Friday, April 29, 2011


An Enigmatic Musical Genius, or a Grumpy Cunt? You Decide.

Just before Easter I went to see Bob Dylan at the Rod Laver Arena. I haven't been to an arena concert since Dire Straits in 1984. And quite an event it was. People were streaming through the heavy rain from all directions, bags were checked at the door and ushers with torches showed you the way to your seat. It was a far cry from the sticky carpet music venues I more often frequent, where barmen shove beers at you across a sodden beer mat and busboys push through dense crowds to collect discarded beer glasses, while some spotty kids skip around on stage belting out pretty much every song from their latest (and so far, only) album.

Dylan has been, in modern times (pardon the pun), much maligned when he plays live. There's always reviews pronouncing him too old, or too grumpy or that he can't sing. Sure, this is all true, but so what? Yes, he's the same age as my dad, but I don't see my dad rocking out on stage. And yes, he's kind of grumpy. But I think more than that, he's just Bob Dylan. He's not so much grumpy as an enigmatic musical genius who's always done things his own way. Sure you don't get exact replicas of his studio recordings. But if you want exact replicas of his studio recordings, you may as well sit in your loungeroom and listen to the studio recordings. No, he doesn't interact with the audience. But nobody ever said he's a great orator, a comic wit, or even particularly smart. I didn't go to hear him talk. He's a poetic rock and roller, and he was there to play his music.

Admittedly it was a trifle comical when he tried to hit few high notes. His voice has degraded to an enormous extent. I mean, he could never really sing in the first place, but that's not what he's all about. As Stephen Thomas Erlewine has said, Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. Seeing such a legend of modern music play Like a Rolling Stone, Ballad of a Thin Man, Highway 61, Desolation Row and Don't Think Twice it's Alright, was worth every cent of the $140 I paid for the worst seat in the house.

The cunt turns 70 on May 24. Give him a break.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A very uplifting PSF

"We're being nice to Germans now?!"

Don't let's be beastly to the Germans
When our victory is ultimately won,
It was just those nasty Nazis who persuaded them to fight
And their Beethoven and Bach are really far worse than their bite
Let's be meek to them
And turn the other cheek to them
And try to bring out their latent sense of fun.
Let's give them full air parity
And treat the rats with charity,
But don't let's be beastly to the Hun.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Books wot I have been reading

Archduke Franz-Joseph just fails to make his ground during the crucial Fourth Test in Melbourne.

Recently I’ve been reading two books that have given me tremendous satisfaction, so I thought I might share.

The Radetzky March by Austrian writer Joseph Roth is an account of the decline and decay of the Austro–Hungarian Empire as seen through the lives of the Trotta family while Out of the Running by cricket writer Gideon Haigh is an account of the decline and decay of the Australian test cricket team as seen through the life of Ricky Ponting.

Although at first blush, the two books seem widely dissimilar they have in common a number of themes.

One book is a masterly account of the slow decline of a once great power through a combination of inertia, excessive bureaucracy and greed, presided over by a paternal authority figure who is gradually losing his touch.

The other is a book about the Austro–Hungarian Empire*.

Taken together, they make an ideal gift for the loved one in your life who has an excessive interest in test cricket and Eastern Europe**.

* Boom, and dare I say, tish.

** True, this would probably rule out everybody in the English reading world apart from me and possibly Perseus, but that’s your problem.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Restaurant Review

This better not be mid-strength!

I've never done a restaurant review before. Partly because I don't really know enough about food to make an informed comment (although I do know what I like) but mainly because people who review restaurant are usually arseholes.

I eat out regularly, perhaps once a week, almost always within walking distance of my house (there are a plethora of places in my immediate vicinity - Windsor, Prahran, St Kilda) and almost always with the Missus and the Kid.

On Friday night perhaps we made the mistake of venturing too far from our immediate locale to a mid-priced Italian bistro. In short, we crossed Commercial Rd into the fashion (shithouse) end of Chapel St. The South Yarra end. The yuppy end. The tourist end. (My Windsor bias is showing).

I should've been warned off by the phone call I made to enquire about opening hours.

Me: Hi. What time are you open tonight?

Guy on Phone: Mate, we're open until 10.

Me: Yeah, but what time do you open?

Guy: Whaddya mean?

Me: I'm not sure how to phrase it any other way.


Me: Will you be open at 6?

Guy: Of course!

As if I was supposed to know.

Me: Should I book?

Guy: Nah.

Bad signs. But we went anyway.

We were the first to arrive - fair enough, it was only about 6.15. For some strange reason, they were playing techno house beats, loud. Sure it was Friday night in Chapel Street, but it was just past 6 and we were a family of three, clearly not about to head out to a club, drop Es and throw back shots of Sambuca. I would have preferred old style Italian music, even a live piano accordion player. Perhaps a hurdy gurdy and a monkey

I immediately ordered a Peroni, then took the kid to the toilet up greasy old rickety stairs which threatened to give way. Upon returning to the table something unacceptable had occurred. The waitress had brought me some sort of light or mid-strength beer which was also low-carb. It was labelled Peroni, sure, but was not real beer. It was some sort of Italian Pure Blonde (the very worst beer ever made). An abomination. I didn't complain. I never complain before the end of the meal for fear of the spit. The Missus, incidentally, had received the same thing.

Then I ordered penne and spicy meatballs. Instead of penne I received spaghetti. No big deal and the meal was pretty good and certainly spicy. The Missus ordered a medium rare porterhouse steak and received a well done porterhouse steak. Not a trace of pink to be seen. So much for chefs being precious about steak.

The Kid, fortunately, received his cappricciosa pizza and apple juice without incident.

So, in summary, of the 6 things ordered, 4 were wrong. The blame would lie partly with the waitress, partly with the chef and partly with the manager (for even stocking mid-strength, low carb beer in the first place).

Luckily the food tasted good and the staff very friendly. The place is called The Old Pepper. And I give it 5/10.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A grumpy PSF

"I wish you discomfort"

Think not, because I wonder where you fled,
That I would lift a pin to see you there;
You may, for me, be prowling anywhere,
So long as you show not your little head:
No dark and evil story of the dead
Would leave you less pernicious or less fair—
Not even Lilith, with her famous hair;
And Lilith was the devil, I have read.

I cannot hate you, for I loved you then.
The woods were golden then. There was a road
Through beeches; and I said their smooth feet showed
Like yours. Truth must have heard me from afar,
For I shall never have to learn again
That yours are cloven as no beech’s are.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cop that, young Harry!

I wish I could grow hair like that.

Can’t remember if I’ve posted this before, but it bears repeating and I’m bored – so here goes.

Two members of the Commonwealth Parliament in the early years of last century, Isaac Isaacs and George Reid hated each other with a passion, being from opposite sides of the political spectrum

One day, Reid noted Isaacs glaring at him from the opposite side of the Chamber.

Reid boomed out “It looks as though the honorable member for Indi [meaning Isaacs] would like to eat me.”

Isaacs shot back “The honorable member for East Sydney [Reid] has forgotten my religion.”

Certainly beats “moving forward”.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A useful cart PSF

what a fine ship it was, back then

They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese.
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.