29 December, 2007

Tilting At Windmills? Let's Hope Not

You might have seen the article in this morning’s Age by now. It’s about a group called unChain St Kilda trying to prevent the destruction of the Palais Theatre in a proposed redevelopment of the St Kilda Triangle.

The hook for the article is the $5000 pledged to the preservation of the Palais by the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen and verified by spokesmen from Sony BMG and Paul Dainty respectively.

I’ve only seen two concerts at the Palais: Joe Cocker in 1977 and Rory Gallagher in 1980. Both were excellent concerts and I remember the comfort, atmosphere and sound quality at the venue as being pretty high. Certainly higher than Festival Hall or the Tennis Centre.

You’d reckon a decent developer would be able to come up with something to include the Palais, wouldn’t you? Not so Citta Properties, a Sydney-based firm. Let’s hope the unChain group are successful in their efforts.

Actor Rachel Griffiths and artist Mirka Mora, among others, have also lent their support to the group. I don’t know Mirka at all, but my family does have a somewhat tenuous connection to her.

Mirka and Me:
We’d been invited to visit my dad’s uncle out in Nth Balwyn. I must have been about three and a bit because I can remember my younger brother being a baby. Uncle Jack was pretty well-to-do. He’d made a decent living running black coal mines near Wonthaggi but was in his 60s and retired by this time. He might even have been one of the bad guys in Richard Lowenstein’s film Strikebound (1984), which depicts a long and bitter industrial dispute in the mines. I’ve got some research to do, I know.

But as we entered Uncle Jack’s house, the first thing we saw was a painting on his lounge room wall. It was of a rooftop landscape, crowded with attic-style windows. Uncle Jack had only recently purchased it and wasn’t too impressed.

My older brother saw it differently and said so. He thought it was pretty good. The rest of the visit passed pleasantly as I remember it. I spent most of the afternoon in the backyard having a conversation with Uncle Jack’s cockatoo. And it worked. I spent the next few days saying "Hello Cocky" and little else.

About a week later, we were surprised by a delivery. Uncle Jack had shipped the painting over to my older brother as a gift. These days, it’d be what you might call a win-win situation.

My brother told me later it was called The Tenements of Paris, and had been painted by Mirka Mora in 1957. Mirka ’57 was her signature at the bottom of the painting. I’ve been unable to find any reference to the work under that title on the web.

The painting hung in his room and the family lounge room for many years. About five years ago, I saw a copy of Mirka’s autobiography in the local library. No mention of the painting, so it’s safe to assume it wasn’t a long-lost masterwork.

I mentioned it to my brother and asked of the painting, but he’d been short of cash about five or six years previously and had sold it to William Mora’s Gallery. I was a bit saddened to think that a painting by such a prominent artist was no longer in the family. But it seemed to have gone to the right place.

26 December, 2007

Desktop Image Meme

Go over to Honey Smack to view the image she has on her PC desktop. It's a lovely shot of her and her daughter.

My desktop image is below. It's an image of the covers of all of the Rolling Stones albums released between 1964 and 1981. I've had this as my desktop image since about 1999.When a colleague saw it she said "Wow!"

"Hmm, another Stones fan," I thought immediately. "Yeah, I downloaded the album covers from Amazon, pasted them into MS-Paint and then re-pasted the lot into MS-Photo Editor to convert to a jpeg and there it is," beaming proudly.

"Now there's a bloke with a lot of time on his hands".

But thank heavens for memes. I've got about five major posts in various stages of development waiting to be finalized. Waiting for me to get off my bum and finish them, I mean. So I don't mind memes. They provide a quick and painless no-post remedy. Besides, I like variations on a theme and other bloggers viewpoints on the same topic always make interesting reading.

24 December, 2007

Carols In The Domain

Why the fuck would I do a post about Saturday night’s Carols In The Domain?

I was only half watching it while trying to finish up the previous 8 Things Meme post. Moe was lying on the couch letting it flow over him and I was annoying him by asking “Is that Delta Goodrem?” of every female singer. When he became a little weary of the game I said, “Well, they all look alike. How am I supposed to tell them apart?”

“I think The Beatles and the Rolling Stones might have looked a bit alike, Dad.”

That shut me up good and proper.

But then Leo Sayer came on. Wearing a white suit. Singing White Christmas.
I was telling Moe how he actually had considerable credibility back in the mid-70s. Just A Boy was a great album and justifiably huge commercially. Then he went disco. Then he went cabaret. Then he came to live in Australia.

But at Carols In The Domain, singing White Christmas, what does he do? He pulls out a harmonica and does a melodic, blues-wailing solo!

You see, blues was so all-pervasive in Britain in the 60s that no musician could afford to ignore it. No blues licks, far fewer bands you can join.

Even Tom Jones fronted a bluesy outfit (Tommy Scott and The Senators) around 1964 before he made it big as a crooner.

Anyway, it made my night and I’ll have a softer spot for Leo Sayer from now on.

I hope your Christmas is full of pleasant surprises.

22 December, 2007

8 Things Meme

This is a long response to the meme. But it made me think. And post. Thanks to Eleanor Bloom, who tagged me.

Eight Things I'm Passionate About:
I think about her often. How to chat her up, make her laugh, win her, make her love me. We’ve been married for 18 years. It’s fun. I think it might even be fun for her too.
2) Moe; Larry; & Curly:
My three sons, but I'm not exactly Fred McMurray. They'd cack themselves if they knew they were my sporting heroes.
3) Cricket:
This is a good thing that was formerly a bad thing. It’s now okay for me to be involved up to my eyeballs with the local cricket club because we have three young players in the household.
4) Music:
I’m a reformed rock snob. These days, I even appreciate good pop music outside the narrow confines of my taste. So there’s a lot more tolerance about. But not for you, Johnny Farnham. Get the fuck off my radio with your overproduced cabaret mock-rock for complete morons. Maybe not totally reformed.
5) Movies:
I used to be able to watch anything just for the experience. Now it has to be good.
6) Mates:
Lucky to have them. Enjoy spending easy, relaxed time with them.
7) Dope:
Enjoy this too. Still of the view that things go better with...
8) Football:
Essendon: how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. We shall rise again and wreak a terrible vengeance on all those who have scorned us over the past few years. Which means just about everyone.

Eight Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
1) Play In Another Cricket Premiership:
I was 18, batted last, didn’t bowl and fielded behind the tree when I played in my only flag. The only other Grand Final appearance came seven years later but we lost. We might even do it this year with a late charge at the finals.
2) See The Bombers Win Another Flag:
I’ve seen four of them but want more. Nothing quite like seeing your own mob win one instead of watching a whole heap of nobodies bask in glory.
3) Write A Film Script:
I have an idea that I think is a pretty good one. So does everyone I’ve pitched it to. Just at the outline stage so far. An Australian science-fiction film. Not too many of those about. Should be able to paper at least one wall of the study with rejection letters.
4) Get My Band Back Together:
I’d like to play at my 50th, just two years away. Get the ol’ 60s covers thing happening again. I reckon the blokes would be in it. Might be a bit harder to convince them we’ll need to rehearse! And more than just 12 songs like at my 40th.
5) The Other Four Things:
Can wait until after I die.

Eight Things I Say Often:
1) Alright:
The complete all-purpose word. It’s alright.
2) Dichotomy:
Describes a split without apportioning blame. Handy when you’re trying not to inflame a situation.
3) Running around like a headless chook:
Aptly describes confusion or incompetence and usually gets a laugh so you’re not immediately into a confrontation.
4) Carrying on like a two-bob watch:
Similar to above.
5) You beauty:
Use of this has passed in and out of ironic so many times I forget which is which.
6) Can you NOT do that?
When hints fail.
7) Sorry about that, Chief:
A useful catch-phrase from the Get Smart TV show that doesn’t mean much to post baby boomers.
8) I’ve got the hots for you, big time:
Only to TLOML.

Eight Books I've Read Recently:
1) Caesar’s Legacy: Josiah Osgood
Describes from primary sources the fifteen years of terror that followed Julius Caesar’s assassination in 43BC while Octavian and Antony struggled to seize total power.
2) The First of the Few: Denis Winter
This book about WWI fighter pilots is absolutely brilliant, and I’m not given to superlatives. Accurately describes the open cockpit conditions they experienced, making use of letters, diaries and manuals.
3) Stone Alone: Bill Wyman
He only got invited to join the Rolling Stones because he owned two good amps. His point of view on the band is unique and incisive. Especially about the Jagger-Richard monopoly on song-writing credits.
4) History of Australian Cricket: Jack Pollard
Okay, he got Essex left-armer John Lever mixed up with Lancashire’s right-arm fast bowler Peter Lever but it’s still a good read. All four volumes.
5) Miller’s Luck: Roland Perry
Comprehensive, well-written biography of Keith Miller. A great cricketer who is revealed as not quite the great bloke his eulogists would have had us believe.
6) Slaughterhouse Five: Kurt Vonnegut
A funny book that really resonated with so many. Vonnegut was still turning away pilgrims to his genius even just before his death earlier this year.
7) Players: Tony Wilson
Opens a window into the footy media industry. You’ll have no trouble spotting who’s who. And plenty of laughs.
8) Porno: Irvine Welsh
A sequel of sorts to Trainspotting. I just love the shifting first-person narrative and the way Welsh speaks the Leith idiom making no allowances for the uninitiated. You have to work out what a schemie is for yourselves. Go on. Work it out. Brave and bold writing.

Eight Songs I Could Listen To Over And Over:
1) Jumpin’ Jack Flash: Rolling Stones
Still sends a chill up my spine, so good is this song. Everything the Rolling Stones stood for: blues-based, open-tuned guitars, muddy sound. Many have covered it but never captured it.
2) Midnight Man: The James Gang
Brilliant electric country-rock. What else would you expect from Joe Walsh? Original recording features session singer Mary Sterpka sounding a lot like Linda Ronstadt.
3) For Your Love: The Yardbirds
Graham Gouldman, later of 10cc, wrote this 1965 hit for the London blues tyros. A great song. Eric Clapton left the band right after because it wasn’t bluesy enough.
4) Eight Miles High: The Byrds
Ushered in the psychedelic era and was then banned due to it’s drug-influenced lyrics. It was about a fucking aeroplane flight to England, you Christian fundamentalist fuckwits.
5) While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Beatles
Harrison wrote and sang, Clapton played the solo and fill-ins. Atmospheric and poignant. Can you believe it was the B-side to O-Bla-Di O-Bla-Da?
6) Hey Joe: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Their first single and a Joe South cover that took the original and made it something else. He would later do a similar job on Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower.
7) Tequila Sunrise: The Eagles
I don’t care how contrived it might have been, Glenn Frey really knew how to croon a sad she-done-me-wrong song. Despite being a misogynistic arsehole in real life. This one’s just beautiful.
8) High Flyin’ Bird: Jefferson Airplane
This performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival showcased an emerging band with three tremendous singers: Marty Balin; Grace Slick; and Paul Kantner.

Eight Albums That Trigger Memories:
1) After The Goldrush: Neil Young
I found this wide-ranging album with its mournful country-folk-rock ballads and stinging rockers uplifting during a summer of adolescent angst. The songs seemed so much more than just contrivances to make teenaged girls feel depressed, as I suspected The Eagles of doing.
2) Hotel California: The Eagles
Well, it was omnipresent, wasn’t it? The soundtrack to the summer of 1976-77. The whole album was just so chocka with great songs, you couldn’t not appreciate their artistry, even through any reservations you might have had about them. The first single to get airplay in Australia was New Kid In Town. What a song. Supposedly their reaction to a Bruce Springsteen gig.
3) John Wesley Harding: Bob Dylan
First Bob Dylan album I ever heard, and only because my sister’s boyfriend left his record collection at our place. I was fourteen and I felt great about “getting” Bob Dylan. I had no idea it was a controversial Dylan album due to its country flavour. I just thought it was good.
4) Let It Bleed: Rolling Stones
Another boyfriend legacy, This was the first Rolling Stones LP I’d listened to and it completely knocked me out. Right from the first notes of Jagger’s harmonica on Midnight Rambler. This album sounded cool. I thought I was cool for liking it. Around when I started to become a rock snob.
5) Every Picture Tells A Story: Rod Stewart
One of five albums purchased for just $5.95 the lot when my other sister joined the World Record Club in 1973. This was his third solo album and it’s great. Terrific production with loads of moving instrumentation, including violin and mandolin. He was only any good before 1976’s Atlantic Crossing saw him more successful, but less interesting.
6) Flight Log: Jefferson Airplane
I was eighteen when I first heard this compilation and they just knocked me out. A patchy band whose best was sensational.
7) Front Page News: Wishbone Ash
English guitar-oriented rock. My out-of-touch purist mind regarded their stuff as rock reaching its zenith in the late 70s. Everyone else my age was listening to punk, which I thought was rock’s nadir.
8) Mud Slide Slim and The Blue Horizon: James Taylor
Now described as easy-listening, Taylor was your lonesome troubadour and this album was his high point. First time I realised I liked country-influenced music.

Eight Movies I've Watched Close to Eight Times:
1) Out of the Past: (1947)
Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas tussle over the ultimate femme noir, Jane Greer: “I didn't, Jeff. Don't you believe me?” “Baby, I don’t care.”
2) The Wizard of Oz: (1939)
How many people love this film unashamedly? The reason why so many people were so sad about the way poor Judy Garland’s life turned out.
3) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: (1962)
One of the greatest of all tributes to the genre, but not too self-consciously so. James Stewart is the hero, Lee Marvin the villain. John Wayne starts in the middle.
4) Murder My Sweet: (1944)
Best Raymond Chandler adaptation. Features terrific hallucinogenic dream sequence.
5) Shane: (1953)
The quintessential western. If I had to show someone what westerns were all about, I’d be starting with this. Pretty violent for a movie that looks like family viewing the rest of the time. Remade as Pale Rider (1983) with Clint Eastwood.
6) Citizen Kane: (1941)
Surely it can’t be THAT good? But it is.
7) Blade Runner: (1982)
At last, science-fiction met film noir! My two favourite genres in one! But I don’t like the Director’s Cut. Why the fuck would you take a voice-over out of a film noir? Also made filmmakers run to Philip K Dick novels and short stories for material. Shame he was to die soon after its release.
8) Psycho: (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense became the master of shock with this one. Transformed the horror genre by making people scarier than monsters.

Eight Bloggers Who Should Do This Meme:
If you’ve read this far, take it on.

10 December, 2007

Avatar Makeover

I could do with a change. Couldn't we all? I'd like you to comment on the following images as a possible avatar for myself. Not a big range to choose from, you're probably thinking. Well, I'm not going to put up just any old thing.

Tell me what you think in the comments. If you don't give a fuck, don't be shy.

If you think this is a pathetic, self-indulgent, self-absorbed, look-at-me-please post you might make mention of that too. I can take it.

Why Brian Jones? I suppose there should be a really good reason, but there isn't. However, there'll be a post about this 60s archetype and original line-up Rolling Stone early in the New Year.

Fascinating character. Even if he looks about as much like my true self as the current avatar does.






**UPDATE!! Found another image that might suit.


03 December, 2007

A Tale of Two Dates III

It had all turned out very well. Exceptionally so. And we had another date lined up.

What could possibly go wrong?

I’d called Lynette to make arrangements for the Saturday night. My cricket team was playing in the afternoon so I organized for us to meet at my folks’ place just around the corner from the home ground. We’d go to the clubrooms for the Christmas break-up function, and then on to the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda, where a mate’s band were playing a late gig. After that, well, we’d be closer to her place in Hawthorn than my folks’ place in Ascot Vale so we might as well head back there and spend the night. It was going to be so perfect!

That’s one of the reasons why I was pretty upbeat when I arrived at my folks’ to meet her. The other reason was my team had won and I’d done okay, getting a couple of cheap tailender wickets to finish off the match.

She was already there and getting along with my mum like a house on fire. Mum was always very nice to my lady friends as a matter of policy. Anyone silly enough to go out with her idiot son had enough to contend with and didn’t need a difficult mother to complicate matters.

We got to the function and I introduced Lynette to my brother and his then wife and my closest club mates and their partners. One of the women had been at school with Lynette’s sister, so they struck up a conversation. Everything seemed to be running pretty smoothly so I felt relaxed. Laid back enough to join in a shout that involved a group of blokes who were much more seasoned drinkers than I was.

After the first couple of beers, I felt great. And after four beers I felt a little tipsy, merry even. About ready to stop drinking in case I got really drunk. But this was a serious, high-rotation shout I was in. And the beers just kept coming. Destination: near-oblivion; and I’d booked a first-class ticket. Well, so what? Lynette seemed to like me, I drunkenly reasoned. I mean, I’d fucked her for God’s sake, so it wouldn’t hurt if I did a bit of drinking and we had a good time before the guaranteed, ironclad prospect of follow-up sex back at her place. She was driving, so what harm could it do?

Now, this is where the downward spiral begins, because up until then everything had been fine. Lynette had chatted comfortably with the other women there and I'd engaged in blokey conversation with the guys around me. Now and then there'd even been cross-gender exchanges. Everyone seemed happy with the situation. Lynette and I were talking and touching, leaning close to hear each other because there was a band playing. I felt good that she was okay with us being close in public.

And then I swallowed the Absorbo Pill. I was stinko; schickered; wasted; whacked; hammered; plastered; sloshed. You name it. I was F Scott Fitzgerald, only talentless and unattractive . And I talked. The greatest load of rubbish you’ve ever heard. Firstly, mingling with the blokes from my cricket side. Earnest, emotional stream-of consciousness crap. About the team and what I thought we needed to do to win the flag. I got pretty absorbed in it. And I went on, and on, and on. The blokes just put up with it and manfully hid their annoyance. The tolerance of friends. Never take it for granted.

I kept looking over at Lynette and thinking, “Shit. I should be over there talking to her. In a minute. She’ll be okay.”

Next time I glanced over, she appeared to be looking a little neglected. “I’d better get over there,” I thought. But I was apprehensive and hesitant. How could I put things right? I’ll have a think about that while I’m chatting just a little bit more with these great blokes.

I think it was someone’s girlfriend who came over and suggested I rejoin Lynette. I complied, but I was beyond making sense at this point. We got up to dance and about halfway through the first song, I overbalanced and fell against her. That’s about as much as I can remember clearly from the part of the evening spent at the cricket club.

The rest is just a blur: of lights; noise; Lynette dancing with one of the blokes from the First XI; Lynette writing something on a piece of paper and handing it to him; me not being game to ask her what that was all about. But asking her if she wanted to get going. She didn’t. Going to the toilet and having one of our more outspoken players tell me Lynette was a good sort and half-jokingly mention that he thought she was wasted on me.

We must have left eventually. Because the next thing I remember we were in her car arguing about where we were going next. She was adamant that I hadn’t mentioned anything about going to see a band at the Prince of Wales. I was insistent that I had clearly told her about it. She was probably right. Sometimes I make plans in my mind that seem settled. My thought processes then turn to self-congratulation and I forget all about informing affected parties about said plans. I don’t have to be drunk to do this. I also don’t have to be drunk to prolong an argument when I think I’m right. This applies especially when I am in actual fact wrong.

She wanted to call it a night. Seemed to be doing a lot of sighing. But I stupidly thought the situation was salvageable so started pathetically pleading a case for going back to her place. She said she wanted to drop me home at my folks’.

She must have agreed just to shut me the fuck up because the next flash of memory is of driving up Johnston St towards Hawthorn. I fumblingly tried to apologise. She made one of those tongue-clicking noises and exasperated groaning-type sounds. She was past wanting to hear anything from me. I didn’t take the hint. I started talking about that day’s cricket match. She wasn’t interested. In cricket or me. I persisted with clumsy, slurred attempts at conversation.

She must have helped me out of the car and onto the couch. But when I woke up what must have been a short time later it was straight into the bedroom and under the covers alongside her. I fumbled with her until she shook me off. Then I think I might have kept fumbling with her for a little while longer. Only about an hour. Maybe more than an hour. And then I must have fallen asleep.

Early morning and I needed to go to the toilet. Quickly. I remembered where it was from our first date: out the back. So I walked down the passageway, bumping into walls on either side until I arrived at the back door. The key wouldn’t turn. My bladder was bursting. I could feel urine starting to rise up inside my penis. Try the front door and piss in the front yard! A run back down the passage to find the front door deadlocked. Shit. Only seconds left: her bedroom bay windows and pissing out onto the front veranda my last hope.

I pulled the curtains back noisily in the dark, and rattled the casement windows to no avail. Release. I found myself pissing against her bedroom wall under the windows. It was a long piss too. I had the decency to hold back the usual accompanying fart.

“What are you doing?”
Panic. “Oh Lynette, you’re awake. I couldn’t get the back door unlocked. The key wouldn’t turn and then the front door was deadlocked so I tried the windows here.” Still pissing.
“You didn’t need to turn the key. I left the back door unlocked for you in case you needed to go. But what are you doing?”
“Oh look, I’m sorry Lynette but I’ve just gone to the toilet in here….” Should have used present tense there. I was still pissing.
“What!!! Oh Jesus Christ.”
Finished, I politely kept my back turned while I shook the drops off.

She went to get paper towels and disinfectant and I offered to help but she told me to get out of her way. I returned sheepishly to bed. She didn’t. She went to sleep on the couch.

I caught a taxi home the next morning. But only after vainly trying to get her to come back to bed. And then joining her uncomfortably on the couch. For poor Lynette, it was so much more than just a bad date.

I stupidly rang her a couple of days later but her housemate told me she was staying at her folks’ for Christmas. Even more stupidly, I rang her there. There was no exchange of pleasantries. She just wanted to know how I’d got the number, so I assured her that her housemates hadn’t told me, I’d just looked her folks up in the phone book. I asked her if she wanted to do something New Years’ Eve. She didn’t think so.

I spent a couple of days thinking about whether I should call her back again or not. You never know, she might have changed her mind. Jesus Christ, the first date had gone alright.

And then, thankfully for all concerned, I decided not to.

29 November, 2007

A Tale Of Two Dates II

I waited a couple of days and then called to ask if she wanted to go out for dinner one night and suggested The Sea-Going Vegetable, a restaurant in Brunswick St Fitzroy. She did. So we picked a convenient night, the night of the first day of my holidays and I told her I’d pick her up at seven.

The die was cast.

The die was cast. I can’t believe I fucking wrote that. Yep, that’s me alright, Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon to take Rome and receive the wildest public acclaim. Actually, that’s not too far off what did happen, metaphorically speaking.

I’d chosen the Sea-Going Vegetable for the date because I’d heard a couple of women at work raving about it and a few more expressing almost hysterical interest in going there. I reasoned that it must be intriguing to women and so they’d be keen to get there and might not be all that choosy about the company they kept. I tended to play the percentages.

My work break-up the night before had been a bit of a blast. I’d gotten absolutely stinko, still ten years away from sufficient self-awareness to realize what a dickhead drunk I was. The penny had dropped for everyone else. I slept until mid-afternoon, eliminating about four hours of nervous anticipation before my date with Lynette and so sat in front of the TV at my folks’ place (I’d moved back in there during the last week) before getting ready.

I didn’t dress up too much. Just jeans, elastic-sided desert boots about fifteen years out of fashion, and a tasteful shirt. I drove across the Yarra out to Lynette’s place in Hawthorn in my then car. A 1977 Fiat 132 GLS. I felt good about having a European car. And there’d be another four months of feeling good about it before I was to write it off in a stupid accident. But tonight that was beyond the horizon. The Fiat was smooth and comfortable and people seemed to like riding in it.
Did I mention that I didn’t really go to any trouble with my ensemble for the evening? Yes? Well Lynette certainly did. Leather slacks; soft wool jumper that did wonders for a figure that was already pretty wonderful; and high heels. She looked fantastic. I chatted comfortably in the lounge-room with her two housemates while she put on the finishing touches.

She liked the car. We drove in to Fitzroy and I found a park close to the restaurant. Walking up Brunswick St, a prominent District cricketer of the day whom I’d met a couple of times walked past with his girlfriend and stopped and said hello, even remembering my name. This was good. What with the car and the bumping into someone I knew who didn’t qualify for a homeless allowance, I thought I might have looked like I was sort of, you know, happening just a bit. Almost enough to offset the stench of the loser I felt was shrouding me after having to move back in with my folks.

Both of us must have been famished because we ate up big on seafood. And we enjoyed our meals. I’d inadvertently picked a good, appealing restaurant. I drank some wine and a little beer, but slowly and circumspectly due to the after-effects of excessive consumption the night before. Lynette outpaced me by quite a bit. And she talked.

Voluble and garrulous, she took charge of the conversation, and that was fine by me. I specialize in awkward pauses. She appeared to be out to impress me, which I found very reassuring, if a little unfamiliar. I let her talk and inserted the odd supportive half-sentence whenever it was unobtrusive to do so.

Nice legs. She was telling me how she liked men with nice legs, and wanted to know how mine measured up. I hinted that I’d heard the odd complimentary remark made about them, and cacked myself inwardly. Because it was true. Too easy. I hadn't had to lie about anything yet.

Her taste in music didn’t have much correlation with mine, but I managed to keep my inner rock-snob from coming out and spoiling everything like it usually did. When she mentioned going to two Elton John concerts and seeing Tina Turner at the Hilton, I commented on songs of theirs that I thought were good. I was determined not to ruin the ambience and up to this stage, I wasn’t anywhere near red-lining on the Fuckup Meter.

So later, we caught a few songs from a band I can’t remember anything about at the Faraday in Carlton, and mingled with a couple of mates who happened to be there with a group of friends. My mates mugged appreciation of Lynette to me while her back was turned. Very subtle, they were. I let them flatter me.

Back at Lynette’s place, a cup of coffee and some more chatting in her lounge room appeared to be a nice, tasteful end to a very pleasant date. I quite liked her and thought there might be a few more dates in it for us. We appeared to be wrapping things up, so I told her I’d get going and leaned over to kiss her goodnight.

Now, let’s just pause the action here a bit. I thought I’d done quite well and was looking to get out while I was ahead in order to keep things going into the future. You know, like the next weekend. The plan was to give her a kiss goodnight while I was still persona grata and then call her a couple of days later and try for another date, one where I might again be able to avoid fucking anything up. My plan, such as it was, revolved around not fucking anything up two dates in a row. That was a very cocky plan for me.

Which was about where she put her hand after the goodnight kiss had gathered some momentum. Both of us must have been famished because…. hang on, didn’t I say that before? Recurring Motif Alert.

I felt like Edward Hargraves. I’d hit the mother lode. She led the charge into the bedroom where the rest of the night was spent having very passionate sex with the most enthusiastic partner I’d been with up until that time. And she was very vocal. Equal parts Grace Slick and Sandy Denny, although she’d probably never heard of them. At one point, I looked up to notice an open transom window above her bedroom door, through which quite a bit of sound must have carried. Great. Her housemates might get the impression that I was a super-stud from the appreciation she was giving voice to.
I had to throw my clothes on to go to the toilet midway through a brief period of dozing. I hoped I didn’t run into her housemates. The toilet was out on the back patio and I struggled with the back door lock but made it okay. Back in bed, she was pressed up against me half-asleep until soft grey light crept in.

You’d think it would have been a bit slower and more languid in the morning. Not a chance. We went at it again, hell bent on making up for lost time. Without actually having lost any. Like two people who might have been sexually dormant for some time, or who believe they’re having their last for a while. Or both.

She was going to be late for work so I dressed, casually mentioning my cricket club’s Christmas breakup do on the next Saturday night. I was expecting her to demur but she was all for it. So we kissed and said goodbye.

It had all turned out very well. Exceptionally so. And we had another date lined up.

What could possibly go wrong?

18 November, 2007

A Tale of Two Dates I

There are two types of blogger: those who have written a post about an unsuccessful date; and those who are about to. And I’m about to move seamlessly from the first category to the second. But here there will be a difference. I won’t be lambasting the idiosyncracies and foibles of the co-respondents involved in the disastrous dates that I’ve had. No, I’ll be giving the other point of view. That’s right, the viewpoint of the bad date. It’s an area that appears to be largely unexplored.

Google “Date From Hell.” Then stand back. 141,000 hits. That's a lot of bad date experiences. There’s even a http://www.datefromhell.com/ website that has an ever-expanding archive.

But what about equivalence? In order for you to have a bad date, someone had to be a bad date. So unless there’re just a few people providing all of the bad date experiences bloggers and others put out there, somebody's not fessing up. Is it really possible that there are all of these people out there who have had shitty dates without ever actually being a shitty date? Just who makes up the talent pool of date-wreckers if no-one’s actually ever been one?

It’s an interesting question. Like the one posed by Andre Previn in a witty Punch article around 1970. Then, there was muzak everywhere. Everyone hated it, especially musicians. But musicians must have played on it, otherwise it wouldn’t exist. So who was trading licks in some cheap studio to lay down elevator music and not admitting to it? Somebody must have been.

I think I might be labouring a very poorly-researched point here so…

This three-part series will go through the leadup to and description of two highly contrasting dates from my dimmest, darkest past. It’s not going to be pretty. You can turn back now if you want. I won’t mind. Really.

I’d broken up with a girlfriend just a couple of months previously. Technically, she’d broken up with me. I suppose there’s a small difference. It had progressed to the on-again-off-again stage and would do so for another four months or so. I didn’t mind either way. She did.

But towards Christmas time I was due to play in a social cricket match. It was organized by a mate’s brother and he’d brought along a workmate, Susan and her best friend, Lynette. The best friend was unattached. And on the lookout. My mate’s brother had put it to me thus: “She’s pretty nice and my workmate tells me she hasn’t had a root for ages.”

Lynette turned out to be very attractive. Tall, shapely, long brown hair and two features in particular that always work for me: naturally arched eyebrows; and one eyetooth pointing slightly forward. Either of those do wonders for me. Okay, so far so good.

We were introduced and I made intermittent small talk with Lynette. She did seem very nice. But my housemate was also having a nice old chin wag with her. I think he fancied Lynette too. I was starting to think she reciprocated. They were getting along like a house on fire and I was pretty pissed off. My housemate was quite successful with women in his own right. He didn’t need to be fixed up with anyone. He could find his own way. Me, I was fucking useless. A set up was always welcome. I never knocked back a setup. I couldn’t afford to.

I was padded up ready to go in to bat and lit a cigarette. A wicket fell. “Keep that cigarette burning for me, will you please?” I said to Lynette. “I might not be very long.” She thought that was funny. Now, I wanted to bat well and impress her. I faced up to a medium-pace bowler who pitched his first delivery to me on a good length just outside off stump. The ball started to cut in towards the stumps. It turned out to be his only delivery to me. I waved the bat at it and forgot all about moving my feet.

That terrible skittling sound from behind told me I was out bowled first ball. So I got back in time to finish smoking the cigarette that Lynette was holding for me. I said thanks as I took it from her. She had the giggles, so I grinned sheepishly and joined in. Well, at least I’d made some kind of impact.

There was a party about a week later where we chatted. My housemate couldn’t make it to that party. Probably because I didn’t tell him about it.

The next day, my mate’s brother rang and told me, “Listen, this Lynette thinks you’re very nice and Susan is suggesting you ring her and ask her out. Play your cards right, or at the very least refrain from doing anything stupid and …. um, look just ring her.”

I waited a couple of days and then called to ask if she wanted to go out for dinner one night and suggested The Sea-Going Vegetable, a restaurant in Brunswick St Fitzroy. She did. So we picked a convenient night, the night of the first day of my holidays and I told her I’d pick her up at seven.

The die was cast.

17 November, 2007

Earliest Memory Meme

Mad McColl (go and visit his blog. He writes a great political argument) has tagged me for a meme which goes as follows:

1. Describe your earliest memory where the memory is clear, and where "clear" means you can depict at least three details;
2. Give an estimate of your age at the time;
3. Tag five other bloggers with this meme;

Okay, here goes: My younger brother was born just three days short of my third birthday. I can remember clearly when he was brought home from hospital. He was asleep and all wrapped up. He was being held by our mum and she leaned down so I could get a good look at him.

This was in the hallway of our house in Ascot Vale. Dad was standing behind mum watching. I can dimly remember my older brother and two older sisters, who were 13; 12; and 10 being there. My Gran, who lived with us, was there too because she would have been looking after us while mum was in hospital.

I wasn’t the baby of the family anymore. Well, we’d see about that.

And I’m tagging Blonde Canadian to find out how she felt; Eleanor Bloom because of her wit; Ann O’Dyne because she’s had experiences to fill a three volume autobiography; Boo to hear how she managed the situation; Legal Soapbox because she writes so warmly; and Phish to find out what sort of kid she was.
Hang on, that was six.

Go girls!

04 November, 2007

Guano Inundates Bird Cage

Great article by Simon Castles about corporate hospitality at the Spring Racing Carnival in this morning's Age. You can read it here.

All I'll say is, I don't mind that the rich, famous and privileged have it better than the rest of us. I just don't see why we have to have our fucking noses rubbed in it.

That Pointy State Up There

We spent ten days on Queensland’s Gold Coast in September. It was our second time as a family. Both times we stayed in the same place and did pretty much the same things. And yes, we are aware it’s going to take us a while to run the gamut of Lonely Planet Guidebook locations at this rate.

But when you’re on a good thing, and if it aint broke, cos better the devil you know, and when you’re too fucking lazy to take a risk on somewhere different in case it’s not as good as the last place you went to. Well, you don’t want to spend the whole fucking holiday whinging, do you? It’s not a travel philosophy that many would subscribe to, but it gets me by…

The balcony of our two-bedroom unit at Elanora overlooked a wide canal, where fish made splashing noises after dark. And we also saw a stingray and what must have been a bull shark judging by the fin and the wake late one night. Neighbours told us they’d seen the occasional dolphin too.

So we were in a good spot. There was a hire car included and the location was just too damn convenient. We did pretty much the same things as we did in March 2006, hitting the Worlds one after the other, and then a rest day to watch Geelong thrash Port Adelaide in the AFL Grand Final. I liked the watery worlds better, as for some reason I’m not scared of water slides. But you won’t get me near anything faster than a 1963 Volkswagen on dry land.

We actually went to Wet and Wild twice, so keen were we.

While waiting to go on the Tornado there, I saw something delightful: two very attractive young women were waiting in the ride’s spiral queue. Now, ninety-nine percent of blokes would have put both of them on their Myer Gift Registry. Tall, voluptuous, one blonde, one brunette, I’d noticed them turning heads all over the theme park during the early afternoon.

They got to the front of the line and were met by the attendant who told them that the Tornado was a four-person raft ride and that they would need two more crew. The attendant called out “Is there anyone in a pair who’d like to join up with these two?” Four young fellows were waiting further back and two of them started climbing over railings even before the attendant had finished. “It’s the least we could do,” one of them said as he clambered past me. The girls looked only half-pleased to be helped out. Quite a few people in the line got the giggles.

The young fellows looked like they thought they were on a date. The girls’ body language made it clear that it wasn’t. I hope there was a happy ending for all concerned.

At SeaWorld, Larry snorkeled in the big tank, among reef sharks and even a small hammerhead. I got a bit of a shock when I saw that critter swim past, I can tell you. Um, aren’t they dangerous?

Curly wanted to go in too but we were a bit apprehensive as his swimming and breathing is not quite strong enough just yet. Being nine years old, he just missed the ten-years-or-older cut off. Moe knows his limitations and watched from below.

One thing we did differently was visit O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Lamington National Park. It was a sinuous two hour drive up into the mountains followed by a walk along an elevated boardwalk above the rainforest. Just beautiful.

I hadn’t made the connection, but when we got there, there was a lot of information about Bernard O’Reilly’s rescue of the Stinson survivors in 1937. This is the famous story where a twin-engined Stinson passenger aircraft went missing on a flight between Brisbane and Sydney. The search, centreing around northern NewSouth Wales, had been abandoned when O’Reilly went out into the dense bush, convinced the plane had come down somewhere in the McPherson Ranges. About to turn around and head home, he noticed a brown tree against the normally green forest backdrop and knew he’d found the crash site. The two survivors were badly injured and O’Reilly helped organize local farmers in the difficult task of getting them out safely.

The view from the O’Reilly’s Guesthouse balcony

I would recommend this. We also went to South Stradbroke Island. On a day trip to a tired and rundown resort. I would not recommend this, but Curly and I did enjoy our 15 minute seaplane flight from there.

As we left Queensland the weather was closing in. We’d had ten days of sunshine sandwiched between rainy periods.

My only regret is getting taxis between home in Flemington and Tullamarine Airport at a cost of c. $105 when we could have driven there and parked in the long-term carpark for $67.

30 October, 2007

Brushes With Fame III: Franklin Ajaye

We’d walked, two mates and I, from our cheap hotel on 49th St in mid-town Manhattan to Greenwich Village on a chilly Sunday in late December 1986. The thing about walking in Manhattan is that it’s probably the easiest way to get around the Big Apple, particularly for the wide-eyed tourist. And we could have passed for Marty Feldman.

Walking a distance in New York City is not a problem because the numbered streets ensure the journey is constantly punctuated and there’s plenty to see anyway. Yay, only 32 blocks to go. So we had a late lunch at a café-restaurant somewhere in the Village and made our way around to Washington Square. I was keen to go there just to see it. You’ve read the book, now see the park.

And it didn’t disappoint. Surrounded by old stately houses, dotted with bare winter trees, it had an urban oasis quality to it. And big enough for a range of activities to be going on: some organized; some spontaneous. The Square was populated without being crowded that day and had a really nice vibe to it. We sat on the edge of a fountain and watched the scenes around us. There were a lot of buskers and you could tune in and out of the music each one was playing just by turning your head: the guitar player doing note-perfect early Neil Young; the saxophonist playing The Odd Couple Theme with all of its variations.

But in American cities, we’d found that not all buskers are musicians. There was a small crowd gathered off to the side of us and a guy was holding court. The small crowd of people around him were having a nice old laugh so we went over. The fellow doing the act was a black man, probably in his late 30s. He had a claque of friends who laughed in all the right ways in all of the right places, and added to the show, like a well-primed sitcom audience.

The guy talked about the black experience through American history. And he was funny and poignant about it at the same time. I can’t remember too much of what he said but two things stay with me: the Statue of Liberty had just celebrated its centenary, but he said it meant only that she’d been sticking her torch up black peoples’ asses for a hundred years; and how sanitized, glossy and improbable the Roots TV mini-series’ treatment of the black experience had been. So how the fuck had it managed to make white folks feel so right-on about having watched it?

He engaged with everyone around him in a pretty inclusive way and the feeling was not of having been in an audience, but rather as part of a conversation. And you never got the “Oh shit I hope he doesn’t pick on me,” feeling like with many stand-up comedians. His claque interjected funny lines, engaged with the punters in the crowd and tossed lines out to the punters as well.

He finished up and we put some bills in his hat and went on our way. I didn’t catch his name.

Whenever we talked about that trip in the years since, that black guy always got a mention. How funny he was. And how polished American buskers were, because we saw other very funny acts on beaches and streets in various other American cities too.

So I got a sense of déjà vu when I tuned into The TV show The Panel for the first time, not long after its debut. There was a black American comedian guesting. And he was funny. He looked a little familiar too. More drawling and laconic now, and even more self-effacing. I got on the phone to one of the blokes who had been there in Washington Square that day. He’d watched it too and he was as sure as I was that this Franklin Ajaye was the guy who’d busked Washington Square.
I hoped his television appearance meant that he was successful, and didn’t see or hear of him again for some years.

The next time, I was watching Deadwood on DVD. Now, if I was doing a series of posts on Awesome TV, Deadwood would get a guernsey (would be included, for those unfamiliar with Australian football metaphors). Deadwood is a dirty, vicious, profane western series that draws on such cinematic forebears as Unforgiven; McCabe & Mrs Miller; and The Wild Bunch. Terminal westerns about the end of both the West and The Western.

Franklin Ajaye appeared in the second season, playing the Nigger General, a Civil War veteran who drifted into the North Dakota frontier town and took up residence in the local livery stable. And he was pretty good.

I haven’t seen Ajaye at all since then but I hope his lively character role in Deadwood is an indicator that he’s been successful, and hope to see him in more good quality films and TV shows. And if I ever get back to Washington Square, I’ll look out for him there too. Even though I understand he now lives in Melbourne. Best damn busker I ever saw.

21 October, 2007


The thoughtful, kind and generous Legal Eagle has tagged me for an animal meme which is currently doing the rounds of the blogosphere:

An interesting animal I had:
We acquired an axolotl (aka Mexican Walking Fish) and a tank some years ago. An axolotl is an amphibian closely related to salamanders and newts. They are native to Mexico and can reach adulthood without changing from their larval state, after which they lose the feathery gills located at the back of their head.

As pets, they stay in this larval stage, never leaving the water. But I was curious. I read that if a land base is built up in their tank and iodine is added to the water as the weather gets warmer, they’ll metamorphose. This intrigued me. Lad Litter saw far too many schlocky mad scientist movies as a kid. But over at Party Pooper Central, TLOML was horrified and forbade me from playing God in our house. The shed was the place for that. I was known as Dr Frankenstein for a while afterwards.

An interesting animal I ate:
We’d walked along Sunset Boulevard in the early evening, once more stamping ourselves as tourists, and not-terribly-bright ones. No-one walks Sunset.

Feeling hungry, we entered a restaurant and perused the menu. Escargots anis jumped out at me. I’d never eaten snails and was keen to try. The waiter took my order and came back a short time later.
“The chef just wants to make sure you know what you’re ordering.”
“Of course.”
“And that it is flavoured very strongly with aniseed.”
“Yes, I understand.”

I believe I still don’t know what snails taste like. To me, I was eating those licorice blocks that were the staple fare of primary school tuck shops in the 60s.

An interesting thing I did with or to an animal:
We entered the Killer Whale show at the Stanley Park Aquarium in Vancouver later than the rest of the audience. It was crowded but there was a bank of unoccupied seats right up the front so we sat down and spread out. Ha! We’d sure beaten out all of those schmucks who were jammed into their seats like sardines. The young woman at the microphone said something we didn’t quite catch and the whole crowd looked at us and laughed good naturedly. Probably something about latecomers but, hey, we had great seats for the show.

The show’s finale was for the whales to demonstrate their capacity to leap from the water, leaving a large hole, then gracefully slam down in the centre just as the water rushed in to fill the hole, making a huge splash. Something about concussing their prey or maybe just for sport. The audience chuckled and looked in our direction as the announcer described what was about to happen. Another in-joke, but we were no longer latecomers so what was that all about? Oh well, the orcas swam around the tank getting faster and faster until they all reared up out of the water simultaneously, one of them right in front of us.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion as the orca hung suspended some three metres in the air close to the edge of the tank and our front row seats. It dove into the gaping chasm left in the water by its exit (“We’re going to get soaked,” I thought) as it sent a huge tower of water straight up into the air (“Hang on, I think we’re going to be okay,” I revised) as the waterspout seemed set to collapse in on itself.

But a split-second later it exploded outwards instead. The mother of all splashes did indeed soak us. The auditorium was drenched in full-blown belly laughter. We joined in, the last ones to get the joke. The girl with the microphone came over to commiserate with us. I think we might have been simply the latest in a long line.

An interesting animal at the museum:
There are two main types of whales: toothed whales - which includes dolphins; orcas; sperm whales; porpoises and others; and baleen whales – right whales; blue whales; humpback whales and others.

Toothed whales hunt their prey, mostly fish, while baleen whales gather it. A baleen whale will hold huge amounts of water containing plankton in its mouth, and then strain the water out through baleen, which takes the place of teeth in whales belonging to this type. The plankton that’s left is then swallowed.

At the Melbourne Museum there was baleen in a hands-on display. It felt like giant fingernails.

An interesting animal in its natural habitat:
I'm terrified of sharks. I swim nervously in the sea, and don't dive. But a dive into Port Phillip Bay sounded a pretty good thing to do during a Queenscliff holiday.

Through the kelp beds at the edge of Pope’s Eye we circled. An unanticipated variety of fish ignored us. Around Chinaman’s Hat, the old navigation marker where male seals unsuccessful at mating congregated, we swam. Even from our watery vantage point, it was uncomfortably reminiscent of some share houses I'd lived in. Even the smells.

Then, the dolphins, mother and child. They swam alongside us as we were towed on a long rope out the back of the boat, making eye-contact and smiling anthropomorphically.

I repeated the experience when my mate from SW Yorkshire came over. He raved about it.

One year later, press reports appeared of a Great White Shark in Port Phillip Bay. I confronted TLOML’s brother-in-law, a keen fisherman.
“Hang on, Great Whites come into Port Phillip Bay?!”
“Yes, not that often, but not all that rarely either.”
“I thought they never came into the Bay. NEVER. Even if the last reported sighting had been in 1868, I WOULD NOT have done those two diving with the dolphins things.”

I still get the occasional shudder, but I’ve done it, so I don’t have to do it again.

16 October, 2007

Just Slip Out The Back, Jack...

Fucking work again. I’m filled with the ol’ tell-tale dread every morning. It’s not all that bad when I get there, but it’s never actually good. I’ve been phoning it in this year, without working from home either. So I’ve come to a decision.


I’m applying to take next year off. I’ve got nearly five months Long Service Leave, which would take me up to around mid-June and then I should be able to get Leave Without Pay for the rest.
I’ll spend the first couple of months fixing up the house a bit, or at the very least removing the many signs of my criminal neglect. Not that I’m not house proud, just lazy. Physically, morally, intellectually, socially. Read my profile, and don’t say you weren’t warned.

The next couple of months after the home maintenance frenzy will be spent looking for the SOMETHING ELSE that might prevent me having to go slinking back to my current job with my tail between my legs. Well, at least then I’d have something between my legs.

Oh, there’s just the small matter of my boss approving all of this. He has a higher opinion of me than I do. He took a bit of a punt giving me the job in the first place. He’s probably weighing up the costs and benefits of not having me around in 2008:


1) I’m the only one who knows how to do certain things that need to be done. I’m sure a few of my colleagues put up with my incompetence because I’ve taken on areas of responsibility they’d rather avoid;

2) I’ve set a few things in motion that might fizzle out without me. (see Benefits 2) below);

3) I’m not such a bad fellow at times. Really;

4) I’ve had some very expensive training paid for by work;

5) I’ll probably end up coming back;

6) They’ll have to get The Office out on DVD if they want to see a dickhead in a workplace setting who thinks he’s a lot funnier than he really is;


1) I’ve become a liability. And not the tax-deductible kind either;

2) How will the things I’m doing get done without me? Better;

3) Someone who doesn’t want to be there won’t be;

TLOML supports me in this. She doesn’t want me to just spiral downwards. She’s in the same line of work and understands the pitfalls.

It would really piss me off if I had to saddle up again next year.

And no, I’m not a jockey. I just use loads of pissy cliches. I told you I was lazy.

23 September, 2007

Travelling North

I had just the one week back at work after an inguinal hernia operation laid me low for twenty-four working days. The surgeon had told me to take it easy. It probably won't surprise you to learn that I followed his advice diligently.

This morning we board a Virgin flight to Coolangatta for 10 days on the Gold Coast.

We'll be staying at Elanora, 25 minutes south of Surfers' Paradise. I'm looking forward to all of the Worlds but not the crowds we'll encounter there. TLOML will no doubt embrass me again by being the only woman I see without a tattoo.

Having been once before and enjoyed it, I can't bring myself to be too critical of the south Queensland tourist mecca. But that beach at Surfers' Paradise is treacherous. Ocean Grove it's not.

There is a handy shopping mall close by where we'll be staying so I'll try to sneak into the library and update this sadly neglected blog with tidbits of info about how we're going.

Enjoy the southern hemisphere Spring, wherever you may be.

07 September, 2007

‘Cos You Know Sometimes Words Have Two Meanings...

This post concludes the teasy one from about three weeks back which alluded to an Interactive All-Male Review. And, I’m really sorry for this but you’re bound to be disappointed.

“Who was that you were on the phone with for the past 45 minutes?”
“Johnno, He just got back from Warrnambool.”
“Well, did you find out details of what went on when he was working at Crystal T’s in the mid-80s?”
“Yep. He filled in a few gaps. But he left a few too…”

Johnno is a lifelong mate who had a couple of itinerant years back then. He just picked up work wherever he could, usually through mates.

One particular mate got him a job at Crystal T’s, a legendary strip-joint in Brunswick. Crystal T’s was famous for its hen’s nights. Johnno was initially in charge of catching the stripper’s garments when they were thrown into the crowd. Caught in the midst of a few mad scrambles from the girls trying to collect a souvenir, he reckons it gave him a better appreciation of the type of pressure rugby players are under during a scrum. After proving himself in this highly specialized task, Johnno was then head-hunted into the role of making sure the manually operated spotlight found its mark.

So I asked Johnno to recall some of the more prurient aspects of his time working at Crystal T’s. You know, what a large group of women brought to fever-pitch by the occasion of a hen’s night, plenty to drink and the presence of scantily clad, buffed male strippers might get up to.

“Well, it was pretty hot stuff,” he told me. “There was one time when we were on the road, at the Traralgon or Morwell Town Hall, the chicks had to walk past where I was standing operating the spotlight to get to the toilet. Quite a few of them squeezed my bum. On the way there and back.”

“Alright. That’s pretty good. But weren’t there times when chicks were randomly sucking blokes off in the toilets, or flashing their tits at the strippers?”

“Oh, not really. Sometimes the strippers used to take excited girls back into the dressing rooms. But I never saw any of that.”

“Hm. So what happened that was, you know, hot?”

“Well, once there were these girls hanging around post-show and I ended up taking one back to my place, but that was about it.”

“You had sex though.”

“Yeah, but look, there were no Bacchanalian orgy scenes at Crystal T’s or anything.”

“Shit. I sort of promised I’d be writing this up on my blog and so far, it’s just not really as exciting as I hinted it might be. My blog’s going to suffer some credibility issues if it’s not salacious enough.”

“Well, just make up some bullshit then. You ought to be okay at that from job interviews. Gild the fucking lily. Look, I suppose there were some fairly striking things about it though. For example, female crowds were a lot different from when the blokes were in.”

“How so?”

“Um, the women seemed to be there for a good time and to have a few laughs. They’d be cacking themselves at the strippers’ antics and at each other. Really getting into the fun side of things. Whereas the blokes would be much more serious. Really aroused and loud about it. Almost out of control, some of them. The hens’ nights were much better to work at because the women were pretty well-behaved really. The blokes would be a bit too much.”


“But there was a hierarchy there too. The strippers were like rock stars and we were the road crew. No self-respecting chick is going to be throwing herself at the road crew for chrissakes. And the female strippers would only have casual sex with male strippers. And they didn’t talk to us or acknowledge us very much at all.”

“Fuck. I’ve sort of indicated that there were some pretty raunchy goings on. And that’s all that happened?”

“Sorry, mate. Look, why don’t you write about all the times gay men have come onto you because they think you’re gay. And how you reckon you don’t send out signals. We’ve had a few lost-bladder-control cackfests reminiscing about that. Surely that’d be okay for a post.”

“Fucking shut up. I don’t need you to suggest blog subjects for me. Jesus, you worked in a strip joint and didn’t fucking see anything. And I don’t send out signals. There was just that one time in San Francisco in the mid-80’s when I had a moustache and happened to be wearing a turtle-necked sweater. That’s not sending out signals.”

“No, of course not. Sorry mate. One thing though. I can remember seeing a bloke in a suit, straight fair hair, glasses. Bit of a Pointdexter. A Mr Peabody lookalike. He might have been a bit younger then but, you don’t think it could have been….”

“Get fucked.”

04 September, 2007

On Drugs I: Viagra

at attention; beef bayonet; best friend; the bishop; bitch splitter; blood sport; boinger; bone; boner; BMW ( big morning wood); bone; Captain Standish; cenotaph; driftwood; edifice complex; erection; Eric; fat; flagpole; flesh rocket; Frankenboner; HOFNAR (hard on for no apparent reason); heat-seeking moisture missile; horn; hummer; happy to see you; hard; hard-on; K-2; man cannon; man meat; meat pole; meat staff; meat whistle; morning glory; morning horn; morning missile; morning wood; Norwegian Wood; NRB (no reason boner); pitching a tent; pop-up; President Wilson; pulsator; raising the flag; rampant; red rocket; rigor mortis; rod; have one's safety-cap off ; schwing; skin flute; standing to attention; stiff; stiffy; saluting the general; sunrise surprise; the Battle of the Bulge; throb; throbber; Tony Danza; trouser tent; truncheon; tumescent; turgid; upstanding citizen; wonder muscle; wood; woodrow; woody; yogurt cannon.

There, that should get me some interesting google traffic.

All of the above synonyms for an erection were obtained thanks to our good friends at thesaurus.com, plus some prior knowledge on my part.

I first used viagra, the commercial name of slidenafil citrate, in June 2005 and have used it once more since, in June this year.

Now, let’s get some alpha male disclaimers out of the way first: I’m no softcock. I get wood. But just once in a blue moon, I come up short. Not often. Not over long periods, but it has happened. In a please-allow-for-shrinkage kind of way. The spirit has been willing but the flesh has been, well, weak. How many times? I can’t remember exactly but we both know that I would crack under cross-examination if it came down to it.

Let’s just say, about as frequently as the Rolling Stones have toured Australia. Four. And you could probably throw in Mick Jagger’s two solo tours as well to get nearer the number. Okay let’s say six.

So it wasn’t a matter of me needing desperately to use viagra, but rather a case of curiosity to find out what it might actually do. You’ve read the spam, heard the gags, now pop the pills.

It first happened when I was off work and on WorkCover. I’d been copping some fairly sustained workplace bullying from my two superiors where I was working at the time. Really nasty, what-fucking-planet-are-you-on bullshit. All related to my membership of and commitment to a union. You know there’s going to be a post on this. But the Reader’s Digest condensed version is that I felt under threat and shithouse and went on sick leave. The WorkCover claim was accepted without going to conciliation because it was such an open-and-shut-case of deliberate and systematic employee harassment.

While I was at home, I felt pretty fragile but not depressed, because I hadn’t done anything wrong. The GP offered to prescribe anti-depressants but I said no thanks, worried they might affect my capacity to have the odd choof. But then I got an idea. Why not ask for a viagra prescription? Our wedding anniversary was coming up and TLOML and I had booked ourselves into a plush hotel on Queens Rd for the weekend.

So I told the GP I’d had some performance issues. If anything, the opposite was true. Stress had seemed to increase both desire and performance. I was chasing TLOML around the house.

And so on the spur of the moment, just to see what would happen, I lied to my GP to get a viagra prescription. For scientific purposes, you understand. $74 lighter in the wallet I arrived home in possession of four diamond-shaped, pale blue tablets.

The GP had advised taking half a tab. Fuck that. I wanted the full effect. He also told me that I might feel hot flushes, headaches, and even possibly a little light headedness of the almost-fainting variety as side effects.

But I didn’t want TLOML to know that I was going to be performance-enhanced. Half of this was for reasons of scientific validity. The rest was fear she might be upset with me for not consulting her.

The big weekend arrived and mid-afternoon we checked into our suite six floors up with views over Albert Park. I went into the bathroom and took a tablet. Then smoked a joint while we drank complimentary champagne. The itinerary, typical anniversary fare, was quickly agreed on: some champagne and relaxation in the suite; upstairs to the spa and sauna; back to the suite for sex; more champagne; dinner in the downstairs restaurant; back to the suite for sex; sleep; sex on awakening; breakfast and then home.

It was going to take about half an hour for the viagra to kick in. At around the twenty minute mark, I lowered myself into the spa and immediately felt a pleasant warm flush all over. Then, what with the warmth and the bubbles and TLOML sitting opposite me with those big beautiful eyes in full bedroom mode, I was suddenly given the impression that I had the Washington Monument inside my boardshorts.

Luckily, we were alone in the spa so I stood up to give TLOML a quick peek at the bulge. I sat down quickly when the thought jumped into my head that there might be some CCTV for security and safety. We didn’t stay in the spa for long, just in case some other guests arrived and I couldn’t get out without giving anyone an eyeful.

The rest of our stay panned out exactly as described above. It was a very enthusiastic celebration of our wedding anniversary. And events matched the occasion too.

Anyway, here are some notes for usage, in no particular order:

1) Viagra is available by prescription only;
2) Viagra is ideal for recreational use. You get certainty;
3) The only side effect I experienced was the warm flushing, but that was not entirely unpleasant;
4) Viagra doesn’t give you an erection. You have to be aroused. But the erection you get is the real McCoy;
5) Viagra allows erections to be maintained and re-activated;
6) Viagra is supposed to have aphrodisiac properties. This is debatable. You’re already aroused and you’ve got a raging stiffy. That’s only going to intensify your libidinous urges. I’d be more inclined to ascribe a catalytic effect on sex-drive to viagra due to the enhanced erection it generates. Oh, I also experienced a feeling of increased energy during the actual fucking. Lil’ ol’ piston rod me;
7) You don’t get bigger. Sorry folks. But it does allow you to reach your full potential;
8) Half a tab is plenty. That should give you eight encounters per prescription. They’re pretty difficult to cut as the white interior is a bit crumbly once you’re through the smooth, pale-blue coating. I used pliers and a vice to snap the tabs in half. This needs to be handled very delicately. It didn’t break cleanly, but I didn’t lose any either;
9) There appears to be a fairly pronounced inhibiting effect on ejaculation. But you’ll have no trouble putting in the time and effort. This can be a good thing (long intercourse); and a bad thing (ahem, wear and tear). You would do well to keep a suitable lubricant handy;

During that stay at the hotel, I took one tablet in the afternoon as described above and one more in the evening after dinner. One for each session on the first day. But not in the morning after we awoke dreamily. Nope, no viagra required there.

27 August, 2007

On Drugs: An Occasional Series

In this latest occasional series, I’ll be going through my experiences with a variety of drugs. I’ll be doing it in order too, from most recently-used to first-used.

Why drugs? Well, why not? They’re all around us and I’m hoping to add to the store of human knowledge, debunk some urban myths and maybe even provide something of a Frommer’s or Lonely Planet-type Guide. It won’t be encyclopaedic because my experiences don’t run the whole gamut. But you might find it interesting.

I’m expecting there to be some spirited commenting on the back end of all of this too. Lift up your voices!

18 August, 2007

How Does It Feel?

A good mate had an article on Bob Dylan published in the Age on Monday. The A-Z of Bob and Other Weird Stuff. Give the kid a break and check it out.


17 August, 2007

The Ballad of Lad Litter and TLOML VII: Against All Odds – Lad Litter’s Guide To Winning A Woman™

Here it is folks: How To Find A Woman Despite Total Incompetence: Based On What I Did In The Previous Posts On This Matter. It’s a longish set of sub-titles but conveys fairly precise meaning, don’t you think? Perhaps not.

Just a couple of disclaimers first: this is a very complex area; my expertise is limited; any advice given here is not in any order of priority; and said advice probably won’t work.

1) Well, you do have to make an effort. I really wanted to say that doing nothing and waiting for something to just fall right into your lap was the way to go, but the evidence simply doesn’t bear this out. Even though it felt that way to me at the time. And it would’ve been nice to be able to directly contradict every single smug self-help bullshit artist on the planet. Fuck it. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

You have to show interest. Not too much: if your eyes bug out with an accompanying klaxon sound when you see her and your jaw drops to the floor allowing your tongue to roll along after it, you’re overdoing it.

But not too little either: You can’t rely on her showing interest if you don’t. I know women sometimes do make the first move, but believe me, this is rare. And if you’re the sort of bloke who reads blogs like this one, then chances are you’re not beating chicks off with a baseball bat.

So, pay attention to her. Listen carefully to what she says and if you can, slip in some of the funny stuff, making sure it’s supportive of what she’s saying. Because if the two of you can do a bit of laughing together, even better. So if you get the impression she’s just said something funny, laugh with her. You may miss the cues for her gags if you’re mentally undressing her. Watch out for that.

2) The eternal dilemma: do you be yourself, and risk saying or doing something stupid? Or be guarded and chance having her think you’re a cold fish? Well, the answer in most cases would appear to be striking a delicate balance between the two.

You need to be on something approaching your best behaviour, but with a bit of your true self on display there too. Be gentlemanly, but not foppishly or grandly so. Be casual, but not so at ease that you go into the toilet and continue the conversation with the door open.

3) For chrissakes get sick. This is very important. Hurry! Before you fuck things up and she dumps you. It’s no good getting sick after the dumping. She’ll be more likely to think you’re faking it then. Especially if you are.

4) Act like you belong in a relationship, even if it feels a bit funny. So when in a social gathering among friends, don’t grin broadly and nod your head in the direction of your date with a “Golly, look what I got,” expression.

You need to be casual and natural about the new and exciting presence of a girlfriend. So be attentive without smothering or dominating her. But don’t just leave her and go off to chat with your mates. This is a really hard one. I STILL fuck this one up.

In fact, I still fuck a lot of it up, and we’ve been married for 18 years.

15 August, 2007

There's A Sign On The Wall But She Wants To Be Sure...

We were off to a 17th birthday party for TLOML's niece so we drove down King St on the way to Big Sister's in Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs. We were stopped in traffic, which gave TLOML and I a chance to browse some of the signs outside King St's strip clubs.

One sign immediately grabbed our attention. It read something like this: Interactive All-Male Revue.

TLOML looked at me with a raised eyebrow. The traffic cleared and we drove on.

Later when we were away from the radar-like ears of Moe; Larry; and Curly, she asked knowingly:

"What would interactive mean in the context of a strip show, I wonder?"
"It might represent the appropriation of a term most closely associated with computer programs," I explained. "Interactive means you can influence the way the application runs, and the application will, um, respond to what you do. Hands on is a synonym for interactive."

"And in the context of An All-Male Revue?"

"Well, remember when Johnno had that job at Crystal T's ages ago? He told me in some detail how those shows used to get very hands on."

"I think I understand. But you've never mentioned Johnno having a job at Crystal T's before. What sorts of things went on?"

"Well, this is only hearsay you understand, but...I'll have to ring Johnno tomorrow to get precise details. Can you wait?"


And I hope you can too.

05 August, 2007

Great Gigs I: John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers; the Chevron; 1982

When I first heard late in 1981 that a reformed John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers lineup were about to tour Australia, I was absolutely rapt. A visit by one of the key influences on the British blues scene of the 60s was no small matter.

For non-aficionados, the Bluesbreakers were a proving-ground for a host of brilliant players who would establish ironclad blues credentials in the Bluesbreakers and then go on to greater fame in other groups: guitar players Eric Clapton; Peter Green; and Mick Taylor; bass players Jack Bruce; and John McVie; drummers Aynsley Dunbar and Colin Allen.

For devotees, it didn’t really matter what lineup was current, John Mayall was a fabulous multi-instrumentalist writing and arranging driving force, responsible for the core sound and feel of the group.

Like many, I’d sought out albums like: Bluesbreakers, A Hard Road; Crusade; and Blues From Laurel Canyon to get in touch with earlier influences and incarnations of those stars of the late 60s blues-rock scene.

And in doing that, I became a fan of the Bluesbreakers, not just an admirer of prominent individuals within the group.

The reformed lineup for this tour was a beauty: Mayall; ex-Rolling Stones guitar player Mick Taylor; Fleetwood Mac’s bassist John McVie; and drummer Colin Allen.

The lack of publicity and coverage for this tour by such famous names was disappointingly scant. No, they didn’t get on Countdown, and I can’t remember much press coverage beyond the odd radio grab and tiny newspaper article. Just enough to know they were here and where they were playing and that’s all.

And it’s funny to look back at how these blokes were viewed in those days. They were rock and blues veterans, old-timers. Which makes it interesting to consider their ages at the time: Mayall 49; Taylor 34; McVie 36; and Allen 39. Hardly dinosaurs by today’s standards, especially when you remember that the still-touring Stones are all in their mid-6os.

They were doing two gigs in Melbourne: the Chevron in St Kilda; and the Pier Hotel in Frankston.

The four of us were all still living at home, so we had to bong in the car on the way, pulling into side streets so the driver could have his go. Somebody had forgotten to bring water for the pipe, so we used Coke. Now, don’t get excited. Coke A COLA. I didn’t mind the fizz but my mates hated it. I started to feel paranoid. They weren’t genuine fans of the Bluesbreakers, either. Maybe they’d want to leave before the finish just to piss me off.

The mood calmed when we tried several times to stockpile the smoke in the car and then open one window so that the smoke would pour out in a stream as we drove along. It was lucky our arrival at the Chevron stopped the arguments about airflow. Then we argued about parking.

Inside the Chevron, there was a big buzz of anticipation before they took to the stage. The crowd was overwhelmingly male, and there seemed to be almost a gestalt thing happening. Like we belonged to an exclusive club who knew blues like nobody else and were about to have some hopes realized by seeing and hearing some of its greatest exponents.

Mick Taylor was very dressy in a brown silk shirt with matching cream tie, jacket and trousers. Seven years later, he was to wear the exact same outfit at the Stones induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. So we have one thing in common, Mick and I. We both wear clothes until they fall off us. John McVie continued in his range of homeless beachwear made famous in Fleetwood Mac; and Mayall wore a silk jacket which later came off to reveal an almost-buffed physique in a blue singlet.

The welcome they got from the crowd was loud and loving and made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, spreading to an all over rush. Now, I thought these blokes were great. Really admired their musicianship. But I was starting to get an insight into what I thought girl fans might feel at those piss-your-pants-hysterical pop concerts.

I turned to my mate and said emphatically, “Hey I think I just had like, I dunno, a female orgasm or something.”
“Fuck off,” even more emphatically.

The set was a mix of Bluesbreakers’ old and new, the back catalogue represented mainly by songs from the 1967-69 period, roughly when Taylor, McVie and Allen were last members of the group.

They went through most of the numbers that would appear on the soon-to-be-released albums, and a couple of old timers like My Time After A While and Have You Heard.

I stood on tiptoes to get a longer view. Taylor had strapped on a red sunburst Gibson Les Paul, of which I had a cheap Ibanez copy sitting at home. His playing was all that I expected it to be: Claptonesque? Sure, but with a different kind of fluidity and his own set of blues licks. He seemed to play everything soulfully, including the now-soaring, now-stinging slide guitar passages, but with a kind of sweet aftertaste. His playing was very similar to how I remembered it from the Rolling Stones film, Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones.

John McVie played pulsing bass lines, with a nice bright sound that cut through, and gave Colin Allen plenty to work in with, and space to play around the beat with rolls and triplets.

But Mayall was the master. He played blues harp really energetically and in a range of different blues styles, quintessentially authentic, with all the wailing and chugging in the right places. And not too much repetition.

He did a stint on keyboards, a couple of songs with an acoustic guitar strapped on, and sang up a storm through it all. But he was without doubt the best band frontman I have ever seen.

You’ve got to remember that this was a crowd that had come to see British Blues’ pre-eminent elder statesman. We all expected to be impressed by his presence, but he went much further than that. He was charming, charismatic, and reached out to the audience as fellow blues devotees. Like we were all mates. You could imagine him having this effect everywhere: in London; Chicago; the Deep South; you name it.

Okay, there’s some purple prose north of here, but this was a great gig. They could have done encore after encore until daybreak as the audience didn’t stint on the appreciation. And when they finally did leave the stage, we’d all had a seminal musical experience.

There was a lot of love in the room that night.