Tuesday, September 30, 2008

lay yer money down

scarey times we're living in. I'm not a finance expert. I've never dabbled on the stock exchange. When someone says hedge fund I have a mental image of a jam jar stuffed with cash stashed under a hedge. And given the current state of affairs that jam jar may well be the safest place for our hard earned. After all the scare and rumour dies down, and all the billions that exist only as numbers on spreadsheets have disappeared, where will we find ourselves?

Will it be like the early nineties when all the work dried up and owning a house seemed like an impossibility? Will it be something different? Will the landscape be littered with indigent groups of bewildered baby boomers whose self funded retirement has just been wiped? Can Gen Y kids survive on the dole like we did? Will Gen Xers like me grit their teeth, tighten their belts and cough up the tax that will fund the inevitable drift back to government welfare that is gonna come as sure as Christmas. It's hard to say. Whatever it is, the next few years ain't gonna be fun. No fun at all......

Sunday, September 28, 2008

other peoples shoes

a couple of weeks back, Iwrote a post about my mate Ruddo's cathartic boozing evening after his football team was knocked out of the finals race. I got the chance to walk a mile in his shoes on Saturday. I'm a Geelong supporter. After our 24 year premiership drought was broken last year, I guess it was easy to become complacent, and after only losing game for the entire year, success seemed inevitable. Sadly, this was not the case. Our forward line, who until Saturday were hailed as some sort of golden gods, proved to have feet of clay. Almost literally clay in fact. Gumby and his plasticine mates would have kicked more accurately I reckon.

Still the afternoon was enjoyable after a fashion. Enjoyed frosty Becks and BBQ at Andrew and Vicky's and various mates popped over during the day (including a very understanding Ruddo). By the end of the game I'd switched to whiskey and was in dire need of distraction. Luckily there was a good cause on hand.

An old mate Lenny has fallen on hard times and a few stalwarts of the Ballafornian music scene threw together a benefit show to get him sorted with a PC and the like. Len is a very gifted musician and artist who unfortunately suffers from a rare degenerative bone condition. A really tough break for a guy whose explosive natural ability as a drummer brought to mind a young Keith Moon and whose work with the Dead Salesmen in the 90's was absolutely spectacular. An excellent guitarist/bassist and visual artist, its really hard to see him confined to a wheelchair at age 36, and hopefully some technology will give him some new creative outlets that won't place too much stress on his body. A sweet bloke with a personality way too big for his frail frame, it was fantastic to see so many people turn out to support him. Word is a large wedge of cash was raised and the rock action on display was top notch. My recollections are a little hazy after 10pm but Brand X and the Fat Thing played absolutely stonking sets from what I recall and after waiting an hour for a cab I was well pleased to hit the sack.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

the gambler

i've been a bit yo-yo for a couple of weeks. I'm not the most stable fucker in the world at the best of times, but to be honest the last fortnight has been a really uncertain time for me. Not all of my own doing either. The prospect of a worldwide recession (or dare we say it, a depression) is not a keen inducement to strike out into the cesspool that is bidness yet again. There's ton of reasons for and against and I reckon I've gone over them all in my mind time and time again. I hate the idea of putting the missus in an invidious financial position again but she's urging me to do my damndest. I know I've got the minerals and the ability but I'm not sure if I've got the resilience both mental and physical for another crack at the bigtime. The tease is that if I pull the next one off I won't have to work again. And that's a mighty big pull. The catch is am I fit enough for another big push. The other big lure is to doing the right thing by the girl. If I do shuffle off a bit premature it would be sweet to leave her well set up. After a dozen or so vodka and tonics that's where I find myself. Between a rock and a hard place.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

come on spring, do your thing....

Today was fucking glorious. Warm in the sun, cool breeze, just bloody perfect. I'd really love this place if the weather stayed like this. Unfortunately it won't and in three months time the place will be parched, brown and savagely hot. But this is the best time of year. Grand for walking, which I did by the lake today. Saw a brood of cygnets trailing along after their mother cute as buttons. The grass is so lush at the moment, better than it has been for years, and the blossoms on the trees are stunning. Lot's of mum's out of my own species too, trailing screaming kiddies after themselves.

I even made a halfhearted attempt at cleaning the back yard when I got home, such was the inspirational nature of the weather.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

little things

its been a fun couple of days. The annual brownlow night celebrations took place on monday night. A bit of a social ritual with our mates, we usually gather at someones house and watch the weird, frequently embarrassing spectacle that is AFL's highest award. Car crash TV at it's finest. Tizzied up WAGs, drunken bozo footballers, gag inducing tributes and a frankly bizarre combination of the Oscars and a pie night. Its great fun to scarf down a few sausage rolls and enjoy a tipple while you sit back and enjoy a thoroughly Australian experience.

Lunch today was out at the parentals. The bomb has been dropped - they're putting the old ranch on the market and moving in to Ballafornia and they assembled us kiddies to give us the news. We all kind of knew or suspected but today confirms they are deadly serious. Younger bro Seán seems a little nonplussed by it, I guess he spent his entire childhood there with Diármaid where Theresa, Eilín and I all moved countries and houses several times before we even hit secondary school. Anyway the real estate agents have given them a much higher estimate than they thought so fingers crossed it all goes well. The place looks gorgeous, with lovely gardens and a lush paddock surrounding it. Fair play to them, I remeber when we moved there is was an arid wasteland with one tree on the whole fifteen acres and a patch of gravel where now there is a quite a lovely house. The lunch itself was fantastic - grilled thinly sliced marinated chicken, gourmet sausages and crusty bread and salad. Trifle for afters. It really brings out the Mammy's boy in you when you sit down to spread like that for lunch. Endless cups of tea and lemon, lime and bitters kept the dust down in keeping with the folks teetotalling ways.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


i'm a bit bored. It's one of those truisms - be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it. The time is 11.15 pm on a Saturday night. The darling wife is buggered from her new project/client and after knocking over a couple of bottles of red at Vicky and Andrew's house has passed out on the bed with the dog licking her face. I've retrieved the dog and now sit at the computer, idly trawling facebook and bigfooty and sipping a rum and coke which is giving me more heartburn than buzz. There's some shithouse Australian country music on the radio in the next room that I can't be bothered turning off. I think my mental batteries may have finally recharged. Time to get up off me arse and do something!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

in the hunt

i'm tossing around the concept of pub ownership again. The bar in Melbourne fell through and I still seem to have the bug I suppose. I've set myself some limits though.

My first stipulation is strictly pub rather than club. No late nights, no DJs, no 'talent' issues and no kiddies scoffing pills whilst off their tits on Smirnoff Ice. I want nice meals, pints, a well stocked jukebox and a cosy bar. Naturally a well chosen wine list and a few single malts on the top shelf. A nice little area for the smokers so they aren't out on the street mingling with the great unwashed. A glass chiller and a glycol taps rig. And I don't want to pay a fortune for it.

Fingers crossed.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

black hole

sometimes, after a supreme effort in your cups, you end up with a shocker. A hangover so vile death seems preferable. Where one dare not cough for fear losing control of one or more bodily functions. A place so terrible bacon, paracetomol and Gatorade cannot rescue you. Where the light hurts your eyes and water tastes thick and greasy. Your bones ache and your fingers shake.

I'm going back to bed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

the stag is loose

i'm off to a buck's day today. My man Obie is getting hitched, and we're roaming the pubs of Ballarat town and the day should be ripe with foolishness and frothies. The day is warm and sunny, my pockets are full of cash and my heart is full of the devil. I'll be back with a sore head and the full report on the morrow. Slainte!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

bad bones

i find people's different drinking habits fascinating. Take my friend Ruddo for an instance. He is a secondary school teacher and part time rock and roller who rarely if ever has a couple of beers after work. I've never seen him have a wine with dinner and he can go a month or two without a drink some seasons of the year. But when the mood is on him, he is a veritable force of nature. Take last Saturday as an example.

His football team, North Melbourne, got roundly thrashed out of the finals for the second year in a row that evening. Sources report that he was fairly pounding the beers down during the course of the game and as the result became inevitable his work rate increased. Shortly after this the man appeared at my place clutching a six pack and needing a friends ear. Luckily, I'd had a wine with tea and was vaguely in the mood for a couple, so I braced up to the kitchen table, grabbed a bottle of Jack and had a yarn with the lad. Bear in mind the time is approximately 10pm at this point.

Fast foward eight hours. We haven't left the table. The bottle of Jack is empty, as are maybe 8 or 9 beercans. A bottle of Coruba that had maybe a third in it is also empty. In addition my treasured bottle of Jamesons distillery reserve is two thirds gone. I've been drinking quietly while my man gets it off his chest. The pain of the football loss has long been forgotten. Other woes have been addressed. The inequality between state and private education. Ladies lack of understanding of the stresses of being a modern man. The perfidious nature of the music industry. People who annoy him and those who really need a good thumping.

Ruddo, whose sense of time is not brilliant under normal circumstances, is stunned to see it is now 6am. After questioning the accuracy of my timepiece, an attempt is made to arise. On the third attempt he is successful, but unfortunately the effort has taken it's toll and upset his stomach a little. After a discreet stagger to the bathroom, all offers of a bed or a taxi are refused. A stroll homeward would be just the ticket (he does only live a couple of blocks away). Somewhat unsteadily, my man departs. 15 minutes later I wander out the back to allow the dog to do his business and have my last fag, I find Ruddo has made a good ten metres progress over the quarter of an hour and is hanging onto the fence having a breather or 'giving himself a pep talk' as he put it. All offers of accomodation are again refused and he disappears into the night.

He popped in later the next evening, very subdued. The walk home, about a kilometre, had taken upwards of an hour. He'd also spent the day bedridden and being violently sick every half hour. Probaly going to give the beers a miss for a week or two he reckons. Fair enough.

Friday, September 5, 2008

two turntables and a microphone

i've got a guilty secret. My music collection is a many splendoured thing. There's folk aplenty. Planxty, De Dannan, Christy Moore, Nick Drake, Dylan, Neil Young, John Martyn. From the Smiths to the Fratellis, if it indie I've got it. Funk, soul, blues, psychedelic, garage rock and punk are all in good supply. Dance floor fillers from the Supremes to Daft Punk. Enough reggae and dub to keep the most dedicated stoner in an easy skanking stylee. The dinosaurs like Led Zep and Floyd. Dean Martin and Sinatra, Davis and Coltrane. A veritable Mojo of tunes. But hidden on top of the metaphorical wardrobe, like a well hidden copy of Fiesta Readers Wives is the forbidden music.

I love hip hop. Not just the worthy conscious stuff, or the acceptable white boy jams. The Lil' Jon, Snoop, Jay Z, Dre, Kanye, Xzibit nasty ass commercial misogynist gear. With fat beats and lots of swearing. From old stuff like Tone Loc and Sir Mixalot to new cuts like Chamillionaire and 50 Cent. I love it with all the passion a 36 year old white dude with absolutely no cultural affinity can muster.

Sad but true.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

the best policy

i'm not a paragon of virtue. If I see 20 bucks in lying in the gutter, I'll pick it up and spend it. I've nobbled the odd Christmas tree from Crown land and once or twice I may have told a wicked fib on a tax declaration. But stealing music gets my goat a little.

Its not hard to buy music these days. Classic albums are 10 dollars a throw, less sometimes and new releases are often less than $20. You can buy any tune in the world for $1.69 on iTunes. Don't even have to leave the house. But somehow people find this too big an ask. Somehow all the thought and sweat and art that a musician pours into making a song ain't worth shit. You see the technology exists to obtain it for free....

Which is fine, but don't expect another Dylan, REM, Johnny Cash, Prince, U2, Clash, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd etc in the foreseeable future. The artist that takes time to mature, who needs a few albums to blossom, who uses the studio as an instrument just ain't gonna get subsidised while the dollars dry up. If you can be marketed and soundtrack an ad you have some chance, but you better be able to record cheaply and digitally because you sure as hell aren't going to be allowed to make a White album or a Rumours anytime soon. You'll have to tour your arse off just to live, and charge top dollar too as rising fuel costs make even that income stream dwindle. On top of that the market becomes more competive as punters increasingly see live music as festival based entertainment rather than as individual shows. If your child can write, or has an ear for melody get them to do a marketing degree. Ad agencies are the record companies of the future and while people still feel more squeamish about nicking a can of coke than they do about downloading for free, theres half a chance a musician might actually get paid for their efforts.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

springtime for squitter

the dog is loving the first days of spring. He's obviously a warm weather animal, as up until now any time spent in the backyard not directly connected with his ablutions has been accompanied by pathetic whining, barking and panicked scratching at the door. The last two days of sunshine have brought out a different side to the animal. A proud explorer, who on occasion will venture past the back shed unaccompanied. A ferocious slayer (and sadly eater) of lizards. And a contented animal happy to bask in the sun until the smell of frying sausages coaxes him inside.