Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quote of the Day

We have a work ritual of sorts.

Every morning we get to the yard early, pack all the necessary crap (and more just in case) into the trucks, and then leave for our assigned mine sites for the day. They're all about an hour away on the same highway, but instead we leave about an hour and a half early.

Are we out to beat the traffic?
Hell no.

We're heading out for breakfast.

We all stop at the same pie shop, regardless of which pit we're heading to. This is the chance to be truly sociable. We've done the hard yards already in packing all the gear and now we can relax in getting there. Time to kick back, have a pie and a smoke and catch up with the other workers you haven't seen for a while.

This morning Tallboy sits silently, pie propped up prominently in his fingers, unbitten as yet, and regards his meal with almost a look of wonder. After a while he looked at us and said

is what made me go to bed last night.

I knew if I slept, this pie would come around quicker.
That it was only on the other end of a sleep."

And with that he bit into it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Name the Big Machine...

I'm not going to tell you the name of this one. Drop a guess in the comments and you can have a prize if you're right. In fact, if your answer makes me laugh enough you can have a prize, too.

Doesn't look that big, does it?
Let's put some perspective into the picture.

That's me, down the bottom of it, standing next to the tracks.
The guy up the top is walking into the operator's cab, where all the driving gets done in air-conditioned comfort.

Here's a view from the balcony next to the cab. This shot was done on a different day, when the thing was being taken apart for major repairs. There were a whole series of planned blasts happening in the area at the time, hence the dust cloud to the left. More of that another day!

Here's another view from the fanhouse area at the back of the thing. It's a perfect place to take a break, go have smoke and watch the goings on.

Here's a view of the thing without the dipper handles and bucket attached, with some welding repair work about to be done by the guys in the basket.

And now we have RatBoy, kindly showing off the size the bucket. It takes two buckets from this particular machine to fully load a dump truck. That's more than two hundred tonnes of dirt in two digs. The thing drops the dirt into a waiting dump truck by releasing the door at the back of the bucket.

So. Any guesses as to what it might be called?

Sunday, December 28, 2008


In a search for reasons not to suicide I came across an article that stated it's number one reason as this:

1. There Is Substantial Evidence For the Existence of God
You therefore owe it to yourself to do everything you can to communicate with God.

And then I came across another gem, on a completely different page, spouting scientific reasoning for not committing the deed. My personal favourite:

3. Many, many creatures are depending on you
You are literally never alone. While there are roughly 6.7 billion people on Earth, you may not feel that many of them at all care very much about your existence. But within your colon alone are living at least 1012 billion organisms, or roughly a thousand times the number of people on the planet. Stop your metabolic processes, and you stop theirs.

Truly, truly helpful, peoples.
You owe it to God and the organisms in your colon to stay alive.

Album Review: James Morisson's Songs For You, Truths For Me

James Morrison - Songs for You, Truths for Me
Lately I have been picking up anything I can and giving it a listen. This is an exercise to sharpen my ears, broaden my musical experience and hone my ability to communicate about what I hear. Not all the music I listen to I am going to enjoy or respect.

When I looked this guy up on Wikipedia, I got a few choices to pick from. Interestingly, James Morrison the trumpet player from Australia was labelled as musician whereas the James Morrison responsible for this album was labelled as singer. I love the implication there.

The overall impression is that this guy should give up and let somebody else do it. I actually heard him on the radio a few weeks ago, and not knowing who I was listening to I thought Holy Shit is Simply Red still kicking along?. James Morrison appears to be Simply Red attempting to be Joe Cocker at times. His vocal huskiness he attributes to a bout of whooping cough when he was a baby. It would have impressed me far more to conjure up a tale of drinking addiction recovery, or stick a cigar in the guy's teeth for every photo shoot to explain it. I can see this album appealing to the cliched mid-fourties housewife who needs something to listen to while doing their digital scrapbooking - escaping from the teenage nightmares they have spawned and wish to have no more responsibility for.

Tracks of note on this album:
Track 1 - The Only Night
Firstly, the piano is far too defined in the mix. We have Late Show sound from bar one. The track tries to smack you in the face with full on brass/rhythm entry first off and almost succeeds. Funnily the vocal ad-libbing reminds me of a cross between Hanson and Joss Stone.
The chorus here is a disappointment after a nice brassy prechorus section. It builds through the prechorus section then all drops out to what seems like a completely different style - very straight in the rhythm with heavy and predictable vocal harmony. A fitting opening track for the album, showing potential laced with cliche and ultimately disappointment.

Track 6 - Nothing Ever Hurt Like you
The accompaniment has the potential here to be a nice down and dirty groove in the style of The Letter and some of the Tom Jones covers. It builds nicely but then leads straight to disappointment with an immediate lowering of volume in the bass as soon as the vocals enter. What does that do? It makes it feel like the balls have dropped out of the track.
The chorus features more driving rhythm in the drums - snare hits on every beat pushing it along, a direct juxtaposition to the laid back feel of the verse. Vocally, there is some backup harmonising happening. It's at a tasteful level, but still the choice of harmony is not fitting to this style at all.
Overall this track would fantastic live, with pumping bass, a kick-arse session band... and with Joe Cocker performing it instead.

Track 9 - If You Don't Wanna Love Me
Vocally, this is a pretty solid track. The melody is still pretty damn predictable. It's the rest that is letting it down.
The track starts out as a duet between electric guitar vocals - the guitar with a slightly dirty tone, heavy on the mids. Oh, potential! But there's not much imagination in the accompaniment. It's more powerful in the first chorus than the verse to match the step-up in the vocals, however there could be a lot more use of space overall to highlight the occasional fill.
Second verse - drums enter after a brief and extremely pitiful taste of strings (a warning of things to come...). The drums seem to be mixed too clean - they stand out as seperate from the rest of the band enough to bring on the impression of being a midi track.
Then some truly trite and unimaginative string arrangement for the second chorus onwards and it's game over. Forever relegate this track to ballroom dance shows trying keep up with the times by playing the music of somebody who isn't dead yet.

Track 10 - Fix the World Up For You
Ahhh, MERIT!!! Everything seems to fit well in this track. The instruments are well mixed, the vocal harmonies suit the style of the song. There's some wavering in the brass entries during the introduction, however rather than showing up as unprofessional it gives a human quality to the performance.
It's a classic pop soul piece, and well done for what it is.

Track 12 - Love is Hard
This track is one that would be far better live and acoustic. It has fallen victim a little to the temptation of multilayering in the studio. Just because you can have a shitload of layers doesn't mean that you should. A friend once said to me that if you can play a song with just acoustic and vocals, and still have it hold it's own, then it is truly a good song. This track can quite easily do that.
It starts off with a simple high-pitched guitar accompaniment that allows James' rough vocal quality to shine through. He has room to let loose in the chorus a little without his vocals being muddied by anything else that is going on.
It's sad that this track is relegated to last position on the album. It's of quality that I would like to see more of from this singer. Acoustic and vocal is much more suited to this man than a bad arrangement with a few brass instruments thrown in.

File Songs For You, Truths For Me to the left of Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jnr, and to the right of your Michael Bolton and Simply Red. Play when your mother comes to visit, and accompany with a mug of budget-label tea with too much milk in order to match the lack of complexity and predictability of this album.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stolen Inspiration

They're out there, at the counter of every bookstore. Little cluster infestations of fake books. Tiny wannabe books. The inevitable impulse-buy oh-that's-so-cute mini book that defies the system of organisation of any bookshelf known to man.

You know the ones. In fact, you probably got one this christmas because that is when the infestation is most likely to spread into plague proportions. There's a few out there that toe the line of acceptability. They still don't pass as books, but they have some pearlers in them none the less.

Reasons to Smoke was instantly accepted into my life and my bookshelf when I opened it up to a page that contained two words. When used singularly these words are representative of grand holidays, however when paired together in this order they represent an object of hilarity and ridicule. Two words. "Paris Hilton". Yes, definately a reason to smoke.

In reaching for my copy of Fast Track To Failure this morning I was assaulted by another little gem of mini book proliferation. Fast Track... lives in the inevitably disorganised section of self-help books and miscellaneous manuals. Nestling The Dictionary of Modern Thought right next to Anger-Free (a book that, by the way, shits me to tears) is one of those little things that happens via necessity of space, but plays to my wry little sense of humour anyway. Then the little mini-[fake]-book tends to get stuck on top of the rarely used inhabitants of the self-help section, out of sight somewhere, waiting for the day that it can leap out, smack you on the head, and then be forgotten about for another year.

Today's assaultee was a long-tolerated pal. The Little Book of Crap. Sold with a disclaimer on the back - "it's about as useful as all those other tiny books - but it will make you LAUGH!" - the thing at least knows it's place. And so, dear citizens of blogville, this mini-[fake]-book is going to spend some time on my desk. There's nothing like stealing someone else's inspiration to blog with.

People are like sausages.
It's what's under the skin that's important.

So poke them with a fork periodically.

Friday, December 26, 2008

For future reference:

When attempting to photograph the slow mutilation of a butterfly caught in a spiderweb by the spider inhabiting said spiderweb, a few simple guidelines will avoid disaster, embarrassment, and realisations of grand dickheadedness.

Guideline #1 - If you are unsure of the make and model of the spider, and therefore it's capacity to be scary, it is best not to approach it while alone in a remote location.
... too late.

Guideline #2 - Thoroughly suss out all web attach points. These things are in essence a suspended snare. They have to be tied down somewhere, and severing one of the ties is likely to bring the whole intricately woven contraption (containing spider with possibly unidentified levels of scariness) into a state of being sprung and wrapped around the unwary photographer's entire body, with variable and unpredictable placement of the occupying spider.
... close. Accompany a brush with an attach point with a loud FUCK! Oh thank FUCK! Sneaky little FUCKER! and you have an accurate representation of events.

Guideline #3 - Use a long lens to get in close rather than put yourself in the firing line.
... too late.

Guideline #4 - Make sure it's not windy. Either this or bring some marvellously fat friend with you to conveniently provide a wind break. Otherwise, two disastrous things could occur... One, ninety percent of your shots could be a waving blur of unrecognisability. Or two, you could be in as close as you possibly can with your short lens and end up wearing half the intricately woven snare. In this case you will resort to dancing around in bodily jerks, slapping and grabbing at every available surface with your hands in an attempt to remove the sticky web and the occupying spider (possessing unidentified levels of scariness) from any possible resting positions.

... too late.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Love is all I have

Merry Christmas to everybody.

Today several things of note happened to me.

I tried unsuccessfully to contact my mother who didn't answer the phone. This is unusual and somewhat hard to deal with considering the effort it took to bring myself to make the call.

After the once-a-year text message I found out that my mate Jesus is in town. How very appropriate for Christmas. He has a kick-arse voice maybe I will be able to work my way into the music industry here with somebody I can trust instead of the idiot types I got burned by at the start of the year.

A friend told me that she has been in hospital for two months because she is bipolar and stopped taking her medication. The woman I love and would do anything for flirts with this mental minefield daily and I am consequently scared to death about it, for her sake.

I realise with great clarity that I am shithouse at being a friend to those who are grieving. A mate's wife is in hospital dying and all I could say is Oh shit. Hell. My heart goes out to you. Vic, you idiot. That kind of talk doesn't equate to being there for your friends. It shows them that you have absolutely no idea what to do to help.

I have so much love to give that some days I think my heart is going to burst out of my chest and explode like fireworks - but the fuse is a dud and nobody appreciates a dud firework. All that magic is just locked inside and lacking the fuse, the eloquence, the spark that sets it on fire and lets it out free to explode and be there for the world to enjoy.

All I can say is Merry Christmas. Hope you have a good day.

And I love you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Its coming round again
The slowly creeping hand
Of time and its command
Soon enough it comes
And settles in its place
Its shadow in my face
Puts pressure in my day

This life well its slipping right through my hands...

- These Days, Powderfinger

A woman at work decided to notice and announce gleefully in front of everyone that YOU HAVE GREY HAIRS!!!

Now what the fuck do I do? I'm happy aiming to look like a well-dressed teenage boy. That ideal is now well out the window.

Fuck it. I'm not going to grow old gracefully. I'm going to hate every fucking greyhaired minute of it. What really pisses me off is that inside I'm really disappointed that this has happened and there is nothing I can do about it.

I will never look for grey hairs on a person again, or tease them about it. This has been a disheartening cunt of a day.