Monday, 22 December 2014

THICK AS A BRICK*

* Or 'Brike' as Richard would spell it.

The person who must be thick as a brick is me.

A few weeks ago I bought a ticket to see Ian Anderson in the new Jethro Tull line up. I was looking forward to this and delayed going up North because the concert at The Civic was Sunday 21st.

Yesterday.

I forgot to go.

Image of the unused ticket

The ticket cost me $151.00.

That's a case of wine for me (2 cases of wine for Richard and at least 3 cases for the crap that Robert drinks).

I guess I'll add this ticket to the unused David Bowie one I have from the 1980's.
Maybe I can put them on Trade Me or E-Bay and some collector nut will buy them.


Sunday, 21 December 2014

IT'S CHRISTMAS, MAYBE IT'S AN ANGEL

I took these photographs from the top of Kauri Mountain near our house up north.

Click on the photographs to enlarge them.


Above this view of Ocean Beach is a flying figure that looks like an angel.






It swooped and dived, performing complex aeronautical manoeuvres.






It was a swallow catching flying insects



Friday, 19 December 2014

HOBBIT FORMING

I went to see the third of The Hobbit trilogy today.


It was OK I must admit as I wasn't expecting a lot out of it given that the first two stretched things out a bit.

The Hobbit as written by Tolkien and which was prescribed reading at my secondary school was relatively short compared to The Lord of The Rings trilogy of books and tended to cut to the quick.

Buried within the book though and elaborated on more in The Lord of the Rings and the (unreadable) Silmarillion, was the background to a lot of the happenings in Middle Earth.

These 'happenings' come out in the third of The Hobbit films but, as is the nature of action films, largely get lost or misunderstood.

It doesn't help that the expansion of characters and narrative is done by the scriptwriters, talented as they may be, but who lack old J.R.R's finesse.

The best chracterisation, that was new and had little to do with Tolkien's original was Smaug the dragon ( voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch)



Ok, I'm a purist and probably sit among the 2% of viewers who have read Tolkien's The Hobbit and
The Lord of The Rings trilogy and the 0.00000001% of viewers who have read Silmarillion and other stuff. I must try and find my copy of Silmarillion. It's probably in a box somewhere with the joss-sticks and scented candles - hey, there might be the remnants of a joint or two in there!)


I know there's been a lot of hype and nationalistic fervour over Peter Jackson's films but I have liked them.
A lot of this (most in fact) has been because I really liked J.R.R. Tolkien's books.

Another reason is that Jackson, standing almost alone in major film-making circles chose to be (reasonably) faithful to the story-line and characterisation. Probably any variations were more to do with the bloody American financiers with an eye to box-office acceptance rather than to a director's ego.




Also, The Old Girl knows Jackson's family and remembers him as a kid spending every free afternoon watching films or acting out scenarios.







And lastly, doesn't it always bring a tear to your eye when the trailers and advertising announce that it's all filmed in New Zealand? Go on, go on, you know it's true. I've kept American audiences enthralled at dinner parties (well they are impressionable) when recounting that I used to, when on school cross-country runs across Mt Victoria in Wellington, crouch down below the track and have a fag out of sight of the school prefects - the exact same spot that Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merrin sheltered in when the Dark Rider was trying to sniff them out.


Yes. I have enjoyed all the films so far. Some have been better than others and technology has caught up on the initially ground-breaking film effects of the first two films but it's been a good ride and I, amongst others I'm sure,will be sorry to see the end of the Hobbits and the other mythological characters and events that have, like it or not, shaped our present and future.









SONY WITH DEVELOPING STORMS

Well how stupid is that SONY crowd?



When, a while ago they announced that they were making a film, a comedy no less, about an assassination attempt on North Korea's leader Kim Yong-un I though "not a very good idea".
Apart from it being risky it was just in appalling bad taste and categorically unfunny.

So. They made the film and now it's biting therm on the bum.



Serves the stupid fuckers right.


Monday, 15 December 2014

RANDWICK BELLS






 I listened to a song by the great Paul Kelly on National Radio today.

This made me seek out this song Randwick Bells which I really like. I hope you like it.

 I'm not a musician like some friends of mine but wish I had the ability. I love music and write songs in my mind. I have a list (also in my mind) of songs I wish that I'd written This is one of them.

In 1986 I was a bit lost and songs like this hit the spot with me. The sentiment of drifting with no plans for the future, at the time was meaningful. I've got over that but the song still tugs.

OLD BUGGERS THAT STILL HAVE IT

I


In an earlier post I included a clip of Christopher Lee singing The Little Drummer Boy. Here we see one of the world's best 'rock' voices singing well into his 70's. Arthur Brown with his great performances of Fire, Sunrise and Dance still has the voice. Marvellous.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

CHRISTMAS LETTER TIME




Don't know where to start?

Here are a few ideas to make your holiday newsletters thoughtful, fresh and fun. Feel free to nab a few for your own this year.
  • Get an angle.

  • Use one of your family’s interests as a theme. Or consider a general theme like “Ten Things We’re Grateful for This Christmas.”
  • Make someone laugh.
  • What’s the funniest thing that happened to you this year? Tell that story as your holiday letter each year, and you’ll be the all-time hit of everybody’s mantel card collections.
  • Let everyone throw in his or her two cents.
  • Each family member writes a little bit about their year. You can even write a blurb from the family pet’s point of view.
  • Include festive quotes.
  • Inspirational or cheerful words can set the tone for your newsletter. Use one at the beginning or the close of your season’s greetings.
  • Make a hits list.
  • Put all your “best ofs” in one place—from most-watched TV shows and top playlists to websites worth visiting and must-reads.


Well, that's not going to happen.
Obviously some people take the old Christmas letter thing a bit too seriously.

We used to get them from some friends of The Old Girl but as we never responded, after years had gone by they stopped sending them to us.

Richard of RBB puts one on his blog every December but as his blog ratings have seriously diminished (down to 3 readers and one of those is one of his alter-egos) I doubt that these readers give it more than a cursory glance. It'll no doubt fizzle out like Christmas cards have.


I imagine these cards are not sent out nowadays

I've written before on how we don't get Christmas cards anymore except from institutions and these are usually in e-form. Actually this year I've only received two of these so they're on the way out too.

Christmas letters are supposed to be about what one did in the current year. Maybe these originated from kids writing to santa begging gifts and maintaining that they had been good during the year.



Of course they wouldn't say they'd been bad although there is a certain segment of the population that would confess to being bad in the hope of receiving punishment:





 But that's another story.

I don't think I've been bad during the year, or certainly not enough to get a whipping. The Old Girl has been away though and, as she said I wasn't allowed to play with other women this wasn't going to happen anyway.

It's been a funny old year.
Last Christmas we spent in Aberdeen with The Old Girl's mother. We're really glad that we did this because she died 4 months later and we had such a good time with her over Christmas and New Year.

I came back to New Zealand for a job which has had its ups and downs


"Work huh yeah. What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, oh hoh, oh Work huh yeah. What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, say it again y'all Work, huh good God What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me"

(With apologies to Edwin Starr )

I've been living alone and working from the Auckland apartment which is something I  didn't imagine I'd be doing a couple of years ago when we bought it. I thought it'd be OK for a couple of nights a week but not all the time. As it turns out I don't really mind it. Maybe this is due to the fact that I'd been living in that high rise in Toronto for a year so have gotten used to small spaces.

Getting back to the theme, Christmas (huh yeah what is it good for?)
It's still a good time of year with people winding down and looking forward to their holidays and (hopefully) positive changes in the new year.

I've got fond memories of Christmases past. It was a time of celebration and excitement and that wasn't always to do with getting presents. In our family and I guess a lot of New Zealand families in the 50's, 60's and even 70's we didn't get a lot of fancy presents. Nowadays it's all gone mad with kids especially, receiving too much crap. The 'crap' isn't cheap stuff either. No doubt the precious little people will be getting iPads, iPhones and Playstation 4s and a whole lot of other very expensive junk. And, you know what? I bet they don't appreciate it.

Grrrrr. It makes me mad


I've just been Christmas shopping down Queen Street. I didn't intend to as I just went for a walk but went in to Whitcoull's.
I managed to get a few gifts for the family so that annoying TV ad they have going at the moment has some truth to it. I must go about in a haze as I hadn't noticed the big SALE signs screaming out and the guy at the door announcing things on a microphone was just background noise to me.  It wasn't until my purchases were being processed that I realised they were 50% off!
Dumb this, specialing so heavily BEFORE Christmas but I was quite pleased.

Nowadays I don't expect much in the way of Christmas gifts coming my way. The Old Girl and I normally agree on something earlier and then get one or two small gifts for each other. We probably spend more time and money on gifts for extended family.

Over the last few years my nieces have been buying me tea! Somewhere in the past I must have said that I really like tea. Unfortunately they don't get the tea from the local supermarket as if it was Twinings Irish Breakfast I'd be happy and it'd save me buying it.
No, they buy expensive fancy tea from boutique shop.



This goes to the back of the cupboard and very rarely gets used.



Second Fiddle (50% of Richard's readership) now known as Bob The Tit or something is a bit of a grinch or scrooge when it comes to Christmas.
In his latest post he warns of Christmas work gatherings saying that he would never attend and wouldn't want to socialise with the people he has no liking for during the year.



I think he misses a couple of points.


  • If you don't like the company you work for then what better way to assuage this than eating their free food and drinking their free plonk.
  • If you don't like the people you work with what better opportunity is there to mess with their heads than in a party environment when they are fuzzy with alcohol.
  • Did I mention the free drinks?

But then Bob The Second Tit is a bit of a Christian traditionalist. This is more of the gathering He'll be at:




I like this painting (Ukranian).
Mary looks slightly out of it as if she's been ingesting drugs or having had a bit too much of the Christmas punch.
The shepherds look like they're performing some sort of hip-hop song and dance routine.
Joseph is showing undue attention to the animal on the ground that seems to be giving him the eye.
Baby Jesus looks like he'd been wrapped up like a paper dart and hurled down from above by that angel lurking in the clouds.

Did Medieval artists take hallucinogens? I think so.



Merry Christmas readers reader.


Thursday, 11 December 2014

BEST CHRISTMAS SONG EVER






I've always liked 'The Little Drummer Boy". It's probably the first Christmas song I can remember and it always gives me a thrill to hear it.

Hearing Christopher Lee's version today was spine tingling.

I wish I could master iTunes and download it for sending out as a Christmas gift (The Old Girl handles all this stuff and she doesn't get back until Boxing Day).

I hope you like the snippet above,

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

YOU KNOW YOU'RE GETTING OLD WHEN ....



I was thinking of this when I woke up this morning.

I had a really sore wrist.



I must have slept with it bent back or something.

That led to me totting up all the things that I do or that happen to me now that didn't happen when I was younger.


Forgetting the PIN number for the debit card.

I use this daily both when doing internet banking or in shops  and yet, when at the front of a long queue in a supermarket, my mind goes blank when I'm about to enter the code.
What's that about?


You put your underpants on backwards

Look, to be fair, these are those modern bloody things that are hard to differentiate the front from the back, but still....






You have problems understanding commands on the computer




I think computer software programmers deliberately make things difficult. Ask Richard (of RBB) about his new Windows 8 programme.







A quiet night in is really attractive


Yes, I've made excuses so as not to go out at night when invited. This is especially true on week nights. The thought of all that palaver of getting dressed up (or at least more dressed than the shorts and T-shirt I usually wear) is tiresome.





Driving carefully


I've found myself taking more care and not driving as fast when going up north now. There was a time when it was a kind of challenge to get past other cars and to not let that 'speed racer' get the better of me. Nowadays I can't be bothered and generally just keep to the speed limit.




I'm looking forward to The Old Girl coming home at Christmas to rejuvenate me.



Monday, 8 December 2014

GO FISH



Go Fish, a game of greed, violence and intrigue ................  at least it was when I played it - with my younger sisters many years ago.


Nowadays go fish is ...... a game of greed, violence and intrigue  ...... perhaps I'd better explain.


I live half the year up north where I'm surrounded by the most beautiful bays, beaches, islands and sea aspects that the country has to offer.



This obviously attracts both recreational and commercial fishermen and some in between.

The seas are bountiful with snapper, john dory, kingfish, flounder and lots of other varieties. Often it only takes a half an hour to catch a legal sized fish or two suitable to feed the family.

But all so often some greedy scrotes take more than what's needed to feed a family 'because the law says that they can".
Yes the legal limit is way beyond what any one person needs to feed a (large) family and these fuckwits push it to the limit and beyond.



This last weekend I went with friends to a beautiful bay about an hours drive further north than where I live. We weren't fishing but merely picnicking.
While stopped by a beach outside the campervan enjoying a cup of tea (yes, obviously they're Brits) we watched a joker rowing in to the shore. He beached the dinghy, unloaded the fish he had caught which included two medium sized sharks.

He and the young boy with him mucked around for a while before loading the sharks back into the dinghy and rowing off.
They went out into this pristine and beautiful bay and then dumped the (dead) sharks into the water and then rowed back.
My friends and I discussed this and wondered what the hell this was all about.

I thought about it for a few minutes and then thought "fuck it, I'm going to do something about this".

When the fisherman beached his dinghy I went down to the beach and confronted him. I asked him what was going on and why he dumped those sharks.
He was surprised at first and then got belligerent, asking me , rather rudely I thought, "what the fucking business it was of mine, was I a fisheries inspector" etc. etc.
I, rather calmly and politely I thought responded by saying "No, I'm not a fisheries inspector but as a New Zealander I have a vested interest in what's happening with our coastal waters" etc. etc.

I found out (I don't know why he felt he had to explain himself so much as he was bigger than me) that he has a set net out in the bay where he catches snapper and other fish and the sharks come along to 'steal his fish!' and they get caught in the nets and drown.

"Aha" I said (actually I didn't actually say "Aha" I just put that in for dramatic effect). I did say that he has obviously done this before which he agreed to and also has caught stingrays as well in his nets. I then asked him why the hell he doesn't stop fishing in this way as he's obviously catching all sizes of snapper including illegal sized ones as well as killing sharks and other wildlife.

He swore and blustered a bit and stooped to pick up his spear.


Not like this.





More like this.



It was about 4 foot long with a trident on the end.

Now I've read all the Lee Childs Jack Reacher books (including the latest one Richard) so was well primed for these eventualities.

"Hope for the best but expect the worst" or some such so in my mind I envisaged him lunging for me and me shifting my weight to the right and coming at him from the side, grabbing the spear and in the same movement swivelling and bring the end of it up to ...... well it wasn't necessary as after he'd picked it up he put it in his dinghy.

We kept haranguing for a while before I wished him a long and happy life (I was being ironic) and I left to join my friends who had almost packed up and buggered off by this stage.
We sat down again and enjoyed our picnic and also enjoyed the fact that while there was nothing I could legally do to stop the fuckwit from pillaging our fish reserves I had probably upset his day (which was evidenced by the way he drove off spraying gravel).

Oh the joys of weekends.





BLOODY LARRIKINS

Young people probably look on us as silly old buggers who've probably always lived sedentary lifestyles.
I know when I was young I thought the same of my elders and it's only when you grow older that you can appreciate that most people have done some wild things at some time in their life.

In a post a couple of months back (Driving furiously) I recounted a story from my dad's youth.

Today I visited the Museum of Transport and Technology Aviation section (MOTAT) which is a great experience.
While there I bought a small book 2nd New Zealand Divisional Cavalry Regiment in the Mediterranean. I did this because dad was in this division in the second world war.



There's a story in this book of a couple of Divisional Cavalry 'larrikins' who had found a 2 inch mortar and bombs amongst some wreckage after a battle near Badia in December 1941.

Ted Andrews who kept a diary wrote:


"Chook and I decided to try out this handy little weapon one afternoon. We went out near the edge of the escarpment. Neither of us had handled a 2" mortar before but we tackled boldly. We first knocked the muzzle on the ground to get the sand out, then unwrapped the first bomb and dropped it down the barrel. It stuck a bit so we rammed itdown with a pick handle, pointed it on a low angle towards the edge of the escarpment and let her go. Away shot the bomb, higher than we thought skimmed the crest of the escarpment and disappeared, immediately a dull boom! At the same moment two dispatch riders came over the crest on their motorbikes, going like hell, right where the bomb had gone over. We looked at each other blankly. "Hell" said Chook, "I hope there weren't three of them".

The second round wouldn't go down the barrel so I tipped the mortar up and carefully shook it and Chook caught the primed bomb in his handerchief! It was followed out by the tail of the first bomb. We fired the second bomb on a high angle and up she went only to be caught in a head wind and the higher it went the further back over our heads it went. It finally burst with a terrific report about 200 yards behind us and quite close to the colonels's tent. Consternation in the camp! Men ran out of their tents and bivvies and dived into slit trenches, men standing threw themselves flat on the ground. Had Rommel come back or was it an air raid? Chook and I tossed up to see who would go back and explain and of course, I lost. I went over to the colonel's tent.

He and the major were arguing over what it was. The CO said it was a shell but the major said there was no whistle with it. Judging by the dirt on their clothes they had hit the ground pretty smartly! So I explained what had happened and did the old man fly off the handle! My military career was irretrievably ruined - he always reckoned I tried to kill him and the men gave me hell because I hadn't!"


This is the kind of stuff - total disregard for safety, gung-ho stupidity and reckless fun - that we got up to when we were young. I can just see Roger ramming down a primed bomb with a pick handle.


Friday, 5 December 2014

TERMS THAT PISS ME OFF #3 - "TWENTY FOUR/SEVEN

I can understand businesses advertising that they are open 24 hours for providing goods and services. I have no problem with that.



What bugs me are the people who say "24/7" for just about anything.




What's wrong with saying "Often" or "Frequently"?

If they really were on the case 24 hours every day, seven days a week then when do they bloody well sleep?




I bet these same idiots say "It's to die for"

Thursday, 4 December 2014

TERMS THAT PISS ME OFF #2 - "TO DIE FOR"



We all know that hackneyed expression when used by the sabre rattlers relating to 'king and country'

but in more recent times it's a stupid expression used by waste-of-space 'women who lunch' who are forever saying stupid things like:

" Oh my god, look at that that necklace over there. It's to die for"

or,

"The chocolate pudding was to die for"

Well, maybe one day they will do just that.




Wednesday, 3 December 2014

TERMS THAT PISS ME OFF - #1 SUPERMODEL

Supermodel. WTF?


This stupid identification of over overpaid bimbos started somewhere back in the 1960's and grew to prominence in the 1980's when airhead Linda Evangelista said:

"I don't get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day"
Well that sums her up. If she stays in bed does she prostitute herself for less?

She also was quoted as saying:

"It was God who made me so beautiful. If he hadn't I would have been a teacher"



Well Linda I guess you would have missed out there as well as it takes intelligence to be a teacher and a sense of ethics, morality and caring to be a good one.





Now I can understand the necessity of having clothes horses to model fashion wear as well as everyday clothing to give potential buyers an idea of what the items look like on a person but the whole business of using skinny models is offensive.

Even if this wasn't offensive then, to me , it's just a job. Someone has to do it and I guess if they're easy on the eyes it's all the better. But why do they have to be called 'super'?

This whole thing has got a bit ridiculous over the last 30 years with now, any skinny skank in a short dress is called a supermodel. My question is - where are the ordinary models?

Today on Yahoo news I saw this which has taken the whole ting to ridiculous lengths:


"With her beautiful blue eyes, honey-coloured tresses and luminous skin, it's no wonder that Kristina Pimenova is Russia's latest supermodel"



The girl is 8 years old.

No wonder the world is populated with Jimmy Savilles and Rolf Harris types.


In the NZ Herald this week I read a scathing article by Bob Jones on boardwalk models.
Now old Bob is a pain-in-the-arse greedy and grasping capitalist but occasionally is spot on with his observations.

He wondered at why models and especially these 'super' models are seen by young women and girls as inspirational and the industry as desirable. Bob asks how challenging is it to walk down a catwalk and if this is the pinnacle of achievement to be sought then god help us all.

Well, for some of these hopeful young things who cannot be teachers, the occupation may well be challenging and the highest that can be achieved.


Monday, 1 December 2014

THEY DID IT THEIR WAY ...

..... and it's a hell of a lot better.

I wrote an earlier post about the new Brad Pitt film Fury which is quite good, certainly compared to the crap the American film industry has put out concerning WW2 recently.


No doubt it'll get Oscar nominations and a whole lot of press about how gritty and realistic it is and blah, blah, blah.

I watched My Way tonight which is a Korean film by Kang Je-Kyu. It is about the rivalry between two men - one Korean and the other Japanese with the backdrop of Japan's occupation of Korea from the middle 1930's, Japan's wars with China and USSR in the late 1930's andWW2.


The battle scenes are graphic way beyond what Fury delivered. In My Way, when a tank runs over soldiers you'd swear it was for real (maybe it was as I doubt they have an Actor's Equity organisation in Korea).

The acting is first class and depicts well the brutality of the times and of imperialistic Japan. They manage to get the story across and portray the relationships between the men and women without the treacly overacted stuff the Yanks deliver up.

It was made in 2011 and I don't recall it having been acknowledged by the American Academy. No surprises there though as the old farts that populate it are seemingly unaware that films are made in other countries - certainly not good ones.




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...