Saturday, July 24, 2010

ABC News 24

A blog mate informed that Murdoch's Sky TV took our ABC to court to prevent ABC from using News 24, hence it ABC News 24. ABC's Melbourne resident morning broadcaster Jon Faine has almost been around long enough to be referred to as venerated. Almost. Your Sydney Morning Herald is a half decent newspaper. Both Faine and SMH have referred to the new ABC channel as News 24. While the ABC can't officially use News 24, it seems like Sky pissed a good bit of money up the wall as the people are naming the channel as they want.

My thoughts on the new channel, News 24, good, except....

What is this standing up presenter thing? Ridiculous. Ali Moore looks gorgeous on standard definition tv, when sitting at a desk. Not so in high definition and standing. How uncomfortable she and her grey haired co presenter looked. Please ABC, buy them a chair each. Speaking of the grey haired bloke, who is he? I know who most ABC people are, but who is he and where did he come from?

Well, that was just for the opening segment, I hope.

I have rescanned our pvr many times but ABC News 24 remains firmly rooted at ABC 20 and not 24. It is a moot point as it works fine. I rescanned R's bedroom pvr and it brought up 24 straight away. How odd.

The Plant

We haz Cyclamen. R received it as a gift for his birthday in March. After it stopped looking its best inside, we put it out on the balcony. I expected it would soon die. Instead, it has flowered better and better. The colder the weather gets, the better it likes it. I water it about once a fortnight.

A friend from the past asked me why do all gay men like lemon meringue pie? Perhaps the question as to why gay men seem like cyclamens arises too.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Sunday Stroll

Last Sunday we took a walk along Queensberry Street.

What is this thing called? MMTB, Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board. Maybe an electric substation, maybe an old cable tram engine/winding house. I don't think it is used for either purpose now. Probably apartments.

State Primary School number 2365, year 188? I don't think it is now a school. Probably apartments.

An interesting bit of modern architecture in the background. Probably apartments.

Quite a conventional University of Melbourne building, but more interesting modern architecture next to it. Probably apartments.

How useful it was in London and Paris to have street names on buildings. You knew exactly where to look. There are still some remaining buildings within the Melbourne environs that have street names on them, with useful information such as street numbers. An old pub, not apartments per se, but backpacker accommodation.

This rather hit us in the eye. It is on the site of what was Carlton and United Breweries, a bomb site for more than a decade. I think it is the recently completed very energy efficient office building built by the shy and retiring developer company Grollo. But I could be wrong. Perhaps it is apartments.

We were standing at the tram stop to go back into town and R pointed at this tyre service company. Do you recall what it was, R asked me. I thought for a minute and I did remember, although it took two days for the name to come to me. R could not remember the name. If you are gay or maybe not even if you are gay, and were around in 1980, do you know what it was and what is was called? Corner of Queensberry and Swanston Streets, Carlton. I don't think googlies will help you. I only found two links and both referred to a person who worked there and who had died.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Just shaking my head

What is wrong with this country? Why can't we build anything properly? I have been noticing of late where newly constructed roads start to fail within a year or so. It is the heavy trucks that do the damage so shouldn't the roads be designed and constructed to cope with heavy trucks? How hard can it be to construct a road that lasts longer than a year before it starts breaking up? I refer VicRoads to the book titled Roman Roads #101.

Then we hear VicRoads has raised the ire of local residents in rural Victoria by turning a four lane road into a two laned road supposedly to make the road safer. Although the roadworks are almost complete, the locals say the road is now less safe and have successfully lobbied VicRoads to stop work and reconsider.

You would think that trains running on steel tracks would fare better? No, they don't. As if the train service from Melbourne to Sydney is not pathetically slow enough. I despair. From The Age:

New $500m railway line 'unsafe'

July 22, 2010
LARGE sections of the newly upgraded Melbourne-Albury rail line have been declared unsafe, forcing trains to slow down and prompting claims that the $500 million project has been bungled.
The train drivers union says speed restrictions have had to be enforced along 58 kilometres of the line where hundreds of large, mud-filled potholes have formed under the newly installed sleepers and rails.
The union says the holes under the tracks have caused carriages to separate and train drivers to almost bounce out of their seats. And it says resulting speed restrictions are adding an hour to the supposedly high-speed Melbourne-Sydney XPT passenger service.

Speaking of The Age, maybe my very annoyed state that drove me to email The Age last week was the straw that broke the camels back. Story after story online had a video which would automatically play unless you stopped it. Very occasionally will I watch a newspaper video. It should be my choice whether I expend bandwith on a video, never mind that I do not want noise suddenly booming out of the speakers. Fingers crossed, but this morning none of the videos have auto played and I don't recall any doing so yesterday.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Digital Tv

I was recently very surprised to hear that you need a high definition digital tv to view high definition digital tv broadcasts. Just call me dumb. Both our digital tvs and pvrs have been HD, so I just assumed that if you didn't have HD and only standard definition, that the channel would still work, just not with the same quality picture. I was wrong.

With our old crt non digital television we once tried a digital set top box. I couldn't get it to work properly and we took it back to the store. I have since learnt they we should have paid more and bought a decent one. But it would have been standard definition and I wonder how many standard definition digital tvs and set top boxes are out there? Not too many I would hope as I understand ABC's new News 24 will be broadcast only in HD and so if you don't have an HD set or HD digibox, then you won't receive it at all. This seems very unfair to viewers who don't have HD, but perhaps there are not very many of them.

As for the merits of HD, well, SD broadcasts on our present tv are vastly superior to HD broadcasts on our three yearold HD tv, so I am not too fussed about HD. It seems to more to do with the quality of the tv and the rapidly advancing standards.

Regardless, good luck to ABC News 24. It debuts tomorrow night, Thursday on channel 24. I wonder how it will be abbreviated? 24? News 24?

We don't watch a lot of the alternative digital tv stations, but at times we come across some gems, well R does as he is inclined to lie in bed and channel hop, something neither of us ever dare do when we are both watching tv.

Although it was later on ABC1, the wonderful Beautiful People was first shown on ABC2. Skins was very earthy and entertaining.

At the moment we never miss The Street, among the finest tv drama I have ever seen.Catch it Tuesday night, ABC2. It is gritty and you will feel their pain.

While I don't watch daytime tv, I do at times watch recorded tv during the day. I switched off something I had just finished watching to see the end credits rolling for The Lucy Show. I used to love it as I did Green Acres, but they are shows best not revisited. I watched Lucy the following day and maybe it was just a crook episode, but it did not hold up well, and I expect it had been butchered to pieces as it only ran for twenty two minutes, including ads.

The extra commercial channels offer little that appeals, except one quite funny show on 99 called The Inbetweeners, essentially about a group of four boys who are always trying to get laid. The characters are just so strong and well developed that the light subject matter does not matter. Give it a shot. You won't believe what they get up to at times.

Have you found any little gems on the extra channels that you can direct me to?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Did I just hear right?

Ten, twenty thirty forty fifty or more, the *beep* Red Barron, was rolling up the score.

Yes, when I was very very young, in the song called Red Baron, we were not allowed to hear the word bloody on the radio and it was beeped out.

The first time I heard the word fuck on tv was in a very grim play about Australian Aborigines in an urban setting, which would have been in the 1980s.

The venerable radio broadcaster, author and photography expert Terry Lane was the first person I heard say fuck on radio, possibly the early nineties.

I don't mind the word used in context, as it was on the occasions I mentioned. Thankfully it never caught on as everyday language on tv or radio. I maintain that swear words are for when something bad happens. By using them in everyday speech, they are devalued and leave you no where to go except repetition.

In a internet list I am a member of, some occasions were recently recounted where sometimes accidental and sometimes deliberate double entendres or swearing went to air. So although I am writing this, most of the information comes from others.

I expect many of you know about the late Graham Kennedy's crow call. If you think a crow makes a noise like aaarrrrk, you can work it from there if you still don't know, add an f.

Attributed to one Paul Konik, he was suspended from the radio air waves for saying shit.

In Sydney Ward Austin advertised Honda motor cycles with the phrase, 'hot and throbbing between your legs', or another variation heard, 'what is red and throbs between your legs?' A Post Office motorbike of course.

Sydney's 2JJ's first broadcast was marred by the announcer knocking the stylus arm across the record, the record being Skyhooks, 'You just like me cpz I'm good in bed'. He apologised and confessed that he had 'fucked it up'.

An ever so proper ABC 2BL news reader read his last broadcast with, 'This afternoon a woman in the North Shore suburb of Wahroonga was bitten on the funnel by a finger web spider'. If it wasn't his last day, I would believe it was an accident.

But my favourite has to be radio broadcaster Lionel York advertising Leggo's tomato paste, "so girls, when hubby comes home from work, open up the Leggo's'.

Thankfully society has moved on from such juvenile nonsense, hasn't it kiddies?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Japanese Politeness

You may have seen fun being made of Japanese people and the way they bow. I thought it was something of an exaggeration. It is not. I don't pretend to know anything about Japan's class system and who rates a higher or lower bow, but bow the people do.

My first example was just after we arrived and we were travelling on the Keisei Limited Express train to Ueno. A middle aged couple boarded the train after saying goodbye to a friend or relative still on the platform. There were low bows which lessened until they were just token bows but also with much friendliness, smiling and waves as the train left.

Will we be expected to do this? Not bloody likely. Japanese don't expect foreigners to know their social etiquettes, which is just as well.

But throughout Japan, young and old, they bow but perhaps it is lessening in younger people, possibly saved for more formal situations. I found myself just nodding in response to a bow.

We wanted to take a look around a department store in Ueno, but it wasn't quite open. A older managerial type was polishing the glass front doors. I knew and R knew what was going to happen. Sure enough, on the dot of ten the store opened and the first dozen or so customers who were waiting outside received the deepest deepest bows from the manager and the staff assembled behind. We thought it was quite embarrassing and hung back. The manager disappeared and we thought it was safe to enter but lo, there he was inside the store bowing away to us. I don't know why I get caught up in these foreign habits. I should have just said good morning and nodded but instead I followed everyone else's example and ignored him. I don't think shop staff rank very highly in the bowing stakes.

Bowing or not, the Japanese are very very polite, to foreigners and among themselves. They will take no end of trouble to help you if you ask, but they don't force themselves onto you.

Tokyo is not a noisy city as big cities go, because there is very little blowing of car horns. I think I heard car horns three times in Japan, and twice they were directed at me or caused by us. Once a bus wanted to park and I was in the way and the other time was the sight of a tall pair of fair haired male foreigners in Hirosaki caused a taxi driver to not notice the traffic light had turned green and after a decent pause, the car behind him gave him a toot. We tried not to laugh.

Yes, in Hirosaki (pop 180,000) and its surrounds, we did get stared at, especially by children. Adults would quickly look away if we caught them staring. Not so children. One poor toddler in the wrong side of the tracks department store ran to embrace his father's protective legs when he spied us. V, being dark haired and shorter, does not quite stand out as much as we do. I recall one woman really staring at us. It turned out that she knew V. Many local people in Hirosaki seemed to know V and it seems it gives them some kudos to be know and say hi to the resident foreigner or perhaps I am being too cynical. Well, they could actually like her.

Which brings me to hai. Essentially it is used as yes but also is a reaffirming word to add in conversation, much as would would keep saying yes to indicate we were understanding what someone was telling us. I am known to use the Scottish/Northern England aye at times instead of saying yes. I started using it when the first lot of R's relatives visited us from England and it is a hard habit to break. I don't do it all the time, mainly when R is around. It is a wonderful word for the lazy. Barely any muscles are moved to make the sound compared to saying yes. So for me to jump to saying hai was not hard. Hai is quite a crisp word compared to the lazy aye. I think I have stopped saying hai now after being back for a couple of weeks, but it was close to the fore for quite a few days.

The last cultural point I will mention is the dreaded shoes off thing. Now, I am not inexperienced in this. If I visit an Asian person's place, I note if there are shoes at the doors. If I have thought in advance, I will not have shoes with laces, but I rarely do think in advance of this. Even if the host insists not to bother removing my shoes, if they have or I see others have, I do.

But I never fully understood the proper way to do it. You take your shoes off and step straight onto the shoes off area in your socks or barefeet or whatever. You do not sully your socked feet by stepping onto the shoes on area. Your shoes should be arranged so that you can step into them straight from the shoes off area, and in my case flatten the heels until I stagger to a seat to tie my laces.

Our apartment building targeted Asian buyers when it was built, hence we have a space to remove our shoes. We don't.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Unwell Nixons

Last week I was half listening to the radio news and I heard Nixon collapsed and had been taken to hospital. I forgot to listen properly to the next hourly news and again I heard Nixon had been taken to hospital. I assumed it was Christine Nixon but it wasn't. It was a football manager, Ricky Nixon. I only know of him because he crashed into a stationary tram a while back after he had been drinking, and he then bolted from the scene.

But him up on high seems to have it for Nixons. Just a few days later ex police commissioner and as of yesterday ex head of the Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority, Christine Nixon WAS carted off to hospital.

Just weird.

Section 8 Psychics

While Section 8 is a bit off the wall, I read the sign seriously at first and thought it an odd place for them to meet, and then I broke up laughing. The blackboard sign at Section 8 announced to passers-by, Psychics meeting postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. An oldie yes, but a good one.

Little Jo's Birthday

Ah, just got the developed photos back from the chemist. :-P

Sister adapted whatever these were into little cars

Little Jo loves penguins and wanted a penguin cake. Sister obliged. It had melted a little.

Someone's idiot Tradie Brother showed Little Jo how to release balloons into the air and watch them drift away. She wanted to send them all. No, I want to play with some myself tomorrow. Sadly they all went down overnight.

Life goes on

Wow, it is over two weeks since we returned from Japan. I had the following week off work, as some chill time and it allowed me to find the time to write about Japan.

The weekend before this one just passed was very busy. Friday we caught up with our dyke friends for dinner, as I posted at the time and Saturday night we went for dinner with our brother friends and the NT ex politician and his partner. His partner's special friend turned up with his partner and dined at a separate table. They did come over and speak to us, but dagger like stares were the order of the evening. Apart from that, it was a bit flat.

Now the big day, Sunday, where we were to host Little Jo's birthday, was quite complicated but fortunately simplified itself. Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo were to come here and then go to the football. Sister's team lost by three points, so perhaps is was well that the day altered and we did not end up seeing her.

Then they were to go for dinner with Bone Doctor's parents who had just arrived back from an overseas holiday, then come back here to sleep and the next day have a family party for Little Jo's birthday. But Bone Doctor's parents were too tired for Little Jo's energy and the weather was lousy, so Sister just caught the train up, went to the football and then back home on the train, so it made things all a bit easier.

Sunday morning R and I collected the helium balloons we had ordered and all arrived early afternoon and a grand party it was. Of course Little Jo received many presents, like she needs them, but nothing outrageously expensive. We had spent an hour and half choosing something and ended up buying a box of bits and pieces associated with the movie Toy Story 3. They seemed to amuse and interest her so it was $20 well spent.

Long term readers, can you believe that Little Jo is three years old? Look back at the day she was born and our first sight of her. Although I doubt step father approved of girl on girl action, or my boy on boy for that matter, how he loved Little Jo. Sister has plenty of photos and videos of them together, an especially poignant video of Step Father and Little Jo walking hand in hand after he had showed her the pretty birdies, his budgerigars.