Friday, November 14, 2014

The Dead Outnumber the Living

I follow some friends' blogs that just aren't updated enough. Every day I look - every day - and for nearly all of them the "Last Updated" gets further and further into the past: 4 months, 11 months, 6 months, 1 year, 4 years...

Some of the blogs in my reading list I know have concluded, begun with a purpose and the purpose fulfilled, the last post a farewell and thanks. Another blog will never be updated again, the guy keeping it died. I won't let go of these for I don't want to forget.

And there are 2 or 3 hugely popular ones I follow that are updated all the time, ones even you might have heard of if you were gay or Australian or a birdwatcher - or all three. They don't disappoint me/fill me with ineffable nostalgia.

But friends* - dear friends - get your act together. Try harder. Think. Write, post pictures. I want to read your quirky musings, see your great paintings, be amused by those slower hidden sides of you I never get to see.

Or you could write me letters, I don't mind.

In the blog-o-sphere, life is cheap. A blog - a million blogs - appear with a burst of life, then stutter, and fail, the never-next post a fading hope. I did some research on blog half-lives and dead blogs. Millions are begun, 80% - or more - fail. A blog about dead blogs - last updated in 2006. Pressed Blogspot's "Next blog" button and see for yourself: "It's our anniversary tomorrow!" (8 April 2010). "God bless the two of you who still get alerts when I update this blog..." (4 May 2012).  "Relaunch soon. Watch this space." (2 February 2011). Blog after unhappy blog.

But then: "After a nearly 2 year hiatus...I AM BACK!!!! Can't wait to update and share..." (28 October 2014). And who am I to cast the first stone? My first post was my only one for nearly 2 years.

So "M", "J", "C" and "H", my cleverly disguised friends*, post again, for me. For this post is for you.

* and that hot single guy with the sailing boat who finished his last post mid-sentence 11 months ago.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday #tbt

Thursday 2 February 1989
Hitchhiking with Stephen from Bern

We awoke about 9, much much later than we had intended, + after a false start at a not very busy entrance, didn’t begin hitching till 11.15 or thereabouts.

Another huge intersection, heading out of Bern in all directions. We waited there for about 3½ hours before we got a lift, + even before then had only had one offer, but he went in the wrong direction. It was funny the things that people did – many shrugged, or smiled, others did incomprehensible things – bending a finger down (I’ve got a little willy), or pointing vehemently at their laps (Look here, I have an erection!) or showing with their hand that they were going either left or right – as I said, incomprehensible. The 1st lift was only a matter of a few KM’s, from a youngish beery guy with a sparse moustache, but he said we’d have more luck to Fribourg from there – Flamatt, that is. We were there over an hour – it seemed we’d had the best of hitching in one day, the worst in the next – before we got a lift to Fribourg, from a nationalized Italian man in a little fiat. The Eingang at Fribourg Sud was very smelly – cow – + muddy + dusty, but it was less than half an hour before a youngish, quick sort of woman picked us up in a little red Honda looking thing. And there was someone else right behind us who was willing too! She took us to Vevey, through country that only recently had covered itself in snow for us; mountains + hills as usual looking wonderful out the windows.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


"It's Madame's birthday" I explained to the man selling programs. I waved away the money Clare proffered in her fist, and paid, feeling like a big shot.

I knew nothing about this production but I was looking forward to seeing this Fiyero's jodhpur- and green regimental-encased thighs, a highlight of the last Fiyero I saw. This one looked like a young Carey Elwes and I think it was probably the angle from the Dress Circle but his lower limbs didn't set my pulse racing?

Lots more happened in the show than I remembered and lots less too, which happens when you don't pay attention and also read the novels these things are based on.

In the middle of the show we became aware of a stir nearby, I turned to see a young man hurrying along the seats, starting and stopping, climbing over the back to an aisle and running hither and thither - was he actor? Did this happen last time? Voices and mutterings and movement over in the Dress Circle's better seats, people half standing, agitated, looking all ways in the gloom but mainly at someone in their midst, the young man - not an actor - racing down the stairs just near Clare, trying to escape! He couldn't find a door and stopped dead at the Candy Bar, then raced back up into the gloom, followed by our goggling eyes. "Call triple-oh!" a woman shrieked. "What's happening?" cried Clare! So strange, all in the gloom, a stage show taking place below us. It soon settled down, the young man found an usher, a person who'd had a fit was helped out, attended by their companions, we with whispers and looks of surmise regained our quietude and paid attention once more to the stage where, despite the kerfuffle, our inattention and my expectations, the show had actually gone on.

I was having a cup of tea with Clare at her place after the show. Clare, phone in hand on broad bosom, was scrolling through all her Facebook birthday wishes.
"Aw, Maisy posted, dat's noice. And Lizzy. Ah, one from Bec. And B– J– too, he's a nice boy."
"B– J– doesn't like me."
"What? Why?"
"Oh I don't know. I don't really know him. I think he thinks I'm a sleazy old man."
Clare took her eyes away from the phone and looked at me quizzically.
"Oh I know," I said, "but you've got a much better disguise."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Happy Jar Endgame

I needed some cheering up last night and I spied the Happy Jar
 on my fridge, where it's been almost exactly a year. So I opened it.

Here are a couple: "Michael knows how to sail a boat! Wow! I wish I knew that." This is true, I do. I always wanted to sail and never did then one day, I got involved and now, I can sail. And I do, too, all the time. That is pretty great. You do tend to take things for granted. I can sail a boat! That makes me smile.

"Michael has just the right mix of cynicism, compassion, honesty, kindness and sentimentality." That's nice, isn't it? So many elements I couldn't demur on all of them in the same way, so I try picking them out one by one: I think I'm way too cynical and honest, am I honest? Oh, kind! huh... then I think, what is "just the right mix" anyway? and so all my takes on the attributes get muddled and the whole thing goes on too long and it all slumps back into this nice list which makes me feel good.

I never added any slips of my own so each of the six was a surprise - and a nice surprise. No blank slips or backhanders here. Whoever wrote them - thanks. Especially that bit about my excellent physique.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

After the ball is over

I picked up the sheet music to Meet Me In Saint Louis from where it was lying on my desk, and was working out its chords for ukulele, and it was all pretty easy until I hit Bb7b5. So I spent and hour or so working out what that meant, googling why dominant 7 chords had flattened sevenths, what the fifth the b5 referred to, and finally worked out the notes I had to play. I still have to work out the fingering, all for a single crotchet.

And somewhere along the way, somewhere in the interwebs, I came across this old song, and I found a youtube of Irene Dunne singing it in Showboat.

And I was surprised it was in Showboat, cos "I've never seen Showboat", so I've been spouting this last year or two, joking about my faulty credentials. But the movies of Irene Dunne were the backdrop to my early teens and I had seen this very scene and recalled it vividly, down to the drunk man's hat, Nola's brave smiling, the surge of the refrain with its nostalgia and loss.

So I had seen Showboat after all. Something else that I then began hazily to recall: my puzzlement on watching it that Ava Gardner was nowhere to be seen. Similar to that time when I watched Anna and the King and there were no songs. Or, slightly younger, when I was completely confused about Mexico and Spain and their respective positions on the globe.

Anyway, this song's been stuck in my head since Sunday.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Projects On-The-Go: Keywords

I'm giving keywords to all my digital photos, so that, for example, if I search for "Mum", all the pictures of my mother will be collected in one place. She's turning 80 in 6 years time, it'll be useful.

But "Mum" is easy, she comes under [PEOPLE] (you put square brackets around it so it appears at the top of the list). [PEOPLE] is one of the top-level keywords I use - it's like a heading for "Mum", "me", "Auntie Pat" and "Patrick".  Also I put in words that mean a person here - like "skipper" and "surfer" and "neighbour".

So currently I have eight of these top-level keywords, based on how I perceive the world, and what I take photos of. They are
  • AMENITY - started out as pictures of bubblers and picnic tables and bridges, because I like those sorts of things, but it's turned into anything made by humans that's useful and fixed in the landscape - parks, ferry wharf, fence, gate-post.
  • DETAIL - adjectives, like colour. Aspects of things, like exhibit, dead, funny. Other general descriptions of photos, like portrait, group, view, selfie, dud.
  • EVENTS/ACTIVITIES/TIMES - Birthday Party, Ted's 40th Birthday Weekend, picnic, swim, sunset, dusk, Christmas.
  • NATURE - names of birds (I'm a birdwatcher) and flowers; tree, branch, Lenny (my sister's greyhound)
  • PEOPLE - described above, but also including bits of people - finger, eyebrow, leg, hair - if that's what the photo's of.
  • PLACES/LANDSCAPES/BUILDINGS - actual addresses, places, countries, national parks, lighthouses, Sydney Opera Houses, motel, cabin; river, sand, cafe, camp-site.
  • OBJECTS - things like clothing, book, ukulele, armchair, hat, earring, coin, Lindt bunny -
  • TRANSPORT - boats, cars bicycles (I go on cycling trips, there are a *lot* of pictures of my best friend, the bicycle), buses, trains, ferries. I'm a sailor, so lots of boat pictures too.
So there's some things that overlap - is "road" an amenity or an aspect of landscape? What if it's this picture:
I can't not include "road", but it's not landscape, or amenity for that matter either. It just is. (The other keywords for this are "40, Heritage 18-footer Spectator Ferry Outing, Milson's Point, road, sign).

"Driftwood", "pine forest" - landscape or nature? "Tent" - object or amenity?

Then there's things I have no idea where to put. Graffiti? Hole? Rubbish? Rust? Gear? Why am I taking photos of rubbish anyway?! This is where I'm stuck, unless I give in and add a ninth top-level keyword: MISCELLANEOUS.

Coming up soon: Projects On-The-Go: Updating my cassette tape collection!

Blogpost labels: Tedium, obsessed, trapped, insanity, help.