Thursday, August 26, 2010

2010 Spring Racing Season – Week 5 – Golden Rose & Memsie Stakes

Typhoon Tracy - photo by Jenny Evans/The Age
The first Group One of the 2010 spring racing season will be run at Rosehill this Saturday. The Golden Rose is a race for three year olds over 1400 metres. It was won by Denman last year, who went on to dominate races in the autumn until his defeat in the Australian Guineas and subsequent exportation to the UK, where he never got to the racetrack. He’s now headed for a stud career, so we won’t see him race again, mores the pity.

This year’s field is a classy one, with top colts Squamosa, Masquerader, Toorak Toff and Hinchinbrook squaring off against talented fillies Solar Charged, Crystal Lily, Chance Bye, Sasa and Panipique. Hard to pick a winner here, but Squamosa probably has the edge, being unbeaten in all three of his starts. He has drawn an outside barrier, which may give one of the other runners a chance to snatch victory.

The race of the day however will be the Group Two Memsie Stakes at Caulfield. Also run over 1400 metres, it has a whiz banger of a field comprising nine Group One winners in a field of fourteen, most notably Typhoon Tracy and So You Think taking on current star performer Shoot Out.

My loyalties will be torn watching this race, hoping on the one hand for a Typhoon Tracy victory, and wanting Shoot Out to continue his winning streak on the other. Perhaps they’ll dead heat like the outcome of the Australian federal election.

As well as So You Think, Bart Cummings has entered his star mare Faint Perfume, stayers Moatize and Brightnight, and old middle distance trooper Sirmione. Whobegotyou begins his spring campaign in this race too.

The track most probably will be rated slow – it has rained quite a bit this week. We know that Shoot Out has no trouble handling the wet, nor does Typhoon Tracy. It may be a worry for So You Think, who was scratched from the Liston for that reason. Whobegotyou is known to be averse to heavy going as well which brightens the prospects of my two favoured runners in what will surely be a tough competition. Go Tracy! Go Shoot Out!

Glad tidings! More Joyous is back in the Listed Sheraco Stakes at Rosehill this Saturday. She has been missing from the racing scene for a while after being spelled early in the autumn racing season.

Makybe Diva’s boy Rockstardom competed in his debut race at Geelong on Tuesday. He managed to run fourth; not a bad effort for a stayer in a short race. He’s a lovely looking horse and apparently has a beautiful happy nature. Hopefully he’ll go on to greater things as his career progresses. For a start, he’s being set for the Victoria Derby in October.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Iconic Guitar Maestro Albert Lee at Basement Discs

A very special treat at lunchtime today, was not of the culinary kind, but food for the soul, which was delivered with panache by the sensational Albert Lee who performed an in store at Basement Discs.

For those unfamiliar with Albert Lee’s claim to fame, he is one of the great rock n roll guitarists of the world. He has played with artists as diverse as Emmylou Harris (he was a member of her Hot Band back in the ‘70s), the Everly Brothers, Eric Clapton and Joe Cocker. For a man of 67 years he can still rock out and looked pretty fit.

There was a large crowd at Basement Discs today to see the maestro, so I’m glad I got there early to grab my usual position in front of the stage.

It was an excellent mini show, one of the liveliest I’ve been fortunate enough to witness – goodtime old style Rock n Roll, which as I’ve said before is good for both body and soul. Albert Lee is a consummate entertainer, and he sure can play guitar. He’s also got an excellent singing voice.

He was accompanied today by a small band that comprised Michael Vidale on bass, Peter Baron on drums and Richard Tankard on keyboard. Together with Albert, they made a huge sound.

Over the half hour performance the band played about five or six songs, including Albert’s famous tune Country Boy and former Hot Band mate, Rodney Crowell’s Til I Gain Control Again.

It’s not very often that one can take time out at lunchtime to see quality rock music. Melbourne is fortunate to have the Basement Discs on hand to provide such rare treats as was effectively demonstrated today.

I’ve been raving about the Basement in stores for years and every one of them is special in one way or another.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mama Kin Rocks at Basement Discs

Basement Discs hosted a pretty special in store today, that being a scintillating performance by Mama Kin, aka Danielle Caruana, in support of her debut CD Beat and Holler.

Mama Kin is relatively new to the Australian music scene, though older brother Michael Caruana who plays keyboards in her band has been around considerably longer. She is married to John Butler of the well known John Butler Trio, and comes from a musically gifted family.

Her in store performance today was instantly engaging. Mama Kin has charisma and personality to spare, and possesses a powerful bluesy voice that is warm and seductive. Her songs are terrific heartbreakers that rock with energy and are charged with emotion. She sang her fabulous gut wrenching song Tore My Heart Out, Your Colour and Coming To Get Ya along with several others.

Not one to just stand still and sing Mama Kin, as well as having an expressive voice, throws herself bodily into the music, and is a dynamic performer.

I was very impressed with Mama Kin, and can see why she has gathered a following so quickly. She is currently touring as support for Cat Empire.

Check out her website or
My Space for more information and videos. There’s one of Tore My Heart Out on her website.

Next Tuesday, ace guitarist Albert Lee will be in-store. Not to be missed!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

2010 Spring Racing Season – Week 4 – Warwick Stakes

Metal Bender
The focus of racing shifts to Sydney this week and the running of the Warwick Stakes, a Group Two event over 1400 metres.

It features the resumption of several star performers of the Sydney and Queensland carnivals.
Most keenly anticipated is the return of Metal Bender, who proved he was back to his best when winning the Hollindale Stakes/Doomben Cup double in May. He’s up against the likes of Danleigh and Sniper’s Bullet who were beaten by Love Conquers All in the recent Missile Stakes, old trooper Theseo, Triple Honour and Australian Derby runner up Descardo who are all resuming. This race may be a little short for Metal Bender, but it will certainly be interesting watching him run.

The Group 3 Silver Shadow Stakes for three year old fillies also looks interesting with Solar Charged attempting to redeem her defeat at the hands of Obsequious who is also nominated. Chance Bye resumes here too with special boots on her hind feet to counter her tendency to injure herself when galloping.

Last week it was gratifying to see Shoot Out continue his winning ways in the Liston Stakes. He raced four wide the entire trip yet still managed to overtake Predatory Pricer close to the post for a comfortable win. After the race his trainer John Wallace stated bluntly that he would win the Cox Plate. He sounded very confident, as did Stathi Katsidis, Shoot Out’s jockey, who denied claims that the horse was peaking too early, saying that these races are just barrier trials for him.

Shoot Out will next race in the Memsie Stakes on 28 August and will face his toughest competition to date. So You Think was scratched from the Liston, but will run in the Memsie, as will Typhoon Tracy, along with the usual suspects Predatory Pricer, Heart of Dreams et al. It certainly appears on paper to be the first of the great races of the spring and will certainly sort out the wheat from the chaff. If Shoot Out wins it will surely signal him as a freakish beast to be compared to the great racehorses of the past. It’s been some years since there was a true champion of the turf, with many promising but failing to deliver such as Weekend Hussler, Haradasun, Whobegotyou etc.

Another sterling performance last Saturday was the run of Rebel Raider in the Group 3 Spring Stakes at Morphettville. He signalled he was back with a stunning win over an unsuitable (for him) short distance. We may yet see female jockey Claire Lindop take out the Melbourne Cup on this horse if he stays sound.

Panipique, who I have been following since I won a tidy sum on her in her first race earlier this year, proved she is still a force to contend with, beating Crystal Lily in the Quezette Stakes last Saturday.

Star Witness only managed third place in the Vain Stakes, it being won by the unfancied Toorak Toff with Soul running second. Perhaps the heavy track told against Star Witness. I hope that was the case.

And of course next Saturday Australia goes to the polls. It’s anyone’s guess who will win, but I am of course pinning my hopes on a Julia Gillard victory. I watched, in horrified fascination, a Liberal advertisement on the ABC the other night, talking head after talking head spouting nonsense. Some even had difficulty following the auto cue. Anyway, once the election’s out of the way we won’t have to put up with the constant barrage of political campaigning which I’ve tried to avoid seeing or hearing throughout the long tedious weeks since the election was called.
Update: Saturday Afternoon

Whooee! Metal Bender proved his class with a great win in the Warwick Stakes with stablemates Triple Honour and Danleigh taking out the minor placings, giving trainer Chris Waller the trifecta. I had a hunch about Metal Bender, so had a small bet on him. He was unwanted in the betting, so paid $15.00 for the win, no doubt odds longer than we'll ever see them in future.

My only other bet of the day was on Parables in the Silver Shadow Stakes and she brought home the bickkies in fine fashion during a troublesome race where she was first blocked for a run, then bumped, but when getting clear stormed to the line with a devastating sprint. She also paid well ($6.50)
Let's hope my luck continues in amore general sense with a Julia Gillard victory in the Federal elections. We'll hopefully know the result of that competition later tonight.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bizarre Whimsy – The Tim Burton Exhibition


Having the day off work yesterday, it being a day of miserable early spring weather, freezing cold and occasionally wet, I decided to spend the afternoon at the Tim Burton Exhibition that is currently showing at the ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Federation Square. The exhibition is a loan from MOMA, New York, and is a celebration of the work of the multi talented film maker and artist Tim Burton.

My interest in Tim Burton was sparked by watching a DVD of his film Big Fish that was given me recently by a friend on my birthday. A delightful film it turned out to be, somewhat reminiscent of John Crowley’s novel Little, Big.

The exhibition was comprehensive and covered Burton’s early days in his home town of Burbank to his later work.

Just before the entrance to the show, was the Batmobile from his film Batman Returns…


…and the entrance itself was decorated extravagantly.

There were a great many examples of his paintings, drawings and puppet marquets for various films. There was one of Edward Scissorhands hands, Robotboy, a Martian from Mars Attacks, a fantastic Carousal in the Burtonarium (an immersive black light environment at the centre of the exhibition), and costumes from Alice in Wonderland, Planet of the Apes, Batman masks, Catwoman’s costume, an angora sweater from the movie Ed Wood and Sweeney Todd’s razors. And this macabre blue baby in a glass case.


Snippets of his famous films were playing on big and small screens throughout the exhibition space – Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks!, Batman Returns, The Corpse Bride and Alice in Wonderland as well as several early obscure works. There were also drawings and artefacts for Stain Boy, Oyster Boy and Toxic Boy.

A magical mystery tour of Burtonian wonders, macabre whimsy, and visual delights, I was enchanted by it all and emerged a wiser woman, having developed a warm appreciation for Burton’s genius.

I only managed to take a few photos (as above) as photography was forbidden in the exhibition itself.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Novelty Item to Art Photo


Well, not really an art photo, but it does look atmospheric. It’s a photo of a shadow cast by the following novelty item…


What is it, other than a donkey with a basket on its back?

First some history…

B worked for many years, before his retirement, at the ABC as a props buyer for television. His assignments were often quite bizarre and he was required to source many a strange item.

The donkey was one of them, and was used on the Australian comedy show Australia You’re Standing In It which starred such alumni of the 1980s Australian comedy scene as Rod Quantock, Steve Blackburn, Mary Kenneally, Geoff Brooks, Sue Ingleton, Evelyn Krape, Peter Browne and Tim Robertson.

The donkey was used in one of Ron Quantock’s sketches, and it is in fact a cigarette dispensing machine. You put your cigarettes in the basket, pull the donkey’s ears, and voila, it excretes a cigarette.


Pretty crass and vulgar, but funny all the same.

B, having a taste for the crass and vulgar, brought it home after the show finished. It’s been sitting on a shelf above the kitchen bench for years. This evening I noted the rather fetching shadow it cast on the abutting wall, and felt inspired to photograph it and thus blog it.

You don’t see this type of novelty item much these days. Who knows it could be collectable.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

2010 Spring Racing Season – Week 3 – The Liston Stakes

Shoot Out - Caulfield 31/7/10 - Getty Images
A superb weekend of racing is scheduled this coming Saturday, with a number of really fascinating races on the cards, most particularly the Group 2 Liston Stakes, a WFA contest over 1400 metres at Caulfield.

As long as the track is not too water effected (it is likely to be, after all the rain Melbourne received this week) it will feature the keenly anticipated clash of 2009 Cox Plate winner So You Think with Australian Derby winner Shoot Out. Though Shoot Out likes a soft track, Bart Cummings has stated that So You Think will not run if the track is rated heavy. Also in the field is another son of High Chaparral, 2009 Victorian Derby winner, Monaco Consul, and Predatory Pricer who won this race last year. Other classy runners include Heart of Dreams, Carrara and Vigor, as well as several Melbourne Cup hopefuls, including last year’s winner, Shocking, starting their spring campaigns. It is sure to be a ripper of a race, though I’ll have my fingers crossed for a Shoot Out victory.

The Vain Stakes (1100 metres) for three year old colts and geldings also has a sterling field that includes Blue Diamond winner Star Witness. I watched a video last week of a trial that Star Witness won in a stunning fashion, swooping from a long way back to overtake the leaders and win by a good margin. He’s up against other bright young boys like Breitling, Soul, General Truce, Master Harry and Shrapnel, but judging by that video footage, I reckon they’ll have a hard time beating Star Witness.

Golden Slipper winner Crystal Lily resumes in the Quezette Stakes (1100 metres). Shaaheq, who ran second to Star Witness in the Blue Diamond would be her main danger, but others like Panipique, Broadway Harmony or Warm Love, may be in with a chance.

In Sydney the feature race is the Group 3 Run to the Roses with hyped colt Masquerader sure to start favourite with the equally fancied Hinchinbrook being switched to the Starlight Stakes after receiving a hefty weighting of 58kg. The Gai Waterhouse trained Squamosa could be a threat, as too could Kudakulari and Sasa.

Last weeks feature races resulted in Lonhro filly, Obsequious defeating Solar Charged in the San Domenico. Elusive Touch won the Aurie’s Star beating Leica Larrikin and Grand Duels. The Handsome One is obviously not up to the class of such a race, so I’ll only back him in future in weaker races. Love Conquers All continued his winning ways, taking out the Missile Stakes, with Danleigh and Sniper’s Bullet running second and third respectively.

In other racing news, Makybe Diva’s first foal, a colt by Galileo, appropriately named Rockstardom, is due to have his racing debut in the next week or so. One to watch with interest.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Goanna Dreaming – Shane Howard at Basement Discs

As a complete contrast to the last in-store performance by Dan Kelly, which took us on a wild surrealist trip into his dreams, todays in store by Shane Howard was reassuringly down to earth – rock solid if you will.

Shane Howard of course is an iconic Australian singer songwriter, leader of the early 80s band Goanna, whose song Solid Rock, from the 1982 Spirit of Place album, is part of the Australian psyche. Shane has just released a new CD titled Goanna Dreaming and it reflects that earlier record, with its concern for environmental issues and aboriginal rights.

Judging by the very generous mini show performed today (it went for about 45 minutes), it’s a wonderful CD, with splendid songs encompassing folk, rock and world music. Accompanying Shane today were his touring band comprised of Shane’s daughter Myra and Amy Saunders (of Tiddas fame) on background vocals, John Hudson on lead guitar and mandolin, Rory McDougall on drums and Ruben Shannon on bass.

I suppose about half the Goanna Dreaming album was performed and included the Goannaesque Back in Time, Kimberley Rain, Come on Down Moses a sort of gospel number, story song Clancey & Dooley & Don McLeod, which tells of Australia’s
Black Eureka a little known strike by Aboriginal workers in the Pilbara region of Western Australia back in the 1940s.

He finished with the optimistic Don’t Give Up On Us, described by Shane as a doubting agnostic’s prayer to the creator for forgiveness for humanity’s mistreatment of the earth.

It was a wonderful show I thought, moving and dynamic – Shane Howard has class and style, and his head and heart are in the right place. For me it represented a rare opportunity to see this iconic musician live.

Check out the Shane’s
video for Back In Time on You Tube

I should have added that Mama Kin is in-store on Friday 20th August, and famous guitarist Albert Lee will perform on Tuesday 24th August.

Be there or be square!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

2010 Spring Racing Season– Week 2 – The Build Up Continues Apace

The Handsome One (centre)
Though a long way off from the major competitions of October and November, it is always quite thrilling watching the stars of last spring and autumn going through their paces in the early races of the season.

Witness last week’s Bletchingly Stakes, which enhanced by the presence of potential super star of the turf, Shoot Out, was a race not to be missed, if only to see how Shoot Out coped with his first run in Melbourne. He passed with flying colours, of course, racing uncharacteristically close to the lead and sprinting away at the 100 to win by half a length on Stanzout. Not bad for a stayer just beginning his campaign. He’ll next run in the Liston Stakes on August 14 and will most likely be up against Cox Plate winner So You Think in that race. Two very classy High Chaparral four year olds going head to head is an exciting prospect.

This coming weekend’s races are not without interest either, with four Group 3 races scheduled in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

The Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap, a sprint over 1200 metres at Flemington, has an interesting field and includes recent money spinner (for me) The Handsome One who won an unlisted race back in late June. This time however, he has a much harder task with classy runners like Headway, Spacecraft and Royal Ida to contend with. Still, The Handsome One is a lightweight chance, especially if the track is soggy, and may show enormous improvement since the autumn. I hope so anyway.

Randwick hosts the Group 3 Missile Stakes and San Domenico Stakes which have both attracted top fields. The Missile Stakes (1200 metres) has top Sydney gallopers Danleigh, and Snipers Bullet resuming, along with American import Cannonball, and top pick, Love Conquers All who last raced in June beating up-and-coming sprinter Hay List on the same track.

The San Domenico (1000 metres) sees quite a number of three year olds who last raced in the Golden Slipper, beginning their spring campaigns. For instance there is the very promising Solar Charged, Golden Slipper runner up Decision Time, Gai Waterhouse hopeful, Brightexpectations, and talented Queensland colt Spirit of Boom all in the mix.