Random Comment

13 06 2011

This is a very poorly maintained blog. No, really, its true!  Just checked in for the first time in ages to clear the spam comments and one of them was the following

Random little piece of nothing which made me laugh.

“You own hit puberty, but your friends are only a bit ahead individuals. Not to head ache, you’re not any a a person because of it.If they call to you, ingore the things they’re doing, say ‘so which kind of, who cares? ‘ or create a joke about this specific. Mainly try your best not to let it get to you are free to, or show they does. Being ribbed is par on the outside course when you get a teen. As you can’t speed upward, there’s little point being concerned about apparently being quit.”

Thats comforting. I have been a little concerned of late about apparently being quit. Whatever that might mean.


Neat and Tidy

24 04 2011

Been keeping half an eye out for this for some years now.

One of my favourite shows from the mid 80s – Neat & Tidy : Adventures Beyond Belief. Never heard of it it? Not too surprising.  Hammy acting, ridiculous characters and script, cliched storylines and low budget conspired to send this one straight below most peoples radar.

Essentially, our heroes layabout Nick Neat and the gorgeous Tina Tidy are on the run from a variety of bumbling bad-guys (and gal), all set to a most awesome Elvis soundtrack.

Don’t think its available on DVD anywhere, but I live in hope. In the mean time, someone has finally seen fit to upload it to youtube (in parts).  Check it out if you’re bored…

This. Is. Sparta(cus)

5 02 2011

Hello. Yes, it has been a while. Usual excuses abound of course – festive season, work and other ongoings, coupled with a sense that really, very little of import in my world has occurred of late that I reckon other folks’d be much interested in.  But ultimately : yep. I’ve just been really  lazy. Much easier to read other blogs (oh, and tweets – theres another excuse) than bother with my own. And what is one to blog about? Sheesh, TV programs… ?     Well, funny you should ask…

Don’t watch a lot of broadcast TV, other than ABC/SBS news, even with Foxtel in the house. Give me a movie or even a decent series on disc that I can watch at my own leisure, uninterrupted by ads, and yes, even better in nice bluray clarity and surround sound, and I’m happy. With movies, and miniseries, I tend to be reasonably picky, only watching those that hold a substantial attraction and/or have piqued my interest, perhaps through recommendation, subject matter or a promise of stylised violence to rival no other – hey, I never said I wasn’t also shallow – enter Spartacus, Blood & Sand. JB made brief mention of it over at the Burger last year, so when I was asked what I wanted for Christmas, it seemed like a logical choice.  Best. Series. Ever.

Spartacus, Blood & Sand is a 13 part series detailing the rise of the legendary Spartacus, who lead his fellow gladiators/slaves in revolt against the mighty republic of Rome beginning in 73BC.  No history-channel documentary  this, artistic license is a given of course, but many of the principal characters are named and based on their respective historical namesakes.

What Spartacus does so well is epitomise the genre of Action-Drama series like very few before. Although the emphasis weighs heavily on the side of action, what I was really surprised with was the drama, both in and out of the gladiator ring, the clever casting and portrayals by all the actors involved, the often-clever dialogue and cracking narrative. The 13 episode length was just right to hook you into the characters and storyline without bogging down into un-necessary episodes and minor story arcs like so many longer winded series can.

Some faces in the cast will be familiar, although Andy Whitfield who played Spartacus was an unknown to me. John Hannah as Quintus, the lanista (gladiator owner) and master of Spartacus, Lucy Lawless (yes, of  Xena and BSG fame) as his scheming wife Lucretia, and Peter Mensah as Doctore, trainer of all Quintus’  fighters all bring impressive credentials and gravitas to their roles.

Andy Whitfield also does a first rate job as Spartacus, anchoring our attention to the man who is forced to fight under the false impression that he may live to see his wife Sura, captured and sold-into-slavery, once again.

But yes, the fighting does feature stronly. And it is a very adult series, to say the least. The censors label on the cover reads like a must-have in the type of shows many of us are drawn to : “Extreme violence, blood and gore, sex scenes and nudity”. Can’t ask for much more than that, surely? And plenty of all of the above abounds in each episode, and some of the more creative profanity you’ll likely hear on the screen too. Filmed entirely in-studio, in New Zealand (no wonder Its Good!), the visuals are very much of the 300 variety, with lashings of fake blood and guts, and plenty of Roman-era raunch and debauchery. Plenty of eye-candy for both sides, or so the better half insinuates…

There is a new prequel series just begun showing overseas, featuring many of the original cast, only without the character of Spartacus, and later in the year filming should begin on Spartacus Season 2. Sadly, this is unlikely to feature Andy Whitfield in the title role again as he is currently battling a recurrent round of cancer.

So, yes, if any of the above sounds like it may be your thing, check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Battlestar Galactica vs Convoy

10 09 2010

Damn, I’d forgotten about this little gem I first posted back in the JS days. Some of the lip-synching is first rate :

Random Women of Rock III – Bif Naked

19 08 2010

A brief introduction to a lady I’ve had the pleasure to discover only recently, the redoubtable Ms Bif Naked.

Bif, real name Beth Torbert, born in India, now of Canadian nationality,  manages to combine feminine wile with punk-inspired sass to deadly effect.  From rock inspired covers to acknowledged classics in her own right, Bif has progressed from tattooed stand-out to award winning artist and even motivational speaker in her own right.

In 2008, Bif was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, but in typical fashion, hasn’t let it slow her down or dampen her propensity to rock one iota. Through her blog and tweets, she still conveys an infectious optimism that is not only catching, but inspiring, elevating  the mantra of  making the  most of every day, to paramount.,

B52 in Darwin

21 06 2010

Spent the weekend up in Darwin, and finally found the time to drop into the Darwin Aviation Heritage Museum. Featuring a variety of both civil and military aircraft, from Gyrocopters to a Spitfire replica and even an original RAAF Tiger Moth all under the one roof, the museum specialises in Australias military aviation history, with one notable exception also being its most well known exhibit : a B52(G) heavy bomber as flown exclusively by the US since 1955.

Somehow managed to leave my camera behind, although the scale of the thing meant it probably wouldn’t have made a lot of difference to the quality of photos, which subsequently, are all from the Iphone.

**NOTE** You’ll need to click on each photo to get the whole picture(s) :

Dwarfing every other display, the B52, or BUFF as they’re widely known (big ugly fat f*kr), took up the entire length and height of the hangar. Getting an actual shot of the wingspan took some doing, but had to get something showing the iconic twin  pairs of engines per side…

Another exercise in scale, this time with an ex-RAAF Mirage in the foreground. This Mirage actually went down just a few hundred metres from the museum, which backs onto the RAAF base which in turn is at the back of Darwin Airport. The French-built Mirage was Australias predecessor to the F18 Hornet strike aircraft used today. The pilot ejected safely, but the aircraft was trashed, before being rebuilt for this display.

Able to carry near 32 tonnes of ordnance, the B52 has held several heavy-bomber records over the years. As in integral part of the US “nuclear triad” deterrent (subs, land-based missiles and bombers), the BUFFs have been in active service now for over 50 years. Next shot, the bomb bay, literally inside the belly of the beast…

And a closing shot, this time the “other” business end of the craft – quad .50 cal machine guns, swivel mounted under the tail, controlled by the gunner at the front under the guidance of the targetting radar dome seen just above the guns. The use of these weapons during the Vietnam war in an earlier version (a B52D) to shoot down two Russian MiG 21’s lead to another B52 record, that of the largest aircraft ever to be credited with air-to-air kills.

East Kimberley Roadtrip

5 06 2010

Took a few days off over last weekend to head east. The better half has been wanting to check out the annual Kimberley Moon festival in Kununurra for a a while now, so we finally blacked out some dates and made the trip.

“The Moon” is essentially the finale to the 2 week long Ord Valley Muster, a showcase of all things East-Kimberley, and culminates in a Saturday night concert  in the largest town in the region, Kununurra. This years headline acts included country star Sarah Storer and The Voice himself, John Farnham.

Grabbed a Patrol 4WD from work on Thursday and struck out around 09:30. Got as far as Willare Bridge near Derby before being held up on the side of the road for half an hour while a roadcrew performed maintenance on the one-lane bridge.

After that, it was a smooth drive straight through to Halls Creek, nearly 700km away from home, stopping only for fuel at Fitzroy Crossing (see previous  post “The Crossing”). Leaving Halls Creek, noticed the Patrol wasn’t running quite right, lacking power and not wanting to climb over 3000 rpm. Just what you need when passing 53m long road-trains! Put it down to a blocked fuel filter and kept going, hoping we’d make Kununurra no problems.

My mate J, the pilot who came over from the UK last year chasing work is now based at Halls Creek, so was great to catch up with him briefly that night for dinner and a few ales.

Friday it was on to Kununurra, normally about 3 hours on, but the fuel filter was getting worse and ended up affecting the drive further, eventually completely stalling the Patrol about 40kms out from Kunnunurra, in the rain, where we had no mobile (cell) coverage. Fortunately, it did start again after a minute or so, and we managed to nurse it into Kununurra, where even more luckily there was a Nissan dealer who actually had a new filter in stock and I could swing into my works Kununurra depot to have it fitted. No more car dramas after that thank goodness.

Saturday was spent in Kununurra, checking out the markets and local shops. At about 5000 people, its about a third the size of Broome, but as this weekend is probably the towns biggest of the year, there were plenty of visitors about. The skies kept threatening rain, incredibly unusual for anywhere in the Kimberley in late May, and there were fears that it might even rain on the big night, but it all turned out ok.

While still slightly overcast, to the put of there being no actual moon to be seen at this years “Moon”, everyone had an enjoyable, dry night. We packed a few eats, some wine and beers and a picnic rug and joined most of the town and visitors on the grassy banks of the Ord River for the concert. There was a corporate area where the likes of MPs (Julia Gillard) and other vips and people who thought $500 a head was worth paying for a sit-down black-tie dinner from where to watch the show, but I reckon we had it better where we were. We could wander about about, drink our own choice of beverage, had more space, could get right to the front of the stage no problem and even the ubiquitous hamburger and hotdog stands were selling quite passable fare.

The girls got to see their first “real” concert performance and had a great time dancing and running amok. The lead-up acts were top class, and even Johnny Farnham himself impressed, putting on an entertaining two hours where where I even surprised myself when I realised I knew nearly every song he sang. Goes to show his influence on the Aus music scene over many years I guess. Couldn’t believe he kept on his jacket and shirt the whole balmy evening though – they must have had to peel him out of it at the end!

Next day we came to the part of the trip I’d been looking forward to, the return leg via the Purnululu National Park, home of the “Bungle Bungles”. This was why we needed the 4WD, for the 2 hour, 50km drive in through an actual working cattle station and into the park itself via a twisting corrugated dirt track. Actually, I’d heard it was worse than we found – of the 2o-something creek crossings, only about 3 actually had water in them despite the previous weeks rain, a sign of how quick things dry out up this way in the dry season.  The two deeper crossings were maybe half a meter or so, no problem in the Patrol, the only casualty being the front number plate which nearly tore off and I had to relocate to inside the windscreen for the rest of the trip.

The “Bungle Bungles” is the term usually used to descibe the park itself, although also commonly applied to the series of “tiger-striped” rock formations found throughout. These uniquely sculpted ancient reef formations were formed by a bacteria eating through sections of the rock, the black stripes, and the oxidization (rusting) of the high iron content in the remaining sections, the orange stripes.

We explored  the northern accessable end of the park Sunday arvo, starting with an hour or so walk through “Echidna Chasm”, a large, narrowing fissure in the rock.  Monday morning before we drove out, we did the southern end, a two hour trek to one of the more well known gorges in the area, the Cathedral Gorge. This spectacular walk finishes in a giant natural ampitheatre, the Cathedral, where pools of water have collected beneath towering rock walls which funnel up to the open air a hundred metres or so above. Photos really don’t do this place justice, the sense of serenity and ancient ambience literally amazing. Well, they were after the tour group who’d arrived before us left anyway. The way the walls ampified everything sound, coupled with the loud voices of some of the people there seemingly to catch up on inane gossip and the life stories of their companions made you wonder if they really appreciated just where they were! Thankfully, after a while, they left, leaving only ourselves and a couple of quieter visitors, one of whom turned out to have a rather excellent baritone. We were then treated to some of the best renditions of Hallelujah and Amazing Grace I’ve heard. Not normally my music of choice, but in this setting, apt to the point of awesome!

Then, it was time to head out. We left the park about mid day Monday, back to Halls Creek for one last night with J.  I got out with him for a couple of hours alone where he showed me the sights of a town you normally only pass through. Had another great night, though not a late one as he had a flight the next morning, and then, my good fortune : he had a spare seat on the flight, a 1 hour scenic back over the Bungles, one of the best over-land scenics in the area, and I got to ride shotgun up the front of his Cessna!

So it was up at 6 the next day, fortunately our motel was across the road from the airstrip, and I got to see the “other” side of the Bungles, a real eye-opener as although we thought we’d covered a fair bit on the ground, from the air you realise just how big the range really is. The total amount accessable by foot and 4WD wouldn’t make up 10% of the entire park.

Amazing this place wasn’t even discovered until the 80s, when a film crew came across it by accident while scouting for unusual background shots.

Took a bit of video footage on the flight as well, so the plan is to find some music and make my first actual video clip to post to youtube, so we’ll see how that goes shortly.

Perfect end to another great roadtrip, then it was the long 7 hour drive back home in time for work the next day. All good things et al.