Monday, December 2, 2013

I love you sweetleaf (Black Sabbath)

This is a post in praise of grass. That's not code.

It's amazing stuff, grass.

I've spent the weekend cutting it, hiffting bales of it, burning it, getting snagged by it, and, yes, admiring it.

The long barley grass in the paddocks looked great on Sunday morning as the wind moved through it and it looked great on Sunday evening under lengthening shadows after it had been cut. 
Our hill paddocks with burn pile mid left.


The stubble in the middle sections and the long grass on the fringes where the tractor couldn't reach made for a great contrast.

While waiting for the contractor to come to cut the paddocks, I moved about thirty hay bales from the three bay shed down to Habibi (SWMBO's stables) and then moved a dozen bales that had been resting on dirt and had gone sour down to the burn pile.

There is nothing quite like the feel of hay on legs and arms. Good honest scratches!

In the evening I mowed areas that SWMBO doesn't - the less sexy areas away from the house like the driveway and around the three bay shed. There is nothing like the smell of freshly cut grass.

Yesterday I raked up the burn grass on the burn pile - it was like candy floss. As I bent down to touch an area of the newly cut grass I forgot that the Kelly thistles were also in the mix and a painful sensation shot from my finger to my brain!

That brought my poetic reveries to an end!

Love and peace - Wozza

Friday, November 22, 2013

The river keeps on flowing, but the banks are ever changing (Mostly Autumn)


ART courtyard - pergola, planter and trellis by Wozza
The projects around Red Phoenix Farm have been getting ticked off jolly smartly of late:

the pergolas are all painted and looking spiffy;

A.R.T. is now complete - both the inside and the courtyard (left) is done;

the summer sails are all up;

hedges and gardens are looking peachy.

Next big project for the summer is the carport (cool name - the place you dock your car!). I've been scheming and planning the carport for about a year - ever since we started to transform the garage into A.R.T. I'm also keen to work on a new aviary and chookhouse over the next few holidays.

View from ART
I love building projects - so rewarding and challenging for me and a complete change from the mental twists and turns of teaching. This year has been huge - returning to teaching in Nu Zild after so long away in Al Ain and then China was always going to test me.

I'm generally happy with how I went but I know there will be improvements next year as I become more familiar with stuff (the school, the girls, the curriculum, the staff, the expectations), but I'm excited about 2014 and the chance to build on this start. Teaching is weird in that respect - it's like a yearly cycle of rebirth.


Nature watch returns - the spring into summer transition means the cherry blossom on the cherry tree behind A.R.T. has turned into cherries. This has not escaped the notice of the hungry birds who have been helping themselves.

SWMBO's cunning plan
So SWMBO hatched a plan so fiendishly cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel - simply go to Giant Spiders Are Us and buy the biggest giantest spider they had in stock to drape said cherry tree in said giant spider's web.

The results were...ah...good.

The hungry birds flew down, get caught in the web, became angry birds and were then devoured, pacman style, by the massive metre long spider!

Moral of that particular story - don't piss off SWMBO by trying to gorge yourself on cherrys before she can!

We've had some purlers of sunsets lately as well. As avid readers will remember - an Aussie wattle tree (this here is called the wattle, the emblem of our land, you can stick it in a bottle or you can hold it in your hand) fell down some time ago - damned unreliable thing - and opened up a window onto some of our front paddocks and across to some distant lands. The sun now filters through the gap in spectacular fashion as I'm sure you'll agree.

View through the wattle gap, Max and Meg in foreground
And in other news: I am no longer a beardy. I don't know how my friend Stas does it. He's had facial hair since he was about 9 and his beard is massive.

I must be a sook.

I lasted three weeks into Movember and shaved it all off this afternoon. I got sick of touching the whiskers, sick of hairs getting into my food and drink and sick of not looking like me.

Love and peace - Wozza (can you see the real me? Can ya? CAN YA?)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Well, I could a had a religion (Muddy Waters)

As-salam alaykum. I read this article in the Guardian Weekly this week and it seemed an obvious one to share. Many of our friends share the western view of Islam and the stereotypes associated with Islamic women in particular. This article probably won't change their view but I found it interesting.

Having lived in the Middle East and having had a joyful experience working with both Arabic men and women there I read the article and felt that admiration again that Kristiane Backer expresses (her quote is down below).

Anyway - it's a great article about western women converting to Islam...

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/11/islam-converts-british-women-prejudice

Some pull quotes from the women being interviewed:

I stopped seeing [Islamic practices] as restrictions on personal freedom and realised they were ways of achieving self-control. (Ioni Sullivan - pictured above)

[The headscarf] can attract negative attention from people who stereotype "visibly" Muslim women as oppressed or terrorist. (Anita Nayyar)

The Muslims I met touched me profoundly through their generosity, dignity and readiness to sacrifice for others. (Kristiane Backer)

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, November 11, 2013

Haggard vizier of the moats seeks the sandled shores of Gods (T Rex)

Wow - we CAN really learn something everyday.

Okay so pay attention carefully all you red blooded hairy blokes out there in the blogosphere - a revelation is coming, an epiphany, if you will, is right around the corner. Well not literally round the corner, of course, that would be a metaphorical corner that... just keep reading...

Women really don't like facial hair.

Men think they do, but they don't.

They tell us they don't.

But we don't listen. We think they secretly do.

But they don't.

I thought it was just SWMBO but Movember has made me realise the truth.

The women at school (female staff and students) are pretty much* united in their distaste for facial hair on their men - something to do with kissing a hair brush apparently. Who knew? Well - um - women did.

* It was an informal albeit vigorous and noisy canvassing of opinion.

I'm committed to the month though, even though I won't be able to come close to emulating the great Rob Ryan (defensive co-ordinator for the New Orleans Saints who is pictured at the top), I will, at least, have given it the old college try.

Love and peace - Wozza




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I'd have to be a warrior (Wishbone Ash)

I have never been a fan of Movember. Yes it's a great cause (it promotes awareness of prostate cancer) but I don't like facial hair and I don't look good with a moustache. All to do with my face shape yunnerstand.

Plus SWMBO hates facial hair - if I forget to shave for a day or so she's calling me Santa Claus and making 'you look like a burgler' comments. Subtle she's not.

This year during Movember I am teaching in an all girls' school - where the male staff are few in number. We have been engaged in male bonding type events during the year as a matter of self preservation (and sanity). We're BLOKES dammit. The testosterone ozzes out of every manly pore that we can muster.

So given all that you won't be surprised to learn that the blokes talked me into participating in Movember by the usual male shaming exercises (we're not hard to work out ladies).

I decided to avoid the straight moustache look - I've tried that a couple of times, once at University and then when Keegan was born in 1984 and it didn't work out well each time so I didn't want to repeat that - I've therefore opted for a goatee style (the blokes at school are doing full beards but I WOULD look like Santa if I tried that and SWMBO made her feelings VERY clear about that not being an option).


So far (a week in) so okay - my beard grows in a weird way - with a few unwelcome gaps in the bottom bit. I wanted to look like Jeff Fisher (coach of the St Louis Rams in the NFL) but that became a forlorn hope real quick.

Unlike Jeff, my beard is white in weird patches. Sounds great huh. Jeff or me? Can you even tell the difference? One is a wildly charismatic, mega rich, handsome sporting legend and the other is Jeff.

I may admit defeat and go for a Frank Zappa style yet. We shall see.

It goes without saying that SWMBO hates it all, but I am committed to seeing it through to the end of November. Stop sniggering in the back!

Still - I cling to the idea that it's a good cause - I've posted a link to the Nu Zild Movember website where you can donate so that SWMBO's sacrifice is not in vain.

http://nz.movember.com/get-involved/workplace

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, November 4, 2013

If the candle lights this crooked path...I'll reach the water's edge (Dream Theater)

November 4 is the date that I dread every year.

November 4 1983 was hands down the worst day of my life.

My wonderful mother passed away.

It's been thirty years and the pain is not as keen as it was in 1983 but it's still sharp and it still reduces me to tears.

Maybe we never get over traumatic events from our youth. I was 26, yet to be married, yet to become a father, yet to travel and see the world. I was a very young 26. I looked 16 and I felt, on that day, like a person who would forever be lost.

How do I survive without a mother?

I'm still wrestling with that question.

I manage to do it by following my crooked path from November 4 to November 4 to the water's edge.

Love and peace mum - your loving son.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

One potato two potato three potato four (Derek)

Incognito when he was with the Buffalo Bills
There have been some great names in popular culture over the years.

I was watching the Miami Dolphins play yesterday - their massive left guard is the brilliantly named Richie Incognito (I kid you not - even better - it's his real name).

Some other pop culture names I've loved over the years: Rip Torn (the last name is real), Optimus Prime, Red Buttons, Ty Cobb and Stepin’ Fetchit.

But the best of all time is Slim Pickens. A true giant.

I was watching an old western on TV - a Sam Peckinpah Apache drama called Major Dundee and there was Slim Pickens. I think he had two scenes where he spoke in the whole movie and he stole both of them.

Mr Pickens was born Louis Burton Lindley, Jr in 1919 (he died in 1983). The stage name came about when he started out as a rodeo rider and was told that the career promised 'slim pickings'.

He was in a stack load of TV programmes and movies but the two roles he is probably most known for are Dr. Strangelove and Blazing Saddles.

Here's to you Slim!



Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Everybody's doing the Woodland Bop (T Rex)

Whanau members Margo and Clay sent us a great card (below the San Francisco magnet) from Ontario where they are visiting. The card reports on a visit to a show at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) with fellow whanau members Chris and Lil.


They went to see a David Bowie retrospective (not sure of what at this stage but keep reading) and an exhibition by Ai Weiwei. The card reads Respect Life. Never Forget. Ai Weiwei.





Eh, what? Who?

And, okay - I was captured!

Ai Weiwei, it turns out, is a Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism. He's run himself foul of the Chinese government officials over the years as well it seems.

The crew have been to his According to What? exhibition running from August 17 to October 27 at AGO.

A quick google reveals a variety of formats that Weiwei has been involved in.

I love this, labelled Aiflowers:



 

Youtube is home to Weiwei creations as well:



He goes for a relatively subtle approach in this one - his new single/video. The scene reminded me of the gardens we used to visit in Wuxi!

And so to David Bowie.

The AGO site has this to say about the David Bowie is... exhibition: Spanning five decades and featuring more than 300 objects from Bowie’s personal archive, this totally immersive multimedia show celebrates the groundbreaking artist’s collaborations in the fields of fashion, sound, theatre, art and film.

Apparently it's visiting Toronto first on a world tour. Cool!

Thanks for the card Margo/Clayto. Much appreciated.

Love and peace - the Woodland Bopper

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Everyday seems a little closer, going faster than a roller coaster (James Taylor)

Because my birthday is always really your day DMP.

...he allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (love in the Time of Cholera)

Love always and forever - WNP

Monday, October 14, 2013

Oh, my special little guy has a sweetheart (Marge Simpson)

Big special congratulations to Adam and Ashleigh who have just announced their intention to ratify their nuptials. Yes they are engaged.

Being 2013 they announced via Facebook rather than the old school notice in the paper. I sent them a message back and used the word fiancé and my brain immediately went into Seinfeld mode.



I've discussed this with Jade before - Seinfeld has relevancy for EVERY situation and I'm not even kidding.

Any relationship, any shopping expedition, any human endeavour - there is a phrase or a line, a joke or a situation from the show that will fit.

Like The Beatles. You'll have long noticed that I use lines from songs (or pop culture in general, like the Simpsons) to title my posts. I could easily just use Beatle lyrics every time. they are often the first things that come to mind.

But anyway...I digress.

Seinfeld.

I was having a discussion with some students this morning about how randomness may have gathered negative connotations.

What pops into my mind?

This.



Love and peace and hurrah to A/ A - Wozza

Friday, October 11, 2013

You are someone else, I am still right here (Nine Inch Nails)

Another first of Roctober has rolled over and laid down. I had another great birthday thanks to all the social media messages, and thoughts from the family. Bosker!

I have spent my holidays profitably. I have marked and I have prepared. I have mowed and I have chopped. I have read (new Jack Reacher was great - birthday gift from DLG and SWMBO) and I have danced (down tiger - twas in the privacy of ART).

But most of all I've been mildly frustrated by mechanical breakdowns. Yes I know that this is a curse of modern life but why do they all have to go belly up at the same time?

1 The mower - the starter cord thing pulled out of its housing thing. Off to the mower repair shop it went.

2 Car failed its warrant - two new front tyres required thank you.

3 Chainsaw stopped half way through putting down a branch. Wouldn't start. The grinding noise as I tried to restart it was not good.

4 Tractor overheated after half an hour - water coming out of the hose from the radiator seemed like the likely culprit.

Stands to reason I guess - these days we have more and more devices and gadgets and things to help us so the odds are much greater that minor gumption traps will come along to unsettle us. Yes gumption traps - google it and you should be taken to Robert Pirsig's wonderful book.

On the bright side of things -  the fridge is fine (cold beer and coca-ramas - YES), the stereo blasted out for two weeks solid (I'm up to Status Quo on my personal run through all my Greatest Hits sets), the car got us to Tauranga to get Jade to her nursing interview and mysky didn't fail to record all the NFL games, Arsenal TV (bless you Arsenal TV), Cheers reruns on Jones and Wipe Outs (why oh why I love this? Something deeply primordial in that).

My holiday is rapidly coming to its end - back to school on Rocktober 14. Been gear fab gnarly rad bad phat sick groovylicious to the max.

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, September 28, 2013

I'm so happy when you dance with me (The Beatles)

I've been thinking about happiness lately.

A recent post title was 'Enlightenment - don't know what it is' by Van Morrison. I'm pretty sure a number of us can share that confusion. But happiness? We DO know what that means, right?

A former student sent me a link to a site listing 'The Habits Of Supremely Happy People' http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/16/happiness-habits-of-exuberant-human-beings_n_3909772.html

From there I went via a TED talks link to a presentation by Dan Gilbert called The surprising science of happiness. It's lengthy but entertaining and interesting.
'


And so to me.

I was doing my Saturday cross trainer workout while watching The Last Waltz (loud) when Neil Young wandered on to sing Helpless. At one point he ambles over to Rick Danko's microphone. Robbie Robertson is also there and the three share the mic, singing Helpless (around the 3.30 min mark). Their happiness at that moment is clear to see.

I smiled big time as well. Real happiness.




Love and peace and happiness - Wozza

Friday, September 20, 2013

The light of San Francisco, is a sea light, an island light (lawrence Ferlinghetti)

All my roads seem to be leading to San Francisco at the moment. The America's Cup has contributed to that but for me there are other pointers aside from the fact that Samantha and Jesse and the SF whanau live there.

I watched The San Francisco 49ers play an NFL game last week on ESPN (unfortunately they lost to the Seattle Seahawks so at least Clay will be happy).

I have been grooving to SF band Beyond O Matic and their track Wish during the week.

Reading my 1979 poetry journal I was struck by how many of my favourite poets have a strong connection to SF (Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Snyder, Creeley).

We had a House sports day at school during the week. I'm in Wallingford House which has green as its colour. As fate would have it - I have only one green T shirt; it was bought on the corner of Haight St and Ashbury St in SF in April. It has pretty flowers and the replica street sign saying Haight Ashbury; it's cool!

And last night I watched Bullitt again. Steve McQueen is sooo cool! The actual movie plotline is a little too convoluted for today's tastes but the coolness factor is set at 10. From Lalo Schifrin's jazzy soundtrack to McQueen's character (Frank Bullitt - what a cool name) to THAT car chase - all is coolness personified.

The other real star of the movie is the city itself. Here's to you - the city by the bay! 



Love and peace and island light - Wozza

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Enlightenment, don't know what it is (Van Morrsion)

Enlightenment says the world is nothing
Nothing but a dream, everything's an illusion
And nothing is real (Van Morrison)

In this post, I thought I'd try to extend my deep double exposure photo from that last post with a glimpse back at my first ever journal.

Ever since 1979 I've kept records of my thoughts as journals (not diaries). The blogosphere is now the natural home to those thoughts (those stories of my reality that Life Of Pi touches on - The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn't that make life a story? The telling of something always becomes a story).

Anyway...

I know it was 1979 because I was introduced to journal writing at Auckland University when I took a stage three poetry paper under the guidance of Roger Horrocks and Wystan Curnow. By stage three English I'd learned that anything organised by those two dudes was going to be amazing.

The idea that Horrocks/Curnow had was that their students for this paper would keep a discovery journal during the course and hand it in regularly for comment. I loved having a vehicle for my weird thoughts/ questions/ideas about the poems I was reading for the course.

I was a big fan of Robert Bly's poems (still am actually). Here's a fairly typical section from my 1979 journal on 'deep image' - Bly's vague term - he used it to variously describe 'a notion of the poetic image which involves psychic energy and movement' and 'a geographical location in the psyche'. Yeah, right! I still don't know what that means.

But that didn't stop me having a go back in 1979 when I was trying to organise my thoughts around this concept and, even then, I used references from popular culture to do it:

'Looking into a tide pool' is a deep image prose/poem.

(Looking into a tide pool.
 It is a tide pool, shallow, water coming in, clear, tiny white shell-people on the bottom, asking nothing, not even directions! On the surface the noduled seaweed, lying like hands, slowly drawing, hands laid on fevered bodies, moving back and forth, as the healer sings wildly, shouting to Jesus and his dead mother)

 And here's a bit of my journal entry:
The pool is only shallow but the life inside that one pool is huge. Every time I hear the expression 'deep image' I see a picture in my mind. This picture is only about 1/16th of an inch thick on one level but a couple of hundred feet deep on another level. It is literally deep. the picture I am thinking about is the cover to a jazz record released in 1962 called Undercurrent by Jim Hall and Bill Evans.

I photocopied the LP cover for my 1979 journal.
I was so drawn to this scene when I saw it. I couldn't believe it was done in 1962 but jazz covers were more liberated in the late 1950s/60s. This is DEEP IMAGE to me - someone or something buried deep under the surface trying to raise itself just enough to be recognised. Like the images of a poem.

She is buried yet her face can look out - like the tip of an iceberg. Beneath the surface is her body, beneath her body is suspended time in the water, beneath the visible bottom  is another world. There is so much space between the individual things (body, water, ocean floor).

What an incredible picture - I can feel the lightness of floating. The baptism in the poem is a deep symbol. Her body in the picture is relaxed, submissive, free. Who is she? Why is she there? What does it mean?

I tend to get carried away at times.

More from my journal next post.

Love and peace - Wozza
A.K.A. (from the title page of my 1979 journal) Warren Purdy 4 Ramelton Road, Mt. Roskill, Auck 4. 674 595)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It took me so long to find out, but I found out (The Beatles)

*
I have struggled with my recreational reading this term. I've read a couple of books that I've taught at school, but, outside of those, it's been Mojo and Prog Rock magazines and Life Of Pi.

I've been chewing through it at a snail's pace. Mainly because of a lack of time, partly because I haven't really got into the story in a sustained way, and this is partly because I've been largely reading it during library periods at school.

I was actually only reading it in the first place because it is a colleague's favourite book in the same way that Zen and the Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance is mine. That is, it's a book we return to again and again to experience fresh revelations, and one we feel compelled to share with others.

The difference being that I would never teach Zen.. and Greg teaches Pi to his Y13s. Brave. I've taught favourite books and films before without great success. Of course, the students don't love it like I do so it's ultimately not a fulfilling experience.

So - it took me so long to find out what happens to Pi, but I found out (I finished it after a marathon reading session at about 3.30 one morning last week).

I enjoyed the book, I wouldn't have persevered if I hadn't, but I can't rave over it much.

I did, however, really love the book's concluding chapters.

At the end of the novel Picine (Pi) has his story challenged by some Japanese investigators who don't believe his survival story that involves a tiger on a lifeboat. Go figure.

Pi says "Isn't telling something - using words, English or Japanese - already something of an invention? Isn't just looking upon this world already something of an invention?"

"The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn't that make life a story? The telling of something always becomes a story.

This is true. My blog is a case in point. It's my invention, my world, my 'telling of something' which I share with the blogosphere. And you interpret it as you will.

* The photo above was a double exposure I took about 32 years ago. It's me looking at my 'self' reading. I am experiencing a deja vu feeling looking at it now and as I type and recreate my world on this post, someone else entirely is looking upon my world, 32 years later.

Woo - deep.

Love and peace - Wozza/Wozza

P.S. Hi Irene - hope you're on the mend chuck!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

No regrets Coyote, we just come from such different sets of circumstance (Joni Mitchell)

Life at the moment has been about work work and more work for both SWMBO and me.

Apart from an interlude of chain sawing up a Wattle that had blown down in a gust of wind on Sunday afternoon, I spent the last weekend marking and writing reports for my senior classes while Jacky put in extra shifts at Hastings Hospital. I also had my one-Sunday-night-chapel-service-a-term to go to!

I managed to get it all done but at what cost?

Well blogging for a start. The posts on this blog have slowed to a veritable trickle this year. While I manage to do two music related blogs a week on Goo Goo G'Joob this is a dramatic decline from when I was in the Middle East. 

What else? Well the time SWMBO and I spend together is also a casualty of our increased workloads. It's a necessary fact of life - we all have to pay bills and eat stuff.

Of course things are relative. I do remember a time when I was busier. When I was Principal at Stratford High School I had many late nights at school during the week, sport on Saturday (including taking a football team) and prep and marking on Sunday (I taught one class of English then).

After that experience SWMBO and went to work in the Middle East. My work finished at 2pm each day with zero marking or other commitments on the weekend. SWMBO didn't work. Bliss. But an unreal bliss and a bliss that couldn't last.

Being a teacher has always been demanding and I am not surprised that my life has become once again centred around school things.  This weekend was a doozy though because the balance was missing, and I am cream-crackered this week as a result.

Thank goodness for that Wattle. You can't always get what you want but sometimes you get what you need (to paraphrase Mick Jagger).

I was sitting in the A.R.T. room doing report comments and Jacky came in yelling stuff (I forget exactly what but along the lines of, "Oh my God, the Wattle").

I, of course, did the Wattle routine from Monty Python (part of the Bruce's skit below)!

This here's the wattle,
The emblem of our land.
You can stick it in a bottle;
You can hold it in your hand.
Amen!


 

And then I looked up to see the tree snapped off, leaving a big hole in the area by our house. Doh.

Oh dear, how sad. Nevermind.

At least SWMBO and I got to spend some quality time together cutting the thing up and turfing it over the fence before I headed off to school for chapel.

Funny old world innit.

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I want you here to have and hold, as the years go by and we grow old and grey (Ringo)

Time for another trip to the photo vaults this post.

It's Fathers' Day in Nu Zild today, as well as the first day of spring so that' s the theme I will be twisting my photos to suit.

Of course - this is my blog so the snaps are from my perspective but I know many of my whanau are fathers so this post is also for you! If you are a father you do an important job. There is no manual and so you will make mistakes aplenty but there will be joy and there will be a legacy for good or ill. You will live on in your children.

I was lucky. I had a great great dad. I love you dad.

I am lucky. I have great great children. I Love you guys!

With the minister of defence - the father-in-law

Token spring shot
Wozza and daughters and son-in-law

Wozza and sons

Deedoo and his son Graham


Karin and her dad with Wozza (SF 2013)
 
SWMBO tries on manhood for size (which does
matter), Gavin and Mabelle try to hide in the stove,
 without success.
Son-in-law Jesse with Fanfa

Graham and sons part 1
 

Graham and sons part 2


Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. Thanks for the cake Jade. Yum yum!
P.P.S. Thanks for the gift basket of yummy goodies Fanfa.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Don't worry baby, everything will turn out alright (The Beach Boys)

This week has been about senior benchmarks (a.k.a. mocks, assessment opportunities, tests, exams).

Whatever you call them, it means two things to teachers the world over.

One - boring boring supervisions (there is only so much you can read on the hall walls where the students are sitting their exams).



Two - a seemingly endless marking grind (reading the same stuff over and over again makes my brain hurt).

Next week will be about students clamouring for their grades. They seem to forget that it takes them three hours to sit but we have to mark more than one student's work!

How did it come to this?



Ha ha - oh yeah baby!

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dry your eyes Sunday girl (Blondie)

Life can gain a kind of predictability and routine after a while.

Sundays for me, these days, are about getting up to go to the Otane farmer's market in the morning to get some fresh bread and veggies, then marking student work and planning the week's classes in the afternoon.

I love routine!

Many years ago Sundays were also about watching Match Of The Day on TV. It was the only way we ever saw the English Football games from the previous week. In those days, England was not only on the opposite side of the planet, it was also in another dimension. The bright NZ summer sun would shine on my TV screen, often fading the colour to buggery, but we'd have some football.

Then satellite TV came along and Marshall McLuhan was right - we became a global village and wonder of wonders, Sky showed all the games live whenever they were on (often at ungodly hours - Sky couldn't fix the time/other side of the planet thingy).

Nirvana! England not only became a lot closer but also seemed to be (almost) in the same dimension.

Now, in NZ, Sky has lost the rights to broadcast premier league games. Instead, they are available for a fee on the interweb, but I'm not signing up to watch games on my computer. No way Jose (Mourinho).

It's not all dire news.

TV ONE has secured one game to play - you guessed it - on Sunday afternoons.

Yesterday it was MUFC destroying Swansea. The news elsewhere was that Arsenal had lost at home to Aston Villa.

Suddenly it seemed like I was back in the turgid late seventies again, in another dimension. Luckily the rain was persisting down - about the only saving grace.

At home. To Aston Villa. Aston Villa who were fighting relegation last season.

What was that I was saying about predictability?

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. Whanau member JSJ sent me this snap from school. The news had come through that Wenger hadn't bought any new players for the new season.

Don't ask about the cow! I don't think I dreamed this...








Thursday, August 8, 2013

I'm trampin trampin, try'n-a make heaven my home... (Patti Smith)

Bin a big week this week. Big week. Bigger than big for a secret achieving mountain man. Yep - me (stop sniggering at the back).



Wassup? Been smashed by a snowball fight club while trampin' to hell and back and puttin' my body on the line; been wrestling with my skiing demons, going beyond human pain thresholds, laughing in the face of death, been forging a path over a volcano and eating food prepared by students.

The things I do.


Looks innocent enough right?

Twas Year 12 camp: a day spent crossing over the ACTIVE Tongariro volcano (don't call it a..shhhh..mountain - Ms Woods will have your guts!);  and a day dodging snowballs on the ski slopes of another ACTIVE volcano (Ruapehu) on the desolate central plateau of Nu Zild in a place cunningly called - Happy Valley. Ha!



Not for nothing did the area provide the scenes for the most sinister of the Lord of the Rings locations, Mordor, the strong hold of the dark Lord Sauron.  

Impressed? You should be. It was hell I tell you. Hell.

Oh sure - the photos reveal the surface 'fun' but look harder at these faces and you'll see the pain below the surface.


Poor wee mites. Bless. They never knew what hit 'em.

As the trampin' continued the girls were herded into small groups and given a teacher and an alpine guide to traverse the volcano. Here's my lot. I took the picture shortly before Amy charged at me with the ice axe. You've read/seen Lord Of The Flies? A walk in the park compared to these girls!


Although the weather wasn't flash the views of the blue lake were spooky like.

 
The journey down the volcano was tough. Tougher than tough, but eventually we staggered down the track to get a lift back to our base camp.
 
 
 
Day three saw us conquering said slopes of Ruapehu but I was too busy dodging snowballs to take any snaps, sorry 'bout that. Let me reassure you, though, that a ripper time was had by all.
 
 
Love and peace - Mountain Man

Friday, August 2, 2013

Shine on (The Hollies)

Post script to the UEFA Euros I had fun watching recently: Germany won the final for the sixth time in a row (I got that wrong in my initial post - they'd won it 5 times in a row before this final).

They deserved it too. Norway put their heart and soul into the game but muffed two penalties and no German side is going to ever let up in a final competition.

What is it about them that makes them so formidable on the football field? Man are they tough to beat! Every year makes the 1966 England win ever more remarkable.

Anyway - it was a great competition.

Interesting today in class with my amazing Year 9 English class.

My students have finished a poetry anthology of their own poems and ones they like. Today they began presenting their one chosen poem to the class. One student picked this poem by Sylvia Chidi about girls/women to present:

If I were a girl
'But I'm just a girl, it feels like a pitiful spell'

If I were a girl
I'll wake up each day
I'll tell myself to go and learn at school
No fancy mini-skirts, No acting cool as a fool
I'll play it safe with a boy
Simple jokes and simple joys
I’ll stand-up for only love and equality
Not for some stupid momentary flattery
These silly lines inspire only immorality

If I were a girl
I think you would understand
How it feels to be constantly disrespected
Treated as a feminine reject even if an intellect
Thought of often as a sexual object or project
I swear I’d be a much tougher woman
I'll take out my dustpan, Let everyone
Start slowly again from where it all began

But I’m just a girl
It feels like a pitiful spell
To be forever taken for granted
Whether I’m multi-skilled or talented

If I were a girl
There will be no wedding bells
Until I'm completely educated as well
I'll always take care of me
I'll always hold onto dreams
And any boy who says he loves me
Will have to work with me as a team

But I’m just a girl
And I don’t want a life of hell
I want to play with cars and not just dolls
And besides a boy I always want to be an equal

 
This led to a lively discussion afterward about the 'girls can do anything' slogan I remembered from the seventies. The girls indicated to me that while the slogan was good, things had got WORSE for girls/women since then.

I was a tad shocked by that idea and challenged them on it but they were adamant. They are a very articulate bunch and I listened to their discussion (no one, btw, thought that it wasn't worse for girls now).

Made me think!

First thing that came to mind were those UEFA championships. Guess how much time the TV ONE Sports News spent on the event. That's right - none. Instead their was a moronic story about fat, tattooed, pot bellied berks playing darts.

Guess the girls had a point!

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. I'm off on a school camp on the weekend - Y12 and various staff and doing the Tongariro crossing. I'll report back next week when I return, inshallah.
 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gee I think you're swell (The Turtles)

This morning I watched an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, originally produced in 1963, while I ate my cereal before heading off to work. I'd recorded it on mysky.

I laughed out loud... a lot! And smiled... a lot! And enjoyed it...a lot!

I used to watch the programme way back in the 1960s. I loved it then, and it appears that I love it still.

This seems to be an anomaly. I've recorded and watched other sixties/seventies/eighties iconic TV and the appeal has waned considerably. There are a number of channels now that just show retro TV: Jones and Cue and two. I've taken to sampling old shows to see if they still hold up.

I couldn't last the distance with Mission: Impossible. It was slow paced and proved unable to transfer the excitement from that fuse intro into a whole 60 minute episode. It had dated badly.

The Twilight Zone (the remade one from the eighties, not the original Rod Serling version) has lasted comparatively better because it's not trying to be a wham bam action show. It's purely story driven and once you get past the eighties' hair, fashions and cinematography the story is still providing the momentum.

But each one comes in a distant second to The Andy Griffith Show.

I have delayed watching it because I was a tad scared that it would make me cringe and wonder what I'd loved in the first place. I should have had more faith.

Ron Howard, or Ronny Howard as he was then, gets second billing after Andy and before Don Knotts and he deserves it. He's amazingly self contained and knowing for such a young actor.

Apart from him and Andy's laid back, laconic style and Don Knotts' physical humour and comic timing, the key delight in the show I watched was the fantastic dialogue and interplay between Sheriff Andy Taylor (played by Andy Griffith) and his son Opie (played by Ron Howard).

In this episode Opie is influenced by a spoiled new kid in town who gets a bigger allowance and doesn't have to work for it. Opie tries to get this deal from his pa. Try watching the scene (posted below) without smiling and laughing loudly. If you can watch it and not be moved you've come to the wrong blog!!

The whole scene was warm, natural, funny, not overly sentimental, and idyllic and idealistic in a non cheesy way.

I don't remember ever watching the show in the sixties when I was roughly the same age as Opie (Ron is three years my senior) and wishing, during the opening credits as Andy and Opie carry fishing rods along a country road while the down home whistling happens on the soundtrack, that I was Opie and my dad was Andy.

But watching it now I do somewhat regret that our father son relationship wasn't as tight as the show portrays. It was a good relationship that got better with time but it wasn't as idyllic as Andy/Opie.

There were many reasons for that.

Apart from other things that don't obviously come to mind, we didn't live in Mayberry (no cops with guns in Royal Oak), I had a mum who I spent far more time with (there is no mother role in the show), our dialogue wasn't scripted (worked on until it was 'perfect') and Opie was an only child (I shared my parents with my younger brother).

I did subconsciously bond with Opie I'm sure. He was like a cool older brother from another mother to us all.



Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, July 25, 2013

She painted pictures that never dried (Teenage Fanclub)

Stensland - Norway's captain
I've really been enjoying the football on display in the UEFA women's Euro competition.

Germany are through to the final (they've dominated the Euro competition having won the last six. Yes - SIX).

They'll be up against either Denmark or Norway (can't believe France didn't make it to the semi-final but that's sport for you) - it's 1-1 at full time and they are playing extra time right now.

Norway's star player is Ingvild Stensland. She is amazing. Great players appear to have extra time on the ball to work their magic and she does. She always looks really composed, all class, and has great skills; no wonder that she's been nominated for the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award on four occasions. She's also the captain.

Okay - still 1-1 after extra time so it's the drama of penalty kicks.

And Norway win the penalties as Denmark fail to recover from muffing their first two attempts.

Should be a cracking game in the final - Set my sky for Monday morning 1.50 on Sky sport 1.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Weird scenes inside the goldmine (The Doors)

Random notes

What's happened to the world lately?

More specifically - what's happened to our friends - the aussie battlers - lately?

They are suffering a crisis in big time sporting events; even in traditional stronghold aussie codes like rugby league (NZ are the world champions) and cricket (thrashed by England).

That's what's happened.

They were beaten by the British Lions, their tennis players and golfers are invisible, they were no shows in the Tour de France, and to top it off a non-elected reheated souffle is their new Prime Minister.

I know what you're thinking - sounds like Egypt...but it's not (sorry Hisham).

Weird scenes man.

The British teams have been winning everything - Wimbledon, The Ashes, The Lions, Kate and William's new baby (our hearts and minds people).

The only thing keeping the whole planet slipping into a completely bizarro world is the English football season hasn't started yet and the women's team were hopelessly outclassed in the UEFA Women's Euros last week by France. Lacking speed and creative flair they reminded me so much of the English sides we see at World Cups and Euros (when they qualify).

More bizarro world evidence from other news - the Tottenham Hotspur manager tells the press today that Spurs will NOT be targeting the premiership title this season. Yes we're a month or so away from a ball being kicked in anger. Excellent - means they'll definitely finish outside the top four.

You want more? Okay - back to aussies to finish:

Australian caught driving without steering wheel


The 38-year-old was pulled over in the Adelaide suburb of Gilles Plains on Monday morning for dangerous driving with two blown tyres.

On closer inspection police discovered that the white Holden sedan was being controlled with a set of pliers, which had been attached to the steering column.

Oh yeah - aussie battlers! Okay so they are alive and well - two blown tyres and no steering wheel? No problem mate!

Love and peace - Wozza