Saturday, June 30, 2007

I smell a rat

Lizzie keeping watch

Well, I don't, but the cats do. A rat is loose in the house and the cats have yet to apprehend it. They know it's there but the rat is a cunning little beast and has so far avoided them.

This has been apparent since yesterday morning when I noticed Lizzie the cat nosing around the wall heater.

She was absolutely correct in her appraisal of the situation. B only found out when he ignited the heater last evening. There was the rat curled up near the ignition panel. B gave it a poke and it escaped through the bottom of the heater. The cats weren't fast enough to catch it as it ran under the dresser.

Unable to reach it, the cats tried their best. Lizzie had her eye plastered to the back of the dresser, while Willy had his shoulder to the wall, stretching out his paw trying to reach it.

We thought a good cat watch would surely yield a dead rat this morning. Not so. It has now moved to the spare bedroom and could be anywhere in there as rat hiding places abound. I heard it rattle something as I was walking past the room this afternoon and the cats have been keeping watch in a desultory fashion all day.

I have confidence that one or other of the cats will catch it very soon. It must be starving by now so will have to emerge and run the gauntlet.

UPDATE: Sunday
Mission accomplished - rat succesfully eliminated overnight (and beheaded)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Eight Random Facts

I was tagged by Chief Biscuit at As It Happens to reveal 8 facts about myself.

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each participant posts eight random facts about themselves.
3. Tagees should write a blogpost of eight random facts about themselves.
4. At the end of the post, eight more bloggers are tagged (named and shamed).
5. Go to their blog, leave a comment telling them they're tagged (cut and run).

After reading a few other bloggers 8 facts for ideas, and a bit of think here are my 8 Facts.

  1. My middle name is Maria, which is a good Catholic name. I was brought up a Catholic and went to convent schools most my school life. I'm now an Athiest.

  2. I am computer savvy and have been into computers since 1994. I hate having to rely on someone else to fix any computer problems so have learned to do it myself.

  3. I hate hairdressers so cut my own hair.

  4. I used to paint watercolours as I was quite good at art when I was at school and took it up again in the 1980s. Below is one I painted when we were in Queensland, stranded on a deserted island for a day in 1993. Therein lies a yarn.

  5. I don't like children all that much and have never wanted one. Babies leave me cold, but puppies and kittens melt my heart.

  6. I can tell fortunes with tarot cards and draw up horoscopes.

  7. I like solving and creating cryptic crosswords.

  8. I once wrote a song for a Save the Lemmings campaign. Go here for the full story and my song.

So there. It also seems I'm a show off - typical Leo.

OK now I'm supposed to tag some more people. It seems just about everyone has been tagged but I'll tag Clare at Keeper of the Snails. in case she hasn't been tagged yet

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Only one more sleep…

…until the new Ryan Adams CD, EASY TIGER, is in my hot little hands.

I have mentioned before that Ryan Adams is my favourite artist, so anything new from him is always a big thrill. As several tracks from the new CD are on Ryan’s My Space page, I have listened to a portion of it already and that has sharpened my interest in hearing the complete album, on the stereo system at home in all its glory. I find mp3s to be somewhat limited in sound quality, especially as the home stereo is a very good one. It reproduces CD quality sound with all its nuances, so anything less than perfect is very noticeable to me.

For once, there appears to be more promotion for this new CD than any of Ryan Adams other records. There is a very interesting interview with the man in the New York Times (may require registration). Reading this interview, I am astounded that Adams is still alive, as his drug habits strike me as being unbelievably destructive to mind and body. How he maintained his extraordinary productivity is beyond me.

Reviews of Easy Tiger have been universally glowing, and judging by the tracks I’ve already heard I’m certain to love it.

Other news

Jeff VanderMeer has a new blog called Ecstatic Days and very pretty it is too. I’ve been reading Jeff’s old blog since its inception. It’s always interesting as well as being fun. The new blog incorporates all his various web sites as well, putting them within easy reach.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Miss Andretti Wins at Ascot and Murder and Mayhem in Melbourne

Great news for Australian horse racing last night (Aussie time), was the win of outstanding sprinting mare Miss Andretti at Ascot in England. She set a course record and won by a good margin.

She was my pick, though I didn’t have any money on her. I was fortunate enough to see her race last year in September at my annual day at the races.

The photo above is one I took of her sashed after winning the Manikato Stakes, the first group 1 race of the Spring. I remember a young man standing next to me at the fence, casting aspersions on her ability to win the race. I hope he’s eating his words today. She actually hasn’t lost a race since that day in September last year.

It is only in the past decade that Australian racehorses have been sent with any regularity to compete on the world stage. Overseas horses have been competing in the Melbourne Cup for some time and several of them have been successful, most notably the two Japanese horses that came first and second in last year’s Melbourne Cup. Australasian horses have been quite successful overseas with the great New Zealand mare Sunline winning in Hong Kong, Elvestroem, Haradasun’s big brother, winning in Dubai, Choisir and Takeover Target winning races in England and Horlicks (another New Zealand mare) and Better Loosen Up both winning the Japan Cup.

The most famous Australian racehorse to race overseas was Pharlap. He died in America under mysterious circumstances and it was a common feeling that it was deliberate.

On to something completely different…

Murder on Melbourne Streets

On Monday a person shot three people early in the morning on one of Melbourne’s main streets. This caused half the central business district to be closed down as police searched for the killer. It happened at the other end of the city from where I work, so I was barely affected by it. I was however apprehensive about hanging around outside.

It turns out the guy was a member of the Hells Angel motorcycle club and is still at large. He sounds a very nasty and dangerous customer. The whole incident is dramatic in a tacky sort of way involving a stripper, a party girl and a all night bar. Two of those shot, one fatally, were bystanders who ran to assist the party girl when the gunman was trying to drag her from a taxi by her hair.

I’ve been lucky not to be in the wrong place several times over the years when incidents of extreme violence were happening. At the time of the Russell Street police station bombing of 1986 I had just been picked up by B to go to the market at lunchtime, when a very large explosion rocked the car. The explosion was actually a couple of blocks away, but very powerful. Amazingly, only one person died in that incident, in that it was lunchtime and the streets were full of people.

The Hoddle Street massacre of 1987 was close to home – a few blocks south and east of our street. We could hear the gunshots and the police helicopter going up and down our street looking for the gunman, made it all seem very immediate. That same night a man went on a rampage down the street after being jilted by his ex girlfriend who lived next door to us. He smashed the windscreen of a car down the street and also bashed a neighbour with an iron bar. It was a pretty stupid sort of thing to do, considering the overwhelming police presence that night. It frightened the wits out of us residents lurking fearfully inside. At the time there was no news of the gunman being apprehended so it was a nervous night.

I can only imagine how terrible it must be to live in a State where such violence is commonplace.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Paul Hicks CD Launch and SPECTRUM

Paul Hicks (right) performing at Northcote Social Club

It being the first time I had seen Paul perform live, I was impressed. He had his new band to accompany him, which enhanced the performance no end. Paul has a very pleasant singing voice. It is warm and sweet is very appealing. His original songs are very good, having a local flavour in many instances. Paul lives in the country these days so a lot of the songs are about that region in northern Victoria where he lives. I am familiar with the region as I spent my high school years in the town of Wangaratta. His music encompasses roots, rock, country and folk. He has now released two CDs; his first “Kettle of Fish” came out in early 2005 and “Food for the Journey” is hot off the presses. Check out Paul’s My Space page to listen to some of his songs. I hope to write a more comprehensive review for the Nu Country website. I’ll post the link when it’s online.

SPECTRUM at Basement Discs

from L to R, Bill Putt, Peter Robertson and Mick Rudd

A complete change of pace from last night’s show was the lunchtime performance of old Melbourne pub rockers, Spectrum. They have been around from the year dot as far as the history Australian music is concerned. I remember seeing them way back in the 60s and 70s in one or other of their incarnations, be it Spectrum or Ariel.

The occasion for their In Store was the re-issue of the record “Spectrum Part One” on CD, which naturally they drew upon in their performance at Basement Discs this afternoon. It included the band's most popular song “I’ll Be Gone” which everyone, in Australia at least, knows by heart.

It was a wonderful performance - psychedelic rock with quirky lyrics sung by Mike Rudd in his distinctive voice. There were four in the band today, Mike Rudd, Bill Putt, Peter “Robbo” Robertson and a keyboard player whose name I can’t, at the moment, recall. The music was great to hear – live – from a few feet away. There was quite a crowd there. It was an ideal way to spend a chilly lunchtime in Melbourne and all were very appreciative of the rare opportunity to see a legendary band perform for free.

Mike & Bill have a very entertaining, though oddly constructed, website, maintained by Mike. You can find it here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm Back...

...but I haven’t been anywhere at all, merely lacking enthusiasm to blog or lacking ideas for blogging, more like.

Melbourne is now in the grip of winter – it’s cold. Amazingly it started promptly on the 1st of June after May ended with one of the warmest May nights in recorded history.

I’ve been reading a lot, of course. I finished off Olivia Manning’s Balkan and Levant trilogies a week ago. I didn’t want them to finish, so engrossed was I in the period. I’m now re-reading an omnibus of PD James detective novels. She does write well, I must admit and the stories are gripping and interesting. This is a stopgap measure while waiting for some new books I’ve ordered to arrive. I find the local bookshops uninspiring- they don’t appear to stock the novels I am wishing to buy. Thank goodness for Amazon!

On the subject of books and John Crowley in particular, Overlook Press have a haiku competition to win one of five copies of the readers edition of The Solitudes, the first volume in the AEGYPT quartet. You can find out about it on the
Overlook Press blog.

I recently discovered a remarkable photographer, the late French photographer, Francis Toussaint. His photos are beautiful, and inspiring to amateur photographers like me. You can look at his photographs here. The photo above is one of his. (click for larger image)

Tonight, I’m off to a CD launch at Northcote Social Club. The artist is Paul Hicks, a young, up and coming singer/songwriter. I’ve known Paul for quite a while, meeting him through Nu Country when it was an aspirant radio station. Paul was an announcer and I worked in the office when he was on air. We had similar musical tastes so we got along very well. No doubt, tonight, a number of old Nu Country acquaintances will be there. I’ve already got a copy of Paul’s CD “Food for the Journey” and I like it a lot. It will be good to see it performed live.

I’ll report back with pictures tomorrow.