Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tonight we're off to Perth for Christmas with J's side of the family. Then a week in Broome for a nuclear family holiday - just the four of us.

It's been a surreal week. My Grandma Ada, my mum's mum, died on Tuesday. She was 94. I hope that she's finally resting in peace. If there is any sort of after-life I hope she finds some happiness there because she certainly didn't have any in this life.

I'm not feeling all that Christmas-y right now. Hopefully tomorrow morning I'll feel a bit less exhausted and wired.

I'll just take this opportunity to wish all of you out there, known and unknown, a happy non-denominational Festive Season and may 2007 bring you whatever you're wishing for (at the very least some love, some happiness and a few really good meals).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Any cuter and they'd break the cute-o-meter!





















Oh, (and this does need a seperate entry!) I need to write about how happy I am for my friends:

* Claire and Simon and their son Louis who returned home on Sunday from The Philippines with their new (and may I say totally gorgeous) daughter and baby sister Aima. Congratulations!

* Kim and Stephen and their son Gabriel who have just received news of their new daughter and baby sister Angelica, awaiting their arrival in Cali, Colombia. Congratulations!

* Marie and Rodney and their son Ben who have (and may I say ABOUT BLOODY TIME!!!) just received news of their new son and brother Miguel Angel, awaiting their arrival in La Paz, Bolivia. Congratulations!

They drive us nuts (or is that just ME?) but they are so precious and so, so worth it.
I have so much to write about but I'm just too exhausted and brain-dead.

I need to write about how my previous post about Robbie Williams did not include the word SEXY even once. How did that happen? The man is SEX on LEGS. What was I thinking?

I need to write about how much I love Regina Spektor who I discovered late one night a few months ago on one of the music channels. How I instantly fell in love with her song (and it's fabulous clip) Fidelity. You must go to www.reginaspektor.com RIGHT NOW and listen to this song. I have just received the album Begin to Hope in its plain brown Amazon box and I'm learning to love it. Maybe it will be my summer soundtrack.

I need to write about how I also received Bruce Springsteen's Live: 1975-1985 in the same Amazon box. I have searched high and low for a Springsteen album containing Jersey Girl and this, to my knowledge, is the only one. Why does this song, written by the genius which is Tom Waits, break my heart each and every time I hear it? Perhaps it is the memories of weekend afternoons spent at the Thurless Castle Hotel in Cleveland Street in the late 1980s, where this song was my constant pick on the juke box? Perhaps it's just that it's an awesome song, a song of the 80s, a song of young adulthood (much like Mellencamp's Jack and Dianne and Dire Straits' Romeo and Juliet) which opens up something very raw deep inside me.

I need to write about how the Festive Season is swooping down upon me like an out-of-control roadtrain and I'm numb with shock and horror and feeling bad because I'm not getting into the "spirit". Maybe once we're on that plane to Perth I may start to dig myself out from under the weight which is plastering me flat to the ground at the moment.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

In the words of the master "it's all been too much for me"... last night's Robbie Williams concert, that is.

It really was almost too much. At the end I was feeling very tired and emotional, on the verge of tears as the music died down and the stadium lights slowly started to come back on. The anticipation, the joy of the concert and then the mighty emotional let down as I realise it's all over and I'll never live that experience again.

This time around it was a very different show to the 2003 tour. That was very much a SHOW: dancers, costumes, lights, the whole box and dice. This time was much more intimate (if you can be intimate with 50,000 people - though I'm sure Robbie would give it a go), much more a rock concert, just Robbie, the band and the back-up singers. Sure there were fireworks and a great stage and great lighting but it was very much more pared down.

I love getting to the concert early and watching the stadium fill up as the sun goes down. Being there on my own (well, I came with F but I was in the stands and she was down in the mosh pit) I didn't have anyone to chat with so it was a great opportunity to sit back and observe the incoming crowd. The fine examples of mutton dressed as lamb (really, no-one over 12 should wear lycra and then only if performing in a jazz ballet recital), the cute gay couples, the yummy mummies who'd been busy with their puffy pens and sequins making individualised RW song t-shirts (e.g. "I'm doing it for the KIDS" or my favourite "Oh Lord" on the front and "... not yet" on the back).

Something which bugs me at almost every concert I go to is the audience members who sit there like stunned mullets. What's that about? Did they win the tickets? Did they find them in the street? If not, why sit there all night, barely swaying in your seat, clapping politely at the end of each song. Jesus, I was on my feet from the moment the lights dimmed, screaming as the fireworks went off, going berko as Robbie rose up from within the stage to the first chords of "Radio". Being on my own I really let my hair down. I didn't care. I danced and sang and clapped and waved my arms about and I had one of the best friggin' nights of my life. I didn't care about the boring old biddies sitting dumbly beside me. I'll never see them again, they don't know me and I don't know them. Let them talk about the lone looney woman they sat next to at the Robbie Williams concert.

I have to say singing "Come Undone" along with Robbie and 50,000 mad fans is as close to a spiritual experience as I'm going to get. It's magic, it's bliss, it's mindblowing. I was happy with his song choices in general. There are so many of course some of my favourites will be left out. I would have loved to have heard "Something Beautiful" and "Spread your wings" and "A Place to Crash". Even "She's the one" which was such a highlight of the 2003 show (I bet the woman he got up on stage and kissed still hasn't washed her lips). I could have done without the stupid interlude which was "Me and my shadow" sung with someone called Johnny Wilks who I'd never heard of. Just a stupid waste of time if you ask me. I don't know why they chose to have the words to "Strong" come up on the screen, karoke-style. I mean if you don't know the words, get the fuck out of there.

Anyway, it was heaven and it's over and I'm elated and so so sad. The ecstacy and the agony.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday, dear baby sister....

Happy birthday to YOU!!!

Happy birthday Julia, you gorgeous girl.

Hope you have a great day, week and year.

Did I tell you I was looking forward to your birthday lunch at Pilu tomorrow?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Anatomy 101

Will was doing a wee before jumping in the bath last night. He was doing his wee standing up, like a big boy. [It's something we're trying to encourage because he generally prefers to sit down and as he's now heading towards the ripe old age of 8 we're a tad worried about the possible teasing which could ensue.] I congratulated him on his achievement. He said "Mum, boys can do wees standing up". "Yes, they can," I said. "But girls can't do wees standing up, because boys have penises and girls have giants."

You learn a new thing every day.
Weddings:

* You know you've reached cynical overload when you're standing there at a wedding ceremony, listening to the celebrant's blurb and thinking "yeah, right, what a crock!".

* Why do people insist on ruining perfectly good outfits with ridiculous accessories, i.e. beautiful black dress worn with horrific patent vinyl stilettos with CORK soles and heels (yeek!); elegant chocolate brown outfit (perfect for the mature aged lady wearing it) worn with a "matching" headband with a giant feather sticking out.

* Sitting at a table full of people you don't know, making small talk, watching comments meant to start a conversation falling on the table in front of you like lead balloons. Ouch!

* Why is it so hard to get wedding food right? Or even simply OK? Surely that's not an impossible task. There are things that can stand some overcooking: lasagne, curry, a good hearty casserole. But these aren't seen on wedding menus. No, only elegant food - a chicken breast, a veal cutlet - is served at such functions. Never mind that they are so dry they crumble under your cutlery - they sure look good on the plate, on their bed of cold mash, surrounded by their vegetables done a la dishwashing liquid (that's what the lemony sauce tasted like, what can I tell you?). It's so sad that the bride and grooms menu picks, so carefully chosen months in advance, generally tend to be barely edible when served on the big day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Just taking a moment to be bitter and twisted ('cos you know I'm just sweetness and light the rest of the time). Yesterday I co-ordinated our adoptive families' Christmas picnic. We've been going for years and for the last couple of years I've been the Fundraising/Activities Co-ordinator. It's a situation of not too many people putting their hands up when jobs on the committee need to be filled. Some of the people have been there for years and years and can't step down because no-one wants to step up.

Yesterday was exhausting and I'm just a little over it. I don't mind doing the work but I'm sick of the rude, stupid people. The people who don't rsvp and turn up expecting to be fed; people who stack their plates up high on the first go round the buffet table, then we clean up plates half full of uneaten food; the people who turn up after we've cleared the food and want lunch; the people who don't help in any way; the people who treat us volunteer helpers as servants. We're not running a bloody restaurant people! We're trying to organise a picnic to keep adoptive families in touch and to fundraise for the orphanages our organisation support. [Have I mentioned that I'm slightly angry at the bozos who adopt their children then conveniently forget that they have a moral and social obligation to help the orphanage where their child/ren spent the first months/years of their lives?]

Our group is not great at supporting any of the other events I try to organise through the year (most of which end up having to be cancelled due to lack of enthusiasm). So I try and make some money out of the picnic ticket price. Mainly I do this by catering economically and selling some raffle tickets.

Well, enough is enough. Next picnic I'm having it catered and those who don't pre-book will not be offered lunch. I'm not into this martyrdom shit.

Deep breath in, deep breath out...
Another season of Idol has come again... Damo won. Woo hoo. Sure I could say "I told you so"... I picked him from the start. But really, who cares? I don't. I'm over it, I always am by the end. Idol works in reverse for me. I start off super excited, those audition episodes are bloody funny (says a lot about my psychology that I love watching people make absolute fools of themselves on national tv). I maintain a reasonable level of interest during the Final 24 and the Top 12. But by the time it gets down to six or so I couldn't care less. Yeah, they're all good singers but the songs are just not my cup of tea and the BIG IDOL SINGLE they are forced to record is just rubbish, bordering on unbearable.

Damien professes to be a fan of my beloved Jeff Buckley and he certainly has a voice to do Jeff's songs justice. I was thinking I'd love to hear Damien work his way through the JB songbook but really, while his voice is technically up to it, I wonder if he has the emotional depth to give the songs what they need. In the end Damo is the first Idol contestant/winner whose eventual album I would even consider buying. Let's see what the Idol sausage machine will produce with Damien's meat (so to speak...).

Friday, November 24, 2006

Last night I learnt that I don't have enough sparkly shoes in my life. A gorgeous pair of red or gold or even black mary jane's, medium heel, covered in sequins or sparkles. Also, I don't have enough feathers, nowhere near enough... well, none really.

I learnt this at the Kylie concert. It was fantastic. A bucket full of fun.

I bet you didn't know Locomotion was a bloody sexy song. The best song of the night. Whoever did the burlesque arrangement should win a Noble prize. It was amazing. As were the dancers, the costumes, the lights.

Fabulous, darling!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Crisco. You know those thieving scum who sell the Christmas rip-off hampers to the poor white trash and other IQ challenged folk. The Christmas "hampers" which come in Winfield Blue or Benson & Hedges varieties, with optional extras such as a slab of VB or a bottle of Jim Beam.

I have been a long time fan of the tv ads where the spokeswoman, dressed as Mrs Claus, chirps on about how joyous it is to hand over your hard-earned all year with the prospect of having one of these crap hampers delivered to your door in time for the festive season. A hamper full of Spam and tinned pineapple - nothing makes me think of our lord and saviour more than Spam.

My sister and I have long discussed the reality that these people are paying much more than the market value for this shit, living with the illusion that they are saving money by being good little Crisco financial managers.

Well, I have finally got proof that this is a scam of the highest order. Last weekend I met a woman who has actually done the sums. As she said, she's a stay at home mum, she has some hours to kill. Anyway, her own mother buys these evil hampers and after trying to convince her they were a rip-off she sat down and did the figures using the Coles online shopping site. She worked out that the $1,200 hamper her mother buys could be bought at Coles for $700 - that's a full $500 less than the Crisco price!

I actually think this is quite a serious (although funny) issue. I mean the bulk of the people who buy this crappola would be the ones who can least afford it. The battlers, the working poor, the non-working poor... you get the picture. Surely those G20/Iraq war/global warming protesters would be better off spending their time picketting the Crisco offices, because that, to me, seems where the world's great injustices originate.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Almost forgot... the G20 protester fuckers! Honestly, those people (and I use the term loosely) are a total waste of oxygen.

I feel sorry for the poor coppers who have to deal with sub-human morons. Give me a water canon and/or a truncheon, I'll have a go at them. It blows my mind that my tax dollars are going to pay for police to "battle" with these feral scum. I'm willing to bet at least 9 out of 10 of these goons don't even know what they're protesting about and the odd one that has any clue wouldn't be able to string a coherent sentence together as to how throwing rubbish bins at police is going to help the poverty stricken folk of this world.

They are all just bused in wholesale from Nimbin or whereever these filthy cretins reside. Either that or their parents drop them off in the city en route from their middle class suburban homes to their middle class city jobs.

I particularly enjoyed the work of the "white brigade" this year, you know the brave fighters for truth and human rights who are so proud of themselves they cover up their faces.

I'm not sure what legal recourse society has against these vermin but I think if they were to be punished it would be much wiser to actually send them to Africa to do some REAL work in aid of the starving masses as opposed to sticking them in jail or getting them to do some piss-poor excuse for "community work". I'm fairly confident a real day's work may kill them but I'm personally willing to let them take the risk.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

For those of you who don't tune in to read my intense critiques of popular culture... you know who you are... here is a quick pictorial update of the family (yes, the children and husband who I occasionally glimpse out of the corner of my eye as I loll on the sofa watching the teev and stuffing corn chips down my gob). All is well in Pomona Street, as this happy family snap reveals:

Finally getting my headspace around RHCP's Stadium Arcadium. I definitely favour the Jupiter disc. Not only does it contain my early favourite Hump de Bump but it features the third single and my head-and-shoulders-stand-out favourite Snow (Hey Oh). What a friggin' beautiful song! Really I may have nasty things to say about John but his guitar skills are never in question and they shine brightly indeed on this gorgeous song.

I've decided that knowing what the lyrics are about is optional to my enjoyment of the songs. I can be fairly confident that they are about sex and/or drugs and I can leave it at that. Anthony may have a deep and poetic soul underneath that tattooed, muscle-bound, drool-inducing exterior but he's a simple man after all.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. This weekend the Lord gave...

... the ultimate gift of crap tv. Drum roll please... Strange Love.

I am probably a late comer to this pinnacle of mindless reality tv but better late than never I say. For the ignorant masses this VH1 program (while we're thanking the non-denominational spiritual entity let's thank him/her for cable tv, how did we fill our days before?) brings together the non-existant talents of one Flavor Flav (aka Foofy Foofy) and one Bridgette Nielsen. The former being a past member of Public Enemy, the shortarse with the gold teeth and the giant clock around his neck (?????). The later being the ex-wife of Sylvester Stallone; an Amazonian piece of Euro trash with no discernable point for existence.

This match made in heaven apparently came about during the filming of something called The Surreal Life, a celebrity Big Brother style program which in the past has brought together big names such as MC Hammer, Corey Feldman, Vanilla Ice, the unattractive bird from Beverley Hills 90210 and, of course, the aforementioned Mr Flav and Ms Nielsen.

Really this program defies description but it is totally absorbing in a can-you-believe-they-are-showing-this-drivel-on-television?-way.

Something to keep me going until Australian Princess... and of course there's next year's Big Brother to look forward to...

Bet you wish you were me!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"He's mad, totally mad. He's madder than Mad Jack McMad, winner of last year's Mr. Madman competition."

...from Blackadder.

Just because I LOVE this quote, can relate to this quote and generally need to use it about half a dozen times a day, minimum. Have finally found it after googling unsucessfully for some time.

Enjoy!

Monday, November 13, 2006

You know I love piss poor tv entertainment, the piss-poorer the better. Big Brother, Oz Idol, Jasmin's Getting Married (RIP), New Zealand Highway Patrol... bring it on.

But Channel Nine's ABBAMania was a crime against humanity. Never mind bleating on about Iraq and global fucking warming, where are the protestors when you really need them?!

I was hoping for a bit of kitsch entertainment, something to sing along to with Will (he's a big ABBA fan). But what I got was the lamest, most embaressing (for all concerned) schlock seen on television. Bec Cartwright makes Anna Nicole Smith look highbrow. She really is cringe-making (for more evidence Google her Melbourne Cup outfit, it's a miracle they let her out of the caravan park wearing that). She's a shocker and should stick to "exclusives" in Women's Day where at least we don't actually have to hear her talk.

By far the worst aspect of the half hour I managed to sit through was the calibre of "celebrities" they dragged out for this event. Actors from McLeod's Daughters, looking like they'd rather be dragged by one foot behind a horse on the McLeod's set and wondering how they could have misread the fine print on their contracts so badly. Then there was Matthew Newton singing with David Campbell. What's that about? I mean I know they have Burt under contract but surely they couldn't have included Matthew without anyone noticing.

I didn't see her but apparently they even had one of their Melbourne Today Show reporters singing later in the show. How low can they go? Was Fatty Vautin unavailable?

The whole thing was awful and tragic and whoever is responsible should be thoroughly ashamed and hopefully unemployed as of this morning.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I'm getting excited about the upcoming Robbie Williams' concert.

Until recently I didn't think I'd be going because of a boring story involving how much Ticketek SUCK. But then my friend F came up with a single ticket and it was a question of not see Robbie at all or see Robbie sitting by myself. Gee whiz! Which one should I choose?

So on 9 December I'll be going berko at Aussie Stadium with 50,000 other RW fans. The last concert was so amazing I just can't wait to re-live that feeling.

Listening to the Intensive Care CD as I drove to WBJ on Saturday I wondered why I love him so much. About why he seems to epitomise a certain type of sexiness which rationally I despise but hormonally I covet. I mean the 38-year-old-mother-of-two side of me knows he'd be worse than Henry VIII to be in a relationship with but the deeply buried teenage part of me is terrifyingly attracted to that bad boy persona.

What is it about the words "...didn't quite catch your name..." in Sin Sin Sin which makes me go a bit light headed? Possibly the fact I've never actually had a one night stand and the idea of such an experience is both revolting and intoxicating.

Everything about him takes me back to early high school. I was rebelling, I was discovering the world of punk and I was madly in lust with Dean (aka Fang). He was a friend of a friend, freshly released from a stint in Minda (a notorious Sydney juvenille detention centre) where he had been placed by his mother for being "uncontrollable" (they didn't have ADHD medication in the early 80s). It was a brief but passionate affair, a centre-of-the-universe type of affair as only 14 year olds can participate in. He was a very bad boy, he was very bad for me but I wouldn't give up those bittersweet memories for anything... well, possibly a night with Robbie (as long as it was OK with my husband and I could get a babysitter for the kids).

Monday, November 06, 2006

Oh the joy of the Sydney Festival. Each year it brings a wonderous array of musical, stage and performance artists to our glorious city from distant parts of the world. Some are fabulous, some are interesting and most are plainly unintelligible gibberish, Emperor's new clothes style. This year's treasurers (tix booked) are:

* Lou Reed's Berlin. This is a live performance of his 1973 concept album. I'm not a huge fan of Lou's but it's the draw of Antony (of the Johnsons) on backup vocals which has me forking out $120 per ticket. I know... but I'm mad about him.

* Three tickets for Madeleine Peyroux. My dad loves her, put me onto her and my sister and I are taking him as a belated birthday present. This woman is gorgeous and her vintage jazz sound is mesmerising. Can't wait to see her live.

* I'm your man. This is the documentary of the Came So Far For Beauty tribute to Leonard Cohen concert which changed my life almost two years ago (see reference to Antony above). I'm going to drag everyone I know to this film - I went to the concert alone and had to suffer all that joy and wonder all by myself. I am dying to share the magic with the nearest and dearest.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

We saw Little Miss Sunshine last week. I'd been looking forward to it for a while. Had heard lots of great things. I think I was underwhelmed, but that happens when your expectations get too high.

Look, it was a very enjoyable little film and everyone in it was fantastic. But it was less than original and some parts were just too obviously derivitive. I could spot the big "finale" from about 5 minutes into it.

A great Sunday afternoon feel good DVD but I wouldn't rush out and spend real money on it.

I've also just remembered I missed seeing Clerks 2 at the movies; I think it lasted about 2 weeks max. Bummer.
Is it possible that a 7 year old and a 17 month old conspire to drive their mother certifiably crazy? I believe it is and I have proof, just come and visit my house around 5:30-6:30 pm each evening. You'll recognise me, I'm the gibbering idiot tearing my hair out from my foetal position in the corner.

All I know is that people who have like 8 or 16 children and appear to be happy, functioning humans are either much more evolved beings than I am or they just don't give a shit.

Monday, October 30, 2006

It's been a crazy few days, well crazier...

* Thursday morning I got up at 4:20 am to get ready for the market tour I had signed up for. These are an annual event as part of Good Food Month and I had wanted to do one of these tours for years. Julia and I finally signed up for the tour with chef Giovanni Pilu. Apart from the early start the tour itself was fantastic. We started at 5:30 am at the Sydney Seafood Market where we got to see the early morning auction and then wandered around the flood taking a look at what was good, with gorgeous Giovanni explaining this and that, giving little tips. Then we all boarded the comfy bus (hard not to doze off) and drove to the Sydney Markets at Flemington. These are general food markets with all sorts of fruit and veg available, mainly in bulk for the restaurant/catering trade. This part of the trip was very inspiring; the sensational array of fruit and veg, so fresh and glorious, so unlike the dull, limp variety we overpay for at the supermarket. Again Giovanni gave us little tips and introduced us to some of his favourite provodores. As a bonus we were given little samples: a handlful of crisp asaparagus here, a crunchy fresh apple there, olives, beans, cucumbers, even a few kipfler potatoes. Our little bags were groaning by the time we were finished. The finale was a wonderful Italian coffee deep inside the treasure trove of the on-site Italian deli before boarding our coach for the return trip. A wonderful early morning adventure, very much worth the crack of dawn start.

* On Saturday (after Will's swimming lesson) Julia and I met up at the markets to recreate our own fruit and veg paradise. It was not to be. The peaceful market surrounds turn into hell on earth on a Saturday when parking rules fly out the window and insanity prevails. OMG! It was crazy. There were people everywhere, pushing, shoving, barging their way around with humongous trolleys overloaded with bulk f&v. I was on the verge of tears numerous times and so was dear J as I bumped into her shins with Marianna's stroller (did I mention I was stupid enough to bring Marianna along to this bedlam?). We may have snagged a few bargains (strawberries for 80c a punnet, $20 for 9 rockmelons [they were $7 EACH at Woolies that week]) but the emotional scars will last a lifetime. We're determined to try again but have retreated for the moment to work out a different plan of attack.

* On Sunday our family attended the Colombian Association's Children's Halloween Picnic. This was a smallish but fun gathering and it was wonderful to meet a number of Colombians living in Sydney. Quite a few of them from Medellin (Marianna's city of birth) and they were happy to talk about their city and to meet M. We consider ourselves lucky to have been invited along and hope to keep in contact. If only there was a Guatemalan Association in Sydney...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006



















That's right, that's me with my dear friend Gordon Ramsey. Just having a chat, kicking back, you know how it is.

OH. MY. GOD!

Gordon Ramsey put his arm around me. He kissed my sister. He signed our books. He swore at us in no uncertain terms, numerous times. It was too good to be true.

Life doesn't get better than this.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Did I mention I'm going to see Gordon Ramsey on Monday?

That's right... me and Gordon "The F Word" Ramsey in the one room. It's mind blowing.

He's doing a literary luncheon, talking and signing books. I'm going with Julia and we both adore him and are both atingle with anticipation. Will he swear at a room full of middle-class, middle-aged fans in the ballroom of a five star hotel? Oh, I hope so!
Last night I went to see Merrick and Rosso with Julia and my friend F and her friend N. I've liked M&R for some years now, ever since they started on Triple J with their silly little show, writing letters to John Howard pretending their were an 8 year old boy. We saw them about 3 or 4 years ago and it was a great show and then we saw them at a pub a while later and Rosso was terrifyingly drunk or off his nut on something and I went off him a little (always had a soft spot for doofus Merrick though).

Lately I've been listening to them (as I flick round the morning radio channels on my longer than comfortable drive to work) do their show on Nova and they are still good. Not as good as in their younger days, but certainly good enough for an old, boring married mother of two like myself.

Last night however was good but slightly disappointing. Firstly their warm up act was Peter Hellier and I really like him, he's bloody funny... so shoot me. So their first mistake was having such a good warm up... hard act to follow. And they were really just too heavily into the poo, bum and teenagerish sex jokes for my personal liking. Look I'm as much a fan of those genres of comedy as the next person but a little depth and breadth wouldn't have gone astray. Loved the Fagg Nuts encore, great finish.

Dinner at the cosy little Italian place across the road with my sis before the show was lovely though. We talk shit a lot but rarely really talk.
I probably should mention that I spent last weekend at Golden Door Elysia in the Hunter Valley. At this point it seems a million years ago but it was wonderful and therefore should be briefly immortalised. The Golden Door is one of Australia's best health retreats (I'm going by their promotional material, my experience with health retreats is limited... to one). The weekend was a gift from my sister and myself for our mother for her 60th birthday.

I was undeniably anxious at spending any amount of "quality" time with my mother as this undoubtedly results in unnecessary stress and conflict. We're just made that way. But I was very conscious of making an effort to let things slide and thus lubricate the smoother functioning of our relationship. It more or less worked and apart from a tiny flare up here and there things did go amazingly well.

The Golden Door was really beautiful and luxurious... the things I need in a holiday. I always say one night in five star is worth a hundred nights in a caravan (well, it's almost pointless to say because I don't do caravans, tents or any sort of accommodation worse than my own home... yep, princess... yadda, yadda...). Everything about Elysia is superb... the grounds, the accommodation, the public areas. It is the attention to detail which is notable... from the fragrant oil burning in your bathroom when you return from dinner to the subtle water features throughout the resort to the fresh lemon water available throughout the day.

We indulged in gorgeous facials and massages which really are my ultimate treat (and much preferred gift if anyone is looking for an idea... hint, hint). But above all the biggest treat of the weekend was the food. It is all "health" food in terms of low carb, low cal, low fat, etc. but it isn't vegetarian (thank god, otherwise we wouldn't have gone). When you eat magnificent food like this and know how healthy it is you realise being a slim celebrity isn't all that hard if you can hire your own private chef to whip up this calibre of cuisine on a daily basis. The genius comes in the creative use of herbs and spices to add flavour rather than the standard butter, cream and salt and pepper. Also in the interesting way vegetables are heavily incorporated in each meal so that you are eating so much more than usual but not feeling like a rabbit.

The place treats alcohol, caffeine and nicotine as contraband (yep, you can actually get kicked out for having it on the premises). I must admit to missing coffee and a good cup of English Breakfast tea in the morning. But not being a drinker or a smoker I couldn't care less about the other no-nos. Especially when each evening we enjoyed yummy fruity mocktails before dinner.

The Golden Door really is a luxurious treat and one I would recommend to anyone looking to detox somewhat and to recharge. It certainly isn't as expensive as you might expect and being so close to Sydney we may need to look at making this an annual experience...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Yesterday I went to Parramatta to visit, hopefully for the very final time, the Department of Immigration in relation to Marianna's citizenship. Parramatta is one of Sydney's major hubs, a busy commercial and residential centre.

It is neither one of the worst nor one of the best areas of our fair city. It has a great number of beautiful examples of colonial architecture and a lovely little regional theatre where I have seen some very enjoyable productions.

What is most notable is that it's an area where there are a disproporionate number of women whose waist measurement is considerably larger than their bust measurement who walk the streets wearing skin tight singlet tops with no bra.
The only benefit of having as much tv as I have over the past week is that I've seen some stuff which has really put my life and "problems" in perspective. There are people out there who are true heroes in the very real sense of the word. They make me so very thankful for what I have in my own life and doubly determined to help others in whatever way I can throughout my life.

Firstly I saw a story on an old Oprah episode about Dr Catherine Hamlin, an Australian doctor, running a clinic in Ethiopia for women who have developed fistulas during childbirth. The story of these women is absolutely heartbreaking but the story of this hospital is absolutely heartwarming and inspiring.

Then J and I watched an old episode of Montel (as J said: "Does 20% of the American population have their own talk show?" and I said: "Yes, and the other 80% are the guests.") about "unusual" families. It was the same old tripe but they did feature a family who had fostered 508 children over 26 years and had adopted 9 and had 2 biological children (in their mid 40s after being told they'd never have children). Maybe it was my weakend mental state but the tears were pouring down my face as I thought about this family and what a difference, big and small, they had made in the lives of so may children.

Finally, last night, we watched a documentary on SBS about Maggie Sister, a nurse from Broome WA, who has been working for over 15 years with a leper colony and an AIDS orphanage in India. Each year she fundraises and then goes to India for 2-3 months to work. Her own life has been quite tragic, with an abusive marriage and lung cancer as major features, but her dedication to the forgotten people of India is amazing.

What I know is that it is these people who are making a difference to the world. Not the politicians, not the media talking heads, not the teenage bloggers with the "Make Poverty History" banners, not the sports stars or the celebrities. It is these people who I look up to and admire.
It's Friday morning and I feel like I'm emerging, for the first time in a week, from a gastro induced domestic hell. It hit baby M first, then Will, yours truly and finally the big J. While mostly it's been a 24 hour thing the baby has suffered with five days of it and was a shadow of her former robust self. It was heartbreaking.

For future reference may I recommend bananas. Yes, bananas. After barely eating and drinking for five days and instantly ejecting anything that did pass her lips, she immediately improved upon eating a banana. Not only did her energy return almost immediately but all other symptoms eased and then stopped. Thank you to my dear friend Marg for that recommendation.

I am now faced with the prospect of getting a second job to keep her in the banana habit she's developing (at $12+ a kg it's no joke). "They don't grow on trees, you know," I tell her each time she points at the fruit basket and pleads "nana?".

Sunday, October 08, 2006

While my days, weeks and months normally fly by at the speed of light the last week seems to have lasted a year. It is seriously hard to believe that the awesome/terrible grand final was only one week ago. Possibly it's had something to do with children who have been sick in varying degrees of seriousness over the last four days. There has been a blissfly brief bout of runny nose/temperature which was only annoying due to it disrupting a day of expensive, school holiday tennis camp. Then there's the currently ongoing vomiting/pooing bug inflicting the baby (apologies to JB and other weak stomached readers). This has meant a very sad little bubba who has variously upchucked at the most incovenient times (e.g. driving on the M2 to my mother's 60th birthday party at the fancy pants Stamford at Double Bay - we're talking me wearing a dress here, that's who fancy pants it was!) and had green stuff filling her nappy and escaping to stain pants, car seat covers, etc. Oh the joy!

I'm seriously pooped and hope things improve sooner rather than later.

On a tangent, while I'm here, yesterday we watched a fun family film with Will. It was called "Nanny McPhee" and was quite enjoyable, as children's movies go. The pretty young girl playing the widowed father's romantic interest was perplexing, I just couldn't find a name for the familiar face. When the credits rolled I yelled (much to Jason's and Will's surprise): "Kelly Macdonald". The name brought back memories of her in a beautiful little Scottish film "Stella does tricks". I loved it so much and seeing her again made me feel a rush of need to see it again. I must dig it out somehow. Sorry, as you were.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Now for the nitty gritty:

1) I'll never fly JetStar again if I can help it. Many small reasons but mainly (this may seem trivial to some but I nearly blew a head gasket at the time) because when we arrived at Avalon "airport" (HA!) there were two normal sized taxis (which we couldn't fit into) so we had to get a transfer coach the tickets for which could only be purchased with CASH, there were no eftpos or credit card facilities. What the...? Who carries cash? On top of that they didn't even have an ATM in the "terminal". Luckily Tricia had some cash, otherwise we would have still been sitting at Avalon, twidling our thumbs, on Saturday afternoon instead of being at the game.

2) Melbourne is friggin', friggin' COLD. I mean it. They said it would be 20 degrees and sunny on grand final day so I was expecting a NICE day, what I got was a day so bitterly cold the marrow in my bones was frozen; I even bought a nice Swans blanket in desperation but that didn't help much. I should have taken Tricia up on her offer of lending me a spencer.

3) We had the misfortune of sitting in the last row of a block of Swans' supporters and having a block of WCE supporters behind us. That wasn't so bad per se, it was the fact that right behind us sat two fat old cane toads who were by far the worst sports I had ever encountered. Every time the Swans so much as touched, nay, looked at the ball, they yelled horrendous insults. I can't even remember the details except that it really made my blood boil. When the umpire tripped over at the end of the game they said "Hope it's a heart attack". That's just mean. I'm no fan of the umpires but come on, how spiteful can you get. I think it was their hateful presence which made the loss even harder to bear.

4) On Sunday when we returned to Sydney we picked up Marianna from my mum's and went to the SCG to cheer on the boys when they returned. It certainly wasn't a repeat of last year's hysterical mass gathering. This time barely 500 die hard fans turned up, which made me really glad we made the effort.



















Will and Marianna waiting for the Swannies to arrive.




















The slightly worse for wear Swannies take the stage.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have experienced the pinnacle of the AFL journey - my beloved team playing in the Grand Final at the MCG. Maybe I'll even see them win one in my lifetime. But for now another AFL year is over and it's the usual mixed bag of emotions: relief, sadness and just a tingle of anticipation for what next year may bring. Right now I am happy to be living in a Swans free zone for the next few months. Summer is on the way, bringing all the social havoc which the warmer months entail and I'm ready to dive in. However, I know by February next year I'll get that itchy feeling again and I'll be counting down the days until April and the first siren of the new season.
Where do I begin? The weekend had so many parts...

I guess the main event first. It was a game of two parts: the first half which basically sucked, and the second half, which rocked but not quite enough.

For the first two quarters the Swans stood around like they'd forgotten exactly why they were there, it was heartbreaking. The second half loomed like a scary monster; exactly how humiliating was this defeat going to be. I even wondered if "we" were being punished for not going to our friends' wedding to be at the grand final.

But then in the second half the fire returned and the boys fought back. It was awesome. The adrenalin flowed and hope returned. We were going to come back, the joy. But the final quarter ran out just a minute or two too soon. A ONE POINT loss! Oh, the pain. I think the worst thing was seeing the boys sitting on the grass, defeated. I wanted to tell them it was OK, we still loved them, they'd tried their very best (well, at least in the second half). They had nothing to be ashamed of. Then there was the gloating Eagles to contend with... it's strange how ugly gloating is on other people, especially "the enemy", and yet so attractive amongst your own tribe.

It was a long and weary trek back to our hotel, the same trek which had been so joyous and possibility-filled that very morning.



Will, Bob, Tricia and moi outside the MCG before the game.












Trying to keep warm before the game.
Check out the West Coast cane toad behind us - he was one of fuckwits who ruined the game
for me.





















The two mighty teams line up for the national anthem - a majestic moment.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sometimes when I'm feeling super brain dead I like to sit here at my laptop and just hit the "Next Blog" button. It takes me to many weird and wonderful places and very very occasionally I hit upon something cool; a blog I can add to my favourites and check upon now and then.

Recently I have noticed that some blogs have a little banner at the top stating "Make Poverty History". What a bloody good idea I think. Thank you Bono, thank you Bob Geldof.

Then I think. Well. Um. How?

Will adding a "Make Poverty History" banner to my blog make poverty history? Wouldn't that we fantastic?

Aren't motherhood statements cool? They are so friggin' meaningless but they make us feel all warm and fuzzy. See? I can put a funky little banner on my blog and I can feel good about myself. It's really bloody great. I don't actually have to do anything useful for the world. Some little thing like donate money to charity, cook a meal for poor people or even for a sick friend, actually help someone in need in a practical and real way.

Maybe I can even put a "Not happy, John" sticker on my car to really show everyone I mean business. Take that. Now you know what I'm all about - I don't like John Howard or poverty! See how helpful I am to society? I'm so good I can't stand myself.

I'm tired.
The Swans WON! We're in the final. Bloody hell. I'm a bit shell shocked. We weren't playing all that well early this season, then we had some wins, then some losses, then we were in the top 4 and playing finals and last night we beat Freo to get into our second final in a row. I'm not sure how it all happend. I was on the net buying overpriced "discount" airfares to Melbourne for next Friday at 1:00 am this morning.

Sorry for shouting but... WE'RE GOING TO THE AFL GRAND FINAL!!!!

Swans will be playing West Coast Eagles [again]. It'll be good but I'm already anxious. I think spending a large part of the day on the net trying to find accommodation for next weekend that wasn't either a) $695 per night or b) more than half an hour away from the MCG hasn't helped me to relax. After refreshing wotif.com about a million times (and surprisingly NOT taking up the $2,000 per night AFL Grand Final special one of the hotels was offering) I found a 3.5 star (I KNOW!) hotel right in the city for $500 for both nights. More than it's worth but better than what's on offer. At least we'll be in walking distance of the MCG.

Sing with me now... Cheer, cheer the red and the white...

Friday, September 22, 2006

If I hear one more person squak how "An Incovenient Truth" was the "the most important/scary film" they've ever seen I may resort to hurting myself and/or others.

Hey, I'm all for saving the planet. I happen to like it and I'm particularly fond of my little corner of it. But I totally can't figure out what it is we're meant to do about it... apart from feel endless guilt and do a lot of middle-class self flagelation about what bad, bad western middle-class people we are... BAD I tell you!

While I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than ever see this film I have had a look at the website it links to www.climatecrisis.org and this provides me with a list of "useful" things I can do to save the world. These are:

1) Change a light. Give me a break!

2) Drive less. Walk, bike, carpool or take mass transit more often. OK! Well, that would work for me considering I live over 10 kms from work and take a 7 year old to school and a 16 month old to day care. No problemo... if I leave at 4:00 am each morning and teach the kids not to whine so much, we should be right.

3) Recycle more. I'm confused. I've been recycling to the best of my abilities for about 10 years now and things seem to be getting worse rather than better. What's the story?

4) Check your tires [hey, not my fault Americans can't spell properly]. Fuck off!

5) Use less hot water. How much less exactly? Maybe we should just stop showering altogether... and washing dishes... We'd all be disgusting, stinky, filthy sub-humans but at least Al Gore will be happy.

6) Avoid products with a lot of packaging. How exactly? Maybe they should start putting packaging weight on each product so as well as comparing fat, sugar and carb levels on each damn thing we buy at the supermarket we can now add packaging weight so we can make an "informed fucking choice".

7) Adjust your thermostat. I'm not even going waste my time with that one.

8) Plant a tree. Come here, Al, I'll plant a tree up your arse! This simplistic bullshit is just too nauseating, I can't take it.

9) Turn off electronic devices. Well, sure. I'll just go around each morning turning off my clock radio, microwave, TVs, videos, washing machine, dryer, etc, etc and then I'll turn them all back on again when I get home. Because god knows I have plenty of spare time and I've been wondering how to fill in those long, empty hours each morning and evening. Thanks, Al. You're a bloody genius.

Well, now that I know how to save the world everything will be fine and dandy. I'm so relieved. I am concerned however by the fact that Al Gore seems to think these steps are really only relevant to the little people. King Gore as he likes to call himself (OK, I made that up) has two giant houses (and I'm fairly sure he doesn't turn off and on all his electronic devices on a daily basis) and flies all over the world spruiking his crappola in a private jet (which is #10 on the list "10) Get around in a private fucking jet" I just didn't put it here because I know most of my readers aren't quite at the private jet level of lifestyle just yet).

I'm happy to admit that I like my car and my TVs and my air conditioning and that I don't always look for the product with the least packaging. Sue me. If my personal overconsumption is going to cause the end of the world as we know it then so be it. I can live with it (or not as the case may be). What confuses me is that we've already had global warming of sorts haven't we? Hasn't there already been an Ice Age (I've seen the movie so I know it's true) and then the earth warmed up and the ice melted, etc, etc. Did they have air conditioning and fridges and petrol guzzling cars in those days? Also, didn't the dinasours become extinct because of some sort of global climate crisis? I'm no paleontologist but I'm fairly confident the dinasours didn't have cars or computers and I'm pretty sure they walked to work, so what happend?

I am just so friggin' sick and tired of all the Chicken Littles yelling about the sky falling down. I'm busy. If it's going to fall down then I'm hoping there are better minds than mine (well, at least minds that passed high school science) that are worrying about it. All I know is that you can't turn on the radio or the TV without some report or other being shoved down our throats about how naughty we are. It's never ending. There are scientists proving this and disproving that and I can't make head or tail of what the truth is. Deep down inside I suspect that no-one knows the truth; that there are many shades and variations of the "truth". Each person or group flogging their version of the truth to us has an agenda to sell and I don't for one minute buy that Al Gore is selflessly flogging this shit because he earnestly believes the end of the world is neigh.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's Sunday night, I'm tired in a good way, we've just returned from a really great family weekend away and OzIdol is about to start. Life is good.

To recap:

* Poor little baby Joseph got the boot last week on Idol. I guess it wasn't totally unexpected. The boy can sing and he's too cute but he's painfully shy and I think this whole thing is way too big for him. The talent and cuteness just couldn't disguise the cracks. Too bad. I was hoping it would be that painful Lisa Mitchell but I guess my pain is to continue.

* The Swans will face Fremantle on Friday night in the Preliminary Final at Telstra Stadium. We have our tickets and we're super excited. Go Swannies! If all goes well this time in two weeks we'll be returning from Melbourne with big smiles on our faces... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

* We have just enjoyed a truly wonderful weekend at Burrinjuck Dam with some of our lovely friends. M and R took over the lease on the shop down there late last year and while we miss having them nearby it is great fun to visit. The best part of these weekends is watching the kids go feral. It's a wonderful, fairly safe but slightly wild environment where the kids can go free range, climb things and interact with the fauna and flora. We only see them when they need to be fed. I'm not a nature lover and I certainly don't like "roughing it" but these weekends are just right for me. The accommodation is comfortable enough, the company is the best, we have lots of yummy food, there are a million stars in the sky and ... well, it's just bloody fantastic.
















Sunday, September 10, 2006

In case anyone is interested in anything non OzIdol or Swans' related here's a quick update (boring):

* We're all fine and dandy.

* Work is busy for us both (including a call out for J last night which kept him out from 11:30 pm to 4:00 am - not cool!).

* I've been shopping up a storm lately. I'm really good at it... no, really. New summery pants and two pairs of sandals (yes, you read it correctly... sandals!). I'm not a sandal sort of girl (some sort of anti-foot fetish) but I've bitten the bullet this year and I'm all prepared for summer. I guess it gives me a good excuse to get those regular pedicures I love.

* The kids have also done well from my shopping trips and have new shoes, clothes (including much coveted Superman undies for Will) and a Dora the Explorer inflatible ball pit thingie (yet to be inflated).

* Since our cleaner has passed on (sad story) we're reduced to cleaning our own house like common folk (also a sad story). On the silver lining side it does mean we're saving the cleaning money and I can have those pedicures (see above) without too much guilt... oh who am I kidding?!

* We're looking forward to a weekend down south next week with a whole bunch of our favourite families. Like a great deal of lives between March and September it was all dependant on the Swans winning, which they have done, meaning we can enjoy a Swans free weekend with out friends. Oh joy.
Well the Swans have won their Qualifying Final and now have a week off before the Preliminary Finals in two weeks. Last night was crazy! It was the most nail-biting game I've seen since last year's grand final. I was going nuts... yelling, screaming, jumping around. At one point Will said to me in a concerned voice "Mummy, why are you being so silly?". Why? Why? Because this isn't life or death, my son... it's much more important than that.

The Swannies won by ONE POINT. It was as close as it could possibly be... and oh so damn sweet. The final goal, kicked by Michael O'Laughlin, was magic. He kicked it right in front of goal and the momentum kept him running straight at the fence and the West Coast supporters screaming at him just behind it. The look on his face was amazing, it will live with me forever. It doesn't take much for the civilised facade to crumble!


Stick that where the sun shine don't shine Eagles!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Swans have finished fourth on the AFL ladder and the finals series begins next weekend. Shit September is a stress filled month. I always forget until the last minute and then it all comes back to me.

Next Saturday night my boys are playing West Coast Eagles over in Perth in the first Semi-Final. It'll be tough but anything is possible and the Swannies are on fire (even the fire engines turned up at today's game).

Come on Swannies, you can do it. Dare to dream!
I had an ephiphany last night. J and I were at the Countdown Spectacular concert. [For those not familiar with Countdown - it was a music program which was one of the major constants in my life from 1976 to 1987, shown on Australia-wide ABC TV. It was shown at 6:00 pm each Sunday night and featured mainly live Australian and international bands and video clips as these became popular.]

This may come as a surprise to some of you... Are you sitting down? I'm getting old. I'm not 8 years old any more. In fact it's been THIRTY YEARS since I was and it was that long since I first became mesmerised by the Countdown magic. It's been thirty years since I fell in love with Skyhooks (my poor immigrant parents were terrified that their eight year old was listening to songs like "You just like me 'cos I'm good in bed" and "Horror Movie"), with Sherbert, with John Paul Young and Mark Holden and his bloody white suit and carnations.

Last night, surrounded by other old people, I watched a long line up of the previously spunky and lust-worthy idols of my youth drag out their old hits and gyrate as best they could manage with their rusty, arthritic hips. It was partly wonderful but mainly terrifying and awful. It occurred to me that if THEY were old then SO WAS I.

I decided that these sorts of concerts really aren't so wonderful, they are really a sad way of trying to grasp onto our youth. I watched the other old people, both on the stage and in the audience, having a great time and I felt a horrible yearning, a bottomless pit of sadness and I thought that maybe it is better that some things remain in the past, sweet memories held close in our secret selves, that trying to re-live such memories was something not dissimilar to the whole Pet Cemetary concept.

When I first watched the sexy Darryl Braithwaite signing "Howzat" on Countdown the whole world was at my eight year old feet, there was endless possibility and wonder and excitement and that song, like many others of that time, represented something intangibly joyful.

Last night a bunch of old men, with grey, conservatively cut hair, looking more like mortgage brokers than pop superstars, came on stage and reprised a song which had so many precious memories attached. In some ways I now wish I hadn't seen them at all because the memories I had were much more important than seeing and hearing what I did last night. Very bittersweet.

A few performers from last night deserve special mention:

* James Freud. Jeez, that guy was hot in the '80s. When he pranced on stage last night with one of his old bandmates from The Models I thought "shit, James' still got IT!". He was all long black rock star hair, tight jeans and faded, couldn't-care-less, just pulled it on at the last minute rock star t-shirt. Then they showed a close up of his face on the big screens and I thought "oooh, James, way too many drugs in the '80s my friend". It wasn't pretty. Still sounded quite good though.

* Renee Gayer. I used to love that woman and her gorgeous, whiskey and cigarettes husky voice. Well, I'm guessing there've been just a few too many whiskies and packs of ciggies during the last twenty-odd years. Didn't sound or look prettty. Shame.

* Mondo Rock. Ross Wilson has aged well and he still sounds fantastic. "Come Said The Boy" is just such a loaded song and takes me back so much it almost hurts.

* Finally, Australian Crawl. James Reyne came on stage with his guitar and did "Reckless" and it was worth going just for that alone. It blew me away and made me wish I could go back in a time machine and see Australian Crawl when they were at their peak in the '80s. "Reckless" is such a quintessential Sydney song:

Meet me down by the jetty landing
Where the pontoons bump and spray
All the others reading standing
As the Manly ferry
Cuts it's way to Circular Quay

Hear the Captain blow his whistle
So long she's been away
I miss our early morning wrestle
Not a very happy
Way to start the day

Refrain
She don't like that kind of behaviour
She don't like that kind of behaviour

Chorus
So throw down your guns
Don't you be so reckless
Throw down your guns
Don't you be so

Feel like Scott of the Antarctic
Base camp too far away
A Russian sub beneath the Arctic
Burke and Wills and camels
Initials in the tree

Friday, September 01, 2006

Not a lot to say about last night's Idol. It was a bucket of poo!

As I predicted... Lavina Williams and Lisa Mitchell are through to the Top 12. Fudge! (That's for you J.)

Then they picked the Wild Cards for Sunday night's show:

* Chris Murphy: Well, I like him but song choice is dubious.
* Nathaniel Willemse: Weirdly good looking but boring. South African - surely one is plenty and we already have Dean.
* Amanda Streete: I liked her but she won't go far.
* Guy "Mutto" Mutton: He shits me. The hair!!! The scowl!! The name!!! [Who can see MUTTO on an album cover?!]
* Chris Grafitti: BORING!
* Ricky Muscat: DOUBLE BORING!
* Brendon Boney: Love him but don't think he's got much chance, sadly.
* Klancie Keough: What the...? I'm in that Twilight Zone again.
Young Love: As Will's tutor left our home last night he ran to the door and yelled "Goodbye, Sweetheart".

Thursday, August 31, 2006

* Bobby Flynn and Joseph Gatehau got through to the Top 12 from the 3rd semi final. I picked them both. If only I could earn a living from this uncanny gift I have... To be honest I was quite surprised that Bobby got through, I wasn't sure that the OzIdol voting public was ready for someone so very unusual... I guess I should give them the benefit of the doubt more often... nah, what was I thinking. Joseph, while terrible on the night, does have the super cuteness factor working overtime for him. I hope he can show more of his real talent when the performance shows begin.

* The 4th semi-final was generally painful but also surprisingly good. A couple of the girls I didn't remember at all from the auditions: Lydia Denker who performed the dreaded Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time" and Raechel Lee who performed the much loved Paul Kelly's "I've done all the dumb things".

* Raechel was kind of OK but I couldn't quite figure her out, certainly not a classic voice, just kinda quirky. Not sure if I like it or not, probalby won't get a chance to find out more as she's unlikely to get through in my opinion.

* I loved Lydia, much against my better judgement. Sure the song choice was cheesy but the song is actually very good and she sang it beautifully - a first class example of choosing a song which allows you to really show off your vocal ability. She's also a very beautiful girl in an exotic sort of way. I'm picking her to go through but maybe in the wildcard rounds (see below for those I fear/dread will go through from this round).

* My early favourite Jess Griffin (she of the lesbian mum) did Christina Aguilera's "Fighter", a song I absolutely adore (not only for helping me get through a few dozen Pump classes when I used to go to the gym). Fantastic song but the whole thing was a dog's breakfast. Either Jess was off her nut or she has never performed with a band before. It was like a car accident and as an eye witness I eally didn't know where to look. Oh, the shame. Sadly she doesn't have the Joseph "cuteness" factor to help her through this major stumble. I doubt we'll see Jess again.

* Unfortunately I think I know who will go through from this round but I don't like either of them. "Them" being Lavina Williams (Aretha's "Natural Woman") and Lisa Mitchell (Ben Harper's "Diamonds on the inside").

* Look, Lavina can sing, OK. But she's the Mariah Carey/Celine Dion classic over-singer. Each syllable must be milked for all it's worth and it's simply painful to my ears. I wasn't a fan of her sister's in the previous OzIdol and I'm no fan of hers. However, I fear people love this shit and she'll get through.

* Sadly people (at least the judges) seem to love Lisa Mitchell's shit as well. I honestly feel like I'm in the twilight zone when she performs. To me she sounds (as I've previously mentioned) like the vocal love child of Missy Higgins and Kasey Chambers and you may as well be scraping fingernails down the blackboard as far as I'm concerned. Pure aural torture. I think she ruined a beautiful Ben Harper song and I want her gone (I'm sure she's a very nice young girl though). The judges however are orgasmic each time she performs and to me they sound totally mad. I don't get it. In fact, the way Mark and Kyle leer at this poor girl actually creeps me out. Stop it.

* Speaking of Kyle... the man is a truly dumb shithead (that's mature, isn't it!). He's like the worst judge EVER! When they advertised the beginning of his tenure with OzIdol last year they made it clear he would be the MEAN judge, however, he's turned out to be the piss weak judge. He is so shallow if he was a puddle you wouldn't be able to drown an ant in it. He literally drools at every pretty girl and overlooks their vocal ability or lack thereof as he contemplates his chances of getting them into bed. He is mean to anyone vaguely overweight (which is a huge case of the pot calling the kettle black). And worst of all for a judge on a music talent quest is he has no musical knowledge whatsoever; he doesn't know any song outside the Top 40 from the last 5 years. If it hasn't been performed by Brittney Spears or Justin Timberlake he's never heard of it. He really is a first class dick!

* And while I'm on the subject of judges; Mark is just plain weird and/or mad (sometimes he has moments of clarity allowing one a glimpse of the production genius behind the babble) and Marcia is nice to the point of embaressment (I'm sure she'd say something nice about my singing should such a nightmare scenario ever materialise). I never thought I'd say this but I miss Dicko. What a sad state of affairs!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

(I'm only talking about all this Idol stuff 'cos there's nothing exciting happening on the personal front - all good right now [well, my grandma is in hospital again but that's sadly getting to be a too regular scenario lately]). Anyway...

The third semi-final:

* Reigan and Jessica got through. As you know I'm a fan of Reigan's, so that was great. However, Jessica is nothing special. I'm sure she's a nice young girl and she has got a good voice but she is young and immature and well, boring. Her song choice was Whitney Houston's "I want to dance with somebody" and you can't get more coma-inducing boring than that. I was sad that Amanda didn't get through but I have hope for the wild card night.

* Bobby Flynn did an very unsual but beautiful version of "Under the Milky Way". After initially thinking "what the...?" I was swept away. He's an odd bod, Bobby. He's a very unusual looking man (is there a chromosome problem here?) but his voice is just so different I couldn't even begin to describe it. I want him to go through if for no other reason than he is just SO not the R'n'B type and he's sure to bring something very left field to all his performances.

* My other great hope was Joseph Gatehau, the beautiful young man with the angelic voice and the cow-like eyes. His nerves and song choice shot him in the foot badly last night. It was so sad to watch. He chose that shite song "Let Me Love You" (I don't know, all that R'n'B rubbish sounds the same to me - I find it hard to recognise without the gyrating bikini girls) and then his voice really shut down, you could literally see his throat constricting. Poor kid. He is so talented but he's going to have overcome his nerves big time to get on. I have faith that he'll get through to the Top 12 but after that...

* Everyone else was just not my cup of tea and I'm trying not to feel a sympathy vote for James Steele... single father, blah blah.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Idol:

* Dean and Damien got through from the first semi-final to the Top 12. I picked them both; if only I could use my powers for good instead of evil... It was probably my single text vote for Damien which tipped him over the edge into stardom. Only problem with Deano that I picked up last night was his "thank you" to the "Lord, my Saviour". You know how it is, that stuff doesn't sit well with me. And he's South African. If only he wasn't so damned gorgeous and talented I could really hate him.

* Last night was the first girls' heat. Very average stuff. But...

* I loved Amanda's version of Pink's "Trouble": I've said it before and I'll say it again - "she rocks". The downside is that she really doesn't have a broad ranging voice so she only has one level of performance which may not see her through the comp.

* Reigan regained some of the ground she lost between the auditon and now with a beautiful version of "I wish I was a punk rocker (with flowers in my hair)". She really has a fabulous voice and is a very pretty girl. Her clothes choice was horrific though - straight out of the Eurovision Song Contest - very wrong and broken. OzIdol stylists take note.

* I was also pleasantly surprised by Klancie's version of "I'm not ready to make nice". Though I do quite like the song I'm no fan of The Dixie Chicks and I was no fan of Klancie's but she swayed me somewhat last night. Don't want to see her go through though. Enough already.

* So I'm hoping for Amanda and Reigan to get up tonight but really can't be bothered voting. There're only so many text messages I'm willing to let my employer pay for in the OzIdol cause.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Personal updates:

* Dentist. Pleasant surprise. They don't seem to use those HUGE needles I remember from my childhood anymore. Just something called a "wand" and it was magical. Just pressed this contraption into my cheek... no pain. Two fillings and two fissure seals later I was out of there with no discomfort and only a tingling lip as evidence of my dental adventure. Oh, and a wallet lighter by $378 (after the health fund rebate, sheesh!) - gee, you wouldn't want to be poor.

* Chili Pepper tickets are in the bag. Great seats too! The Gold Membership to the fan club has paid off - access to member only pre-sale tickets (a REAL pre-sale, not this Visa Card crappola). Now the promoters get to hang onto my hard-earned for 8 months while I sweat on the concert which will be in APRIL 2007. And you go to jail for holding up a bank!

* Planning stages for our holiday to Thailand in October 2007 (well, we like to plan ahead). Have a looky here if you want to join us or just feel jealous:
http://www.sixsenses.com/evason-phuket/index.php Infinity pools, cocktails under the stars and Kids' Club... here we come!
A few comments on the first Oz Idol semi-final:

* Chris Murphy's version of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" was truly underwhelming. Call me a purist but you don't mess with this sort of stuff. Didn't suit his style at all. Disappointing. Don't think his chances of making it through are very high at this point.

* Dear, weird Brendon Boney chose one of my fave's "Higher Ground" (Stevie Wonder/Chili Peppers). Personally I thought he did it justice but it is a damned hard song to sing well. I'm afraid this is the last will see of BB.

* Damien Leith's voice makes me think "Jeff Buckley". It's sublime. I think he was nervous last night, slightly diminishing his version of "You are so beautiful" (corny choice, wouldn't have been my pick). I've sent him a vote but hard to know where he'll stand with the tweenies.

* Dean Geyer. He really is THE package. Gorgeous and you know he can really sing too. My sis J is searching around for a bet that this guy will take out the whole comp. I think he's a big chance. Watch this space.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Well, Oz Idol 2006 is here and I'm excited! I know, I know. It's lame and cheesy (apparently my two favourite attributes in a television program) but I can't help loving it. The anticipation each week is so bittersweet: the song choice (will we ever get over Daniel's choice of [cringe cringe] "Rock DJ" in the 2004 Oz Idol?); the clothes; the comments.

So far we've (yes, the Big J is also a fan - I got him hooked on the auditions and now he's in it for the long haul) enjoyed the auditons (three groups: the good, the bad but just doing it to get on tv/on a dare and the crazy [i.e. think they're good but are really really really CRAP]) and now that the two twenty four are chosen we are all geared up for the real comp to start.

I have a few early favourites (but last year my absolute favourite left on about week three so I hope I'm not the kiss of death here):

* Brendan Boney: beautiful voice, great kooky presence, it's just his uncanny resemblence to one of the weirder members of staff at my workplace which makes me feel a tad uncomfortable/sick-in-the-stomach when I see him.

* Joseph Gatehau: sweetness personified, not only has he got the most beautiful cow eyes surrounded by long thick dark cow eyelashes but he sings like an angel and genuinely seems like a sweet young guy. I'm sure he's going to end up being a damned born again Christian like Guy Sebastian but I'll try not to hold that against him.

* Damien Leith: he's "old", he's Irish and his teeth are crooked (can't knock him on that one) so I'm not sure how appealing he'll be to the 14 year old girls but he has a bloody beautiful voice (ok, I was worried sick at his choice of "Hallelujah" for his solo song but he pulled it off beautifully and Jeff Buckley may continue resting in peace).

* Chris Murphy: he's cool and he rocks and he doesn't sing that shit R'n'B nonsense. Let's see what he can do.

* Dean Geyer: he's cute and sweet and can sing. Maybe?

* Amanda Streete: like her voice and her attitude (see Chris Murphy, above).

* Jessica Griffin: has a cool lesbian mum (neither here nor there but there you go), I like her voice and her look, not sure if she can pull off the whole Oz Idol package, fairly sure she can't.

* Reigen Derry: loved her voice in the initial audition but she's been very poor in the second round of the comp, not sure about her right now but hope she follows up on the initial promise.

* Lisa Mitchell: she's not a favourite of mine though everyone else seems to think she's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Her voice is a mixture of Casey Chambers and Missy Higgins and that's not a good combo in my books. She sounds sweet enough but if I had to listen to a whole album I'd hang myself.

I'd put money on a boy winning this year. Let the fun begin.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I may be biased but... well, you know... cute, etc...

It's been the best day. Textbook family fun at the park. Beautiful, stunning, gorgeous taste-of-Spring Sydney day. Centennial Park and a picnic lunch.

Followed by a small shoe-shopping stopover on the way home. No, not for me. Summer shoes for the kids.

Life is good.



Thursday, August 17, 2006

This morning Will and I had one of those "Telstra BigPond" advertisement moments in the car. I was listening to my old fogey retro station of choice and Donna Summer's Hot Stuff came on. Will loves this song and was busily singing along to it when he turned to me and said "What do Hot Stuff mean?".

Instantly my pea-sized brain began to run around my head like a rat in a maze, searching, searching for an appropriate answer. I hadn't really envisaged explaining the meaning of Hot Stuff to my 7 year old son (that's the sort of question they never ask you at the adoption interviews). Part of me wanted an honest,mature answer but I really couldn't think of anything even vaguely mature so I mumbled something like "... it's something that keeps you warm...".

Luckily by that point Will was back to playing his GameBoy and couldn't care less. But it did underline how hopelessly unprepared I am as a parent for the "big questions" that I'm sure will be coming sooner or later (I was hoping not so soon!).

Strangely enough a few moments later as my brain was still swirling around and flagelating itself for its own inadequacies I overheard Will singing along again and this time he was singing: "Lookin' for some Pa-sta baby this evening...". And I thought "aren't we all, Will, aren't we all?!".
My love of all things reality tv is well documented. A sub-genre of particular interest to me is the SuperNanny-type program which involves completely dysfunctional families being pulled into line by sane and well groomed professionals. Australia has recently Ozzified the British program Honey, we're killing the kids and it is currently one of my favourites. I'll be the first to admit that I love these shows because they are a cheap and totally wrong way for me to feel better about my own parenting.

I can smugly watch these shows, occassionally learn something, but mainly come away with the feeling that I'm not THE worst mother in the world. And that's worth the price of admission alone.

My question about this particular program is: why do they need to film the weekly interview/hand over of the weekly tasks segment in what looks like a converted dungeon. The room inspires thoughts of electrodes on testicles and has very little do with parenting (well, I haven't stooped that low yet). I really can't figure out the purpose of this stark room at either the psychological or entertainment level.

The other thing I can't figure out is the segment which "shocks" the parents by showing them hypothetical photos of their children at the age of 40. This really is schlock of the highest order. I mean most of these parents are totally clueless: their children don't eat right and/or sleep right, they don't function well at school and/or at home, they swear, fight and generally hate themselves and the world. Yet cheesy Photoshop'd photos of their children with a few wrinkles and pouchy jowls turns them into weeping wrecks. I don't get it.
The Big J and I really love our British police murder mystery shows. Cracker, A Touch of Frost, Prime Suspect, etc. The last couple of years we've really been into Wire in the Blood and enjoyed last week's episode which was the start of a new series.

The question must be raised though: is there a disproprionate number of sex related murders in the world? If you watch these sorts of shows (and I won't even touch on the American CSI and Law and Order-style franchises for whom this sort of thing is bread and butter) you would be lead to assume that our cities are jam packed full of horny, clever, seriously depraved maniacs who spend their entire time planning and executing the most horrendous rape/murder scenarios on young women dressed mainly in lingerie.

I would like to see the statistics. I would be willing to bet the majority of murders in our cities are very mundane and very rarely involve lingerie. But I guess a storyline about a guy clobbering his neighbour over a fenceline dispute wouldn't make for very rivetting television viewing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

If you don't read www.dooce.com daily you must do so - immediately.

Here's why: http://www.dooce.com/archives/nubbin/08_13_2006.html

Stop it, Heather! You're killing me!
I have a new hero and he can be found at www.marksteyn.com . We have only recently become acquainted but I have fallen for him hard and fast. He articulates so much of what is in my brain but I am too lazy, stupid and tongue-tied to fully express myself.

I read what he writes and yell "yes, yes, yes".

Just a tiny taste:

“You may not be interested in war,” said Trotsky, “but war is interested in you.” The Israelis have always grasped that. If war is going to come, why not ensure that it comes at a time and place as advantageous to one as possible? That’s a large part of what’s happening in the Middle East. If you try to avoid confronting Iran now, you’ll only have to confront them under worse circumstances later. Jimmy Carter, who embodied the west as a smiling eunuch, wanted to avoid confronting the newborn Islamic Republic three decades ago and now it’s a nuclear power. As I always say, there is no “stability”: behind the polite fa├žade of the UN peacekeepers patrolling the stalemate, history is always on the move; the bad guys get new weapons, new rockets – and, as we’ve seen in Haifa, these bad guys use what they have to their full extent. So what will they have in five years’ time?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Since she comes to work with me I thought she may as well make herself useful.

A born multi-tasker, just like her mum.
Some of you may have noticed (humour me) my lack of comment on the axing of my new ex favourite show, "Yasmin is getting married".

I've been too distraught to talk about it.

There is now ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to watch at 7:00 pm. This is my exercise machine time and I need shit TV. My whole evening schedule is completely rooted. I can't possibly wait until the next installment of "Australia's Biggest Loser".

What's a girl to do?

Monday, August 07, 2006

These days anyone can be a celebrity. You just need to go on Big Brother, be a sportsperson, a very poor approximation of an actor or even just get stuck in an underground mine for a couple of weeks. Viola! Instant celebrity.

However, being a STAR is something different. There are so few these days. The main ones I can think of are aging and past their peak (some of the few examples that immediately come to mind are Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler, I'm stretching here... but for me, Cher...). I am talking about multi-faceted, multi-talented stars; people with charisma and genuine, heart stopping, mouth dropping talent. We are talking so far out of the ballpark in comparison to the majority of modern celbs a la Ms Spears, Tara Reid and their cohorts that we may as well be in another universe.

On Saturday night I had the pleasure, the joy, the wonder of seeing such a star live and it was truly awesome. I am talking about Hugh Jackman, the gorgeous, unasuming young man from Australia with more talent in his little finger than the vast majority of Hollywood put together. We had fabulous seats at the much anticipated The Boy From Oz at the Sydney Entertainment Centre and it was very much worth the wait.

There are the two aspects of this show: the sheer spectacle of Hugh Jackman's talent, he can sing, dance, act and hypnotise the audience (and has a mighty fine backside, which I got to admire only two short metres away as he picked a guy on the other side of the aisle from us to dance with him); then there is the magic of Peter Allen's songs which are backbone of this wonderful production.

It is these songs which brought tears to my eyes on more than one occassion and caused my lack of sleep as I tossed and turned after the show. I think Peter Allen is an invisible star to the majority of Australians, with the possible exclusion of 50-odd year old gay men. But hearing his songs again on Saturday night was a little overwhelming for me.

Of course "I still call Australia home" is a well known classic, but possibly more associated with Qantas than with its songwriter. This was a hugely produced number in the show, complete with the Australian Girls Choir and a giant Oz flag. Corny but heartwrenching for a patriotic nutcase like me.

"Don't cry out loud" sung by Colleen Hewitt (who knew she still had it in her) was very powerful. "Once before I go" sung by a lone Hugh/Peter at the very end was just sublime.

But it is "Tenterfield Saddler" which always gets me. I can't quite put my finger on why. Why am I so affected by a very simple song about Peter Allen's family back in Tenterfield?

The Late George Woolnough worked on High Street
And lived on manners
Fifty two years he sat on his verandah
and made his saddles
And if you had questions 'bout sheep or flowers or dogs
You'd just ask the saddler, he lived without sin
They're building a library for him

Time is a traveller
Tenterfield saddler turn your head
Ride again Jackeroo
Think I see Kangaroo up ahead

Thank you Peter. Thank you Hugh. A night that will live in my heart forever.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

It is somewhat appropriate that my 100th Blog Entry is about my children and my struggle to be a better parent.

I was going to do something "special" for #100 but I didn't have a thing to wear and just couldn't be bothered.

So Thursday night saw me attend the first of the Triple P Positive Parenting sessions I had signed up for. Jason and I are keen to learn some techniques which will help us to discipline the children, Will in particular at this point, without screaming like Banshees and banging our heads in frustration. I had heard good things about the Triple P course but hadn't yet had an opportunity to attend a course.

One of the interesting things for me was that all the attendees were mums. I guess that is just the dynamic in families, it is the women who tend to get out there and be pro-active with family issues.

The first session was an introduction and a discussion of the common discipline problems (guilty on all counts, your honour). It was reassuring to know that other families face the same sorts of issues and that we weren't freaks (you know, the sort you see on Super Nanny and think "bloody hell, look at those FREAKS"). The sorts of discipline issues we face with Will, including the sibling rivalry issues, are common, normal even. In fact we would probably be freaks if we didn't experience them.

I am hoping this course will give us ideas on how to manage Will's behaviour in a positive way. So far just thinking clearly about the problems is reassuring in it's own way. We're not supposed to make changes in the first week, just keep a diary. So I'll forgive myself for the fact that I've just yelled at Will for getting all his textas and scissors out and allowing Marianna to cut up one of his workbooks (not a school one, thank goodness).

May the Force be with us.
It's been an up and down sort of week with Yasmin. As you know the first episode saw me fall head over heels in love. It was a real "love at first sight" moment. So it was with great anticipation that I tuned in on night two (Wednesday). It was friggin' awful!!! Not only did they try to weazle extra lots of 55 cents out of the viewers by making them (notice I don't say "us"?) vote twice but Deryn didn't "win".

There were numerous moments of stupidity:

* The three "suitors" waiting anxiously in a "nearby cafe". Oh, come on.

* The first rejected suitor Vincent being taxied to the studio for no other purpose than to have Jean-Claude Van Damme jokes thrown at him. You know how awkward it is when people who have English as a second language try to understand Aussie-isms and vise versa? Obviously the producers caught on very quickly and poor old Vincent disappeared, quite literally, within seconds of arriving.

* The final seconds with baby-faced Peter knocking on Yasmin's new door (yes, she's been whisked off to a glamourous new, inner city pad, her boring-as old aparment being deemed unsuitable - der!) and asking her if she'd consider marrying him and offering her a ring. I realised this wasn't spontaneous romance but tv producer shlock but it was still fairly nauseating.

At this point, end of episode two, I was almost ready to throw in the towel. My disappointment would have regisered on the Reichter scale. From the highs of the night before I was now crashed on the jaggered rocks of some new found lows.

But I braved it for episode three (Thursday). Again, disappointment.

* Peter and Yasmin go on a date to The Aquarium. BORING! This date seems to bring out their most inspid characteristics and it doesn't make for rivetting television entertainment.

* Peter apparently tells Yasmin she has "gummy teeth" and a "nasally voice". Gee, you old smoothie. Nothing like pointing out a woman's obvious less attractive physical characteristics to cement the romance. We just love that, don't we girls? I told you he was a dud, but did anyone listen?

* For some unfathomable reason Yasmin takes Peter shopping for wedding invites. The wedding planner drops a classic, asking Peter what it feels to be picking out wedding stationery for another man.

* Yasmin decides to cut her losses and gives Peter his ring back, hedging her bets by asking if she can call him in a few weeks if she gets desperate, I mean, if she realises he was really the one for her. Bad move Yasie baby. You'd need to be "last man on earth" desperate to give Peter another call.

* Show ends with three new guys being shown (pics and brief bio only) and the panel choosing her new date. What happened to the voting? I was a bit confused by this twist but somewhat reassured that the audience wasn't going to have to vote every single step of the way.

* The girls chose peirced boy Byron. I have to say he wouldn't have been my pick but Episode Four proved me wrong, oh so wrong...

Last night's episode rekindled my love which was now just a shadow of its former self. Byron is perfect and if Yasmin doesn't marry him immediately (bugger waiting the requisite 59 days) I may have to marry him myself (is polygamy legal in this country or will we all have to move to Utah?). I don't want to jinx the whole situation by waxing lyrical about it all too soon so I'll end by saying "don't screw it up Yasie and please don't turn out to be a psycho Byron". Looking forward to Monday.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Oh, the joy of reality tv. No sooner is one show history (Big Brother who?) than another takes its place in my affections.

Dear friends, welcome... "Yasmin is getting married".

I watched the first episode last night on the premise of "seeing how it goes". I'm not one to rush into commitments with unknown tv programs. I like to ease in, playing it cool, not showing my cards too soon. Well, 10 minutes into "Yasmin" all my cards were on the table... I was in love.

No, not with Yasmin. In fact she seems like the weak link so far but I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for now. I love the format and I love Jo Staney (the host) and the panel (two guys of questionable pedigree, but bloody funny, and one matronly marriage counsellor who adds the sensible note to proceedings). A perfect combo.

Highlights of last night's episode:

Peter. Who must have repeated how "social" he was about 50 times. Warning bells! This man wants to party, baby... marriage, mortgages and babies are about as appealing to him as dropping an anvil on his toe.

Vincent: Oh, be still my beating heart. It's true you can say almost anything ("Your BO is the most disgusting thing I've ever smelt!") and it sounds damn sexy with a French accent. Vincent is a classic French smoothie... and he's a Pastry Chef to boot. He made Yasmin a chocolate Cinderella shoe with Yasmin written on it surrounded by chocolate covered strawberries decorated as tiny tuxedos. Too too too cute. But as one of the panel said: "What good is a chocolate shoe? He might as well make her a custard hat." And I'm sure that's just what he's hoping for.

Athan: The body builder giving her a box containing little hand weight thingies. At least it didn't contain Gwyneth Paltrow's head, as one of the panel suggested.

Adam: First class wanker. You must be kidding.

Deryn: My vote. Nice. Maybe too nice. Possibly he's a psychopathic mass murderer and they'll find body pieces wrapped in plastic in his freezer. But I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Go Deryn!