Friday, January 27, 2006

down by the Riverside

It was a beautiful evening last night, so I went for a stroll down by my local river, which is something I don't do very often. Actually I often go for a walk in that area - it's on the way to my local supermarket - but usually there isn't a river there. There IS a small concrete drain there which upstream and downstream from me is a creek, but on occassions, it shows its aspirations for something bigger.

Might back-track a bit. Yesterday was Australia Day, a summer public holiday, a day for beach and barbecue and carefully controlled fireworks displays over water in major cities. Yesterday also had a strong, gusty north wind, and a blazing sun, which, in late January, gives you 40deg C temperatures. Thats quite warm y'know! Better to seek shelter in air-conditioned comfort.

And so I went to the Cinema, and spent a couple of fun hours with The Producers. Not really convinced by Will Ferrel's German accent, and as for Uma Thurman's Swedish accent, who was listening?? Anyway, it was a lot of fun.

After that it was time to brave the heat for a spot of cricket training with the team. Considering the weather and the public holiday, we weren't expecting a big turn out but the half dozen of us had a good time throwing cricket balls at each other as the clouds gathered. Suddenly there was rain, coming in fast and heavy and almost horizontal. And with it, tiny, stinging hailstones. We laughed at the added difficulty, it was kind of fun getting soaked through in those conditions. Even though the temperature dropped 15 degrees in 15 minutes, it still stayed warm.

Eventually though, we thought enough was enough and went our seperate ways, after briefly contemplating standing in a cicle singing 'Four Seasons in one Day'. Driving home, I noticed that the traffic lights weren't working. I decided that I should pop in and visit mum and dad on my way, but there was a pine tree laying across the road where it had blown down in the squall. Some locals were chopping it up with a chain saw to clear the road. It takes something like this for people to show their community spirit.

I pulled out my mobile phone to call mum, just to check that they were home, and found that it was buzzing quietly to itself, and the display screen was half full of water....

I drove around the block and found mum and dad sitting in the silence of their powerless home. The electricity cut that had put out the traffic lights, had affected the whole neighbouhood. When I returned home, I also had no power. There was not much I could do. The rain had cleared, and the sun was back out, shining in a more caring, benelovent way, for it's last hour or so before sunset.

That's when I grabbed my walkman and went for a walk to the river. It's amazing that half an hour of heavy rain could turn 6 inches of drain water into a 15m wide, 3m deep raging torrent.
I bet it's back down to normal levels now.

The power came back on just as it was getting too dark to read, and we were able to see the last bit of Australia beating Sri Lanka in the cricket, and then Bahgdadis the Cypriot beating the Argentine Nalbandian for a place in the OZ open Tennis finals. This town is quickly becoming an outpost of Cyprus...

How did you spend your Australia Day?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Snail Mail Surprises

There is something about recieving solid state mail that email can never replace, moreso when it is unexpected. Yesterday, upon arriving home, I was greeted with three mail items addressed to me. TWO of them were actual cardboard boxes!
The first box was from our very good friends at Amazon. Some books that I had ordered before Christmas had arrived. They were Steve Turner's book 'Imagine' and Madeleine L'Engle's book 'Walking on Water'. Both books deal with creativity, artistry and spirituality. Perhaps I will blog a book review later; anyway, excellent work by Amazon, I was glad to take delivery, but it was not unexpected.
Box two was a belated Christmas parcel from a friend in a continent in a completely different hemisphere from here. It contained chocolate! And an Advent Calender which also contained chocolate! Also there was a birthday present. Even more belated, because my birthday was in August. It was a yellow book, to be exact, Langenscheidt's Taschenwoerterbuch for Englisch! Very useful, especially for translating the little poems behind the doors on the Adventskalender. Even the screwed up junkmail which was included as packaging was interesting! Kleine Preise! at Plus - Herrenpyjama for 7.99eu, Kaffeevollautomat for 219eu (was 299!), Pyrocom Feuerloeschspray 9.99eu. Vielen Dank, Freundin! The contents were a surprise, but I was warned that something was coming, so that wasn't unexpected.
Item three. Now this was a surprise. Unexpected, and, may I say, unwanted. Our very good friends at the Automatic Detection Department contend that my vehicle was proceding in a southerly direction on Elgar Rd at an alleged speed of 66km/h in a 60 zone. Perhaps I was... but don't I get any credit at all for the 99% of the time I am within the correct speed? The police department do not get the whole concept of grace. The Police had enclosed an envelope for me to use to send them the fine money. Nope! Why should they have the joy of recieving mail of worth? Ha! I paid my fine on-line.

the Omniscience of Google?

A few days ago I wrote a little on googling for 'Adventures in the Romanian Underworld'. That was the title of a fictional piece of fiction on a television commercial that's been seen here-abouts. A couple of days later, I thought I would google Adventures Romanian Underworld once more to see if my blog entry had made it into the top 100. It hadn't. Then I tried the same thing with a blog search. Still no sign, even though everything that came up was less specific than what I asked for!
As a bit of a last resort I did a 'search MY Blog' action, and wouldn't you know it, our very good friends, the Heinzelmaennchen at Google STILL couldn't find it! They didn't need to look as far as the Romanian Underworld, they only needed to cast their eyes down about two entries! As a test, I tried a search for 'werewolves' and found some, and succesfully tried other topics too. But Adventures in the Romanian Underworld remains a mystery...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

conjugated Were-wolves

In my last post I made passing reference to were-wolves. And it reminded me of an apparantly un-translateable poem in German playing on the different tenses of 'were' in relation to wolves.
Here for fans of Christian Morgenstern's poetry is 'The Werewolf', first in English, and then for the bilingual purist, in German for easy comparison.


A Werewolf, troubled by his name,
Left wife and brood one night and came
To a hidden graveyard to enlist
The aid of a long-dead philologist.

"Oh sage, wake up, please don't berate me,"
He howled sadly, "Just conjugate me."
The seer arose a bit unsteady
Yawned twice, wheezed once, and then was ready.

"Well, `Werewolf' is your plural past,
While `Waswolf' is singularly cast:
There's `Amwolf' too, the present tense,
And `Iswolf,' `Arewolf' in this same sense."

"I know that--I'm no mental cripple--
The future form and participle
Are what I crave," the beast replied.
The scholar paused--again he tried:

"A `Will-be-wolf?' It's just too long:
`Shall-be-wolf?' `Has-been-wolf?' Utterly wrong!
Such words are wounds beyond all suture--
I'm sorry, but you have no future."

The Werewolf knew better--his sons still slept
At home, and homewards now he crept,
Happy, humble, without apology
For such folly of philology.


Ein Werwolf eines Nachts entwich
von Weib und Kind und sich begab
an eines Dorfschullehrers Grab
und bat ihn: »Bitte, beuge mich!«

Der Dorfschulmeister stieg hinauf
auf seines Blechschilds Messingknauf
und sprach zum Wolf, der seine Pfoten
geduldig kreuzte vor dem Toten:

»Der Werwolf«, sprach der gute Mann,
»des Weswolfs, Genitiv sodann,
dem Wemwolf, Dativ, wie mans nennt,
den Wenwolf, -- damit hats ein End.«

Dem Werwolf schmeichelten die Fälle,
er rollte seine Augenbälle.
»Indessen«, bat er, »füge doch
zur Einzahl auch die Mehrzahl noch!«

Der Dorfschulmeister aber mußte
gestehn, dass er von ihr nichts wußte.
Zwar Wölfe gäbs in grosser Schar,
doch »Wer« gäbs nur im Singular.

Der Wolf erhob sich tränenblind--
er hatte ja doch Weib und Kind!
Doch da er kein Gelehrter eben,
so schied er dankend und ergeben.

This translation is Copyright © 1957 & 1989
by Alexander Gross. It may be
reproduced for individuals and for
educational purposes only. It may
not be used for any commercial (i.e.,
money-making) purpose without
written permission from the author.

Adventures in the Romanian Underworld

The place smelt of fresh coffee and old books. It recalled vistas of fabled destinations, fascinating men with dangerous ideas, exotic women with exciting eyes. Deeds of daring, worlds of imagination, places you can visit, and people to share incredible lives with; all without leaving the comfort of your favorite armchair.
The young man with the tousled hair, slightly unkempt beard and the air of a perpetual student ran a tense finger around the neck of his grey pullover. Surely this place would have what he sought. The man at the counter looked knowledgeable and efficient, surely he could help.
"Do you have... 'Adventures in the Romanian Underworld' ", he asked with a nervous chuckle. The man reached behind him as a passing assistant placed the required volume in his hand. He proffered it to the younger man with raised eyebrows and a conspirational smirk...

After watching this segment of a bank commercial on my TV I was intrigued. Was there such a book? What was it about? Visions of dark crumbling Gothic edifices shrouded in fog and incessant thunderstorms; and pale men with widows peaks and eastern European accents and a penchant for black capes and echoing, humourless laughter danced in my head (replacing the visions of sugarplums that had been dancing there since the night before Christmas) . Or was it just a line plucked from the twisted imagination of some advertising copy-writer? Time for serious research. Time for Google!

There were about 296 results for 'Adventures Roumanian Underworld' and a further 85,700 results for 'Adventures Romanian Underworld'. I can't claim to have searched through every single entry, but there does not appear to be a book of this title on the net. The closest I could find was a double DVD set with the films 'The Cave', which was set in Romania, beneath the Carpathian mountains, and 'Underworld', a dramatic fictionalised account of the sometimes stormy relationships between Vampires and Werewolves.

A pity, because the title held such promise, and judging by the reactions of the bookseller and the chap buying, there is the decided hint of 'cult classic' written all over it.

If you have come across this post as a result of googling 'Adventures Romanian Underworld' I would love to here from you! Please comment, it's fun, it's free, and all the cool kids are doing it!

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Look for Honzablog

I thought it was time for a make over, and to try my hand at modifying an off the rack Blog template. It's my first look at Cascading Style Sheets. They've been around for a long time, so I thought I'd better get with the program. Besides, it IS a new year!
The heading graphic was produced using Macromedia Flash 3, Photoshop 7 and my new Wacom graphics tablet. If you are fed up with trying to draw with your mouse I suggest you look into these. Much fun!
For those of you who are interested in such things, The Lord of the Rings style text at the top says 'a bit of random Tengwar for graphic texture'.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

All is quiet on New Years Day...

New Years resolutions. Anybody ever keep them? It's usually just so much well intentioned wishful thinking. What would happen if I resolved to blog at least 5 times a week? It sounds like a fine idea, but I would let my avid reader down by breakfast time on Tuesday, and I don't even have the excuse of being too busy at work (on holidays) or have too many church commitments (all programs on a break right now).

I could take the easy way out and resolve to be more creative in my procrastination, but what I think is needed is not
resolution, but REVOLUTION! Not a superficial change, but a deep-seated re-working from the top down. Transformation. It's not something you can do by yourself. You need help.

Here's a little song I wrote... well, the lyrics anyway, I'm not so hot on tune-smithing!

Shake me,

I must be shaken,

Out of my complacent ways.

Wake me,

I must awaken,

to face the waste of lazy days.

Break me,

I must be broken,

to be rebuilt as per your plan.

Make me,

It will be spoken,

This child will grow to be your man.

My world revolves in tiny loops,

My eyes deceived by worldly dupes,

My diet consists of toothless soups,

I'm too soft to be of your troops.

The track I trek is rutted deep,

The steps I step are walked in sleep,

If you're a shepherd, well, I'm a sheep,

Help me find my way...

Take me,

I must be taken,

Just one step at a time,

Ache me,

I must be aching,

to live your life through mine.

Shake me, wake me

break me, make me

take me as I am.

I have naught to offer thee,

but I can be your man.

March 4, 2001