Friday, September 28, 2007

Karl Broadie @ Basement Discs

Icy winds and sporadic rain gave a fine impression of a return to winter today, but I braved the elements and made it down to the Basement Discs to watch Karl Broadie perform in store. It also meant wading through crowds of people in the city to see the AFL Grand Final parade.

The AFL Grand Final is on tomorrow, so the city was full of people wearing the team colours of the two teams who will be competing, Geelong and Port Adelaide. My interest in football is minimal these days, but I suppose I will be barracking for Geelong tomorrow.

Anyway back to Karl Broadie. Karl is a Scottish born singer songwriter who now lives in Sydney. He is touring to promote his latest CD One Million Emeralds and will also be the support act fro Patty Griffin during her Australian tour in November. He is an engaging performer and a friendly and charming person to meet.

Karl’s songs are classic singer songwriter stuff – a mix of country, folk and pop. His voice has a pleasing gritty hoarse quality that reminds me somewhat of Irish artist, Bap Kennedy and also there’s a touch of Australian icon Paul Kelly who is an obvious influence on Karl’s song writing.

Accompanied by John Kendall, who played fiddle and sang harmony vocals, Karl’s in store mini show was a very pleasant interlude in an otherwise sports crazy day. He naturally sang several songs from the new album. You can listen to some of his songs on his My Space page. His earlier CD Black Crow Callin’ is also worth checking out.

Tomorrow afternoon, despite not being all that interested, I‘ll be watching the Grand Final at a pub with friends. It’s sort of a tradition that the footy final is also a social occasion, which is the reason I will be present as it’s much more fun to watch the football in a crowd.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

As Seen on TV

When I arrived at work last Monday week, one of the girls who works in my area shrieked, “I saw you on television last Saturday!” She was terribly excited about it, and after an initial puzzlement as to what on earth she was talking about; I found out that I had indeed been filmed at the races in a crowd scene after the running of the Manikato Stakes.

Later in the week, another work colleague came up to me and asked about my luck at the races. He had actually recorded the moment onto a DVD and he kindly burned me a copy.

The above photo is a screen capture from the DVD. As is usually the case with screen captures, the photo is somewhat distorted, but I am perfectly obvious, up there on the fence, camera clutched in my hands, surrounded by blokes. I feel rather privileged to be in the same picture as Gold Edition, who is the real star of the screen.

Update on cat politics

Timmy has been part of the household for over a month now, and the situation as regards the other two cats has improved somewhat, with Lizzie basically having established her credentials as a cat not to be messed with. She and Timmy have pretty well settled their differences and co exist quite peacefully. As for Willy, it is still tricky, as Willy is frightened of Timmy and avoids him where possible, mostly by making himself scarce. We have been dosing Timmy on clomicalm after he had been consistently aggressive to our little prince. Clomicalm is a mild sedative for dogs and cats and is helpful in reducing stress and modifying behaviour. We’ve tried to make it clear to Timmy that Willy has our full protection and must not be driven away. Whether Timmy has got the message is unclear. Other than this problem with Will, Timmy is a laid back, pleasant puss who generally minds his own business. He doesn’t stray and rarely calls attention to himself.

He did however get himself into a dire situation last weekend, trapping himself behind a fireplace and being unable to get out. The fireplace is purely decorative and every one of our cats has jumped behind it and managed to get out again even when they were tiny kittens. We were under the impression that he’d got behind the fireplace via access under the house. We subsequently discovered that this was not possible. So on Friday morning he must have jumped behind the fireplace and then discovered he couldn’t get out. B heard him meowing but assumed he was under the house. We later discovered him, by feel, behind the hearth and tried to encourage him to get out. To no avail – he couldn’t or wouldn’t get out. He stayed there all night without a making a noise. It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that B, fearing that he had died there, decided to move the fireplace. Timmy wobbled out, unsteady on his pins, which leads us to assume that he has arthritis in his back legs and was therefore lacking rear drive power to climb from the fireplace. He can however jump onto the bed with ease even though it is higher than the fireplace. It may have something to do with being unable to visualise the landing spot on the other side, that convinced him that he was unable to get out of the fireplace, as I do believe sight is important to cats in working out spatial measurements. It looks so effortless when a cat jumps to a high place – one moment they’re on ground level, the next they’re on high.

As always, fascinating creatures.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Day at the Races – Manikato Stakes Day 2007

Gold Edition leads the field down the straight in the Manikato Stakes

It was a bright and sunny day last Saturday, perfect weather for an afternoon turf side.

In the company of lady friends M and Y, we took a bus which stops just outside the course and arrived at Moonee Valley just before the third race on the cards. There was enough time to put a bet on before the race was due to run. A rather hasty decision in that race resulted in a third placing for my chosen horse, Snappy Tom.

My fortunes varied over the afternoon, but I didn’t particularly mind, as I’m a modest punter. I ended up with one win, two seconds and a third place from five bets. My super stable however was boosted by a virtual $503,600, as all five of my super stable horses racing that day were in the money.

Haradasun after competing in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes

Seeing Haradasun in the flesh was the highlight of the day for me. His race, the Dato Tan ChinNam Stakes was the classic competition of the day. Haradasun and El Segundo fought out the finish in a truly thrilling competition down the straight and hit the line together. El Segundo won by a whisker, though it did look to be a dead heat. They both emerged from the pack at the 600m mark and charged down the outside of the field, leaving stragglers in their wake. It’s the sort of race that will be talked of for years to come, like the classic competition of Bonecrusher and Our Waverley Star in the 1986 Cox Plate, to which the racing media are already comparing the 2007 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes.

El Segundo after winning the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes

The Manikato Stakes, the first group one race of the Spring was also a classic race, with the Iron Filly, Gold Edition, leading from start to finish amd winning easily. A very striking looking horse she is, and she looked very pretty in her orange bridle to match the jockey’s silks.

Gold Edition after winning the Manikato Stakes

Jan was querying in the comments in my last post the link between racing and music. There’s none really, though at Moonee Valley on Saturday a band provided entertainment between races. I can’t remember what they played but it was pleasant enough - sort of classic rock pop.

A blimp drifted overhead at one stage...

There was a fair crowd at the course though not over the top. It seemed mostly to be comprised of hard drinking young men. I didn’t see any interesting costumes this year. Victoria is still Equine Virus free, but there was evidence of precautions at the track. Presentations were not held in the public area. Horses were quickly sashed and removed from the course and horse areas were fenced off.

As the afternoon drew on the shadow from the pavilion covered the Public Lawn and it grew chilly so I was glad I’d brought my jacket after carrying it around all afternoon. Shadows cast on the track gave my photos a watercolour effect.

We bussed it home again after the eighth race, well pleased with our day at the races, though not exactly rolling in money. That’s it until next year, for me, as I don’t intend to go to any other races this spring. They get too crowded from now on for my taste. That’s why the Manikato Stakes day is perfect – star horses, small crowds, short queues at the TAB, not to mention the thrill of watching the races from close up at the fence without having to fight for a position.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jack Howard and the Long Lost Brothers @ Basement Discs

After a bit of a lull in live music performances, today’s mini concert at Basement Discs was a lively mix of various types of music, including grungy rock, funky Latino and all round uplifting rhythms, which was thoroughly enjoyable.

Jack Howard is a former member of the great Aussie band Hunters and Collectors, wherein he played trumpet, keyboards and provided backing vocals.

He is also an accomplished songwriter and is the lead singer in his own band. The band on the Basement stage today comprised Jack (vocals, trumpet) Nicky Del Ray (electric guitar, backing vocals) Barry Stockley (bass) and Sharky Ramos (drums). They made a satisfying big fat noise that had feet tapping and bodies swaying from the opening number. It was great to hear trumpet playing for a change, of which Jack Howard is a master.

The in-store performance was to promote the band’s latest CD, My Lucky Day.

I didn’t really know what to expect of the show today so was pleasantly surprised and very glad that I made the effort to attend.

Super Stable Update

It was a substitution round this week, so, with my stable having earned a virtual $432,625, I was able to swap a few non-performers in my stable. I outed Murtajill who has been disappointing and substituted him with the filly Tan Tat Delago. I also reluctantly swapped Seachange for Gold Edition (aka the iron filly). Seachange, for all those New Zealanders out there, is a local champion and has won several races in New Zealand so far this spring. Unfortunately, earnings from New Zealand races don’t count. It is expected that she will be coming to Australia to compete in the Cox Plate, but that’s a fair way off, so I outed her from my stable. I added Bel Mer a week ago as a substitute for Musket who was affected by the EI virus lockdown in Sydney. A special substitution round was allowed for this situation, with no loss of earnings

My new stable is
Apache Cat
Bel Mer (F3)
El Segundo
Gold Edition
Here De Angels
Tan Tat De Lago (F3)

Five of this stable (El Segundo, Bel Mer, Haradasun, Here De Angels and Gold Edition) will be racing tomorrow at Moonee Valley. It also happens to be the day I go to the races. I’m really looking forward to seeing my favourites in the flesh, and hopefully getting some photos of them. Haradasun and El Segundo will be competing in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes and Gold Edition and Here De Angels will be having a rematch in the feature race – the Manikato Stakes. They raced against each other a fortnight ago and Here De Angels got the better of Gold Edition on that occasion. The Manikato should be a thrilling race and the Dato Tan Chin Nam equally so.

As it's a bit grey and rainy today, I'm hoping it will be fine and sunny tomorrow. Expect a report after the event, with pictures.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

APEC, Politics and Such

I’m glad I don’t live in Sydney at the moment as half the Sydney central business district is closed to the general public due to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. It all sounds like overkill to me and many other citizens, especially Sydneysiders. I read in the news today that security was removing cutlery from the tables of restaurants close to the event. As if someone was going to snatch up a butter knife and attack President Bush or the Chinese president! There are police snipers on the top of buildings and security personnel everywhere, rubbish bins are taped up, you name it, they’ve thought of everything. Unfortunately for the arm of the law police horses are suffering from EI or can’t be moved into the public arena due to the ban on horse movements throughout the state of NSW. Lucky for the horses, I say. It must be admitted that anarchists and terrorists could have been itching for the opportunity to blow up a whole bunch of world leaders in one hit. Tough luck for them - they haven't a snowflake's chance in hell of getting anywhere near them.

You can read comprehensive reportage on this event on the Sydney Morning Herald web site.

It has been nauseating to see Howard and Bush holding hands and grinning from every newsstand and putting up with a media obsessed with reporting every little thing Bush might care to utter in their hearing.

It will all go away after the weekend, then we can get back to the down and dirty election campaign that has been ongoing for months. So far, in the election campaign, things are not looking good for John Howard. Dare we hope for a change of government this time round? I almost don’t dare contemplate a Labour win, as I know I’ll be heartbroken all over again if Howard wins another term. The Opposition leader, Kevin Rudd has been playing it cool throughout this build up to the elections and has appealed to the electorate as sensible and responsible. The contemptible Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer tried to sully his image by dredging up an incident where Rudd was reported to have attended a strip club. - Shock horror! So what, who cares, was the general opinion. It didn’t dint Rudd’s popularity one little bit, in fact it probably enhanced it by conveying the impression that our Kevin is just “a bit of a lad” and made him appear more the common man.

Australian politics has never been particular about religious preferences or moral codes. Take Bob Hawke for instance. He was an admitted Atheist and also a womaniser and drunk. Nobody really cared if he was any of those things - he was a popular Prime Minister. John Howard is always taking the high moral ground, but we all know he’s a terrible fibber and a hypocrite. He’s never been all that popular – I remember how astounded I was when he won the Liberal Party leadership and even more astonished when he won his first election. However, he had an aura of honesty and responsibility, which has effectively hoodwinked the population for years. He is also a very canny politician. That is why I am not willing to believe that Labour will win the forthcoming election –just yet.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Cat Politics Progress Report

Pictured above, is Timmy lounging around in the backyard. As you can see, he feels quite at home.

Not so the other cats, though they haven’t as yet packed up their bags and left home.

There has been quite a bit of argy bargy in the realm of cat politics over the past week, with Timmy starting to assert himself. He has miserably failed to win the affection of the either Lizzie (fat hope!) or Willy. They won’t have a bar of him. He makes them nervous and Lizzie is positively hostile to him. There have been several fiery close encounters between Lizzie and Timmy with neither cat actually gaining anything, though Lizzie put on such a fierce wild-cat display the other day, it caused Timmy to back away. We are woken in the early hours by the occasional shriek, but more often growling and hissing.

This morning all three cats were on the bed, though Willy climbed under the sheets. Two persons were between the other two who were glaring at each other venomously.

Peace only descends at meal times. Timmy must have been used to some other regimen, as at first he didn’t seem to like any food we put before him. Now, realising that he gets fed regularly, morning and night; he hoes in readily and eats a variety of cat food.

This situation is interesting for observing cat behaviour and marvelling at their intelligence in handling tricky situations. I observed Lizzie the other day. She wanted to get past Timmy, who was sitting directly in her path. She was under the impression that he would spring on her as soon as she moved, so she waited until B walked between the two of them, and used his brief buffer zone to get past the danger area. It reminded me somewhat of getting through tricky spots in a computer game. Willy, being younger and more agile can slip past Timmy before he realises that he’s been dodged, but has to put up with Timmy stalking him, with what intent we are uncertain, but Willy regards this pursuance as potentially hostile.

How long this state of affairs will last is hard to fathom. They’ll eventually sort it out and live in relative peace with each other, hopefully sooner than later.

Update on Spring Racing Carnival

Saturday’ s race meeting in Melbourne went ahead as anticipated and there is still no sign of the EI virus in Victoria, so it’s looking good for my day at the races in a week or so.

I had a few modest wagers on Saturday and was quite successful – 3 winners and 1 second place. My super stable balance was boosted by $140,000+ in virtual earnings. Haradasun was pipped at the post by the amazing Miss Finland who travelled from Adelaide the day before the race, but still managed to put up a good fighting finish.

Spring’s looking good again racing wise, all going well as far as the virus is concerned.

As it’s now officially spring, here’s another spring photo – the backyard resplendent with plum blossom, seen here through the boughs of the fig tree.