Friday, April 29, 2005

It gets sadder and sadder

Because I have been very slack with my posting lately, and because I am desperate to move that picture of Mark Raffety down the page, and because I'm a freak, and because it's easy, and most of all because you all want to know, I give you the list of confirmed returnees for Neighbours 2005 season as of today's date:
  • Lesley Baker as Angie Rebecchi
  • Melissa Bell as Lucy Robinson #3
  • Andrew Bibby as Lance Wilkinson
  • Rachel Blakely as Gaby Willis
  • Brett Blewitt as Brett Stark
  • Joy Chambers as Rosemary Daniels
  • David Clencie as Danny Ramsay
  • Fiona Corke as Gail Lewis-Robinson
  • Bernard Curry as Luke Handley
  • Kimberley Davies as Annalise Hartman
  • Terence Donovan as Doug Willis
  • Delta Goodrem as Nina Tucker
  • Richard Grieve as Sam Kratz
  • Stephen Hunt as Matt Hancock
  • Annie Jones as Jane Harris
  • Mark Little as Joe Mangel
  • Daniel MacPherson as Joel Samuels
  • Todd McDonald as Darren Stark
  • Craig McLachlan as Henry Mitchell
  • Benji McNair as Mal Kennedy
  • Shauna O'Grady as Dr Beverly Marshall #2
  • Moya O'Sullivan as Marlene Kratz
  • Ann Scott-Pendlebury as Hilary Robinson
  • Ailsa Piper as Ruth Wilkinson
  • Mark Raffety as Darcy Tyler
  • Ian Rawlings as Phil Martin
  • Marnie Reece-Wilmore as Debbie Martin
  • Rebecca Ritters as Hannah Martin
  • Jansen Spencer as Paul McClain
  • Jesse Spencer as Billy Kennedy
  • Jacinta Stapleton as Amy Greenwood
  • Eliza Szonert as Danni Stark
  • Holly Valance as Felicity Scully
  • Kym Valentine as Libby Kennedy

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Back at the coal face

New job. Fun. Deep end. Scary. Income. Saviour.

Friday, April 15, 2005

In reference to the below

I came across this pox picture of the Darstardly Doctor on the Taylor and Khoo website. It's all in a good cause, I spose (that cause being local, sustainable economic development in Siem Reap, Cambo).

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Domestic God

This is how dull my life is right now. I have completed the following in the last 24 hours:
  • defrosted fridge and freezer
    and found 7 varieties of gluten-free soy n linseed loaf, while storing the salvageable frozen goods somewhere else freezy
  • mopped kitchen floor
  • and laundry floor
    after desposing of the previous (utterly useless) mop and visiting my favourite old-skool hardware store to buy another one, you know, proper mop head n handle, none of this sponge-on-a-stick shite, and a nice new philips-head screwdriver
  • assembled said mop with said screwdriver
  • 3 loads of washing
    (Surf Ocean Breeze)
  • 2 sets of washing up
    (Blast, the Aussie-made/owned one in red-apple (huh?) flavour)
  • jiffed the stove
  • tidied loungeroom
  • polished surfaces
  • dusted
  • watered garden
  • acted as chauffeur for various members of my family
  • sorted my finances
  • paid parking fine
    and energy bills
    and received on of those nasty insidious speed-camera tickets
  • and did the house shop at the South Melby Market (gotta love 3 grapefruit for $2)

    Add in 2 hours of kendo, and that's my life.
Is it any wonder I look forward to Neighbours of an evening.

And gin. I forgot gin. My little helper.

Coma Karma

Oh yes, the news we've all been waiting for has been announced: Darstardly Doctor Darcy Tyler, he of the purple muscle shirt, of that oh so nasty green jacket, has awoken from his (when last we heard, irreversible Terri Schiavo-esque) coma, and descended on Erinsborough to wreak vengeance on you-know-who.

It's all good.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Skander-san's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld 12
or 8 Seconds

Sunday practice is a tough ask. Easter Sunday practice is an even tougher ask. You mean you want me to forego the second longest public holiday break of the year? How does get fucked sound?

So instead I hit the Buchan rodeo. Originally it was meant to tbe the Omeo Rodeo, but things didn't go quite to plan—we didn't make it over Hotham until round 4, and a measly 45 minutes or so didn't quite cut the mustard. But we did miss out on the spectacle of a horse jumping the railings and careering through the crowd. Fun n games eh?

Nothing quite so eventful happened at Buchan. But I did buy myself a new stubbie holder, proudly emblazoned with "Buchan Rodeo" and a buckin' bronc, and got myself a wretched dose of horse-allergy hayfever. Hadn't ever had that trouble before up at Omeo or at Flemington, but well, maybe it has something to do with the venue.

You see, whereas the Omeo Rodeo is situated behind the Omeo football oval—the very same football oval which was the designated safe haven during the Australia Day fires of 2003, the very same football oval that caught fire while under the watchful eye of the DSE on Australia Day 2003, right up the top of town—a good 1500 metres above sea-level and open to the raging, firebringing northerlies and biting snow-laden southerlies, the Buchan Rodeo is in a damp gultch of the mighty East Gippsland forests. With no breeze, no air movement, and a hell of a lot of horse hair and dust hanging in ther air, so thick you could see it. And me sneezing like a trooper. Great fun.

Still, only three blokes in the open bareback bull comp were able to stay on for the required 8 secs, à la Luke Perry, so there wasn't a heap of actual competition in what we saw, or, seen from a different angle, the bulls were winning.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Skander-san's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld 10
or Death of 100 Cuts

Number 10. Nice round decimal number. As is 100.

Everything goes along swimmingly today, jogeburi here, single-time men-saburi there. Yeah, give us something to challenge ourselves fellas!

And so they do: first they ask us to do one-handed men. With right fist on hip and our shinai in our left, away we swing. Ichi. Ni. San. Shi. Go. Rokku. Shichi. Hachi. Kyu. Jyu. My god that's tough! For an unfamiliar left arm like mine, it really is hard (and now, it actually is hard as stone, as a result of doing this repeatedly). My arm was aching after 10 of these unfamiliar swings. Pounding aching. "Do it again". I aint no skinny, freckled, chicken-chested nerd person who doesn't see the sunlight, despite having a blog. Oh no! And yet my (now rippling) bicep was totally thrown by having to swing this shinai back and forth, from 45° behind the head to our imaginary opponent's now nicely sliced open forehead, held only by my left hand.

Now the tricky thing was not actually the strength needed in the arm to raise the shinai, but the strength required to stop it at the right point. Not letting it swing too far forward so it is lodged deep within my victim's brain and takes two hands and a leg to wrench it out and move on to the next screaming psychopath. And to stop it, we use tenuchi. Tenuchi describes the squeezing of the shinai handle to give you more control of your implement. You see, if I was to just swing a sword at you and your beady eyes staring at me, and didn't use tenuchi, my blade would probably bounce off your skull after cutting ever-so-slightly into it. Just a wee cut. But if I use tenuchi, that is, a tightening of the grip at the end of my stroke to take control of it, I would be able to pass through the barrier that is your skin and skull and hairline with absolute surety, and, well, there'd be a lot of blood and those beady eyes would be kinda dulled.

The other thing that single-handed men help with is getting the line right. Each stroke is mean to come straight down the centre of the body, not waving the shinai around like a proud Pole in Rome with his red-and-white flag. The left hand is the driver, the right hand steers. So the left hand is really like a brain-numbed Pole on a kielbasa production line 20 years ago, eternally repeating the same tasks, day in, day out. Raise, strike, return to kamae, raise, strike, return to kamae, raise, strike, return to kamae. While it's the right hand which gets to lark about, decide this cut should hit the do, the stomach armour, this one should hit from the right at a 45° angle, this one should take out my opponent's wrist, decide which stroke to play. All the while my poor old solid, reliable southpaw just keeps on truckin', raise, strike, return to kamae, raise, strike, return to kamae... And one-handed men sure makes you know what your left and right arms are doing, and how!

So with aching left arm, we launch stright ito something else to test us: that's one hundred double-time men-saburi. It doesn't sound so hard. All we have to do is step foward and swing ourselves a nice, centred men cut, and then step back while doing another. Fifty times. With our left arms pounding. And it's not so easy. Making sure every part of every stroke is as good as it can be, that your footwork is correct, your kiai is strong enough and you have a vague idea of where you are in the 100 cuts. And so we struggle through this, breath coming shorter. Ichi. Ni. San. Shi. Go. Rokku. Shichi. Hachi. Kyu. Jyu. Ichi. Ni. San. Shi. Go. Rokku. Shichi. Hachi. Kyu. Jyu. Ichi... and make it to the end! Hurrah! "How was that?" wer're asked, "hard?". Our response, in unison: "Hai!". "Excellent", he says, "One hundred more". Groan.

Ichi. Ni. San. Shi. Go. Rokku. Shichi. Hachi. Kyu. Jyu. Ichi. Ni. San. Shi. Go. Rokku. Shichi. Hachi. Kyu. Jyu. Ichi... Jeez this is getting tough. I'm losing concentration, my strokes are all over the shop like a mad woman's custard, I'm starting to think I might not be able to make it to 100 again. Exhausted. And then the kiai kicks in. "Kiai louder" he says, and as I do, like a revelation from the Lord, the clouds open, a shaft of light catches my eye and the Virgin Mary is there, smiling softly, just like at Fatima. Well, nothing like that at all really, no light, no madonna, and especially no revelations to pox-ridden children, but the louder I kiai, the easier it is to execute the stroke. And the better I seem to be doing it. Real mind-over-matter stuff.

So there are two things at work here, in the death of 100 cuts: the zen of repeating the same motion over and over again, focussing on it in the most minute detail, refining it, again and again; and the mind propelling the body forward, like those slight mothers who can lift the car their children are stuck beneath.

Monday, April 04, 2005

La Mala Educaçion

Go to see Pedro Almodovar's Bad Education.

Best, smartest, most rewarding flick I've seen in a while