Monday, January 31, 2011

Anniversary Weekend

We've just had a long weekend: Auckland's Anniversary Weekend. And it has seen me going out and about a bit: off to a cast party Saturday night, rehearsals on Sunday night, and to the movies and a meal on Monday night.
Meanwhile, of course, Jenny worked. Both Saturday and Monday. This is neither fair nor desirable, but it is still very much needed. I look forward to the day that I am bringing enough dough in so we can actually let her retire - but that day is a few months away yet, I fear.
Rehearsals are going well. I'm getting a good idea of the character, and what can be done with him. I have bought a cane as a physical prop (in both senses of the word), and it does work. When we go "books down" - when we're rehearsing without the script in-hand - we'll see the physicality of the play start to make more sense. Right now the books are getting in the way, although having the words right there does help. I have what seemed to me to be a lot of lines, but compared to Mrs Bennet and Elizabeth I'm practically mute. Mute, gruff, and lovable. That's me.
We went to see "Black Swan" last night. How it has made Oscar contention is beyond me.The story is a series of (admittedly well-crafted) cliches - I've seen Schwarzenegger movies that told more original stories. The only story-part that I didn't accurately predict was the ending - and that's because it was completely unpredictable: it simply couldn't have hapened.
We went to the Capitol Theatre, on Dominion Road. It's a recently re-furbished 1930s style theatre, and is absolutely delightful. The foyer's a tad cramped, but that's not a bother. The concessionary doesn't sell popcorn - yay! The seats are wide, and comfortable, the screen is excellent, the sound system very, very good. And - big bonus - there's plenty of free parking about. But wait, there's more: ticket prices are $15: that's cheaper than Hoyts, with their stale-popcorn smelling auditoriums.
After the movie (we went to a 6.00pm session) our friends took us to a Chinese dumpling shop for a meal. I was astounded: we all ate superbly, and when the bill came it was for $23. I shall be doing that again. You can't feed 4 people at McDee's for that amount.
Listening to: "Wondrous Stories", a collection of 33 prog-rock tracks, various artists. Pompous, loud, funny, and quite, quite wonderful.
Reading: Harry Sidebottom, "Warrior of Rome". Just started, might be a goody.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Selling the Family Sil... woodshed.

So. Our delightful and eternally chirpy Prime Minister, Smilin' Johnkey, has given his State of the Nation speech. On the same day Bazza Obama gave his. I don't think that Johnkey stole any of Bazza's thunder, though.
Johnkey came out with a few startlingly *new* and *original* ideas, though: let's flog off the Family Silver! No-one's ever thought of this before, and he is to be commended for his brave and forward-looking thinking. He reckons he can raise a few billion bucks by selling off 49% of a couple of our energhy generators, and of our state owned solid energy mining company.

And, by the way, our family silver has all been sold off already. By the ninnies and simpering fools of the Labour Party, 1980-style, and their rapacious replacements, the National Party. All we have left to sell is the family woodshed. That's where we keep the stuff that's going to keep us warm this winter.
Johnkey, craven fool that he is, reckons these assets will, of course, be immediately snapped up by ornrey New Zulnd Mums and Dads.
Hm. Newsflash, Johnkey: ordinary New Zealand Mums and Dads can't afford to buy shares. It's the extraordinary ones who can: the top 15% of our population who actually have spare money. 85% of us don't. And those who do will buy the stock, and sell it the moment Mr Bigcash from Norway or Canada or Germany comes along and offers them a 10% premium.
And when someone own 49% of the stock in a business, they get to have a seat on the board. That means they get to talk to politicians. That means that, in a couple of years, the government will sell what's left... and more money will be shuffled off-shore, and more jobs will be shuffled off-shore.
I wish that Johnkey could be shuffled off-shore. The man's a trollop, and should do well servicing the johns on Wall Street.
Reading: still on the same. No time for reading right now. Sob.
Listening to: Them Crooked Vultures. Hmm. Not bad at all.
Picture is: new Zealand's oldest union hall. It's on the outskirts of Greymouth, I think.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What Is Going On?

I am outraged. It's called "Honour Killing", and it seems to have come to New Zealand. Nothing is, as yet, proven. What is known is that a woman has been cruelly burnt to death, and that her husband has fled the country, taking their four year old child with him. She was, and he is, Indian, recently arrived in the country, from the part of India where it is a recommendation that a man kill his wife / sister / mother / female neighbour if he believes she has let the side down. Perhaps by looking at another chap a bit longer than the 3.2 seconds as proscribed in some holy bastard's book.

The woman in question was found at the side of a country road, on fire. Who ever it was that killed her did so by dousing her with petrol, and setting her alight. It may not have been her husband, of course: he may have fled from the evil sons of bitches who did do it.
But probably not. All the indications point to this being a so-called "Honour Killing".  The Police obviously know stuff that we don't know - but they have let it be known that they are investigating it as an "honour Killing".
The concept is beyond nauseating. Honour? I think not. There is no honour in murder. The pathetic little man who did this has no honour. It is horrible that such vileness happens in the world. This is the kind of state-sanctioned behaviour (a la Pakistan) that isn't calculated to give anyone capable of mature reasoning a positive POV of their culture.
And now it has happened here, in tiny New Zealand, where - just 20-odd years ago - we featured a stolen five year old Ford Cortina on a Crimewatch-type TV programme.
Listening to: Paul Simon, "Rhythm of the Saints". Silly information time: Rhythm is the longest vowel-free English word.
Reading: Still reading "Quiller: Balalaika". Adam hall was a genius. Go look in your local library - if you're lucky you might find his stuff on the shelves. He also wrote under his real name, Elleston Trevor. Wrote the original "Flight of the Phoenix".

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Twice on a Thursday

It's Thursday, and I am annoyed. twice.
The first, somewhat minor one, is that I just left a comment on a Blog I follow - Maundering Mutterer. She writes beautifully, and she's a buncha fun to read. But I tried to leave a comment, and the damned machine practically asked for my passport. I had to login to Google before I could leave the comment - despite already being logged in. Bah. And Bloody Humbug.
The second annoyance is a little larger. Here in Kiwiland we're just bringing some of the scoundrels and scallawags who profited out of the last financial meltdown to court. One of them, a creature whose name doesn't deserve to be spoken by anything resembling a human being, ran a finance company that seemed to dump a lot of dough into this man's boat and personal bank account in the months before going tits-up.
Right. This man lives in a multi-million dollar house, drives a flash European sports car - $200K worth, and enjoys his days out on his yacht. Sorry. Did I say "his"? No, don't be silly: they're all owned by his family trust. He, personally, is bankrupt. Doesn't have two scruples - er, dollars - to rub together. Ri-i-ight. So he's applying for Legal Aid - so I, as a faithful taxpayer, can pay his legal fees.
When the Redhead and I were busy being unemployed a year and a half ago, we were in desperate straits. We were down to our last $6. That is to say, after budgeting carefully, we had $6 a month left over in our bank account. We talked to the powers that be about bankruptcy: we couldn't, because of that $6 a month. We lost our house and our savings. We had nothing. And couldn't declare bankruptcy.
And here's a creature with more money than god whoo is BANKRUPT? Morally, certainly. Ethically, definitely. Financially? I suspect he has more than $6 a month to play around with at the end of the month.
Reading: Adam Hall, "Quiller Balalaika". Adam Hall's Quiller books are the best cold war espionage books written. Better than Le Carre. Better than, well, anyone. Balalaika was his last, completed just days before he died. It is brilliant.
Listening to: Dolly Parton, singing "Stairway to Heaven". They do play some wierd stuff on Matinee Idles.
The Picture is a kitten I met at a very pleasant Devonshire Tea place up at Puhoi. The world is a very nice place when it has kittens in it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pride and Prejudice

I know that this is not an original title. It's been used many times before, and will be used many times again.
But i wasn't trying for originality. I used it because tonight, folks, is the first rehearsal night for "Pride and Prejudice". I'm cast as Mr Bennet, which is good. I don't think I would have made a good Elizabeth.
Every time I start a new play I go through all sorts of quiverings, the greatest of which is: what the hell am I doing this for?
It's a lot of hard work, in cold, damp theatres, usually with inadequate changing / make-up rooms (not that I will be using any make-up: the mutton-chop whiskers will suffice.) There'll be squabbles, there'll be people who know sweet f***-all about acting, the theatre, or reading. There'll be fear, there'll be moments of "oh crap oh crap oh crap I've forgotten the next line".

But, at the end of it, there'll be A Play. An astonishing thing: twenty or thirty people people working together to make a single, living thing that lasts a night, and then is reborn, phoenix-like, the next day.

Listening to: American Graffiti soundtrack. God, some of those old songs were crap.
Reading: Not much. No time: still working on T Jefferson Parker, "The Fallen". It is very good.
Paper Heroes:
A Gent (be clever, here) has advised me not to put any more on the webby blog thing. I have been given ideas on where to take it, what to do with it. And it might (yeah, right) involve money. Hopefully, not my own. At least initially. I don't mind if it ends up being mine...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tunisia, bullets, and near misses.

This is my cat, Cleo.  The name "Cleo" is short for C-Leo-paw-print. When she was a kitten the markings on her back looked like a Lion's (Leo) paw-print. I couldn't call her Leo. So I added a C. She is very cute, has a beauty spot, and controls her tail when she's sitting down by putting the tip under her front paws.
I was listening to the wireless a little earlier. Well, you have to, when there's quality programming like "Matinee Idle" on.
A news report came on. I heard an item about Tunisia, and how the people were a tad restless, and started chucking stones at the constabulary, or Army, or some othe servants of the people. Apprarently these uniformed defenders of the right to protest then took it upon themselves to rspond to the thrown stones by firing their weapons, loaded with - and this is where my eyebrow got raised, quizzically - "live" ammunition.
It strikes me that the phrase "live ammunition" is obfuscation. A bullet has one purpose: to kill something. You can have blank ammunition - the sort that doesn't have a death-delivering bullet inserted into the neck of the cartridge. And you can have live ammunition, which is designed to kill you. Or, preferably, someone else.
Perhaps we should drop the term. Imagine, instead, if we used "death ammunition". Sounds uglier, but it is more, well, accurate. Kind of like a sniper's bullet...
It was either Terry Pratchett or Tom Sharpe who pointed out that it's difficult to "thrash someone to within an inch of his life". Whichever writer it was solved the problem by having his whipper shackle the whipee to a wall, and then proceed to beat the wall to within an inch of the victim. You'll note that the victim wasn't actually touched, but at least the whip landed within an inch of that individual's life.
It's right up there with "near miss". If something nearly misses you, it - quite obviously - hits you. So when two aircraft have a near miss incident, they actually don't. What's being described is a near hit incident.

 "Gosh, I nearly missed you," say one pilot to the other as they were both falling from the sky. "Another metre and I would have missed you.."

But I do like "death bullets".

Listening to: the radio. Matinee Idle. Very funny.
Reading: T Jefferson Parker, "The Fallen". Also my Pride and Prejudice script. Rehearsals start on Tuesday, and my mutton-shop whiskers are setting in well.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's Totally Unreason... ing

A few blogs back I promised a musing on love. I've dropped a few liners, but done nothing serious with the topic.
But it occurs to me that there is one thing I can say about love. It arrives and stays without reason. This is important. There is no one reason for why I love Jenny, or Gillian, or Roland, or Adam, Micah, Georgia, Theo, Jeff, Kathy, Joy, and so on. One can include animals: Cleo, the stuuningly alive Spike, who died more than a year ago. The view from the top of Mount Messenger, the sound of a right-hand surfbreak at Whangamata, the taste of a fresh Thai carrot salad, the feel of the air after a thunderstorm, a distinctive blues song that comes to the ear across a busy street. The moment I start interrogating myself as to why I love any of them, things start diminishing. There can be no single reason, because there are thousands of reasons. And each of those reasons has to do with who I am and what I have become with them in my life. To love Jenny, Gillian, and all the others is, in no small measure, to love myself.
The examination, in other words, is something that makes me smaller. Not the subjects and objects of my care and concern. Me. It has taken me a long time to understand that the best thing to do with love is to simply accept it.
Love can have no conditions placed on it. Love is free, and independent. Love is not a part of me: I am a part of it. Love is an elemental impulse, one that tickles the hindpart of my brain, one that has nothing to do with higher reasoning. It is.
There's a famous line in the Bible: I am who am. It's a supremely arrogant line when put into the context of a god, but it has a refreshing humbleness when stacked up against that most unreasoning of human afflictions, Love. Love is what Love is. Grammatically ugly, I know - but resolutely forceful.
Reading: "Impact", Douglas Preston. Trashy potboiler, but fun. Much like a Tom Cruise movie.
Listening to: Neil Worboys and the Real Time Liners. The kind of blues music you hear across a wind and rain-swept street that makes you yearn for smoke-filled bars, a bowl of red-hot chilli, a bottle of teeth-achingly cold beer, and the close companionship of a better than good friend.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Time does it, I know. But more impoprtantly, so do flies. Flies fly. A fly flies. Flying flies are horrible, nasty, and they know just how to piss off an old bastard.
An example, from today, with a preamble.
I've been sleeping poorly of late.Hot nights, combined with an arthritis storm. My left forefinger has swollen to twice its normal size, and it ispainful to touch. Fortunately, I've always typed with the second finger, the digitus secundus, a latin glomeration that I've just invented to cover my lack of knowledge.
Anyway: bad finger, creaking neck, hip that grates, and a knee that ain't great. Put together, it means bad snoozing.
So, this afternoon, as it's a Public Holiday, I decide to take a nap. I hit the pillow, and start snoozing... but a frigging house fly, the well-known musca domesticus (to display my knowledge of something that I actually know) decides to say "g'day".
I was, because of the heat, on top of the bed. I was wearing tee shirt and shorts.
Everyone has a 2 square inch patch of skin on their forearms, near their elbows, where there's not much flesh between bone and skin surface. The menacing musca landed on that are, right hand side. I shooed it away. It went to the same place, left arm. I shooed it away. it went to the right arm...
Everyone* has an ankle or two: the bastard fly got bored with my arms, and went from ankle to ankle. Zip, zap. Then back to the patch near the elbows. I got so damned suspicious about these areas smelling of decaying dead flesh that I gave up, and sprayed each part with an expensive cologne. Suck on that, bastard fly. I sat outside, with a G and T, and hordes of frigging flies decided they really love expensive cologne.
I then got out the Black Flag, and killed a gazillion of the fucking things.
I'm not fond of flies.
Reading: comic, Battler Britten, an update of the old "Air Ace"comix I read as a kid. Written by Garth Ennis, who's a brilliant comic writer.
Listening to: "Matinee Idol", on the steam wireless. Not right now - but everyone in the world should listen to this programme: it is just about three centimetres beyond brilliant.  Radio New Zealand National, from noon 'til five, weeekday afternoons, while silly season continues.
*Qualifier. Everyone means those people who have a full complement of limbs.
Love you long time.