Saturday, 30 March 2013

DANCING



I'm not a dancer.

I've never married so that cringeingly embarrassing bride and groom dance routine hasn't come my way thank god (or as Richard of RBB would say that mythical deity created by people who are looking for meaning in their lives).

When I was young (a long time ago) I went to dances and socials from the age of 13 on. The dancing wasn't the attraction. The opportunity to get my hands on a girl, any girl was. I used to 'borrow' my older brother's clothes because they looked 'cooler' than mine. Unfortunately they also were a bit bigger than I needed so I looked like a refugee in a UNESCO blanket. There was even a time when in Paraparaumu I 'borrowed' an older cousins winkle-picker shoes to go to a skating rink dance evening. I was about 13 and the cousin was 19 so the shoes on me, a skinny kid, looked like sharp barrage balloons on the end of a stick insect, but hey, it's all how you feel isn't it?

Well it should be except for the fact that when I was in my mid-teens my eyesight failed (no jokes Richard please, this is sensitive stuff). I had to wear glasses at school but outside of school I carried on without - these were the days of being called "square eyes' or 'speccy' if you wore spectacles not like today when Hollywood types wear clear glass spectacles to try and look cool and, or intelligent.

Obviously there were some mistakes made like grabbing the arm for the next dance of a girl who wasn't the one I was with or, on on occasion commiserating with a dance partner at her injury indicated by the bandage on her arm. Said bandage was some sort of stupid stretchy device that young women (girls) then used to hold their handkerchief. Embarrassing? It was then, today I'd think it a laugh.

The dancing involved a kind of box-step movement (one step forward, one step across to the right, one step back, one step to the left repeated). This was to '60's music - British R&B, Pop, Rock, whatever it didn't matter it was all covered (badly) by local bands. Upper body movement wasn't featured and even discouraged. A bored, 'who cares' expression was de-Rigeur. Don't believe me? Look at some film clips of the era.



In my sixth form at college I attended dance classes at Erskine Girls in Island Bay. I was at St Patricks in Wellington, a small, all boys college and Erskine was a small, all girls college. Feverish and repressed sexual urges were pants-bustingly obvious hence the nuns at Erskine and the priests at St Patricks would arm themselves with rulers and straps. This was in 1969, I think that things might have changed since then.
Picture the scene: Randy young guys who have had the sense to sign up for ballroom dance classes (and not the college band - take note Richard and Robert) in a mad rush to grab the best looking girls  to practice (dancing) with. After a lot of undignified behaviour more suitable to the rugby field than a dance floor, the nuns created a system whereby everyone would swap partners after a couple of minutes. This was excruciating when you'd landed the lookers but a blessing when you were dancing with the wallflowers.

The result of all this was a basic understanding of the waltz and fox-trot for the school ball and..... blue balls.

In the '70's, at parties, or certainly the parties that we used to go to, no-one danced. Either everyone stood around drinking out of bottles or, on other occasions lay around smoking marijuana and listening to Pink Floyd -type music.

In the '80's the crappy disco dancing and later trance music dancing didn't feature with me as I never went to discos and night clubs, preferring a good wine bar.

Today I never go anywhere where dancing is an option and if ever it is, the Old Girl knows that there are only 3 things that will get me on to the floor:


  1. Love Shack by the B52's
  2. I think I'm turning Japanese by the Vapors
  3. A Van Morrison romantic ballad (for a waltz around with the Old Girl).
So where is this going?


In 1977 I had an Arthur Brown album that I really liked. The title is Dance. I liked Arthur Brown's earlier music and this was a departure from that, more commercial if you like but I thought that several tracks on it were stunning. We don't have a turntable anymore and the old LP's have been in the shed for years, slowly deteriorating. I haven't been able to buy Dance on CD so yesterday looked on i-Tunes to see if I could buy it there. No luck. While looking though I came across several trolls who fancy them selves as music critics who totally slammed Dance. These supercilious wankers (probably 17 y.o wannabes) crapped on about how Arthur Brown had been wonderfully avant-garde in his earlier career but sold out in the 70's with Dance being too commercial etc. etc. Tossers. I only found one guy who had anything good to say about the album. Here are some excerpts:


"Unbelievable - a commercial album coming from the hands of the maestro, just as he started engaging in truly mind-blowing Seventies progressive music? No more Kingdom Come? Now we're invited to 'dance with Arthur Brown', and not a single tune on this album can be truly called experimental, at least not if we go by Mr Brown's own standards. The album is nearly impossible to find nowadays, and it's equally, if not more, hard to find out anything about the circumstances of its release, so I'm not even sure if this was Brown's attempt to create a true commercial appeal for himself or he just, well, felt like it.All I know is there's a kind of unexplainable, weird coolness flowing from well nigh every track on here, even from the covers. This is dance music, although it's not brainless dance music - for one thing, it's pretty diverse, and your hips are offered some assistance from such diverse genres as waltz, rock'n'roll, whitebread soul, reggae, gospel, funk, and even music hall. And every single of these attempts is moderately - or highly - successful, with impeccable production, Brown's ecstatic vocals, and even hooks galore. But, once again, I reiterate that Dance does not give the impression of a desperate sellout; its joyful eclecticism, weird choice of covers and unpredictable moods and settings of the originals probably couldn't be all that appreciated by the general public, and certainly weren't. ........  
........ One song, though, does stand out solidly and seriously against all the others, and that's Dalby's 'Quietly With Fact'. Waltz tempo, a nice build-up, and some of the most expressive guitar passages on a Brown record ever; Dalby's double-tracked solos in between the verses are economic, majestic, rhythmic and, well, just the kind of guitar solos it takes for a guitarist to master to prove he hadn't actually taken up the six-string for nothing. And, of course, a tempo that switches to rock at the very end - who wouldn't like just a little bit of acceleration at the end of a lengthy waltz? Still, only the very last track really provides a tiny glimpse into the true (or, at least, the most common and usually beloved) nature of Arthur Brown, when the band chants 'is there nothing beyond God?' for two minutes and a half, interrupted only by an unexpected false ending in the middle and punctuated by weird phased syncopated guitar playing and thick, pompous 'mmmmmm' vocal exclamations/incantations throughout. That's 2:25 for you; the rest will certainly muddle and confuse the typical Arthur Brown fan, but then again, if you happen to be an Arthur Brown fan, you gotta be ready for anything. 

I got to thinking though that in this modern word of instant communication via websites, facebook, twitter and blogs where any idiot can voice an ill-informed opinion (like this post for example) that there is rarely a right or a wrong but just something in the middle. Everything is personal and one person's love is another's hate. For me, I love Arthur Brown's Dance and happily recommend it to anyone - if they are ever lucky enough to find it.






Friday, 29 March 2013

VULNERABILITY

I was reading in the bath this morning when the Old Girl came in. This is not unusual as she often does this to have a chat or ask me if I want  coffee or tea. What was unusual was that she was carrying, and actually sharpening, a very large carving knife.



Immediately, thoughts came into my mind of what I've done. Did she notice that I copped a look at the waitress's breasts at dinner the other night? Was it because I had told her this morning that I am giving up work? Had she just read through the insurance policy?

I quietly (in a rising falsetto) asked her what she was doing with the knife. "Oh" she said looking at it as if she had only noticed that she had it in her hand "nothing, just sharpening it to cut up the lamb steaks for a casserole".

"You're not going to stab me with it then" I asked.
She said "I really don't think I could stab anyone. It's not in me" all the while having the bloody great knife pointed at my nether region. "Well as long as it's not in me either" I thought before saying, "why don't you go and make us a nice cup of tea".

Monday, 25 March 2013

THE ARC OF A DIVER

I went kayaking mid-morning. It was almost ideal conditions with a nearly high tide and a light swell.
The sun was out of the clouds but it was still a bit coolish - ideal for a good work-out. An hour or so of hard paddling is better than going to the gym.

I  went out for a couple of hours going around to Little Munro Bay. There was a lot of sea bird activity with gannets and terns diving into the sea to catch fish.

The terns, being lighter dive down and enter the water for a foot or so and pop back up. Sometimes they zoom down and look as if they are going to go in but level out at the last moment, obviously hunting for insects flying just above the water.

(photo by Brocken Inaglory)

The gannets, being much bigger and heavier descend from higher and plunge into the sea at great speed, disappearing for a few seconds. It is spectacular to see and I always like it. Today, a gannet was fishing and diving in really close to me - about 20' away so I could see it really clearly. It flies up beating its wings to get altitude and then it glides in circles watching the water. When it spies something it plummets with its wings outstretched like a high diver does with arms out. It descends fast but gracefully and just before it hits the water it folds its wings tight against its body and arrows in.


(Photo by Simon Clancy)


This gannet did this about 10 times close to me before moving further away. I marked it as if I was a judge at the Olympics giving it points for approach, style, gracefulness and splash. Generally it was getting 8.5 out of 10 but a couple of times it entered the water perfectly with hardly a splash or ripple so I gave it perfect scores.

The gannet is a big bird up to a metre long so when it hits the water there is a noticeable 'thump'.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

THE FEELGOOD FACTOR



When I went for my walk this morning a little friend joined me. It was a young starling that flew down and hopped about on the road in front of me.

(Phot by Paul Carter)



Ir was absolutely georgeous with sleek and shiny feathers with interesting markings.
This little bird was really friendly and when I put my hand down it hopped on, walked up my arm and sat on my shoulder.
I was able to stroke its feathers and it stayed on as I walked.

A woman who lives in the street came by and told me that they have set up a facebook page for the bird and are looking for a name for it. I looked for this but haven't found it yet.

Sometimes nature throws up birds and animals that have a little extra something - intelligence, confidence, cheekiness, bravery etc. This little guy has it all. It made me feel good meeting him.

Talking of Feelgood, check this out:


DR. FEELGOOD

Saturday, 23 March 2013

ARE YOU BEING SERVED?

Generally the answer is no. Good old-fashioned service is becoming a thing of the past. Oh for sure retail giants spend a fortune (of suppliers funds) advertising that they have the best interests of consumers at heart but this is just twaddle. Try buying  a half dozen bottles of wine at a supermarket (as I do) and you'll see that they stick the bottles in a plastic bag so they can roll around in the boot as you drive home. If you are a little old lady, or indeed any variant of the fairer sex and buy say a case of wine from a supermarket I'd be very surprised if any of the staff (who have the best interests of consumers at heart) offer to carry out the product and put it in the car.

Service industries also are becoming lax in this area. Out-placement of service support calls and economic-driven staff efficiencies generally mean that you can kiss goodbye to anything beyond the 'you get what you pay for' rule. I live in the North and I've just about given up on trying to get sevice-people to come and do things around our property. We have a weed problem. In the guttering of the house. The roof of our house is very high and we have a sloping driveway so I haven't got the equipment to get up there to clear the weeds. I'm not afraid of heights - I'd do it in a flash even if it is 30 plus feet up and counting. I have contacted 3 different outfits including the Kowhai Guys who spend a fortune on TV advertising asking for a quote and have had no response from any of them. Bastards.

So today we had a pleasant surprise.

The Rover has been having some  water problems. Old age I guess with leakage. I keep filling the reservoir and haven't been able to find the leak. When I drove into town to pick up the Old Girl who had caught the early bus from Auckland the car massively overheated. I did an emergency top-up and limped into town to pick her up and then stopped at a service station. Note the description service station. This is what my generation got used to calling petrol stations. I don't know what they call them nowadays - maybe superettes or something.
I waited until the engine had cooled a bit and then cautiously and slowly topped up the reservoir. I then started the engine so I could watch for a leak. Bloody hell, it wasn't hard. One of the smaller hoses had split and super-heated water fountained out. What must have been a pin-prick hole had drastically widened rendering the car undrivable. It needed fixing. I went inside the 'service' station to see if I could purchase a length of hose. I remember years ago that service stations would have a big section of the back wall covered with radiator hoses of all shapes and sizes and you could invariably find one to suit. Today, the section that has anything to do with motor vehicles is a small shelving unit measuring about 6ft long x 4ft high. The rest of the bloody 4000 square foot retail area is jam-packed with bread, milk, confectionery, magazines, grocery items and crap. I've recently experienced this when I had a late night tyre failure. See here:

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE SAFE

So, no hoses. This was past midday on a Saturday. What to do? Luckily I had a secret weapon - the Old Girl. She suggested, and proceeded to do so, ringing the AA.
The days of AA fully-equipped service trucks may also be a thing of the past. The message left by the Old Girl with the AA service support person was that we had a water leak that had incapacitated the car. When the truck arrived, not an AA service vehicle but a tow-truck contracted to AA, the driver had been told that we had a fuel leak. Oh well, Chinese whispers and all that - it was the driver who mentioned the Chinese whispers - I was thinking about that old "bring three and fourpence we're going to a dance" anecdote.


As it turned out we were really blessed. Our tow truck driver said that he wasn't equipped to do repairs but suggested that we load the car on his truck and drive to the nearest Repco store. We did that. At the Repco store he went in and discussed the problem with one of the guys he knew. Over the next hour and a half our truckie and the Repco guy pulled apart the car's plumbing, measured, cut and fitted hoses, reassembled the lot and filled the reservoir and got us going - all for the cost of a couple of hoses and clips and a container of coolant. Brilliant.

They declined my offer of buying them some beers. They said it was all part of the service although I knew that it was far beyond what their requirements really were. I feel really good about that and, in the 'pay it forward' way I will pass on their good deeds.

GAS GUZZLERS

I hate 4WD cars that are wrongly used in the city (or on paved roads generally) as per my post here:

INTRODUCING THE 2013 WANKMOBILE

I saw a couple of funny clips on Chasers on TV that are in the same theme:


WHAT DOES YOUR CAR SAY ABOUT YOU?

and,

GAS GUZZLERS

Friday, 22 March 2013

BAD GRAMMAR MAKES ME [SIC]

I like this and had to share it


It was an early start for me today. I caught the first bus to come up North. I read the NZ Herald cover to cover on the way up which is rare for me. It's still OK for a newspaper in a time where newspapers are failing and being dumbed down. The competition is from trivial social media and 'news' websites that are being written by illiterates.

Last night The Old Girl and I ate out with old friend Geoff and we were discussing how the standards of news, whether written or broadcast, have slipped over the years. I recounted how yesterday a Yahoo news item caught my attention. It had a headline about a man (a butcher) who butchered his wife on the West Coast and had been sentenced to 17 years in prison. I hadn't heard about this so I followed the link. It was the guy who had bought the Blackball salami operation. He and his wife (now ex wife) had come to New Zealand from Scotland 5 years ago and bought the business that subsequently went sour. The newspaper report that I was directed to was by The Sun in the U.K. Now I know that the Sun is not the greatest newspaper but the standard of the writing in this report was atrocious. The grammar was bad. It was full of inaccuracies and the little twit who wrote it didn't properly use spell-check so that words were in the wrong context. I would have thought that in the U.K. even newspapers like The Sun would attract journalists with some education.

We got talking about how New Zealand television, which used to have high standards and produced and broadcast quality offerings, has followed the dumbing down path. TVOne seems to have taken the greatest dive. Quality and informative news programmes have had a gradual decline (started with Paul Holmes) to reach its current nadir. Seven Sharp is pathetic and downright embarrassing and Breakfast has long been a joke more akin to drive-time radio idiocy than a news programme.



We watch TV3 in the mornings (for about 20 minutes before all the content gets re-cycled) and then switch to Al Jazeera and BBC World News.

Which brings me to the main reason I'm writing a post about this.
My other main source of news let me down this morning. Richard's Bass Bag didn't post this morning. There was no update on what day of the week it is. We don't have any new insights into the reasons why god doesn't or shouldn't exist. Furthermore we don't know how Richard is going on his quest to do 3,000 hours of double bass practical joking practice.

"Rain fade. Transmission interrupted"



Sunday, 17 March 2013

OUR HOLY (GOD)FATHER

Last week I watched The Godfather III on TV.



Was this a coincidence that it was shown at the time that the Vatican conclave was considering a new pope or was it a deliberate and cynical scheduling move on the part of the TV programmers? Coincidence maybe but deliberate I doubt it given that current schedulers lack the maturity and sophistication to make such a leap. I prefer to think of it as serendipity.

In Godfather III the murder, intrigue, mayhem and lust for power is set against a backdrop of the events in the Vatican of the late 1970's and early 1980's depicting, well, murder, intrigue, mayhem and lust for power.






The Vatican banking scandal as depicted in the film seems like the imaginings of Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola but no, it was real. 'Gods Banker' Roberto Calvi was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London with pocketfuls of gold bullion, an apparent suicide that has subsequently been suggested as murder (and with a Mafia connection). In the film the Corleone family (Mafia) murdered the banker and hung him under a bridge with pocketfuls of money. Very close to the real thing.

In Godfather III the death of Pope John-Paul I was hinted at as murder. In reality his death is a mystery. No autopsy or proper investigation was conducted. He simply poped popped his clogs but there have been rumours.
Now we have the (almost) unprecedented situation of a pope resigning while still in power. Why? Ill health, dissatisfaction or, as is being hinted even by Vatican insiders to get out before news of a major scandal surfaces. 
What could that be? Paedophilia? No, that's been rife for years - even the current Brit papal candidate had to excuse himself because he's been fiddling with young priests. 
Connections with dodgy military/political states? No. They've been doing that for centuries and more recently with those fascists, Nazis and Americans right up to now with their association with Blom and Voss and industrial group that were Nazi supporters.
A banking scandal? Yes maybe as the '80's one hasn't properly been sorted out. Then it was a couple of billion (euro equivalents). Today it could be enough to bring down Italy and surrounding supporting countries.
Hey all you catholics out there. Be prepared to shell out a bit extra in the offerings this week OK?





Thursday, 14 March 2013

A BOB EACH WAY? WELL A FRANK ANYWAY

So Second Fiddle was nearly right. We'll never hear the end of it.

Second, that crazy Catholic from Wellington predicted that Saint Francis would be the new pope and here we have pope Francis 1st taking the new position.



Admittedly Second in one of his crazed religious states was thinking of this Francis:


I guess that for  anyone who believes in transubstantiation, ascension and assumption into heaven, the fact that old Frank has been dead for nearly a millennium is not too much of a stretch of the imagination.

The new pope is breaking records already: first non European pope for a millennium; first South American pope; first Jesuit pope etc. I'm sure we'll get lots of new records and controversies in the coming weeks.

To me, a non-interested outsider it appears that Frank has been elected because on one hand he is a bit of a liberal socialist and on the other hand (the Jesuit background) he is very conformist and anti-gay. It looks like the Vatican is hedging its bets.

Already I notice the researchers are bringing out some unsavoury connections of the new pope with a past Argentinian dictator. It seems he may have been collaborating with the right wing bad guys a bit. Still, this is the Catholic Church and the Vatican we're talking about. They have always sided with whatever strong-arm bastard is going to allow them to get on with their tricksy stuff - remember WW2 and the Jewish situation.

Oh well, it's been a bit of spectacle (I love the fact that they still use smoke - and mirrors? -ed. when a telephone call or projected video message could have done just as well).

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

SENSIBLE DIETING


A British take on dieting



.

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it...... Don't waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.
 Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: Oh no. Wine made from fruit. Fruit very good. Brandy distilled wine, that mean they take water out of fruity bit so you get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Grain good too. Bottom up!
 Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of one, sorry. My philosophy: No pain...good!
 Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU NOT LISTENING! Food fried in vegetable oil. How getting more vegetable be bad?
 Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: You crazy?!? HEL-LO-O!! Cocoa bean! Another vegetable! It best feel-good food around!
 Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming good for figure, explain whale to me.
Q: Is getting in shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is shape!
    
For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. 
1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.
4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.
5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

"I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL HAVE ME AS A MEMBER"

Second Fiddle Violin has banned me from accessing his blog (again).
It reminds me of the famous line by Groucho Marx.




"INTRODUCING THE 2013 WANKMOBILE"



Designed especially for the man about town who is in a hurry (or wants to give that impression). The size and weight make this vehicle ideal for pushing your way into lanes of traffic. No need to indicate or give a polite wave or any form of acknowledgement to friendly motorists. They won't be able to see you anyway given the tinted windows and the fact that you are riding several feet higher than the plebs who are driving ordinary cars. If you are a wannabe executive who wants to demonstrate that he is 'on the go' then this is for you.

Admittedly the same could be said for this:



or this:


or any of the other behemoths that are crowding our roads nowadays.

The drivers of these, in the cities are either young mothers who are picking up or dropping off their kids at elite schools or businessmen types in executive, management or PR. Neither type feels it necessary to obey road rules or simple acts of courtesy and can be seen stopping on pedestrian crossings to unload their kids, bullying their way into lanes of traffic after having sped along the relatively empty but incorrect lane or tailgating dangerously close on open speed roads.

I'm not sure if a study has been made of the correlation between aggressive and uncaring personality types and drivers of urban 4WD vehicles but there should be. Given the spurious courses of study promoted by the new pretend universities nowadays maybe there is. I could do a phD in this.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

REALITY

Not crap on TV about self-indulgent wannabe stars. Not endless loops of cop programmes, cooking shows or competetive travelling. No, we went to see a film last night that was immensely moving. It had no hobbits. There were no shoot-ups and car chases. It wasn't a siilly rom-com. It was Amour a film by Jean-Louis Trinttignant.



Set wholely in a Parisian apartment and most of the time with just two actors, this film will move you to tears, not all of them bitter tears. The guy at the ticketing desk described the film as "very good but depressing" He totally missed the point of it. It was really a joyous celebration of love and affection, loyalty and responsibility.

Perhaps you need to be old or certainly older than the cinema guy to truly appreciate it. I recommend you to go and see it.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

BASS BEHAVIOUR

I went to see the photographic exhibition "Who shot rock and roll" the other day.
It was OK although a bit self-indulgent. Many of the photographs were in the nature of snapshots and only famous because of the occasion, event or personage.
There were a few stunning photographs however - the Mick Jagger/leopard one, the one of Keith Richards in Prague, the Grace Jones one, the Patti Smith ones and the various British R&B ones.





One that amused was the Bill Haley one with the double bass player standing on his bass.




Why doesn't Richard of RBB do this?

It's likely he would do this if he fell over after after a few Chardonnays:







Or this when he is very affectionate towards his instrument:


Saturday, 2 March 2013

DODGY TRANSLATIONS



I travelled up North on the bus as usual and an Italian tourist sat next to me.

She made conversation in broken English (don't you just love that Marianne Faithfull album from 1979?) so I decided to try out some of Richard (of RBB's) phrases.

I told her that I have a friend who speaks Italian and I said "Va a fatti fottere".
She looked at me oddly a moment and then said "I don't think you meant that, perhaps you meant to say Va a farti fottere".
I said yes that's right to which she gave me a sour look and moved slightly away.

Wondering what the problem was I searched my memory for some more of Richard's phrases and so said "E un mucchio di merda!"

She got up and went down to the back of a bus and took another seat.

FEELING GUILTY

I hate to say this but in a way I sympathise with Robert and his hatred of retirees and beneficiaries and the handouts that they recei...