Friday, March 07, 2008

Head banging on a wall

My reply to this nonsense below will something along the lines of: Thank you for the information, however, you have not answered the question I asked, that is why can't my local convenience store sell Metcards?

I have heard your spokesperson talk of 'consistency of supply', and 'viability of businesses'. If you are doubtful about the success of the new business, best you let me know and I will pass the bad news onto them before they pump any more money into the business.

The email went on and on with telling me everything I already know about Myki concluding with how I could make a formal complaint to the Transport Ombudsman. Please, I just want to buy a ticket for the tram.

Dear Mr Highriser

Thank you for your feedback regarding Metcard retail agents and the availability of tickets.

I have forwarded your concerns onto the Transport Ticketing Authority as they are implementing the Myki smartcard ticketing system and retail agent enquiries. For your information you can also purchase tickets online via our website at .

Full details have not yet been finalised for the new ticketing arrangements however it is envisaged that this system will be introduced early in 2008.

The basic arrangement will be for the Myki smart card you buy to be scanned as you enter and leave the public transport. The system will then calculate the best fare available to you for that journey and take the money ........

The housewifely duties

Today I washed down all skirting boards, vacuumed the tops of doors, architraves, edges of carpet along the skirting boards, pulled out furniture and vacuumed underneath.

The sweat was pouring off me, in spite of putting the air con on high, and along with a decent walk when R arrived home, I am feeling a bit stiff and my back is aching a bit because no one makes a long tube for vacuum cleaners, so tallish studs like me have to bend our backs too much.

The worst part of it, no one would notice any difference. Bah to housework. I want a cleaner. Perhaps Jah Teh may have some suggestion as to what he might look like?

Flooded Train

The train appears to be proceeding through the deep water with quite a lot of extra steam. I have sat on this photo for a while because I wanted to check that the hotel is still there but I so rarely go to that part of Chapel Street. I believe the hotel is still there and the location is Chapel Street near what is now the Jam Factory but it could be where the train goes under Toorak Road. Quite a crowd has gathered, which indicates it could be stalled. The date with the photo is January 1907

R tells me as a kid in the UK, he used to stand on a bridge over a railway line and disappear into steam (and probably soot too) as the Flying Scotsman went through his town.

Photo courtesy Public Record Office of Victoria.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

City Museum

I visited Melbourne's City Museum today. I was a bit disappointed. I have seen it all before. I know all about the gold rush, most stuff about early Melbourne. The early days caretaker rooms in the basement were were a bit interesting but clearly not authentic and a mish mash of periods.

I didn't realise in advance, but the newest temporary exhibit is two days away from opening, so I only had to pay $5 rather than $8.50.

A rather flouncy woman who looked awfully like Oz actor Kerry Armstrong greeted me and showed me the areas to head to in the building. She was a new version of the old Como House style guide. She spoke gorgeously, but her clothes and the way they fitted was weird. Hair and makeup were perfect if perhaps a bit heavy.

Downstairs were the vaults where gold used to be stored. Most of them had a video presentation about Melbourne. One interesting vault showed panorama photos of Melbourne in its early days where significant buildings were pointed out.

I started watching a vid upstairs about cable trams in Melbourne and quickly realised I have seen it already on Youtube. I suppose it was better to see on a bigger screen.

In circumstances like this, I look around for something interesting. I noted the windows in the caretaker's area looking outside. At one end of the central basement vault where most exhibits were closed, I saw in a dark and creepy room a light or ventilation shaft to the outside. It looked like a skinny kid could crawl in quite easily.

In summary, I think City Museum is pretty poor and it disturbed me that so many foreign visitors to Australia were paying to see it. Our big museum in Carlton is marvellous, as is Spotswood Science Museum, the Immigration Museum and the Police Museum. Even the State Library temporary exhibits are excellent.


Here we go. Down the road of homophobia, political correctness, appreciating differences, being sensitive to other people, welcoming others into our lives. I could go on .

I can stand up for myself if I need to. Mostly I prefer more subtlety. I don't come across overt homophobia much these days. The world has changed. There is plenty of subtle homophobia out there but it mostly goes over my head. I am nearly old. I did my bit earlier. I am tired and jaded now. Thank the lord, some of my age aren't. I will rise to the occasion if necessary, but I seldom see the need. Others are working hard on my behalf and I thank them and appreciate their efforts.

But there is something in the media that really get up my goat. That is the constant reinforcement that guy and girl is normal and nothing else is to be considered. There was a male streaker at the cricket yesterday. How many times did I hear, 'well, I don't really want to see it', or 'I'll avert my eyes', or 'pity it is not a chick'. Much joking over cricket commentator Richie Bernaud being unsure if it was a girl or a guy.

Other media people saying, when male nudity is mentioned, "I don't really want to think about that"or just "perish the thought", especially if it is an older male. Ha, if it is an older woman, they say nothing. They have at least learnt to shut their mouths in that case.

The Grand Prix is about to happen in Melbourne. This year for the first time we will have 'grid boys' for the ladies, as well as the usual 'grid girls'. Of course the gay media have given it some oxygen. I have no intention of attending the GP, but I will looking out for the grid guys in the media, or perhaps from the window.

Wait, it is grid boys for the ladies only.

I dont' say yuk when I see a naked female. I can even appreciate a female body. Just not my bent.

I know I am in the class of being a significant minority. I can wear that. But does it have to be constantly reinforced in my face?

It happens daily, in all media. It is constant, in life as I live it and in the unreal media. It grinds me down to a degree that being called a fucking poofter never has.

Just because you are straight, or gay for that matter, if a person is not of your gender choice, you don't have to make a bit deal about it. Sometimes the revulsion that straight males seem to have for male bodies makes me wonder.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


MG in Sydney stands for Mardi Gras, not Morris Garage or Motor Guzzi or whatever. I received an email from my Sydney friend with a quick summary of the MG party. I wish I had saved it, but here is as I recall but with my punctuation, rather than his lack of.

Newton John came on at 4am. I thought it was her mother coming on to introduce her. She sang some song called Sandoo (I think that would have been Xanadu my dear) from a crappy eighties movie, probably Grease or something like that. (I think my friend was being a little too disingenuous here).

They had no lasers in the main hall and it was a bore. Not going next year.

I would guess that his drugs didn't work very well, no one bought him drinks all night and he did not score.

Nice shack

I could do worse than live in this shack. The place looks a little odd because there is nothing either side of it. Doubt it will remain that way for long.

Right at the top between the two slim black vertical panels is a cascading water fall. The apartments face out to sea on Beaconsfield Parade.

"Now do we have an opening bid?" "One million Sir? Property buying is a serious matter Sir. No more jokes please".

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Wall

When we first moved to Balaclava in I think 1992 there was pretty well no where to buy a decent cup of coffee. There was a tacky little delicatessen where the coffee was ok, but the place really lacked any style. To anyone familiar with Balaclava now, that there wasn't anywhere to buy coffee may seem hard to believe.

Then The Wall arrived. It was so trendy, it did not even mention its name. I understand it was opened by the chaps who started Globe Bar in Chapel Street.

The Wall was an immediate success, and before blinking, the trendies were there, along with the post trendies like us. Now in almost gentrified Balaclava, you are more likely to see mothers with prams.

There are probably a dozen cafes along Carlisle Street now bit it all started with The Wall.

Ah, found a picture at The Wall website of how it used to look. I hate the way they have recently painted the outside wall.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Nice Boss

Arrived in our inbox last Friday. Must have been Sri Lanka playing Australia locally. That is a nice thing for a boss to do. None of us objected to such largess from the cleaning company boss to his lousily paid staff.

Hi all,
I received a call from XXXXXXXXXX last night asking if it was possible (as a one off thing) for his afternoon cleaner to start and finish earlier today (Friday) as they are taking all there guys to the cricket today. I indicated that there should not be a problem with this arrangement.
If any member has concerns with this arrangement please let me know a.s.a.p.
Have a good weekend.

Nerdier by the day or Das Trains

I am getting nerdier by the day. I ought to take some drugs, get drunk and go out for a dance and pick up. Can't be bothered. More fun to listen to the Great Train Show, a podcast downloadable from our ABC's local radio website.

It is presented by ex Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the National Party, Tim Fischer. His train knowledge is astonishing and far superior to his radio program presentation. Bit harsh, he just isn't a natural broadcaster, but regardless, I love the show and Tim is nothing if not likeable. It talks about local trains, overseas trains and lots of history of course. It is not a train spotters type of show, but much more general. And I love these podcasty thingies. I can listen whenever I want. Beats what I used to do, tape radio onto a cassette using an electronic timer.

In one episode I was particularly impressed by a steam train audio recording. It started with bird noises and you hear the train approaching. It was slowing as it encountered a steep hill and then you hear the wheels slip as it struggled up the hill and the engine working even slower. Marvellous.

To top and tail the show musically, the song Chattanooga Choo Choo is used. Not one of my favourite songs, but a worse one could have been chosen.

I knew nothing about Chattanooga Railway Station, but thanks to the radio program, I do now. It is not a functioning railway station any more, but a private hotel I seem to recall. And one person was right, the sign on top is horrid. Get rid of it. It spoils what is otherwise a fine building.

While we sometimes lament the loss of many railway lines, it must be nothing compared to the US.

UK Vocab

I am getting together a few words to use when we visit the UK. While I will be obviously Australian as soon as I open my mouth, I want to feel like I will fit in a little and use the local expressions.

I have on my list already,








Are there any more kind words I should ad to my vocabulary?

And I must learn to respond when meeting someone with 'orright', before the question is asked as to how I am. One just shakes hands and says orright. It is kinda nice.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A song in my head

I am not sure what brought this on but I have had a song in my head for a few days and I could not recall the words. The song is quite short and from a 1980 Canadian movie set in Amsterdam. I recall enjoying the movie very much but after a check on the net, the New York Times film critic hated it.

It was called The Lucky Star and about a Jewish boy in Amsterdam during the second world war. I am thinking I must have had it on video tape, but I did not keep it. Somehow though I transferred two of the music tracks from the movie to an audio cassette tape. I have no idea how I did that, but I did keep the cassette tape.

It was a pointed moment in my life. I suppose I was about 23 when I saw it, and along with the movie Cabaret, it started from then on an interest in WW2 from the Jewish angle, and a good appreciation of self deprecating Jewish style humour, racism and my interest in politics.

This was sang at a Jewish cabaret in Amsterdam as Hitler was in his ascendancy. It was funny but also poignant. It is almost a spoken song, sung in a noisy cabaret but with heavy booming accompanying music.

Life could we wonderful, in Amsterdam
Life could be beautiful, in Amsterdam.

When Moses led the Israelites, across the desert sands
He told them there was job for Jews, in the Netherlands
The job was diamond polishing, but what he didn't tell
Only twice a year they're out of work, but in two six monthly spells.

Life could be wonderful, in Amsterdam
Life could be beautiful, in Amsterdam.

If Missus Schicklegruber, Mr Schicklegruber's missus
Had one night said 'Nein, mein heir', to Schicklegruber's kisses
He might have fallen fast asleep, and Adolph, the crazy nut
Would have stayed where he belonged
In his father's you know what.

Then life would be wonderful, in Amsterdam
Life would be beautiful, in Amsterdam.

Anyone else out there weird enough to remember the movie?

That Razer Woman

I guess there are quite a lot of people who can't stand Helen Razer. I find her shrill voice oddly compelling. I am usually busy on Sunday with something or other, but as it was a working Sunday for me, I listened to her whole program.

It is not for me to out her and I don't believe she ever has herself but only a fool could not put two and two together. As well as writing for the gay press, never mentioning a bloke in her life, she also had an ever so brief time as program manager for our gay radio station Joy. Even as a member back then, I was not privy to why she only worked there for less than a week. Just another reason among many why I am no longer a member.

Her cred from being on Triple J for a long time is unquestioned. Yes, I am quite used to her and her idiosyncratic style now.

She told a tale today that almost had me in tears at work.

Her grandmother is in either a nursing home or hospice and rapidly approaching the end of her life. Ms Razer flew interstate and visited her recently. Ms Razer, (not sure why I feel compelled to call her Ms Razer) was her grandmother's favourite. But the grandmother's mind is ailing and she said to Helen (that's better) that she did not think Helen liked her much. Helen replied, with smile on her face, that's right, I don't like you much. Her grandmother said, well I don't like you either.

The grandmother then said, well we really don't have anything to say to each other anymore.

And they could well be the last words that Helen hears from her grandmother.

Gee I hope nothing like that happens with my mother. But come my turn in the hospice, I will be rude and nasty to everyone with relish, except for whoever is paying the bill and the staff.

The pics came from our ABC. One was clearly taken a while ago.