Monday, February 28, 2005

If you could only have one powertool

No contest...

This is the Husky 345, the newest version of my chainsaw, which I bought several years ago after having a massive macracarpa felled in my back garden. The guy did the major work on it after felling & suggested I get myself a chainsaw for the rest. What an excuse!!

I got more than 5 years of firewood out of that tree...

It stays at SunnyO mostly these days, for thinning out my forest, and harvesting the occasional woodpile...

But I had occasion to bring it into town recently to start clearing our front garden in preparation for a planned cardeck.

A weekend with a chainsaw, is a good weekend. As the old proverb says...

Welcome to Husqvarna

BTW: I have a load of safety equipment to go with it...

A formal invitation

If an invitation (say, to a wedding) says "Dress: Formal", what does that mean exactly? Dinner suit?

And anyone got any experience with a really great boarding kennel? We're kind of wavering towards this one...

Welcome to -- Harkleah Meadows Ltd -- Boarding kennels with a difference

Pretty much because of all the pictures of happy dogs on the website. We're suckers for pictures of happy dogs... And the dog runs look more spacious than others we've seen...

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The B Movies

On the dog walk the other night, I asked a couple of fellows doing the same if they had any recommendations for a DVD to get that night. Family fare, or thereabouts.

These two are academics, one's a history lecturer, the other, a professor of philosophy. Both keen culture-hounds. I figured their judgement might be worthwhile...

"Hellboy!" said history man
"Spiderman 2" said Philosopher.
"Riiiggghhhtttt", said I.

Anyway, I clipped Wilma to the rubbish bin outside the DVD store (I carry a nifty little carabina for this), and went in to scour the shelves. I don't really need advice about what to get, it just helps if I have something in mind, or I'll be there all night checking out the entire selection...

After about 20 minutes... having looked longingly at the Before Sunset new release & deciding it might be too tedious for a 12 year old, and Swimming Pool, because I know T likes Charlotte Rampling, because people tell her they look similar (and Helen Mirren - I'm onto a good thing really), but Swimming Pool is a family unfriendly R18 & no matter how appealing the thought of aging English, and barely legal French hotties prancing naked around the pool was... I came across the words... Spiderman 2.

On getting home, M scrutinised my selection & said "We've seen this."

"Spiderman 2? No we haven't"
"It's Spiderman... the 2 disc set, you didn't take your reading glasses did you?"

So M offered to walk back to the DVD store & switch it for Spiderman 2, or if that was out something similar, armed with advice/warning from T "You might like to consider something I might like to watch."

10 minutes later, she's back, with a huge grin as she announced,

"Bulletproof Monk!"
"F..." said T

Chow Yun Fat! Hoo Hah!!! Now if you're unfamiliar with Our Man Fat, he's probably the Cary Grant of our time. Truly. He was the main man in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, but his best work is in John Woo Bullet Ballets, the best of which is indisputably Hard Boiled. In fact, although he's known now for martial artistry, Crouching Tiger was his first foray into the genre, he's usually shooting people. Lots of people...

Our first B Movie of the weekend then, Bulletproof Monk is a guilty, park your brain outside & enjoy the ride, pleasure. Alternatively some people might be profoundly irritated by the idiocy of the so called plot.

Chow, is an 80 something year old monk with no name, charged with protecting a sacred scroll from an evil nazi who tried to take it off him 60 years ago in 1943. We take up the action is modern day New York. And really, it's campy crap. But with Chow Yun Fat spouting "fortune cookie philosophy", and who is by far the best thing about it (although, he should fire his agent). The 2nd male lead is the guy who played Stifler in the American Pie movies, and if this guy is a movie star, then there is hope for the rest of us. The female lead looks like Avril Lavigne, but I suspect she wasn't.

The next day was de ja vu, but without the advice from my cultured friends. This time I took heed of the longing in my soul... and checked out the 2nd B Movie of the weekend. Before Sunset.

This one's a sequel to a small film called Before Sunrise made by a guy called Richard Linklater some 10 years ago starring Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy. They were a couple of young things who meet on a train in Europe, he on his way back to the US the next day, her to start school in Paris. On a whim they disembark the train at Vienna & spend the night pretty much conversing about all sorts of things. They connect & promise to meet again in 6 months time. It is the all time finest romantic movie ever made IMO.

9 years later, Jessie (Hawke) is a best selling novelist on a promotional tour of Europe, promoting his novel about two young things who meet on a train... etc.

He looks up from a book signing in Paris, and there is Celine (Delpy)

Here, we find out if they kept their rendezvous 9 years earlier & what has become of them since.

Again, time is limited - Celine asks "How long have we got this time, 20 minutes?"

Hawke replies, "Longer then that". They have 80 minutes actually, and the movie follows them pretty much in real time as they wander Paris, with a few flashbacks interspersed.

And it is lovely, these are two real people, talking real things, the chemistry is palpable & it doesn't hurt that they've both aged really, really well. Delpy is of course, luminous. And so is Paris.

Can't say much about it without spoiling it, but the ending is fantastic. Both of these movies have you wanting to see more of these characters*, so now we just have to wonder how much longer before the 3rd movie is made.

*Celine & Jessie also appear briefly in a sequence in Richard Linklater's Waking Life.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Just the ticket

Any but the most optimistically naive in the IT industry knows that when a change to anything is made to fix a particular problem, odds are, that another problem just got introduced.

But maybe that experience isn't so common in other areas.

Anyone with children, will surely be familiar with the phenomenon of bus & train ten trip & season tickets going through the wash. Those little paper mache tablets left in the botom of the washing machine.

I don't know if the people who make the Wellington Cable Car ten trip tickets had this problem in mind when they introduced the new plastic tickets, but we welcomed the innovation. Brilliant, we might actually get 10 trips out of one of these, we thought.

And so it was some amusement this morning, on getting the washing out of the machine, that we discovered that while the tickets do indeed remain intact... the ink is water soluble, and so we have a perfect orange plastic rectangle, with three clips along one side, and absolutely no other markings on it whatsoever.

I'll let you know if they let us use it for 7 more trips.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Deep Throat?

Well... if that doesn't improve my hit rate...

But actually, it's the OTHER Deep Throat... Had you been aware of the rumours that the guy who pulled the plug on Richard Millhouse Nixon & met clandestinely with Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward, was close to death & his identity might be revealed soon?

Well the Outlawvern examines the rumour that he might have been Dr Hunter S Thompson...

So I got home the other day...

So I got home the other day, and M is sitting at the dining Table, writing furiously (3 "5"s in a row for homework & you get a week off - she's got 2 out of 3 already).

And she's wearing yellow tights, yellow Hurricanes' jersey, yellow bulbous Hurricanes' top hat, and she has a yellow Hurricanes' trumpet & flag.

The pieces de resistance though, are two yellow supermarket plastic bags tied around her feet.

And you know those really proud moments, when you're confronted with an unusual sight, and without even thinking about your strategy for the coolest possible response... you don't even ask?

So I took Wilma for a walk & on the way I wondered "What was THAT about?"

Turns out it was the costume she planned to wear during her campaign speech to become Kowhai House Captain (yellow) at her school. She also planned to fling a large pile of fruit bursts left over from Halloween into the crowd at the end of her speech, figuring it wouldn't hurt her popularity. And the furious writing was her speech.

We find out today how the election went. We do know however, that her highly original speech went down better with the crowd, than one rival who said "I'm Josh, vote for me, I'm good at sport."

Oh... and the girls all just cruised in briefly, proto-teenagers, on their way to swimming, dallying long enough to take all my money off me & give me sage advice about eating oranges for my cold - all 3 of them are captains of their respective houses. Way to go.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I haven't got a statistics page...

Like some other people...

But I've been reliably informed that there IS another way to attract blog traffic & comments...

So here we have it... Paris Hilton's breasts (maybe)..

Man, I hate blood tests

I'd blog in more detail... but I hate them so much my fingers are starting to curl.

Weird thing is, it's not the blood, I've done all sorts of damage to myself & left pints of it all over all sorts of places & objects, & still pulled myself together, got out the nylon thread & stitched myself back up (exaggerating there).

It's where they take it from. Inside the elbow thing... I hate those bits being touched, like I hate my thumbs being grabbed...

Also... I thought it was OK to drink coffee... seems I may have to have another one. And should I have mentioned the codral cold tablet & multivitamin I took?

Or the bacon macmuffin? (Just kidding).

Anyway - just routine, yearly check up sort of test. Although my doctor was in a fine comic mood when I saw her (do they teach this at med school?)

"Leave your mobile number at reception in case I want to get hold of you in a hurry"
"Are you expecting something nasty in the blood test?"
"Oh no... it's in case I get in a foul mood & want to lecture someone about their liver...."

A considered, and comprehensive review of the movie Unfaithful

Utter Garbage

Oh OK... Diane Lane is gorgeous & well above the material. It could have been better, a searing morality play even, warning against the unavoidable consequences of adultery...

But then, the film-makers saw the necessity to include a murder...

Of prurient interest only.

Monday, February 21, 2005

I came here for the waters.

Inspired by a bunch of Valentine's Day blogs seeking to find the greatest romantic movie ever made... we revisited Casablanca on Saturday night.

12 year old M: "Black & white??!! WTF?"
Me: "Don't say "F""
M: "You do"
Me "I'm allowed, I invented it"
M: "But black & white...!! I mean..."
Me: "You liked King Kong?"
M: "Nope"
Me: "You liked Duck Soup!"
M: "Noooo..."

Also, I was highly amused by the comment "there's no film - whatever the genre - that can't be improved by a scene where Humphrey Bogart shoots a high-ranking Nazi". It's true.

I'd managed to tape it off TCM a few months ago. Took a punt. I had been thinking about getting the new DVD release, and I still may, given we had some technical problems watching the tape (two newish VCRs, one does not like playing what has been recorded on the other), and that the DVD also has the Carrotblanca special feature, Bugs Bunny & the crew in a very funny parody. Apparently Tweety, in the Peter Lorre role is sublime.

Despite our technical diffculties (every 10 minutes, we'd lose the picture, have to stop & restart the tape & all would be fine for another 10 minutes. The heads cannot be dirty, this is only the 2nd time we've used this unit), the film was clearly struck of a pristine print. I like that in a movie.

I have all the Casablanca regalia, the script, a big book about how it was written & made, I used to have a poster, but I sold it to a collector a few years back. I don't think I've seen the movie though, for more than 20 years.

But just as I remember, it is fantastic. From the opening matte work, a poster come to life, designed to make us think we're not in a studio back lot, to the most gifted (and apparently, pretty accidental) casting of the leads, to the brilliant supporting cast, Peter Lorre as the slimy Ugarte, Claude Rains as Captain Renault, Dooley Wilson as Sam, right down to the extras who play waiters & bartenders, everyone gets at least one snappy line.

No-one says "Play it again Sam", but there are some terrific lines & exchanges:

Renault: Why did you come to Casablanca Rick?
Rick: "For my health, I came here for the waters."
Renault: "The waters? Casablanca is in the desert."
Rick: "I was misinformed."

Bogart is at the height of his powers, he's suave, witty, honourable, angry, cynical & above all, hurt. His performance is so absolutely assured, there is nothing wooden or mannered about Bogart, he is Rick Blaine. Accept no substitutes. Ingrid Bergman, a quick family poll determined, is/was a major hottie. Rains in many instances, steals the show, but from today's standpoint, Captain Renault is a despicable sexual predator, not just a corrupt official. "Some men like war, I like women."

"We're closing the cafe because it's come to our attention there is gambling on the premises!"
"Here are your winnings Captain"
"Thank you".

When it comes down to it though, it's Bogart & Bergman that make the film, and the payoff indeed, is when Bogart shoots the nazi & doesn't get the girl.

I think I will get the DVD, and blog about Carrotblanca in a short while.

The Gift of the book of the blog of the story of someone else's life....

I got a book in the mail on Friday... ordered from Amazon UK on (according to the packing note) 10 february....

It was gift wrapped, ribboned, and accompanied by a small card on which was neatly typed "I saw this & thought of you".

And it is the book of the blog known as Belle de Jour.

Belle, as you may know, wrote a gripping blog of her exploits, fired a great deal of speculation about who she really was, and scored a major book deal... the stuff of bloggers' dreams. Although hopefully we don't have to suffer some of the same indignities as belle in devotion to her... er Art. Although some of the pleasure would be OK. Who says artists have to suffer anyway?

I immediately thought, "Cool, Damian Christie has sent me a home entertainment system as a prize for suggesting the creepiest words on earth are "Michael and Barrymore.""

But the dates don't match with the contest. And I quizzed Christie earlier, in yet another borderline-stalker series of emails & am satisfied it wasn't him.

So... the field of suspects narrows, I think, to pretty much the handful of readers of this blog.

So 'fess up! Who sent it? And please furnish me with a very valid & innocent reason why it is that coming across "The Intimate Memoirs of a London Call Girl" made you think of me. So I can relay that to my interested wife.

And thank you so much too. I'm sure to enjoy it immensely.

Friday, February 18, 2005

A good candidate for Otaki?

Look closely at this guy (Nathan Guy, in fact)... is it just me or does it look like he's wearing suspenders?

And why are they meeting in trendy Paraparaumu if he's the Otaki guy?

David Farrar: A good candidate

And someone somewhere, said they overheard someone bemoaning the loss of Katherine Rich from the National Party front bench, because she provided "eye candy".

Let's leave aside the ickiness of the term "eye candy" (I've already notified Damian Christie) - it sounds like eye shaped lollies, and let's face it, it's demeaning... I absolutely HATE it when I'm referred to that way...

Opinions please? (on Katherine Rich) Are these the same sorts who might once have harboured impure thoughts about Laila harre? Deborah Coddington? Muriel Newman? Nana Mouskouri?

Farnsie nixed. Irreverent ANZAC musings follow...

I feel the urge to weigh in on this one...
Concert in a cemetary

when I heard about the fuss, and the choice of John Farnham to perform at this solemn occasion, one thought crossed my mind (possibly one more than usual):

"Was Rolf Harris unavailable?"

His Sunarise is totally under-rated IMO. I remember, about 15 years ago, sitting on my sunny deck out back, National Radio blaring out of the french doors, totally relaxed after smoking a... very exotic cigar... and they played Sunarise. And it was magnificent. A revelation in fact. That song is one of the few mp3s I ever downloaded. Along with It's A Kind of Magic, but I digress...

Ok, granted, Harris's Two Little Boys might be more appropriate to the occasion, but Sunarise IMO is the apex of Australian music. Maybe it's the didgeridoos. Maybe it's because Alice Cooper covered the song on his 1971 Love it to Death album (the electric guitars don't quite cut it though) and there was nowhere near the outcry there was when Rolf covered the highly over-rated Stairway to Heaven (in fact there was no outcry at all). Maybe it's because I think Harris was didgeridoodled out of his rightful place as an Australian "legend" in the Sydney Olympic opening ceremony - they could have sandwiched him somewhere many would like to be, between Kylie & Elle Macpherson. Or instead of Crocodile Dundee. I mean, wasn't he a champion swimmer? I think he was.

Come to that, was Kylie unavailable also?

Holy hell... Rolf has a website. You can buy Rolfabilia (that sounds like the product of too many pints & kebabs actually).

Not your usual slasher movie

Identity. John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet & a bunch of others, are a group of travellers, stranded by floods & forced to stay in a sleazy motel. Then someone starts killing them one by one. Ex-cop Cusack, and Corrections officer Liotta (who is escorting a dangerous prisoner - a typecast Jake Busey) try to keep the group alive & figure out whodunnit.

All is not as it seems however, there are some major WTF moments, which in retrospect, could be deduced from just about the opening scene. There's a parallel story about a mass-murderer who is due to be executed the next day, being interviewed by his psychologist (Alfred Molina). The two stories intersect near the end, in a scene which doesn't shed all explaining light on what's going on, but suddenly causes you to reassess everything you've seen so far... and there's more to come...

Not since Open Your Eyes (and its remake, Vanilla Sky) has a movie been so clever in its misdirection IMO.

Hard to say much more about it without spoilers. Maybe I've said too much already! (Although I draw the line at "Bruce Willis is dead!")

It's directed by James Mangold, who did Girl, Interrupted, and is most definitely worth a look.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I just love that site...

Comments/captions welcomed on this...

Please do let me know if you are or are related to these people.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Foundphotos caption contest

Have a go...

Information Enthusiast?

Mike & I just had a quiet lunch at the fabulous Mr Bun in Waring Taylor Street (no link available). Steak & eggs & a mixed grill (can't remember what Mike had). And it's a race to blog the stupid things the other one said...

We discussed our careers & our blogs... and a fellow we both have come across online who tells me his official job title is... Information Enthusiast.

How cool is that? I have no idea what an Information Enthusiast does, but somehow, I want to be one! Although why confine myself to Information Enthusiasm, I could be less of a specialist & be a General Enthusiast (and work my way up to General Manager, Enthusiasm Division) "Wow, that's amazing, keep it up! Let me get you a back rub - INGER! Trainee Enthusiast in cubicle 12" etc. Performance Reviews might be a lot more exciting than they are these days for sure.

So anyway... anyone got any ideas what an Information Enthusiast does?

Anyone got an opening for an aspiring Enthusiast?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Unthinkable

This is very weird.. I'm going to recommend a Patrick Swayze movie (Shock! Horreur!).

You know Swayze... an actor carved from Solid Teak. Remember Point Break? With Keanu? It was like watching two redwood trees in the forest, wearing dead president masks, shooting at each other.

And Ghost... god help us. Actually, Swayze at times looked animated in comparison to Demi Moore, an actress who was also apparently petrified in eons past. Ghost, along with Cocktail, is the nadir of Hollywood film-making.

And Dirty Dancing... oh, but you say, "I LOVED Dirty Dancing". Well it sucked too. You really only like the last scene. Admit it. Because Swayze is an accomplished dancer. Dance, it would seem, is his medium. Not acting.

So on a punt & against my better judgement, I rented something called One Last Dance. And you know what? It was pretty good. Especially if you enjoy watching accomplished dancers do what they do best.

It's the story of 3 aging, and former star dancers who reunite to perform the last & unperformed dance of their now deceased legendary choreographer & mentor (and bastard, as revealed in flashbacks). The piece was written for them years ago, but was so difficult, they never mastered it, fell out, then went their separate ways.

Swayze co-stars with his real life wife, Lisa Niemi, and some guy called George de la Pena (who looks like that guy from Shortland Street years ago, whose name I can't remember). Niemi & de la Pena are absolutely terrific, whether acting or dancing. Swayze's pretty good, better in the dance scenes, but does have one speech where he almost looks conscious.

the movie is chock full of fantastic dance sequences, mostly performed by the younger members of the dance troupe. But the climax, when the piece is finally performed... is just magnificent. Big ups to Swayze, Niemi & de la Pena, who clearly all past their prime, must have rehearsed for months to bring off this very difficult (to my untrained eyes) choreography.

Check it out.

More on dogs...

Bugger. The few irresponsible spoiling it for the many...

News - Unrestrained Dogs Blamed for Otari Bird Maulings

After I posted yesterday on dogs'n'stuff, I arrived (avec chien) at Magpie Lawn to discover a large sign had been nailed up, featuring a gruesome picture of the kereru mentioned in this article.

We (the assembled dog owners) were outraged. Just another attempt to restrict the already overly restricted dog owners, we figured. I was pretty sure no dog had harmed any birds in the Botanic Gardens - I'd have heard. I have seen feral cats there though, the birds go bananas when they prowl.

But I figured something must have happened somewhere to earn this response. And there we have it.

The poster will probably put off any pesky picnickers though... wonder if dog control will be swooping through to check on us...

It's my blog & I'll be rude if I want to...

To the bald, lizard featured "gentleman" (code for "cretin"), who was turning right off the Terrace up Aurora Terrace and who shouted angrily at my wife this morning that she should read the bloody road code... because she gave way to him & even charitably waved him on when he didn't move... Please do.

Hint: We were on a Stop sign.

Controlled intersections


There is no stop sign. Nor even a give way. I was wrong. So apologies to Angry Lizard Man. However, I still think you were in the wrong, just not for the reason I thought. It seems inconceivable to me that downhill traffic can just sweep round onto the Terrace & all else gives way to the. Even people turning right from the Terrace up the hill.

I'll take advice on this of course....

Monday, February 14, 2005


STUFF : NATIONAL NEWS - STORY : 4 year old bitten in latest dog attack

Latest dog attack... sounds like there's an epidemic. Or a swarm, like those recent earthquakes. Do you think there are more dog attacks then there used to be? Or are they getting hysterically talked up by the media?

And how would microchipping have stopped these two attacks? (Not that I'm against microchipping, they'd be useful if your dog went missing & got picked up someplace.)

Not that I'm leaping to blame anyone for this, I mean, the circumstances aren't explained, but why is a four year old within range of a dog anyway? What sort of dog was it? What was the kid doing? How well were the kid & dog being supervised?

I don't know about parents, but all this is making dog owners nervous, there's a lot of ill-founded animosity out there towards dogs & dog owners.

That said, I & some dog walking cronies, found ourselves in an indefensible position a few weeks ago. We let our dogs chase balls & each other on the same patch of field as some picnicking parents & toddlers. The dogs went nowhere near the kids (who were 50 yards away from the parents, playing among trees), but we were roundly chastised by one of the mums...

OK, we should have asked if they minded, and we should have apologised... but you know that feeling when you're in the wrong, with no mitigating circumstances and you just want to give the finger & say "Fuck you!". Fortunately, we did neither.

Just then, one of the toddlers (unsupervised & 50 metres away from any adults near a steep drop behind some trees) had a nasty fall... man, did I feel an indignant lecture coming on...

It was almost with some disappointment the next day, that I found they'd cleaned up their picnic & had not thrown disposable nappies into the bush (not unknown).


Oh and in case anyone's thinking I'm one-eyed about this, remember the dog Toot, who killed a cat in someone's backyard a few years ago? Toot received a death sentence, but was spirited away to hiding & hasn't been seen since?

Well I wrote a letter to the local newspaper at the time wondering what would have happened if the unsupervised Toot had come across a toddler, and not a sleeping cat. I thought he should have been put down.

I've resisted this long enough...

I think we should try & guess who Ms B is referring to. I've just about exhausted my list of ex UK child stars. I was going to punt on Davy Jones, but he's got a 40 year blank on his CV.

: Ms Behaviour - NZ Raver - The Cocaine Years :

Also... while I'm at it, she's got a funny story about Status Quo right here...

The perfect valentine gift

Actually, I was sorely tempted by the Blade box set...

Calamity Jane (1953)

So I got a valentine from my dog! She could have posed for the card, such was the likeness (and obviously why it was procured). A pretty yellow lab, holding a rose in her mouth. The caption inside said "Thanks for all the walkies..."

One big communal "AWWWWWWWW!!!" then.

I completely forgot about V-day actually, luckily, my beloved anticipated this & gave me a card to give back to her this morning.

Redemptively, I stumbled across the perfect chick-flick DVD at lunchtime (if your favourite song is "Secret Love" anyway.) I was looking for Before Sunrise, which is clearly the greatest romantic movie ever made (haven't seen Before Sunset yet, I'm told that's just as good, if not better).

I myself, got some aftershave... um... it starts with "L"... "La"-something... or something...

And dear readers, did you give or receive anything today?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Universal truth about the weather

If it's going to rain, it will do so 10 minutes into walking the dog when you haven't got a raincoat.


also... some dickhead has parked his immense 4wd & trailer on the grass verge & footpath out front of our house. It's been there all day... these are the 'burbs! I'm going to have to mow the lawn sometime in the weekend.

Everyone is blogging this... but I love the first paragraph

Stolen from Hard News

Mike's doing it too...

Where Women Are real Men from the NZ Herald.

"Whose truth is this? New Zealanders love the land. They love being in it, doing things on it. New Zealanders go barefoot or in jandals because they want to be as close to the land as possible. They love the outdoors so much that when they invite you into their house they immediately take you outside again. They like to run on the streets."

Isn't that just beautiful? And so true. I'm not even a real Kiwi, but I lead guests in through the front door & right out the back...

I'm not going to bother with wondering what this says about genders in NZ. I'm gonna talk about my feet.

I'm too much of a puny wuss to go barefoot (never did toughen them up), but one of my biggest regrets of the last few years is that I munted my feet a while back (trying to lift a railway sleeper by myself & carry it across the section - a few days later, walking became something of a difficulty), and I have to wear orthotic implants (just another thing to start to fall off in my 40s...).

I used to have these really cool Reef sandals, that I bought in Nice, and later found replacements for right hear in New Zild. I travelled the world in these. I had permanently striped feet year round. Life was good. I was close to the land.

I can no longer wear those Reefs. To guarantee my ability to perambulate, I am restricted to sensible shoes with inserts (and by god, those inserts were uncomfortable for the first few weeks - invasive, almost) for the rest of my life... I managed to find some reasonably orthotic sandals in Melbourne a year or so ago, so I can lose the shoes & inserts for a few hours before it gets too agonising.

My wife says they make me look like a hobbit. Mind you, she was never keen on the Reefs either.

BTW: the Reef website is worth an ogle...

Men in Tights & Rat Flinging*

They need one of those temporary hazard signs, but with a morris dancer on it...

This weekend, I'm told, is the annual Manakau Medieval Market.

Katipo Gallery :: Manakau Medieval Market

Not to diss the event, but what is it with dressing up in faux armour & beating each other with plastic swords? I might understand if they had jousting in the Olympics...

Anyway... bound to be a fun day. Traffic will suck chunks... we've decided to skip travelling up the line (not because of the market, although it did not sway us otherwise... although I might be tempted if they were flinging morris dancers from trebuchets!).

I'll be staying home & possibly clearing the front garden for an impending car deck, on the off chance we reconcile our differences with the architect...

* No actual rats were injured in the making of this market.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Hot Abercrombie Chick - an interesting blog

Hot chick blogs on religion & philosophy.

Hot Abercrombie Chick Posts: what does irrational mean

And this one... if you have an out of body experience, how by definition, does your brain remember? Bet you never thought of that one.

Of course, it IS possible this is some 300lb, bald academic doing a BizGirl. If that's the case, we like his blogs & approve of his model.

BTW: check out some of the comments, we have a mix of serious dissertation/debate, and adolescent gawkers. And one guy called Eric who complains about her smile - sheesh!

And also... sending a trackback ping gets you emailed swimsuit photos* and a link someplace on her main page & since she pretty much tops the Blogarama coolest, most popular & highest rated lists... I thought why not.

* Not actually true

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Rules of Tennis Club

1. You do not talk about Tennis Club.
2. You DO NOT talk about Tennis Club

Except for now that is. I'm about to lift the lid on the odd phenomenon known in our suburb... as Tennis Club.

I've never played tennis in my life. It turns out that this is no disadvantage, because no-one plays tennis at Tennis Club. Except the children, and I'm only taking someone else's word for that, I've never so much as seen a tennis racquet at Tennis Club.

Tennis Club meets every Thursday after school & parents take turns at hosting it. Rumour has it that the kids are gathered up after school ends & taken to some secret place, not far away, which possibly has concrete & nets & white lines painted & possibly play tennis (I'm speculating here, bear with me).

Some time later, the kids are all transported back to the designated parents house, there can be dozens of them, I'm told, of varying ages & genders (I don't know for sure though, there were only about 6 of them when we've hosted it).

At about 7pm the parents gather at the appointed venue, indulge in finger food (it helps that two of the parents own local pizza stores), jocularity & pretty much get trolleyed. Luckily, with few exceptions, everyone lives within walking distance of each other.

Unless it's at our place, or within about 6 houses of us, I usually don't bother & send T out to do the socialising. I stay home & get to watch the news on TV - an unusual event. At the last one - the first of 2005 - parents did actually debate the merits of really playing tennis, I think someone had told a friend they were off to Tennis Club, then felt really guilty when that person expressed admiration that they were leading such an active lifestyle. "Top her up, please!"

Fortunately, one of the others present, was able to outline some new research that apparently says that if you are even thinking about energetic activity, it does you some good. Maybe not quite as much benefit as actually playing... but better than nothing.

At this stage, T told them that while they'd all been drinking & sharing inanities, she'd been "digging deep" and thinking about situps. They were impressed.

Meanwhile, I was at home, digging not so deep & wondering if the newsreaders are really CG creations. And wondering if I had time to watch my collector's edition DVD of the Good the Bad and the Ugly (14 new scenes!) before the girls got home.

Tennis club is at our place this coming Thursday... I'm thinking we need blazers.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

You Buy Wadded Up Paper Now!

One of my all-time favourite sites.

Origami Boulder Company -- Original Origami Gifts!

ALternatively, check out Mike's site where someone is trying to sell him a rock.

KD Lang last night

On one of our very rare excursions into the big city, we went & saw KD Lang last night. 12 year old staying at a friend's, the dog walked early & swiftly... we were going to cable car into town & have a leisurely dinner, but opted instead to take our time getting ready, have a few wines, dial in Red Tomatoes pizzas, and stroll down to the Fowler Centre on such a lovely evening. Turns out, with 10 minutes to go there was a hurried call to a taxi company to get us there on time.

Ran into a guy I know outside, he seemed quite disappointed that the audience streaming in was mixed gender (stereotypes eh?), middle class, middle aged, middle of the road & affluent looking. Middle. Mostly, anyway. Anyhow, I don't really think Lang's ever been considered edgy or anything, she started in country music for goodness sake. In fact, we ended up sitting next to some people we know & before the show started, we discussed: our dogs; our children; house prices in our respective suburbs... talk about hip!

BTW: the venue gouges you for a glass of wine - $7.50.

The set started with a few numbers from the Wgtn Sinfonia, Tchaikofsky, Greig, Eleanor Rigby - all the classics in other words.

15 minutes into the show there was a break, to allow the venue to gouge us a bit more & then on came the lady herself.

Man, what a voice. She belted out some old favourites, a few numbers from her new album (covers of songs written by fellow Canadians - Hymns of the 49th Parallel I think it's called), followed by a few more of her hits, some Patsy Cline... and then two encores of one song each. You knew it was actually over when the Sinfonia started packing up. It was a giveaway.

She made some nice banter with the audience, some of whom had obviously seen her last time she was here:

"Wellington! It's been a long time. Too long"
"You split your pants last time you were here" someone yelled.
"Did I? Well that's why I wore a skirt tonight, I don't like to repeat myself."

We agreed that she STILL looks like a young Robert de Niro. Years ago I saw an obscure film called Salmonberries. Set in Alaska, and starring a very young Miss Lang. She also provided the haunting soundtrack. It's worth a look, and I defy you not to think to yourself "By golly, she looks like Robert de Niro."

Monday, February 07, 2005

I need to find a new job...

OK, I'm a little short (they can shoot from below) and fat, and possibly not so young, and ugly (so what are CG effects for?). But I can dye my hair, and even stomach the odd martini. And not least, I already have a dinner suit.

My time has come!

STUFF : ENTERTAINMENT - STORY : Search on for new 007


Been meaning to mention this for a while... it's coined by Jolissa Gracewood & is the fear that you have inadvertently typed "fuck" in the middle of a tremendously important document. For some reason it crossed my mind today when a colleague was discussing a tremendously important document he has just submitted to the powers that be.

Public Address | Busytown: "cryptoscatalogophobia"

Some updates...

First up...

Since finishing the excellent Tarzan Presley, I've been spending my reading time with Maurice Gee's In My Father's Den. Oh gosh, to be able to write like that... I've been a Gee fan since a flatmate of mine got given Plumb (circa 1984), and since he was an engineering student who didn't read, he asked me to read it, and fill him in on the details so he could tell his brother how much he enjoyed it next time he saw him... I loved it. His brother was pleased.

Anyway, In My Father's Den, I'm meaning to check out the movie version shortly after I finish the book. The plot reminds me of Mystic River, which I saw last week also (and which is fantastic, but a real downer...). Teenage girl found murdered, man she knew suspected of the crime... I reckon I've figured out whoactuallydunnit & why, but we'll see... a lovely book.

I'll be catching the film Fractured soon too, based on another Gee book. My mum's in it apparently. Since she retired she fills in her days with all sorts of activities, including on occasion it seems, being a film extra.

Second up...

Sunny O. We spent 3 weeks there from Boxing day. The weather was pretty good (it only really rained one day & that was the day much of the rest of the coast flooded. Since we're on sand, we didn't, but gawd, it persisted all day... The rest of the time tended between brilliant sunshine & overcast, which we didn't mind, since for 2 of the 3 weeks we had things to do & overcast meant we could do them without expiring from heat exhaustion.

Actually, the day after the storm we took Wilma for a walk & the Waitohu Stream was about 4 times its usual size. We ran into a noted historian on a walk with his mum & partner, and I don't know how he missed the storm the night before, but he was under the impression the local council was to blame for the big mess of debris on the beach, thought they'd brought tractors down & changed the flow of the river. I pointed out that it changed all the time, especially after a big storm. But he looked skeptical. Have I mentioned this already? Anyway, there were logs the size of ships coming down what is normally a stream.

and for some reason, every time there is a storm, tonnes & tonnes of onions are deposited on the beach. There must be a pretty cleaned out onion farm somewhere upstream.

On the home front, T shifted 5 metres of mulch from a large pile near the shed to newly created gardens. Funny, when this was ordered, we gave instructions for the guy to drive it down the drive, and dump it somewhere near the shed on the left. A few days later, I got a call at work from a guy who knows how to follow instructions:

"Acme mulch here, I've got a load for you & the instructions say to take it down the drive & dump it near the shed on the left."
"That's right" I said.
"Well I'm down the drive... and there's a little shed on my left... you want it there?"
"Good as gold!"

Meanwhile, I dismantled an entire length of post & rail fencing & felled one of the old willow trees which would have landed on the fence if I'd left it there.. Then I put the fence back together, this involved digging 6 very deep holes for new fence posts, and even managed to install a new (recycled from elsewhere on the property) gate. It looks very cool. I defy the sheep to escape from that!

Because that's exactly what happened shortly before Christmas. When we arrived, we noted what looked like sheep poo around the house area, from which the sheep are normally fenced off. Then we noted that 3 young citrus trees, which had been very recently planted, were completely stripped of leaves & one had been ring barked. The rosebuds were all gone too.

When next I saw our elderly neighbour, I asked her if one of the sheep had got out.
"They all did!"

Turns out a week or so before, there was a dog on the property. Fortunately it didn't have a go at the sheep. The best we can figure is that a neighbour on the other side of the property, came to get their dog, and then couldn't manage to close the gate between the house & the paddocks (retards).

Next thing, Janet & Norma, who both border our garden, and are, I imagine, both in their 70s, spotted the sheep browsing where they shouldn't. The advised course of action at this point, is to go get Master Tim, yet another next door neioghbour (we're bordered by about 15 properties in all), who is a retired farmer & has featured in this blog before.

But these two thought they'd liven their day by rounding up the beasts themselves. With the help of Janet's 6 year old grand-daughter.

Wish we'd seen it... they managed in the end, but not before a lot of thundering of little hooves all around the property & house. Most exercise either have had in decades, they reckon. Actually all you need to do is open the gate & walk into the paddock, they'll follow you. Especially if you have a few slices of bread in hand.

We've just spent the last two weekends up there. temperatures in the 30s. I've pretty much finished processing the old willow tree (look, it was in danger of falling over), I plan to make one large block of it into a seat, and the stump, if I can maintain a steady hand with the chainsaw, will become a table. Also... these things are indestructible, the woodpile is already starting to sprout willow leaves & my proto-table & seat are bound to live on.

And we've discovered a neat swimming hole on the Ohau River. Mindful that my opthalmologist warned me not to go swimming this summer, and worrying greatly that I'll dislodge the plastic lenses in my eyes... (which BTW, reflect light in certain circumstances & give people the creeps - COOL!!), I nevertheless succumbed this weekend. If you can't trust mountain rivers to be pure, what can you trust?

Sometime soon, I will probably update this post with some piccies - gates, rivers... whatever else I find on the camera.

PS: I forgot, I also read Get Shorty, the Elmore Leonard book from which the movie was made. It's exactly like the movie. Fun.

PS: I thought I'd figured out whodunnit & why for In My Father's Den. I now know I got the why wrong... so chances are I missed the who also.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Jamjar: Stock Photography

Ah... recycling someone's old posts... but really, this one deserves to be seen again & again. Cheers Michelle.

The Jamjar: December 2004 Archives

Sevens weekend brings 'em all out...

THE DOMINION POST - STORY : Watt a time to get a bit silly

Mr Watt was my boss once. A long time ago when he was Under Secretary for Energy.

If you were out and about on the Wellington streets today at lunchtime, you might have spotted me. I was the guy dressed normally. Not even a stupid double entendre emblazoned on my T shirt.

To the girls dressed as "The Panty Police - Are your panty's legal?" - That's Are you're panty's legal, morons. Get it right next year.

To the girls dressed in plastic overalls which say "Fucking Mental" - you're going to sweat.

To the "Dude, where's me haggis?" people - er... WTF?

To the guys in tutus - where did it ever say this was remotely amusing?

To the guy dressed as Peter Dunne... - You FREAK!! Oh wait, I think it was Peter Dunne. Way to go dude.

Anyone see any good ones?

Classified ads...

Mike is right, the first one is priceless... but I also like:

"Hitachi Washing Machine, DX250, under warranty until kill kill kill kill them all February 2004. In perfect working order... etc"

sorry, hard to type, tears streaming down my face & trying not to convulse in front of the hired help, who think I'm working on their performance reviews...

MiramarMike: Late to work, loads of emails, requirements to document ... but this is must be read

Thursday, February 03, 2005

By popular demand...

Sort of anyway...

Hosted by

Actually, I have no idea where this was taken, it just appeared on the intranet at work...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

It's come to this - beam him up quick

I forgot to mention this, but there's this guy selling paua jewellery from a stand on Lambton Quay, right about where Amazon is, opposite the Southern end of Kirkcaldies.

Well don't spread it around, but I'm pretty sure it's William Shatner.

Mt Webcam defended from perving claims.

And the URL? C'mon!

STUFF - STORY - HOME : New Zealand's leading news and information website

Gather Round, we have stories to tell...

A long time ago, in a government department far, far away... (actually, it's just down the road from here)... Systems Guy & Network Guy were instructed by their IT Manager to visit the Christchurch & Dunedin branch offices on Tuesday & Wednesday respectively, and upgrade their network & operating systems. Details are fuzzy, this was a century ago & probably involved changing the paper cups joined with string, to polystyrene.

Systems & Network Guys arrived in the Christchurch office shortly after lunch, with their overnight bags, deciding that checking in to their hotel could wait till later. They spent the afternoon schmoozing with the locals, fielding all sorts of questions, and solving lots of little problems. They also inspected a PC installation that had been ordered urgently, delivered & set up with speed, and discovered it was living in it's own little office, with a joy-stick attached to it. It's always a pleasure to see the fruits of your labour, they agreed.

They were gods. Young(ish), smart, attractive, charming, professional. And above all, helpful.

Once the office staff left for the day, the real work began. Backing up the systems, swapping hardware, upgrading software, fixing the problems, reloading from backups & doing it all over again. And again.

By 9pm the boys were finished. The network & systems were up & running & tested.

On the way to a taxi stand to check in to their hotel, Network Guy observed that he had always liked Christchurch, he used to live there. Indeed, at some stage in his interesting life, he had been a DJ for a local radio station. Suddenly he stopped mid reminscence, and pointed out a trendy looking bar across the road, Route 66. "I know this place! You'll like it, let's pop in for a drink."

Systems Guy, not normally a drinker, agreed it had been a long night, "Bloody good idea". Outside the bar, a sign announced "Tuesday Night, Route 66 Dance Competition". Both men thought this might be a laugh.

Inside, the barkeep, on spotting the two "suits" with their overnight bags asked "Just arrived in town?"

"No" said Systems Guy
"Yes" said Network Guy at the same time.

Looking confused, but amused, the barkeep agreed to look after their bags & served them drinks.

The place was quite nice, roomy, tables & stools, and taking up one whole side of the large room, a short stage, with a runway jutting out, at the end of which was what I think they call a dance pole. The clientelle was young, smart, and it has to be said, remarkably attractive. Music was playing over some sort of sound system, and a DJ lurked behind his console in one corner.

A couple of drinks into their visit, the DJ announced that the dance competition was resuming. the music was cranked up, and there followed a succession of dancers, some individually, some in pairs, some in small groups, who bopped, gyrated... pogoed even, before bowing to polite applause & making way for the next act.

After about an hour of this, there was a short break, after which the DJ promised that "the normal Route 66 dancers would perform". Systems Guy looked at Network Guy quizzically, "Hang on, you'll see" Network Guy assured.

And indeed, after the break, the stage was occupied by a young, dark haird woman of athletic build, whose dancing was a cut above the previous acts. Added to this, halfway through her number, she very elegantly began to disrobe.

"WTF?!!" said Systems Guy.
"I TOLD YOU YOU'D LIKE THIS PLACE!!" roared Network Guy, over the tumultous applause Athletic Girl was receiving.

Now Systems Guy was a bit confused, Route 66 didn't seem like a strip club, at least half the clientelle were women for starters. He'd been to one or two such places in the past, and there, the only women are on stage.

The evening progressed, the drinks flowed freely, and a succession of young, beautiful dancers - both women & men - took the stage & did their stuff, down to the nitty gritty for some of them, just down to their smalls for others. Systems Guy began to think that he & Network Guy were the only people in the place who weren't strippers. But hey, who was he to complain.

Many drinks later, the boys noticed a very attractive, voluptuous woman was watching them. They discussed this for a short while, then Network Guy stood up, announced loudly "We HAVE to have her! Even if we have to pay for her!" And lurched across the room. Sensing impending disaster, Systems Guy tried to stand up, then relaxed when Network Guy got within a few metres of the young woman & veered off instead to the mens' room. The woman stopped watching them after that.

Around about midnight now, our two heroes were completely trolleyed, the DJ announced that there would be a free for all dance off, & prizes for the most outrageous.

At 2am, two dishevelled "suits" arrived at their hotel to check in. Well watered, unfed. Systems Guy asked if they did 24 hour room service. They didn't. So he ordered breakfast instead, asked for a 5am wake-up call so they could make their 7am flight to Dunedin. Network Guy, utterly blitzed & mumbling incomprehensively, retired to his room to empty the mini bar of snacks.

Later that morning, two very bleary IT professionals were on their way to Dunedin. Network Guy rummaged in his hand luggage, produced a bottle of Pink Chardon, and enquired politely "Have you any idea why this is in my bag?"

Systems Guy informed him "You won it in the dance competition last night."
Network Guy groaned mournfully.

Dunedin was horrible that day. Much later on, Systems Guy discoverd that Route 66 was an amateur strip bar.

... and now, by all means do check out this blog, belonging to one of the smartest, most attractive, charming & professional Network Guys you could ever meet. He's a great dancer too.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - All You Need For A Speech.

Need to make a speech? This is fantastic - this site, brought to you by the brilliant David Slack (feel free to link to me David!) will ask you a few salient questions, and then write your speech for you. - All You Need For A Speech.

How easy could it get?

TV Cream's Top 100 Toys

More gratuitous plundering of Mike's posts... purely because I used to have this very edition of Mastermind & I always thought the white sheathed assistant standing behind the mastermind (I presume) was hot. Geeks get girls, I think is the message there. Maybe someone should initiate an international search to find out what became of her - how did it work out with the Mastermind? Etc. Actually, the write-up here tells us the Mastermind on the box was in reality a Leicester hairdresser called Bill Woodward... I guess it may not have gone well for the hottie.

Many of these toys are familiar to me, I have fond memories of a house on a canal bank in Wales, and the cadbury Chocolate Machine (#42).

And Subbuteo! (#12). What more is there to say?

Um... This... And I'm thrilled they include the magnificent Johnny Seven Gun (#26). I ALWAYS wanted one of these (still do), but my miserly parents never obliged. There was one kid in the village who had one & he was the envy of all the Risca Town School boys. Man... it takes me back just looking at it. About as close as I ever got to one still. In their defence, my folks did spring for a small plastic handgun that fired dried peas. That was pretty cool & lasted years.

Some, I've never ever heard of before... (Play Doh's Fuzzy Pumper Barber & Beauty Shop - #39 - WTF?)

And what about the smile on the Hangman's face there (#30). SO pleased I didn't have THAT.

the Dr Who tardis (#22) looks cool & might even make a comeback now they've revived the series (with Christopher Eccleston). I seem to recall one of my siblings had a battery operated Dalek, and would spit at it. So they say.