Quick doodles

My daughter likes to draw, so I introduced her to cadavre exquis, which is a game where each person draws a section without seeing the parts drawn by others.

I was surprised at how the game developed. At first I drew something resembling her head but, by the time it was passed back to me, I was using my imagination.

In later games, like the one shown here undertaken with both Neve and her brother Eden, I found myself really wanting to push myself and come up with even more outrageous doodles -- such as these Siamese twins

The games have been rewarding, both for our entertainment and a sense of pleasure.

The experience came to mind when I read about a study that found "an inherent potential for evoking positive emotions through art-making—and doodling especially."

The results of the study by Girija Kaimal et al, titled Functional near-infrared spectroscopy assessment of reward perception based on visual self-expression: Coloring, doodling, and free drawing, suggest that it only takes a quick doodle to get into a creative mindset:
In fact, in surveys administered to the participants after the activities were complete, respondents indicated that they felt more like they had “good ideas” and could “solve problems” than before the activities. Participants even said they felt the three-minute time spans for art-making weren’t long enough.

Hi cutie

There's been lots of talk about haiku in my household recently

I've been writing a haiku a day this year, which has been a challenge. I've also been trying to interest people in writing haikus to describe Narrandera for an exhibition that will be held there in October.

Anyway, it was a nice surprise when my youngest announced he was going to write a haiku. This is by my eight-year old Eden:
Lying on the leaves
fresh air blowing on my face
it's lovely weather

Octopus teapot

Love this octopus teapot by Keiko Masumoto.

Seen here

When people call you a "snowflake"

As a fan of Fight Club, I enjoyed this discussion of its lasting cultural impact in the use of the term "snowflake" allegedly written by Adam Protextor.

Unleash the creative goddess

Clearly Facebook's page suggestion algorithm can use some work

If it knew anything about me it should be that there's a domestic goddess within me!

Seriously though, why the need to gender creativity? Pretty sure it's a universal trait.

30 versus 30,000

This is an epic battle in miniature, as hornets take on a bee colony.

Reminds me of the battle scenes in Ran. Especially love the glitchy bits.

Crossing Streams will cross borders

Narrandera’s writers, photographers and audio producers are invited to join an inter-continental collaboration that will exhibit at the town’s Arts and Community Centre in October.

Western Riverina Arts will work with London-based Naviar Records to develop an exhibition that draws together haiku poetry and audiovisual responses.

Development of the exhibition begins with haiku and workshops will be held at Narrandera Library on 19 and 24 June to share tips on crafting a poem within 17 syllables.

“Writing a haiku is a fun challenge as you want to convey an observation within a strict structure,” explains exhibition curator Jason Richardson.

“That word limit is stricter than Twitter, so we’ll accept tweeted contributions if they use the hashtag #Narranderahaiku

Haiku contributions are encouraged before 15 July for the next step in developing the exhibition. They can be sent via email to crossingstreams@naviarrecords.com Naviar Records will use selected haiku in their weekly haiku challenge for audible interpretations.

Naviar’s founder Marco Alessi has been inspiring a community of musicians from throughout the globe to record and release albums of contributed music and soundscapes.

“Naviar Records were responsible for having my music heard in exhibitions in London,” explains Jason Richardson. He has been a participant in haiku challenges for over three years.

“I’m keen to promote their activities as I think too many people are frustrated with their creative abilities for the wrong reason. Duke Ellington is famously attributed with the line ‘I don’t need time, I need a deadline’ and it’s true for talents.”

“Everyone benefits from having a prompt to try an idea and I want to encourage everyone to challenge themselves to describe a Narrandera scene in 17 syllables. You may get to hear your observation as a piece of music, possibly on a CD album at the exhibition.”

For more information see http://www.naviarrecords.com/crossing-streams/

Arose in my mind

Rose Byrne came to mind while I was having a bath today.

If you know the Australian actor then you might think that's a lascivious observation, and it kinda is.

I mention it because at the time I wondered why she'd come to mind.

Then at the library I was reading The Australian and there she was in the magazine.

I'd like to believe this is my intuition at work today but I am fond of Rose Byrne.

She sat next to me at a festival once and her voice had that Sydney accent that had reminded me of an ex-girlfriend when I'd seen Two Hands.


One of the women at my workplace told a story about how interesting it had been to undertake Myer-Briggs-type personality tests with her kids.

Last weekend I suggested a website to my kids and they were enthralled by the questionnaire.

One son let his pizza go cold while he pondered whether he agreed or disagreed with the statements.

The result wasn't immediately exciting, as three of the four of us shared a result.

Then today, more than a week later, I asked my son what to make of the result and we pondered how best to negotiate a particular personality trait.


My son bought this egg last weekend. 

It was meant to hatch before my partner got home, but it didn't. She had time to quip we'll tease Eden if he misses the birth of his monster. Then he began stressing about whether Godzilla was going to appear and it began to feel like it was a pregnancy.

Never thought I'd be happy to see another crappy toy but I am.

Near Nirvana

Over 25 years ago I watched Nirvana play at the ANU Bar from outside.

I didn't join the crowd who pushed through a window and into the gig. I stayed outside and watched from the beer garden, then was surprised when the band emerged for a breath of air before returning to play an encore.

Kurt Cobain avoided eye-contact but I did get to enthuse with Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl about the show and asked the former for a plectrum. You can see the orange guitar pick on the Nevermind cover in this photo.

Just now I spotted this photo of a ticket to a show featuring Nirvana from January 1992 and was excited to see it's accompanied by another orange guitar pick.

Neve's very bad parents

I've been encouraging my daughter to start a sketchbook diary but she never finishes her comics.

It's just like how she eats her dinner, saving the important vegetables until the end and then leaving them.

Clearly there's a conclusion required here to explain why the parents are two mums.

History is our story

Leeton Shire Council recently asked for input in "activating" local heritage and it has prompted me to look at connections between the past and present.

Heritage, like history, reflects stories about the past that continue to be meaningful in the present. The Shire's existence is tied closely with the development of the MIA. There are many links to explore, possibly via the people who made it a success.

One underappreciated example is Jack Brady, manager of the Leeton Cannery, who promoted rice as a crop. This was significant in making the irrigation scheme viable and continues to be relevant as Leeton is the home of SunRice.

Another example is the name Whitton comes from John Whitton, who oversaw significant developments in rail. This seems particularly timely with recent discussion of new inland rail connections and the surprise announcement of billions dedicated to this project in the recent Federal Budget.

The Shire's links to the Griffins elevates Leeton to an international standing, recognising developments in urban planning as well as the lofty ambitions of the Modern age. If you consider Walter Burley Griffin's inclusion of a bandstand and parks within the town design, you see how architecture recognised roles for culture and nature within society.

One more significant story comes from prior to the Shire, when early settlers in the Yanco (Yonco as it was called) region coexisted with the original inhabitants of the land. The Wiradjuri people fought to retain this landscape and there is increasing interest in the so-called Frontier Wars, such as the wreath unofficially part of the ANZAC ceremony in Canberra this year.

In the interest of promoting harmony as discussions continue to promote constitutional recognition of Australia's indigenous and possibly treaties, it would be great to recognise how a European negotiated an early treaty in what is now Leeton Shire.

Yonco was particularly significant in presenting a narrative of tolerance and respect. In 1838 it was the one remaining white settlement in our region during the Frontier Wars.

Historian Bill Gammage suggests the tolerance of both the Yonco land manager and local Wiradjuri links these events on either side of the carnage and that it is likely a form of treaty was negotiated. This seems particularly relevant in light of the recent push for a national treaty to follow the one that has begun in Victoria.

The trees shown in the photographs here are thought to be Wiradjuri scar trees that are currently unlisted in Leeton Shire.


Love these whimsical enhanced photographs.

Toasted Vegemite sandwich

Vegemite is an Australian icon and the salty paste has many applications, stock in curries for example.

My favourite place for Vegemite is on toast with olive oil but my collaborator Ben, who publishes music as Kelp, suggested I should include it in my next toasted sandwich video.

For a while I pondered what would go well with the black flavour, then my friend Ash proposed beetroot and it made sense. Australian hamburgers sometimes feature sliced pickled beetroot (or pineapple but not both, it's a contentious issue).

The result was tasty but I think there might be a better flavour combination.

Resistance is fertile

Been reading how electrical resistors became a symbol of protest in Poland.

When the Solidarity movement was getting started in Poland in the early 1980s, any obvious public display of sympathy with the nascent union was dangerous, and immediate arrest (perhaps with a beating) was certainly a possibility. Media were suppressed, tanks guarded television stations, propaganda and lies were the party line, and the very word ”truth” was bandied about in a meaningless Orwellian polit-speak. Taking back the language was as big a piece of the movement as was the trade union. The Solidarnosc badge having been banned, union supporters took to wearing a small resistor…an electrical resistor…the way we might wear a campaign button. According to a Finnish reporter, “School children removed electronic resistors from old radios and attached them as visible badges on their clothes.” Add to that, the symbol of the disassembled (silenced) radio. Add to that the fact that movement leader Lech Walesa was a shipyard electrician, so the “electrical connection” (sorry!) meant something as well.

I love the complex symbolism that comes from such a simple signifier.

It's great that it continues to be a cultural artifact, such as these earrings that I found via Etsy.

Elsewhere I read about people picking resistors based on the coloured bands.

Why stroll when you can roll?

One of those unfinished ideas on my desktop was a short tour video to show the size of the museum where I worked up until the start of the month.

I added a piece of music to it and it seemed to go much faster, even though I'd sped up the footage. Then it occurred to me that it's a bit like the first music video I made about 12 years ago, featuring a bike ride outside Wagga Wagga but without the dramatic ending.

Black day

Sad to read of Chris Cornell's passing, particularly now they're reporting he took his own life.

Songs like the one above are open about depression and that's why the song still resonates with me around 25 years after I first heard it.

Cornell singing seemed effortless and the way it maintains that fry up to the high range is really distinctive. Watching this recent version of 'My Wave' brought to mind memories of jamming this song with the Pongrass Bros in the mid '90s. I still love how the track opens with a part that comes in on the offbeat, so the first time when I heard the drums come in it really messed with my expectations.

Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger album was among the first CDs I bought with money from Christmas in 1991. It's still a phenomenal album and I expect a lot of people will now also revisit it.

The band had been one I'd wanted to hear since seeing 'Hands All Over' on Rage.

I loved that slow riffing of Soundgarden, like when I bought Badmotorfinger 'Rusty Cage' left me wondering if I was going to return the album, before hearing 'Outshined' and 'Jesus Christ Pose' -- which seemed incredibly heavy at the time and grabbed the attention of many liking thrash metal.

I saw Soundgarden play at the Big Day Out in 1994 but only for a few minutes as I was desperate to get a good spot for Primus, who were playing in the Hordern Pavilion.

My memory of the band was watching Cornell playing guitar and simultaneously hitting notes that seemed on the edge of a male vocal range. I recall thinking "how is that even possible?" before being left speechless while watching Primus as they dropped Metallica's 'Master of Puppets' into the middle of 'Pudding Time'.

Another musical highlight at a Big Day Out was seeing Rage Against The Machine play and Cornell would form Audioslave with members of that band, leading to the beautiful lament below.

Tom Morello's guitar work is exemplary too -- I think he's the Hendrix of our age.

If there's any message or meaning to be taken from Cornell's passing, for me it's that now is a good time to check in on the friends who I used to listen to Soundgarden with and ask how things are going.

Twice as many toasted sandwiches

The advantages of being a regional artist

Saw these observations from the Guerrilla Girls and thought some of it was relevant to regional artists.

The advantages of being a regional artist:
  • working without the pressure of success
  • not having to be in shows
  • having an escape from the world
  • knowing your career will involve doing something else
  • being reassured that whatever kind of art you make it will be labeled “unique”
  • being stuck wherever you are
  • seeing your ideas adopted by other artists
  • running workshops to help people understand your work
  • getting a university degree so you can apply for a grant
  • being invited to talk at morning teas and community group meetings

An We -- cut-up poetry

Observe the result of moving around the words in half of a famous Australian poem

4000-year old dentistry

This image of very old dentistry fascinates me.

There's something about adorning teeth that's both functional and aesthetic that's both terrifying and awe-inspiring.

Just yesterday I was talking with a neighbour about how people respond to teeth and remembered the glamour that seemed to affect me like a spell when she got her false teeth.

Put man back in jail

One of my final activities in the role of curator at Pioneer Park Museum was to promote the return of the man in the jail.

Earlier this year I noticed a visitor had made an unusual request in the Visitor Book. After raising the topic at morning tea, I was surprised to learn there was a history of a mannequin scaring people who look in one of the two jails at the Museum.

It's a simple thrill and one that the volunteers added to their list of projects.

The video embedded above also nicely rounded off my time representing Pioneer Park Museum on Instagram, marking the 300th post.

Spicy light and sound

Around 3000 people visited Pioneer Park Museum last Good Friday but only a few dozen saw the sound-activated projections I ran during the afternoon.

Enzo Ceccone's motorised mincer

In recent years the Italian tradition of making salami has gained increasing attention in Griffith as a result of the Festa della Salsicce (Festival of the Sausage), which is held at Pioneer Park Museum.

It is a laborious process to mince pork and then pack the meat into salamis. Usually it requires a full day, including butchering a pig before dawn.

Enzo Ceccone contributed to the preparation of hundreds of salamis, an activity which increased when he commissioned Yoogali Engineering to build an electric meat mincer during the mid-1970s.

“Dad used to do all his own salami-making,” remembered Nevio Ceccone. “Usually the machines are hand-cranked and he had one converted to electric. It saves a lot of time.”

“He used to go out and help others during the salami season,” which is during Autumn and early Winter. “Every weekend it was usually one or two” appointments to assist other families to prepare their salamis.

“As far as I know, he was they only person to have an item like this designed and made.”

On Facebook Denis Faganello remembered the machine “making salami with my dad”.

“He made salami for us year after year,” recalled Wal Snaidero. “I remember that mincer as a young kid.”

Nevio Ceccone recalled that his father Enzo would be “booked out for a month and a half” to make salamis in the region. His role in assisting other men to cure meat developed from the late 1950s and into the early 1970s, when the hand-cranked machine would be used.

The Ceccones had a routine that involved loading two tables onto the back of the EH Holden utility, as well as an array of knives and the meat mincer.

The collection of knives donated to the Musuem includes three which were replaced after many years of sharpening, as well as a homemade sharpening stone wheel that was used to hone the blades.

Family recipes for salami are guarded secrets. Nevio reveals only his father made pork salami with salt and some herbs, “but we don’t talk about them.”

Around six to seven pigs would be slaughtered to make salami for personal use, with another one to two each weekend slaughtered while assisting others.

Everyday magic

Recently I was visited by a couple of my uncle Martin and aunt Arlene from North America.

It was lovely to hear Martin recount courting Arlene by taking her to a restaurant dumpster, where they waited to see a brown bear.

I was reminded of a recurring feature of my childhood when my mother would treat my sister and I to McDonalds but insist we eat it on Chapman Hill, so we could look at the lights of Weston Creek.

Love Without Violins

Keep coming back to this song.

I like the vibe up until the key change, then I find myself kinda intrigued by Brian Eno's cadence and lyrics.

Neko Neve

Burnie Courts

I lived at Burnie Courts in the suburb of Lyons while finishing my first degree in Canberra during the late 1990s.

By then it was increasingly unoccupied. The block that I was in had tenants in half the apartments and then they weren’t replaced as people like my elderly neighbour Dave moved on.

Burnie Courts had a reputation for drugs and it was deserved. Even though there were no longer people openly dealing while I was living there, it still saw a lot of traffic from people hoping to score.

You can see an example of the reputation in this mural that once adorned the bus interchange at the nearby Woden shopping centre. That “25” above the $ sign that serves as the S in Courts reflects the price for a gram of marijuana. It amused me almost as much as the graffiti that later appeared saying "South Central Niggas" like it was the name of a gang.

One night a young woman passed out in front of my door. I checked on her occasionally and could see she was still conscious enough to be wary of me. After a couple of hours she moved on after showing no interest in joining me for a cup of hot chocolate.

Things were relatively quiet there until after about a year, then I was burgled three times in six months and my insurer refused to continue covering my contents. There were also nights when you’d hear windows being broken, which was very unsettling.

Friends would visit for a meal and comment how it was hard to believe I lived at the Courts. It was one of those lessons for me about how much a living room remains a living room. I think I could furnish a room anywhere and be relatively happy because much of what sustains me takes place within my head.

Burnie Courts have since been demolished and replaced with housing that blends a better ratio of public, elderly and private tenants.

NGA Sculpture Garden

While I'm thinking about the National Gallery of Australia's Sculpture Garden, here's a pic of me taken there in 1994.

It remains one of my favourite spots to visit at odd hours in Canberra, particularly as the lighting at night always plays tricks with my eyes and I start to imagine the sculptures moving.

Recently I returned to record Fiona Hall's magical fern garden.

Rodin and I

Saw this pic having fun with Auguste Rodin's The Shade this week.

It brought to mind this pic taken in 1998 with some of The Burghers of Calais at the National Gallery of Australia, which appeared in the ANU's student newspaper Woroni.

Elvis is not available right now

When I shared an Elvis cover recently, it was part of a couple of other conversations about the late singer.

My friend Dave recommended another song, which turned out to be off-limits according to Youtube.

Around the same time, my friend Narelle was visiting from Parkes, a town that has had around 25 Elvis festivals.
She said that, while not a fan of Elvis, she'd appreciated the opportunity to see some of the lesser-known Elvises.

For example, inclement weather had led to sighting dozens of rain-dampened Elvises and strong winds one year had produced a grouping of the rarely seen dust-blown Elvis.

Ice in glasses

Fires and heat

Ever since newspapers have cut back roles like sub-editing, it's become commonplace to find typos.

So I've had to look for spelling mistakes that add something more to the subject matter, such as those that work with the theme of the piece -- perhaps subconsiously.

Which is why I like this one, where the word 'heat' has been used instead of 'head' to follow the discussion of campfires.

Return of the King

Seems appropriate for Easter ;)

Functional alcoholic

Pablo Picasso’s noon

the palms keep vigil over the tired countryside. orange trees bear clusters of golden sun ripened in the red noon. cypress clean clouds from the azure where insects glimmer, sparks born of incandescent sunlight. i listen to the rhythm of silence scented by fabulous blossoms. and my spirit is drawn towards these heavy desires that haunt the coolness of shade.

Didn't know that one of the 20th Century's most famous artists also turned his hand to poetry before my partner showed this to me last night.

She was looking for material for a cut-up poetry workshop that will be at Pioneer Park Museum's 46th Action Day this Good Friday.

It's interesting how much the description matches the Riverina landscape, which I guess is part of the reason why this part of Australia has thrived with Mediterranean influences.

The cypress pines that were widespread on the sandy loam of the floodplains aren't the same cypresses of Europe but must have been recognised as such, much like the Australian magpie is a distinctly different bird to the European variety.

Orange trees thrive here under an intense summer sunlight that, again, must share character with that of southern Europe. Walter Burley Griffin drew comparisons with Spain when he designed the town of Leeton, drawing in a bandstand in the centre of town:
The central Town Square, with refreshing shaded promenades, fountains, pool, and music, can set a standard that will tend to induce a high plane of attractiveness in private shows and places of amusement and refreshment that must compete where they do not collaborate. Perhaps the good old afternoon band concerts of the Spanish towns may be revived here, where the environment and the temperament of the people are so well suited.

Animal in a predicament

Recently I was introduced to the Facebook page Animals in Predicaments and have been amused by the sometimes surreal images and GIFs they share.

Just now while reading news websites, I saw this image from a story about a program to return pandas to the wild in China and wondered how long before it appears on their page.

The photograph is by Ami Vitale and has been shortlisted for a Sony World Photography award.

Simple trick to reduce power bills

In recent months there's been much discussion in Australian media on whether the national energy grid can meet demand.

A variety of commentators have weighed in, even Elon Musk contributed to the mix of options of available.

One thing that seemed to be missing from the flurry of words was discussion of how to reduce power consumption.

I am an energy miser and in the habit of turning everything off when it doesn't need to be on, which is one reason why you can't call me when I'm not home. (Another is I rarely answer the phone.)

Two things have contributed to reducing my electricity bills.

The first was buying a new fridge. I didn't realise the efficiency gains made in recent years, so when I was forced to replace my old fridge I saw a benefit in following months.

The second tip is more relevant, as people don't want to spend money to save money: turn down the thermostat on your hot water heater.

I can't remember where I read it but it was while living in a rental property, so it's a good tip for everyone.

Just head over to your hot water heater, look for a cover that's likely to be held down with one screw near the base of the unit.

You'll likely find a variable dial and it may even have temperatures written on it.

Turn the hot water heater down to around 55°C to 60°C.

It'll still feel hot but maybe not scalding hot. If you need hotter water while washing dishes, boil the kettle or microwave as much as you need.

If you're a parent there's an added bonus in that, should a child turn on the hot water tap in the bath, they are less likely to suffer severe burns.

Bladerunner poster

Saw this poster for Bladerunner and it's so beautiful that it jars with my memory of the grittiness of the film.


It doesn't seem so long ago that I wrote about being haunted by the image of a Syrian refugee holding his dead child.

This week I've had a number of reminders as this photo seemed to follow me around on my online travels.

I tried googling to find the name of the photographer and found many images of Syrian fathers holding dead children.

I've heard that throughout the 20th Century it was mothers who played a significant role in movements against wars and think these images of father grieving the loss of their children are worth reflecting on if humans are ever going to move beyond violence.

Mixed signals

Late last century a friend of mine was working in the public service in Canberra.

Specifically he was working in the Department of Defence, though somewhat unhappily. One day he showed me an internal mail bag marked Defence Signals Directorate.

It didn't mean anything to me, so he explained that the Signals Directorate were a secretive part of the Australian military that were often unacknowledged as their role was intercepting foreign communications.

These days they're better known, particularly after the 2013 news they had overheard conversations between then Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife.

Anyway, this morning I remembered the DSD mail bag when I saw this advert appear on Facebook.

Funny thing was that as soon as I got the screenshot it vanished from beside my news feed.

Chastity clamp?

I've been pondering this clamp, which might be the male equivalent of a chastity belt.

I worry that, if I tighten it too much, my nuts might bolt!

Money fabulous

As a former editor I get a thrill finding typos in the local media.

This one is particularly great as the word that's wrong is like a 'Freudian slip' in the way it picks up on the theme of money from the paragraph before it.