Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our life is short to be so long, our minds are weak to be so strong, alone together we come and go, but where we’re goin’ I don’t know (Edgar Winter Group)

Gary Speed's death was the low point of last week by far.

By all accounts Gary was one of life's good guys. A talented footballer in his day, a real leader on the field, and a committed family man off it. After retiring from playing he inevitably became the coach/manager of Wales.

He took his own life this week. There were no suspicious circumstances.

The huge tragedy is that all seemed well in his world. He was a successful coach who always appeared to be very positive about things.

Why then would he resort to such a selfish act and leave his wife and two adolescent sons behind?

No one seems to know. One of my Arabic teachers at school who has no English asked me (via a translator) why this had happened.

I couldn't think of any reason to explain it for him, nor can I now.

Thing is - no one else seems to have a clue either which is really strange.

Clearly he had reached a point in his life that he couldn't go on and, it seems, he had internalised everything. There were no outward signs of depression or despair. His close friends were genuinely shocked.

The speculation will continue but the only thing that is conclusive is that his death is a tragic waste of endeavour and talent. At only 42 years of age he had plenty of time to change course and repair whatever was afflicting him so badly. What he ultimately lacked was the desire to do so.

Unlike the character Siddhartha, in Hermann Hesse's novel, Gary was seemingly unable to look into the river and at the last possible moment get a glimpse of hope and reawaken his slumbering soul.

If he had - the awareness of his situation would have become apparent. Gary would then have remembered all that he had forgotten, all that was divine. And he would still be with us.

My thoughts this week have been with his wife and two sons who have to live the rest of their lives without their father. I know how tough that is.

Love and peace Gary - Wozza

Dance with waves (Anouar Brahem)

Enjoy this awesome time lapse glimpse at the UAE via some jaw dropping photography, forwarded to me by Gavin, our ICT whizz at Ali bin Abi Taleb School.

It includes views from Jabeel Hafeet and a few other Al Ain shots mixed in with iconic areas of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and elsewhere in the UAE.

If you want to watch it in HD here is the link:
The HD version takes a bit to load but it repays the effort.

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, November 27, 2011

May your smile shine on (Oasis)

Dad loved gadgets and he especially loved cameras.

I was very lucky, because, apart from my very first camera (a Kodak Instamatic), my dad always passed his old camera on to me when he bought a new one.
And, as he was a classic Early Adopter and a world class gadget lover, that was pretty regularly and so quite a few cameras came my way.
In my teenage years they were Asahi Pentax 35mm cameras and by the end of his life they had become FujiFilm digital cameras.
Last year in Doha I bought my second camera ever – a Canon 1000D. It’s not a state of the art Canon but it’s a great entry level digital camera. Not only that but it’s a beautiful looking camera, and a dream to use. Consequently it takes great pictures.
There wasn’t any great tortured selection process ( a là my Jovial watch and the RayBans sunglasses). It was on sale for a ridiculous price (with a zoom lens, case, data cards thrown into the deal) and I did some shallow online research on it before buying it.
Sadly, today, I have had to retire the last camera my dad gave me. It was a largish mini camera if you know what I mean. I’d been using it at school for some time but it’s developed some nasty imperfections so it was time for a new mini camera - my third camera.
Again there were no protracted selection issues – a new shop in the Al Ain mall has a fantastic display of electronic goods. I wanted (and got) a Canon power shot camera made in Japan (rather than elsewhere in Asia). I also got some extras thrown in – data card, case and free phone!
It’s a beautiful grape/purplish colour and so easy to use. It has such a sleek design and a huge zoom on such a little camera.
I love it and I’m sure dad would approve!

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. Happy birthday to Jade for the 28th. I wish I could be in Nu Zild right now to take your picture with my new camera. Maybe you could bring back the bob to celebrate the 20th revolution around the sun?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Just because I'm losing, doesn't mean I'm lost (Coldplay)

I got bored in a meeting recently and started making a list in my head of things with a 'lost' theme. One thought tumbled into another and pretty soon I had a head full of LOSTNESS, it helped that it was a very looooooong boring meeting.

I had so much in my head that I had to write it all down later (it filled a page).

Before I outline what was in said head you probably need to get yourself a coffee, then take the phone off the hook and get comfy – this’ll take me a while to explain I suspect.

I started with books on a 'lost' theme but pretty quickly I had roamed all over the cultural landscape - over films, under music, and through TV shows. Along the journey my thinking had morphed into 'lost' record albums and about being in a state of 'lostness'.

Here’s an example of my twisted thought process.

I started, fairly predictably and naturally, with Robinson Crusoe (by Daniel Defoe, published in 1719). Mainly cos it’s in the front of my brain – I downloaded it onto my ipad and have been reading it off and on for the last few months.

It is an archetypal castaway/shipwreck plot which has fed loads of other 'lost' storylines. I’m pretty sure it was the first such realistic adventure book with this plotline. The Tom Hanks film Castaway is a modern rendering.

From there I leapt to Swiss Family Robinson and detoured to Lost In Space’s Robinson family before getting to Gulliver’s Travels.

Lost In Space reminded me of the Albert Brooks film Lost In America which, by being an update of Easy Rider reminded me of the great tagline to the film. What was it again? Something like, ‘They went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere’. From there it was a natural leap into Paul Simon’s song America’And we walked off to look for America’. That also reminded me of the key line later in the song:

Cathy, I'm lost, I said, though I knew she was sleeping
I'm empty and I'm aching and I don't know why
Countin' the cars on the New Jersey turnpike
They've all come to look for America, all come to look for America

When I got to this bit a light suddenly went on in my brain.

Lost isn’t just the Beatles in Yellow Submarine getting lost in Pepperland. Lost isn’t just a castaway on an island lost from civilization. Lost isn’t just about discovering lost worlds a la Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost Continent  or Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At The Earth’s Core. Lost isn’t just people trying to get away from civilization and looking for a mythical Avalon. Lost isn’t just about seekers trying to answer Allen Ginsberg’s great question - America when will you be angelic?

Lost is all these external things and more. Lost is also about all the internal things – Paul Simon’s feeling of being lost and not being heard. The existential lost world inside us which drives so much great literature and cultural pointers like the TV show…Lost.

Told you my brain was twisted.

Allen Ginsberg from his poem America again:
It occurs to me that I am America. I am talking to myself again.
The next bit of thinking was my most interesting discovery of all: WHAT IF every theme in songs, TV shows, films, literature…EVERY theme…could be traced back in some way to the theme of loss?

Whether it be an external loss – Paradise lost, loss of life, loss of something tangible/physical, lost relationships…
Or an internal loss - Loss of innocence, loss of life and subsequent grief, feelings of alienation or abandonment, loss of direction in life, lack of understanding…
Or an abstract loss – the whole balance of gains and losses (can’t be one without the other), financial loss, lost in translation, when meaning is lost…
Suddenly I felt a bit like Phaedrus in Robert Pirsig’s amazing book Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In a moment of mad clarity I had glimpsed the universe. But was it true or had I just lost my mind?
I needed to test out this what if thesis on some random texts.
First some books (obviously this is restricted to ones I’ve actually read). I went to the Guardian’s list of the books I should read as a random source (wooah there were a lot of books in the list I’ve not read!). Here’s the first three I’d read:

Don Quixote (Cervantes) – bags of mental loss starting with a loss of perspective and geographical displacement (anyone working in education in the sandpit will identity strongly). The Don is a few mangoes short of a chutney, i.e., he’s lost!
High Fidelity (Hornby) – Lost loves and lost records!
Catch 22 (Heller) – Sanity has goneburger and the world is lost!
Okay – so that’s all literature…tick!

Next - some random films from imbd’s ‘films to see before you die’ list.

Fight Club – lost masculinity and lost teeth.
American Beauty – Lester in a mid life crisis is mourning his lost youth.
Road To Perdition – about a hit man and his loss of humanity and his lost relationship with his son.
Okay – so that’s all films ever made…tick!

Music might be tougher though. I’ll need to do three random songs for this exercise.
Some reductions are required first though. It think it’s a given that every love song ever written will conform to Wozza’s Lost thesis ©. It’s either lost love, or the love that never was, or unrequited love, or she-done-me-wrong love or some other twist that always involves human relationships. And those we can trace all the way back to Paradise Lost. So that’s love songs done and dusted.
So I’ll take a random three non-love songs from the Guardian list (set out thematically bless ‘em):
It’s My Life The Animals – lost opportunities and the way Eric Burden sings, ‘No regrets’ you know he’s lying.
Space Oddity  David Bowie – severe dislocation and alienation for the poor geezer floating in his tin can high above the world. He’s very literally and metaphorically lost in space!
Penny Lane The Beatles – beautiful nostalgia from Macca and all nostalgia involves a sense of loss.
Okay – music…tick!

Finally - Television shows. Here’s the last three series we’ve watched:
Grey’s Anatomy – a whole heap of lost souls swimming in a fish bowl year after year.
Bones – lost lives, lost hopes and dreams.
Hustle – a bunch of Robin Hoods stealing from damaged people who have been making their vapid way in the world.
I think the Wozza ‘Lost’ thesis © holds up but I invite you to send me your challenges. I bet I can find an angle!

So there you have it - I'll leave you with this great still from The Graduate. Two people, embarking on a mystery ride, lost in thought having just read this post and wondering what the heckfire Wozza was on about.

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm lost in the ozone again (Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen)

God bless the invention of the DVD box set.

It is so great not to be at the mercy of TV schedulers. Box sets mean that you can watch a TV show whenever you want to and without lots of pesky advertising wrecking the internal flow.

Watching a TV show on a TV network means a certain level of obsequious organisation on the viewer's part - being slavishly available at the same time each week and then waiting another week for the next episode. There's a power imbalance there. This often creates a dire situation for SWBO and me. If we miss an episode the continuity is... lost.

Which is why we never watched 24 on TV - every episode always ended with an impossible cliffhanger and we couldn't wait to see what happened next.

Living in the UAE has meant a steady succession of box sets to fit in with our restless and impatient lifestyle (Jacky's horse riding, our walks in the evening, live Arsenal games, books to read, long baths to take, you know the drill).

We have finished a couple of sets lately - Bones Season 6 was poor poor poor. Only a few episodes were up to their earlier standard. It truely was their Pam's Dream season.

Hustle Season 1 from the BBC got better and better along the way and in the end was more than just okay. There were only 6 episodes but they were well written and kept our attention (something Bones couldn't manage).

When we come to the end of a set we always cast around for the next thing to watch.

I put a J J Abrams TED talks address on the Baggy Trousers blog a while ago. It piqued my interest in the TV series Lost big time. J J directed the first episode and wrote it with others and is a hot shot producer as well.

In case you missed it on Baggy - here it is on Wozza's Place.

I hope you watched it all the way through - he's a cool dude and he had me at Grandfather! I know it's quite long but don't cheat yourself by glossing over it.

Based on this we have embarked on  Season One of Lost. It's a show that my daughters loved watching in the middle of the noughties but I lost track of the plot and characters pretty quickly and then gave up.

I must admit that I wasn't even that impressed with the early episodes when I watched them in 2005 but I guess this is coloured heavily by the fact that a plane crash is the central plot device and I'm a nervous flyer.

I am trying to stay with it this time but it didn't help that episode two had recurring, heart stopping, flashbacks of the crash, the famous polar bear scene and various severly injured people (amputations, impailments) that just need some panadol and they'll be fine!

J J's talk has definitely opened me up to stay with the series at least throughout Season One and there are only five others if this one hooks me. SWMBO seems to be hooked already!

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Listen to the tales and romanticize (Tool)

The title quote for this post is from Tool's 10,000 Days album and song (a great prog metal album by the way). I'm using it because the blog has passed 10,000 pageviews since I started in 2008 (see the counter down the right column). My brain makes these seemingly random connections all the time.

Thank you if you're a casual pageviewer or a regular reader.

10,000 sounds like a lot of views. Originally (when I started the blog in 2008) the audience I wrote for and my whanau emailing list was restricted to just the immediate family. The whanau has kept growing since then and I know there are people throughout the blogosphere I've never met who regularly tune in to see what Wozza is up to.

Reality check time.

10,000 hours is the magic number that Malcolm Gladwell highlights as the amount of hours needed to become an expert; the difference between success and non-success, genius and mediocrity.

According to Malcolm Gladwell's thesis: anyone from the Beatles (in Hamburg playing marathon sets) to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (tinkering away on their computers) who has succeeded has done so on the back of at least 10,000 hours of practice. Plus, obviously, some intelligence and talent. 

How many hours have I put into my three blogs since 2008? Nowhere near 10,000 hours.

I've done 313 posts on Wozza's Place (the one with 10,000 pageviews), 148 posts on my music blog and 111 posts on Baggy Trewsers. I would conservatively say that on average I spend about 3 hours on each post before I publish. I also start quite a few posts and forget about them or ditch them.

If my maths is correct that makes a grand total of about 1,700 hours. A looong way to go. I'm still a blogging novice.

When I compare that to teaching it puts the 1,700 hours into glaring contrast.

I've been a teacher since 1983 (with one year off in my first year of being a Principal and the last two years of being an educational consultant). That makes 26 years of teacher contact with students. I've taught for about 4 hours a day on average (more when I was younger and less when I moved into management areas) for about 190 days a year.

That makes a grand total of about 20,000 hours. That's a lot. Way over the Gladwell 10,000 hour yardstick.

I mention this because I miss teaching English. I love being an advisor at Ali bin Abi Taleb School in Al Ain and that has reignited my teaching juices.

Maybe in the future I can get back into the classroom again. I do understand now why many former Principals end up full circle as classroom teachers.

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Everywhere I turn seems like everything I see reflects the love that used to be (Holland, Dozier, Holland)

This post is in many ways a sequel to my Posterity post (see next door in the popular post section for the link).

Without wanting to toot my own horn too much (the previous post on my cool quotient did that enough for a while) - I don't ever struggle to find things to write about in this blog. Things just float to me without any effort on my part. Case in point:

I've been thinking about that George O'Malley (Grey's Anatomy) quote that was a few posts back. I've been thinking about it a lot.

Here it is again to remind you:

CRISTINA: "There's a club. The Dead Dads' Club. And you can't be in it until you're in it. You can try to understand, you can sympathize. But until you feel that loss... My dad died when I was nine. George, I'm really sorry you had to join the club."
GEORGE: "I... I don't know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn't."
CRISTINA: "Yeah, that never really changes."
I've considered trying to help George out with some advice but then thought, naah - too sentimental (even for a sentimental old fluff like me), too potentially didactic, too sad, too open, too personal.

So each time its floated into my brain I've been rejecting it and trying to forgot about it. But the thought wouldn't leave me alone.

Then I read some thoughts by a Zen master called Zhaozhou who lived from 778–897. He's similar to Baiyun Shouduan (another Zen master) who wrote:

I have four great vows:
When I'm hungry, I eat;
when it's cold, I put on more clothes;
when I'm tired, I stretch out and sleep;
when it gets warm, I like to find a cool breeze.
Zhaozhou seemed to enjoy whatever was happening. If it was cold he enjoyed winter and the fire; if it was hot, he loved walking in the evening. If he was happy, he laughed; if sad he was just sad. He didn't clench up against life.

I realised that I'd clenched up in my thinking and these two Zen masters gave me permission to be sad.

That's quite a relief.

The other shove I got was from a saying by Sengcan:

The great way is not difficult
if you just don't pick and choose.
As John Tarrant explains it in his excellent book Bring Me The Rhinoceros, the koan shows you two conditions for your mind: a with and a without condition. What you are either with or without is your map, your cherished beliefs, your story about how your life should be at the moment in which you find yourself.

The with condition is what, in an unexamined way, I believe to be true. Beliefs have consequences; they build their own fictional world.

In the without condition I see the world without wanting it to be different from the way it is. The koan is suggesting we live in the without condition, when we don't pick and choose.

This has all been percolating and floating around in my brain for a while and it has informed my response to George's implied question (how do I exist in a world where my dad doesn't?) and to all other members of the Dead Dads' Club. It's my way forward and my way is very peculiar to me.

It's important because without a way there is dukkha (suffering, pain, discontent, despair, unhappiness, sorrow, anxiety, dissatisfaction, discomfort, anguish, stress, misery, and frustration).

George's use of language is quite interesting (and deliberate I think). He doesn't say, "how do I live in a world without my dad?" Of course he will keep on living in a world without his dad. There's no suggestion in George's words or character that he is considering anything other than living. He says he doesn't know how to exist (to be) in a world that doesn't contain his dad.

I think the resonance to Hamlet is there in the background - 'to be, or not to be, that is the question'. But ultimately George isn't going through the same crisis as Hamlet.

Yes Hamlet has joined the Dead Dads' Club and he struggles throughout the play to be in a world that doesn't contain his dad. In his famous soliloquy he is considering whether to be (live) or not to be (die).

From that thought he considers what it might be like to die and the thinking leads him to the conclusion that the great unknown of death is too much to bear so he determines to 'rather bear the ills we have than fly to others that we know not of'.

But, again, George isn't Hamlet. He simply feels his compass, his way to be, has been removed and he no longer feels on solid ground. It's a jarring feeling losing your dad and a thing that does make you question your place in the world.

To be honest, that's how I felt upon joining the club myself (like George, not like Hamlet), and it's something I still feel from time to time at 2.55am.

That was a lengthy preamble but I needed to explain those things before the next bit so that it doesn't come across as too sentimental (even for a sentimental old fluff like me), too didactic, too sad, too open, too personal.

For what it's worth here's how I do my best to avoid dukkha and live in the world without wanting it to be different from the way it is:

• I consider my father (what would he do? is an examination I use). That way his compass is present.

• I listen to a lot of music.

• In my own way I communicate with the people I love and I send my love out to them like little lovebirds. Sometimes they are aware of this, at other times they are not. That's okay for me.

• I reflect and examine my own feelings (the unexamined life is not worth living according to Ralph Waldo Emerson).

• I allow myself to feel sad sometimes and happy at other times. If I laugh I laugh in other words. If I cry I cry in other words.

• I remember the maple leaf poem (search the blog - you'll find it) and I often recite it in my head.

• I think of myself as a Jedi knight with the force flowing through me.

• I am here now.

• I take one here now day at a time.

• I write posts like this one and I hang it out there in the blogosphere.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's cool for cats (Squeeze)

I was not a cool kid. Horror shock gasp revelation probe!!

It's true (I know, I know - hard to believe innit?).

As a kid I wore glasses from the age of 15. The migraines I'd been getting while playing football resulted in an eye sight test and lo and behold - I needed glasses! They definitely slowed the migraines down, without eradicating them completely, but they did nothing for my cool quotient (a minus number is still a minus number but it did not help).

It was even worse in summer. Dark glasses weren't an option before I got contact lenses in 1982. Instead we had to either add clip-ons to our nerdy non-designer glasses or else use graduated lenses. I went for the latter but...that's right - they subtracted from my cool quotient as well.

From 1982 to 2009 the contact lenses worked fine and I could use dark glasses with them. All fine - until I went to Qatar and the desert heat just ate the lenses. 

By this time technology had caught up with me and prescription sunglasses were possible. Not only that but I could also pick from some gnarly designer frames. I chose Police frames after finding out that curved blow-fly style lenses did not work (when I tried some all was good as long as I always stared straight ahead without ever using peripheral vision, otherwise I became dizzy as a chook). 

Those Police frames are pretty cool (check out my profile picture on the right column - cool huh!). But when I bought some new glasses last week I also got a 50% discount on any other pair of glasses so I figured I would go with new prescription sunglasses.

I have a very particular taste when it comes to watches as you know (again - check out my post in the popular post section called Time time ticking in my head). It's the same deal with glasses, but tougher.

A couple of key considerations - most obvious is my Purdzilla snozz. Let's address that puppy reet quick. Some frames just enhance the concept yunnerstand. I can do without that!

Second is what SWMBO lovingly calls my 'pixie face'. I have to steal myself when buying glasses, or...anything vaguely fashionable actually. I'm very much yer typical bloke. Bog standard some might say.

I need Her Indoors to suss out how I look in glasses (I do the same for her and don't even get me started on that tortured procedure - I dread the times we start looking for new sunglasses for her). That's what we get married for right - to have that critical unjaundiced eye whenever we need a brutal opinion. SWMBO loves these moments.

Umm Keegan's critical gaze and shake of the head are legendary. I'd love some John Lennon round frames. I try some on every time I go in to the optometrists. Every time. She just patiently shakes her head and I know she's right.

Anyway...the frames can't be curved because of the prescription element (see above for dizzy spell explanation).

I only suit black (I had the white sunglasses in the 1980s - my students at Macleans will remember them I'm sure - but this ain't the 80s anymore). I don't like mirror glasses. I need them to be fairly dark (not any of yer slight dark tint nonsense). And plain. This is sounding a lot like that list for my watch purchase huh? I have simple tastes really.

They, of course, need to be comfortable...

...and cool!

This meant a lengthy process of elimination (Brian's watch buying procedures which established a world record in considered procrastination was not beaten - ha ha yeah right, that'll happen - but I did come close), but in the end I bought some new RAY-BANs.

Oh yeah, that's what I'm talkin about! Look who just got a whole lot cooler...

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I'm just a soul whose intentions are good (The Animals)

This one is about our animals. Sometimes it's tough to keep track of them all but here we go.

The before restoration Jimi front
 Starting with Jimi, or as Adam calls him - the dumpster cat!

The before restoration Jimi back
The story so far - you will recall that Jacky rescued Jimi from a miserable fate a month ago. He was lying in our garage looking next to death's door. His tail had been shredded, he was malnourished and dehydrated and was maybe a day away from systems failure and a painful demise. He looked miserable!

He spent a week at the vets, had his tail amputated and then we've spent the last three weeks restoring his health (on NZ beef, cooked of course).

Our aim has been to find Jimi a good home here with a western family. An aussie lady called Peta has been working on that and she's found an animal mad South African couple who have adopted wee Jimi.
He now looks fatter and healthier and we can feel good that we gave him a second chance at life. We said farewell to the lad today and wished him our best.

Here are the latest images of him. As you see he has come a long way.

The animals we left behind in Nu Zild with friends and family while we took off on our crazy adventure in the sandpit are still on our minds.

Our cavoodle called Dookie is being looked after by some of Samantha's friends in Wellington until she returns from San Francisco in a few months time.

Bazil, our border collie with a dab of springer cross, is back at his second home with Sallie after a brief stay with Jade. Baz loves walks through Sallie's farm, lounging in the Hawke's Bay sunshine and rain. He especially loves the dead things found on the farm from time to time. Here he is visiting my Buddha shrine which Sallie is also kindly minding for us.

And that's it for the NZ contingent. Sadly Soda (my cat) has been a casualty of our overseas adventure. Entrusted to in-laws, Soda unfortunately ran away to freedom. I hope he found his own Jacky like Jimi did!

But wait...there's more. The latest addition to this menagerie has joined this weekend.

Jacky has bought a horse back in NZ. His name is Strike Irish and we are busy thinking of a new paddock name for him.

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you (Roberty Bob)

We recently said, 'Halas' to for a while.

Season Six was excellent and a real come back from the shuck an' jive weirdness of Season Five. Unfortunately Season Seven is still a month or so away from release in the UAE (this according to the shopgirl in Mall of the Emirates' Virgin Megatore last week so who knows).

So we've moved ontoSeason Six.

Now - you need to understand that Bones is definitely a SWMBO series. I think she watched some episodes a few years ago with Sallie and really liked it so we started watching Season One on hire from the local Video Ezy store in Stratford or New Plymouth. I forget which one. This was a few years back.

It was enjoyable enough in a way and we kept watching it while in Stratford. Zac Addy was a great character and I watched it often for his scenes alone. He was a really disfunctional nerd (or 'squint' to use the show's own jargon) who had little conception of social phatic communion. He was brilliant during the first three seasons and so, of course, he was written out of the show via a preposterous storyline. Uh Oh daddio I thought.

The next season without Zac had a revolving supporting cast in his role. Some of the new characters were aces but we could have killed Nigel-Murray and Daisy quite cheerfully. We hate them, and not in a good way.

[You'll need to go back to my recent post on Grey's Anatomy Season Five - the Pam's Dream Season of the Grey's Anatomy series for a sec to understand my comments on Bones Season Six]

Season Six is a major disappointment thus far (we've watched 8 episodes so far). The season started with the most inept plot strangulation to get characters back into place that I've EVER seen. I WISH they'd used a Pam's dream device!!

Anyway...this has made us even more desperate to find Grey's Anatomy Season 7 when we hit the Dubai Mall tomorrow (haircuts and Burgerfuel here we come).

In the meantime here are two of my favourite scenes from Grey's so far.

This first one is the very affecting scene after George learns of his father's death. Yes - I found it very emotional too.

The second is Bailey's advice to Derek. Like everything about Bailey (yes Jacky - it's only a show) it is honest and bang on.

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Breaking up is hard to do (Neil Sedaka)

Two of the people I love ended relationships this week and I'm sorry that they are going through a tough time of it.

In the past my advice to those in this predicament has been less than stellar. I remember a female student once confided in me after I could see she was clearly struggling with something. It was a break up and I immediately knew I was on shaky ground.

I did want to help her though and so I said something like the Oscar Wilde quote (The heart was meant to be broken) - that's what the heart is for. It's for getting broken and getting better and loving again. I don't think she appreciated that right then. I wonder if she remembers my moment of ill-judged advice like I do.

So I am heading into dodgy territory with this post. It might get ugly!

My own experience into the realm of the dumped and the dumper is fairly limited, as it only happened twice to me personally and even then the first episode was pretty gentle.

Back in the late 70s Phyllis and I were kind of going out together but whether we had reached boyfriend/girlfriend status together is fairly moot. Love wasn't in the air, and the guy she dumped me for has been her husband for many years now so that worked out well for us both.

Dallas was the second and worse dumper by far. As with Phyllis we had met at university (in the early 80s) and, compared to Wozza/Phyllis, we had definitely reached the boyfriend/girlfriend stage. So when she two timed me with a fellow student I was shattered. She definitely inflicted a wound and it took roughly two years for me to recover the self confidence to try again: luckily by that time I had met Jacky on February the 26th, 1983 and that was all she wrote.

In the latest cases that I mentioned above there was no third party involved - it was just a question of not quite. Not quite can be decided reasonably quickly or it can take a few years. Eventually not quite will end in sayonara. There's no other way with not quite.

What to say to the broken hearted? Clearly I need help in this area so I Googled that last question.

The advice is a mouse click away - but really all that I found were combinations of the things I understand to be true. A break up is painful for a while. It dents the pride and ego. It makes us question things about ourselves.

But after a while we realise that it wasn't meant to be, that for whatever reason it wasn't true.

Then we dust ourselves off and we get on with it again.

I've always loved the sentiment behind the song - Fools Fall In Love (for more on break up songs try my music blog in the next few days). I offer it here as a salve to the dumped.

Love and peace - Sgt Wozza and the Lonely Hearts Club Band

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Time wounds all heels (Groucho Marx)

This post is dedicated to Dulcie Mary Purdy (23 April 1930 - 4 November 1983) because without Dulcie's world there would be no Wozza's world!

Bambino's new collection
Part one: Take me to my city by the bay (Train)

A mini whanau update first:

Regular readers will know that I sometimes use the expression, "you've got to take the crunchy with the smooth". On a similar theme is, "sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you". The Arabic version of  all of that is, "Yawm 'asal wa yawm basal - one day honey, one day onions".

Our heart went out to Adam and his girlfriend when we learnt that they came home yesterday to find their house had been burgled.

All his computer gear which he uses to compose his music was gone, as were clothes and other items. Definitely eaten by the bear with crunchy onions thrown in.

On an (literally) upbeat note, Adam had only just released his third Bambino collection called 20 Days, 20 Acapellas.

He has written some stunning music to go with some classic rappers. You can download your very own copy at
and then write a comment on this blog to tell him what a stunner he is!

One of his sisters - Fanfa, on the other hand, was oblivious to this as she landed in San Francisco to begin her latest American adventure with Jesse and his extended family.

Over to her:
So now i am here, sitting in the sunshine writing you this email. The weather is beautiful, the ocean sounds amazing and i have no studies to worry about= heaven. I'm currently at Mike and Karin's house- looking for a place to live online. There are a lot of cool places, but a lot of competition. House prices are high so everybody is looking to rent. Jesse it doing great, he is at work at the moment (hanging Christmas lights for big companies and rich people- he loves it).
Definitely eating the bear with a smooth honey marinade.

Part two: Funny, but it seems that I always wind up-a here with you; Nice to know somebody loves me (The Carpenters).

I have used the blog since day 1 to address important events. When the calendar rolls around to November 4 I get a little more introspective than usual.

My mother (Dulcie Mary Purdy) passed away on November 4, 1983. She had battled with breast cancer for five years before that and was finally released from her suffering.

At the time I was living in New Plymouth, flatting with two girls - Anne and Moira. I'd been in New Plymouth since the start of the year because I'd started work at New Plymouth Boys' High School. My first English teaching job.

On February 26, 1983 I met a girl called Jacqueline Smith. I met Jacky (a.k.a. SWMBO, a.k.a. Umm Keegan) at a fancy dress party amid celestial choirs, cupid's darts of love, blinding light, and other cosmic revelations.

We started spending time together and started getting to know each other's families along the way. F'rinstance, I flew down to Invercargill to meet her mum, Pat, and the Southland branch of Jacky's family.

I had also taken Jacky to meet mum and dad in Auckland.

By November of that year it was clear that mum's cancer was taking a big toll.

Mum, me, Deedoo, Ross, Grandma
I got the call from her doctor the week before she died.

The school was very good about giving me leave and Jacky and I travelled north.

Mum had been hospitalised at the Mater Hospital and I will never ever forget the stairwell and the walk to her room each time we went to see her.

I will never forget the last time I saw her and said goodbye and went spinning from her room into an unknown world that didn't include her.

She was my buddy and had been around for my first 26 years.

The serene and beautiful Jacky has been around for the last 28 years. I would say I have doubly blessed.

It was very fitting that I've just watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy where the Cristina Yang character says this to her patient's child:
If your mum dies you feel a lot of things. First you'll feel like you could have done more to help her but it's not true. You did everything you could. Won't feel that way but...let me tell you this - you did everything you could. And it'll hurt every time you think of her. But over time it will hurt less and less and eventually you'll remember her and it'll only hurt a little.
They certainly got that right - there will never be a time that it doesn't hurt!

Love and peace mum - Warren

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I got the rockin' pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu (Johnny Rivers)

I've had to take two sick days in a row this week with this stoopid cold. I really can't remember the last time I had to do that.

Yesterday was the peak day - sweats, heavy cough and nothing stemmed the nasal flow and, believe me, I tried - three different types of cold and flu tablets!

Today it's just that heavy feeling, a sore nose because of yesterday and a cough. Should be back to work tomorrow.

Being at home with a cold is weird. It's not relaxing but not boring either. It's a between time. A pause. An enforced rest.

Davy Jones and Frank Zappa's cameo in Head.
 I've been reading (Die Trying by Lee Child) and watching some videos (Head by The Monkees and Grey's Anatomy Season 6 episodes when Jacky's been around).

Whenever I'm sick and recovering I have an urge for marmite and lettuce sandwiches. This is from when I was a kid and mum would make those for me.

What else? Well I have also been watching some TED talks online and I've done a couple of posts as well.

Jimi has been keeping me company too. He has stuck close - either the other side of the couch (he didn't appear too impressed with Head), or in the shelf of the desk while I use the computer (he's there now). If I go to the kitchen to make a cuppa he follows me out and then follows me back.

[By the way - we've worked out that he's been owned by Arabic speakers rather than westerners. He looked at Jacky blankly and disdainfully when she saw him try to scratch the couch arm and shouted, "NO". But the Arabic version, "LA" - as in lar, got his attention immediately.]

Another in between activity has been taking some more photographs of him to put on the blog.

He seems to blend in to the surroundings so let's play Where's Jimi?.

Love and (cough) peace - Wozza