obviously he wasn't using a GPS!!

At the zoo we made our way to the designated spot and all sat down and had our little lunch (aka fruit predominantly). For the record I ate grapes and a banana. Most of the children were well behaved but there were a few who were hyper. However the teachers and us pseudo teachers did a great job in keeping all the children in one place - even though it was an effort!

We then saw lots of baby animals - cows, pigs, sheep, chicks etc. The children designated to me were well behaved, which was fortunate. Luckily I didn't have Little Johnny (name changed to protect the innocent) who was continuously trying to find ways to break through our ranks and into the wild blue yonder.

Two of the highlights were cow miking (some children liked this and some didn't), and the whip cracking show. This was a truly grand exhibition and should be an Olympic sport. Come on London 2012, drop synchronised swimming for whip cracking!

Lunch (aka big lunch) was a tame affair as all the children ravenously devoured their lunch. To my astonishment Little Johnny too was behaving well. Either that or he was scheming a plan to escape from our group.

After lunch we looked at a few more animals including the sheep corralling into a pen with a drover and his dog. It was very impressive. At times you felt sorry for the sheep but they all fell into line quite nicely.

After 4 hours we bade our farewells to the City Zoo and made our way back to our bus. Once on board an anxious head count was held and then re-done. Everyone was on the bus including Little Johnny. The teachers let out a sigh of relief and secretly did "high fives". Our driver put on the Hannah Montana DVD again. Fortunately I got to watch a little bit more of it as a number of children quickly fell asleep on the bus.

We arrived back at the school just prior to final bell. My day as a "teacher" had been a good one. However, my illusion was soon shattered as I had to hand the staff member badge back. I was now just another parent!

This blog is dedicated to teachers everywhere. I am amazed at your calmness when on an excursion as well as remembering all the children's names. How do you remain sane? I also dedicate this to my good friend Nes who is, as you may have guessed, a teacher as well.