Carved trunk?

Earlier this year I heard about a carved scar on a tree outside Wagga Wagga.

I went looking for it while I was staying in the area over Christmas and think I found it.

I've heard that carving trees was a Wiradjuri custom to remember the dead, which might explain why the shape doesn't seem like those I've seen elsewhere for coolamon.

The horizontal lines appear to be evenly spaced apart, which suggests a deliberate design but I'll ask around and see what I can learn.

Australian Government priorities are rooted

It is shocking that the Australian Government has spent more promoting an "innovation agenda" than combating violence against women by people known to the victims.

An article today on the SMH website outlines advertising spending during the 2015-16 financial year, which included the longest election campaign in recent history:
The 2010 election advertising campaign cost $12.3 million, contributing to an annual total of $116.9 million…
Promoting the Turnbull government's National Innovation and Science Agenda cost $14.9 million…
A national campaign to reduce violence against women and children in Australia cost $13.4 million

This is a disgrace.

The Facebook page Destroy The Joint notes 71 women have died in this country in the year up to 20 December from domestic violence and 80 women died in 2015.

Complaints about 2016?

Jonny Negron

There's a lot to like about this image.

2017 resolutions

Not usually one for setting and sticking to New Year's resolutions but I'm entertaining a couple of ideas for 2017.

One is to stop using Twitter because I feel it offers very little return for the amount of time I spend posting. Some years ago I experimented with posting the same thoughts on Twitter and Facebook and found the latter generated more conversation. Since I've befriended many of the people I like on the former on the latter and see they mostly post the same things in both places, I don't think I'll be worse off.

Another is to stop buying musical equipment. My reason is that I have so much gear and use little of it, that I need to spend time thinking about what is continuing to help and what isn't. One idea informing this decision is this beaut quote about a sense of guilt that impacts on one's ability to make music.

Other than these two, I'm hoping to spend more time individually with my children. Time passes quickly and I realise I'm losing the opportunity to hold their attention as they age.

Making a bacon sandwich

Top five posts in 2016

Earlier this year I looked at the popular blog posts listed on the right-hand side and noticed they hadn't changed for years.

In recent years it was older posts that were bringing traffic here, so I stopped listing the most popular posts when it started to feel like more of the same.

Then a few months ago something happened. For some reason a bunch of visitors arrived from France and it suddenly the list on the right started reflecting more recent content.

Anyway, let's dive into the site statistics. The top five blog posts here in 2016 are:
  1. Disappointing sandwich

  2. Unsatisfying

  3. I need you to know

  4. Hallo spaceboy

  5. Valla Beach

Love this

Seen on Facebook this morning.

It really is special because there aren't many pictures with a cat where I feel like I share it's perspective, such as the "WTF?" shown here.

Last Christmas

Some years ago I recorded a cover of the Wham! hit 'Last Christmas':

While learning it I was challenged by how the phrasing shifts to accommodate lyrics that don't stick to a meter or rhyme. It took a while to get the hang of when to launch into a line at the start of a bar or hold back a beat. Particularly this line:
I keep my distance but you still catch my eye
By the time I recorded it, George Michael had announced he was gay. It interested me that the first-person lyrics, while not specifically written from the perspective of a male, infer that the lover being addressed is male:
A face on a lover with a fire in his heart
A man undercover but you tore him apart
Maybe next year, I'll give it to someone,
I'll give it to someone special
Many lyricists write songs for other singers. Musicians like Prince, for example, had a number of their hits delivered by others.

However, in hindsight, I wondered if George had not felt the need to hide his sexuality in what would become an early hit.

So, as George's manager announced that the singer had died from heart failure on Christmas, it surprised me that the lyrics also say:
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
George Michael's phrasing gives the impression that the words were just as important to his songwriting as the melodies. Another characteristic is his sincerity, it somehow seems dated when compared to the irony and ambiguity found in pop music today. It makes his apparent heart failure seem so much more poignant.

Wild honey

Been a while since I ate honey. 

This one comes from an abandoned hive that was found in a dead Kurrajong tree after it broke apart in a storm. It tastes sweet, like Paterson's Curse-based honey, with a slight taste of wax and a zing like minerals.

Christmas present

Here is a pic of mistletoe from the hopbush that's playing the role of Christmas tree for my household this year.

Below is an early present that my kids chose for me when they went into town to buy chickens for lunch tomorrow. Apparently the chilli sauces had numbers up to 15, when the size of the jar shrunk dramatically.

The kids tell me this chilli sauce has scorpion in it but I didn't see it listed on the ingredients. It's hot but not like eating a raw habanero off the plant, which isn't something I'd recommend.
I remember tears flowing as a result but the endorphin rush was pleasant.

P.S. On Christmas I got another bottle of wine from my out-laws. I drank one of these a few years ago and found it ready-to-drink then, so hopefully it's still got some spine.

Ghost Empire

Currently I'm reading Richard Fidler's book Ghost Empire and enjoying how he expertly demonstrates in this history of Constantinople how developments over a millennia ago remain within Western culture.

Justinian the Great, for example, oversaw the creation of the Codex that established Roman laws that continue to inform those practiced today.

Another interesting section discussed Nicholas the bishop of Myra, better known as Saint Nicholas and the inspiration for Santa Claus. While not explicitly stated, I couldn't help but wonder if the story of Nicholas resurrecting children butchered during a famine established the tradition of Christmas ham:
One tells how during a terrible famine, a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, where he killed them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, not only saw through the butcher's horrific crime but also resurrected the three boys from the barrel by his prayers.

This is one serendipity I've encountered while reading the book during the festive season. Another was when I read aloud the section on how Justinian developed a Roman silk industry after six centuries of importing the fabric from China via the Silk Road:

Two unidentified monks (most likely members of the Nestorian Church who had been preaching Christianity in India (Church of the East in India), made their way to China by 551 AD. While they were in China, they observed the intricate methods for raising silk worms and producing silk. This was a key development, as the Byzantines had previously thought silk was made in India. In 552 AD, the two monks sought out Justinian I. In return for his generous but unknown promises, the monks agreed to acquire silk worms from China.

Fidler notes many historians now regard this story as a fable and that it would have been a 6500-kilometre journey taking around two years for the monks.

The serendipity for my family was that after learning the story, we arrived at our destination to find my out-laws (so called as my partner and I aren't married) had a collection of silkworm cocoons with a couple of silk moths.

I've thought before how ghosts are a beaut metaphor for the resonances within history and illustrate relevance to contemporary audiences. I'm thoroughly enjoying the book as it's like a tour of foreign lands where the pace is quick but the snapshots are wondrous.

Far cough

Listening to ABC Radio National this week I heard about Desiderius Erasmus' advice on farting:
"Some teach that boys should keep in the gas of their bellies by compressing their buttocks. But it is not civil to become ill while you are trying to seem polite. If it is possible to leave, let him do it alone, but if not, follow the ancient proverb: Hide the fart with a cough."
De civilitate morum puerilium (1530)

Of course, I could not wait to share this information with my family. The outcome is we all giggle if someone coughs.

In fact it's a joke that has yet to get old. We would often find humour in farting and now it doesn't require the gas to start a chuckle. All that is needed is to clear one's throat.


On Father's Day this year I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when this image appeared.

The photo by Daniel Etter shows Syrian refugees arriving on the Greek Island of Kos in August 2015.

I'd seen the image in the news around that time but for some reason the context of seeing it on Father's Day had a profound affect me. It's been in my mind for months since and I've found myself in tears at times.

Tonight I learned the tears of the man in the photo are tears of joy at arriving in Greece and I've found a sense of relief. For a long time I'd assumed he was the father of Alan Kurdi.

Feeling unacknowledged

Surprised to see the photograph on the cover of Griffith City Council's Annual Report for 2015/16 is my image.

This photograph was also used on the invite to the opening and shows three of the sculptures created during the symposium at Pioneer Park Museum in April this year. From left to right the sculptures are:
  • 'Eternity' by Tobel (cropped)
  • 'Solido Grigio Silenzio' by Francesco Panceri
  • 'Water is the Driver of Nature' by Hew Chee Fong 
Copyright laws promote acknowledging the work of photographers and it's good practice, however there would be room for my employer to argue they own the image as it was taken during work hours and using a phone they supplied.

I published it on Instagram, which also has a bunch of conditions that would ignore my moral right. They might even claim it was their photograph.

It's interesting that the moral right of an artist to be acknowledged does not extend to stating which artist created a sculpture shown in an image in the same way that one must acknowledge the photographer and also the details of other 2D visual art.

Copyright laws are weird like that because they're shaped by the lobbying of corporations and (so called) free trade agreements.

Family portrait

Round and round

Recently there was news that music released on vinyl records had overtaken music released via digital download in the UK. 

It surprised me as I'm not enamoured with records but, then again, this week I've also seen an interesting discussion of how the emotional content of music can be missing in MP3 files.

Another article pointed to the demise of rock music in the charts and it got me wondering if the medium isn't shaping the effectiveness of the message, because essential elements of rock like guitars and cymbals don't sound as good when they lose higher frequencies during encoding to MP3 files.

I have a theory that it was the rise of magnetic tape as a recording medium that contributed to the development of rock music, particularly the dynamics of the modern drumkit.

Anyway, I expect rock will return again for a number of reasons. I also have a theory that it resurfaces regularly because it's what record company executives know best.

But, not so seriously, how long before wax cylinder recordings make a comeback? Because I was excited to finally locate the Edison cylinder and playback machine at work this week.

Jase on the bass

Cellist and Regional Arts Fellow Clare Brassil gave a workshop on looping in Leeton on the weekend and Ron Arel at The Irrigator took this photo of me.

It's kinda flattering to be called a "young" artist! Other people at the workshop were children, which lowered the average age considerably.


As someone who only had a passing interest in Prince during his lifetime, I've really enjoyed discovering more about him as people look back.

One of those things that really captured my interest while he was alive was, of course, Dave Chappelle's impersonation of him.

It's really cool that Prince could laugh at the depiction of himself too, as shown in the use of Chappelle for this artwork.

So it was interesting to read this in GQ:
Davison: The backstory to that was—and this is the part Charlie doesn't tell—Eddie had wanted to play Prince his new album. So during that basketball game, Eddie's music was playing, via boom box, on a cassette. After that game, Prince goes over and he tosses the cassette out of the boom box and he says, "Let me ask you a question: Do you see me stop my show to do comedy?"

Eddie Murphy is obviously someone who, like Russell Crowe, is very passionate about music and I can respect that. This song he recorded with Rick James, who Chappelle has also lovingly impersonated, is one that I sing to myself a bit.

History lesson

Been thinking about this image since seeing it on Buzzfeed.

The photograph comes via Mark Tschaepe's Twitter of a presentation by Jose Lara.

George Orwell's line "History is written by the victor" springs to mind -- although, out of the context of 1984, that reads like an affirmation.

You for mystic

This painting “Playing (Tawamure)” (1936) by Ishikawa Toraji is a bit saucy.

I don't know art but I know what I like!

Via Hyperallergic

Oscar reviews The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Recently helped my son with his school assignment.

Organ donor

One of the things I've wanted to do while working at Pioneer Park Museum is record the old organs and offer them as a sample library.

Not sure it'll happen anytime soon but I was reminded of this aspiration while recording an oral history in St James Church recently, which is the oldest church in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.

Shown here is a detail from the organ in St James.