Along came a spider

31 May, 2008

Along came a spider

My family piled out of our house this morning to attend to the usual weekend tasks, and look what was hanging down right in front doorway. A massive huntsman spider.

Tim had already barged his way through the doorway. The spider missed his right ear and shoulder by millimetres. The rest of us stayed inside and checked out the huntsman in all its glory. Wakes picked up Mitzy for a closer look but she wasn’t interested in the slightest.

If you really want to freak yourself out, click on the photo for a larger image. Check out the hairy legs. And if you look really closely, you can see a couple of dark eyes staring at you. Think about that in bed tonight*.

Don’t tell David Attenborough, but the spider is now an ex-spider. It has ceased to exist.

*PS – One of these monsters crawled over my forehead when I was asleep once.

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Book Launch – ‘Breath’ by Tim Winton

28 May, 2008

Book Launch – ‘Breath’ by Tim Winton

Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, 15 May, 2008

Previous book launches I’ve attended have been the literary equivalent of watching a band play at the local pub. The launch of Winton’s Breath on the other hand, was more akin to a U2 stadium spectacular – big and impressive, but not particularly intimate.

The place was packed to the rafters by Tim’s adoring fans, including more than a smattering of CAE PWE students. The launch was sponsored by Readings, who charged people a fairly hefty $10 per ticket for the privilege of having something sold to them.

Despite likening to ordeal to being subjected to ‘a ball-bearing enema’, Winton was an engaging and generally entertaining speaker.

A large portion of his one hour set was taken up by readings from his book. The theatre was funeral-silent as Tim read out some appropriate passages – enough to give a flavour for the book and characters without spoiling the plot. Tim’s reading was full of pauses and inflections – and noticeably at a different rhythm to my own prior reading of those passages.

Winton provided a broad outline of the plot and descriptions of the main characters and gave some background information about the writing of the book, and his take on the underlying themes and subtext. It was interesting to note that he doesn’t fully understand the themes of his books, even long after they’re finished. His view on these changes as he gets older and more reflective.

Question time was a highlight. The house lights came on, and Winton was genuinely surprised to discover that there were not one, not two, but three levels of fans hanging on his every word.

The MC reminded the audience that Tim was seeking questions and not comments. I’d never heard this before, but it made sense for this type of forum. Happily, the audience complied, and there were plenty of interesting questions without the microphone-hogging monologues that you often get at these gigs.

We learnt that Tim works hard on new writing for around four hours each morning – he’s ‘rubbish’ after about 1pm, so he uses to afternoon for other tasks related to the business of writing. He generally has a few things on the go; this was particularly the case when he was a younger writer struggling to make ends. He had to keep churning out the work, so moved from piece to piece when he became stuck.

We also learnt that although there are elements of Tim in his writing and characters, this is generally via descriptions of the landscapes of his youth, and his feelings in general. The main details of character and plot in the book are made up. He prides himself on being a story-teller.

Afterwards, Tim obliged his fans with a book signing. The queue snaked through the theatre, out the door, and halfway to Swanson Street. Pre-signed copies were available for purchase. A friend got mine signed and asked Tim for some advice for aspiring writers – it was “don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

Onya Tim.


My Top 5 Concerts Ever

24 May, 2008

This is my 200th post – thought I’d put in a bit more effort than usual.

In the spirit of the great John Cusack movie High Fidelity, here’s a list of the best five gigs I’ve ever attended.

Let me know your own top five.

Green Day, Bullet in a Bible tour, Telstra Dome, Melbourne, December, 2005

My daughter Beks and I were frantic with excitement in the weeks leading up to this gig. Me being a Green Day fan from way back, and her being a recent convert, we gave the Bullet in a Bible CD a massive workover in anticipation. The concert was my Christmas present to Beks that year and judging by her screams, I think she was pretty happy with it.

Wakes came along too, and she had a neat time, apart from us giving her grief about being the only person in the whole stadium that refused to participate in any of the usual lame crowd participation exercises. “After me, 1…2…1,2,3,4”

As usual for a stadium gig, the acoustics were crappy and not loud enough (I wanted my ears to bleed, dammit) and we were sitting in the gods (Beks was a bit too young for the mosh pit – next time GD come to Oz we’re definitely going to be down in the fun zone) – but the boys put on a memorable show nonetheless. Pretty impressive given it was the last leg of a gruelling tour for them.

Hurry back boys.

AC/DC & Angels, Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, February, 1981

Me and my High School buddy Paul Kelly took our pimply 17 year-old faces to the Myer Music Bowl to experience the raw power and energy of AC/DC, backed up by the magnificent Angels.

Doc Neeson and the boys wound up the crowd with a massive set of their favourite tunes (personally I thought they were better than accadacca), then out came AC/DC, fronted by Brian Johnson, Bon Scott having died the year before. (I just looked it up – did you know Bon Scott was christened Ronald Belford Scott. Belford???)

The concert was memorable not only for Angus Young’s endless power riffs, but also for the crowd carnage that night. It seemed as everyone in Melbourne under 40 years old was at the Bowl that night, ripping out trees, brawling, vomiting, pissing in people’s lawns and keeping the nearby hospital patients awake. The Sun newspaper had a field day with its usual indignant outrage. Paul and I refrained from any hooliganism of course (the only goody goodies there that night).

Fuck it was fun.

U2, Unforgettable Fire tour, Melbourne Sports & Entertainment Centre, September, 1984

I’m not sure if this was U2’s first visit to Australia but I know I only bought a ticket on the strength of ‘New Years Day’ which I loved at the time and still think is a cracker of a song.

I wasn’t expecting that much from U2, and I always found the MSEC a shithouse venue, so when Bono came walzing out and almost physically grabbed the crowd by the scruff of the neck and DEMANDED they get out of their seats, I was blown away.

You know what it’s usually like at those venues. If someone stands up and starts to dance, the middle-aged farts sitting behind them ’tisk’ and tap them on the shoulder and tell them to sit down. Not at this gig. Bono urged the crowd to GET UP! GET UP! GET UP! until everyone was on their feet, having a grouse time. Even the middle aged farts.

It shits me that I can’t get anywhere near a U2 ticket now.

Neil Young, Festival Hall, Melbourne, July, 1985

Details are a bit sketchy. A whole crew of us met up in a pub in North Melbourne and had copious quantities of beer beforehand. Lurch was definitely there. And Baz Boy. People around us were smoking funny smelling cigarettes. (I tried not to inhale). I think someone had a hip flask.

I do remember being absolutely in awe of seeing the great man, Neil Young on stage. One of my great buddies, Lurch was a lifelong fan, responsible for brainwashing the rest of us younger ones. Live Rust was played at every party, every night, every morning after. (Lurch also had a thing for Stevie Nicks, but that’s another story).

I remember The Needle and the Damage Done. I remember Cinnamon Girl. I remember Cortez the Killer. And check out the last 4 songs of the night (a lazy 28 song play list on the night, how’s that for value?):

  • Hey Hey, My My
  • Tonight’s The Night
  • Like A Hurricane
  • Powderfinger

Check out the full play list – AWESOME!

Neil Young, you rock.

Violent Femmes, The Palace, Melbourne, August, 1990

“It’s one, one, one for the money…”

I think I was a bit pished at this gig as well. What I do remember is that the Femmes really turned it on.And lots of crowd surfing and mosh-pit action.

Oh, and the crowd were really, really weird (at least for a normal suburban guy like me).

You know, piercings, gelled hair, tats, that type of thing.

Over to you readers. Did you go to any of these gigs? Have you been to better ones?


Weak as p*ss, Pear

23 May, 2008

There I was, sitting in the excellent Red ‘n Black Spot Cafe in Fletcher St, Essendon this morning, when who should walk in but star Essendon defender, Dustin Fletcher.

I was on my way out.

I looked at him. He looked at me. I looked at him again.

Do you think I had the balls to ask him for the $30?

Nope.

‘Good luck tomorrow, mate,’ was all I could muster.

‘Thanks very much mate,’ he replied, pleasantly.

Almost as bad as the day we saw the Crows get off their team bus and decided we would walk through the middle of them and jostle Tony Modra. Until we saw how big he was up close.


Tarpins’ grandfather wins Kentucky Derby

21 May, 2008

I was fortunate enough to receive a comment on my blog the other day from Kerry Nott, the breeder of Tarpins.

Anyway, it turns out Tarpins’ dam sire (that’s his mother’s father for all you non-horsey folk) was none other than Sea Hero, who won the 1993 Kentucky Derby, as well as a couple of other major Group 1 races in the states.

I’ve included the link below. When I played it for Wakes, she was sooooo excited – I think she forgot it was a replay from 15 years ago!


Welcome CAE students

8 May, 2008

A big hello to any of my fellow CAE Professional Writing & Editing students who may be visiting this site for the first time.

Take a look around the site – if you like what you see, you can subscribe to receive an email whenever I update my blog by clicking here, or by clicking on the Receive Posts Via Email link on the sidebar.

If you’re technically savvy, you can also choose to receive updates via RSS.

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Check out some of my old posts via the Archives section on the sidebar. Or just browse through the Categories.

And don’t forget to leave a comment if you get the chance.

Photo credit: Macwagen

Wakes & the tramp

3 May, 2008

Do you reckon Wakes is any good on the trampoline?

The people at the Lakes Entrance mini-golf centre were amazed at her skills on the mat.

(I’d already stitched her up at mini-golf so didn’t want to show her up on the tramp as well. Not.)

Now she’s pestering me to find a trampoline centre in Melbourne