2

Fire and Fruity Ale

fire drum

Aside from irregularly charging into the charcoal chook shop on a tricky Tuesday and escaping with some cooked poultry and fried spud there’s limited chances in my cosy sphere to pretend I’m a hunter and gatherer.

But since we’ve now a fire bucket on the back patio I find myself sourcing wood throughout the wintry months, and last week in my pre-pub enthusiasm I zipped across the suburbs to a garden vendor and loaded my car with red-gum. My purchasing challenge had been made clear by the wife: don’t get stumps that are too big and don’t get stumps that are too small.

As a timber-collecting Goldilocks I surveyed the wood heap. With the drizzle tending to rain and the mud sloshing about my boots I pecked about the crumbling Cheops of logs like a fussy rooster. What I lacked in scientific application I compensated with crude, Cub Scout judgment and soon had a wagon-full of iron-hued stumps.

Easing the motor onto the weighbridge I felt an inner glow borne of a successful excursion that guaranteed I’d enjoy my subway sandwich at a proximate shopping centre. But this can be complex for I often find that a six-inch sub isn’t enough, and that twelve can be too much. Let’s all petition Doctor’s Associates Inc for a nine-inch sub!

*

Saturday saw the house lashed by angry squalls and clattering rain but the mid-afternoon fire kept us warm. Starting the blaze is acutely ceremonial and Alex was enthusiastically insistent and Max, a spirited jumper and involuntary clapper, while their Mum lit the first match to get us underway.

Gradually, there were family and friends and burgundy wine and cheese and chat and nostalgic music, and these generated a fetching glow in which I happily swam.

With a national conference looming it was an ideal gathering at which to road-test my new ice-breaker. Having workshopped it extensively with my old comrade and new-ish colleague JB, out it came, for in some ways it’s the ultimate question, and taps neatly into the endless Zeitgeist.

On “Islands in the Stream” who gives the best performance: Kenny or Dolly?

With stunning clarity, the results were revealed as a little lop-sided, perhaps in a similar fashion to that which saw Anne Shirley “Willsy” Wills (OAM) collect 19 Most Popular State (South Australia) Personality Logies. After scrutineering the votes were

Dolly- 9
Kenny- 1.

Still, as the late wrestling icon Rowdy Roddy Piper used to say, it’s about the process.

RRP

*

The fire danced and crackled and my playlist changed mid-seventies gears from the Bee Gees to Dr Hook so we added heavy chunks of red-gum and then night descended. Inside our boys and the other kids tore about and transacted in robust and efficient ways as their games began, unfolded and then collapsed, as all games must.

Meanwhile across the city, country and globe all manner of professional games were being played, and remarkably every single team in which I’ve varying degrees of investment engineered a loss. Here’s a roll-call of anguish: the Glenelg Football club, the Adelaide Football club, the Socceroos, the Wallabies, and at The Oval in London, where many years ago, we’d personally witnessed a grim result, the Australian cricket side. I should’ve bagged them all up into a hideous multi and had myself an unpatriotic if tidy earn.

But none of these irritants mattered on my birthday for there I was by a mesmerising fire with fruity ale, if not fruity conversation. Later, the dogs, Buddy and Angel, flopped on their beds and the last of the storm fronts rushed furiously by. Happily, there’d still be cheese for late Sunday afternoon.

With a sturdy click the back door was locked, and at least in my mind, I could hear the projected voice of a 1960’s publican bark across his dark bar, “Time, please.”

I was soon asleep.

willsy

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0

Dolly v Kenny

kenny

On “Islands in the Stream” who provides the superior performance: Dolly or Kenny? Asking for a friend.

ShaunDolly in a close one.

Rebecca: Dolly totally – she set out to get him with a fine tooth comb. That is commitment!

Rebecca: Actually maybe that’s stalking!

Cath: Team Kenny!

Ali: Dolly!

Nicole: Not even a question…Dolly.

Sarah: It’s a duet?! Team Dolly.

MickeyI’ve just got off the phone with Kenny who’s pretty disappointed. Next year’s Adelaide concert is now cancelled!

Lois: Dolly, by a mile.

Mickey: And he wants back his fine tooth comb.

GregI feel obliged to dip my toe into this water. Kenny is without doubt the seemingly underrated star of this vocal conglomeration. He starts it. He finishes it. He loans it out in the middle a bit, but essentially, he owns the heck out of it. I know for a fact that Ernest Hemingway himself owns a ‘rough cut’ version of the track with none of Dolly’s parts…arguably the way it should be. I’m no chauvinist, but Dolly should be thankful she was brought along for the ride on this one.

k d

Nicole: Greg I thought you & I were heading towards a meaningful relationship based on our shared Sylvia experience…I have serious doubts now…just the mere mention of the song evokes the sound of Dolly singing her part…the words, the emotion…I recall nothing of Kenny’s part!

Greg: Kenny mentions islands and streams several times by my recollection. That is what he was*. I can’t vouch for Dolly, but he ‘had something goin’ on’.

MaurieI have a mate that goes fishing every year in March on the Murray. They all use small boats called tinnies with small outboards. Why do I mention this? The islands in the river are few, but I guess that does qualify for islands in the stream. The guys have special T- shirts each year and have a biggest fish prize. I guess my end comment would be they call the trip Tinnies In The Steam.

tinnies

Brett: Greg wrote “Dolly’s parts”.

Greg: Let it never be said that they were not significant parts, but could not quite cast a shadow over Kenny. And now that I think of it, with two Adam’s apples like that you’d think she’d have had a deeper voice wouldn’t you?

Peter: Neither have covered themselves in glory in my humble opinion. A passionless performance from both.

Rick: Greg, afraid you’re a little out in your assessment. By the time this duet was released Kenny was the biggest country star going around. Johnny had lost his touch. Merle and George were struggling. Charlie wasn’t recording. Kenny was riding high. His bland inoffensive MOR sold millions. Dolly was hanging in there (barely) based on her reputation and a couple of films. They record this Bee Gees tripe (Kenny recorded a number of Gibb songs; Johnny at the same time recorded Springsteen and Elvis Costello with no success). At the time Kenny was king of country, Dolly hardly allowed into the court. They toured Australia around this time or a bit after. In concert there was no contest. Kenny was good. But he was in his Las Vegas lounge period. He didnt even sing all of Coward of the County! That’s right. We didn’t get to hear, “and you could’ve heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and closed the door”! Criminal mistake. Great voice, stage pressence but a lot of so what songs. Dolly was magnificent. Pure performer. A stand up comic, charmer, brilliant string instrument musician and that voice. Left Kenny and most others (including Porter) in her wake. She wins hands down. No contest. That is all. Cheers!

GregMy rebuttal is twofold: 1- Kenny had a better beard. 2. It would seem you’re basing all of your statements on facts and/or personal experience, and those factors have no place in any argument I enjoy being a party to.

Rick: And I’m still bitter about Coward! Cheers.

Mickey: Are you aware that Kenny is the name behind Asia’s favourite country music themed, family-friendly, roast chicken restaurant chain and that our five times married Texan baritone personally guarantees the quality of your meal? What has Dolly ever done for the global roast chicken industry? Just sayin’.

KRR

SarahC’mon, fair go. She may not be an Asian food chain but she’s doing her best. Her 6 reviews place her at 4.5 stars.

MickeyIn April 2008 South Bend, Indiana, radio station WZOW played the song continuously for several days on end, a stunt drawing attention to the station’s format change from alternative rock to adult contemporary.

Marc: Dolly by a mile.

Dolly

 

 

2

Round 7- Adelaide v Carlton: Come, Come Mr Bond

radio.png

We have radio wars in our car when the boys, wife and I travel together, and I’m annihilated, acoustically.

Despite my best attempts to provide a robust musical education, as the Subaru backs out of the garage voices from the back seat holler, “Mum, can you put it on NOVA?”

Or, “Change it over to MIX.”

To which I respond, “What do you say?”

From behind me a reluctant, “Please” then chirps across. MIX self-describes as, “Adelaide’s widest variety of music” but if there’s truth in radio station slogans it’d be, “Adelaide’s widest variety of Pink.”

Saturday night viewing is providing similar conflict, at least for me. The footy is winning the battle, but only just as 9 GEM is showing the Bond films, having started a month ago with Dr No which, given our youngest’s current oppositional defiance, is a domestic theme.

However in a rare nocturnal excursion, for the first time this season, I found myself on the bottom deck of the Chappell Stand, taking in the Crows and Blues. To alleviate any clash concerns The Blues are wearing their John Howard-inspired gray guerneys. Really? You’d find greater similarity in the vocal stylings of Taylor Swift and Taylor Walker.

gray

It’s a glorious autumnal evening by the mighty River Torrens- warm, still and clear. Both sides are missing many of their big names and given how many have moved between these clubs, out on the turf it must be like the first hour of a school reunion, you know, before the Brandivino works its liquid magic.

Carlton find space early and vital big rooster Kreuzer snaps to give the Blues their first, and only lead for the encounter. Adelaide then settles and slots the subsequent six with alliterative forwards Josh Jenkins and Mitch McGovern each scoring an appropriate two goals.

On TV’s across the ‘burbs Thunderball is also away and SPECTRE has stolen some NATO bombs, and is threatening to destroy a US or UK city, later revealed as Miama which seems a little unambitious, given they’re working in the Bahamas. Why not be lofty in your aims and lob one at Luton, although, to be fair, it’d be difficult to tell. 

In his first match against his former mob B. Gibb/s (Bryce, not Barry) has continued his silky form and is accumulating possessions across the ground like MI6’s finest collects casino chips. During the break I get out my Texas Instruments calculator and start punching in cricket scores to see how far up the table the Crows will be by midnight. This arrogance guarantees the Blues (Grays) fightback is on.

boat.jpg

Skill execution errors, even from diminuative half-back assassin Rory Laird means the visitors enjoy a dominant quarter with some clever work from Levi Casboult whose hulking presence could be handy in Thunderball as things get desperate in the Aston Martin. The game is poised at the half and I get approval from our bank to undertake some Goldfinger action of my own: I buy a beer and some hot chips.

Any lingering tension quickly evaporates into the May sky as Adelaide registers a pair of majors in the opeing minutes. Eddie Betts is involved, but his form and his season are simmering, not Bond movie speedboat explosions, just yet. Footy itself has been strangely subdued thus far in 2018.

spectre.png

Mitch McGovern doesn’t so much mark the Sherrin as pluck it from atop the pack in a way that startles everyone. He elevates himself onto Liam Jones’ shoulders and completes the catch as if Q had lent him the famous jetpack. It provides some frisson on a night when the narrative arc is as predictable as a commercial radio playlist (Up next we’ve got some Captain Beefheart).

Cam Ellis-Yolmen continues his steady progress and is stringing together games in his much-interrupted career which began way back in 2011, when you could sneak your track-suited self into a Blockbuster and borrow Kung Fu Panda 2 for a fiver.

I admit it’s been a minor treat to see Carlton’s Cripps and Curnow in action. They’ll drive the Blues bus for the next decade, or half a dozen coaches, whichever comes first. Their win/ draw/ loss tally now reads:

007.

Despite another obligatory hamstring injury Adelaide moves confidently to the next instalment of the Showdown franchise next Saturday in the twilight.

There should be no televisual conflict with Casino Royale beginning just on the final siren. I best iron my new tracky-daks.

jetpack

 

 

 

0

Round 3 – Adelaide v St Kilda: The Noel’s Caravans/ Jock Cheese Cup

BREAKING-

Malcolm Blight to replace Neil Kerley as face of Noel’s Caravans

Green Fields, Adelaide, April 2018

In a jolt to the chummy SANFL-football-icons-turned-caravan-promoters-community Neil Kerley has quit his post as a spokesperson for the quality but affordable leisure vehicles that are available at Noel’s.

With the reggae-kitsch and ear-wormish jingle playing over the lot’s PA system Kerls barked “I’m cooked,” to the mob gathered among the Millards. The gnarled legend then elaborated, “From now on you’ll only catch me by the yabby-rich yet cotton-theft-ravaged waters of Walker Flat. Flogging caravans is a young man’s game.”

noels

Heir presumptive Malcolm Blight then took an Island Star twenty-one-footer for a spin about Noel’s substantial block, and upon returning frowned at the narrow corridor into which he had to back the van. He was heard to mutter, “I can’t get this in here,” and despite The Messiah and his towed entourage being eighty metres away, another, likely interior voice breathed, “Yes, I can. I’m Malcolm Blight!”

Onlookers attest that the ex-Woodville Woodpeckers star then neatly reversed the caravan to a parking space by the front office, just like a wizened Jim’s Mowing franchisee.

After decades away from Adelaide, we welcome him home and await his work with Noel’s. And Malcolm, watch those bunkers on the 18th at Glenelg, an emu couldn’t escape them.

*

Like the charismatic connection between Adelaide oval’s hot chips and the ever-newsworthy chicken salt, or early period Miles Davis and the popularisation of modal jazz’s harmonic rhythms, I can’t think of St Kilda without seeing Melbourne band TISM and their music video, “Greg! The Stop Sign!!”

Who can forget the footage of Saints (and Kimba) chap Shane Wakelin, alongside Justin Peckett and those anonymous others, pedaling their gym bikes? That this is accompanied by Beach Boys-styled vocals augments the sumptuousness, and as modern TAC satire’s most illustrious shot the camera then pans past various motivational signages festooned on the walls, including my eternal favourite: “Your (sic) a professional. Keep it simple.”

Screenshot (1)

*
Saturday night and with Blight, Kerley and TISM alumni, Humphrey B. Flaubert, Jock Cheese, Eugene de la Hot Croix Bun, and Ron Hitler-Barassi doubtlessly peering at the box (although probably not together) this fixture is underway.

Crow-for-life Mitch McGovern grabs and goals to get us underway but such is my remove from yoof that I can’t read his Anchorman moustache. Is it authentic, ironic or post-ironic? PM me if you can help.

For the Saints the aspirational housing developer’s dream Blake Acres (You’ll love coming home to Blake Acres) bends it too far at the other end. He’s lively early. While the Crows finished fluently last week they’re stuttering tonihgt.

Meanwhile the wife is watching The Bridges of Madison County. I trust Clint’s getting a few touches. Young Saint Jimmy Webster (was he in Goodfellas?) is also strong in attack, but the home side isn’t capitalising on their possession. Cam Ellis-Yolmen looks impressive around the ball, and his big body adds some grunt in this Crouchless knickers onball division. Meanwhile, Acres continues to be given too much space.

TISM

With daylight savings ended it’s dark at six, but still appealingly warm. I’m watching the game on a device on our patio, but somehow there’s more flies now than there were in January. I should light a mossie candle. I’d also have thought the Docklands seagull curfew to have passed but apparently not.

885 saints have been canonized by Pope Francis (2013–) during his pontificate and most of them (ignoring the five years after their death detail) have turned up to watch their eponymous side. There’s plenty of empty seats across the Docklands stadium so the miracle verification can continue apace.

Tom Lynch again shows his crystal vision and quick kicking which results in a major. He must be in the first six picked, every week. What if next year there’s two Tom Lynches in one side? Speaking of such, how lucky are we to have had so many Nathan Browns play AFL in the last decade?

Eddie finally opens his season’s account with a signature sequence of side-stepping and Sherrin-curling. With the earlier birth today of twin girls he’s had a surreal day in which life and footy have intersected in beautiful and complex ways.

Then, a Richard Douglas goal is reviewed to a behind because, allegedly, a subatomic fingernail particle made contact with the ball for a zeptosecond. Clearly, the physics is beyond me, but I’m sure these decisions are made using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The second half starts and I wonder how Ron, Humphrey, Jock and co are. I wonder if Kerls is cooking some yabbies and how Blighty hit them today. Sweetly, I’m guessing.

Don’t let me down, Bruce, gets one for the locals and they seem primed. But then the game again descends to the mundane, despite the clear nihgt. Like the final hour of a bikie wedding reception this is untidy stuff, until Betts gets it out the back to break the tedium. JB is settling into his new commentating role. I’d argue he’s better than BT or KB or DK or SK or BJ or VB.

The Crows register three rapidly, and the complexion changes. Then, former Pie Seedsman applies an exquisite tackle and we’re five goals to the good. Tex, off a step…

I duck into the boys’ room and coax the youngest to put down his latest Captain Underpants book (No, it wasn’t based upon a Saints’ end of season trip). He’s had a big day.

During the denouement Eddie takes a hanger. The siren sounds. The kick’s skinny, and irrelevant.

MB

 

 

0

Like music? Like beer? Read this!

hay plains

Hay Plain – Julia Jacklin

It’s a rite of passage for many of us. Going from South Australia to Sydney and driving across the Hay Plains.

In the summer of 1989 old Kapunda mates Bobby, Swanny, Puggy, Pinny (not actually his nickname but it seems a shame to exclude him) and I drove it in a hire car.

It was a Commodore wagon with a radar detector we’d borrowed from local publican and iconoclast Puffa. It went, as your Uncle would say, like the clappers.

I’m sure we had other cassettes but I remember the B52’s Cosmic Thing featuring, of course, “Love Shack.” It was a fun album, but twice a day for three weeks became, for me, audio water-boarding.

cosmic thing

Around Coffs Harbour the tape somehow ended up buried in my suitcase. Someone, I suspect it was Swanny, solved the mystery of the Missing Cassette and rescued the tragic tape. On it went! Yippee. “If you see a painted sign…”

Every night all five of us slept in the same big room. At least one would sleep in his clothes. I can only guess at the olfactory horror of those murky, blokish spaces.

I’m pretty sure we ate KFC every day for about three weeks. It was like that alarmist documentary Super Size Me. I blew up like an inflatable raft.

KFC

Julia Jacklin is a great alt-country singer songwriter and her debut album Don’t Let The Kids Win features beautifully-crafted songs. “Hay Plain” is an atmospheric, plaintive number in which she uses her charismatic voice to engaging affect.

In it she makes reference to that iconic Sydney road, the Western Distributor. In 1985 on my first trip to Sydney with Trev, Chrisso and Woodsy in his Datsun 180B we stayed with a mate in Drummonye and used this road daily.

Right by the exit was a huge billboard with a giant image of a funnel web spider baring its metre-long fangs, warning people to avoid these horrific fuckers.

One night we got home and our old school mate Brendan, now peeling prolifically because of Bondi sunburn, yelled out, “No! We’ve been robbed. Someone’s stolen my cup of skin.”

Julia Jacklin’s on my list of acts to see and this clip from a show in Melbourne’s Northcote Social Club captures her warmth and talent-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf6YdmKIChU

Pleader- alt J

British indie darlings alt-J toured Australia late last year and old mate Brett and I went along to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on a Tuesday. Tuesday being the convenient and traditional night for major touring artists to play in our little city.

Having avoided incapacitation by a Coopers Clear – surely the Trevor Chappell of this distinguished beer family – we ventured into the barn-like room and I was delighted by the crisp and punchy sound quality. The band were amazing unlike their set at Singapore’s Laneway Festival in 2014 when, dogged by technical problems, they sulked off stage mid-song.

singapore laneway

I texted Brett the day after the Adelaide concert and shared that I thought the final song of their most recent album was the highlight of our night. “Pleader” is a moody six minutes’ voyage with the opening three a foreboding instrumental before the last half of the track has a stunning choral outchorus, complete with agrarian imagery and biblical textures.

The accompanying video is inspired by the Welsh mining classic novel How Green Was My Valley? Among the unforgettable scenes is one with a landslide caused by the detonation of a WW2 German V2 bomb.

The vocals are distinctive and rarefied and the lush orchestration builds the sense of doom. Hugely impressive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RrhSJzM8NLE

Coopers Session Ale

Released mere weeks after the apocalyptic 1993 preliminary final in which the Crows choked after half time, Coopers Black Crow came into the market. This marked a spectacularly dismal month for crows, everywhere.

black crow

A mid-strength lager, it was massively disappointing, especially for an enthusiast such as me. It was named by public competition among significant fanfare. A more accurate name would have been Dead Cat Piss.

Bursting into the world last October was Coopers Session Ale. It is everything its feathery, deceased predecessor was not.

Tropical, fruity, and with citrus complexity beyond big brother the celebrated Pale Ale, it speaks of a lazy afternoon on a Pacific island. Marrying Galaxy and Melba hop varieties with secondary fermentation, it’s animated in the glass, a triumph of golden straw colour and fetching aroma.

Each and every Friday around 4.27pm I pay wave $12 at Gavin, mine host at the Broady and receive two crisp pints in return as the murmuring and the post-working week shuffling builds in his front bar.

I must mention that the packaged version is inferior, and humbly submit that the colossal Sparkling Ale is the only Coopers beer which is better out of a bottle, a bloody big bottle.

Still the Session Ale is a ripper. Perfect.

0

A Day on the Green: Getting Shirty

hi

If the great Australian play, Don’s Party, and the often-maligned film, The Big Chill, both concern themselves with university graduates a decade or so into their careers and juggling work, family, and reconciling fading student idealism and with their tarnished realities, then the Day on the Green music festival is also populated by a specific demographic.

These are about us Gen X types. For many of us, music in the 1980’s was unspeakably horrific, and post-2000, a little spasmodic if not disappointing.

The 1990’s were it.

So yesterday on the outskirts of McLaren Vale, as American grunge outfit Veruca Salt worked through their excellent set, we were sitting back on our chairs and watching all the punters and all their different band shirts. It seemed to be an unspoken uniform.

Anyhow, the wife suggested I make a list of the band shirts I saw.

Midnight Oil – Head Injuries and Great Circle tour edition
Bad/Dreems – making expertise use of the West End design
Fat Boy Slim
Rise Against
Cold Chisel- Adelaide 500 edition; sadly no East album shirts

BD

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes
The Living End – is it cool or even appropriate to wear a band shirt to their concert? Is it done ironically?
Ed Sheeran – this poor kid had obviously been dragged along by her parents!
Some band called Bintang – I think they’re big in Bali, specialising in Khe Sahn covers
AC/DC – For Those About To Rock
The Hard Ons – given the demographic, at future concerts they’ll be supported by rising punk stars, The Viagras
Tool – see above

dotg

Motorhead
The Clash – London Calling shirts; impossibly cool
My Bloody Valentine
ZZ Top
Nirvana – the smiley face version
Joy Division
Pink Floyd
Guns ‘n’ Roses
Cosmic Psychos – nice day for some beetroot

line up

Adam Ant – What do we make of this?
DZ Deathrays
Boony Army – great band out of Tasmania, lead singer a stout moustachioed cult hero
Green Day
Screaming Jets
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

aa

Pennywise
INXS
NOFX
Foo Fighters
The Audreys
The Smith Street Band

ts

Old Day On The Green shirts – again is this cool, or sad? How would I know!
Sturt Football Club – I think they play the, wait for it, blues
Rage Against the Machine – male, middle-class and white
Pantera
Dropkick Murphys
Dandy Warhols
Metallica – not the Speed of Sound tour, as roadied by The Dude
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
The Darkness
Fred Pants and the Footy Pies – this one intrigued you didn’t it? I just made it up. But I’m going to get it printed before my next concert. I’ll be the coolest guy there.

clash

Quite a list.

Of course, I was sat there in a checked shirt, looking like an accountant searching for a water cooler. Maybe I could’ve worn my c. Marsh b. Lillee shirt.

Later, in the rain wandering through the crowd I had on a plastic poncho. A bloke yelled at me, “Nice poncho. You’ll never catch me wearing a condom!”

“Fair enough.” I replied, “But I’m trying to keep the stuff out, not the stuff in.”

Heading along the Southern Expressway (to home, not Yr Skull) I glanced at the dashboard clock, and said, “It seems like midnight! At this rate we’ll have to go to a Lunchtime on the Green in future.”

It was just after 9pm. “Or maybe Brunch on the Green,” replied the wife.

Meanwhile, let me know if you spot a Fred Pants and the Footy Pies shirt.

stones

5

Three Little Bops

bops
These phone calls only happened between 5 and 5.30pm, and when they did the excitement was unequalled.

Childhood friendships are hatched over countless connections, both pure and mischievous: footy, pinball, pinching cars, but for Trev and me, our lifelong pact came through 6 minutes and 41 seconds of televisual delight.

The Bugs Bunny Show aired on weeknights and for us its highlight was even better than Happy Days when Pinky Tuscadero was injured and out of the demolition derby thanks to the Mallachi Crunch, but Fonz still wanted to marry her; was even better than Blankety Blanks and Ugly Dave Gray’s jokes about Dick (Did Dick? Dick did.) and was even better than Lizzie Birdsworth’s daggy Wentworth antics on Prisoner.

We’d a simple code, the equivalent of “London Bridge is down,” and because of our urgency the conversations were spy-thriller brief:

-Hello?

-It’s on!

-Yep.

(Rotary-dial phones simultaneously slam down, and two teenage boys, in country-town houses about a kilometre apart, rush at their boxy Pye TVs)

The first impressive aspect of Three Little Bops was that I’d hear the Bill Haley-like jauntiness of the intro before I’d see those distinctive title cards (Director: Friz Freleng), and then with electric anticipation I’d shriek out to Mum or my sister Jill or whoever was in earshot as I tucked into a plate of Saladas with their vegemite worms slithering out in their salty, alien blackness.

title card bops

With a rollicking melody penned by the celebrated trumpeter Shorty Rogers who’d later offer musical direction on The Monkees, The Partridge Family and that supremely orchestrated buddy-cop series, Starsky & Hutch, it’s a song with rich resonance.

Released in 1957 within the broad context of Beat culture, the score is prototypical rock ‘n’ roll rather than jazz, and shares little with that year’s seminal album Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. Like so many memorable tunes its simplicity of purpose is genius while its execution is comic and engaging.

*

Beyond decades of personal bliss this cartoon once secured us (minor) fiscal reward. Late last millennium some mates launched a Schnitzel Club which met at a different pub every Wednesday, and among other vital mid-week pursuits, we ate schnitzel.

Once we descended upon the Arab Steed hotel in Adelaide’s east, and post-crumbed veal, lingered for the weekly quiz. Coincidently, this is my favourite question: Apart from AB who’s the only Australian Test cricketer to play in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s? Answer: Peter Sleep.

Our laddish dining collective was an eclectic ensemble, but scoring modestly until this Round 8 challenge: How many keys on a piano? Although we were music fans none had technical insight.

crowd

And then as we murmured and frowned about our table, suddenly emerging into my frontal lobe from a Coopers fog, these lyrics from Three Little Bops appeared as neuronic sign-writing

Well, the piano-playing pig was swinging like a gate
Doing Liberace on the eighty-eights.

Who says there’s no gain in an (occasionally) idle life of miscellany? With this ebony and ivory insight, we came second, by a schnitzel crumb. Sometimes the jetsam of youth washes up on your adult beach, and it’s grand.
*

Of course, I maintain a persistent, entirely ridiculous fantasy during which I take up the rooster-like position behind a charismatic pub bar as mine host. Among my first landlord chores is to rename my boozer the Dew Drop Inn, because there is no better label in all hostelry

The Dew Drop Inn did drop down!
The three little pigs crawled out of the rubble
This big bad wolf gives us nothing but trouble
So, we won’t be bothered by his windy tricks
The next place we play must be made of bricks

*

In this masterpiece what are my treasured moments? There’s so many! The galaxy of my youth was brightened by these comets

Be very quiet. I’m hunting wabbit.
and
I knew I should have made a left toin at Albukoykee”

But the following is unsurpassed in its goldenness, although I didn’t then connect it to Liberace. When you’re a kid, drenched in cartoonish fun, context is sometimes nothing.

I wish my brother George was here.

The script and the vocals were by cult comedian Stan Freberg who’s credited on this, the only Warner Brothers film to not feature Mel Blanc doing voice characterisations.

Sixty years on, his remains a magnetic vocal performance ringing with muscularity and irresistible confidence. In that post-war cultural repositioning, his phrasing and delivery heralds American brashness and Rat-Pack cool.

A transformed fable, its essential familiarity lends it much charm. With the power migrating from the recast outsider wolf to the pigs, our trio goes from victims to smug porcine hipsters. Universally, we’re barracking for the wolf as he’s turned from predator to loopily-grinning fanboy, and villain to tragic hero. This narrative inversion generates much of the comic energy, and as our aficionado blows his sleek horn while broiling in a Satanic pot the final lyrics provide a catharsis

The Big Bad Wolf, he learned the rule:
you gotta get hot to play real cool!

wolf hot

As a ubiquitous pebble, this cartoon rippled into so many of my childhood spaces: the arithmetically-unresponsive back row of Year 9 Maths; the cold Mid-North showers of under-age footy; the endless roasting sun of Kapunda swimming pool summers. Our affection for it has flowed down the decades, and I promise myself to again locate it on YouTube, and show our boys. I reckon it’ll grab them too.

And soon, on a languid afternoon just after 5pm, I’m going to ring Trev and shout, “It’s on!”

 

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