Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

Boxing Day in Australia is not snow and hot drinks; rather it is ice in cold drinks, or cold drinks on ice! It can be beach and sunburn or recovery on the lounge watching one of the regular sporting events that have become de rigeur for Aussies on this day.

There isn’t a lot of commemoration of the original reason for Boxing Day anymore, and I don’t think the crowds camping outside Myer and David Jones in the big cities had giving leftovers to the poor on their minds.

I have a strong memory of a cartoon which appeared in a Sydney newspaper on Boxing Day a fair while ago. It showed a fierce looking woman, who had survived
the traumas of Christmas Day, standing with hands on hips, berating a rather the worse for wear aussie bloke sprawled in a chair, and telling him in no uncertain terms that “if they can play cricket and sail to Hobart today, you can get out of that chair and mow the lawn before mother arrives!”

I couldn’t find the cartoon; but here is a video of the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and a picture from the Boxing Day Test from the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground – hallowed ground for cricket in Australia), with Australia playing South Africa. The photo is of the Australian captain Ricky Ponting thanking the crowd after he reached his 100 runs.

Update 29 December Wild Oats Xl was the line honours winner and Quest the overall winner on corrected time. Video is no longer current so below is a picture of Wild Oats Xl sailing into Hobart.
(Picture from Rolex - Daniel Forster)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Peace on Earth …Goodwill to All

I personally wish you and yours the very best Christmas, and a healthy new year, filled with successes, good friends, family, and love.

Click on the link below to some photos of Christmas around the world. The last photo in the series will take you to another gallery, with some interesting topics, but the Christmas of Yesteryear is also worth a look.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas – the true meaning

Thinking about Christmas this year has caused me a certain amount of concern.

I don’t really feel Christmassy. Actually, how do you feel Christmassy? I am not really sure. Can I ignore it, and if I do, will it just slip quietly past and ignore me?

No, somehow I don’t think so.

Even if I was able to avoid the full onslaught of advertising on the television and other media so blatantly in your face by, not just fast forwarding the ads on time shifted TV, but actually switching it off for awhile, it has seemed that in this time of so called belt pulling in, big money is still being spent on quantity rather than necessarily quality for Christmas.

I am not Bill Gates or James Packer, not even related to either them, to have the money to spend up big time; but if the advertising is getting just a small percentage of the populace in, a heck of a lot of money is being spent on gifts in the name of Christmas this year.

I have just opened a Christmas letter from good friends and the following paragraph opens their letter. I could not put it better …

The bright lights of Christmas are more welcome than ever this year. Cutting back is the thing to do this year with our spending on “things.” Let’s hope we don’t cut back on the true meaning of Christmas.

- each day 900 million people across the globe will go without any food at all, while another 200 million are on the brink of starvation

- 105,000 Australians who are homeless each night

- Australian Bureau of Statistics figures indicate more than 22,000 children under the age of five sleep in crisis accommodation at some stage each year.

Scarey stuff? I bet it is scarey for them.

So, before you rush out in the last shopping hours before Christmas … just slow down, breathe in deeply for a minute and think a little about those many people out there, maybe not even too far away from where you are, who are not looking forward to Christmas one little bit.


The parents who can’t even afford a real meal for their kids, against the latest expensive gizmo you just have to buy your kids, so that you can feel content in being the good dad or mum.

The mother with the young baby, who wonders where she will shelter tonight, against that new theatre sound system you just have to have for the media room.

No, don’t cut back on the true meaning of Christmas this year.

Think about maybe a small gift to some organization which is helping others over this season of peace and goodwill to all (and all through the year). Or, lash out and make it a generous gift. That will really make you feel good. There are plenty of choices … you decide.

As well as the obvious names that we see throughout the year, one I like is
For $25 you can restore someone’s sight. Wow! Think about that. Maybe you could afford a little bit each month; that’s a gift that keeps on giving. Give it a go.

Peace on earth, goodwill to all of you this Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Drunken Santas cause problems for Melbourne Police … a ho ho hold up for traffic

Some Qantas staff disembarked and hit the streets staggering in Melbourne on Friday night and the police were not amused – they didn’t give them traffic clearance. A 400 strong Santa themed pub crawl, rumoured to include a large number of Qantas staff who flew in from Perth, Sydney and Brisbane, met with the law in the suburb of Carlton and I believe they didn’t share Christmas drinks.

See the full story and comments:,27574,24828631-5014262,00.html

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas spin by seasonal political workers

What do I need to say? Yep that's it ... nothin!

by Thaves
Just click to make it larger.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Respectable journal cover colour matches faces

Often when I have been travelling in Asia, I have seen a nicely coloured Tshirt and thought I would bring it home as a souvenir. On looking closer there will sometimes be a series of Chinese/Japanese characters also adorning it, and the shirt stays where it is. Why? Because I don’t understand what the characters say and would like to know what I, or the person I purchase said Tshirt for, is wearing emblazoned across their chest or back. Yes, perhaps it could be funny, or perhaps even partly funny in translation … but also, maybe not.

Editors of the respected research institute MaxPlanckForschung had hoped to find an elegant Chinese poem to grace the cover of a special issue, focusing on China. Not what they got! It ran the text of a handbill for a Macau strip club, extolling the lusty details of stripping housewives instead! Big oops! Well, at least it matched the colours of some faces.

And in somewhat of a double whammy, publication of the journal caused some anger among touchier internet users in China who felt the institute had done it on purpose to insult China, or that it was disrespectful to use Chinse as a decoration.

But generally, the faux-pas sparked much amusement among Chinese readers.

The Max Planck Institute was quick to acknowledge its error explaining that it had consulted a German sinologist prior to publication of the text.

Next time, guys, get someone who can actually read the characters … perhaps someone from China?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It aint all Bull here … it’s news from afar

A bull bought for the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival charged through a posh shopping mall in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, causing panic and damaging several shops. (Was one a china shop?)

No one was hurt in the incident which took place in the city's Gulshan diplomatic area.

Guards captured the bull in a net and handed it back to its owners, police and witnesses said.

Parts of the Bangladesh capital, a city of 11 million people, have turned into cattle markets ahead of Eid on Tuesday, when officials say up to 2.5 million bulls and goats would be slaughtered across the city.

Slaughtering animals and sharing meat with relatives and the poor are mandatory for every Muslim who can afford it.

And here I was, thinking this sort of headline only happened in Darwin newspapers.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Red pen too aggressive, Queensland teachers told …

For a moment, when I read this, I wondered if it was April 1!

Deputy Opposition Leader Mark McArdle was referring to a document proposing "strategies for addressing mental health wellbeing in any classroom".

The part he highlighted (excuse the pun): "Don't mark in a red pen (which can be seen as aggressive) - use a different colour."

"Given your 10-year-old Labor government presides over the lowest numeracy and literacy standards of any state in Australia, don't you think it's time we focused on classroom outcomes rather than these kooky, loony, loopy, lefty policies?" Mr McArdle asked. Ummm … good point perhaps?

Premier Anna Bligh called the question trivial at a time of "such economic peril".

I must admit that I agree with one of the commentators who muses that they are not sure which is the most worrying; the fact it was a report commissioned by the government, it was brought up in parliament or that the Premier dismissed it as trivial.

If you have time, read at least some of the comments; you will either get a laugh or a jolt of fear …,27574,24745013-421,00.html

Reminds me about a post I did back in September.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pass me the binoculars ... Can anyone see the silver lining yet?

Copyright 2008 Swamp Productions Pty Ltd

I am told that patience is a virtue ... I am not feeling all that virtuous at the moment.

“I like to be on the edge of the possible.” Jørn Utzon

Jørn Utzon, the Danish architect, who designed the Sydney Opera House, died yesterday, in Denmark, aged 90.

(Photo - AFP/Getty)

The Australian icon - the Opera House, with a roof evocative of a ship at full sail - was designed by the renowned Danish architect, who abandoned the project before its completion, and never returned to Australia to see the completed building.

On 20 October of this year, the Opera House celebrated it’s 35th anniversary.

The following link will take you to a comprehensive obituary on the man.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Get over it ...Walk on and over...

...the bodies underneath will make something soft to land on.

That was enough morbid, scrofulous, melancholy, unhealthy, unwholesome, saturnine (enough, enough!) thoughts.

One should only be down so long.

The future is a place you arrive at, whether you like it or not. All you really have control over is how prepared you are to engage with it.
(Thanks to the Daily Reckoning 20 November)

Preparation? What do we need? Friends, support to drag you up from the mat, hug you and then kick you in the pants and tell you to get on with it.

At the same time, distracting the enemy wouldn’t go astray too.

Thanks guys … all of you … this is dedicated to you.

Copyright 2008 Swamp Productions Pty Ltd

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One might well ask ... why bother?

Still down and flat

Copyright 2008 Swamp Productions Pty Ltd

Monday, November 17, 2008

This guy is reading over my shoulder!

Copyright 2008 Swamp Productions Pty Ltd
It has been an interesting week or so at work.
Now, why didn't I think of that?

Saturday, November 15, 2008




the quality or condition of being insignificant; lack of importance or consequence

in-sig-nif-i-kuh ns

We are all just a number, one in a crowd ...

oops, I forgot to hold on!
Copyright 2008 Swamp Productions Pty Ltd

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Resplendent \rih-SPLEN-duhnt\, adjective:
very bright or shining; splendid

Every day I get an email with a new word.

Most days I go “ho hum” and move right on. Sometimes I spend a while studying its uses and checking pronunciation, planning to use it one day. But when this word popped up; another memory popped up right behind it.

One word. That was all it took to trigger a memory from my youth. Long distances travelled by car, with “I Spy” and learning poetry to pass the time – those were the days!

I was so proud when I could recite this one, without a hitch.

© J D Shearer

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;

He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;

And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"
"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.

I'm good all round at everything, as everybody knows,
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.

There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above the Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.

It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver streak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.
It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.

It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man's Creek.

'Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I've encountered yet.

I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best;
It's shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;
A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill."

(from Dave’s Place - Australian Poetry Page)


Monday, November 10, 2008

A long, long time ago … behind the rusty gate – kissing gouramis and other stories

Once upon a long time ago, in a past life, in a past job, during which I threatened to have a syndicated column called “behind the rusty gate” …

The door bell rang. I walked out to see what adventure was about to unfold (it was usually an adventure of some kind), and was confronted by a older guy, looking a bit the worse for wear. Immediately he cut to the chase, asking if I could take the grille off the top of the ornamental pond, because he had lost something in there last night.

I was curious enough to ask what he had lost; that was where I made my first mistake that day. He informed me that he had lost his teeth! Now, over the years, I had heard some good stories told me at that gate; but this one was the one that made me totally lose the usually calm exterior. I couldn’t say anything, nothing at all, and dashed for cover around the corner and out of sight of the gate. There, leaning against the wall, laughing noiselessly but grasping for the door handle to escape into the office and not be heard, was a holy man who lived behind that rusty gate. One, it would appear whose funny bone was somewhat similar to my own.

I don’t think I even found out what caused his immediate jocularity, well almost hysterics, but I know what caused mine. The pond was quite beautiful, calming water, small water lilies and some fish, happily going about their lives in devotional surroundings. The vision (well it was a holy place, so one could be excused for having visions) that immediately came before my eyes was a kissing gourami swimming along happily in the water and every time he puckered up, he displayed the most beautiful set of white pearlies, which he had discovered the previous night, floating down into the pond, almost like manna from heaven.

Luckily there was a workman on the premises, who didn’t share our (perhaps weird) funny bones, who was able to go back to the gate and discuss the situation with the toothless gentleman.

It was a while before I could re-tell the story without going into peals of laughter; and when I saw this cartoon today the memories came swimming back …
Oh yes, they did get the cover off and search the pond, but no teeth came to light. Memories of exact locations aren’t always that accurate in the light of day, following a heavy night.

ps This one’s for you Frank.

Copyright 2008 Swamp Productions Pty Ltd -

Saturday, November 8, 2008

McCain, you've done it again ... NOT!

That line is an old familiar one to Australians, referring not to the guy who didn’t make it in the USA this week, but a company name that we see in the freezer department at the supermarket.

Young and tender? Hmm, that could have been part of the problem. I actually wondered if he would make it through the campaign.

The logos are similar though, aren’t they?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bart’s advice to the crowd after Viewed won the Cup? Look ahead to the Baker’s Dozen boys … always look ahead.

Good advice to anyone out there, in any field.

On 14 November, James Bartholomew Cummings will be 81, and today he proved that age and cunning can beat youth and inexperience every time, well, fairly often anyway. Even the greatest trainer in the world today couldn’t get his horse across the line first, but the astute English trainer came within a nose of succeeding. It may have been war in the straight, but even the hawkishly named Kiwi horse had to settle for third on the line. It was photos all round and that was before the decision was made who had won.

The result – Viewed, by a nose.

photo from AAP, Channel 7

Other grinners were the owner, Dato Tan Chin Nam (collecting his fourth Cup) and the emotional young jockey, Blake Shinn.

Bart Cummings is an Aussie hero and in 2007, Australia Post included him in their Australian Legend series of stamps.

With 100 000 people at the track at Flemington and $87 million wagered on the Melbourne Cup, I guess there were a few consoling glasses of bubbly and Irish Whiskey as well as a few Guinnesses consumed; and there will be a few sore heads in the morning.

Ah well! That’s the Melbourne Cup over for the media, and it’s on to New Hampshire, or wherever, for the next race! What price McCain with the bookies?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Will Irish Eyes be Smiling at Melbourne Cup 2008?

By this time tomorrow, will Irish eyes be smiling, or will there just be bloodshot eyes, red faces and lots of empty Irish Whiskey bottles?

I guess, in these austere financial times, the plebs in the carpark may have to settle for a Guinness or three to wash down their prawns, while they watch the race on the big screen.

The weather will probably have more effect on the parties in the carpark than the condition of the track, even though there has been discussion about that during the last week. Melbourne weather is renowned for it’s changeability, with the weather boys and girls predicting shattered scours, oops sorry, scattered showers, for the morning. I don’t think they would dare predict rain for the afternoon unless water was already a metre deep on the ground and the Yarra was overflowing its banks, ‘cause the punters might not come. It is mostly about money, you know.

The financial crisis may have caused Kerry Packer’s boy Jimmy to pull out of Millionaire’s Row this year, but frankly, I don’t think he will be missed. There will be plenty of other “tents” in there, with ladies tottering in their fashionable five inch heels, sipping bubbly and justifying the million dollar price tag for the sponsor.

One lady who will leave her heels in the kit bag for the race is Clare Lindop, who is riding a Bart Cummings pony, Moatize, in the big race. I guess that there won’t be any gentlemanly manners extended to her as they all approach the argy bargy of the home turn. It will be everyone for themselves.

With eight European horses expected in the line-up, those ponies from across the ditch * are almost to be considered locals, even if one has gone “all European” with a French name. I guess, however, it’s all in the game.

Ah well, maybe next year I’ll make it to the Birdcage, but tomorrow it will be a couple of horses in the office sweep, chicken and salad off a disposable plate and a short break while we gather around the TV to watch the race that stops a nation on the first Tuesday in November.

ps I like that Kiwi horse with the French name, but I don’t like the colour of his outfit.

*reference to the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand

For a few more salient details about the history of the event, click below.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Car parts by airmail delivery

Amazingly, the driver survived this crash in Adelaide. That is a part of the car in front of the mailbox.

Have a closer look.

photos from

Monday, October 20, 2008

Google the Sydney Opera House

Today is the 35th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Opera House.

Happy Anniversary Sydney Sails!

Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of England and Australia, officially opened the Sydney Opera House on October 20, 1973, 46 years after the Danish architect Joern Utzon won the international competition to design Australia's national opera house at Bennelong Point in Sydney.

(This is not the Opera House; but it's cute isn't it?)

The Sydney Opera House broke all the rules when it won an international competition in 1957. The competition was announced in January 1956, the winner announced the following year. Building work started in 1958.

After a series of disputes with the state government of the time, Utzon resigned from the project in February 1966. A panel of architects then continued the work on the Sydney Opera House.

Today, this Modern Expressionist building is one of the most famous, and most photographed, structures of the 20th century.

Sayings …
“Win the opera house in a lottery.” Not quite, but a good old “chook raffle” (google that too if you don’t know the lingo!) is the favourite Aussie way to raise funds. In late 1930, the newly elected NSW State Government decided to try its own chook raffle. Led by Jack Lang, they decided the only course of action to solve the critical funding situation in the States Hospitals was to start a State Lottery. Maybe they could look at that again now? There followed, a Harbour Bridge Lottery in 1932 and it was no holds barred from then on; and in November 1957, to finance the building of the Sydney Opera House, tickets in Opera House Lottery No 1 went on sale. Tickets were £5 each ($10) with a first prize of £100,000 ($200,000).

My photo of the Opera House shows another Sydney icon in the foreground – a Sydney Harbour Ferry. This one, the Lady Herron was the last of the Lady class vessels to be built, launched on 23 August, 1979. She was built by the State Dockyard at Carrington Slipway in Newcastle and is constructed of steel and is 38.71 metres in length, has total beam of 9.38 metres and draught of 2.06 metres. Lady Herron has a displacement of 287 tonnes and can carry up to 552 passengers. She is mainly confined to the Mosman - Circular Quay - Taronga Zoo run.

A couple of links if you are interested…
or for what’s on

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Twisted ... and not bitter

Grape vines undressed during winter

Friday, September 26, 2008

Will we perhaps see the reincarnation of Common Sense? I read the death notice some years ago …

A small smack is not child abuse
By Robyn Riley
(From & The Herald Sun)

It is school holiday time, and like many parents I am feeling a little frayed at the edges.

So excuse me if I take on the experts who want to tell parents the right way to discipline their children.

Last week, while on holidays having quality time with the kids, I read about the grandmother who allegedly smacked her grandchild on the bottom for going down a drain pipe. The woman has now lost custody of the child and its three older siblings. The NSW Department of Community Services thinks the children would be better in foster care than with a family member who smacks the bottoms of naughty children.

Has the world gone mad or am I am missing something here?

While I was reading this shocking story, my kids were in a frenzy over some altercation that had quickly snowballed out of control, the way only kids can. On and on it went, until I heard myself shouting at the top of my voice for some peace and common sense. And that's all we can do, isn't it? Shout like a maniac until someone listens, though you have to wonder whether this traumatises both parent and child to a greater degree.

Of course, it was different in our day. Certainly, it was different in the days when the grandmother in the newspaper was a child. Spare the rod and spoil the child was the mantra back then.

I feel terribly sorry for this woman. She has cared for her four grandkids on and off for the last six years as their mother battled drug addiction. Surely she deserves some sympathy, not public humiliation. But some experts say what she allegedly did was unacceptable. I say to them, walk a mile in her shoes.

Bringing up happy, healthy, polite and caring children has never been easy, but it is getting more difficult because of the push for parenting to be so politically correct that there is no room for common sense and gut instinct. I admire the work of Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive Joe Tucci, but I do not support his push for a national ban on smacking. He has pushed for it since a 2006 foundation survey found most people thought smacking was acceptable. Mr Tucci wanted the Government to legislate against parents doing it. But the Australian Family Association argued that laws which meant the Government decided who was and was not a good parent would go too far. Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie dismissed it, saying that a smack on the bum never hurt anybody. And I think that is the belief of many of my generation. Mr Tucci worries that when adults use physical punishment, it's usually because they're frustrated. He believes there's a risk of hurting the child because you're not in control of yourself. Of course there are derelict parents who lash out at their kids, but let's not confuse them with the 99 per cent who only wish to impose some boundaries.

When I was growing up in the 1960s, kids knew that if they behaved badly there would be consequences. Yes, often it was a smack on the bottom. But in all honesty it did us no permanent damage.

I wonder if the same is true of yelling.

Verbal abuse is as destructive as physical abuse. And, yes, in a perfect world parents wouldn't yell or smack, and all children would be little angels.

It doesn't work that way. I am with John Morrissey on this. The Australian Family Association spokesman says there is a big difference between a small smack and hurting or abusing a child. In April, there was a push in Tasmania for a ban on smacking. Children's Commissioner Paul Mason told the ABC that corporal punishment taught children not to get caught and that violence was acceptable in resolving conflict. But doesn't it also teach kids not to repeat the same offence? Doesn't it impose on the child a sense that they've gone over the boundary and need to rein in their behaviour? Of course, I am not supporting child abuse in any form, but there is a profound difference between a reproaching smack and an out-of-control slap or something worse. Most parents understand that, and surely our authorities should as well. Flexibility and common sense are traits of good parents. It's about time the "experts" and the authorities displayed the same attributes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Buoys behaving well

Most of them lined up well; a couple out of line, but not bad for buoys!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Weather ... whether it will rain or not

At this time of the year, weather becomes a hot topic of conversation.

The beautiful dry season weather is drawing to a close, the humidity is rising, the overnight temperatures are rising and tempers are rising also. Not too radically yet, but by October, the month locally known as the month of the falling mango, or more colloquially as suicide month (because the weather does add to stress type symptoms for some), tempers will be seriously frayed. Even getting a parking space in the last shady space can almost cause road rage. Locals know that it will be April, and only then if we are lucky; before the weather is again perfect one day and fantastic the next.

Our local cartoonist has summed up the TV nightly weather broadcast (if the TV station broadcasts the local weather and not that for Tasmania, as we got a couple of nights ago) for the next couple of months, in one of his cartoons. On Wicking!

For more humour from the same gentleman click below:

Oh yes, and to see the cartoon clearly, click on it to enlarge.

Cartoon © Colin Wicking

Monday, August 18, 2008

Parliament House, a place of humour … it usually is, isn’t it?

Parliament House was abuzz with laughter on Friday night - fitting for the 20th anniversary of Colin Wicking making Territorians laugh with his cartoons.

Wicking was celebrating 20 years as a cartoonist with the Northern Territory News.

Politicians, business people, public servants and a host of fans gathered to kick off an exhibition of his work and launch his latest book Best of Wicking Volume 4.

Former Administrator Austin Asche officially opened the exhibition with a poem about Wicking and a speech about the danger in taking life too seriously.

He spoke about the Australian sport of lopping tall poppies.

"Some intellectual drongos get very upset about this," he said. "We cut people down to size because it is our national duty to do so, and because it is our greatest defence against tyranny."

Mr Asche said Wicking helped Territorians laugh at themselves.

"It is notorious that, to appear in Wicking, is a sure road to popularity," he said.

Mr Asche said former deputy chief minister Barry Coulter and former chief minister Clare Martin gained 100 extra votes every time Wicking drew them in the NT News.

Wicking took to the podium and welcomed Paul Henderson as the Chief Minister - "just". And Terry Mills as the Opposition Leader - "still".

He said he was harassed only once in his career.

"A woman chased me around the NT News car park with an umbrella," he said. "I knew I was doing something right."

Historian Marilyn McDonnell-Davis said Wicking captured the "feelings of all Territorians".

All works at the exhibition are for sale and proceeds go to Wildcare NT and Total Recreation's Totally Talented Art and Craft Group.

Twenty Years of Wicking will be on display at the Great Hall of Parliament House until August 31. Mon-Fri 10am to 6pm; Sat & Sun 1pm to 5pm. Entry Free!
(Words from

Wicking has always had total disrespect for everyone; he doesn’t single anyone out or give attention to any group in particular and no-one is safe from his attention.

I think that is the reason I like his humour – everyone is fair game. He does, however, seem to give cats a bad time. But I have been assured that he has a couple of them, so his regular cat harassment could be just because it works, or perhaps he is regularly on the receiving end of disdainful treatment from his resident felines.

He has also been quite keen on targeting women, and below is one of his recent cartoons on that subject.

So, keep up the good work; and all the best for the next 20 years

Monday, August 11, 2008

Elections ... hhmmm

I have been away and missed most of the advertizing for the election, and, thankfully, all of the TV advertizing. This is a good thing.

A fair fight? I wonder.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Politics and Religion ... the importance of being earnest

In less than two weeks the Northern Territory voters go to the polls, to elect their politicians for the next four years.

I am reminded of a story I heard a while ago ...

While walking down the street, a Politician is hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven, and he is met by St Peter at the pearly gates.

"Welcome to heaven," says St Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see such a high official around these parts, you see, and so we're not sure what to do with you."
"No problem," says the Politician, "just let me in,".

"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from 'on high.' What we do is have you spend a day in hell, and a day in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity," says St Peter.

"Okay, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the Politician.

"I'm sorry but we have our rules," says St Peter.

And, with that, St Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a club, and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who'd worked with him. Everyone is happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they'd had, while getting rich at the expense of the people. They play a great game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne. Also present is the devil, who's really a very friendly guy, and joins in the good time, dancing and telling jokes. They're all having such a good time and before he realizes, it is time for him to go. Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator closes.

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven, where St Peter is waiting for him. "Now it's time for you to visit heaven."

So, 24 hours pass, with the politician joining a group of contented souls, moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp, and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by, St Peter returns, and says, "Well, you've spent a day in hell and a day in heaven. Now choose for eternity."

The Politician reflects for a minute, then answers: "Well, I never would have said it before, I mean, don't get me wrong, heaven has been delightful, but I think I'd be better off in hell."

So, St Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors of the elevator open, and he finds he's in the middle of a barren land, covered with waste and debris. He sees all of his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash, and putting it in bags. The Devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder.

"I don't understand," stammers the Politician. "Yesterday there was a golf course and a club; we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, danced, and had a great time. Now there's nothing but a wasteland full of garbage, and my friends look miserable. What happened??"

The Devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning; today you voted....

There are promises, and then there are promises that might be kept. Try to figure out the difference before you put your mark in the boxes on August 9.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Life of a Ptychosperma macarthurii

Youth: strong and green – standing up and perky.
Maturity: lush and red – but starting to droop.
Old age: dried and grey – gravity has definitely won.

Sort of like us really isn’t it?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Is it graffiti or street art?

Street art is any art developed in public spaces— that is, "in the streets" — though the term usually refers to art of an illicit nature, as opposed to government sponsored initiatives. The term can include traditional graffiti artwork, and street poster art, even video projection and street installations. Typically, the term Street Art or the more specific Post-Graffiti is used to distinguish contemporary public-space artwork from territorial graffiti, vandalism and corporate art. Graffiti is sometimes regarded as a form of art and other times regarded as unsightly damage or unwanted vandalism.

The motivations and objectives that drive street artists are as varied as the artists themselves. There is a strong current of activism and subversion in urban art. For some artists, street art can be a powerful platform for reaching the public. Some others simply see urban space as an untapped format for personal artwork, whereas some may appreciate the challenges and risks that are associated with installing illicit artwork in public places. However, the universal theme in most, if not all street art, is that adapting visual artwork into a format which utilizes public space, allows artists who may otherwise feel disenfranchised, to reach a much broader audience than traditional artwork and galleries normally allow.

Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples going back to ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Graffiti can be anything from simple scratch marks to elaborate wall paintings. In modern times, spray paint and markers have become the most commonly used materials.

In most countries, defacing property with graffiti without the property owner's consent is considered vandalism, which is punishable by law. Sometimes graffiti is employed to communicate social and political messages. To some, it is an art form worthy of display in galleries and exhibitions, to others it is merely vandalism. There are many different types and styles of graffiti and it is a rapidly evolving artform whose value is highly contested, being reviled by many authorities while also subject to protection, sometimes even within the same jurisdiction.

On a recent trip around Asia we saw quite a bit of graffiti art and were able to catch a shot of some in a major stormwater drain near the central markets in Kuala Lumpur. Usually you are cruising past, but this time the train stopped, conveniently at a station. Perhaps if it were in an art gallery, art aficionados would stroll past and utter compliments.

In January of this year, two graffiti vandals were killed when they were caught by floods in a stormwater drain in Sydney. Two men and a 21-year-old woman were spray-painting in the drain at Maroubra on a Sunday evening, when a storm hit the area. The drain filled with water and the trio was swept a kilometre to Lurline Bay. The woman and one of the men, aged 25, drowned, but a 27 year old man had a lucky escape when he squeezed through a gap in the drain's grate and was washed out to the middle of the bay.

Some would perhaps suggest that they gave their life practising their art. Perhaps like the turret artists of centuries ago, who often were only truly recognised after their deaths?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

From little things, big things grow – Darwin’s Evolution

A comment from the company advertising Evolution on Gardiner, says that “early purchasers were thoughtful enough to instigate the European custom of adding some coins to the foundations. This custom is akin to the one of erecting a tree on the roof top at the final stage of construction, and brings good luck and stability to a building.”

From coins in the base to a tree on the top in two years. 34 floors of modern skyscraper (for Darwin anyway) rises above the Darwin skyline, to “warn” us of things to come for our sleepy little city.

Friday saw the topping out of the building, with a tree carried to the rooftop for the occasion. As this is the highest building in Darwin, this was not just any, spindly little tree but a huge, fully grown beast which was craned the 100 metres to the top of the building and could be seen from just about anywhere in the city.

According to our news, 80% of the 104 residential apartments have been sold; and 90% of the buyers are “locals” so the times must be a’changin from the single dwelling wide open windows tropical style to the modern fully closed, airconditioned life in the sky, or according to the marketing agents, vertical village. I guess we won’t have to ask the old question of what’s the weather like up there? We will know; it will be cool, real cool.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Monsoon Frog in open water

It is well into the dry season (I will explain about that one time) now, as it officially started 1 May; and ponds are drying up by the day as strong south-easterly winds whip across the land.

Most frogs adopt a type of tropical hibernation at this time of the year. The Monsoon Frog, however, has obviously been able to find somewhere to regularly stretch out those legs, because yesterday he won his age category in the Pee Wees to the Club annual 2.2km open water swim.

It was a particularly blustery day and I know that he tends to like those conditions (most still water swimmers are not keen on choppy seas, but a few years of surf swimming in his “younger days”, combined with his high elbow style helps). He probably would not be too happy about me saying this, but I did notice that his chest puffed out a tad when he found out he was a winner.
Action reminiscent of a wet season, melodious singing frog, but that is their throat rather than chest I suppose, isn’t it? Picturesque licence I suppose, but you get the picture.

No picture with the medal around his neck, but one at the finish of the race.

Well swum Monsoon Frog!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Do no evil? So last century, darling!

What is that old line about a picture being worth a thousand words?

The noughties version has the extra addition of it still being worth the thousand words but needing a heck of a lot more memory.