Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New toy

After finishing the large film scanning job I rewarded myself by fixing up my new web cam and speakers. The sound is amazing, and the camera does various special effects sampled below.

Am all ready to Skype people now.

A nerdy but fun weekend

I haven't been to a Mensa weekend for a couple of years now and after being involved in organising a few it was a nice change.

Friday evening the kick off was a dinner at the Centra and a talk by a member who trained and worked as an Astronomer in South Africa. The science went over my head but the photos were illuminating. The evening wound up with a team quiz which was pretty tough. A typical question "How many of the songs on Abbey Road were not written by Lennon & McCartney" !

Saturday morning was filled with three presentations: about NZ Bio security, the history and art of Chinese Calligraphy, and IQ testing of gifted children. All were interesting and the morning flew past. After lunch we opted for both the guided tours, first was at the SPCA. The Auckland branch takes in 15-20,000 animals a year, mostly cats. We were given a presentation then shown around the facility and met the farm animals, including Chester the pig who has his own blog.

The second tour was arranged for us by a Mensa member who cannot be named. He is currently the head of targeting and risk assessment at the Customs Dept at Auckland airport. He took our group of 20 behind the scenes and explained some of the processes that travellers don't usually see and how they profile for risky travellers and so on. An amazing number of cameras watch everything that goes on. We also met one of the dog handlers and had a sniff-out-the-drugs demo after one of our group had something sniff-worthy planted on them. Fascinating.

The dinner was at Daikoku Teppanyaki which I always enjoy. By Sunday exhaustion was setting in but we had to ramp up our observation skills for the car rally/treasure hunt. We were all set to win for sure when it was decided before the off that we had too many Aucklanders in our car. The visitors from around the country head-hunted one of our members and so we set off as just three, with our team name 'Swifties' due to taking the nifty Suzuki.

The route took us around vast tracts of south and west Auckland, gathering answers to clues as we went. At one point I had to run into a motel and ask what the rate was for a day room. But we had the wrong motel, and the proprietor gave me a very strange look as she said "we don't do day rooms". I wonder if she clocked that I had 2 men in the car with me!

All in all a very fun weekend (if a little nerdy).


One thing that has been keeping me busy the last week (apart from the Mensa weekend which I've yet to write about), is a scanning job involving about 300 artworks by Kiwi artist Dick Frizzell. They are for a book about him that will be published by RandomHouse.

I am just finishing the slide and negative scanning today and reviewing the images. I was only vaguely aware of his work but seeing all the images together like this I am quite impressed. A huge range from scenic landscapes to commercial images and Andy Warhol type cartoon products.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mashup and freebie

If you are quick, it's only going to be there until end of tomorrow - 31st (US time I expect), there's a free track download at www.bobdylan.com - it's from the new album that's being released on April 28th.

I also came across this video today. It's a mashup of one of Bob's oldest recordings 'In My Time of Dyin' recorded in 1962 when I was 1 year old. Amazingly, the song was first recorded in 1927 under the title "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed" by blues-gospel guitarist Blind Willie Johnson. Here it is given a really modern feel. I think its great.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Together Through Life

Yaay - I am looking forward to 28th April.

"The sound is uncluttered. There’s power and suspense. The whole vibration feels like it could be coming from inside your mind. It’s alive. It’s right there. Kind of sticks in your head like a toothache" ...

Bob Dylan talking about the old Chess/Sun records of the fifties that influenced his new album.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sicko in the kitchen

The head cold that started on Wednesday hung around, pretended to get better then Whack! - laid me up for good. I spent this morning sleeping clammily until John bought me boiled eggs and toasted soldiers (aah) - and then slept again until about midday when a roofer came around to measure up for a quote, and walked the length of the house on the roof in hobnail boots (well it sounded like).

Whenever I get sick I get the urge to bake and cook old fashioned goodies. In the last few days I have made fruitcake, roast lamb and a traditional Lancashire hotpot. Today a sultana, date and apple cake (the last one disappeared very quickly), and a lasagna using Gordon Foulmouth's recipe.

I've not posted any Bob for a few days, so here's a video I came across thanks to Bob's Vids. Despite being a Bobcat for 35 years today I found a song I'd never heard before... 'Ain't Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody'...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Absent friends

Two of my dearest friends had birthdays this week.

Neither now live on Kiwi shores so I wish them all the best and celebrate with pictures...

You know who you are. Love & Hugs.

Gay sex and a near miss for Micky

I don't know what happened to the week. It went in a flash. Admittedly I spent part of it feeling sorry for myself with a stinking head cold, but I can't do 'sick' for very long before I get bored.

I finished reading Kate Atkinson's "When Will There Be Good News" which I found very dark and funny despite it being full of bad news, mostly death. Its actually a bit of a thriller.

Wednesday evening a bunch of us went along to support Paul (John's son) who has written the music for a play and was in charge of the sound board. Called 'Post Gay', it was on at Galatos - a small backstreet venue that I last went to about 5 years ago to see Linton Kwesi Johnson the reggae poet (he of 'Inglan is a Bitch' and other memorable verses).

Post Gay is only on for a short run as part of the Auckland Fringe Festival. The music was great and the play was OK although the plot, about a gay guy living with a straight girl and looking for love online (not just sex) was a bit weak and slow in parts. The only nudity was projected onto the rear canvas which was meant to be his laptop screen while the actors stayed mostly dressed to the disappointment of some of us.

Then yesterday, there was another commotion caused by the (same) two dogs invading our property, running amok and chasing the cats. By bedtime we had recovered 2 of our 3 pets. Micky was nowhere to be seen, despite several hours searching and calling for him until well after dark. It was a rainy windy night and we were very worried for him.

A sleepless night followed and he had still not appeared this morning. Fearing the worst, after what happened to Zappa, we went out at 8am for another search. This time we heard him whining and spotted him up high - nearly at the top of an 8m tall tree. The ladder wouldn't reach but luckily as John went up Micky started to descend until his paws reached John's shoulders and he could be lifted to safety. Looking wary and bedraggled he scoffed down a double portion of Jimbos and spent most of the day dozing on his saviour's lap.

Much joy ensued. Relief all around. But also anger at whoever is still letting their large dogs run around off leash.

This afternoon spent nursing my cold, ringing around for roofing quotes, watching 'The IT Crowd' on DVD and baking a sultana, date and apple cake.

Micky sleeping before the night up a tree ordeal...And impersonating a keyboard armrest this afternoon...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Peregrinations with cocktails aplenty

Oops! A week flew by since the last post. How did that happen.

Yesterday was the Annual Peregrine Place Progressive Cocktail Party. Interestingly the definition of 'peregrination' (a word I came across only recently) is 'To journey or travel from place to place, especially on foot.' Not with cocktails, although in our locality the definition is tinged with flavours of grasshopper and melon daiquiri.

Our street is a small and friendly one, where most people know each other, it having just 15 houses. Nine of them took part in yesterdays communal provision of alcoholic beverages. Starting at 2pm, we visited each in turn, spending about 45 minutes at each place, imbibing and nibbling on tasty snacks, meeting the kids and the pets and admiring views, gardens and spacey looking ice crushing machinery. At about 8pm we staggered to the final host for a bbq where all the food was contributed by everyone. We stayed until about 11.30 sitting out on a warm, calm evening on a beautiful high level deck overlooking Auckland city and the harbour bridge. A great day indeed.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Stormy Smith Sings Strongly

Last night we braved the storm warnings to drive an hour north of Auckland to the Leigh Sawmill to see Hollie Smith perform. It's a cafe/venue in a rural area near the coast and in a converted sawmill. The food is good there too.

Crikey, that girl can sing. Shame though she chose to rant about her misfortunes in the recording world, and how she's been ripped off and lost her recent album.
She also had a lot of trouble with coughing in between songs. It must be hard on the vocals to roar and shout like she does. See clip below.

A parcel arrived with some goodies I bought on Amazon UK. Low prices now with the pound. We got the 2nd series of Green Wing, Californication, series 1 and the Talking Heads movie 'True Stories' that I used to have on vhs. All for about $60 NZ

A lazy Sunday morning lie in then I chatted to my brother Nigel on the phone. He's coming to Melbourne next month so I'll be seeing him there. After a late but quick breakfast we decided exercise was needed.

On the way to Cornwall Park we looked up at Mt Hobson and commented that we'd never been up there for a walk. A quick diversion saw us climbing over a wobbly stile and wading through knee high grass and avoiding freshly minted cow pats to get to the top of a hill that stands so close to town. Great views from up there. On the way back down we passed a mysterious gate that JK thinks conceals an underground water storage facility.