Friday, December 4, 2009

Music makes my world go round

Dropped through Albion Love Den's blog today and went "ohh a top ten list, my favourite!". So I thought I'd steal some of it. Not the top ten or the fact that the albums were made in 2009 but just the music that I've been riffing off this year.

Now I try and not to get stuck in a time preiod. I want my kids to have a wide variety of music that doesn't contain smashmouth or khe sahn. So here it is, I expect and welcome all smartarse comments

Lily Allen - Its Not Me Its You
I understand why people look down at me for digging Ms Allen. But hey I don't read who weekly or listen to commercial radio so couldn't give a flying fuck about her private life. Her lyrics have a great wit and she writes great pop hooks. That's it.

The Shins - wincing the night away.
I love these guys and can't believe I let this one slip by me. If you like the shins you'll love it, if you don't you'll probably not change your mind on this record. Melodic pop rock at it's best.

La Roux - La Roux
Great electro pop. Again just fun music to listen too, great hooks and tunes. Don't know if I'll still be listening to it in ten years, but love it now.

The Presets - Apacalypso
I don't jump on the bandwagon that these guys are ground breakers, they sound just like what Sonic Animation would be doing if they were still around. That said, I loved sonic animation and I love this album. Play it loud to get the adrenaline going before footy.

The John Steel Singers.- the beagle and the dove
A blend between Sgt Peppers and Gomez these brisbane guys are just an infectious sing along bag of fun. Hope they get much, much bigger. In the old days I would have booked them as much as possible.

Anyone who knows me knows that Oz Hip Hop is my thing and the standard bearers are definetly...
Hilltop Hoods - State of the art
Great album, good songs, but, but I reckon as they have got more cash they have got better gear and because the boys are perfectionists the sound has got more polished. But is it a better sound? I'm not convinced that it is better than that rasp you get in The Calling.

Ugly Duckling - audacity
Not up to the standard of Taste the Secret or Journey to Anywhere but that just means I play it all the time rather than flog the fuck out of it. Great clever lyrics, no ego rap or bitches here sorry.

Seth Sentry - simple game
Anyone in a dead end office should listen to this song. Great beat too.

Dialectrix - outcast
Great bouncy beat, another pre footy song.

Paul Kelly - live off his website
If you didn't know, Paul gives away free tunes from his website, a letter of the alphabet every month. Best song this year? Winter Coat. If you don't think Paul Kelly is australia's best singer /songwriter well you can listen to this in your padded cell.

Nirvana - nevermind
This is a funny one. Never really liked Nirvana in the 90s. After watching their classic album episode though, I went and downloaded ( iTunes thank you for asking, I will not steal music) and realized that this is a cracker of an album.

MGMT - oracular spectacular
Again had no idea this band was cool. Heard one of their songs on a teen american comedy. Bought the album. Loved it.

Muse - uprising
Passion Pit - moths wings
Temper Trap - sweet disposition
These are all rock pop songs the Js have been flogging and like mindworms have entered my brain and will not leave. Good songs though.

Ok. Let rip. What did I get wrong.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anti aging from football

On saturday, I looked quite mature, maybe late thirties. By Sunday night, I'd lost a decade, regained my youthful good looks. Let me explain.

About 15 weeks ago I came back to Whites Hill to play div 2 touch. My teammates were a bunch of lads from the 90s. Born in the 90s that is. Yet this group of guys were the best fun to play with. There was not a selfish bone in their bodies. They worked hard. They listened to our supercoach, the best touch player in the world, nathan jones. So halfway through the year, we had had one draw and four or five wins. We were looking pretty good for finals and the boys laughlingly suggested that if we won the grand final I'd have to shave off my Kram from Spiderbait beard I had been cultivating.

Despite being quite attached to my bushy growth, I jumped on the idea. As each week went by and the wins piled up, they grew more cocky, they wanted more. They wanted my long flowing locks too! They tried to renegotiate the deal and we came to the agreement that if I got player of the final I'd shave my head as well. It was a pretty safe bet. If some of those boys keep developing and playing like they are now I am certain representative teams will follow.

I was right too, we won the final convincingly and I played ok and scored a few tries but our young guys tore the other team up. I ended up with nothing but a cold beer and a hitler mustache and the best feeling I've ever had after a full season of touch.

I trained harder this year than I have in ten or so years. I wanted to make sure I could keep up and be fit enough to show a bit of leadership. Our captain was in NZ for a funeral and I was stoked to get to skipper the side in the final. What a season.

Thanks boys. Thanks Nath.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Monday, November 9, 2009


When I was at the end of primary school my parents decided to take me round Australia for a year. There were several reasons. They have a really bad case of wanderlust. All my closest friends were in the year below me and I am one of those in between ages, being born in December. Also my mum and stepdad were using it as a trial to see how I would cope with us as a family unit, which was hilarious, Allen was the only father I had ever known and I was already saying they should get married.

The highlight of the trip was undoubtedly the first days barramundi fishing in the NT. It was really just a trial run in the tinny, to make sure the setups worked and the gear was all ok. But on the second or third pass I caught what was to be the biggest barra of the trip, 83cm. Since then I have always had a soft spot for that little tinny.

Once I left home for uni, the folks got down to some serious travelling, with a much more serious boat setup. The little tinny stayed tucked under the house in Gladstone and when we bought a place that was near the river I dropped a few hints about the old girl.

Much to my delight this year it arrived with the folks on one of their trips south. I bought a cheap electric motor and a deep cycle battery and yesterday we putted off down the river. It's not like the NZ rivers, the Albert, being a shade of brown and having lots of leaf and twig litter on the surface but it was still very relaxing, puttering along the water almost silently, getting quite close to the wildlife.

Didn't take the rod but there were hundreds of fish working, one mullet even jumped in the boat, so the next trip will include a few lure, a beer and some food, should become quite regular!

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bows and ammo and bucks and weddings and puzzles and friends and.....

I've been in beautiful Wanaka for a wedding. Seany is one my sharehouse buddies from one of the best sharehouses I have ever lived in. He has bounced around between Oz and NZ, but finished up in queenstown, hence the wedding being in o e of the worlds most beautiful landscapes, at this time of year anyway. Going from hot parched SE Qld to the lush greenery and snow capped mountains was a great little trip, not to mention one of the best wedding settings I've seen.

By the time we arrived I had just enough time to get dinner on and have a quick shower ( more on the food at Mother Foccacia later), only to find the owners had forgotten to turn the hot water on. Water from a lake fed by snow capped mountains is an effective but unpleasant way to shake off hardly any sleep from the night in Christchurch airport and the second flight and drive.

I met up with all the boys for the start of the bucks party, two days before the wedding! It started at this place where you could target shoot with bows, 22's and shotguns, plus drive golf balls to your hearts content. It was all great fun, we split into teams and cycled round the venue. Some of these boys have been shooting rabbit and fox for years, the most I've ever shot was a BB gun. I did ok with the 22, had an awesome time with the clay shoot, 8 from 15, not bad for first time and won the archery! At 15m I hit the bullseye 3 times in ten shots, five in the target overall. Not bad for first go. I reckon I might buy a bow and set up some targets here, it was great fun.

The thing is though, I've been reading Ian Stirlings great 'change' series, where it explores what happens if we had to go back to the old weapons. I know you would get better with practice, but it wasn't easy at fifteen meters. What would it be like at 100m, with a cross breeze and a deer spooked by your scent. No wonder animals were domesticated.

The rest of the bucks was the normal drunken hilarous debauchery. I have a great little video that I won't post, despite its low quality and the fact it is one of the most funny things I have witnessed, I'll obey the time honoured rules.

The next day the other flatmate from that great house arrived. Davey and his partner Marj turned up in the arvo after we had recovered a bit. It was so good to see them, we used to have a cooking club together and slipped straight back into our old chatty ways.

The day of the wedding was one of those days where I could move to NZ in the snap of my fingers. We went down and played some touch and frisbee and although all the kiwis cheated all the time, it was great fun. After we went up to puzzleworld, they had all these cool optical illusions and a maze! I was like a ten year old, in fact we all were, running through the maze trying to get to the four towers and back out. Running into each other and demanding "how many towers have you got" and "how the hell do you get to the yellow tower?". So much more fun than running 3km in a straight line.

The wedding itself was a blast. Set in this amazing landscape just lent itself to the magic of the occasion. Seany and Steph are just one of thos couples whose goals and sense of humour just mesh so well together. All the other people were lovely, even the UN diplomat on the bus back who cheerfully insulted half the bus on the fifteen minute journey.

A coffee in the morning with davey and marj and all that was left was the journey home. A car ride and two planes later and our little adventure was over. Keep an eye on MF for the food perspective of the trip.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

One of the hardest things I find about leaving lantanaland is that if something happens to the animals I feel guilty that I wasn't here. Not that it makes any difference, the predator doesn't respect my precence.

When we got home Maxi, my beautiful, plucky silkie, who had been with us since we lived in the city and had survived fox and snake, had been killed. She was a gift from a relative of a mate and a great mum and chook with personality. She'll be missed here on Lantanaland.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ramblings from a cold floor in Christchurch at 2am

Airport floors in New Zealand are not that warm, who knew? Flitting in between half sleep and hypothermia I have been thinking a lot about Lantanaland. I've been slack this winter, lots of new things at work, my fitness kick and my natural inbuilt laziness have conspired to ensure that I have been nowhere near enough busy.

No matter. Things have a way of working out. I have made mates with another neighbour at the other end of the hill. Noticing that they were bagging horse manure and leaving it at the gate I left a note in the letterbox. Turned out they have a matured pile of horse shit next to their stables and are happy for me to take a trailer load whenever I want. Honey and duck eggs will ensure that they will stay happy for me to raid their pile. You may think it's a bit strange to get excited about manure but it's an essential part of permaculture, my soil is basically rock and clay and adding a half meter of mulch and manure on top is the simplest way to get going on a half decent topsoil. Until I get my own cow and even when I do, this will be a resource worth more than money in the long run.

The Chooks and ducks are really going for it right now. Birmo is the lucky one because none of my mates like duck eggs so he gets the occasional delivery when the pile gets too high. My Malay Game rooster is starting to crow and the other pure bred girls are getting big enough to start cross breeding my meat birds. This is one of the projects I've been keen on ever since coming to Lantanaland, but foxes and snakes have knocked me back to square one time and time again. I figure that around June I will be killing and cooking my first home grown chicken. It will be the first of many midwinter parties/feasts that I will be having to celebrate my food, things that you won't be able to buy in any resteraunt or deli. Be nice and I'll send you an invite.

I've also come up with a few solutions for little problems round the place, a good edible plant for the shady area under the fig which I constantly have to slash (yukon), a better design for the Chookhouse so that my housesitters have less issues and more spa time. I'm hoping to get a few more fruit trees planted round the house and finally run an electric fence line in preperation for a dairy cow. I figure if I have the infrastructure in I will be more likely to go looking for real and that will instill a bit of saving discipline into me.

The mulberries, duck eggs and raw honey are the things I love about this place. Hard to get from any shop and just so good. The mulberry, honey and yoghurt smoothies are like heaven in a cup. Just wait till I have my own milk and yoghurt as well!

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Levels of Communication

Was listening to a bit off the ABC called the Hidden Persuaders, the unfashionable father of The Gruen Transfer on the iPod this morning and there was an interesting conversation about a petition tabled in state parliament about mums in 4X4s dropping kids off at school. The marketing guru basically said that a petition, while it will get a bit of media, will be ignored by a politician or a company. The rule seems to go like this, the more effort that you have to put in, the more it gets noticed. Non for profits will employ casuals on a basis of bonuses for the amount of signatures taken and it really is maybe twenty seconds of your time to participate and thus is largely ignored. A email takes more time and a letter even more time (and money) so are treated with more respect. I'd imagine that the letters and emails run by groups like GetUp where the work has been done for you are only given a touch more consideration than a petition. Ten letters chiselled into stone and dropped on the steps of parliament house would probably get laws changed on the same day.

All this is fair enough, why listen to a bunch of people hassled into signing a bit of paper more than someone that takes the time to put their red hot thoughts onto paper. The problem I have, is that I believe that there is an even higher level of communication and that's money. Business can buy a level of influence that a non for profit or an individual just can't match. Personally I'd love to see all political parties banned from receiving donations of any kind, for no other reason than it would mean less ads. Holding political parties to the trade practices act would be an interesting one as well. A lot of people will say that it will restrict politics to a subset of Australian society, but we get that now, the major parties are dominated by unionists, party machine people and lawyers. how many plumbers, sparkies, teachers (as opposed to teachers who've been in the union for the ten years before entering parliament) are in the ranks of our MPs.

This is why I really like Twitter. I'm not claiming it to be a revolutionary tool, although it has proved useful for very quick outcry, a digital mob with a pitchfork and burning torches. What i like is that at least for now it provides a direct line to the person. People who are getting their hacks to tweet are soon exposed, ridiculed and ignored.

Now excuse me, I'd like to make some real change in the way we pay our researchers in this country, so I'm off to find my stone slab and chisel.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I should not care this much about this.

"Beeso, you're like our Steve Price."

So said one of my very young teammates after tonights game. For those of you who have no idea who Steve Price is, he is an older rugby league player who keeps getting picked for rep sides where he promptly gets sledged for being too old, too slow, too outdated in a young mans game.

He then goes out and plays all over his opponents, dragging his team down the other end again and again. So I'm not sure if it is the ten year age gap between me and the next oldest player or the fact that I too like to drag us down the other end every set, but I was pretty stoked.

I shouldn't really be getting this excited about touch footy. The level is about the same as QLD cup or the VFL so it's pretty good, it's just the way touch footy makes me feel. Nervous.
Every game.

The last time I played at the good level I left badly. I've always lacked confidence in myself when it comes to physical things, playing music, sport and dancing and the way I left last time destroyed my less than strong ego. I wasn't enjoyed playing anywhere and I hated that. I love playing competitve sport. I love winning and feeling like I've made a difference for my team. But for two years all I could think about when I got on the feild was "what if I do something that loses us the game?"

At the bottom of it I didn't care, I was fat and lazy and was thinking of going and playing darts. Then I got a bit fitter. I started enjoying myself, wanting to win again. By the time this season came round I was keen to give it another shot, just to play hard. I wanted just one game of A grade. The bunch of guys in my team are kids with better attitudes than some of the rep players I've played with. And it shows, tonight we won our final round game which gave us an undefeated record for the regular season. The funny thing is, last week I played A grade, mainly by default, but I was feeling like I'd let the boys down, I paced around while they played, screaming encouragement, running water. When I played my game it wasn't the same, it wasn't my team.

I still get nervous, really nervous before games, but they're good nerves, they pump me up so I can cart that ball forward every set.
Just like Steve Price.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My life in music.

My mum, bless her cotton socks, was not big into music. As a result of a hrs life and a car accident she suffered from and still does of debilitating migraines. So deep purple LPs lying around were going to be in short supply. In fact the only record I can remember her playing was a Slim Dusty album. Once. So it would be fair to say she had very little influence on my musical taste.

The first tapes I can recall owning were Dire Straits - Love Over Gold an EP of sprawling stories with lots of beautiful guitar and piano. I'd wanted their album, Brothers in Arms, with all the classic pop songs, but ended up with that. Despite the initial distaste of ungrateful 11 year old, I still love that EP. I also got a few hand me down tapes from my step brother. Choirboys was good. Right on Track 87.

If you are a 13 year old boy can there be a greater lyric than "boom, boom, boom , let's go back to my room"? I think not. I think the first tape I bought was Icehouse - Man of Color. A great Aussie band writing good pop. And of course every Christmas for about five years I got the Smash Hits compilation tape. Bros, Kylie and the gang was the musical equivalent of feeding a baby fairy floss and Dagwood dogs. That's why it is highly ironic that in grade ten, Bon Jovi came to save me.

You see, my mum, money conscious that she is had greeted every statement that I was going to purchase a CD player with a question. "do you need it?". I wasn't sure. A cousin saved the day by buying me the gold tour edition of Slippery When Wet. A fine excuse to pony up the cash. It was then that one of the biggest influences in my musical education kicked in. My mate Motts.

I joined a music club that gave you three CDs a month at a better price. We split the purchases between us. I think Motts got Faith No More - Angel Dust and the Jesus and Mary Chain - Stoned and Dethroned. I got the Chilli Peppers classic Blood Sugar Sex Magic. Of course we swapped CDs and I got an introduction to grunge. Alice in Chains, Soungarden and I hate to admit it now, Pearl Jam followed. Not Nirvana, strangely, it would be years later that the doco series Classic Albums would get me interested in them. Of course I loved U2 and the live Hunters and Collectors double album but I reckon that between high school and Motts and I living together the first year and a half of living in Brisbane, that he introduced my to every new band that I got into.

Except one. A girl that I was more than a little interested in was a big fan of a couple of bands that were very conducive to young hormones and poorly lit bedrooms and dance floors. Portishead and Morcheeba come on down. The love affair with them, Massive Attack, Tricky and others lasted much longer than my teenage hormones.

Another beast was about to raise its head. Brisbane in the late 90s was the best place to go out and see a bit of live music, even if I didn't really know what to go and see. I can remember going to a Livid and just hanging round the main stage. I can only recall a bit of Shihad and two Reef songs while I was lining up for the toilets. Now I kick myself that I missed them, but back then I had no idea who they were. My local watering hole was also a great little room to see the odd local legend like Glockenspiel. The Alley would have a much bigger part to play later.

After a few years Motts, The Wife who was at that stage The Girlfriend and a few others got another share house together and introduced me to a strange new music. Aussie hip hop, specifically Resin Dogs. It rocked my world. I was hooked and for good. And live, Jesus they were something else, with Dave standing at the kit, drumsticks flying and Lazy Grey on the mic. We saw them live a lot. And a few others as well, Moby's tour of the Play album was a highlight. Salmonella Dub. There was lots of music festivals of which I can remember little but live music was about to become a much bigger part of my life.

I was working at The Alley now, in the tradition of getting a job there from spending more than half my waking hours in there playing pool, drinking and listening to music. Trouble was I had this wedding coming up and I needed to pay for some things. Suddenly the boss quit and despite no knowledge of booking bands or running a pub I put myself up for the job. All good. Over the next five years I saw more live bands than I can count but I grew very weary of singer songwriters, there were so many crap ones and the good ones, like Alex Oliver and Asa Broomhall and a few others made the others seem like cats yowling. But Aussie hip hop was what I liked. Starting with my heroes Brothers Stoney, with Len One and Lazy from Resin Dogs and stretching through to Hilltop Hoods with little side visits to bands like 11 hour limit, an instrumental hip hop band, bass, scratching and flute. I booked them all. Ok so there was some crap ones but then there are guys like Koolism or Bias B.

The other big influence from this period was my good mate Darryl Bailey from EMI music. He swung The Alley lots of new music to play between sets and put me onto some artists that I'd never have bought. Paul Kelly, K-OS, Beth Orton. And others that we both loved like Cat Empire and Salmonella Dub.

So now where to. I don't really go to live shows anymore. I've got back into Triple J lately, which is good for new hip hop and rock mindworms like Muse and Passion Pit. I've left a lot out like the great story of Stereo MCs for another time. It's been a great ramble through my back catalog and I might open some of the cracks another day.

But to Motts? Thanks mate.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Class of politician

Listening to the fantastic Fran Kelly this morning interviewing a MP on the reduction of the printing allowance and MP's salary in general. It was put to this MP whether $120G was enough to lure talented people into politics. The MP mentioned a number of talented people had turned down going for the safe seat of Bradfield because of the pay. So does that mean the only people worth attracting into politics are ones who think $120G is not enough to leave the private sector for public life. Is anyone in federal parliment now on more money than they were previously?

I wonder all the time about the people in politics. Are they really a representative of us, how many teachers, miners and plumbers are there in federal parliment. If all we have representing us are party political animals, unionists and executives who think $120G is a paycut, how can they write policy for the rest of us little people.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Down the coast

Had four days off down at beautiful Brunswick Heads with the folks and my dads brother and a heap of his family. It came at just the right time, I'd had a brutal week at work and was starting to feel a bit heavy from the non stop training so a few days of this was just what the doc ordered.

Ian and Allen (my dad) are old school fishos so there was a fair bit of fishing planned. The fish of choice is the blackfish, a good feed but boring as batshit to catch. Give me whiting fishing any day. Allen has brought me down the little tinny for me to have, so I'll be finding out what's good on the Albert River. I'd planned on doing a bit of eating, drinking beer, cooking, reading and writing.

I read two books in the three days. I picked up the first just as we were getting ready for dinner. Straight away I was not hooked, but intriuged. World War Z is, as the title suggests, a zombie book. I'm not really into the old Zed, never seen a Romero movie or read any Zed fiction. This book was something different though, it was a historian going throughout the world, gathering aneccdotes about the war on Zed. The closest thing I've ever read to this was old Tolkien's supplementary books, the Simmilarion and Unfinished Tales, which were like history books for the world Lord of the Rings was set in.

Great read. Once you read a bit you forget that Zed is a figment of the authors mind and concentrate on the stories and the picture that he builds of how the world could go if something when wrong. Doesn't have to be Zed, could be swine flu or bearded nutters the only problem was with the book is that it switched me into rude mode, where I partially ignore guests and just keep reading.

The next book off the pile was blogger/author Sam de Brito's The Lost Boys. Birmo reccomended this to me, maybe they have a club or a union or something. Anyway despite enjoying having a tradional narritive again, this was a hard book to read. Running the pubs, I knew characters like these, fuck ups that they are. It's one of my motivating factors in life, don't end up like one of them. Despite the depressing and bleak material, it's a good read.

I love Brunswick, small, quiet, good coffee and a beautiful setting. We ate well, fresh blackfish in foil with ginger, chilli, garlic, butter and lime. Shin beef slow cooked with Montieths Winter Ale and split peas, beans and pearl barley. Rib fillet in a marinade of garlic, lime juice, soy, honey and chilli. Four days of not training.

And a three day working week to come.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bite sized reading

I read really quickly. If it's a book that I'm really in to I can rip through a book in a few hours. It's not speed reading, cause if it's boring it takes me weeks to get through something.

So I've hit a bit of curly one. One of the fellow travellers over at Mother Foccacia also has a blog that is essentially a novel, broken up into small parts. It's funny, crude in bits and hits a lot of the memories that most of my fellow flatmates from yesteryear will recognize with frightening clarity.

However it rolls along in small chunks. At the start that was fine because it was convenient to fit in at the end of the day or while waiting in line, anytime I had a spare five minutes. But now I am hooked in the way that if this was a printed book would keep me up until I'd read the last word.

Birmo has written about doing something like this for his fanfic, to be ported into an app for the iPhone or google android. You always have it with you and read it at the doctors or on the train or bus. The writing style will be slightly different because you really have to keep the reader coming back again and again.

That's what Doctor Yobbo's done. I'm hooked. The story/blog is called In The Worst Possible Taste. It's a good read, check it out. But start with the first entry.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Touched by the sun.

Touch can be a confusing sport to understand what is good and what's not. For a start, in QLD at least we have a superleauge type venture that runs an unaffiliated comp on grounds all over south east QLD. Whites Hill on a Friday night is the best competition short of representative touch that you can play in QLD though, without a doubt. The last game I'd played there wasn't that happy.

I'd played two seasons of the top grade. I was the worst player on the team, to be fair, but at least I'd played. One game into the third season I rocked up to find that I'd been dropped back to div 2. I deserved to be dropped, I was out of shape and low on confidence but also deserved to be told at the start of the week. I then played ordinarily for div 2 before badly rolling an ankle and never going back. After seven years playing on a Friday night then backing up for weekend work I was enjoying having a few beers on Friday afternoon, watching the footy and then sleeping off the consequences. Such as they are for me, easily the lightest drinker of all my friends.

There was never any thought of going back and playing A grade. But this recent fitness kick has brought back a few competitive juices and I asked a mate if there would be a spot in his div 2 side. This mate is regarded as the best player in the world so I was pretty confident he'd be able to at least get me a start.

Friday night was first night back. I was bloody nervous for a simple game of footy, but it might have been the redbull talking The first thing I noticed was that all my teammates had never, ever, had personal experience of the eighties. There is now an over thirties comp on a Friday night, so all the old guys have cleared out to relive glory days against old foes. The second thing I noticed was at tap off. This game was bloody quick!

I soon settled into it and found that I was having an absolute ball. My mate was filling in as coach and all the young guys were having a real crack against a slightly older late eighties born model of a team. The second half was even better, I got into the middle and did my thing, which is defending and getting the ball down the other end so the flashy guys can work their magic. All this fitness thing had worked wonders too, I was blowing but still felt strong, or was that still the redbull?

We didn't win, the young guys tightened up mentally in the end of the game, but I'll take a five all draw. If the next nine weeks and finals are like this, I reckon that the last memories I have of Friday night touch will be much better than last time.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunday, not the day of rest.

When I ran the pubs I worked a pretty normal working week, but then most of Friday and Saturday nights, plus a bbq on sunday. So when I got this new job, which is a Monday to Friday gig, I discovered the joy of weekends and came to imbue them with a mystical significance, to be protected at all costs, defended to the death.

However judging the continental sausage at the royal Brisbane show is not something to pass up, so I gave up my Sunday morning to toodle off to Brisbane for a 8am start. That would have been fine except the mob running the judging would be hard pressed to organize a piss up at Oktoberfest in the biggest brewery in the world. Me and the boss were used for a total of about 20min of judging. At 11am. Three hours of sitting round watching a train wreck of organisation.

Anyway, bolted off to get home and build some racking for some more bee hives that are guesting, maybe permantly, at Lantanaland. I quickly ducked in to grab a present from a good mate that she'd picked up in Italy and sent home with her mum. Thanks Jess!

The bloke who owns the new bee hives, Matt, came round and we whipped up this heavy duty frame that will hold about five hives. We built it out of reclaimed deck posts that my builder neighbour had salvaged for me. They are bloody good gear and I have plans already for the rest of them.

Matt took off and came back with three hives. Only one problem. One of the hives the tape had come loose on the entrance. The boys got stung quite a bit moving them, I was wearing a singlet and was soft, I stayed well back. They eventually got them in and came down for a beer and then I crashed out.

I paid for it Monday afternoon though, suffering my first case of Mondayitis in years. I struggled through the training session and good case of mental fog. Thank god it's back to normal this weekend!

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bloody big towtruck and lots of caffiene.

Normally you need a bloody big tow truck to pull me out of Lantanaland. I like pottering around on the farm on a weekend, thinking about things to do, or starting new projects instead of completeing ones already started.

Friday night was drinks for an old mate heading off overseas. Anita is one of the crew from The Alley days, one of the best workers I ever had and if I ever get Lantanaland up to a comercial opperation, I'd find a job for Anita in a heart beat.

After a mini pub crawl and a failed attempt by unnamed females to drag the group into the strippers, we ended up, as you do in Brisbane, on someones back deck. I was the designated driver and I was pretty tired to start with on Friday, so I'd hit the coffee pretty hard through the day, but now I had an IV drip of red bull and it was even starting to fail. Time to head home.

I've been on a big exercise kick and decided the best way to shake the cobwebs out was two coffees and a bike class. I felt much better and the bacon, eggs and coffee breakfast post ride didn't hurt either. I was all fired up for the second excurision of the weekend, Hughesy's Non Fic festival and it was The Wifes turn to drive.

Ahhh no.

Turns out the night before had struck a heavy toll and the thought of 2 x two hour drives and some political panel discussion was making Wifey go sleepy. So I ponied up, grabbed a mate and went off to hear Annabel Crabb, Birmo and some George bloke from The Australian talk about Malcom Turnbull.

(I have a theory that The Wife, faced with pregnancy and designated driver duties in the not too distant future, is making me drive as much as possible when we go out. A designated driver bank, if you want. )

I won't read The Oz because I reckon it's a bit preachy and has it's own head so far up it's arse it can touch it's own ego, but my mate loves the rag and is studying economics post doc, so he was thrilled to get a last minute invite. Hughesy puts on a good gig. Turnbull was discussed, but the conversation rambled naturally off topic to more intersting things. Both Annabel and George were excellent speakers, insightful and funny without pushing their point of veiw. I thought it was a nice touch of Hughesy to include a punter who got up and harraunged the panel for not answering the topic question. A true festival experience. By pure chance, nowhereBob sat next to me as well, introducing himself by writing a message on his phone and tapping me on the shoulder. He got to ask the first question in QandA. "Annabel, will you elope with Abe Frellman?". No, wasn't that my question. I forget.

We hung round for a feed and I got to have a good chat with Annabel and her husband Jeremy, Bob, Hughesy, Birmo and Richard Fidler, who had chaired an earlier panel. It was an extremely entertaining evening and with a bit more caffeine I made it home to Lantanaland a sattisfied man.

Now excuse me, I'm off to bed with my autographed copy of Art, Life, Chooks I bought last night.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Friday, July 24, 2009


Alright settle down all of you who read this blog and fit in to the subset of people who constantly badger me and The Wife to have kids, she's not pregnant, not yet anyway. No this is about when we do have kids how i will be ready for the whole gamut of looking after young girls. I assume that with high spa usage i will be unable to have boys.

You see, The Wife, thoughtful and charming lady that she is, has me on a highly tailored and specialized training program for fatherhood. It helps that i am already one of those most irritating of people, a morning person. I also am pretty regimented in the mornings which makes things easier. I have also taken to making up and singing silly songs at the top of my voice to try and raise The Wife from the dead. Doesn't work.

The morning typically goes like this.

Alarm goes off, on a different floor so i make sure i get out of bed. I wander down, squeeze my glass of juice and drink it while i prepare The Wifes breakfast and juice. I take it upstairs to her and at this stage she is training me to deal with a cute 5 year old girl. She mumbles as i shake her and turns away, pulling the covers up over her head and curling into a ball. Ahh, so adorable, I'll give he a little more sleep.

I go off to make my breakfast and first cup of coffee and when i return The Wife has moved onto the thirteen year old training session. Along with bleary eyes and lethargic movements comes the vacant stare and the complaints. "its too early to be up", "it's too cold" and "can you get me a jumper". I pay little attention and read the online papers and the blogs before going and getting the large crowbar and forcing her from the bed.

The final stage is the sixteen year old girl. This is demonstrated by the 45min shower that follows being tossed out of bed. I feed all the animals and iron my shirt before claiming the shower for a quick rinse and I'm off to work. Its quite possible that by the time The Wife leaves for work she has gone back to her true age, but when i leave she is still standing in front of her clothes in a towel, absentmindedly picking at random bits of clothing.

Guess i'll just have to sing louder.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fit for what

I like being fit. And for the last four years despite a slight resemblence to this fellow

I was quite happy being unfit. I don't really like getting fit. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I had become quite dissatisfied with playing football and sucking, but instead of doing the sensible thing, giving it away and drinking more beer and cooking up a storm, I decided to do something about it.

Something, it turned out, was the gym. Me and gyms have never really seen eye to eye. For one I'm a bit of a music snob and all the bump and grind r'n'b that they play gives me a headache like a speed addict detoxing in a room full of blackboards and chicks with really long nails. Second off I always had the image of instructors being inanely cheerful urging me to "go for it" or "be your best" at every opportunity.

The fact is, I'm a little competitive and I mostly will try and push it a little harder, which in this case means that instead of bitching about the music or the instructor I was more worried about, what's that thing I'm meant to do, oh yeah, breathe.

I'm really enjoying the classes to augment training with the rep touch boys. I've even gone to one or two at 530am. I might even venture onto the floor and do some weights. Maybe not. The one that hurt more than any though was the pilates. Absolutely killed me. Anyone laughing right now can send their comments to this man.

He does it three times a week.

Of course I haven't lost any weight and it's bloody hurting but I'm on the way. Wind back the clock five years, here I come.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hottest 100 songs by dead people and Radiohead

I don't know what it is about triple Js hottest 100, I just love it. The debate, the trivia, the memories of share house parties listening to the countdown, it's all good fun. The Twitter during the last twenty songs was particularly a good laugh.

The Hilltop Hoods were my highlight though. Highest ranked Aussie song. Only one of two (?) hip hop songs in the list. A relatively new song amongst all the sudden boom of nostalgia for 90's alternative music.

Back in the day, I ran a small Brisbane live music venue. Rock and pop was king in Brisbane, but through my love of two great hip hop bands, Resin Dogs and Brothers Stoney, I was determined to bring more acts to The Alley to showcase the genre. The night was to be called “Mics Sound Nice" and we kicked off with a cracker, Brothers Stoney and Koolism. Went off. They were followed by The Herd and a couple of the Obese crew, Reason and BiasB. All top shows with a packed room.

One thing I'll say about the hip hop scene, it's dominated by nice guys who are a pleasure to work with. Loved Dan and Hau from Koolism. Bias was like the landed gentry of hip hop. The Herd once backed up for me after a Livid festival. When they walked through the door they looked so worn out I thought they'd be flat out lifting the mike, but they were bouncing off the walls during their set. Len and Lazy from the Brothers and another local, Gav from Miss Brown were always there to help out with advice. In fact one day Len recommended I drop into a national DJ battle to check out the live act that was traveling with them. Pretty good, he reckoned.

The night did not start well. After working during the day I had channel surfed between the rugby, league and AFL only to watch the broncos, wallabys and lions all lose. The lions loss was particularly galling as it was to my second most hated team, Port Adelaide. Not really wanting to go out after that, I managed to drag myself to the Valley to check the guys out. The crowd was pretty thin but they bounced on stage. "our boys thrashed you weak lions tonight, how do you like that Brisbane".


Once they started their set though, all football was forgotten. They had killer beats and a raw bounce to their delivery. Monday morning I rang PJ, their manager and booked a date, any date.

Their show was madness of the best kind. I have no idea how many I packed in but it was too many. The Alley was literally a concrete box so it was oppressively hot. But they absolutely smashed it. There was no security or crowd control but everyone was there to have a good time and listen to some top tunes, nothing else. I doubt there was a better gig at The Alley and we saw a lot of good gigs.

They broke big on the Js after that but still honored a commitment to come back and headline a three day hip hop festival I ran. They all came, The Herd, Reason, Koolism, Bias, funkoars, cause they were all top blokes. That's why I'm so happy that the Hoods got in the top twenty. They are that good and they deserve it.

PS. All through the Lions glory years I never let the Hoods forget that we were winning premierships while they were choking. Of course in the fourth quarter of the Port-Lions final when it was obvious that we couldn't come back I got a phone call from the boys. They rang me from an Adelaide pub. All I got was "ready, one, two, three, FUCK OFF BEESO".


Lantanaland from the iPhone

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


A very lazy weekend rolled by in which the definite highlight was "Prognosis Death", Girlclumsys improv comedy gig. Seriously if you live in Brisbane go and check it out, it is side splittingly funny. However I didn't get anywhere near enough done on an extra pen for the ducks and chooks. The medium chooks and the guinea fowl are outgrowing their super secure digs and they are big enough to go into more mature digs and eventually free range.

This is one of the blessings and curses of Lantanaland. When we came here, there was nothing here, just acres of lantana and a small house. Compare that to the other house we looked at while house shopping. It had an established orchard, stable, chook pen, fences and an easily accessible dam. The down side would have been if I hadn't liked the way any of that stuff was set up, it's a bit of a waste to pull it down. Mind you, chicken mesh and star pickets don't come cheap, which is why today I started my bamboo poles in concrete experiment.

The new run also had a recycled screen door and a chook house made from pallets that work was throwing out. It's not just the chicken runs though. Getting a cow will mean repairing and adding to the run down fence I have before stringing the electric lines up. It all costs money but sitting in the spa watching the misty rain roll in over my new pen I realized, it's also a heap of fun.

Thanks to Pol for helping out today, it's so much easier to do stuff if you have someone to hold the star picket straight or hold the door while you drill.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Jesus Phone

I'm a bit of a tech geek. Not a full member, I failed the Star Trek written exam and I play and watch far too much sport. But I do have the new iPhone, but unlike probably half the iPhone users out there I am really interested in seeing how far I can push this little device.

I already write all the blogs with the phone. Now the new one has a half decent camera as well. So what, says half the Nokia owners out there. Well, this, for a start.

That was all done from within the phone. It also does basic video and video editing, with direct upload to YouTube, so now I can add video to the blog, like this,

without having to jump back on my MacBook. Pity i forgot to frame the right way, but the buggers were pecking me! I still have to do that from the web, but an app will written soon enough that will add the video before accessing the web. The next app I expect to see now that has let developers have access to the camera is the ability to record voiceovers.

Ok. Now imagine you are a foreign correspondent. In one device, you have a wifi and mobile enabled camera, phone and video that will let you shoot, edit, voiceover, write your article and send off to your site or editor.

In fact I wonder if it will accelerate a trend where the best freelance guys will have their own sites, rather than selling to a paper to get it out on the web. Have a look at a guy like John Gruber, who writes some of the most insightful articles on tech from his site, Daring Fireball. Even Birmo, who gets more traffic to his various journalistic work from his personal site than through the actual media gateways. The thing is, I trust certain writers, journos and podcasters, much more than I trust a brand like the SMH or The Australian. In fact every bad piece written in a paper makes me wish that journos like Kathleen Noonan or Annabel Crabb had their own sites.

The Jesus Phone is not for everybody, but the chances of me carrying round a big digital video camera or SLR all the time while I work and shape lantanaland are pretty bloody slim. And if i was away from the laptop i would have to wait till I got home to edit and upload what I was thinking or seeing. As the guys on one of the podcasts say just about every time they discuss a new camera "the best camera is the one you have with you".

Well the best way for me to write, do photo and video and edit is with me all the time.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Four meats in one day

Had a cracker of a day. Up early so I could get all my calls done so I could make it to lunch with all the burgers and my mate Ryano.

Started with the buffalo wings, then progressed to the rib platters. It was a tasty meaty lunch, the high point being Girlclumsy reading parts of "swank" magazine in her beautifully modulated newsreader voice. From memory. Wow, The Wah is a lucky man.

After that I picked up a few loaner books (thanks mate!) and did a bit more books before hitting the gym for some boxing to burn off at least the buffalo wings. I then resisted the urge to have some salad for dinner and completed the day with some tasty lamb.

But now I am very tired and can't decide which book to start.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mentally deficient.

Two finals for touch footy this week. The semi on Wednesday night was interesting. The team we were playing were a bunch of the Gold Coasts next generation, young, dumb and fit, wheras we had a couple of current champions, quite a lot of old canny stagers and a few young uns'.

We started perfectly running in three easy touchdowns with almost Swiss precision. But in the second half they came at us and our fitness and application began to fade. Right to the point where it was equal at full time, but our champions came through for us in golden point and we went through to face our repeated and mortal enemies, the kiwis. After all, this is the coast, it's remarkable it's not two kiwi sides in the final.

We seem to play these guys every year in the final and it's a always a battle. They had touched us up badly last game. This time we had a game plan for defense and for once we executed it perfectly. Guys who'd been isolated on the line were suddenly rock solid keystones. To beat this team, which has about 5 international players in it, we needed to play at our best and dropping three balls over the line is not really affordable, even in the wet. Final margin? Funnily enough, it was three points. The better team won, but it was good to see that tactically, we had a chance, that we got ourselves into the game.

Losing the game is not what has been bothering me today, even though I hate losing anything. The last two seasons I've been getting increasingly anxious about playing. I left playing the top grade in Brisbane in a crap way and I've never seemed to get that touch of belief back. I'm starting games not willing the long balls to my wing or hoping I can make that big touch in defense that lifts the game. I'm fine when I'm on the field doing my job, but not on the sideline. I've got a little monster sitting on my shoulder eating up that extra ten percent that I used to have. Part of it is my weight and I'm working and will be working harder on removing that as an excuse.

I think too that training with Nath and AJ has really brought it home. I feel like I have the same attitude as them when we train, but their absolute belief that they will be able to change the game is just so different to what I feel when I rock up to play

The funny thing is, you talk to me about any other part of my life, the things that define me and I have absolute faith that I am not just good at them, but absolutely fucking great. Just ask me. Lantanaland, looking after The Wife, cooking, my job and even writing this blog, I just feel that while I might not get everything right I very rarely go to sleep feeling like I have failed, but in the last two years there would only be one or two games that that thought wasn't in the back of my head.

The minds a funny thing.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

By Jove and by Jingo

"By Jove and by Jingo". I have been heard to pontificate, as I clean my monocle and fill my pipe, "I will not have one of those modern contraptions in my house. The wife will just have to boil her milk the way my grandaddy did it and women’s lib be damned."

I refer to a contraption that for ten years I have fought tooth and nail to deny precious bench space to in my kitchen.
The microwave.

I just don't see the need for it. As far as cooking kit goes there is a long, long, long list of stuff I would give the bench space to, but my usually reliable ability to swim against the tide has been worn down by a few factors. The biggest one is we seem to be having a few babies amongst the visitors to Lantanaland, fair enough, we all want to procreate, but the assumption of the traveling baby chef is that the kitchen they will be visiting will have a microwave. That's why the other weekend you would have found me heating some pumpkin mash on a double boiler as well as cooking dinner.

The other spear through my quite reasonable aversion is The Wife. She is convinced that if she could heat her milk for breakfast it would save her a precious ten minutes that could be much better spent daydreaming in the shower or lingering in bed instead of getting to work.

I've never liked the way it cooks food. Mum used to reheat my dinner after I came home from footy and it just tasted.... zapped. I'm sure I'll cave and use it to melt butter or chocolate but if you visit Mother Focaccia and you see a recipe for Lamb Roast in Microwave, get havock and Dr Yobbo to put a swat team together and take me out to a deserted farmhouse with nothing but butter, bacon, fresh eggs, veg, herbs, a fire and a fryypan, tie me to a chair and let Finthart do some severe reeducation.

All round it's been a bad week for my moral indignation. I'd been viewing the whole Twilight phenomenon with mild hypocritical disdain and as I buy all the books, movies and music for Lantanaland I had managed to steer the wife gently away from the books, despite the chorus of women on facebook channeling their inner fifteen year old.

The first breach was a couple of mates coming for a weeks visit of good food and lots of laughs. As a thank you I got a lovely bottle of scotch and The Wife got Twilight. To my dismay she then did an uncanny impression of me with a new Terry Pratchett, ignored me completely and read it cover to cover.

So while shopping in bigW, being the lovestruck fool I am, I saw the second one on special and got that for her. I couldn't get any worse could it. I might as well sell Lantanaland and move to a townhouse in the city. All my ideals are shot. But no. Going to training on the weekend, The Wife, unused to weekend mornings, squinted in the bright sun. I couldn't resist a shot across the bows.
"not turning into a VAMPire are you?"
"you know" she replied, with the look of a fisherman casting into his secret spot where the odds of a bite are 100%, " in Twilight, vampires aren't scared of the daylight, instead they sparkle!"

"They F^#*€NG what?!?"

I wonder if microwaves burn books.

Lantanaland from the iPhone
Grumble bloody grumble twilight grumble.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Slow news day

Been a bit slow here lately, mainly cause I've been living at mother foccacia a fair bit. Mmmmm hungry. Had some mates over last night for dinner and young charlotte gave my hard core choc mousse the big thumbs up. She went from sleepy to hyper in about 10 sec. What a cool kid. I think I'll be doing a video on that as well, it's such an easy recipe for such a great payoff.

In other Lantanaland news, doing tax is good! If the promised returns flow to the land of lantana there might be a rethink on the sheep and the jersey cow might be back on the agenda. Which means I will be looking at the cheese course again. It's heaps cheaper if you get a crew together and you get to pick your cheeses. If anyone is keen can you leave a comment or ping me on twitter? Hughesy? JB?

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Friday, May 29, 2009

I might lose a mate over this.

I've only met Simon Bedak, Esq., cattle baron, the once. He is a great one for spruiking the benefits and flavour of beef! and I agree with him wholeheartedly, I love a hunk of bleeding beef on my plate.

However the move to large animals at Lantanaland is going to start with ........ sheep. There is a reason for this. I can get a few dorper cross lambs for fifty bucks, whereas a nice angus jersey cross will set me back at least $200.

Don't get me wrong, I really want a cow. It will give me an excuse to go do that cheese course I've been lusting over. It will provide me with lots of tasty dairy products and rib fillets.

I've just never kept or had good contact with someone who's kept animals for meat and sheep seem like an easy way to start. Docile and easy animals for docile and clueless beginners if you like.

So unless squire Bedak can convince me, shotgun in hand, that I should go head first and get a cow, soon Lantanaland will have two sheep.

Oh and a happy birthday to one of my mates for yesterday, Kerri-anne. You might have to wait six months for your present Kerri, but I promise, the first few dozen pure white eggs I get are yours.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Monday, May 25, 2009

Do the British have this over us

Being in the car 90% of my working day, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Sport, design, music, tech and comedy. Comedy. Why can't we get a decent show on radio or podcast in oz. The Brits have fantastic stuff like the news quiz, The Now Show and the sadly gone Im Sorry I Haven't a Clue. We have comediens on breakfast or drive radio.

That's cool I guess but where is the equivelent of The Daily Show or The Glasshouse or even The Chaser doing something on radio. I downloaded some comedy hour the ABC did last year and it was, well, woefull. University revues would have been embaressed.

Considering we can crank out Summer Heights High and The Hollowmen, there is no excuse. Cmon oz, make me laugh.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Sunday, May 17, 2009

No Sandra Bullock tie ins please.

Had a bloody good weekend. Kicked off with a double feature at the drive in which despite some false advertising about the wolverine/ star trek explody goodness double, did include my roast chook in bread. The second movie turned out to be teen/family movie "17 again". Maybe I had low expectations but this movie was genuinely funny, the bit where he lectures high school girls about self respect was just gold. Star Trek, well i'll leave it up to my mate Cobbs, whose two lines straight after, "to cheesily go where no cheese has before" and "who'd have thought Zac Efron would win the day" summed it up.

Saturday contained one of those moments that I just love to have in Lantanaland. I toodled off in the morning to go to the dump (no rubbish service here) and pick up some gravel and mulch for a bit of gardening and driveway repair. At the landscape place they had no recycled concrete, but in a lovely gesture pointed me down the road to a recycling place that did industrial soil and concrete. Met a guy there who hooked me up and we got chatting about Lantanaland. Turns out he used to work for a company that specialized in clearing lantana. They even have a special machine just for that. I didn't have cash on me so he just said to come back Monday and he'd bring in some photos of the work he'd done to show me. Seredepity I'd call it, except that sounds like a Sandra Bullock movie, so I won't.

I'm the afternoon I went and cut some bamboo from a stand next to the river that I noticed a while back and had been meaning to get stuck into. Those poles are from just two bits of bamboo. They'll form the uprights of a frame for another chook pen which will have grape vines trailing all over it for shade in summer.

Fresh duck pasta with mushrooms and home smoked bacon for dinner than a chat with Mr Flinthart while I watched the mighty Lions dismantle Adelaide.

Today I got into the bees, it looks like they had swarmed, the hive was half empty and very little honey. This is probably because I've been very lax, partially because of a busy social schedule and partially because of all the wet weather. Mostly just cause I'm slack. I'll have to keep a real eye on them to make sure it was a swarm and not disease. Then I baked a carrot cake and planted some radish, carrots, onions, sage and zuchhini. Chicken, mango, cashew and mushroom filos to tip off the day.

A productive weekend all round.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Monday, May 11, 2009


A mate of mine is known for his competiveness. He should be, I guess, having played for his country, but a story I'm sure he'll love me telling will illustrate the extent.

A few of us used to go to my folks house on Curtis island for new years, it became a bit of a tradition. Lazing around after a few cleansing ales a few of the boys were enjoying my young nephews connect 4 set. Ryan had never played the game. Andy on the other hand, coming from the wrong side of the tracks, had dabbled quite a bit in board games in his youth and quickly dispatched him. Trying to shake the fog from his brain Ryano went again. Bang 2-0. Ryan was clearly getting annoyed, something that Andy, keen to no doubt motivate the rookie player, made public to us all. Game 3. Pride on the line. Aaaaand bang, another routing. Ryan jumped to his feet, the constructive comments of the crowd ringing in his ears, declaring that his short and colourful connect4 career was in fact, over. And that we could all go and shove our heads in that well known valley where the sun shineth not.

I used to be like that. Hated losing at cards. Hating losing at touch footy. Ground my teeth and took the ritual humiliations on the tennis court from the wife like a barely grown, sooky man.

That however, was all in the past. I got fat. The Rev defeated my competitive spirit. I could play backgammon and lose three in a row with barely a sulk.

It was like my grape vine that The Wife would have declared dead ages ago and I had even contemplated pulling out. Not quite dead despite appearances. The first shoot was going back and training with AJ, Nath and "connect 4 Ryan". I didn’t lose weight but started to feel a little fitter. A leaf opened on Wednesday night when I had an ok game. That is I didn't give my celebrated impression of a fat 30 year old. The opposition was of a good standard. Then came the catch up game on Saturday.

The opposition was the best team in the comp. Four internationals and a few NTL reps for good measure. I let a try in where technically I reckon I did everything right. I just got burned. By a fitter, stronger, lighter, more agile player. Another moment I ran into a small hole and had to reach and juggle for the ball because I was half a step too slow. Little things that really had not much bearing on the game, we got thrashed, but they burned me a little.

Sitting there having a beer later (the irony!), I thought about what might of happened if I was that 5-10 Kg lighter that I reckon I should be. The next day, doing a training session with The Wife, I reckon I ran just a little harder every time I thought about letting in that try.

The vine has been fertilized now, who knows what sort of fruit it will bear.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Friday, May 8, 2009

I'm back baby

Been a bloody busy time. The folks dropped in on their way home from their South Australia fishing pilgrimage. Allen had always wanted a decent crack at the King George whiting and from the sounds of it, they'll be back again they had so much fun. It was good to catch them and Mum got to participate in The Wifes special facebook program, How to Edit a Whole Trips Worth of Photos into One Facebook Album in 12 easy steps.

The Wife is a master of trimming photos so you get a tight cohesive story and they worked 500 odd photos into 60. We then had a nice trip up the mountain, caught up with an old mate and had lunch at the Mt Tambourine botanical gardens. Highlight of the day was the honey mayo made with duck egg and Lantanaland Gold honey. Mmmmmm.

Of course the weekend was finished off nicely by me getting swine flu. I mean I eat heaps of bacon sandwiches, so that must have been what I had. Tuesday I stacked on the sudafed to go out to dinner with my mate Ryan, to celebrate winning an international series. He was on one arm though, because he had shoulder surgery three days after playing!

I've stocked up on chickens now that I seem to be snake proof. Anconas, Barnvelders, Welsummers and Malay Game round out my Chooks stocks, for now. The Wifes accusation that I have compulsive poultry purchase disorder are completely groundless.

I mean 34 is not that many, is it?

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Monday, April 27, 2009

Playing for your country

A few memories from the journey I've been on a small part of.

Months ago train with Ryan and Nath in preperation for playing against NZ, doing these torturous drills called malcoms. Sprint, pushup, sprint, pushup, repeat. Watching the two guys push each other harder and harder as I tried to make the jelly that once was my muscles work to go at about half the pace, Ryan was slightly ahead and dropped and did a pushup when all he had to do was turn. Maybe it was the lack of oxygen but they both found it hilarious. I was too busy trying not to collapse.

Game two for the mens, two kids about ten sat behind us. Nath comes on and gets a touch and they exclaim " that's Nathan Jones, he's an awesome player, I love Nathan Jones". For the most laid back guy I know, who wouldn't say boo to anyone, to have fans in such a low profile sport was just a great feeling. I tried talking Ryano up to them in his game, but they were keen on Benny Moylan, the red headed gun, sorry Pol.

Watching my best mate play with the same skill and drive at an international level, that he does when I play with him on a Wednesday. The step up in standard didn't seem to bother you mate.

Watching Nath execute a move we ran through with him at the end of the last few training sessions and recognizing the play after the first step.

I understand, having trained for a bit with these guys what they have to do to get there and I'm pretty proud to have played a very, very small part in their preperation and I was glad I was there to watch them win an international series. You blokes are legends.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Monday, April 20, 2009

A little bit excited

I'm a little bit excited. For the last twelve months or so I've been training with a couple of boys who this weekend are slipping on the green and gold and representing Australia.

In that time I have gained a little insight and a shitload of respect for what they have to do to make it at that level. I have played with them in pretty good teams, but I have never played rep, and I know why, now.

I've seen my best mate go through rehabing his shoulder, doing endless strengthening exercises while I sat there and drank beer. I've become mates with a few other boys I think, just from doing lots of up and backs and twelve minute runs.

So this weekend I'll be sitting in the stands at WIN stadium, Wollongong, cheering on the boys and blogging, drinking beer and thinking about all those up and backs, the pitter patter drills, the bloody malcom drills that almost killed me, but mostly I'll be thinking about how much more Ryan and Nathan worked than I did.

Stay tuned to Lantanaland for a bit of commentary, I'll even take the voice recorder down for some audio!

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lily Allen - Underrated, or have I gone soft.

Been listening to the new Lily Allen record, thanks to one of my mates from the Alley days who swings me a few tunes to get my fix like the iTunes junky I am.

Normally this would get ripped into the library and sit there unlistened, because on the surface it's bubble gum electro pop, with a dash of country here and a shake of big band there. Not bad enough to change radio stations if I listened to radio and it was catchy, if a little, I don't know, the same as a million other chick artists.

A mate of mine dropped in who likes his disposable pop and asked me if I'd listened to the lyrics of the new single. Not really, I replied, it's just hum along music innit?

Well fuck me, talk about a knife in a velvet glove, this chick is sharp. It reminds me of Ugly Duckling sending up the whole gangsta hip hop image, but with pop. The writing is funny, self deprecating and very cutting, the fact that it is put to bubblegum music makes it even sharper. It's like finding a underlying philosophical discussion about gun control in a book of explody goodness by some Australian author. Matthew Reilly? No that's not his name, who is it I'm thinking of....

Anyway this is a first for me, I love this album and it's something they'd play on Nova, am I getting soft?

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 a holiday destination.

When we leave Lantanaland it is like a big living animal, all these little bits need feeding and putting away and I like to feel that the land likes having someone around. So one of The Wife mates from work has come down for a few times now and I just love it.

I love the fact that Louisa and Steves kids are getting a taste of the country, getting to know the animals and their habits and taste their food. We are never here, so the kids would see Lantanaland, I hope, as their holiday house, their little slice of paradise that they get to go and visit.

JB talked in his Blunty today about how kids are being denied the joy of the old fashioned backyard and one of the things I really enjoyed as a kid was the few times we got to go and visit a farm and camp or stay. The Wife told me the younger son was very into the animals, he was in charge of feeding and was going down and talking to the ducks. We also returned to a great letter and some hand painted Easter eggs.

Next time that they want to come babysit Lantanaland I'll talk to Louisa and see if they want to do more with the animals, maybe by then I'll have a cow and I could teach the boys to milk!

The postscript to this story - last time they stayed my house pump failed and they had a night with no water, so I'm glad they came back and had an incident free visit.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hippys on trains

Despite the accusations of my inner city urban friends, I try not to be a hippy. I mean I have to drive a thousand Km a week for work, but I turn that to my advantage, I can usually find a supplier of something or another, whether it's chooks or bee hive parts that I drive past on my travels. Saves postage.

If I did work a to and from job, I'd try and catch a train. Lucky I don't then because if I had to rely on QLD rail, I'd soon be out of a job and I'd have to sell Lantanaland.

The Wife tried catching the train to work for a while. She works at the biggest hospital in QLD and we are ten minutes from a station that runs an express train to the city. Yet she had to sit on the floor on the six AM train and it took longer and was more expensive than driving her little Toyota through Brisbane peak hour and walking.

That's if the train comes of course. I follow the local radio station on twitter and the first few hours of the day are clogged with announcements on late, delayed or cancelled trains. I mean it's nice that all the gutters on the Gateway Motorway are gold plated, but perhaps the starving transport dog could have been thrown a bone. More trains? A few circle routes here and there? Trains that actually run?

The inner, buried hippy in me rejoices when I hear mates in Europe tell me they haven't been in a car in six months, but Brisbane, that just wouldn't happen.

If I had to catch a train to work, my inner hippy would soon be headbutted by my inner bogan, keen to get into a car and get to work on time.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Friday, April 3, 2009

Small Things part II

I've bought a few more guinea fowl, keets this time not eggs. They'll be living inside for a week or two, and I'll be making sure that they are as safe as they can be, short of taking a few suggestions on board and contracting HAVOCK to build me a fully operational, laser guided, anti snake and fox missile defence shield.

We've had buckets of rain in Lantanaland, 170mm since Wednesday, so it's been sugar cane mulch in with the ducks, who are finally back on the lay, duck egg pasta for dinner tomorrow night, oh yes.

Another one of this small jobs that needed doing, but is still part of my grand ideas for lantanaland, was the mulberry tree. I wanted to give it a nice umbrella shape over the duck pen. It's been big enough for ages, but again, what’s the rush.

However I'm pretty happy with the result. Once it grows a bit more it'll have lovely shade and free fruit for the ducks. Of course the tree gets watered with the dregs of the ducks water, which is why it's growing like i've been feeding it steroids.

I'm allowing myself a new project this weekend though, learning all I can about clay and straw mix to coat the mesh of the chook run to provide some more shade and cover for when they are confined to the snake proof run. If it works i'm thinking that the rebuild of the big chook house will end up being a organic earth pod instead of the typical box that I usually build.

So really, no small jobs this weekend.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Small Things

I love the big creative things for Lantanaland, I get fired up, get up with the roosters and charge off, full of ideas. However these small jobs, they just damn well accumulate.

Take my snake problem. I really needed to make a small snake proof pen to keep them safe while I totally redesign the main house and pen. All I want to do is pour my energy into that redesign, but I refuse to hatch or buy more Chooks until I know they're safe. So I bit the bullet last weekend and built a snake and fox proof fortress. Admitedly it looks like a roboticic six foot long catipiller crapped out a coccoon.

( while writing this I thought of a sweet idea to solve a design flaw and make it look better. If you've done any rendering or sculpture can you drop me a line on ?)

Where was I?

Oh yeah I have heaps of these jobs and if I don't just get them done I am going to have to write something and put it on the fridge. Something I fear and loath.

A job list.

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Some pics from the great opening night of Felafel. Not much to say other than it was an absolute blast and it was good to meet all the crew from the blogging world. The play was sidesplittingly funny and you could tell when a JSpace joke was thrown in as there were only five or so very loud guwaffs in the crowd. Props to Girl Clumsy for the direction and Squire Bedak for the updated script, it was awesome!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sir Flinthart

I am so weak on Asian cooking. Don't know the basic principles, or the flavour profiles. Got no feeeel for it brother. But I want to get better so when Mr Flinthart's recipes from his ROR trip lobbed into my inbox, I noted the wonton soup with interest.

I'd already stolen the basic principle of using the chicken wings from the stock for snacks for Friday night footy, but this time I followed his stock and soup recipe to the letter, or email as it were. (while I say this, it was a beeso following to the letter, no measurement and added ingredients where I felt like it.)

What a revelation, these beautiful savory packets of pork mince (bangalow pork, the best you can buy in QLD), floating in this delicate, refreshing broth with crispy raw veg. Healthy, cheap and 500g of pork mince did me enough wontons for two meals. The other half went into the freezer for The Wife for next time I'm on the road.

So Dirk you will no longer be Flinty to me, rather you shall be known as Sir Flinthart, teacher of Asian cuisine from afar.

I've included the recipes, (hope that's ok sir flinty) as I know of a least two people who will want them. Jase, this is well within your budget.

Spicy Chinese-Style Chicken Stock

If you tackle French cookery, they start you on making stock. A good, flavoursome stock is the sine qua non of French cooking, providing a base to a thousand different dishes and sauces. Unfortunately, making stock in the French manner takes hours of sweating slavery, skimming a boiling potful of crap until you're happy with the outcome.
I hate doing things like that. I've got better ways to spend my time. But I like stock, because I like risotto and soups and sauces and gravies and curries and cous-cous and... yeah. You get the picture. So what I do, maybe once every eight to ten days, is set up to make a serious pot of stock after the fashion I learned in Malaysia. It's inexpensive. It's really easy. You can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for a couple weeks, or you can freeze it for months if you want.
Normally, I do it with bones and scraps. Works for chicken, beef -- even seafood, if you're careful not to boil for too long, thus leaching iodine into your stock and making it bitter. However in Montville, I couldn't locate chicken frames and necks in time, so I just bought a few kilos of cheap wings and drumsticks, knowing I'd be able to use them independently, once I'd taken them out of the stock.
Here's the recipe:

3-4 kg mixed wings and drumsticks (chicken)
half a cup or so of salt (remember, you're making about 10lt of stock. Be generous.)
Zest of three lemons (or two bundles of lemon grass, finely chopped)
two cloves star anise
roughly one full clove of garlic, smashed and peeled
three medium/large brown onions, peeled and coarsely sliced
Thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger root, coarsely sliced
half-cup or so of fish sauce
tablespoon brown sugar (palm sugar is preferable, but not vital)
(optional) tablespoon sliced hot fresh chili

Put all the ingredients in a large stock pot with a well-fitted lid. Add enough water to cover the lot. Bring to a boil for about two minutes. Turn off the heat. Put the lid on. Leave the pot alone until it comes back to room temperature. Rescue the chicken pieces, sieve the rest of the junk out, and save the stock. Done.
I know. It seems too simple. It works, though. Oh -- and the business about letting it cool slowly doesn't seem to be a health risk, even in summertime. I've been doing it this way for about fifteen years, and I'm only following the procedures supplied by hundreds of thousands of cooks in Malaysia. I've even asked chefs here in Australia and in Singapore about it; those who are familiar with the technique assure me it's never failed them. I dunno what the classic French chefs would say, but then I don't speak French worth a damn. So
boil your stock very briefly, put the lid on, and let it cool slowly. No problems.

(Again use what you have, i had no star anise so i used a cinnamon stick, but the sugar and fish sauce makes this stock. And the lemongrass and ginger. Hang on thats almost the whole stock!)

Spicy Twice-Cooked Chicken With Polenta Crust

If you chose to use chicken pieces in your stock, you've now got a big platter of very tender, very damp chicken pieces cooked to the bone, absolutely saturated with flavour. Cover them with a teatowel or something, and let the worst of the moisture dry, so they're merely damp to the touch. Ten minutes or so is fine.
Meanwhile, get a freezer bag. Put about a cup and a half of polenta into it. Add maybe two teaspoons of salt, and the spice mix of your choice. (I used chili powder, citric acid powder, black pepper, and basil. If you use the citric acid, keep it to about half the quantity of the other spices, eh? It adds a lovely lime/lemon note, but it can be overpowering.) Shake the bag to mix the spices with the polenta. Add your chicken pieces one or two at a time and shake them to coat them with the polenta/spice mix. Arrange all your chicken pieces on the (lightly oiled) oven racks, and bake at maybe 160-180C until the polenta/spice coating goes golden brown.
Serve the chicken pieces hot or cold. Because the chicken has already been cooked in the stock, it's saturated in flavour -- but relatively low in fat. It will stay moist inside while acquiring a lovely crunchiness outside. You can make a full meal of it with a garden salad and baked potatoes, or serve it as snacks. And as you know, chicken prepared this way makes even the most famous of take-away fried chicken taste like vile, greasy nastiness... so if you make it even once, be prepared to have people asking you to make it again, and again.

(I used chinese five spice, cayenne pepper and lots of salt on mine)

Won-ton Soup

The thing I really like about soups from China, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, etc is the way the vegetables arrive still crunchy and tasty in that delicious broth. There's no real trick to it; you just pour the near-boiling stock over the top of the pre-sliced veg in the serving bowl, and that's it. Won-ton soup is a big favourite in my house. The kids and Natalie alike will gorge themselves on the stuff if I make enough. It's kind of spooky to watch.

Plenty of tasty stock
Vegetables for slicing up -- choices of carrots, broccoli, broccolini, baby fennel, Chinese cabbage, snow peas, sugar-snap peas, or anything else that takes your fancy, really.
Two packets of Won-ton wrappers (should get about forty per packet)
About 750 gm pork mince
Spring onions
Fresh coriander
Fresh ginger root
salt, pepper, sesame oil.

Slice your vegetables, and arrange them in the serving bowls. Add a teaspoon of sesame oil to each bowl.
Next, mince a thumb-sized knob of ginger root, and finely dice four spring onions plus a clump of coriander. Mix the ginger, the coriander, the diced spring onion and one decent dessertspoon of salt into the pork-mince, and work it all together. Scoop teaspoons of the pork mince out and make little packets using the won-ton wrappers. Squeeze the won-ton pastry together to make sure the packets stay shut in the stock.
Bring the stock to a simmer in a decent pot. As soon as it's simmering, put all your newly made won-tons in. The stock will come back up to a simmer in short order, but you will know your won-tons are cooked through when they all float to the surface. Stir once or twice, early in the piece to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Serve with a ladle. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of sliced spring onion. Eat.
Note: don't feel restricted to pork-mince won-tons. Chicken mince works too. So do minced prawns. You could probably manage something with mushroom if you wanted. Game meats might be a bit heavy though...

Lantanaland from the iPhone

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I used to run a music venue, mainly cause I love that feeling good music can give you. It's funny though how music can date and age, yet still take you back to a time and place.

Then there is the rare time when you pull out an album that you haven't listened to in ages because you thought it had dated and discover that it was actually a timeless classic, so rich and layered that it shocks you.

The album I am referring to is Cake's Fashion Nugget. I remembered the cool brass and quirky lryics but had forgotten the layering, the way the bass is at the front of the mix, the sheer joy of the songs.

Love it.

Lantanaland from the iPhone