Saturday, February 28, 2015

I'd pay the devil to replace her (Hall and Oates)

Had an awful experience recently.

Jade was staying with us on one of her breaks and SWMBO asked me to get a movie for us to watch that night. Pootling off in the Purdsmobile, I ended up at The Warehouse in Hastings.

My first choice was Guardians Of The Galaxy but they were sold out. It then became a toss up between Gone Girl (R16, Graphic violence, sex scenes and something else - I forget) and I Walk Among The Tombstones starring Liam Neeson (R16 Violence, sexual violence and language). 

Thinking I was getting an actioner like Taken or Non Stop or The Grey I opted for Liam.

Bad mistake. 

We started watching it and got a little way in before the uncomfortable feeling got too much. I said, "I hate stories like this" and everyone agreed and I stopped the movie.

Liam - what were you thinking??? To be fair your rather embarrassed looking phoned in performance actually does you credit.

It was yuck. Just yuck. I avoid serial killer story lines and this one with a sexual context was just plain yuck. I was not prepared to wait 2 hours for the pay off when the evil doers get their just desserts. Wozza's official rating: AVOID IT!

Shoulda chosen Gone Girl.

Coincidentally, a few days later I was conferencing with a student and the promo for GG was on her computer. I mentioned my recent experience and the student (Rowena) told me to read the book first - she was glowing in her praise.

So I bought it and so far so good (are three 'so's in a sentence allowed?). The psychological anatomy of a marriage plot line is interesting. So's the his and her alternating chapters (hers are in the form of a diary) as a narrative device.

After reading some stuff like this:
[other women] who believe that husbandly capitulation - yes, honey, okay, honey - is the same as concord. 
I couldn't help wondering, though, what a 16/17 year old student like Rowena is actually getting from that.  When I asked her she agreed and said it was the thriller story line she liked not the nuances of the relationship.

While I'm reading it, it's actually those nuances that interest me more.

I'm only a third of the way through and so far it's not much of a thriller but I'm sure it'll turn into one. Why am I so sure?

Cos the book cover tells me so - 'intricately twisted and deliciously sinister' according to Courier Mail (whatever that is).

Sounds cool - don't tell me how it ends (or what happened to Amazing Amy).

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I'm gonna keep on walkin', till I find my way back home (Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee)

Still reading Waging Heavy Peace (slowly- it's so good!) and ole Neil's a keen walker. I love Neil Young - he's so funny, and wise!

Anyway he's a keen walker and I miss walking. Except I think he means hiking. I'm not so much a hiker but I love walking. Are you keeping up?

So... this post is going to celebrate some of my favourite walks.

Place: Leigh-on-sea (Essex) - the walk from our place in Western Road to the shops (Fives! I really miss Fives - one of my favourite record stores) - beautiful gardens and views.

Place: Leigh-on-sea (Essex) - the walk from our place in Western Road to Rayleigh Castle - beautiful views of the Thames estuary.

Place: Dubai - specifically The Dubai Mall - I loved walking around it, visiting the Virgin Mega Store and the great bookshop close by.

Place: Doha (Qatar) - from our place down past the Souq Waqif, along the corniche to the City Centre Mall.

Place: London  - the embankment - war memorials, views of the Thames, the London Eye, Westminster, St Tommys, the Cathedral. Sometimes we'd do the Charing Cross - Mall - St James' Park to Westminster walk and that was amazing as well - squirrels. I miss the squirrels!

Place: Taupo (NZ) - the Lion walk with the kids from the Taupo house. A loop that took in a Rainbow Point ice cream.

Place: London - from Leicester Square tube station to Covent Garden and Fopp (I really miss Fopp - another of my favourite record stores)

Place: Wuxi - the botanical gardens after biking there from our place. Spectacular gardens.

Sadly, even though we live out in the beautiful Central Hawke's Bay countryside, we currently have no regular walks around us. Our place to Otane shops does not appeal. 

This is a real pity. I love to walk!

Love and peace - Wozza

Friday, February 20, 2015

It's time that makes us tall (John Hanlon)

Neil Young again from Waging Heavy Peace:
Old memories are wonderful things and should be held on to as long as possible, shared with others, and embellished if need be.
Here's a memory that just popped into my head the other day:

Back in 1975 I was in the sixth form at school: Mt Albert Grammar in Auckland, NZ. 

In those days we had a bizarre system of getting University Entrance (U.E. fer short). Schools could accredit students who they thought would pass the formal written examination. Those who they thought wouldn't pass had to actually sit the exam.

That sounds simple huh!

Of course schools were sneaky about who they accredited so that they got a good pass rate. It was common knowledge that they would often make a few students sit who they knew would pass. These students were just above the cut off line for accreditation. 

Waiting to see who had or had not been accredited was a tense period in the school. It was especially stressful for me because I'd failed the fifth form exam (called School Certificate or School C fer short) - and had to have two years in the fifth form (1973 and 1974).

I'd had a good year in English but I was in the very average category in my other subjects. I knew by my marks that I was in the dodgy middle section of the sixth form boys. It could go either way. 

Accreditation was done at the end of the year, almost. Accredited boys always had a few weeks left at school and they had a great time. Boys who had to sit their U.E. were miserable by comparison.

The sixth formers were herded into the gallery area of the school hall. If you've ever been to M.A.G.S. you'll know what an impressive beast the hall area is. The gallery was where the sixth and seventh formers sat during assembly.

Ron Hemus, the senior master, came in and read through the names.

And you know what? My name was in the accredited list. I was in a daze. I'd finally passed something first time. Amazing.

I drove back to our Mt Roskill home after school in such a happy mood. I remember feeling so great.

When I got home I parked the car in the under house garage and went to walk upstairs when my mum appeared. I just remember hugging her and feeling such joy. She was mighty proud of me and that made that moment for me. 

The memory will live in my head and heart forever.

There you go Neil - I've shared it with you (without any embellishment needed).

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, February 16, 2015

Feathers fall around you and show you the way to go (Neil Young)

I am taking my time reading Waging Heavy Peace (Neil Young).

How cool is Neil? He's one cool cat, is how cool he is.

He's one of those unique people who can universally connect via his work - whether that's in music or his writing.

I have just read this economical bit on writing that I nodded to and said 'yeah' to out aloud!
Writing is very convenient, has a low expense, and is a great way to pass the time.
Yeah! (sorry - that was aloud again).

That's pretty much my response to my students who can't believe I publish a blog post every day on one of my four weblogs.

Actually I'm not as articulate as Neil. I just say - I love writing. But from now on I'm adopting Neil's sentence.

Love and (heavy) peace - Wozza

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Theme from Mr Lucky (Donald Byrd)

I did a presentation to my classes recently on me (entitled 'Who are you? WHO? WHO?).

The idea was to give them some of my teaching history and some family context. 

I did some research and came up with some old photos, including some of me with former students (a wonderfully talented bunch) which I placed on the Baggy Trousers blog. I had tons, though, so here's a few more for Wozza's Place.
Before taboor at AbAT

Waimea College, early nineties
With my translator, Hisham at Ali bin Abi
Taleb School in Al Foah, UAE.
M.A.G.S. Dining room is named after
 Kel White BTW.
Touring classrooms with the principal at
Ali bin Abi Taleb School
Leading PD at AbAT - great staff!
I love this photo with my
sixth form class at Macleans
circa 1987 in Te Kanawa House

Samantha with Jeanette
The eighties were great for thin ties,
colourful shirts and mullets
Lance, Jeanette and the rest of my
media studies class being wacky
I love this photo too -
me and Mohammed
at Ali bin Abi Taleb
Still from Jeanette Galina and Kylie's
take off of Yello's The Race
for media studies


Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Yeah, tomorrow may rain, so I'll follow the sun (The Beatles)

We're in the late summer/ early autumn vibe on Red Phoenix Farm.

I love this time of the year. Autumn is like a boss!

That means the grass is about to need mowing again, the shadows are lengthening, the winter wood supply needs addressing, and the trees are looking lush with the recent rain but getting ready for the change of seasons.

This time of the year also signals that school's back in session.

My summer routine - 8 am lazy start/outside physical work/late nights, has been replaced by school mode - 5 am alarm/brain work/cream crackered by 9pm.

Like the start of a new football season, the start of the year is exciting every time. Students are super keen to embrace a different circumstance, and it's the same with teachers. We're keen to embrace the new signings - bring them into the team culture; get out onto the practice field and get ready for game day.

Speaking of football: pity about the Superbowl result. I felt sorry for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks but I felt worse for the smug New England Patriots. Nothing like a success to prefigure a giant fall.

The Seahawks will be better for the loss (they are already the bookies favourites to win it all next year), the Patriots will always be smug.

As for my other teams: Arsenal are in their usual January situation - poised ready to break into the top four (I'm trying hard to ignore the loss on the weekend to the old enemy),the F.A. Cup is still a target, and they are about to get knocked out of the Champions League play offs; Rochdale are doing superbly - just out of the play off teams which is perfect. I wouldn't want to see them in the Championship - they would change - and not for the better; and Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are doing well in the NBA.

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Through falling leaves I pick my way slowly (Fourmyula)

As you've read, Red Phoenix Farm has become Brown Phoenix Farm over December. The land is parched and so are the animals.

Currently the farm plays host to two horses (Dee and Neo), 21 sheep, two dogs (Dookie and Bazil), Rocky the cat, two lovebirds, four canaries, sundry rabbits and at least one hedgehog.

All except the rabbits and hedgehog have water provided for them.

Sallie informs us that hedgehogs struggle to get water in summer and often die from dehydration.

This poor wee mite was found by SWMBO down by Habibi Stables. She thought it was a pine cone until she noticed two eyes staring back at her.

Looks a tad grumpy doesn't he!

Love and peace - Wozza and the menagerie.