Sunday, 30 November 2014

HEARTS




 Do you remember this song, made famous by Marty Balin in 1981? It hits the spot with anyone who has had a relationship breakup and is quite moving.


 Now, have you heard this version as done by the guy who wrote the song?



It's a little more edgy but still a bit slick.


So let's hear him do it off the cuff as it were:




Now this is more visceral and, although he's not as good a singer as Balin and has no slick production at all, it hits the spot even closer don't you think?

SUCH FUN

I went to Farmers' Santa Parade today.

It really lived up to its reputation and was a pleasant flash-back to earlier times.


I'm pleased that these things still go on especially as Auckland nearly didn't have the big Santa outside Whitcoulls this year as it costs so much to install. Luckily some benefactor came to the rescue.
This is the same Santa that nearly got scrapped a few years ago because some bleeding-heart-fucking overly PC liberals thought that it was a bit too scary for kids. Tossers.


The parade lasted over an hour with dozens and dozens of floats and marchers. I took 180 photographs and will post a few here.

It took me back to Wellington days when I was a kid and used to go to the James Smith Father Christmas parade (not Santa in those days). The only thing missing was the free ice-blocks and lollies that used to be thrown off the floats.

Why are these missing you may ask as the parade is a vehicle for a lot of businesses to advertise themselves under the guise of civic-mindedness?
Well its because the bleeding-heart-fucking overly PC liberals decided that it was too dangerous to throw lollies (wrapped Macintosh toffees) to kids as it might put someones eye out. Tossers.

















Such fun


Saturday, 29 November 2014

WELL, HELLO DOLLY



OK, fuck them. Try this link instead:

HONKY TONK WOMEN - INFLATABLE DOLLS


Because this is so fucking good it needs to be shared. We know how good the Rolling Stones stage sets are but these inflatable dolls are unbelievably good.

A BLAST FROM THE PAST

I went to the Grey Lynn festival this afternoon.


This free event takes place in the sprawling Grey Lynn Park one of the many great public parks dotted around Auckland.

Having decided to walk rather than drive as often as I can I've discovered lots of these.

This is a really good community festival with a great many quality kiosks and stalls selling crafts, food and providing community information. I didn't see any of the bogus ones selling cheap imported junk that seem to dominate arts and crafts markets nowadays. There was a delightful '70's air to the festival and it took me back to my student days. There were even a couple of hippie house trucks that you hardly ever see nowadays.
One was home to a blacksmith who was demonstrating his craft and selling some great ornaments.



There were some unusual displays and events like:

Ukulele display

to a Scottish historical wargames demonstration



I liked a display of antique traction engines including this one:


The sign says that the engine was supplied to Levin & Co in 1920. Richard, Rob and I worked for Levin and Co at one stage.

The music was fun with again some bringing back memories. One group playing John Mayall type music reminded me of a music festival at Waikanae in 1981 where I had the sweetest kiss ever from a hippie-girl - but, that's another story.


That was Moana and The Tribe.



There was a performance from the Twisty Twins that was a lot of fun.





All in, a wonderful afternoon out in this great city.


BLACK FRIDAY

STEELY DAN - BLACK FRIDAY

 Yes, the great Steely Dan. Love 'em. So now New Zealand retailers are picking up on another USA created retail invention - Black Friday.
I could have also chosen another Steely Dan song - The Royal Scam.

'Black Friday' - a scam created by accountants in the world of diminishing returns.

In the retail no man's land of the end of November to late December when savvy shoppers wait until  the  Christmas sales the accountants have panicked and found another way to stimulate sales (and depress profits). They lurch from one hectic trading period to another with increasing frequency. Gone are the days of the once a year big clearance sale (once known as Boxing Day sales). The marketers are on the hunt for themes that the unwary consumer can be seduced into. Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, New Year, Winter, Summer, Spring, Anzac Day etc. etc. have all been used and abused to death. Now we have to get yet another bloody American invention - Black Friday sales.

Jesus wept.



I went along to Harvey Norman's Black Friday yesterday and witnessed the frenzied activity of people looking for bargains.
I saw the sad sight of people queueing at the credit counter, opening accounts and yet further committing themselves to months and months of payments at accumulating interest to buy items that before they've been paid for have either become obsolete of have broken down. Tragic.






Oh, by the way, I bought a new microwave for the apartment.
Panasonic, normally $250 - Black Friday price $135.



Friday, 28 November 2014

COUNTING THE BEAT



I went to Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra tonight at the Town Hall.



There was lots of this:





None of this:





And unfortunately none of this:





but it was a wonderful concert.

The conductor, as usual, turned up late. What's that about? The rest of them turned up on time and some of them had to lug around great big musical instruments. He only had a little wand.

I felt sorry for the triangle player. I feel that her days might be numbered. She only tapped on the thing a few times and the only time she really hammered the thing you couldn't hear it because the rest of the orchestra, particularly the noisy double bass players and trombonists were really going at it. Sometime soon the conductor might just put a bell on his shoe and shake it every now and then and put her out of a job.

The standout for me amongst some pretty good stuff was an Elgar piece - Cello Concerto in E Major movement 1. Sombre but beautiful as most of his stuff is. It only came in at number seven but I rated it the best.

Oh, I should say, Settling the Score is kind of like a sophisticated Top of the Pops collaboration between the APO and Radio NZ Concert.
No degenerate Jimmy Saville thank god but presented by that excellent Wallace Chapman.

The countdown was:

9th place - Beethoven Symphony 7
8th place - Tchaikovsky Swan Lake Waltz
7th place -  Elgar Cello Concerto in E Minor Movement one
6th place - Vaughan-Williams Lark ascending
5th place - Holt's The Planets - Mars
4th place - Elgar Nimrod
3rd place Stravinsky Firebird Suite Finale
2nd place - Wagner Tristan and Isolde Prelude
1st place - Schumann Konzerstuck Movement One

Obviously these were excerpts only and, in the case of Wagner just as bloody well as life's too short to sit through one of his operas although I must admit the Prelude was rather lovely.

The less arithmetically challenged of you have probably noticed that the list above is a top nine and not a top 10 countdown.
I guess intellectual geeks often get the basics wrong. At least they all seemed to have their pants on the right way.




INVENTION



I mentioned before that pigeons are a nuisance in Auckland with their roosting and being fed on the balconies of high rise buildings



Second Fiddle bizarrely suggested feeding them bread made from plaster of Paris (Note: beware accepting dinner invitations from him) which I don't think I'll follow up on.


In the absence of having a cat in the apartment I resorted to throwing socks at the windows to discourage them.

With the warmer weather and having the ranch sliders to the deck open this resulted in sending balled socks out into the city which is a loss to me and disconcerting to pedestrians below.



I decided to rig something up that would scare the pigeons away.


  • boiling oil?
  • cardboard cutouts of Shonkey?
  • a double bass?
which were all impractical and would be offensive to me also so settled on a bird of prey cutout.

I went to many Auckland shops before finding what I wanted at Wah Lees, an Auckland variety store that has almost anything you'd ever want.




It's a bright orange kite with an evil looking eagle pictured on it. I have suspended it inside against the window and for the last couple of weeks no pigeons have landed on my balcony.
I informed Wah Lees and suggested that they promote these in their newsletter.
Soon there may be bright orange kites in the windows of all the Auckland apartments thereby transforming the look of the city.







I think I'll solve the glabal energy crisis next.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

SELFIE ABUSE



Selfies. What's that all about?

Every time I check on internet news sites I'm confronted with 'stars' promoting images of themselves that they've taken themselves with their cell phones.



This is basically playing with themselves or less colloquially, masturbation.





The other day I was intrigued by a young woman carrying a wand. I wondered what it was until, when she met up with friends she attached it to her cellphone and was able to take a 'selfie' of them from more than arms length.

Go figure.

Makes sense of the expression 'aping'

Sunday, 23 November 2014

BACK TO UNIVERSITY

Part of Auckland university


I feel unfulfilled.

I spent 7 years at university which is only 11.3% of my life so far. I'm sure that I can do better than that.


Sure I've got diplomas, certificates from business courses and all sorts of gobbly-de-goop from a lifetime of marketing and management but university is the real deal. It's got class and soul (or should if the sector stuck to its original and idealistic principles). The problem is that over the last 30 years there's been a growth in 'university' business with multi educational institutions popping up to offer business  degrees and all wanting to be accredited as universities.


That's the Rant.



Here's the Rave.




We live in the university precinct of Auckland.

AUT and Auckland University surround us.
Fortunately Albert Park, tree-lined streets and heritage gardens are also part of the mix.


Princes Street by the university


As much as the two universities are hell-bent on becoming big businesses the things that they can't change even if they do build bigger and high-rise buildings are the protected surroundings.

Albert Park


This weekend I went up North as usual but came back a bit earlier as the weather up north was crap.

To my delight Auckland was basking in sunshine and, with no wind was gorgeous.


I went for a mid afternoon walk through Albert Park, past and through Auckland university grounds and felt refreshed.

Our building is one of those above and slightly to the right of the fountain - seen from centre of Albert Park

Leaving the car in the garage is certainly worthwhile sometimes.
After living in Toronto for a year without owning a car I've become used to walking everywhere so on good days like today  I get the full benefit of the area where I live.

In Auckland though it's almost impossible to not see the bloody awful Sky Tower with its hyperdermic
syringe poking up into the sky. It dominates the view from our apartment as well.








Friday, 21 November 2014

REUNION



I'm sure that younger workers know very little about unions and their importance in society.
Many older workers most likely recall the bad days of unionism and disruptions caused by indiscriminate strikes and activity.

Unions in New Zealand started a decline with the Labour Relations Act 1987 which ended compulsory arbitration even though compulsory union membership was left intact. The CTU was in negotiation with government for clarification of the role of unions in New Zealand when, in 1990 the Labour government was trounced by National.

One of the new National governments first attacks on the people was the introduction of the Employment Contracts Act 1991. This basically deregulated labour markets and set up individual employment contracts instead of collective agreements. It also abolished compulsory unionism.

This is why we see unscrupulous employers  today paying workers peanuts and forcing them into onerous agreements like the Little Saigon restaurant case in Christchurch.





The unions collapsed in the early 1990's, even though New Zealand had one of the highest rates of union membership in the world because of the repercussions of the Employment Contracts Act 1991but also because of other govenmental initiatives like privatisation of government departments. The 'blue collar' unions that controlled railways and post and telegraph took a major body blow when these were privatised and the only strong unions which remained were largely in the  'white collar' sectors. These of course weren't the muscular unions of the past (watersiders, seamen, freezing workers, engineering etc.) and any collectivism that was allowed under new regulations was a bit wimpy.



Unionism in New Zealand began in the second half of the nineteenth century. Initially beginning as
small, local arrangements where workers had scrapes with employers and had to band together to get some form of agreement. As towns grew, businesses and work sectors also grew requiring skilled labour. The new skilled staff worked together and formed trade unions which eventually connected with 'brother' workers in other towns and even across industries.
The rise of this was eventually recognised in 1878 when Parliament gave unions a legal status.
From there unions grew organically and were reinforced by the influx of workers from Australia and the United Kingdom which were strongly advanced in unionism.

We all know of the battles that took place between unions, employers and government over the years.

(Look it up on the internet - this isn't a history lesson you know).


There were many injustices that only got resolved through bloodshed, sanctions, enforced poverty or, in some cases, arbitration.

Some have gone down into folk-lore like the 1951 Waterfront Dispute which has been musically chronicled by Chris Prowse. Chris's father and older brother Richard were actually working in related industries at this time and were strong union supporters. - Correction: Mr Prowse Senior was not a strong union supporter and son Richard was actually not born until 1952. He just looks older. Apologies from the author. The researcher, who may have been drunk at the time on Te Mata Chardonnay 2013 has been sacked.


Now , as alluded to before not all union activity was righteous. There was a groundswell of dissatisfaction from the public when union activity seemed frivolous, 'bolshi' or was deliberately set out to inconvenience as many people as possible. This to me was personified by the Maritime Union's various disputes in the 1970's. They and the associated Cooks and Stewards Union seemed to be forever niggling at their employers and would strike or go slow at key times (Christmas, Easter) etc. that would cause most disruption. I was working at the liquor wholesalers at this time and when the Cook Strait ferry workers went on strike because they felt they weren't getting a fair do with their morning teas (chocolate biscuits had been cut out and they only had the cheaper plain biscuits to eat) I and friends taped a couple of packets of chocolate biscuits to the top of the cartons of beer we delivered to their union. It caused a bit of a stink but the company didn't lose the supply contract.



On a national level things came to a head when in 1981 there were marches down main streets of New Zealand that were anti-union, anti-striking. It was organised by Tania Harris and, while not really well thought out and with some pretty naive political ideology it tapped into the general dissatisfaction of the public. The union management was really to blame in allowing the annoying activity by their members to cause this and it led over the next ten years to the passing of legislature that basically emasculated them.

So, where are we now. Through successive right-leaning Labour governments and even righter leaning National governments hell-bent on making New Zealand competitive on a global market (don't they realise how small we are and we can't really compete with the bigger countries - we should concentrate instead on looking after the New Zealand people in the way that Scandanavian countries do) unions and awareness of unions has been eroded.
Even Helen Clark's great Labour governments of 1999, 2002 and 2005 failed to halt the decline. New legislation did allow unions to build up membership again and the Employment Relations Act 2000 restored the term ‘union’ and specified that only unions registered under the act could represent employees in collective bargaining but there was no where near the power that unionism and the great unions wielded before.



In 2014 we have a New Zealand whose wealth has been captured by a minority of privileged people and by foreign investment. Shonkeys governments have stripped out assets in the tradition of Brierleys and other corporate raiding companies. State assets and corporations have been sold off and steadily measures have been put in place to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
This new and bastard National government proved what they want to do when the first bit of legislation that they've passed after the election was to eliminate tea breaks for workers.


So no wonder we have employers merrily going about paying peanuts to workers by using minimum rates and 3 month 'trial' employment contracts,. No wonder we hear of 'slave labour' in restaurants and small manufacturing businesses. No wonder that supermarkets and fast food chains use young workers because they can get away with paying less. No wonder that petrol station chains dock workers pay for drive-offs. Basically we've got what we deserve.

But, maybe the worm is turning albeit slowly.

Is it significant that Labour's new leader, Andrew Little is a strong union man elected by a strong union vote?



I sincerely hope so. Tally ho!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6wBcwj59F4





Saturday, 15 November 2014

FACING THE GREAT UNWASHED



No, not catching up with Richard (of RBB fame), but doing an in-store tasting in a deli-supermarket.

When having a meeting with our New Zealand distributor I offered to help out with any in-market activity including consumer tastings. This was, to me, a throw away line so that I could say "see, I offered" but they took it seriously and asked me if I could help this weekend.
I said yes so stayed in town instead of going north. Good decision that as the weather is crap.
I performed my duty this afternoon - 3 hours standing next to a barrel with bottles and glasses on it, offering tastings to the shoppers.



I enjoyed it.

I sold a lot of wine employing the marketing skills that I've honed over 40 years - 30% truth and 70% bullshit.



I found that I managed to charm win-over inveigle hoodwink the women better than the men. Nearly all the people were pleasant with only a few being a bit neutral and only one grumpy old bastard. Not that I really needed to hoodwink them as the wines are bloody good and some having won trophies and gold medals are in short supply but, old habits die hard.

The owner of the deli-supermarket who had been hanging around listening to my spiel came up to me later and complimented me on my salesmanship. He told me that they'd run out of Pinot Noir and were low on other wines and he'd have to double up on his order next week.
I had to smile at this as I don't consider myself as a salesman and I'm certainly not a 'people person' as the title of this post attests to.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

AMERICAN HISTORY (an occasional series)

Here are some outtakes from a High School text book on American History as taught to American Grade 8 and 9 students, under the Foreign Wars section.........




The Battle of Britain

- was a war fought in the air over London, England in 1940.
The British including the French, the Poles, the Canadians, the New Zealanders, the Australians and other countries were about to be invaded by Nazi Germany but fortunately the attempt was thwarted by American airmen who, although unwilling to intervene in foreign issues, over a period of two months smashed the German 'Luftwaffe' and paved the way for American forces to beat the Germans in North Africa and Italy and to liberate France in 1944.

The Vietnam War

-was a war fought in South East Asia in a French colony named Vietnam.
China, after being liberated by USA from the Japanese in World War 2 became a communist state after succumbing to the entreaties and inducements of the communist USSR. It was then known as Red China and in turn spread communist doctrine to neighbouring countries.
This was known as The Domino Theory (see elsewhere).


France engaged the Red Chinese forces but were ineffective and asked USA to assist.
Although unwilling to intervene in foreign issues USA came to the rescue of the French forces and stopped the Red Chinese takeover eventually winning the war. Afterwards, to keep warring factions at bay, like the successful partition of Korea, USA created North Vietnam and South Vietnam which went on to be a successful agricutural producing dual nation. In more recent times the 'North' and South' titles were dropped due to confusion in the emerging tourist industry.


ULTRA

-was an invention by American scientists and mathematicians created to combat the German code machines named ENIGMA in the Second World War.
American marines from a USA submarine (name witheld due to secrecy) engaged and boarded a German submarine in 1941 and captured a brand new ENIGMA coding machine. They then scuttled the submarine and made the crew top secret prisoners and held them in the island of Cuba. The coding machine was investigated and decoded with ULTRA being created to read German signals and to plant false information with the Germans.




The Korean war

After America won the Second World War and had brought the brave troops home the Korean people in a country named Korea asked for USA assistance after Chinese communist forces invaded from the north. USA provided technical support although unwilling to intervene in foreign issues and eventually provided experienced armed forces who successfully halted the advance of the Chinese and the newly indoctrinated Koreans from the North. To stop the 'North Koreans' from spreading further south USA created the 38th Parallel, a line that retained all the arable land in the south for the newly formed South Korea and left the poor land in the north for the disloyal North Koreans and the communist Chinese.

(to be continued)

NEW POST - THE RELIGIOUS CURMUDGEON

Robert has freaked out The Religious Curmudgeon. HERE