Saturday, February 28, 2009

El Loco & El Lobo: El Libro

20090228 Ariel, Car & Sofa

I've been remiss in my blogging this month, which does not reflect the amount of things going on.

I had a semi-major birthday with many friends around to celebrate. One special surprise was a trunk load of effects of my great grandmother, the swimmer Beatrice Kerr, a century old collection of photographs, newspaper clippings and posters of her career as a speedy but ornamental swimmer and diver. The very next day I got a call from a researcher at the National Maritime Museum to enquire after material on her they could use for a swimsuit exhibition later this year. Some days after that I was introduced to Australian gold medallist diver Matthew Mitcham and happened to have some scanned photos of Beatrice on my phone that I was able to show him. There's a lot of fascinating material coming out of that trunk, and I have set up a separate blog to display it all.

Munson had his first lesson in a round of intermediate dog training this afternoon and was very well behaved through it all. The above photo collage shows Bondi as I found him when we got home from the park.

The big news is I am working on a book covering my European adventures with Bondi. I've put down some thoughts in recent months and have ideas on how to develop the material, but there's a lot of pre-trip material about how we came to set off on the journey, not to mention the logistics of making it happen. Needless to say, this is to be a connected-up story of our time rather than a simple copy-and-paste job from the blog.

Since there are so many regular readers of El Loco & El Lobo, I would like to ask you what your favourite entries or themes might be, plus what you'd like to know about our journeys that didn't get covered by the blog. Sometimes when I flick through random entries I can see that I didn't write up any or all of a day's events as I simply ran out of time or energy.

Feel free to use the comments section or just email me directly, even if it's just a few words of encouragement.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

25 Things About Me

This meme has been doing the rounds on and off Facebook. Usually one tags 25 people on a Facebook note so that it propagates, but that won't work here. If you're interested drop a link in to your own 25 Things in the comment section.

1. When I was a kid I thought you had to listen to the head-cleaning tape after every three or four hours of listening to cassettes.

2. I lost my virginity in the same street as I was born. That maternity hospital (Lulworth House, Patrick White's childhood home) is now an aged care facility, so I may go full circle.


3. I've had about 3 years of piano lessons spread over 27 years. I'm frustrated with those who had the opportunity have years of lessons as a kid and now only play Fur Elise.

4. I have 3 literary tattoos. It took 12 years to work up to getting the first, which is the band around my left bicep: Fais que ton reve soit plus long que la nuit (Make your dream last longer than the night). I had that done in Paris 2 years ago to celebrate my time there. The second is a picture of Dukdukdiya from The Flight of The Hummingbird, and the third is a trio of lines from Cavafy's 1911 poem Ithaka: "May there be many summer mornings/when with what pleasure, what joy/you enter harbours you're seeing for the first time".

5. My happiest dreams are when I can sing. When I was about 7 my class was split into who would get singing lessons or not (FOR EVAR) based on whether you could sing The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music. Kinda like being excluded from introductory science classes on the basis of never having built a nuclear reactor. Needless to say it ruined my confidence in singing FOR EVAR.

6. I don't believe in astrology but about 85% of those I've dated are Taureans. I had 3 consecutive dates with 3 guys born in the same week, two of them in the same year.

7. I am one of the few people who has seen Broadway's greatest flop: Carrie the Musical. I just happened to be in New York that week.

8. Because we moved around so much when i was a kid, I had not lived in the same house for more than 5 years until this year and that's almost on a technicality. I lived in this house from 1994-1998, sold it when i moved to Seattle, bought it back a couple of years ago as it happened to be for sale during the only month I was in Sydney in years. I'm now coming up to my 6th year here.

9. I've walked coast-to-coast across 2 countries, both times with Bondi and each taking about a week. The first was The Great Glen in Scotland (Fort William to Inverness) and the second, Hadrian's Wall crossing of England.

10. There are a lot of classic movies from the 70s - The Godfather series, Poseidon Adventure, French Connection, etc - that I have never seen because we lived in a town without a cinema, and which I know only from their Mad Magazine parodies.

11. I don't drink beer. I did a paper-round after school taking in about 10 pubs and clubs - in a town of 4600 - and the stench of stale beer, cigarettes and sozzled lives had a lasting effect on me. I also saw a picture of my Dad and all my uncles looking very buff next to a swimming pool and realised that the difference between BEFORE and AFTER was one ingredient.

12. My favourite book is James Thurber's "The 13 Clocks" which is so delicious it is best served aloud. I have 3 recordings of it being read (Lauren Bacall, Peter Ustinov, Edward Woodward). Whenever I find a used copy of the Ronald Searle-illustrated paperback I buy it so i can give it away. Neil Gaiman wrote the forward for the new edition, saying "it is probably the best book in the world".

13. I have been from 43S (below Hobart Tasmania) to 71N (Nordkapp, Norway) with Bondi, in the same car.

14. I am a contributor to 4 US patents. I can't remember what they are.

15. Burnt roast pumpkin. You know you want some.

Michael, Paul and Lucky Bourke 1971

16. My family's first dog had to be put down when he was 5 due to an incurable spinal problem. I was about 11. The family hardly spoke for 2 months after that. I can't even think about that or Bondi's future without tears.

17. I was a member of the junior RSPCA for a few years when I was at primary school. I was an indefatigable money-raiser: selling RSPCA knick-knacks door to door, mowing lawns, and even doing a one-man conjuring show and telling scandalous jokes to the Infants school. Then the RSPCA's publicist/school-liaison came to town, and the bitch decided to ridicule me in front of the school for suggesting that a dog with a wide neck (our basset-kelpie) could get out of a choke-chain. No more fund-raising.

18. I am 6th generation Australian. My first ancestor to hit these shores did so in 1790, on the ill-starred convict ship Neptune as part of the Second Fleet, whose human cargo had the most brutal treatment of any in the entire transportation saga. His first child was born in 1811. All my other ancestors had arrived by 1880, except my paternal great-grandfather from Wales in 1911. In a country where most of the population has at least one-parent born overseas, all my grandparents were born here.

19. I am constantly asked for directions on the street, and people assume I'm on staff in book stores and ask me where to find things, but the last seat on a bus to be filled is almost always the one next to me.

I put that one there

20. For a year I managed the contents of Microsoft's English spell-checker lexicons (each word marked for use in US, UK, Australia and Canada). At a Natural Language conference in Seattle I was introduced with the line "France has L'Académie française, Spain has the Real Academia Española and English has .... Mike".

21. Microsoft used to have a quite liberal policy for allowing pets on its Seattle campus. Many people had cats, dogs, even snakes or farmyard animals in their offices. In 1999 I dropped into the office over the weekend to catch up on some work en route to Marymoor dog park with Bondi. Bondi went racing off around the twisting corridors of Building 17 and I chased him, passing Steve Sinofsky (sometime VP for Office and now for Senior VP for Windows) looking like he'd just evaded death by timber-wolf. A couple of weeks later, a memo went out forbidding the keeping of pets. Oops.

22. Prof Julius Sumner Miller used to hang out at Sydney University when I was an undergrad. He would occasionally stop me in the corridor to ask I was studying, and would always enjoin me to mix in music, language and the arts with my rather heavy physics/maths curriculum. A photo taken of the 3rd year Physics class which showed me wearing a tee-shirt with a picture of the Prof on one of his many TV programs was sent to cheer him up when he was very sick in his last years.

23. I radiate a lot of heat. In the days when I wore a strip of lycra to dance-parties, I would sit outside in the early hours of the morning with people huddled around me for warmth.

24. I collect books by author/illustrators. Lewis Carroll's poem "The Hunting of the Snark" is a common project and I have versions illustrated by Mervin Peake (Gormenghast), Tove Jansson (The Moomin Books) and Quentin Blake.

25. I have a counting tic. When I'm confronted with painful memories/feelings I lose myself counting through numerical patterns, usually multiples of nine. My toes might trace out a pattern inside my shoe, or even my backside does it over a chair. It keeps my pubococcygeus muscles looking fabulous.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Compact creatures

How much a space does a malamute take up?

In the house:

P2090001-2 dogs under tables [ice]


20090209 dogs

In pairs:


Don't let this picture fool you. At last weighing, Munson was still 42kg to Bondi's 67  (92lb to 147lb).

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Roving Eye


Public exhibition will be over the week following this event.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

May there be many summer mornings

Ithaca (C.P. Cavafy, 1911)
As you set out for Ithaca
hope that your journey is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon - do not be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare sensation
touches your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon - you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope that your journey is a long one.


may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind -
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and learn again from those who know.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so that you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvellous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.