Friday, December 29, 2006

Worse than an alarm clock.

Here it is, my Christmas break, three weeks off work, and I still get up at an ungodly hour. Seems once I'm awake, I'm awake, and the brain goes into overdrive. All these creative ideas clamouring for attention all at once, won't let a bloke sleep.

I wonder if, as time goes on, evolution will provide us with a soundproof brain.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Random activity.

Just putting down some random thoughts, clearing out the cobwebs.

  • Went to see the animated movie Happy Feet, yesterday. A lot of cliches, and heavy on the pathos, but still a good movie. The music makes it, with excellent rearrangements of some classics. And the choreography is great. Top animated effects as well. Worth going to have a look.
  • Got two jigsaws for Christmas. Which one do I do first?
  • If we had the opportunity to see the people in our life from another person's point of view, would we want to?
  • A baby bird was killed by a dog in the park the other day. Do its parents miss it?
  • Am I ever going to finish this damn book?
  • While on the subject of writing, my goal for the New Year is to get a short story published. Wonder how I'll feel when it happens. Be like winning the lottery, wouldn't it?
  • I seem to have cut back a bit on my reading this year. Need to try and make up for it next year.
  • Has anybody answered the musical question "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Season's Greetings.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Subjective Dictionary - A.

The idea of the Subjective Dictionary is to fill it with words and phrases/terms that are of special significance to you at this point in time, followed by why they mean so much.

Naturally, you begin with the letter A.

A is for ...
  • APOLOGY - Alphabetically speaking, this is out of place, but it's an appropriate word to kick off with because I think I owe one to the people who come to this blog. I know there are people who visit on a regular basis, and I can imagine their annoyance at nothing being written here for the last couple of months or so. Kind of like visiting your favourite pub, only to find it's always closed for stocktake.
    So, without making excuses for my slack attitude - I have none - my apologies and a promise to make more of an effort to keep the Retreat vibrant. Now, on with the dictionary proper
  • ABLAZE - Three States across Australia currently on fire. In Victoria alone, over 600,000 hectares (1,482,633 acres) have been incinerated. Many properties have been lost. Unfortunately, so has a life. As I write this, the township of Mansfield is bracing for an ember attack.
    Summer has always marked the bushfire season, but with Australia suffering the worst drought in 100 years, the problem has been compounded. Surprisingly, South Australia hasn't ignited yet, but I feel it's only a matter of time. Our prayers and thoughts are with those brave souls who are valiantly battling the fires.
  • ABSOLUTE - A word that means finality, without variance; black and white, without grey. More and more, lately, I seem to be encountering people with this attitude. Everything runs in cycles. Could it be we are returning to an era of intolerance and close-mindedness?
  • ABUSE - We hear and see so much of this in our daily lives; racial abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, civil rights abuse. It's getting to the stage where the word itself is practically being abused. Any right-minded member of society naturally cringes at evidence of any kind of mistreatment, and for those who have suffered, the pain runs deep. Sometimes, far deeper than they realise. As I discovered a few months back.
    My childhood was not a nice place. Details aren't necessary; that's just the way it was. Needless to say, by the time I left my teens behind, I was a mess. Over the years, I have had to face my reflection and deal with who I am, gradually coming to terms. That I still have a way to go was brought home to me by a radio show one morning.
    The announcers of a breakfast show on one of the local radio stations were lightheartedly discussing a news item about the proposed reintroduction of corporal punishment in our schools. The discussion went off on a tangent about the different forms of punishment doled out by our parents, and they invited listeners to ring in and describe how they had been chastised. I appreciate that it was all in a bit of fun, and they weren't being analytical by any means, but I was surprised to realise that their comments were stinging some areas which I had thought calloused. By the end of the segment, I was emotionally responding exactly as if I had actually been abused.
    I suppose the bruises may fade, and the scars are less livid, but inside ...well.
  • ACCIDENT, The - September 23, 1993 - 4:30pm. It was bad, it was horrific. I died. They brought me back. Apparently I wasn't happy with their first effort, so made them repeat the process.
    Many things changed that day.
  • AGGRO - Bloke I work with. Constantly ranting and raving, non-stop whingeing; a headache on legs. Brags about only having about four hours sleep a night, so I'm not surprised he's got such a lousy temperament.
  • ANCHOR - This would be my partner, S. Since meeting this wonderful woman, my life has had substance and foundation. I no longer feel like I'm adrift.
  • ANTS - With the advent of the warmer weather, they're on the move. Why the feel they need to move inside, though...
  • AUSTRALIA - A great country with extraordinary potential. The problem is, we seem to be losing our identity. Political correctness, combined with saturation levels of other cultures, is eroding that essence which is Australian.
    It's time to stop bending over backwards, trying to please all-comers. It's time to stand up and say; "No! This is our country. We made it ours, and it made us. We are kangaroos, koalas, emus, the duck-billed platypus. We are football, cricket, meat pies. We are sun-blistered, rain-soaked, cyclone Tracy. We are the Outback, the Nullabor Plain, the mountains blue with the haze of eucalyptus. We are Australia, and it's not for sale at any price!"

Well, that's it for the A's of the subjective dictionary. There are probably more that could be added, but these are the most immediate to hand, thus the most significant at this point in time. I'll start thinking about the B's now

Once again, apologies for the lack of input over the last few months.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Crusin' with my girl.

Last September, we celebrated S's birthday with an evening dinner cruise on the Spirit Of Melbourne, a floating restaurant that cruises up the Yarra River. The dinner was a prize I had won earlier in the year, and it just so happened that S's birthday fell on one of the cruising nights, so it was a natural progression. It also seemed natural to book a hotel room for the evening. I managed to get one on Collins Street, right in the heart of the city and only a ten minute walk from where we were to embark.

It turned out to be one of those glorious Spring days; bright sunshine, mild temperature, a cool evening to follow. One of those days when it's impossible to believe that anything has ever been wrong with the world.

We set off from the hotel a little earlier than we really needed to - mainly because I'm a relative newcomer to Melbourne and was somewhat anxious that we might miss the boat - even though S, who has lived here all her life, assured me we would have plenty of time. So, dressed in our finery, S and I walked through the centre of town and across the river to the pier on Southbank.

Of course, we got to the pier with time to spare. In fact, we got there before the Spirit Of Melbourne did, and there were some anxious moments when I thought I had maybe got the times wrong and it had sailed without us. This fear was further compound by the presence of a rather dilapidated looking houseboat on the next mooring. It had obviously been converted as a restaurant, but it didn't looking exactly inviting. S apparently didn't think so either; I could tell by the tone of her voice when she asked me if that was the boat. I bravely said that it wasn't - it had the wrong name - but I was secretly worried. Shortly, however, other people began showing up and milling about, and I took comfort from that, although I did notice some of them throwing glances at the houseboat. I think there may been a collective sense of relief when a beautiful low cut craft with large expanses of glass smoothly slinked up to the jetty.

We were greeted by the skipper of the boat who asked our names as we embarked. These he passed on to a waitress who was waiting to show us to our tables. S and I were the first to board and we were led to a table right next to one of the windows on the starboard side. Almost as soon as everyone was seated, the boat eased away from the dock, and our dinner cruise began.

It was one of the best nights S and I have shared. We moved along the river at a leisurely pace. Spotlights on top of the boat lit up the riverbank. In between courses, we watched the bank slide by, marvelling at some of the houses overlooking the water. Every now and then we would spot roosting waterfowl, or possums moving through the branches of the trees. Most of the time, the trees and shrubs beside the water were simply varying shades of grey, their tortured shadows crawling across the ground as the spotlights went past. Occasionally though, we would go past a tree whose leaves would shine in the light. Quite eerie looking, and somewhat awe inspiring. It's easy to see why the ancients would revere such a tree as spiritual when first seen in moonlight.

About three quarters-of-an-hour into the cruise we swung around Herring Island. Looking at its reed covered waterfront and bushy embankments, I suddenly knew I had found the dumping ground for the killer in my book. Now that Summer is here, you can take a boat across to the island. With a bit of luck, I might be able to do that and have a look around during the Christmas break.

The cruise took three hours and seven courses. The food was luxurious, and so much of it! I pride myself on being able to empty a plate that's set before me but, by the time the dessert arrived, I was stuffed. My plate went back with food still on it. And I couldn't even face the cheese platter that followed. A couple of times, S and I went up top and stood on the observation deck, just to try and let dinner settle a bit. It seemed so quiet and tranquil, and it was quite cold. At one stage, on the return leg, we had to duck our heads as we passed underneath one of the bridges that span the Yarra. We eventually arrived back at Southbank and disembarked. S and I took a leisurely stroll along the river, down to the casino, where we spent an hour or so before returning to our hotel room.

If ever you are in Melbourne. and looking for something to do, I highly recommend the dinner cruise on the Yarra.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Avast there! Ye scurvy dogs!

Today be International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arrr. I figured if you're going to talk like a pirate, you need a pirate name. Here is mine;

My pirate name is:

Red Roger Rackham

Passion is a big part of your life, which makes sense for a pirate. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Of all the international days, this one sounds like a bit of good fun, and it's slowly catching on. Could be it's time for an Australian chapter.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Crocodile Hunter, 1962-2006.

Wildlife around the world lost one of its greatest ambassadors yesterday with the death of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. Ironically, for all the highly dangerous animals he encountered, it was a freak incident with a creature not considered as deadly - a stingray - which ended his life.

He was a larger-than- life character, the quintessential Aussie larrikin - as evidenced by his taking his new bride crocodile hunting for a honeymoon - and a true champion for the conservation of our wildlife. Few have done as much as Steve Irwin to raise our consciousness to the plight of the world's creatures.

This blog expresses deep sympathy to his family.

The picture on the right was drawn by daughter, E, as a tribute.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Have you tried the Yellow Pages?

Melbourne taxi driver Jack Thomas (Jihad Jack) became the first person in Australia to be imprisoned under the country's new anti terrorism laws. Six months into his sentence, his conviction was overturned on appeal. It appears that the interview in which he admitted his complicity with Al-Queda was illegal.

So Jack gets out of gaol and decides to go with his family to the seaside, to ostensibly get away for a while and let the dust settle. The holiday was cut short and he was forced to return to Melbourne when he was served with a control order by the Australian Federal Police yesterday. The order places Mr. Thomas under a strict nighttime curfew at his parents' house, and he must report to a police station three times a week. He is also banned from using any telephone that hasn't been approved by the AFP.

Naturally, he is not allowed to contact any proscribed terrorist organisation. And he is specifically forbidden to contact Osama Bin Laden.

After all the time, money and effort we've put into trying to find Bin Laden, are you trying to tell me an ex taxi driver from Melbourne has the wherewithall to get in touch with him and speak to him personally?

What, does he have his number on speed dial?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ouch! Literarily tagged.

Some of the memes floating through blogs leave a lot to be desired, and normally I'd politely decline to play along. However, occasionally there's one that piques the imagination. Miss Eagle at the Trad Pad tagged me with one such meme.
One Book That Changed Your Life.
I don't know that there's one book as such; more like a sentence in the front of a book. So I guess the book takes the honour by association.
It was an encycloædia given to me for a birthday. One of those encapsulated varieties, with pictures, A - Z in the one volume: you know the type. The quote was "In reading lies knowledge, in knowledge lies wisdom." I can't find any reference on who said this, but it has stuck with me through my life, and greatly influenced the way I read, and look at books.
One Book You've Read More Than Once.
This one's easy. Harry Potter; all the books.
I was a late bloomer when it came to Harry Potter. But, when I did finally read The Philosopher's Stone, I was impressed. A ripping good yarn with lots of magic and mystery to fire the imagination. The magic continued with the following books, and I like the way that as the characters got older, so did the writing style in the books.
One book you’d want on a desert island.
Why do they always make these things so hard? Only one book? That's like telling a chocoholic only one piece! Impossible.
No, I'm afraid I will have to put my foot down and demand that the desert island has a library, or they can find someone else to shipwreck.
One book that made you giddy.
Aside from the volume of Encyclopædia Britannica that fell off the shelf and hit me on the head?
I'm not sure what is meant by "giddy" in this instance, but if it means feeling dazed and shell-shocked after having ploughed through a tome, then Edgar Allan Poe wins hands down. To finish his Tales Of Mystery And Horror was a real accomplishment, worthy of a Victoria Cross, I reckon. Full of classical allusions, phrases in foreign languages, and full of that wonderfully archaic English which would have challenged even Roget. I certainly came away from this one numb.
One book that you wish had been written.
It's almost finished - in my head - but I get so slack. Procrastination is an old adversary.
One book that wracked you with sobs.
I'm afraid I can't name any book that has had this effect on me. Unless of course you count the volume of Encyclopædia Britannica that fell off the ...
One book you wish had never been written.
I'm probably going to upset a few people with this answer.
The Bible.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the Bible is a bad book, but if ever there has been a symbol of fundamentalism, the Bible is it. Perhaps, in the beginning, it was looked upon as a guide to life and the worship of God, but over the centuries it has been used as a tool of subjugation, oppression, fanaticism, apartheid, and countless other attrocities. Organised religion siezed upon it and held it up as evidence of their peity, whilst at the same time ostracising those who did not share their beliefs.
Good or bad, full of contradictions and ambiguities, this book has polarised the peoples of Earth, and you cannot convince me that this is a good thing.
One book you’re currently reading.
I'd love to be able to say that I'm currently reading some wonderful piece of literature, an edifying work by an illustrious writer. However ...
The book I'm currently reading is The Judgement by D.W. Buffa, a pulp fiction type pot-boiler about a lawyer caught up in a murder conspiracy. Basically a bit of an aspirin for after reading Poe.
One book you’ve been meaning to read.
This is the desert island question again, isn't it? Just one book I've been meaning to read?
Be honest now. How many times have you heard about a book and said to yourself "I must get a hold of a copy"? That's what it's like for me.
But, that being said, I do have one that has been sitting on the shelf for a couple of years, waiting for when I feel in the mood. Another murder mystery type (perhaps my favourite genre) The Poet by Michael Connelly.
Now tag five other bloggers.
Again, this is not something I do, but the invitation is there for you to help yourself. And if you do take up the challenge, let me know so I can have a look.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hair of the dog.

News that Paris Hilton's handbag accessory (dog) bit her yesterday. Ms. Hilton was taken to hospital for treatment.

The dog was signed in to the Betty Ford clinic to undergo detox treatment.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Peeling back the euphemisms.

In this age when political correctness has run amok, I thought it would be good to look at a few of the things that are part of everyday life, and name them for what they really are.

  • MILK - Cow secretions.
  • CREAM - Separated cow secretions.
  • YOGHURT - Curdled cow secretions.
  • CANOLA OIL - Processed secretions from the seed of the rape plant.
  • McDONALDS SOFT SERVE - Frozen, sweetened pig fat.
  • EGGS - Chicken (or other bird) embryos.

That'll do for a start. Hope you have a good breakfast.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Why computers are female.

Computers are female because;
  • They may appear relatively easy to figure out, but they are really quite complicated.
  • They have a logic all their own.
  • They will tell you you're doing something wrong, but they won't tell you what. (The old "If you don't know, I'm not telling you" ploy)
  • They're quick to point out your mistakes.
  • They can recall something you said or did right down to the very second, even if it was ten years ago, and recite it word for word.
  • They put things away where you can't find them.
  • When you want to do something, they will ask, "Are you sure?"

I'm sure there are a few other reasons, but I think I better quit while I'm ahead.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Always tell the truth in court.

This is supposed to be a true story, but I have a feeling it's really just a good yarn.

Lawyers should never ask a witness a question if they aren't prepared for the answer. In one trial, a Southern small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, an elderly grandmother, to the stand.

He approached the grandmother and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She replied, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs."

"You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realise you will never amount to anything more than a two bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was, naturally, stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defence attorney?"

She again replied, "Why, yes I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women, one of whom was your wife. Yes, I know him."

The defence attorney almost died.

The judge asked both counsellors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, "Don't either of you bastards ask her if she knows me."

What is your favourite word?

I borrowed this from Lone Ranger's blog. I know I'm supposed to tag other bloggers, but I don't know how to do that, so if you want to have a go, help yourselves. Just leave your response in comments.










Here are my answers.

I don't really have just one word which I could single out as being a particular favourite. As a writer, all words are exciting to me. Each word has its own energy; it's when that energy is used correctly that it becomes exhilarating.

"Buzz" words. They generally have a negative connotation, and a negative energy to match.

Articulate intelligence.

People spitting in the street.

The fury of a storm.

I'm not especially fond of "We need to pay this bill."

Computer programming/Web design.

Car sales.

"Tell him I'm not in."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Punctuation equals gender not-so-neutral.

An English professor at a university wrote the following sentence on the blackboard;

"A woman without her man is nothing."
He asked his class to punctuate the sentence correctly to make it either masculine or feminine.

The males in the class wrote;
"A woman, without her man, is nothing."
The females in the class wrote;
"A woman: without her, man is nothing."
Astounding what a tiny comma can do, isn't it?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pixies, perhaps?

This little mystery has had me baffled for the past week or so. I've examined the situation from every conceivable angle, and still haven't been able to come up with a tenable theory. Maybe you can help?

One morning last week, I was getting ready for work. One of the last steps in this process, prior to walking out the door, is putting on my work shoes. On this particular morning, I had put my shoes on, tied the laces, and was almost ready to depart when I felt something inside my right shoe. Upon removing the shoe, I discovered a tiny stone.

Here beginneth the mystery.

I'm on my feet just about the entire day, so I notice fairly quickly if a foreign body has taken up residence inside my footwear. At no time during the previous day had I felt anything, nor was there anything in my shoe when I took it off after work. So how did the stone get in there?

Was it just passing, looking for somewhere warm to spend the night when it came across my shoe? Or maybe it materialised in there from some alternative dimension. Perhaps it's some cockroach's idea of a practical joke. Who knows?

Any ideas?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Across the street.

*Please be aware that this piece contains language that may be considered offensive by some*

Don't look at me with that "oh, so superior" look on your face, you cow. It's all right for you. Sitting in your nice and warm office, at your nice and warm desk, doing your nice and warm job; me stuck out here in the freezing cold.

As if this was my idea. Do you honestly believe I would be here if I had any kind of say in the matter? But that doesn't concern you, does it? No, you just sit there, a fortunate set of circumstances convincing you that you're better than me.

Christ! The wind's cold! Slices right through you. Doesn't matter how much you rug up. And looks like it's going to piss down any minute now.

But that's not your worry, is it? Only thing you're worried about is whether the boss is going to ask you out on a date tonight. So typical of people like you. No consideration for anybody but yourself. Oh, I've seen the way you look at me some days. That snide little snicker. I know you think I'm disgusting. Probably reckon people like me deserve everything we get, I'll wager.

But what gives you the right to sit in judgement, huh? What gives society the right to discriminate against us, and ostracize us, just because we have a habit that some people don't like? Who said you could decide how we live? Every week, it seems, there's some new law which says we can't do this, can't go here; some new restriction on us, forcing us to retreat even further from the mainstream. Tell you what. Why don't you just tattoo "UNCLEAN" across our foreheads? At least that way all the hypocrisy will stop, and you won't have to pretend to like us.

Wish Davo was here. But he's been coughing pretty bad all week, and he looked pretty crook yesterday. Pity. We could have stood down here and really taken the piss out of you. Yeah, that's right, lady. We laugh at you. As far as we're concerned, you're not good enough for us. How do you feel about that, huh? Bet that would bite you in your complacency.

I knew it! Bloody raining now. Pissing down! And the wind's blowing it in under the awning. Fuck, it's cold!

Oh, look. You've got yourself a cup of coffee. Nice and warm is it? Hope you bloody drown in it. Moll.

Maybe I should go and get a coffee from the cafe across the street. Have I got any coins? Yeah, that should be enough.

Hang on! What time is it? Damn! Only five minutes before lunch is finished. If I get a coffee, I won't be able to have another cigarette before I go back in.

Aaah, stuff the coffee!

©2006 Crookedpaw's Retreat

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Now what are they up to?

CANBERRA, ACT - The Federal Government is considering sweeping legislation, which provides new benefits for many Australians. The Australians With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislation by advocates of the millions of Australians who lack any real skills or ambition.

"Roughly 50 percent of Australians do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society," said Kevin Andrews. "We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers, simply because they do a better job, or have some idea of what they are doing."

The Prime Minister pointed to the success of Telstra, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of Telstra employees lack job skills, making this agency the single largest Australian of Persons of Inability.Private sector industries with good records of non discrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement "warehouse" stores (65%). The DMV also has a great record of hiring Persons of Inability. (63%)

Under the Australians With No Abilities Act, more than 2.5 million "middle man" positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance. Mandatory non-performance based raises and promotions will be given, to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations which maintain a significant level of Persons of Inability in middle positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires.

Finally, the AWNA ACT contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Nonabled, banning discriminatory interview questions such as "Where do you see yourself in five years time?" or "Do you have any skills or experience which relate to this job?"

"As a Nonabled person, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them," said Mary Harrison, who lost her position as a windscreen wiper blade inserter at the GM Holden plant in Port Melbourne, Victoria due to her lack of notable job skills. "This new law should really help people like me." With the passage of this bill, Ms Harrison and millions of other untalented citizens can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Foreign Affairs minister, Alexander Downer, "It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every Australian citizen, regardless of his or her adequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation."

Hmmm. To me, this smells like the federal government trying to justify ministerial positions. If ever there was anybody in this country without job skills, take a look at our Department of Immigration. Amanda Vanstone needs all the help she can get to keep her job.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Nuptials and nuances.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban got married on the weekend; just about all of Aussiewood turned out.

Media coverage was phenomenal. The bridal car made it's way to the church with paparazzi lining both sides of the street in a scene reminiscent of the Clint Eastwood movie, Gauntlet. The guests were throwing kisses and confetti, except for Russell Crowe, who threw punches and phones.

For some reason known only to themselves, and perhaps a certain deity, the television news teams felt it encumbent upon them to report the resurfacing of the new Mrs. Urban after the wedding night. Why? What were they expecting to find? A satisfied smile? An expression of disappointment?

Also, it appears that all the networks use the same cameraman. Every one of them had the exact same footage of a somewhat embarrassed Nicole walking past some windows. And I reckon the TV news networks employ the same copy writer as well. Without fail they all told us about the happy bride the day after her "romantic wedding".

I would have thought it was reasonable to assume that romance was inherent in a wedding, so why mention it all?. What is the media implying here? That there was a possibility that Keith and Nicole didn't find the whole affair romantic? Or is the media suggesting that their social position allows them to experience the romance of a wedding as opposed to we common folk who don't?

Or maybe we just can't afford them.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Position and priorities.

Whilst on one of his numerous overseas jaunts, Prime Minister John Howard re-affirmed our commitment in Iraq by announcing that "we" were willing to put more of our young military in harm's way in order to further the American cause. I just love the way he speaks for us, don't you?

The federal government announced today that they won't be offering retrospective compensation to those members of the military who took part in the testing of nuclear weapons at Maralinga in the 1950's. They say that there is no evidence to support the correlation of increased incidences of cancer in the participants to the actual tests. This despite it being common knowledge that over exposure to radiation causes cancer and other nasty side effects.

In the meantime, however, Little Johnny announced that he was "diasappointed" that he never received an invitation to the wedding of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban last Sunday. Has this man become so arrogant that he believes he should automatically receive an invite to celebrity events/occasions, simply as a matter of course?

Still, I guess it's good to see where our peerless leader's prioroties lie.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

If you're going to tell this joke, make sure you're sober first.

What do you call a donkey with one leg?
A wonky donky.
What do you call a donkey with one leg and one eye?
A winky wonky donkey.
What do you call a donkey with one leg and one eye makin' love?
A bonky winky wonky donkey.
What do you call a donkey with one leg and one eye makin' love while breaking wind?
A stinky bonky winky wonky donkey.
What do you call a donkey with one leg and one eye makin' love while breaking wind, wearing a blue-suede shoe?
A honky tonky stinky bonky winky wonky donkey.
What do you call a donkey with one leg and one eye makin' love while breaking wind, wearing a blue-suede shoe and playing piano?
A plinky plonky honky tonky stinky bonky winky wonky donkey.
What do you call a donkey with one leg and one eye makin' love while breaking wind, wearing a blue-suede shoe and playing piano and driving a bus?

F***in' talented!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

That's the spirit.

This little tid-bit first came to my notice over on the Lone Ranger's blog. I just couldn't help myself.
Builders Find Body In Rum Barrel

Builders at a house in Hungary drank a barrel of rum, only to find a pickled corpse at the bottom, a Hungarian police website has reported.

The man's body fell out when the workers tried to move the 300-litre (66-gallon) barrel at the end of their binge, the report on said.

The website said the man's wife had stored the body in the barrel after he died in Jamaica 20 years ago.

The workers said the rum had a "special taste" and had planned to bottle some.

The website said the builders made the grisly discovery six months after the woman, who was in her 80s, died. It said the woman had shipped her husband's body back home to the city of Szeged in the rum barrel to avoid the cost and paperwork involved in sending it back by official means.

The report is the latest such account to emerge of bodies discovered preserved in liquor, some of which have been discounted as myths.

As the Lone Ranger said, this beats the worm at the bottom of a bottle of tequila. Although I reckon even the most dedicated tippler would be put off from ever imbibing again, don't you? I bet those workers will never help themselves ever again.

Still, it sheds new light on the phrase "drinking yourself to death".

And rum comes in three varieties; light bodied, medium bodied, and full (heavy) bodied. In a tongue-in-cheek type of coincidence, the full bodied rums are made in Jamaica where the woman's husband had died. I'm not sure, though, that this is what they had in mind when coming up with the description. But I bet at least one person involved had a silly smile on his face.

Or maybe when the woman, trying to find a way of getting her husband's remains home without the expense of official channels, asked if there wasn't some way she could spirit the body out of the country, something got lost in the translation.

Well, as the British would say; "What a rum show!"

Monday, April 24, 2006

When Nana wouldn't kiss it better.

When I was about seven or eight years old, my stepfather moved our family to the small country town of Kaeo (KY-oh), on the North Island of New Zealand. He was, at that time, earning a living as a farm manager; movement and upheaval were regular visitors.

One of the better aspects of this constant re-location was there was always a new "land" to be discovered. A lot of my free time was spent exploring, discovering which trees were best for climbing, finding the best blackberry patches, getting to know the new farm animals, and scouting out a good hiding place.

Kaeo had something extra which stirred a little boy's imagination no end; on the other side of the dirt road that ran past the front of the farm house was a river. This river was prone to flooding during the Winter and, because of this, the house was built on stilts a good three metres off the ground. I remember waking up on at least two occasions, looking out my bedroom window and seeing the land under water. The house was surrounded by a wide verandah and to reach that from the ground, we had to climb a set of wide wooden steps which at times, could be pretty slippery.

One Summer, my grandmother (my mother's mother) was visiting us. She and my mother were sitting on the verandah at one end of the house. I was sitting at the top of the steps with my crayons and colouring book, studiously trying to keep inside the lines. I dropped one of my crayons and it landed on the next step down. I got up to retrieve it, lost my footing, and ended up bouncing all the way to the bottom of the steps on my bum.

Naturally, this was quite painful, not to mention an affront to my dignity, so, bawling my eyes out, I climbed back up and went looking for my mother. I found her sitting with Nana and told them what had happened.

Nana then carried out her duty for which all grandmothers are pre-ordained; she held out her arms and said, "There, there. Let me kiss it better." At which I promptly turned around, pulled down my pants and bent over.

Understandably, Nana qualified her offer rather rapidly by saying she meant my head. I acceded to her request and accepted the kiss, but I have to say I was greatly confused. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how a kiss on my head was going to make my sore bum better.

It just didn't make sense.


by Adam Brand
When 1914 began, he was working on the land with his Mum and Dad.
He left behind his girl, joined up to see the world. It made his mother sad.
He made it through the war, came back to town
To help his father work the fields and rebuild his life somehow.
And everybody called him the ANZAC, and that’s still what they call him now.

He set his mind to stay when his father passed away, and the rivers ran dry.
He said, ‘I’ll take care of you, Mum. I’ve fought before and won, and we can win this fight.’
All alone, he’d work all day until he’d drop. Until the place got back to best, he didn’t stop.
There were times he thought he’d been forgotten,
But every night at six o’clock

They’d stand for that man they called the ANZAC
And those who gave their lives for us.
They’d stand for that man they called the ANZAC
For fighting for the land he loves.

At the same time every year we all remember him.
At the crack of dawn we stand as one for all our fallen friends.
So drink to that man we call the Anzac.
We will remember him.

So stand for that man we call the ANZAC.
For fighting for the land we love.

We will remember them.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Practical solutions to life's adventure, according to children.

Received in an e-mail. Advice on life as proposed by children of varying ages.

  • Never trust a dog to watch your food. - Patrick, aged 10.
  • When your dad is mad and asks "Do I look stupid?" don't answer. - Hannah, aged 9.
  • Never tell your mum her diet's not working. - Michael, aged14.
  • Stay away from prunes. - Randy, aged 9.
  • Don't squat with your spurs on. - Noronha, aged 13.
  • Don't pull dad's finger when he tells you to. - Emily, aged 10.
  • When your mum is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair. - Taylia, aged 11.
  • Never allow your three-year old brother in the same room as your school assignment. - Traci, aged 14.
  • Don't sneeze in front of your mum when you're eating crackers. - Mitchell, aged 12.
  • Puppies still have bad breath even after eating a Tic Tac. - Andrew, aged 9.
  • Never hold a dust-buster and a cat at the same time. - Kyoyo, aged 9.
  • You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk. - Armir, aged 9.
  • Don't wear polka dotted underwear under white shorts. - Kellie, aged 11.
  • If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse. - Naomi, aged 15.
  • Felt pens are not good to use as lipstick. - Lauren, aged 9.
  • Don't pick on your sister when she's holding a baseball bat. - Joel, aged 10.
  • When you get a bad grade at school, show it to your mum when she's on the phone. - Alyesha, aged 13.

Now, why didn't I think of that?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Random activity

An officer from the Australian Federal Police has been suspended from duty after consulting with a clairvoyant about a death threat made to the Prime Minister, John Howard. It seems the cop knew the psychic socially and, in consulting with them, disclosed privileged information. It's not surprising the officer took this course of action, though. Very much like the deity whose ear he thinks he has, our leader works in mysterious ways.

New Zealand's parliament has voted to make sign language that country's third official language. That way, when the American administration tries to "encourage" them to change their non-nuclear stance, the Kiwis have another means of telling them to get stuffed. Officially, that is.

Argentinian fans of that country's most popular soccer team (Boca Juniors) can now take their devotion to the grave. They are able to order caskets in their team's colours, so that when they die they can still declare their loyalty. I reckon you could make a good living over here with that service. Although, you'll have to get your customers to sign a contract stating that the casket is for their own use, not players of opposing teams.

Two male ducks in Sweden appear to have "mated" for life. Apparently, this pair has returned to their breeding ground for the third year running, and act in all regards like a "couple". I wonder if they call each other "Duckie"?

The world's richest race for two-year old fillies, the Golden Slipper, was run over the weekend. It was won by Miss Finland. Miss Australia finished a credible second, Miss Indonesia third. Despite showing a lot of promise, Miss England was disqualified after a protest from the Australians. Miss America failed to show due to technical difficulties, and is threatening to sue the race organisers.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Straw that broke Condi's back.

This was in the paper a couple of days ago. I guess it must have been a slow news day.

The picture is a little blurred, so I'll give you a quick rundown of the article.

Basically, it boils down to this; British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, was travelling with US Secretary Of State, Condoleeza Rice, on her official jet. Condi, being polite, offered Jack the use of her bed and cabin during the flight, which Jack promptly accepted, leaving poor Condi no option but to sleep on the floor in the aisle.

Surely there are more things important than the sleeping arrangements on Condi's plane? You have to wonder who really cares, don't you? It's not like England and America are going to start throwing rocks at each other.

All that aside though, I'm inclined to think that there's actually more to this story than what's been reported here.

I don't believe Jack was being ungallant at all. I reckon he took up Condi's offer with perhaps the thought that, if he lay there and was on his best behaviour, Condi might be of a mind to join him. And maybe he accidentally snibbed the door when he closed it, inadvertently locking the poor woman out.

Well, let's face it. Jack's a British politician, and those guys are always searching for a good peccadillo.

Perhaps it was for the best anyway. Sleeping in a Straw bed might seem a romantic notion, but the majority of the time, you're going to end up with a rash.

What's cooking?

S and I were watching a current affairs program on TV the other night. One of the items they put on was a new weight loss treatment, from the United States, where the person trying to lose weight doesn't have to diet or do any exercise. Now, where have we heard that before? It seems like every three months or so a new weight loss treatment or diet is heralded with a fanfare worthy of a Roman Emporer, only for it to turn out to be just another spin on an already tired method.

So, understandably, S and I watched with a liberal sprinkling of scepticism. Justifiably, as it turned out. The new weapon in the battle of the bulge? Microwaves. No joke! The "practitioner" takes up an object which looks similar to a phaser from Star Trek (original series), and rubs the client's stomach with it, bombarding the area with microwaves. The idea seems to be to heat the fat cells and cause them to "melt away".

The problem with this, that I can see, is that for quite some time now, scientists have been warning us about the dangers of leaking microwave ovens, saying that the escaping radiation can result in some serious health problems. Yet here we have someone deliberately offering to cook us!

According to the bloke who has imported this procedure, the fat cells are heated to a temperature of 65° Celsius (149° Farenheit).


Of course the fat is going to melt away. But, as the majority of the people seeking this "treatment" are likely to be women there would appear to be an obvious (to me) problem which I pointed out to S. The area being microwaved also houses the woman's ovaries. Surely they could be risking some serious damage?

If they're not careful, they could end up with a serving of fried eggs. Even worse! Cooked in fat!

And what if the woman has just fallen pregnant and doesn't know it? Gives a whole new meaning to "bun in the oven", doesn't it?

Perhaps it would be a hot, cross bun?

Weird people...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The man who shot Liberty Valance

Gene PitneyGreeted this morning by the sad news that Pop icon, Gene Pitney, passed away in his hotel room in Wales, after performing at a concert.

In an era of synthetic music and artists, yet another unique voice and style has gone on ahead.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

God's Phone Number. Chapter 2

© 2006 Peter Stone. All rights reserved
The Story So Far
Jim Kennedy is a Web designer. While at work one day, he receives a phone call from a woman asking to speak to God. Kennedy dismisses the woman as crazy. Little does he realise the nightmare that has just begun.
Chapter Two
I believe that if you have even the minutest trace of creativity, you will, to some degree, end up in slavery to the Muse.

According to Greek mythology, there were nine Muses, all female, and each assigned the responsibility of overseeing a specific area of creativity, - arts, music, writing, that sort of thing - and they all had those amazing Ancient Greek names that give your tongue a hernia when you try to pronounce them. I've never bothered to find out the name mine was christened with. To save the verbal gymnastics, I just call her by the name which I feel best describes who she is. Bitch.

Because I work from home, Bitch Muse has gotten the idea that she can poke and prod at me whenever the fancy takes her, and it’s my luck that she is not only a bitch; she’s also an insomniac. So, at four-thirty in the morning the rotten cow shows no mercy as she drags me out of bed and to my office five metres down the hall.

She has to concede, however, that I'm totally useless until I get some sugar in my system. Grudgingly, she allows me to make a cup of strong tea - two tea bags, three sugars, smidgen of milk - but, even then, she doesn’t let up on me. Jiggling tea bags requires little, or no, conscious thought. It leaves the mind free to chase after more interesting things. Bitch Muse makes sure I chase after the things I need to complete whatever project I'm working on at the time.

All of a sudden, it’s afternoon, breakfast is nothing more than an interesting theory, and I'm starving. By this time, Bitch Muse has forgotten about me. Maybe she goes for an afternoon nap. Well, when you’re thousands of years old, you probably need one. I don’t know. Anyway, the upside is that I manage to get a break and have my first meal for the day.

It’s a bad habit, I know. And, for me, a dangerous one. I'm hypoglycaemic. Too long without eating and my blood sugar levels drop to almost nonexistent. When that happens, I slide into a coma and, following that, I will die.

Too long isn’t necessarily a constant, either. Sitting at the computer, a relatively sedentary activity, doesn’t call for strenuous exercise, so it could take up to eight hours before I pass out. The more active I am, the quicker the onset. I used to play soccer in high school, and I scared the crap out the coach on one memorable occasion. After that, there was always a good supply of oranges close to hand.

So, to stop from collapsing at the computer, I have a bowl sitting beside the keyboard which I keep topped up with lollies and sweet biscuits. It’s a big bowl.

I’ve got a big butt as proof.


Bitch Muse’s grip had been broken by the woman’s phone call, allowing me to go into the kitchen and make some lunch. I had barely begun eating when the phone rang again. Still chewing on a mouthful, I went into the office to answer it.

‘Tangled Web.’ I swallowed.

Someone giggled on the other end. In the background I could hear people talking and music. Shopping centre noise. I looked at the caller display on the phone. OUT OF AREA. A public phone. More giggling, then someone shushing.

I frowned. Now what?

‘Hello?’ Sounded like a teenager.

‘Yes, hello. How may I help you?.’

‘Can I -’ More giggling in the background, more shushing. ‘Can I speak to God, please?’ This time the kid speaking giggled, and his mates behind him laughed out loud.

What the ...? ‘Who is this?’

More laughter, suddenly cut off. He had hung up.

I stood there, totally bemused. Beeping reminded me I was still holding the receiver to my ear. I replaced it in its cradle.

I slowly went back to the kitchen. What the Hell is going on here?

You can imagine my confusion. Two phone calls, two different callers. Both asking if they can talk to God. Was it a full moon or something, and everybody had suddenly gone mad?

I didn’t buy it. Even if two deranged people did ring me, what were the chances of them both wanting to talk to God? It just didn’t gel. This was more than just a couple of random acts of insanity. Something else was going on here. But what?

If both phone calls had been from kids, I might have been inclined to put it down as a prank. But the first call had been from the woman, and it sure didn’t sound like she had been joking. In retrospect, she had really been quite serious. Not to mention that she had also sounded genuinely embarrassed. It hardly seemed likely that she was in any way involved with the kids in the second phone call. Worlds apart, surely? Plus, someone was going to a lot of trouble just to pull a gag.

In the unlikely event this was a prank, I began to wonder who might be capable of such chicanery. Who did I know was able to convince two such disparate groups to ring up and ask for God? I'm ashamed to say one name almost instantly came to mind.


Best mate, partner in crime, confidànt, shit stirrer, fabricant de sottise, and inveterate practical joker. Thommo loves giving me the rag. He reckons it’s because I "react so bloody well, Jim Lad." Oh yeah. This had all the hallmarks of a Thommo classic, all right. And once again, I was the target.

I thought about ringing him and giving him an earful, but that was exactly the kind of reaction he’d be looking for. It would only increase his amusement. If you want to put out a fire, you don’t go blowing on the coals. No, best I didn’t go off half cocked. Let Thommo have his little joke.

Five days later, the joke had worn extremely thin. In that time, I received nearly two-hundred phone calls. Six were legitimate business. The rest were for God.

It’s a good thing Thommo doesn’t live close by. I would have cheerfully ripped his head off.


Thommo finally called late afternoon of the fifth day.

At five o’clock, I stop working and close down the office. I let my message bank pick up any incoming calls. Sometimes I work late, (depends on whether I'm working to a dealine, or what have you) however, by this time, Bitch Muse is pretty much bored with me and called it a day. I'm free to do as I please, generally boils down to me veging out in front of the TV until I feel like preparing dinner. After a long day of brain work, it’s great not to have to think about anything for a while.

I was in the lounge room watching a rerun of M*A*S*H when my private phone rang.

‘Arr there, Jim Lad.’

‘Hey, Thommo.’

So! The bastard finally checking up on his dirty work. Deep breath, Kennedy. Don’t react the way you normally do. You know it’s what he wants. Well, he’s going to be sadly disappointed.

‘So, what’s happening?’

As if you didn’t know. ‘Oh, not much. Just watching the telly until I feel like something to eat. You know how it is.’

‘Yeah, too right I do, mate. That’s why I rang. See if you were doing anything tonight.’

Sounded innocent. But that’s how he always sounds, before he moves in for the kill.

‘I didn’t have anything planned. Why? What did you have in mind?’ A laugh at my expesne, perhaps?

‘The Pumphouse has got trivia on tonight. We haven’t seen you there for yonks, and I was wondering if you want to come along.’

Wasn’t that just like Thommo? He likes to try and stretch the joke out as far as he possibly can. He pulls you along, like a kitten chasing a piece of string, get you within striking distance, then pounces. But Thommo had just unwittingly given me an opportunity where I could, for once, spring the surprise on him. I was going to make him admit he was the one responsible for the God calls before he was ready to.

Thommo's major weakness is that he’s totally incapable of lying. If you can catch him out with one of his pranks before he’s ready to spring it, he simply cannot deny it. He might try, but his face gives him away. He squints his eyes, his cheeks turn red, and I swear his ears wiggle.

More importantly, he stutters.

‘God, I don’t know, Thommo. I'm pretty stuffed. Been trying to get this new web site up and running, but it’s still not working properly. And with all these bloody phone calls distracting me ...’ There. Door’s open, mate. Come on in. Let’s see what you’ve got to say for yourself.

‘Phone calls? What phone calls?’ Nothing. Not even the slightest tremor.

This could only mean Thommo had nothing whatsoever to do with the phone calls.

And I had been so damned sure!

My cheeks began to burn. ‘Oh, mate. You’ve got no idea the shit I've been going through this week,’ and I told him about the phone calls for God.

When I finished he said; ‘You’re shitting me!’

‘God's truth. No pun intended.’

‘And this started when?’

‘Five days ago.’ Five long, miserable days ago.

‘Nearly two-hundred calls, you said. Got any idea what started it?’

‘Nope.’ I hesitated. ‘I kind of thought maybe it was you, playing one of your bloody jokes again.’

‘Jim Lad, I'm touched that you would think of me, flattered even. But I'm afraid I can’t take any credit for this one. Not even at my peak would I have ever dreamed up a stunt like that. Get a whole bunch of strangers to ring you and ask for ...’ He paused. ‘Oh, hang on!’

‘What?’ I asked.

‘Oh, shit!’ He let out a whoop of laughter.

‘Oh, shit what, Thommo? What’s going on. If you know something, I’d appreciate if you let me in on it.’

‘It’s that movie!’ He cackled.

‘Huh? Movie? What movie? Thommo, what the hell are you talking about? What’s a friggen movie got to do with it?’

‘It’s that new movie, came out last week. You know the one. We were talking about it when they showed the shorts. "Omniscience". Comedy. About a bloke, gets a whack on the head and, when he wakes up, he knows everything. You know, everything!’

‘Yeah, I know the movie you’re talking about. I was thinking of maybe going to see it next week. But what’s that got to do with these bloody phone calls?’ I was way lost.

‘It’s your phone number!’ He was really laughing now.


‘Your phone number!’

‘Yeah, you said that already. I don’t get it. What are you talking about?’

‘Look. This guy gets smacked on the head, knocked out, right?’

‘Yeah, so?’

‘So, when he wakes up, he suddenly knows everything there is to know. With me so far?’

‘So far. Go on.’

‘Well, one of the things he knows is God's phone number. And guess what?’

‘Oh, you’ve got to be kidding.’ It doesn’t take much for me to catch on. Just hit me over the head with a brick. I'll get it. Eventually.

‘Nup! In the movie, God's phone number is yours! Well, your business number, any rate. I thought it was pretty funny when I heard it, but this! This is just too hilarious!’ He whooped again. ‘You mean people are actually ringing you up and asking for God? Who’d have thunk it?’

‘It’s all right for you,’ I bridled. ‘It’s not you they’re harrassing. All bloody week they’ve been ringing, and it’s really pissing me off! I’ve got stuff all bloody work done because the bastards won’t leave me alone.’

‘I know, mate. I know. But you’ve got to admit, it is pretty bloody funny. Jesus, there must be some sad people out there.’

‘You got that right.’ I said. ‘Some of the things they’ve said are so pathetic, you’d be amazed.’

‘Yeah? Oh, shit! This I've got to hear! Jim, mate, you’ve got to come to the Pumphouse, tell me all about it. Hey! How about we buy dinner? Give us some time to talk before the trivia starts. I'll even shout you the first brandy.’

I’ll tell you straight. It was the best offer I’d had all week. Get out of the house and away from the office for a while. Meet up with Thommo, have a few drinks. Get a little drunk.

Getting drunk! Now there’s an idea. Bitch Muse doesn’t like it when I'm drunk. She can’t wake me up.

‘You’re on, Thommo! Be there in a couple of hours.’


Thommo and I first met in a ten pin bowling league. We just clicked, and have been best mates for over twenty years now. I always enjoy when we get together and terrorise the town. We have a great time. Lots of good conversation, and the jokes and laughter flow freely.

It hadn’t taken a lot to convince me that a night on the town was what I needed. It would be good to let loose, forget about everything that had happened during the week. At least, for a while. The God calls had driven me to distraction, the insistent ringing of the phone giving a permanent headache. By the time Thommo rang, I was on edge, volatile. Concentrating on my work was almost impossible and, a couple of times, I had seriously contemplated smashing the computer because something wasn’t working out right. I definitely needed a break, and when it comes to having a good time, Thommo is a fully paid up, card carrying member of the League of Larrikins.

He’s quite a character. Tall and gangly, with dark shoulder length hair that always looks like he’s combed it with his fingers. Most of the time, the lower half of his thin angular face is covered with shabby, half-grown beard because he hates shaving. When he can get away with it, he dresses in the style he lovingly refers to as "Thommo Formal"; collarless T-shirt, faded jeans with torn knees and back pocket half off, and tattered, street wise Dunlop joggers, no socks.

But don’t let his appearance or behaviour fool you. He’s highly intelligent and extremely perceptive. His eyes and ears miss nothing. Every nuance, every little inflection is noted, analysed and stored. As an observer of the human condition, there are few better than Thommo.

You see, he’s a writer. One of the rare variety who actually earns a living from it. He picks up regular work as freelance for the newspapers. The Saturday edition of one of the big dailies recently commissioned him to write six articles about travelling on Melbourne’s public transport. He writes short stories for women’s magazines, as well as competitions which he regularly does well in. He has also just had his first novel published, a detective thriller which looks like being a big seller.

Spending time with Thommo always leaves me with a feeling of satisfaction and contentment; like I've just eaten a nourishing meal. I was really looking forward to my night out as I locked the front door and made my way to the train station.

Monday, March 27, 2006

It's coming.

For those of you who have asked about Chapter 2 of "God's Phone Number", it is on its way. Just needs some rewriting.

Chapter 1 was altered in a couple of ways, which subtly changed the voice, thereby giving subsequent Chapters a discordant note. As anyone who writes will tell you, a small change here often leads to major renovations further on. While Chapter 1 is the entrance to the tale, Chapter 2 is much more the structure, and needs to be just right.

I will try not to be too long with it, I promise.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Seven songs.

Pirate over on his Journal has posted the seven songs he plays the most. I can't say as how I have seven specific songs that I play more than any others, mainly because I have a wide range in taste. However, I was able to come up with seven I really like listening to.
  1. The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan - Dr. Hook. You may recognise this song as the one that got a good run in the movie Thelma And Lousie. While Marianne Faithful does a good job with this tune, I reckon Dennis Locorriere does it best. After all, he wrote it for his voice.
  2. Freakin' At The Freaker's Ball - Dr. Hook. Rude, crude, disgusting, shocking and bloody funny. Love it!
  3. Live This Life - Big & Rich. Strong message packed tightly in some high grade lyrics, supported by a top melody.
  4. Hitchcock Railway - Joe Cocker. The tune gets to me with this one. Always crank it up when I hear it on the radio.
  5. Dreamweaver - Stratovarius. Great guitar licks, solid drumming, almost a rock opera, lead singer who leaves Axel Rose in his dust. A dream track for anybody who plays an air instrument.
  6. On Walks The Night - Jesse Cook. An up tempo instrumental from this flamenco guitarist. The whole tune gets to me.
  7. Miss Ghost - Don Henley. From his album Inside Job. Again, some really good music topped with excellent lyrics. A musical metaphysical journey.

Like I said, a wide range of tastes. Necessary, I think, considering my rapacious appetite for music.

Air, En L'.

This is one of those stories that leaves you shaking your head at the marvellous wonder of it all.

As you may know, Melbourne is currently hosting the Commonwealth Games. In the lead-up, one of the major banks released numerous advertisements on television with a Commonwealth Games theme. One of those ads has been set in a ballet class. At the back of the group of women is a great lumbering bloke trying, without much success, to follow the rest and spin on one leg. The teacher, observing his plight, gives him some one-on-one instruction after everyone else has left.

As the man spins around, the image morphs into him spinning and releasing a discus in a sporting arena. There is the sound of a crowd cheering, and the ballet teacher is standing there, looking on with pride plainly stamped on her face.

The concept behind these ads is that, with the right help and experience, together we can achieve our greatest goals. All in all, a very successful campaign.

Meet Scott Martin, star of the advertisement and - although not many people realised it until a couple of nights ago - Melbourne athlete representing Australia in the Commonwealth Games in two events; shot-put and, you guessed it, discus. The reason he looks so happy in the picture on the left is simple. On Thursday night, Scott won the gold medal in the discus. Quite a few people were amazed when they realised he was the "bald bloke in that ad". It would seem the ballet lessons paid off, and I can just see thousands of budding shot-putters and discus throwers signing up for the next class.

And it's also possible that the woman who played the part of the teacher had some hand in his success. She is actually a qualified ballet instructor. How's that for a little synergy?

One of those pleasant little quirks of fate that pop up from time to time especially to put a smile on our faces.

Photos borrowed from the Herald Sun, with thanks.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Word play.

© 2006 Peter Stone. All rights reserved

Diseased, anaemic light suppurated down from the street, oozing along the sides of the office blocks lining the alley, bleeding out, barely reaching the building at the far end. I was alone in a world of poisonous, cancerous shadow.

Christ, Kennedy! What the hell is the matter with you? Do you really think ... Behind me!

I spun around, shoes scraping on the concrete, the noise resounding around the buildings. It sounded like they - like he - was sniggering at me. At my foolishness. There was no-one there, of course, but the hair at the back of my neck bristled. I could feel them; his eyes. Don't ask me how, but I was sure he was watching me. Just as any predator will watch prey that has foolishly wandered into its territory.

This was where he lived. This was where others died. A place I had no business being, yet it was a place I had to be. I had to know if he was going to kill here again; if this was where he was going to sacrifice another innocent woman in my name. If he hadn't done so, already.

The walls stopped snickering.

I moved deeper into the shadows.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Is someone missing a bookshop?

Our house is being overrun by books. No matter which direction you turn, you see a book. I swear, as soon as the lights go out, they get together and do things that result in them multiplying. Well, that's our excuse and you're sticking to it.
S reckons it's my fault. She says I force her to buy books, or, alternatively, I don't exercise enough control over her and prevent the purchase. Then she says they're mostly mine, anyway. Uh huh.
Anyway, to accommodate the abundance of reading material, we came to the conclusion we needed another set of shelves in the hallway. This meant emptying the overflowing monster you see below, moving it along the floor so we had room for the extra shelves, then repacking the whole thing.

How many books do you reckon would fit in this bookcase, bearing in mind that there two more shelves below the one you can just see at the bottom of the picture?

Well, let's start with these.

Then add these.

We'll put these ones in, too.

Oh! And don't forget these ones.

And just for something different, we'll shove these in as well.

As you can see, we had a task ahead of us. One that took all afternoon, and still isn't finished. S's Virgo-osity demands we don't just put the books back in the case willy nilly. They must go in alphabetically by author then title, subdivided into fiction, non fiction, children's.

Around one-hundred books got their eviction notice and will either be sold on E-Bay or evacuated to the Op Shop, but there are just so many.

I've always dreamed of owning a book shop. I don't think this is quite what I had in mind, though.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

God's Phone Number. Chapter 1.

© 2006 Peter Stone. All rights reserved.
Chapter One

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."

Lao Tzu, an old bloke from ancient China, obviously had a lot of time on his hands when he came up with that gem. I guess, in the sixth century BC, sitting around contemplating one's navel was as wild as it got so, in order to relieve the boredom, Lao decided to think up a few truisms.

I doubt very much he would have had in mind the ringing of a telephone as the first step of a peregrination, but that's how my journey through Hell began.


'Tangled Web.'

Silence. The hollow kind of nothing unique to telephones.

'Hello? Tangled Web. Can I help you?'

Stammering on the other end. 'Oh! Umm - I thought - I was look - this isn't ...?' A female voice, middle aged, sounded like. 'I think I've rung the wrong number.'

'What number did you want?'

She recited the phone number. Mine.

'Yep. That's the number you've rung.'

'Oh.' More silence.

'Maybe if you tell me who you're looking for, I might be able to help you,' I prompted.

'Umm, no. No, I don't think so.'

So what do you want, lady? 'You sure?'

'Well. I don't know. I feel kind of silly. I mean, what if ...?' She stalled again. Obviously having trouble putting her thoughts into words. Don't you just love people like that?

The phone call had come at the wrong time, interrupting me in the middle of trying to sort out a complicated piece of Java coding. I started to get a little impatient, hoping the woman would just spit out whatever it was she wanted, so I could get back to it.

'Look, it's a common mistake, people ringing the wrong number. Happens all the time. Nothing to get embarrassed about. But if I can help in any way ...?' I briefly entertained the notion that I may be able to sell her a web site.

Hey! You never know when opportunity's going to come knocking. Or ringing.

'But I rang you, not -'

'Maybe you wrote the number down wrong.'

'No, I don't think so. I'm pretty sure I got it right.'

'Well, then, who were you looking for?' Exasperated.

'God?' A small tiny voice.

'Excuse me?'

'I thought - believed - this was God's phone number. I mean, he sounded so sincere when he - and I thought it would be a really good opportunity to ...' Her voice faded again.

I blinked, closed my mouth.

'This isn't God, is it?'

I was flummoxed. I've had people ringing me with all sorts of odd requests - it comes with the job - but I've never had anyone call and ask to speak to God before.

My natural response was to burst out laughing which I started to do, but then I had a horrible thought. What if this woman wasn't all there? Matter of fact, what if she was totally insane? Laughing might really piss her off. At me! Maybe that wasn't such a good idea.

Picture: crazed harridan, huge carving knife, me running in the dark.

I've seen the movies.

I expertly covered the laughter by faking a coughing fit. Sir Laurence would have been proud!

'No, sorry, I'm not God. I'm Jim Kennedy.' Oh gee! That was clever! Give the crazy woman your name, she's already got your bloody phone number. Next thing you'll be giving her your address and inviting her to dinner.

'This is my business, Tangled Web. I design and create web sites for people, and that's pretty much it. Nothing to do with God, I'm afraid. Although - now I think of it - if you look at it from the point of view that my business is creating new worlds, I guess you could say there is some similarity. Of course, I have a long way to go before I get anywhere near His standards. But, given time ...'

I had to smile. It was so absurd. I mean, really. Who on earth would believe you could get in touch with God, just by phoning Him? Of course, I couldn't be certain that the woman on the other end of the phone actually was on earth.

'I feel so stupid. I really do,' she said.

'It's okay. An honest mistake.' Did that sound too patronising?

'I don't know what I was thinking. Please, forgive me.'

'Nothing to forgive. We all do these things from time to time.' Maybe so, but I couldn't think of the last time I rang God. 'No harm done.'

'This is so embarrassing. I must sound like such an idiot.'

No comment.

'I'm really sorry for bothering you. I don't know what I was - Anyway, I'm sure you're busy, and I've taken up enough of your time already. I better go. Thanks for being so understanding.'

I wasn't sure I understood anything. 'It's fine. Like I said before, no harm done. And listen, if sometime in the future you need a web site designed,' sometimes I just can't help myself, 'Well, you got my number.'

A pause. 'Yes, I have, haven't I? Goodbye, then,' she said, and hung up.

I couldn’t hold back any longer. I burst out laughing.


I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking I could have treated the poor woman better, not been so tongue in cheek about the whole thing. All things considered, though, I reckon I handled it all pretty well. I mean, have you ever had someone ring up and ask to speak to God? It was easy to dismiss her as some poor soul a couple of rungs short of a ladder. And there wasn't any real harm done. Slightly disturbing perhaps, but innocuous just the same.

But then, isn't that how all nightmares begin?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Just a thought.

If today's paparazzi had existed in the 1930's, Greta Garbo would never have died a recluse.

Sun, sand, surf, sea air and squelching soldiers.

A couple of weeks ago, S and I decided to just get in the car and drive. The idea was to simply see where the road took us, and escape the daily routine for a little while. The road took us to Phillip Island, where we finished up at the beach at Cowes. (The photo isn't mine. I borrowed it from someone elses' holiday snaps, with thanks. I forgot my camera.)

After having a wander through the town, and paying a pretty steep price for a coffee and a milkshake, S and I went for a walk along the beach. The tide was out and, because it was a week day, the beach was relatively quiet, with very few people. The water was calm, like it is in the photo. A light breeze ruffled the surface now and then, making the water sparkle with a million points of light.

As we came to a flat part of the beach, in between the water and high tide mark we noticed thousands of little bumps which I first took to be little balls of sand.
As we got closer we realised they were small crabs, not much bigger than an Australian fifty cent piece. I have since found out that they were soldier crabs, but up until that time, neither S nor myself had ever seen these creatures before.

Our path was taking us right through the middle of them, so we approached carefully, thinking they would do what any crab would do and scuttle away. We couldn't have been more wrong.

They obviously felt the tremors of our footsteps, but instead of dashing away, they would drop down on one side, then spinning slowly on the spot, would dig themselves into the sand. It was like watching a break dancer melt into the ground. Naturally, S and I were absolutely fascinated by this behaviour, and we stopped to watch. It was kind of fun to move towards a group and watch them fade into the sand. And if we stood still for a short period, they would reappear, the same way they diappeared. A kind of now-you-see-me-now-you-don't-now-you-do.

At one point we came to a large clump of seaweed which had been exposed by the departing tide. The joint was jumping! This must have been the soldier crab's equivalent of MacDonalds. There were heaps of them all around and over it, enjoying a good feed.

But the really amazing thing, I felt, was that the beach was so quiet you could hear the crabs under the surface. Imagine it. Thousands of little creatures squelching through wet sand. Wow!

We both came home a little sun burned and a lot weary, but we really enjoyed our time out. Sometimes I think this metropolitan lifestyle can be quite stifling, and it takes a good dose of Nature to recharge. Perhaps it was fate which led us to Phillip Island and the soldier crabs that day, or maybe it was an unconscious desire on my part as the driver. Who knows? What I do know is that is that it was a breath of fresh air, in more ways than one.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Short briefs.

Emporer Howard decided to mark the occasion of his tenth anniversary in power with a dinner last night. He charged his loyal subjects $1,000 each for the privilege of kissing his butt. There are brothels where you can kiss butt for a lot less. And they're better looking, too. Probably more sincere as well.

The Universe is filled with paradoxes. One of the more intriguing is the trial of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He rants and raves, and generally carries on like a petulant child, yet it is American foreign policy which is being exposed to the ridicule. I bet there are quite a few in the intelligence community wishing he had been killed in the first bombing run.

Speaking of Saddam, maybe he can employ the Abdication of Responsibilty Defence and sue the United States governement. Like the people in the U.S. who decided to sue McDonalds because they were fat. He could always claim the Americans failed in their duty to inform him of the possible ramifications of using the technology to build weapons of mass destruction when they sold it to him.

The weathermen are playing the roulette wheel again. They've upped the maximum for today by another three degrees.

Has anybody answered the musical question, "Is she really going out with him" yet?

I have learned; never yawn while spraying underarm deodorant.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Damn! I forgot the cake.

I've just realised.

Today is the Retreat's first birthday.

Friday, February 17, 2006

"Would you like to fly in my beautiful balloon?"

I looked out the window this morning and noticed the clouds to the west were tinged with a beautiful series of pinks. Naturally, I thought they would make a great photo. Lately, though, I've been somewhat reluctant to post photos in the Retreat because, for some reason, they sometimes don't like to share the post with any text. However, I figured you deserved to see the same beauty I was looking at, and decided to risk it.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when these three balloons drifted across the sky.

Now, I ask you, could there be a better start to the day?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

End of a nervous week.

Much to my relief, I still don't know any psychopaths. Although, there is this bloke I work with ...

Anyway, no-one answered the question in the previous post with the response that would indicate they have psychopathic urges. But I do suspect there may be some issues with their sisters :-)

In a study carried out in the United States, diagnosed psychopaths were asked what they thought the woman's motive was for killing her sister. They all gave the same answer;

She was hoping the man would turn up to her sister's funeral, like he had for her mother's.

So now you know what to look for, if there's someone you're not sure about, you can perform this simple test. Of course, if it turns out that they do think like a psychopath, you might have to seriously consider moving to another town.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Are you a psychopath?

This is an actual test devised by an American psychologist, aimed at discovering whether an arrested murder suspect is a psychopath. The subject is asked a simple question, and there is only one correct answer if they have psychopathic tendencies.

For a bit of amusement, I thought I'd post the question here for you to ponder, and reply with what you think might be the answer. I'll leave it for a week or so before telling you what the correct answer is, and whether you're a psychopath or not (cheeky grin). So far, no-one I know has come up with the correct response.

But there's always a first time ...

A woman, while at the funeral of her mother, meets a man whom she has never met before.

She thinks this man is amazing. She starts to believe that this is the man of her dreams; so much so that she falls in love with him right there and then. However, she forgets to ask the man for his phone number, and after the funeral cannot find him.

A few days later she kills her sister.

What is the woman's motive for killing her sister?

Looking forward to your responses.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunrise, February 3, 2006.

One of those days when you look up at the sky, and go "Wow!"

And, somehow, it makes you feel really kind of small.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Melbourne skyline

Smoke of a distant fire.

When is a fog not a fog?

When it is smoke. This is the fallout from the bushfires that have been raging around Victoria.

We had some reasonable rain yesterday which helped with some of the fires, but there are still a couple threatening some communities. Now this has drifted across the city. With the warmth and humidity in the air, and very little breeze, it looks like it might be hanging around for a while.

There is almost a palpable weight to it. Eyes are itchy, skin feels tacky. It's also bad news for people like S, my partner, who have asthma.

While on the subject, a big thank you and well done to all the firefighters who have put in so much over the last week or so. You folk are truly heroes.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Does he read my blog?

I reckon the Channel Ten weather reporter must have come in and read my blog, and taken my advice when it comes to predicting the maximum temperature. On Thursday he said it was "bloody hot."

All right, I know he doesn't visit the Retreat. Just a little fanciful thinking on my part.

He was right, though.