Wednesday, September 30, 2015

God only knows what I'd be without you (The Beach Boys)

Say what you like about Facebook, it's an awesome vehicle for remembering friends' birthdays!

Today I've had Facebook messages from wonderful people who:

  • I taught
  • I worked with
  • I work with
  • Are in-laws
  • I worked for
  • Worked for me
  • Are parents of people I taught
  • Are married to old friends
  • I studied with at university...and so on

It's easy to do. When a friend's birthday pops up, it's a short message (full of pith) and a smiley face. Off it goes and at the other end the birthdayite gets a little endorphin rush.

Fantastic! Like it Facebook, like it!

As usual, can't let the big day go by without a huge thank you to DMP:

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Here comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown (The Rolling Stones)

Six years on.

It's become something of a blogging tradition for me to celebrate the life of Graham Nugent Purdy on the 21st of September post.

This year it fell on a Monday - it was a pretty crap day all round actually for reasons I won't burden the blogosphere with, but perspective is gained when I remember what a truly horrible day 21st September 2009 was.

Father and son

Friday, September 18, 2015

I stumble into town just like a sacred cow (David Bowie)

My eldest son and his partner (Diya) are in China for a few weeks. This is part of his first message back to friends and family. I thought it needed a wider audience - he's a talented writer!

We went straight from Hong Kong airport to some kind of bus depot. You walk around a corner and get smacked in the face by a bunch of women standing at kiosks shouting at you to go to them for tickets. When you're jet lagged that's kind of confronting. 
We got a couple of tickets to Guangzhou via Shenzhen. There are dozens of custom points where I checked in my visa to enter China. The queue for "foreigners' Was suspiciously empty.  
We got on another bus (the third by the this point) and continued through Shenzhen. Shenzhen is one of those immense industrial cities that sprung up in the 1980s. Row upon row of gigantic apartment blocks and buildings emblazoned with giant neon corporate signage. Many of them had no lights on - empty. I honestly have no words for how massive and sprawling these structures are. They seem to extend endlessly.  
So I'm staring out the windows of this rundown bus. A woman at some point asked something. I heard "lao wai" followed by some laughter. If anyone claims to have a high level of perspicacity, it will be sorely tested by travelling into China. Most of the time I'm dumbfounded by these little interactions. 
After a two hour bus ride with a driver that treated this vehicle like a 15 year old would a shit box Toyota hatchback, we got to Guangzhou. 
So far I haven't really done much here. We've walked around a little. Went to a supermarket that sells western food products - kind of a Walmart/Warehouse affair. You can buy crocodile meat for 130RMB/kg. A portion of one was sticking out of a bed of ice with one leg intact. I got some frosties and other regular food.  
Last night we went for a walk. We could hear a football game from the colossal Tianhe Stadium (everything at this point can be described as such so I may as well drop it - just read everything as Brobdingnagian). Pretty much everyone looks, stares or glances at me. I'm in two minds about it. Mostly I'm surprised by how little I care. Sometimes it bothers me when I'm all shitty and sweaty (it's hot here, naturally).  
Around the stadium there are facilities for table tennis and badminton. Everyone seems very active, I suppose because the sun goes down and work is done. Cops were sitting around idly with helmets and night sticks. Either riots are common after football games or it's protocol. Seemed like over kill.  
Love and peace - Abu Keegan

BTW - this is my 600th post on this blog!! A pretty cool milestone.

Monday, September 14, 2015

So I see it's me... and I'm still the child (Marillion)

Can you ever get back a piece of your childhood?

If you could - would you?

I got an email on the weekend from my comics guy in Wellington, telling me the 12 volume set of The Trigan Empire was in his store and could be mine if I wanted it!

I looked at the email for a few seconds and suddenly I got a glimpse of a parallel universe 'me', one whose mother had not disposed of the pile of Look and Learn magazines under 'my' bed when 'I' became a teenager!

Yes I've probably been watching way way too many Fringe episodes (we're up to the end of season four, one more season to go...)


Brief back story: when I was growing up in Royal Oak, Auckland in the mid sixties, my paternal grandmother bought me Look and Learns every week. 

It was 1966 and I was 9 years old.

Look and Learn was a fantastic magazine for kids:
Look and Learn was a British weekly educational magazine for children published by Fleetway Publications Ltd from 1962 until 1982. It contained educational text articles that covered a wide variety of topics from volcanoes to the Loch Ness Monster; a long running science fiction comic strip, The Trigan Empire; adaptations of famous works of literature into comic-strip form, such as Lorna Doone; and serialized works of fiction such as The First Men in the Moon. The first major change to the contents of the magazine came in 1966 when it incorporated Ranger with issue 232 (25 June 1966). This amalgamation brought with it a number of comic strips including The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire, written by Mike Butterworth and drawn by Don Lawrence.
The magazine gave me a doorway into a world of history - Kings and Queens and literature and places that I could dream about. And it had comics - which somehow forever legitimised them in my young mind.

Along with Look and Learn she would also have a copy of Shoot waiting for me on a Saturday morning when we went to visit (yes - every Saturday morning mum and dad would load me and Ross into the family Purdmobile and we would drive from Royal Oak, through Sandringham to Mt Eden - Reimer's Ave by Eden Park to be exact. Ross and I would troop in and while we loved seeing Deedoo - Harry Purdy, my grandfather, we would never have the same bond with Grandma - no feelgood kids name for her - Christina Purdy was always 'Grandma'. She would give me the latest copy of Shoot (a British football magazine) and Look and Learn and that would be me for the duration of the visit!).

Back home at 18 Korma Ave., I'd go through that doorway and be lost in my fantasy world of, among other things, The Trigan Empire.


Suddenly that email miraculously managed to take me back to my pre teen self. My thoughts turned to my mum and dad and, well, I got a little overcome actually.

Thinking that I could recapture a glimpse of that person and that time when I had both my parents was pretty overwhelming.

I wrote back a quick OMG - YES! message to the comic guy in Wellington and now I'm waiting for the courier to deliver a bit of my youth back to me.

Yes - you can (get a piece - just for a moment)!

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Memory and desire, stirring (T. S. Eliot)

I was going to call this my three favourite spring movie scenes but I can't actually think of any others and only one of these is REALLY about spring and rebirth (no prizes for guessing which one). 

So here are the only three films featuring spring that I have actually seen (there are others obviously but...yup - I haven't seen them):

1 Spring, summer, fall, winter...spring


2 Big Fish

3 Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid

I'm pretty sure that's spring - loads of blooms and flimsy dresses. If it's not - it should be!

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Like a frozen tree on a windless winter night (Murakami)

This post is dedicated to my wonderful Year 12 English class.

Murakami's The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki contains a great section on the power of music which reminded me of a section in the movie The Pianist

Towards the end of the film Szpilman is surprised by the German officer Hosenfeld and asked to play. 

Choosing Chopin's Ballade in G minorhe does so with increasing power and Hosenfeld is moved by the performance.

Murakami's story includes a section where Tsukuru's friend Haida relates a story about his father (also called Haida). It concerns a piano performance by a mysterious man, named Midorikawa.

Here's the bit: 
Midorikawa hesitantly began playing "Round Midnight'. At first he played each chord carefully, cautiously, like a person sticking his toes into a stream, testing the swiftness of the water and searching for a foothold.
(This is exactly how Szpilman begins his performance)
After playing the main theme, he started a long improvisation. As time went by his fingers became more agile, more generous, in their movements, like fish swimming in clear water. the left hand inspired the right, the right hand spurred on the left.
(Again - this is how Szpilman develops his playing)
Haida's father didn't know much about jazz, but he did happen to be familiar with this Thelonious Monk composition, and Midorikawa's performance went straight to the heart of the piece. His playing was so soulful it made Haida forget about the piano's erratic tuning. As he listened to the music in this junior high music room deep in the mountains, as the sole audience for the performance, Haida felt all that was unclean inside him washed away. The straightforward beauty of the music overlapped with the fresh, oxygen-rich air and the cool, clear water of the stream, all of them acted in concert. Midorakawa,too, was lost in his playing, as if all the minutiae of reality had disappeared. Haida had never seen someone so thoroughly absorbed in what he was doing. He couldn't take his eyes off Midorakawa's ten fingers, which moved like independent, living creatures.
This all reminds me of that scene in The Pianist. Szpilman is so transformed and absorbed in the playing that the reality of the situation- war destroyed Warsaw, the hellish plight of the Jews, the evil German enemy- all disappears and he is in the moment of playing music. Hosenfeld, too, is like Haida - cleansed by the act of allowing Szpliman to play and by the beauty of the music.

It's a wonderful piece of writing and a wonderful scene in a great film.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth inspired hath in every holt and heeth tendre croppes (Geoffrey Chaucer)

November last year: the last time I used my cross trainer. 

Sadly since then it's been undergoing repairs in Napier.

But on Monday I was given a loaner while the struggle to repair the beast continued - something about resistance motors, magnets, and servos (I think). As you know I'm not the most mechanically minded male so my eyes tend to glaze over quickly when people try explaining this stuff to me. My brain just doesn't work that way.

The fixer (lovely guy, Vern) is very helpful but he's been crook so I've had to be patient. Luckily, the Tongariro Crossing adventure and work around Red Phoenix Farm and now Rochdene has meant I'm still pretty active.

But getting the loaner meant I was finally able to get back into a (semi) regular exercise regime. I aim for two days a week and one session on the weekend.

It was a good feeling - there's nothing like the sense of achievement of successfully negotiating an exercise programme, but I definitely miss my regular cross trainer (the one we brought back from Al Ain). 

I managed 30 minutes and didn't raise a sweat so I must be at a reasonable fitness level. Not quite ready for the sweat bands, weights onto my wrists or headbands yet though - give it a month or two!

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. Please note well the new layout to celebrate spring! Hope you like all those earth tones and green shoots!