Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Electric Pachelbel

We're off to do our end of year concert at Stansbury this afternoon.

For now I have taken down the "video bar" on the blog - it was set to YouTube's "most watched" and the weird stuff was a bit ... weird. Couldn't stand that  idiot rabbiting on about the horse in the back seat of the car. Anyone could see it was a Shetland pony: so what was wrong with that? Shetland ponies enjoy outings too.

For sheer virtuosity, try guitar90 (arr. Jerry C) with an extraordinary electric guitar accompaniment to Pachelbel's Canon. It runs five minutes. And, believe it or not, has received - just coming up to - eighty one MILLION views. I can hear why. Stay with it. Watch the fingering. The classic baroque orchestral music plays in the background (which I love on  its own: but this is a different art form). Sorry about the robotic percussion! It is for younger ears, whose owners think it's necessary. Just suspend disbelief and let the track download fully if your computer doesn't stream the audio in real time.

Monday, 29 November 2010

The effect of cricket on computers.

Aargh!  The laptop just crashed Windows ... and before that it wouldn't recognize the password to get into theWillsWarble blog.  And I'd rather be watching the cricket from the 'Gabba.

Anyhow, not to worry. I'm back on the desktop computer, have re-set the Google password (they let you do that: how kind.).

The Acer laptop has had a lie down and come back to its senses.

And now I'm going watch the damned cricket until lunch.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

The effect of cigarettes on space travel

Hi again. Some of you will tolerate my romantic interest in space, so to celebrate one hundred posts to THIS blog - its predecessor got as far as seventy - I refer you to a clever animation of the coming Virgin Galactic trip to orbital space for paying customers (no date as yet).

Besides that, you may find some interest in this updated report from the official Virgin Galactic site, where some of the booked passengers make comment. They all appear reasonably sane individuals, and  not necessarily from among the super-rich. In fact, on that score, I did a quick bit of mental arithmetic: the $200,000 price tag for the seat on the flight is the equivalent of the spending by a person with a $30-a-day habit on smokes and/or alcohol, for 19 years.

No big deal, guys.  Just give up the habit 19 years ago, and there you have the fare in hand, right now.

Thanks for kind comments from readers on recent posts and pix. I can say that there are a good few personal emails too, in addition to comments which you can always add right here on the blog, down there at the foot of the page.

Can't kid you and tell porkies about this blog going "viral" - yet - since the Stat Counter reveals just under a hundred views for November. They're not mine! - the software excludes that. Onward and upward.

Now look at that first link, above, if you want to get a feel for zooming up into zero gravity. No fizzy drinks allowed.

ttyl, Will

Friday, 26 November 2010

A 19th century Dorset poet. The Pottermania continues.

The decent feed at Ayers House was attended by about 50 members of the Society of Editors and their guests. Tom Burton was a topnotch invited speaker who gave us lively readings from (published) student poetry from his course at AU, "Reading and Writing Poetry". Some student writers achieve a high level of verse-excellence.

Next March Tom will again be performing in the Festival Fringe, bringing to a modern audience the work of 19th century Dorset poet William Barnes.

With the day in the city, I first had some business to see to, and then headed to the Palace Cinema and the marathon Part One of the new Harry Potter movie. I  napped through some of it. It is still a curiosity, both the book series and the film franchise. A mix of (too) much often arbitrary content, yet appealing to such a huge readership and screen audience; the right ingredients at the right time, which has led to enormous commercial success.

Of course, the human talents brought to bear to put Rowling's books on the big screen have been massive and she has become very very wealthy, the more so now as she herself co-produced (i.e. put money into) the making of this latest offering. One can only marvel at the whole phenomenon.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A 20th Anniversary. A Misty View.

A 20th anniversary of what? - you may ask. I'll be at a dinner at Ayers House, on Adelaide's North Terrace, to celebrate twenty years of the Society of Editors in this state. Speaker at the dinner will be my one time colleague Tom Burton, a man of scholarship and great good humour, well known for many things including his book Words Words Words. Who better to talk to a bunch of editorially inclined characters?

Next up, here's a curious view of a Gulf St Vincent scene, which I photographed between Edithburgh and Coobowie. A small headland where sea and sky shaded seamlessly, left the horizon ... nowhere.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Beware of gophers

Nice morning at Southpark - truly, that's the name - and no sign of the cartoon characters, but we did our singing gig appreciated by the residents of the home. The activities coordinator Trish even provided delicious fresh-baked scones for singers and audience alike, and she is a professionally trained cook, among the other hats she wears. This might entice us back. Me anyway, I'd just have to sing soprano and alto parts in addition to the lower range. Maybe all at the same time. But as reward I would scoff all the scones.

I liked the signage at their car park; "Look Out for Gophers".  I thought gophers were little critters. Must be something else.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Justin Who?

Not too sure about this video bar down on the left side. I don't get to choose the content 'cept that it's what is currently rating high on YouTube, and might be fun for some. Yeah, let it run for the moment. I liked the rap number Banelings by Husky. I gather it was a parody of Justin Bieber.

Singists on Sunday. An articulate student speaks out.

Hi there.

Sunday was an unusually scheduled rehearsal for Tuesday's coming concert at a different venue. Do I detect a note of panic? Never mind. Our little group did what comes naturally and turned the occasion into more of a tea party - true, with useful practice on either side of the afternoon tea, egg sandwiches and cake, courtesy of Isobel's generosity plus her keen knowledge of how to get the  best out of us. All aspiring  musical directors should take note.

On a fully serious note, take a look at this 1 minute 43 second video of a courageous young student speaking to a school board in Howell (a town which, he mentions in passing, is headquarters of the notorious Ku Klux Klan). You will seldom hear a more articulate 14-year old, let alone one speaking out in defence of a teacher. This is a follow-up to a link a week ago regarding anti-gay activity in some American (and other) schools.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Pruning the Atholl Pines

The Atholl pines and the powerlines
Spiky cactus
I spent this morning pruning the first of three re-growing Atholl pine trees on my adjacent block. ETSA cut them back some while back - they threatened power lines - but they have regrown tall shoots from the bases, and each shoot is like a ten metre tree on its own. Yes, I know. Shouldn't have waited this long. Actually I wrote to the utility company a year ago and asked them to finish the job they started. No reply. Anyway, there is now the start of a wood supply for next winter's fires in the hearth.

As an afterthought, chainsaw in hand, I tackled a giant cactussy plant to remove the spiky leaves (I suppose they are leaves, botanically speaking) which seemed to be aimed at my eye level. I do wear eye protection for these activities. The 3-metre plant now looks neater and perfectly healthy, if slightly annoyed. However, the juicy cactus goo made chainsaw clean-up a messier process than usual ... and anyone who cleans chainsaws knows it's not simply a matter of a quick rub-down with an oily rag. You dismantle the blooming thing, remove chain from bar, clean, re-assemble, remember to top up the oil reservoir, sharpen dozens of cutting edges with the special tool first on one side then the other.

Plums in waiting
I hope the garden appreciates the attention. Plenty of fruit has "set" on the trees; nectarines, plums, quinces, pears, fig, almonds (which I leave for the parrots), lemons. Oranges are pickable but a bit small.. It's no orchard. We're talking just one or two trees of each! There's even a little old apple tree having a last fling. Fruit set well last year too, but in the drought-like conditions each tree sensibly shed most of it.

Warm and sunny today - taste of a hot summer up ahead

Friday, 19 November 2010

Dan Winter and a link to GoldenMean dot info .. fractality stuff

I realized that when I made a cryptic reference to Daniel Winter a few days ago, there was no mention of what he is up to, and where to find out.  For anyone willing to take a look, the best URL these days is this one
from which you can go to all kinds of places. The mathematics is totally over my head, but I thrive on pretty diagrams and such. Love the language ... embeddedness, recursion, fractality: a sort of Theory of Everything - life, love, self-awareness, matter and gravity, electro-magnetism, time and space. Go on, I dare you.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Kernewek Lowender 10-15 May 2011

May of 2011 is still half a year away. Our Cornish Festival, the biennial Kernewek Lowender, which takes place in the Copper Triangle towns at the north of the Yorke Peninsula, is worth putting into the diary.

Here's my 38 seconds from the 2009 street parade showing the schoolkids in period costumes. My slide show may take rather long to load but if you have the patience to allow the whole process, and then play it again, it runs smoothly after the first loading. The curious musical piece - licensed for this use - is Andy Mullen's Sun Goes up, Sun Goes Down.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Festive Recipe book, and singing for the festive season. Icke again.

The book with the longish title and subtitle Festive Recipe Favorites from Kimberly's Friends: A few tried and true recipes went on sale at Amazon dot com yesterday. Some readers of the blog actually contributed their own recipes to it.  My job is now to try every one, hopefully when someone else cooks  the item and invites me over. Best contender to date is the Irish Cream. Anyway, the proof copy was shown to some friendly people who quite like it - my sixth effort since July, all different topics, and under several pen names as author or compiler. We like the orange coloured turkey on the cover.

The singing group is prepping vocal cords for three performances from now until first of December. I am delivering to our musical director the DVDs made from yesterday's digital recording of the whole morning and afternoon sessions, for appreciation or wincing as the case may be. Still time for late tweaking of the program - or the performers. Maybe tweaking isn't the right word. You would be on target if you guessed that the programs are strongly indicative of the Christmas season. Can't think why.

There were some interesting responses from readers who either (1) had, or (2) had not heard of David Icke. The two categories embrace, let's see, everyone of the planet. But not all emailed me.  I thought the home vid (not by David) from Barcelona, to which the link was provided, was pretty chaotic ... but something of the flavour of Icke's personality came over. He does indeed find energy to talk for whole day events, solo, unscripted and without notes. He is NOT a ranting preacher-type, nor a sales-hype merchant, nor yet into political demagoguery (if that's a word).  He delivers a message, and constantly offers documented material in support of most of or all his startling claims. It is for his readers or audience to form their own opinion. Naturally he is a target of attack from many quarters. As an example, his income from sales of his books through the 1990s in America was effectively stolen by very shonky (as we say in Australia) quasi-legal shenanigans, at a time when he was totally reliant on that income. Next - typical of the manner in which adversaries operate in the dirty world - the bad guys tried to sue Icke by claiming that the rights to his own books had been acquired elsewhere. The principle behind such tactics is well-known - to use corporate big-money to wear down or destroy the lone battler. It has, after all, taken Icke twenty years to attain the sort of worldwide following he currently has, without benefit of the mainstream media to whom he is anathema.

Another modern figure and teacher of  "alternative knowledge" who comes to mind, whose path has been deliberately spread with obstacles for treading on the wrong toes (or rather, the correct toes attached to malevolent heads), is Daniel Winter. Dan Winter now works mainly from Europe since his persecutors and their packs of lawyers succeeded in driving him from the U.S., closing his websites, and capturing what material assets he owned. But not his knowledge and intelligence. And sorry, Brendan, I spent significant time in person with each of the above men. No "degree of separation" at all.

Here's a sad footnote to last week's mention of homophobic bullying driving some gay students to major depression: the same week saw the death of high school student Brandon Bitner of Pennsylvania, driven to suicide "by taunts about his emo dress style and his gay sexuality", wrote fellow blogger BB, who added "Not content with their inability to control the bullying, the authorities at Brandon's school (all women...) forbade students from attending a rally to protest against the behaviour that led to the tragedy." It may or may not be the case that female school principals are less sympathetic, in general, to male gay students. My blogger friend thinks so, but I would hope it is not the norm - not now, well embarked on the 21st century. Official hostility seems to have played a role in the case above.

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Remarkable Mr David Icke

Hi. Some of you know of my enthusiasm for the books and unusual ideas of David Icke (pronounced Ike). While you are maybe not in a position to scurry off to Barcelona any time soon, to hear this guy, you can now say you have heard of him. I just ordered a copy of his new book, to come from the U.K. by fast blue-footed booby bird. (I made that last bit up.)

David Icke in Barcelona - behind the scenes footage


David Icke Around The World In 2010 And 2011

All-day events confirmed in Amsterdam (November 27th); Kyiv, Ukraine (February 12th 2011); Mexico (19th March 2011); Los Angeles (March 26th 2011); Rome (April 30th); Stockholm, Sweden (May 7th 2011); Copenhagen (May 14th).

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Four Foxgloves

I planted six foxglove seedlings in the new rockery and these four have made it to the start of summer. Poor things - they are a cool climate species and don't know what's in store. I thank them for this brave display.

Aung San Suu Kyi. A Walk at Edithburgh.

Yesterday's release of Aung San Suu Kyi from her many years of house arrest in Burma (Myanmar) has been a cause of celebration by her supporters, yet the TV images showed that there is restraint - still obeying curfews of the military government - such is the grip the regime maintains. The action seems to be a calculated gesture by the generals; and certainly no sentiment is involved, still  less a sense of justice.
They would, one supposes, be not unhappy to represent the release to the international  community as a magnanimous act  - perhaps a PR attempt "to rejoin the human race" in the memorable words (in a regionally different setting) of  Sir Humphrey of "Yes Minister" fame.

This morning I went for a breezy walk along the seafront at Edithburgh; nothing strenuous ... jetty to the caravan park and back, stopping to read historical interpretive signage thoughtfully placed for the curious. Edithburgh Jetty  was built in 1872 and further extended during following few years. Edithburgh was at one time (1925) the third busiest port in this state. It was declared closed as a port on 11 January 1973, by coincidence (I hope) the very day I came to live in South Australia. One display showed a map of Troubridge Island's radically changing shape since 1953. The island is a sandbar. When navigator Lt. Matthew Flinders first named it over two centuries ago as Troubridge Shoal, it was barely above water and a great danger to shipping, which it remained. The light of the lighthouse "was extinguished" (sez the signage) less than a decade ago, replaced by an automatic beacon. The whole island which is currently an area of 2 hectares plus a much larger intertidal area, has been declared a no-go marine conservation  zone.

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Beatles Movie on Ovation Channel

I don't subscribe to the Ovation Channel on Austar but they're doing a freebie for November. What should be the menu at tea time to go with my homemade vegie soup but The Birth of the Beatles film - billed as "the only biopic of the Beatles made while John Lennon was still alive". Nice and nostalgic, though the cast looked little like the originals. You've heard about - what is it? - six degrees of separation; we should all have a friend of a friend of a friend of a ... who knew the Fab Four or one thereof. Something of the sort. I think I nearly qualify, having spent an evening with Richard Lester - me and six other film  buffs - at the Scottish Film Council soon after he directed A Hard Day's Night. Such is fame. Not. Never met the lads though.

Funny weather, back to rain, but nobody's complaining ... yet. If the wet goes on for a week or two, it will mess with the grain harvest. My only knowledge of farming is the December procession of trucks thundering past my door at all hours of day and night on the way to the silos at Wool Bay.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Armistice Day

Eleventh  hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the moment the guns fell silent in 1918 to end hostilities in what was known as the Great War, now called WW1 or the First World War. What a damned shame we have to number them at all.

I had meant to mention the other day that last week's monthly concert by the singers and band went well, in Minlaton, and our next is an "extra" on the 23rd, at a different elderly care home in the same town. End of year events rapidly approach, both secular and sacred.

The pic is the five masted barque France II, 5800 tons, whose story I tell in one of the ten chapters of my book at Amazon dot com (How to Hold Their Attention,  by Will Smyth). A good Chrissie present for someone? France II sailed for just ten years 1912-1922, but was the largest tall ship ever built, her interior fittings on a par with those of the luxury ocean liners of the 1930s.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer. Hey, that's a good line!

This spell of perfect weather locally is, as they say nowadays, awesome. I am suitably awed, and relieved. Most of my immediate bunch of acquaintances say they dislike or even dread the prospect of the fierce heat this region expects in the South Australian high-summer from December to March, at times 40C plus. There is at least one exception, a lady country-born and bred who insists she loves the heat. Clearly she has asbestos-walled veins and mercury for blood.

But I'd not now enjoy the serious snow-and-ice cold again from my youthful jaunts and haunts, with winters experienced in Canada, northern China, northern Sweden, Russia and Scotland (our Glasgow University Mountaineering Club insisted on "bringing in the New Year" on various mountains, why I've no idea). Please don't ask me how or why I was in those parts of the planet, because I can't now remember that either. There must  have been some reason. Life is certainly a mystery.

Pop quiz. What's the blog post heading? Well done! You knew it. Shakespeare's Richard the Third.  Well, actually HE didn't say "Hey, that's a good line." I said that bit.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Bad arithmetic, pale ochre, anti-ageing and festive geese

Oops. I wrote on Wednesday that my Tassie friends were among a congregation of only four last Sunday in Gladstone, and the correct number was SIX. The main point of the blog post is unaltered.  Thank you to Brendan for pointing out my error, and especially to those who responded to the substance of the post.

Welcome phone call today from old friends to say that they, Veronica and David, will be in our neck of the woods this Sunday and I can expect a visit. As for today, except for the morning when I painted the new retaining wall at the back of the driveway to match the house's pale ochre stonework, the day has gone by with little achieved. Pale ochre? Yes, that is the official colour, one of a recommended set. The other colours are Heritage Red (roof) and Brunswick Green (timberwork and guttering) and an off-white or cream which is for other bits.

A parcel arrived with 15 copies of my pseudonymous book Keep Age Away: Easy Foods for Fitness and Longer Life which is available (and five other titles of mine) at Amazon.com.  The shipping costs from the U.S. are nearly prohibitive - books are aimed at the North American market - and I ordered these copies at "author discount" so that I can pass some on to friends who have asked for them (having seen advance copies). More anon. In fact, several people living not a million miles from me have conspired and contributed to the sixth book, suspiciously titled Festive Recipe Favorites ... yes, American spelling of course, and all the recipes in both imperial and metric. Roast turkey and goose, even. Could this be for Christmas?

The world is, as the SBS ad used to say, an amazing place.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Parsons Beach Practice. Melbourne Cup. A Gay-Unfriendly Church.

Friendly choral practice this morning at the beautiful Parsons Beach (not ON the beach) followed by our monthly concert performance in Minlaton. Great thing was that our numbers are nearly back to full strength after bouts of  illness or  family bereavement. Everyone hopes for a more placid spell in coming months.

Fun gatherings yesterday - no doubt also across the country -  for the annual Melbourne Cup, won by the French-trained Australian-owned horse Americain. The book, The Oxford Companion to Film once described the Melbourne Cup race (which was the subject of some of the earliest documentary film footage circa 1900) as "a famous Australian boat race." Recent decades have seen the newer editions corrected, but it was a nice idea.

B. writes from Tasmania that he and his same-sex partner of 35+ years went to church last Sunday in Gladstone, to which they travelled some considerable distance after press notices about the service. There were only six in the congregation. (I have corrected this from the earlier posted number "only four..."). The Catholic priest, however, who also had travelled a considerable distance to take the service - in the name of trying to gee-up falling attendances in the region (he was NOT from Gladstone, please note) steadfastly refused even to acknowledge my two friends' presence. A difficult act, given the tiny numbers! B.'s comment - there is a wide rift between the systemic homophobia apparent in the Catholic Church from the Pontiff down, and the generally gay-friendly laity. Here is an organisation at war with itself, but not unique in fostering hatred. Read the next paragraph ...

The same blog gives a link to published sources last week for Facebook comments, by a red-neck official of a school board, saying in effect that he applauds suicides by (harassed) gay students and wishes they all would kill themselves. The world is not yet the compassionate place that the great teachers of major religions would hope for.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Un-Hallowed traditions? Innes National Park. Sean Connery.

All Hallows Eve came and went. Today is Monday 1st November - the day of All Hallows (All Saints). Such days of significance or festival were once, more than they are now, a part of the religious or spiritual life. While it is quite sad to see any tradition debased to silliness -  the nonsense of  "trick or treat" for example - it is often better than an earlier too-serious superstitious dread, often accompanied by vilification of those standing aside from the mainstream dominant belief-system.

Enjoyed a walk on Saturday - the rain stayed away - along the Thompson-Pfitzner Trail down at Innes National Park, scene of the gypsum operations in the early part of the 20th century. The trail follows the former track of the wagons which carried the gypsum to Stenhouse Bay for loading at the  jetty. The wagons were originally horse-drawn on wooden rail-like tracks but the termites ate 'em. Then metal rails were laid, and eventually the horses were turned to other duties when small locomotives took over the pulling. Seems the whole area was cleared in the name of woodcutting for fuel, and the present dense scrub is all regrowth. Met a world-travelling surfer who was out for exercise; currently staying at Marion Bay, but, he said, recently doing the surfing thing in Mexico and South America. And I thought it was all just in books - I read Tim Winton's novel Breath earlier this year, which has a couple of globetrotting surfer characters.

This week our singers do one of the monthly nursing-home performances (which always last for one hour). That leaves, I think, three other special performances in various places between now and the end of the year. Since we are strictly unpaid volunteers, the standing joke is that we should demand double - or triple - pay. Big fat  zero, whichever way you calculate. We wouldn't want it any other way.

I am reading John Hunter's (1993) biography of Sir Sean Connery, who was knighted in 2000. Now THERE was a performer. Still around, and he turned 80 on 25 August this year.