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Dolly v Kenny

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

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Wunka: The Greatest Joke in the World. Ever.

Verulamium Park

It’s a summery afternoon. A day when just north of London life bursts with promise and elemental excitement, and the good earth itself buzzes with obvious health.

Close your eyes. You’re standing on an ancient, attractive street, watching a parade. There’s innocent sound, and a kaleidoscope of floats and performers.

Then down the St Albans’ high street it comes, still fuzzy in the distance. It nears and you realise. Like a diorama, or comedy sketch, or somehow, you’ve been granted three witty wishes, and here’s the first going past right now. Right in front of you, it’s your favourite ever joke, made material.

Instantly, you’re crying with laughter. Tears of the most spectacular, rare joy and neither you nor your wife can speak.

crying

Yes, it’s a bear on the roof of a car. It’s a moment.

*

I often think back to those first six months in St Albans. When our hire car eased into a most English town we’d never visited. We later learnt it was home to Stephen Hawking. And Benny Hill.

Renting a cosy townhouse at The Brambles just across from Verulamium Park, we had no mobile phones, no Internet, and no TV. In 2003, how did we live in such a spartan way?

Because we had no need for these as everything was new and thrilling: our life in England; our rejuvenating jobs; our fresh marriage. Possibility was everywhere.

Brambles

Each night we’d sit at the round table in our cosy living room. I’d put Jazz FM on the radio and we’d talk of our schools, our European travel plans, and our family and friends across the dark ocean.

It was great.

There were thirty million people within an hour’s drive, and we were in a continent of 727 million.

But, all we needed in that former Roman city was just the two of us. It was an enchanted, alluring time.

*

Up north. A distant age.

The gruff father announces, “Alright, lad. It’s your birthday. What would you like to do? It’s your day!”

The wide-eyed boy chirps, “Really, Da’? Anything! Can we go to fair?”

“The fair it is! It’s your day!”

And so off they went, Da’ and lad, in their little family car, to the village fair. Once there Da’ declares, “Here we are at fair, lad. What would you like to do? It’s your day!”

The boy beams, “Wow. Can I have toffee apple?”

Da’ nods. “Yes, you can. It’s your day!”

Strolling around the fairgrounds with the pale northern sun falling across them, the boy eats his toffee apple. It’s sticky and sweet. Da’ then asks, “What would you like to do now, lad? I want you to ‘ave a good day. It’s your day.”

The boy looks about and points excitedly at sideshow alley. “Da’, Da’, can I go on knock ‘em downs?”

Da’ nods and says, “Of course. It’s your day, lad. I want you to ‘ave a good day.”

The boy runs to the stall, Da’ trailing behind him. The boy has a go on knock ‘em downs, and with his final throw, he wins a giant teddy bear. Da’ says to the boy. “Well done, lad. What will you call ‘im, lad? What a good day!”

The boy screws up his face. He then looks up at his Da’ and says, “I call him Wunka.”

Da’ looks down at the boy, pats him on the head and says, “Alright then. It’s your day, lad. I want you to ’ave good day. Wunka it is.”

After a good day they return to their little car. The shadows are long on this northern earth. Da’ and the boy soon realise that Wunka is too big for the boot and won’t fit inside the jalopy either. A man with practical skills, Da’ gets some rope and ties Wunka to the roof of the car.

They set off for home. Indeed, it’s been a good day.

But the road is potholed and the track to the farm is too rough for the little car. The rope holding Wunka on the car roof starts to loosen.

The car then hits a large bump, and out of the corner of his eye the boy suddenly sees a blur as something bounces behind them. “Da’ Da’!” he cries. “Wunka’s off! Wunka’s off!”

Da’ answers, “Come on lad! You’ve had a good day.”

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Sylvia Plath, Dr Hook and the Dapto Dogs

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Social media rightly gets a spanking, but occasionally it’s brilliant. 3pm on the last day of the working week can be, well, challenging, and I was searching for essays on a database, randomly selecting pieces without knowing what was in them.

I opened a file and it was dedicated solely to Sylvia Plath, the confessional American poet. Clever and moving, sure, but not the sunny stuff you want to set up your weekend. She’s a little grim and intense. She was never considered for a zany role in any of The Police Academy films.

An anti-Dr Hook, if you like.

So, I checked into (Facebook and in real life) the Broadway pub at 4.27, including this, to elevate the atmosphere-

“If you lose all hope, you can always find it again.”

Richard Ford, The Sportswriter

RF

Here’s the conversation I had online. It made me laugh!

Nicole: Definitely not Sylvia Plath.

Mickey:  No-one deserves Sylvia Plath on a Friday afternoon, Nicole.

Greg:  the thing is, she probably would have hated having to go there, but once there    would have had a great time…a bit like Tuesday night training when you’re in the B grade…

Greg: Sylvia I mean, not Nicole.

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Mickey: Sylvia and I went to the pub one Thursday night, Greg. We each had a beef schnitzel (she had Diane sauce, I had the pepper gravy) and then a man wearing an oddly-elongated beanie played Vance Joy covers on an acoustic guitar. Our night was concluded by jagging the trifecta on race nine of the Dapto dogs (each greyhound sporting an alliterative name, of course). But this splendid evening of twinkling human excitement left her morose and sullen. I never saw her again.

Nicole: Quite right Greg. Nicole would have been very happy to go there, especially on a Friday afternoon!

Greg: I tried to take her out myself once (Sylvia, not Nicole), but Sylvia’s mother said Sylvia’s too busy to come to the phone. Then the operator said, forty cents more, for the next three minutes…

Greg:  I was bloody depressed after that. She’s knows how to do it to ya. (Sylvia, not Nicole)

Mickey:  If only Sylvia had spent time with Dr Hook’s extensive and sunny back catalogue her poetry, and life might’ve turned out differently.

Greg: It’s no coincidence that anyone that spends plenty of time around Dr Hook’s back catalogue (definitely not a euphemism) turns out differently.

Mickey: Happily correct. They also sing about beauty and they sing about truth.

Greg: Just when I’d thought I’d loved this post all I could, I just loved it a little bit more.

 

Thanks to Nicole and Greg for making me laugh, many times!

Dr Hook

 

2

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

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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 any 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 all 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 guernseys. 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 TVs 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 Miami 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. Gibbs (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.

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Skill execution errors, even from diminutive 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 opening 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

Cross Country

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It’s instructive, every now and again, to enjoy some sunny elevation. Not so much that you become disconnected from the good earth and its human endeavours, but just enough.

There’s a glorious, painterly aspect and my canvas bursts with sun and sky and sea. I look down the fairway, across the seventh green to the ocean and then to Brighton jetty with its abrupt pier and somewhat sinister telecommunications tower pushing upwards to transmit the city’s texts and calls and photos, and finally off towards the middle distance of the emboldened Glenelg skyline, behind which sits our modest bungalow.

I’m at Marion Golf Course on a bright Wednesday morning strolling the primary school cross-country track that Alex and a host of unknown competitors will soon tackle. Much of the running circuit is out-of-bounds for the golfers, although probably well explored by high-handicapped hackers like me whose Hot Dot is drawn to the fierce wilderness like a goat to the roof of an abandoned car.

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Later, I’m by a green with the loose knot of our boys and a tall, kindly grandfather who offers grandfatherly pre-race wisdom.

“Just do your best.”

“Where you finish is irrelevant.”

“The main thing is to enjoy yourself.”

You can imagine my surprise when he then channelled Walter from The Big Lebowski and barked:

“Dude, this is a league game, this determines who enters the next round robin. Am I wrong? Am I wrong?”

Actually, I just made this bit up, but enjoyed the generosity of his encouragement, and hoped the boys, now squirming with energy and anxiety, did too. We were, for that moment, a little community. It was lovely.

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About three dozen boys from half a dozen schools strained across the line, gawping at the official’s earnest, controlling remarks.

“Don’t sneak over or there’ll be a false start.”

“When you hear the Robin Hood horn, go!”

Alex was mid-line, tall and tense. On his left was a small lad who was sporting that most ridiculous of hair sculptures, the man-bun. Oh, dear.

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A minute or two in and a number had already surrendered to their personal galaxy of defeat and were walking, some distraught and slump-shouldered, while others, without an outward care, were happy to be out of school, and in the perky, breezy, coastal morning.

Running, of course, is the original and most pure of sporting pursuits. There’s no ball, or inferior teammates: just you, your legs and a relentless, unyielding terrain. I reminded myself that this is a gruelling event, especially for a ten year old, and requires uncommon resilience. How many young kids really want to run long distance?

On his final lap Alex emerged from the hilly scrub, exhausted, but still running. And while he’d finish mid-field it was his first cross-country race, and he showed impressive grit. I hoped that this was a metaphor for his inner character and a likely predictor for how he’d face his future. Who could tell? At that point, I was proud.

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In the car on the way back to school I offered him an apple, but he was busy with a bucket of orangey sports drink. He didn’t even mind that the radio was on Triple J.

“Dad,” he noted, “You’ll have to run faster when we go to the beach. If you were out there today, you’d come last.”

“I reckon you’re right.”

“I’m gonna train 355 times before next year’s race. So I can do better.”

Would he be an Olympian? Possibly not. Had we handed him the key to an active, participatory life? I hoped so.

From our elevated spot we drove down to the flat and into the rest of the day.

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5

Jetty Jumping

beach

Just as that shopper in front of you is oddly surprised when the supermarket cashier asks them to pay, and they go, “Oh,” spend an epoch finding their purse, and then finally pay the $42.75 with only ten-cent coins, I find it equally bewildering that folk in South Australia are astonished annually that autumn is our best season. Although TS Eliot was considering the northern hemisphere in The Waste Land when he wrote, “April is the cruelest month” down here I reckon it’s the best time of the year.

On the border of Innes National Park, Marion Bay is a new favourite. Thursday was a gold medal day with the sun lower in the sky, but still deliciously warm, and the fierce, forbidding wind gone.

Our party of eight kids and eight adults assembled early at the Stenhouse Bay jetty. We had it to ourselves and one of the dads, Andy, suitably wet-suited, jumped in and then one of the mums, Karla, bravely sans wetsuit, followed to greet and safe-guard.

The water was a fetching Greek island-blue, flat as the Adelaide Oval pitch and as clear as a Paul Keating insult.

Meanwhile, Benny cast a line and jagged a squid within moments. Landing it on the jetty’s warm timbers, our circle of kids closed and peered on, as bewitched and curious as you’d hope, given that many of their parents are science teachers.

fishing

Of course, I observed from a distance, trying to compose a haiku about squid on a jetty but failed, instead barking brashly about there being more ink than at a Port Power home game.

Our brave warrior Alex was first to leap into the Antarctic aqua. He splashed and yelped about and then hauled himself up the metal ladder. He’d go again half a dozen times.

With their eternal sibling rivalry sparking, Max was next in our family. Bravely, he went over the edge, and in, but paddled quickly back to the pylons, singular urgency on his damp dial. There’d be no treading water for him, but as is his compulsion he interrogated his world with physical and emotional strength. I beamed at both of the boys, and silently thanked their mother for this genetic detail.

In her shorts and Spiderbait t-shirt Kerry was up next, fiercely determined and commentating in her funny way. The boys looked upon their mum with awe and the frequent, inner confirmation that she’s cool. Once in the drink she laughed constantly, adrenalin and biting cold motoring her across the bay.

Other kids and their parents were casting fishing lines, and these whirled out into the tiny inlet, but the squids wouldn’t be dead for quids.

jetty

I’m not especially happy about heights, but if there’s water beneath me I’m less worried. If you tumble off the Eiffel Tower onto the Parisian plaza below you’ll splat like a bag of cat food, but have a marginally better chance tumbling and a-hollerin’ into the ocean. Or something like this.

So, in I went. And many of you will nod at the news that I was wearing cut-off jeans.

Yes, swimming jeans.

As I fell towards the icy-ness I remembered the sea-lions I’d seen at Pier 39 in San Francisco, but doubted, somehow, that I shared their sleek, natural entry.

Flopping off that pylon Benny yelled after me, in acknowledgement of my Whyalla Norrie-inspired swimming jeans, “You’ll need a XXXX when you come up.”

“Yeah, and a Winny Blue,” my voice ascended, as I descended.

*

I love a jetty. Strolling along one is good for the soul as there’s something nourishing in the relationship between water and land, people and nature, and the crisp breeze and your open face.

I think again of my old friend John Malone and his poetic ode to these beautiful structures

People lean

from jetties, dream from jetties

fishing for

tranquillity. They are

walkways into and out of

the mind. Umbilical

chords attaching us to the sea.

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0

Sports Day

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The past month in our quiet corner of this blue planet has been Sports Day season, and last Thursday it was the turn of St Leonards Primary School.

Striding past the playground equipment, all the swings and ropes stationary above their crimped carpet of pine chips, the principal, I hear Mr HS is making his opening remarks. There’s the compulsory coffee van, heaving cake stall, curved sweep of parents and grandparents, school staff and finally the kids all sitting on the edge of the oval, in their houses, splashed and smeared in colour: Patawalonga (green), Buffalo (yellow), Holdfast (blue) and the boys’ team, Saints (red).

It’s a painterly scene with the waving gum trees and grey but innocuous clouds down south and to the east, over those low-slung hills. Mr HS also mentions that for the first time there’ll be a Spirit Shield. I like this as it places value on fairness, humility and being a good sport, whatever this means in 2018. I reckon the kids will be able to show us through their innocent investment and unbroken quest to have fun. There’ll be no ball tampering today.

The healthy sense of theatre continues. Some of the students are bursting to move, to get up and tumble about with their mates like Labrador pups, but they remain in place. This, of course, is rehearsal for adult life and its various endurance tests such as waiting in a doctor’s surgery when you’ve exhausted the grotty stack of magazines and you glimpse the rising dark outside beyond the car park.

Advance Australia Fair begins and I’m pleased that it’s the modern, inclusive version complete with didgeridoo and clapsticks. Everyone stands, staring into the middle distance, the kids singing while the adults mouth the words in a way that would challenge the most skilled of lip-readers.

Having reminded ourselves that we’re in the most curious and amusing of arcane states: girt by sea, we then move to the second, difficult verse. I know I’m outing myself as an incurable bogan but just as The William Tell Overture instantly connotates The Lone Ranger I hear our anthem and it’s instantly the AFL grand final.

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The final act in this preamble is each house performing their chant, in turn. There’s vigorous competition, community and connection in this. I look over at Alex who shouts the cutely warmongering words to the warm sky while Max is reserved in his recitation. He’s probably thinking of funny, alternate lyrics.

It’s been an excellent fifteen minutes in which the shared venture has contributed to the endless series of signals that is school tone. Having sat in many assemblies and public gatherings I’m warmed and proud that the climate here is eager and respectful. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

There’s a strong sense of inclusion to the athletic program too. Egg and spoon races, lawn bowls, tug of war, and a STEM challenge as well as the traditional pursuits. Alex first heads to the sprints, a track of about sixty metres. He lopes like a baby giraffe but covers the patchy grass surprisingly well. He wins.

This is a good opening but there’s an entire timeslot available so he strolls back to the start and a few minutes later he races again. And again. I can feel the parents’ collective approval as they scan ahead to the post-dinner, post-bath evening and the likelihood of exhausted kids, fully cooked, and in bed early.

I then watch Max tackle an obstacle course that brilliantly combines sack race, hurdles, running and crawling, commando-style, beneath a large tarp which has been pegged to the ground, deep in the forward pocket. Bear Grylls time. Jumping into his sack, Max is characteristically unhurried in getting comfortable and balanced before bounding off, a blonde joey in the distant scrub.

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The tarp has had a long and productive life but now features a couple of long tears across its middle. Some kids exit at the first hole, others at the second. None seem to crawl the intended stretch, and I wonder if there’s a secretive psychologist on campus, taking notes for a longitudinal study on how these choices might predict future moral lives.

But, I doubt it. They’re just kids, having fun on a bright autumnal morning, and learning more about each other and themselves, while their loved ones enjoy these fleeting, fragile moments.

Suddenly, my time has vanished. Still immersed in a proud glow, I drive away, towards the city.

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