Thursday, October 30, 2014

Words Fail Me

Wondering what to post tonight after arriving home from a dinner engagement, I was happily surprised to find an email in my inbox from Byter Paul Y that was ideal - a collection of photos that quite aptly is called Words Fail Me. It could also have been called WTF?? or There But For The Grace of God. . .

Thanks Paul.

Here they are:

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shel Silverstein

From "Where the Sidewalk Ends", by Shel Silverstein

Sheldon “Shel” Silverstein (1930-1999) was an American poet, singer-songwriter, cartoonist, screenwriter and author of children’s books.

Born into a Jewish family in Chicago, he was drafted into the US Army in 1953, serving in Japan and Korea. His wife Susan died in 1975, his daughter Shoshanna died in 1982 at age 11 of a cerebral aneurysm. After remarrying, he and his wife Sarah had a son, born in 1984. 

Drawing and writing from age 7, he developed his own style early in that he did not have access to other writers and cartoonists. In 1957, Silverstein became one of the leading cartoonists in Playboy, which sent him around the world to create an illustrated travel journal with reports from far-flung locales. During the 1950s and 1960s, he produced 23 instalments called "Shel Silverstein Visits..." as a feature for Playboy. Apart from children’s books, poems and stories, Silverstein also wrote for adults and had a number of hits as a songwriter, including A Boy Named Sue, One’s on the Way, Cover of the Rolling Stone and Sylvia’s Mother. Silverstein died in 1999, aged 68, of a heart attack.

Some more Shel Silverstein:

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gough has left the building

Former Australian Prime Minister Edward Gough Whitlam died on 21 October 2014 aged 98 years.

Back in 2006 I was at a function where I was privileged to sit at the same table as The Great Man (despite what my father in law thinks).  He would have been 90 then.

Most people recall that in 1975 the Governor General Sir John Kerr, as the representative of the Queen in Australia, controversially dismissed Whitlam and his government. Opposition leader Malcolm Fraser had blocked Supply, that is, denied the government money in the belief that Whitlam would dissolve Parliament and call en election. Whitlam did no such thing, knowing that they would be trounced in an election. He decided to tough it but Kerr took that option away.

At the luncheon I asked Mr Whitlam whether he recalled a Rigby cartoon in Sydney’s Daily Mirror. Following the dismissal and the resounding loss at the subsequent election, Whitlam travelled to England where he had an audience with Queen Elizabeth 11. There was much conjecture as to what he would say to the Queen about the Dismissal, whether he would use the occasion for a broadside and whether he would embarrass the nation. As it turned out, there was little discussion about it with Her Maj, as I recall.

I reminded Mr Whitlam that Paul Rigby, in his cartoon, had shown Mr Whitlam sitting on a foot stool in front of the Queen, who was sitting on her throne in Buckingham Palace. She was much higher than him and she was next to the Duke of Edinburgh. The cartoon showed Her Majesty asking Phillip behind her hand “What does getting the rough end of the pineapple mean?”

Mr Whitlam laughed so much at the remembrance of it that he had to wipe away laughter tears, stating in that distinctive voice of his “Yes, I had quite forgotten that.”

Here are some of the pics I took at that lunch. I sent them to him and he personally telephoned me to thank me for them, even dialing my number himself.

With Rale Rasic, also an honoured guest at the function.
Rasic, as coach, took the Australian team to its first World Cup in 1974.

Rale Rasic and Gough Whitlam with a photo of their younger selves back in 1974.

Rest in peace, comrade.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Miscellany: Some Odds, Ends and Personals

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Email from Arthur, commenting on the story of the dead grandmother’s phone responding to text messages:

“As much as I like texting I hope they don’t put my mobile in the coffin when they bury me.”

Arthur, then how about a coffin that looks like a phone:

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Email from David:

I must take issue with your statement that "Australia is the only country that is also a continent." Most geographers recognize the continent of Oceania which includes Australia, New Zealand, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia:

And, whist not a racehorse name, I must mention that in my sailing days a rather reserved young lady used to sail a dinghy called Shy Tot.


A week earlier I posted a trivia item that continent names started and ended with the same letter, but that that depended on which classification of continents you adopted:

We now add Oceania to that.

As someone who was taught that a continent is a landmass, I still have trouble getting my head around a concept that a continent includes a whole lot of "nesias".  But then again, we were also taught that Pluto was a planet, that date was BC or AD and that getting brown in the sun was good for you.  As George Burns once also said, I remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.

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An email from Graham in respect of the post on racehorse names:

Hi Mr O,

Saw this and thought of you !


Mr G 

Is 'Piston Broke' too rude for the racetrack? The racehorse names approved and banned by authorities

Graham’s link lists some of the names banned and some that were approved.

Hoof Hearted
Youfor Kenstar
Woftam (For those unaware, this is an acronym for “Waste of Fucking Time and Money”).
Wear the Fox Hat
Sofa King
Torque’s Hit
Piston Broke
Far Canal
Far King
Bluey Tsarsoff
Anzac Parade
Fair King
Dilligaff (Acronym for Does it look like I give a flying fuck?”)
Pistol Knight
Debbie Does Gallop
Linda Love Race
Irish Wrist Watch (Banned because it is a tongue twister that would have driven the announcers nuts).

Wind in the Pillows
Web of Love
Pushycat (From Top Echelon, out of Purr and Pounce)
The Eire We Breed (From Eire, out of Sandy Princess)
Polka Dot Bikini
Fraady Mercury
Lonesome Tonight (From Elvstroem, out of Dateless)
In the Mattress (From Secret savings, out of Al Mamzar)
Ima Nigh Source
Best I Can Get
Hughes My Daddy (From Henny Hughes, out of We’ll See)
Bank on Henry ( From Henry The Navigator, out of Shannon Bank)

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Sunday, October 26, 2014


If you go down to the Quay today, you’re in for a big surprise . . . cos today is the last day of the fourth Urban Chalk Art Festival in Sydney. There are a lot of Festival activities including numerous chalk art works on the footpaths and bitumen, but the main feature is a giant chalk mural on the forecourt of Customs House. The mural has been created over the last week and you can now have your photo taken with it or on it.

The mural is called Wasting Time and is the biggest 3D artwork created in Australia. It is a collaboration between two celebrated chalk artists:

· Melbourne-based Jenny McCracken, who began her 3D career 25 years ago, starting with a small piece on a pavement near St James Station in Sydney. The response from the public was so enthusiastic she was hooked, and now travels the world creating her award-winning, ephemeral works. 

· Netherlands born and based Leon Keer, who was making a living out of creating large-scale commercial murals, mainly using acrylic paint, when he came across anamorphic street art. Since picking up chalk in 2008, his fame has spread, via the internet and social media, for his inventive designs including some extraordinary work for Legoland in Germany. 

Some comments:

· A team of eight artists, including McCracken and Keer, have worked on the mural.

· A special sealer was put down first to make it easier to apply the chalk and to remove it later. 

· The design was sketched on in charcoal, then the chalk applied in liquid form.

· The festival began in 2005 decorating the Pyrmont Bridge.

· Previous editions of the Chalk Urban Art Festival have been held on Pyrmont Bridge, at Darling Harbour and in Parramatta. 

Some images:

Some of the other chalk art

Starting the big one

Some other Jenny McCracken works:

To obtain this effect with perspective, it must be created as ...

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