Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Argonauts Club

Last Monday evening on ABC TV, Peter Thompson’s guest on his Talking Heads segment at 6.30pm (an excellent interview program) was the Australian artist Jeffrey Smart.

As with the greater number of Peter Thompson’s talking heads, Jeffrey Smart had an interesting early life and has achieved fame in his chosen profession. Now he is regarded as one of Australia’s best artists and I must admit I really like his surreal urban landscape paintings.
You can see some them on this site.

One of his claims to fame is that he spoke the first words on Australian Television back in 1956 on The Children’s Hour show.

Now, the Children’s Hour was originally a radio show broadcast across the width & breadth of Australia and it was also known as The Argonauts Club. It was immensely popular and encouraged creative participation from the audience in the form of artistic or written compositions. It ran from 1941 to 1972. I was a member of the club in the 1950s when I was living in the bush, far from any major town. The children’s hour broadcasts became the highlight of our lives. We also were addicted to other radio serials like Superman, Biggles and Hop Harrigan in pre television days.

The Argonauts Club was based on the legend of Jason & the Argonauts and each member of the “crew” was given a ship name (from Greek mythology) and number. My Argonaut name was Erato30. It was an early version of the anonymous user names and avatars of the internet. Later, on television, the aliases were dropped and the child’s real name was read out .There were various hierarchies to aspire to. The more you contributed the more points you scored. The ultimate level was Golden Fleece and Bar. I got nowhere near that, not even to Dragons Tooth level, but I remember what a thrill it was to have one’s own composition read out over the airwaves.

For each broadcasted contribution you received a blue certificate. If you managed to collect five or six blue certificates you won a book.

One of my paintings made it onto the television show hosted by Jeffrey Smart who was also an early presenter on the radio version and was called Phidias in the Argonauts Club. I did not witness my painting on screen but was told about it by relatives, who had. If I recall, it was a painting of a fire blasted forest. Long lost, unless it is sitting in an ABC archive somewhere.

The above picture is the logo of the Argonauts Club. I remember, when you first joined up, you were sent a membership certificate with your ship name and a badge. It was a stylish green and silver enamel badge of the ship in the logo above. It went missing long ago, but I do recollect once, when I was working in a bookshop, a customer came in wearing one on his lapel. I recognised it instantly.

Anyway, it was interesting seeing old Phidias on TV the other night – it certainly took me back…

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Uber Cool Barry Adamson at Basement Discs

Barry Adamson - live at Basement Discs 19 June 2008
The first Basement Discs in store for some weeks, Barry Adamson’s short set at lunchtime today was really something special. He is a superb performer, hugely talented and highly entertaining to watch.

Hailing from Britain, Barry Adamson has been around the music scene for years as a band member of Nick Cave‘s Bad Seeds, Magazine and The Birthday Party and has also an extensive solo career as a composer, performer and musician.

He is touring Australia promoting his latest CD Back to the Cat which has been hailed by critics as representing “…A musical odyssey through noir jazz, sun-drenched pop ballads, fractious urban funk, devilish gospel, heavenly blues, and subversive soul ...”

Relying on a laptop computer plugged into the sound system for accompaniment, Barry Adamson sprang into action and delivered one of the best performances I’ve been fortunate enough to witness. He has a charismatic stage presence, with blackly comic between song patter. The music was a scintillating mix of funk, jazz, blues – you name it.

Check out his cool website for more information and listen to /watch some of his music performances.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Aussie Race Horses at Royal Ascot on Tuesday

Several Australian horses will be contending at Ascot in the UK today (tonight for us), so all of us racing fans in Oz are crossing our fingers and wishing them luck.

Former Australian champion galloper, Haradasun will be competing in the Queen Anne Stakes a 1600 metre race, while grand old trooper Takeover Target, and Magnus, will take on the world in the 1000 metres Kings Stand Stakes. Takeover Target won this race in 2006 and Australian mare, Miss Andretti won it last year in fine fashion.

New Zealand mare Seachange has been kicking her heels in the UK for some months after a brave effort in Dubai and is scheduled to race in the Golden Jubilee Stakes next Saturday, a race Takeover Target is set to run as well.

It represents a spot of excitement during the lull occasioned by the hiatus between the autumn and spring racing seasons here in the southern hemisphere.

I can hardly wait for the spring racing season to begin and get back into the tipping competitions on Racing & Sports and following the progress of my current favourites

UPDATE 18 June

Haradasun won the Queen Anne Stakes - wooee! I had a modest bet on him for old times sake so I'm pleased on that score as well.

Apparently he'll now be retired and return to Australia for stud duties. He's in high demand as a sire as he has no Danehill bloodlines in his breeding. Danehill lines have been dominant in Australia for years, so Haradasun will be perfect for Danehill mares and will provide a new bloodline for the future. I look forward to seeing how his progeny go a few years from now.

Takeover Target came a close second in the King's Stand and will be running again on Saturday in the Golden Jubilee Stakes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another meme

I have been tagged by Clare at Keeper of the Snails.

I have to reach for my nearest book and find the fifth sentence on page 123.

The only book I have within reach at the moment is my current commuting book, and the fifth sentence on page 123 is:

“An image rose up in my mind”

It’s from this book -

I tag Kay at
Made for the Weather , Jan at Jan’s Writing Journal and Larry at OFblog if he should stray this way as he was peeved at being always being among the unchosen for memes.

More Fake Record Covers

I've been entertaining myself creating fake record covers, inspired by the meme posted below.

Here are a few I've cobbled together from selecting a random Wikipedia, a random Wikiquote and a random photo from Flickr. I've cheated a bit, in that I've refreshed the various pages to find what I consider appropriate, though it's amazing how sometimes it all comes together first time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

200th Post

I've finally made my 200th post. Not many, by some standards, but for me it is a small milestone.

To celebrate this mini-momentous occasion here's a fun meme I found on
Flop Eared Mule's blog, who found it on the Whirlpool forum.

This is a fun little Internet game I found if you're bored.
1. Go to
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.
2. Go to Random quotations:
The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.
3. Go to flickr's "explore the last seven days"
Middle picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

You can always be artsy and actually do your cover up to look authentic.

Album Name: much harder to detect
Album cover:

Chintzed up by me (see below)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Little, Big 25th Anniversary Edition

Although the 25th Anniversary edition of Little, Big has not yet been published there was a recent update on the Little, Big site bearing good tidings of its publication status and providing a sneak peek on its progress. Along with this update, there is a sample chapter (Chapter One) on the site giving some indication of how the finished book will look, with illustrations by Peter Milton added to the text. It’s extraordinary how appropriate the images are to the book, uncanny really, as both author and artist were unknown to each other until fairly recently.

On all counts it strikes me as being exquisite and very beautiful and makes me glad that I have a numbered edition on order which I keenly anticipate receiving later this year. It has been a long wait, but I’m sure it will be worth it when the book finally arrives.

I’ve been holding back rereading Little, Big until I have the 25th Anniversary edition in my hands, but having idly perused the sample chapter, I am seduced once again by the enchanting prose of John Crowley. The anticipation is all the sweeter having been reminded of how one is drawn ineluctably into the world of Little, Big within the opening sentences.

I challenge you to read the sample chapter without being tempted to buy one of the forthcoming or indeed any edition, though the 25th Anniversary edition appears as if it will be a book to be treasured to one’s dying day with the hope that it finds a good home thereafter.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to browse my library for books that I feel like reading again, like Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Trilogy, which I haven’t read for ages.

I recently read Steampunk, the anthology I recently won from Jeff VanderMeer. I will not attempt to write a review of it, but suffice to say it was an enjoyable ride through various steampunk universes as written by masters of the genre. Larry at OFBlog says it all in his review.