Monday, November 30, 2009

To Catch A Thief

Our neighbourhood, particularly the street where I live, has been under siege for several weeks. People are afraid to go out and leave their homes for fear that they will be robbed, due to a serial housebreaker who has broken into up to a dozen houses. He has stolen articles like cash, laptops and digital cameras, and other small portable items. Some of the houses have been damaged by the break-in method, for instance our next door neighbour’s back door was removed from its frame and the frame damaged beyond repair when the thief jemmied the door off.

The neighbourhood was galvanised into watchfulness – any strangers wandering the streets were observed suspiciously, and one in particular stood out as he regularly walked up and down the street. From police investigations, the thief was mooted to have small hands, and one neighbour actually found him in his house, though we only found that out the other day. A short guy was his description.

Yesterday at about 1.30pm B observed the suspect as he walked down the street. The suspect actually knocked on a door at a house across the way, and asked the resident if he had any work. A false ploy, obviously - he was casing the joint.

B has had a digital camera parked near the front door, so that if he saw the suspect, he could try and get a photo of him. This he managed to do yesterday, just before the thief broke into another house across the road. After snapping several photos, B rang the police. They arrived pretty fast. Meanwhile I cropped the clearest photo and printed it for B to give to the police as they went in pursuit of the suspect.

The outcome is that the thief was caught, carrying a stolen leaf blower, the police recognizing him from the photo as they drove around the area. They were pleased as punch to finally nab the guy.

B is now the local hero, and the neighbourhood can finally rest easy. That is, unless the guy is released on bail. Not that I wish to further malign the culprit, we suspect he’d immediately reoffend.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Last In –Store for the year – The Funky Rhythms of Jack Howard & the Nightbirds

jack_howard_271109 (Medium)

Basement Discs hosted Jack Howard and the Nightbirds for their last in-store for 2009, and it was a terrific way to end the year.

Jack Howard and band showcased songs from their latest CD Lost Horizon as well performing several from previous albums. Included in the mix were If I Were A bird, Crescent Moon, Nightbird and My Lucky Day

I was most taken with the song Frankenstein. It had great lyrics written from the point of view of the misunderstood monster and was powerful and dark in tone.

The band today comprised Jack on trumpet, Jo Schornikow on piano, Jeremy Hopkins on drums, Barry Stockley on bass and Nicky Del Ray on guitar. They packed a punch sound wise, playing excellent Latino rhythms.

As usual check them out on their My Space page.

Book Launch at Docklands


I have hardly ever been down to Waterfront City, a new development on Melbourne’s precincts. Nor, it seems, has anyone else, as the usual crowds teeming on Melbourne’s streets were noticeably absent.

Melbourne is a far cry from what it was in the 1950s where the apocalyptic film On the Beach was made in 1959. Ava Gardner, one of the stars of the film, is purported to have described Melbourne as 'the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world.'

Waterfront City is a pleasant spot with wide open spaces close to the water, on the former docklands site. Everything looks shiny and new with a set of sculptures of famous Australian entertainers by sculptor Peter Corlett providing a splash of colour.

Graham Kennedy, a famous TV personality in the early days of Australian television.


John Farnham, Australian pop star idol.


Dame Edna, the famous alter ego of comedian Barry Humphries(detail).


Dame Nelly Melba – Australia’s first opera diva (doesn’t she look grumpy?)


Kylie Minogue – the Aussie pop diva (detail).


My reason for venturing down to Waterfront City was to attend a book launch for Oceans -Recipes and Stories from Australia's Coastline, by Andrew Dwyer. It is published by Melbourne University Press.


There’s a story to how I came by this invitation to Andrew’s book launch as I have never met him in person.

Some months ago Andrew commented on a post on this blog, asking if he could have a copy of a live Mary Gauthier concert, which had been kindly sent to me by the video editor of Nu Country. It is a wonderful recording of Mary Gauthier’s set at Northcote Social Club in January 2007.

Consequent to Andrew’s comment I sent him a copy of the concert and a brief exchange of emails ensued. He sent me a copy of his first book Outback. So, because of blogging I made a new acquaintance, dare I say, friend.

Much to my surprise, I received an invitation to his book launch, so I decided to attend and make contact in person. It also presented a good blogging opportunity so I took my camera.

The launch was interesting and was held at the Melbourne Yacht Club Hotel, a snazzy establishment close to the water.

Andrew’s book was launched by Sir Andrew Grimwade patron of Miegunyah Press and imprint of MUP.

Andrew himself was a pleasure to meet, being a friendly soul with an outgoing vibrant personality.

Unfortunately my photos of the launch were not successful, being too blurry. I had the G10 on a different setting to normal, so ended up with less than satisfactory photos in poor light.

Fortunately it was easy to get home from Waterfront City on the 86 Tram, whose terminus is at Waterfront City, and runs through the city to my suburb.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rockin’ Out at Basement Discs with Dave Hogan’s Meltdown

Dave Hogan's Meltdown

Dave Hogan’s Meltdown live performance at Basement Discs at lunchtime today, was the perfect music for the weather - hot and sultry - as it is in Melbourne today.

Dave Hogan has been part of the local Melbourne scene since the 1970s, performing in bands like Southern Lightning, The Paramount Trio & Blues Hangover. I remember going to see Southern Lightning back in the early ‘80s. They used to play at the John Barleycorn Hotel in Johnston St Collingwood then, and were a fantastic rocking blues band.

Originating in 2002, the current band is a classic harmonica/guitar combo with five players in all. Dave Hogan leads the singing and plays a mean harmonica, David Adam and Paul Neuendorf are both wonderful electric guitarists, and husband and wife, Ken and Chris Farmer, play drum and bass respectively. Together they create a satisfying big rich sound - the best rock ‘n’ roll money can buy.

They have a new CD called Holler And Twang which was the recipient of several awards in MBAS (Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society) Awards this year. We were given a sampler today to the tune of about half a dozen songs that included the title track a country rock number, That’s How I Got to Memphis, a Tom T Hall song which is also covered by Buddy Miller, an artist Dave Hogan admires. Also in the mix was April Fool, sung by Paul Neuendorf who wrote it and Going To Texas QLD.

Today also happened to be Dave Hogan’s 60th birthday, so Happy Birthday Dave, keep on rocking.

Check out Dave Hogan’s Meltdown on
My Space or their website.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Melbourne Buskers – a walk through the Bourke Street Mall

Not only does one have the opportunity to see great live music any night of the week in one of Melbourne’s many venues, the city centre is home to an extraordinary range of buskers, playing all sorts of music on the street.

On Wednesday at lunchtime I decided to go down to the Bourke Street Mall and take photos of the buskers who were playing there on the day. Bourke Street Mall, for those who don’t know, is a short block between Elizabeth Street and Swanston Street and is traffic free, except for trams.

The buskers seem to change daily, but some are regulars.

This bloke plays golden oldies on the piano. As you can see he’s quite a character.

Yesterday, in his spot was a guy simultaneously playing a double necked guitar and a didgeridoo, with a sound effects machine providing further accompaniment.

Santos, plays Latin/Flamenco guitar, striking dramatic soulful poses. He’s actually very good and creates beautiful music.

The Peruvian pan piper who looks like a member of the band that entertain shoppers at the Victoria Market, is also in the mix of music as you stroll through the mall. He wasn’t playing as I walked past, so I didn’t photograph him.

Bonjah are the princes of the sidewalk. A five piece band, they’ve been playing outside the GPO for a couple of years, and appear to have gained a large following, judging by the crowd sitting on the GPO steps watching their show. I’ve enjoyed their music while waiting for the tram, thinking to myself…these guys are pretty good. They reminded me originally of Ryan Adams, and still do, though there is a touch of Bob Marley in there as well.

They released their debut CD earlier this year, called Until Dawn, and it’s a beauty. I finally got around to buying it and listened to it the other night. It’s a great mix of roots rock tunes, all original songs that encompass reggae, rock, blues and alt country. The band apparently launched the CD at their spot in the mall outside the GPO.

The Bonjah band is led by Glenn Mossop who sings lead vocals and plays acoustic guitar. He has an interesting and attractive voice that is hard to define, though at times it reminds me of Ryan Adams and someone else I can’t quite place.

The rest of the band is made up of an electric guitarist (Regan Lethbridge), bass (David Morgan), drummer (Dan Chisholm) and percussionist (James Majernik).

Besides doing street shows in the mall, they have been touring extensively everywhere and have supported some class acts such as Paul Kelly, The Original Wailers, Counting Crows to name a few. They will be at the Queenscliff Music Festival later this month and also at the Port Fairy Folk Festival next year.

Definitely a band on their way up, I encourage you to check them out either online or if you’re in the city, stroll to the corner of Elizabeth & Bourke and perhaps you’ll catch them live.

Or if not them, some other performer is sure to be roundabouts somewhere.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday 13th - Spooky! Angie Hart at Basement Discs

The first single off Angie Hart’s new CD Eat My Shadow, was appropriate for her in store appearance on this Friday, which is course the 13th. Angie’s new single is called “I’m Afraid of Fridays” and it’s a great little pop tune, as catchy as any that her former band, Frente! produced.

Angie was in store promoting her brand new disc which has been receiving postive reviews. Her voice shines on this Shane Nicholson produced CD. In fact I think Angie’s voice has strengthened over the years and developed depth and character.

The audience were treated to about 5 songs from the album this afternoon - a sweet taster to the whole. I wish her every success with it – it’s a winner.

Whilst on the topic of music, I should mention the delights in store for music lovers next year.

The music festivals scheduled for March and April 2010 – the East Coast Blues Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival and Brunswick Music Festival to name a few, have started announcing participating artists, and the line up for each of them looks spectacular. No doubt there will be side shows in the capital cities of the major artists.

I’m mostly looking forward to Lyle Lovett (first time ever), Mary Gauthier (she was fantastic last time I saw her), Eilen Jewell (a new discovery this year) Old Crow Medicine Show and The Flatlanders (a first for them as well). That’s for starters. No doubt I’ll be tempted again when further announcements are forthcoming.

The Argonauts Club Redux

Back in June 2008 I wrote a post about the Argonauts Club, which was an Australian children’s radio show of the 1950s and 60s.

The post has proved quite popular and still elicits comments, as old members of the Argonauts Club stumble across it.

A recent comment by
Whispering Gums alerted me to a project of the Friends of the NFSA (National Film and Sound Archive) inviting old members of the Club to register their ship name and record their memories.

The Argonauts Club now has
Wikipedia page too.

So if anyone stumbles over this entry, you may like to register at NFSA (the link is above).

Erato 30, over and out.

The Carnival is Over

Shocking wins the Melbourne Cup

The Spring Racing Carnival that is…

Now that the Spring Super Stable results are in I thought I’d do a review of how my stable fared.

No surprise I didn’t win, but was I pleased to see that the competition organiser The Shu won it. He deserved to after the sterling effort he puts in each year running this excellent competition.

My stable managed to hang together pretty well for the whole season, with a minimum of retirements due to injury. All of them were in the money, but of course didn’t win any of the big rich races, so my final winning virtual funds were a modest $2 million.

BLACK CAVIAR – One of the most promising fillies to come along recently, she won every race she contested this spring. Unbeaten against her own sex, proved she can beat the boys as well. Pulled a muscle in the Danehill Stakes after blundering the start then was spelled for the rest of the spring.

BLACK PIRANHA – The closest he got to a win was early in the season when he came second to Absolutelyfabulous in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap. Didn’t race up to expectations after that.

DAFFODIL – came fourth in Caulfield Cup and eleventh in the Melbourne Cup. A super, staying mare that I’ll look forward to seeing race again in the autumn.

DENMAN – A superb young colt, surely one of the future stars of the turf and one to follow in the autumn.

EFFICIENT – Justified his purchase with a stunning win in the Turnbull Stakes, though was disappointingly scratched from the Melbourne Cup again.

HEART OF DREAMS - He was never far away in all the races he contested and won the Underwood Stakes defeating Whobegotyou and Predatory Pricer. He’s too good to dismiss out of hand, so keenly anticipate his return in autumn.

MANHATTAN RAIN – The much hyped (by Gai Waterhouse) Sydney colt, he managed to score second in the Cox Plate behind So You Think and third in the Guineas, so not totally hopeless.

METAL BENDER – out injured before the carnival began. Would he have made a difference if he had been sound?

MIC MAC – A very consistent performer, originally aimed for the Cox Plate, but his trainer wisely gave up that idea after his defeat by Whobegotyou in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, and freshened him up for shorter races later in the season, where he has done well in the past.

TYPHOON TRACY - A wonderful race mare, who remains unbeaten against her own sex, she was thrown in at the deep end early in the season in open fields, where she acquitted herself well without winning. One of my favourites of 2009 and hopefully will be back next autumn.

SHAMOLINE WARRIOR - No sooner had I added him to my stable than he was scratched from the Derby.

– Ran well in the Derby, but failed to get a place.

– Added as a substitute for Efficient for the Melbourne Cup in which he failed to place.

– A Melbourne Cup substitute who was not successful in that race.

It was a great racing season with many unexpected results, favourites failing, outsiders winning – the usual in other words. Some potential new stars of the turf emerged from the scrum - So You Think, for one, Avenue a very classy filly, Denman the stunning Lonhro lookalike, Kidnapped who is racing again this weekend, Battlefield, Shamoline Warrior, Black Caviar of course and that other star filly More Joyous. What a mouth watering prospect - to see Avenue, More Joyous and Black Caviar all competing in the same race, if it ever happens.

Now I’ll have to think of other things to blog about…

Friday, November 06, 2009

Spring Racing Season 2009 – Week 15 - Emirates Stakes Day

Nicconi at Moonee Valley – September 2009

I had a very quiet and sober Melbourne Cup Day for a change. Over the past few years some friends of ours always hosted very enjoyable Melbourne Cup parties. Since the last one in 2008, they have moved to Northern New South Wales, so we are now left to our own devices on the Cup Day holiday. I chose not to party, and stayed home, placing a few bets online.

The Melbourne Cup itself was of course responsible for a certain amount of anticipatory excitement, though it was run at a slow pace. According to the jockeys reports it was also quite rough. Daffodil got hit on the head, Viewed almost fell, and various other mishaps destroyed the winning chances of other contenders. However, it was a good win by Shocking. He stayed out of trouble by racing three wide for most of the race and was therefore able to sprint freely at the finish. A good quinella in terms of names, Shocking and Crime Scene – if only I’d thought of it earlier. In fact Crime Scene, my roughie bet, was the only one who won me money.

The Victorian Oaks was run yesterday and Bart Cummings added to his spring haul when his filly Faint Perfume won, as was expected.

So on to the last day of the Melbourne Spring Carnival – Emirates Stakes Day. To mark the end of the season there are two Group One races, the Patinack Farm Classic, a sprint over 1200 metres, that has Apache Cat having his last race in Australia before heading to Hong Kong. There’s also his stable mate Mic Mac who was narrowly beaten by the Cat in the Schweppes Stakes a few weeks ago. As usual it’s a good field that also contains top class sprinters Nicconi, All Silent and Danleigh, all in with a chance.

The feature event, the Emirates Stakes run over 1600 metres, sees Cox Plate winner So You Think back to claim more scalps. He’s up against the older horses again, Vigor, Black Piranha, Eagle Falls, Road To Rock and Rightfully Yours, a full brother to Heart of Dreams to name a few. Will So You Think win again and prove to be the freak racehorse he appears to be?

And so ends the Spring Racing carnival for this year, it’s been fun and fantastic as usual.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Spring Racing Season 2009 – The Melbourne Cup

Viewed narrowly wins the 2008 Melbourne Cup

Can he do it again?

From all angles Viewed looks the one to beat. He’s in great form, is proven over the distance and is trained by the great Bart Cummings who is having a very successful Spring carnival. Of the others, Alcopop could become a fairytale hero, being trained by young cattle farmer/ trainer Jake Stephens with provincial jockey Dom Tourneur onboard. Alcopop is the son of 1994 Melbourne Cup winner Jeune, so is likely to be able to run out the 3200 metres. He, as well as Viewed, has the Foolish Pleasure Factor from his dam side. The Foolish Pleasure Factor is not to be sneezed at, as one of his descendants, Scenic Shot , took out the Mackinnon on Saturday.

Admittedly when I first saw the acceptances for the Melbourne Cup, I was astounded at how many unfamiliar (to me) runners there were – particularly the six or so International horses. As International horses have won the Cup several times in recent years, it is wise to give them respect, but judging how Kirklees and Cima De Triomphe ran in the Caulfield Cup, and Basaltico and Crime Scene ran in the Geelong Cup, they appear to be hardly a threat to the locals this year. The best of them appears to be Mourilyan and Munsef , but having not seen them in action, I have no confidence in their winning chances.

Unfortunately Efficient was scratched from the Cup, there being some doubt about his fitness as regards an old injury. Bart has two other runners besides Viewed, these being Roman Warrior who was second to Viewed in the Caulfield Cup and has excellent credentials, and Allez Wonder, a lightweight chance with female jockey Michelle Payne on board. Zavite  has claims despite his lack of form, being the son of multi winning Melbourne Cup sire Zabeel and is trained by Bart’s son Anthony.

One of my personal fancies, Daffodil, who ran fourth in the Caulfield Cup has drawn barrier 21 and will most likely be in the finish if she  gets a soft run, and the track is not too hard for her.  Rain is forecast, also gale force winds, so the one weather condition could negate the other.
Others to consider are Shocking who ran a great race on Saturday, C’este La Guerre who may surprise after a terrible run in the Caulfield Cup (he came third in the MC last year) and Warringah simply because he has Damien Oliver on his back.

Derby Day was a thriller with drama at the barrier before the start of the Mackinnon Stakes, when Zipping was trapped under the gates. Thank goodness he was pulled out safely and sustained no serious injuries, though it was enough to scratch him from the Melbourne Cup.

The Derby was won convincingly by the favourite Monaco Consul. I was disappointed that Shamoline Warrior was scratched as I’d just added him to my super stable, so we’ll never know if he would have made a difference. Still, that’s racing!

It was however delightful to see Typhoon Tracy blitz the field of the Myer Classic and win by 4 1/2 lengths. She remains unbeaten against her own sex and may race again on Emirates Stakes Day.

I have used up my final substitutions in the Spring Super Stable competition, by replacing Efficient with Viewed, and Gathering with Alcopop.