Book Review

So I’ve started reading the autobiography A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey, and it’s time to give a book report.
I know what you’re thinking, hold your horses there young lady, you have only just started it, wait until you finish it to do a report. Well the thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve read this book.

Bert was born in Maidstone, and when I first picked up this book in my local library that was the thing that caught my eye. Maidstone was a hop and a skip from my home, and if you added in the jump, you’d have gone right though Maidstone. At the age of 11 this book facinated me, simply from the naming of a little known suburb, and I had to read it.
The book follows the life of a simple boy, and then man, who lived through a time of great change in Australia and the world. It reads like a history of the birth of the nation, but though the eyes of a gentleman.

As I read the book for the first time it became apparent to me that the part of Maidstone referred to in the book, I could see from my front yard. Suddenly I realised that there was a bigger world out there, and I could live it through this book.

About every five years I’ve found myself reading this book. Every time I read it, I get something new from it. To say it has been an inspiration to me is to grossly understate it’s quality.

About a year ago I was out touring in regional Western Australia, on my way to see Wave Rock. While I had planned out my route, it turned into more of a “generally head east” kind of ride, which lead me to the town of Wickepin, where I hoped there was petrol. But I found much more than that.


I had no idea this homestead still existed. I had no idea it was open to the public. I had no idea just how emotional I got seeing one of my idols in the flesh, so to speak.

Walking through the house, I could picture every word on the page where the house is written about. To know that I was standing in the very same spot where Bert had stood was an amazing experience. I was living part of history.
The book itself is not a hard read in particular. Bert never had a formal education, times were tough. But it is a book that drags you in and has you reading more and more, just like a grandparent telling you a bedtime story. It talks of a time where the values we claim these days to define us as Australians actually happened and were not just an ideology.
It is a book I can not recommend highly enough. These days you can get it in eBook form, or in paperback still. Regardless of the medium you read it in, I suggest you do read it. Then after it has all sunk in, go and read it again, and you’ll be amazed at what you missed the first time, and how much more enjoyable it is reading about this life again. A.B. Facey may have had a fortune life, but thanks to him we can all have a fascinating read.   

Fees and Charges Apply for reading this title.

So a bit of a dig at the AFL and in particular Ticketmaster here.

I’m a member of the Richmond Football Club, have been for years. But what I have to say applies to all teams really, so that point doesn’t matter. As a Richmond member, I get access to the Pre-season games, any games in my state (I’m an interstate member) and up to five Melbourne games as well. As luck would have it, Richmond are playing in my local town as part of the pre-season fluff, so it’s an excellent chance to see my team more than once this season. Now because of limited capacity at the ground, I have to get a ticket for entry. This is where I get angry at the AFL and Ticketmaster.

In order to get my free ticket, I need to purchase a $5 ticket. Because I have to purchase the $5 ticket, I have to be charged an administration fee. In order to pay for the ticket I have to use a credit card, no other options. Because I’m using a credit card, I have to pay a credit card fee. All up the free ticket has cost me $8.

I’m sure at this point you can all see where my anger is directed.

Now I’m happy to support my club. In all honesty the membership is really not worth it for what I get out of it, in terms of games I get to go see. Sure I could attend more Melbourne games to get more value for money, but that would require at least $500 in air fares just to get to the ground, plus all the other costs. So in real terms what I pay around $160 each year for, is to see one game of footy live. Talk about dedication to a team. Now the reason I’m happy to pay this is because with increased member numbers clubs have a better footing to get sponsorship, prime time games, and it adds to the viability of the club.

It may seem like a first world problem, and it really can’t be read any other way actually, but to be slugged for a ticket and associated costs, so I can get my “free” ticket (Which if you look is really an $80 ticket at least), is nothing but corporate greed and theft. It’s $8 less to spend at the game on drinks and food (not that it would get much these days), which would support grass roots footy in the local area. It’s $8 less towards buying merchandise to support my team. It’s an $8 “lining our pockets with money is more important than the game” fee.

Yeah, I know, it’s only $8, but given the ground holds 9,000 people, that’s actually $27,000 in fees, before any ticket prices come into play, that has been stolen off the top. If we look at it as say 3,000 member tickets, 3,000 adult tickets, and 3,000 kids tickets being sold for the game, the gate taking is $85,000, excluding the on top fees. Not bad money if you can get your hands on it, even better when you add in the fees and charges. And all this before a ball has even been bounced.

An Unexpected Review

I’m sorry to Jenny for not writing this review sooner, after I saw her show on Wednesday night. You see the reason for the delay was the fake nails I was wearing. Those damn things made it impossible to type, so today I endured the pain of removing them. But this isn’t about me, it’s about Jenny Wynter and her wonderful show currently playing at the Butterfly Club as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

For those who are regular readers of my blog, you will know this is a show I have already reviewed twice, but those times were as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, and this one is part of the Comedy Festival. But that’s not the only difference.


The show now comes repackaged with a bonus piano player, freeing up Jenny to perform more in the show, with out worrying so much about the technical side. There were more jokes, more off the cuff laughs, more freedom within the performance. If you were someone watching the show for the first time, as most of her sell out audiences have been doing so far in the festival, you will love this as a comedy piece with music. I had the feeling the Fringe festival show audience were more looking for a musical show with comedy, and thankfully Jenny is such a professional, she can engage both kinds of audience with her talents.


An Unexpected Variety Show is a very personal journey for Jenny, but it’s not an attempt to make an audience pay for her to get group therapy. Instead the show engages the audience to think about their own lives, and to realise they can achieve anything, even if they don’t have a desire to move to Canada, like Jenny.


This really is a great show to see. It’s a fun night of entertainment, that gives you all the emotional input you need to have a joyous night out. I don’t want to type any more, because I don’t want to spoil the show for you. Instead you should just click on this link to get your tickets. I give the show 4 and a half stars, which is pretty good given my scoring system only goes up to three stars.

Your call could not be connected

I’m going to start this off to say this is not a bitch at Telstra. Yeah, I’m frustrated with them, but really, in the scheme of things, there are far bigger worries in the world to deal with. But what the heck, this is my blog, so I’m going to have a bit of a rant.


For a good part of my working day, I’m located close to Federation Square in Melbourne. For those of you who don’t know what Fed(eration) Square is or looks like, think of Pablo Picasso eating laxative filled building materials, then doing a massive spray poo across a city block. I must admit, I like the design, but then again, I’m no scatologist. I digress.


Now the problem for me is, despite my phone saying I have full service, I get no 3G at least 90% of the time, and calls and SMS’s come through about half of the time. I know I’m missing these, because as soon as I go to Richmond, I get a flurry of missed calls or messages, and suddenly 3G works. Obviously there is something wrong.

Telstra have even admitted as much, saying they do have issues in the Melbourne CBD, and they are currently being worked on, and will be resolved in about three months…, that was six months ago.

This isn’t just an issue with there being a lot of people trying to use the network at the same time either. The issue is the same at 3am on a weekday, as it is at peak hour of any day. The problem needs to be fixed. I’m not talking about getting huge amounts of data either, I’ve tried to get files of less than 50kb, but no luck, I can’t even get 1kb/sec of service.


Yes, I know I could go to another carrier, and also move to another place where there is coverage, but I really feel like Telstra is letting the public of Melbourne down. Why have a great reception, when you can’t actually receive anything?

Telstra, I’m not asking for much. I’m not expecting this to be fixed over night. All I ask is you actually do some work in this area, so there is capacity for those trying to use your service, that we pay for. You’ve admitted to a problem, you say that problem should be resolved by now, but it’s not, and it’s been going on for too long. Please, really please, pretty please even, can you just get your network working where a majority of people want to use it.




Oh, and don’t even get me started on the E coverage around Docklands.

That’s a good price for 60lb of Nutmeg.

I recently signed up as a member of Costco. Yes, start all your booing and hissing now, but I would like to point out, they are very close to where I live, and actually have some products that fit into my fickle dietary requirements quite well. But regardless of that, I’m still allowed to put all four hooves up on a soapbox and moo loudly.


As anyone who is a regular watcher of the ABC will know, there is a thing called the Gruen Transfer, from which a teleision show gets it’s title. I wont go into the details here, because it’s quicker for you to click on the link, than it is for me to type a heap out about it. Damn, I better go put a link in there now…, all better.

Moving on, or at least I would like to, but the standard clientèle of Costco wont allow me, and I’m not even in the store yet. The issues start even before you get into the carpark, because people are bamboozled by the choice between “Take Ticket, Pay Later” or “Insert Credit Card now, Insert Credit Card Later”. How it can take each person three minutes to decide between these two options I will never know. It’s not like they are being asked ” Would you like us to set fire to your kids now, or after we have set fire to you?”


Then there is the shopping trolleys. With Costco being an American store, even the trolleys are supersized. It makes the standard Australian shopping trolley look like one of those hand basket with wheels that are starting to plague Big W and Kmart of late. Given the average Costco shopper has never seen a trolley this big, they suddenly think they are driving a Toorak Tractor (Yes, I’ve linked that one for you all) and therefore can drive the trolley anyway they like, park it anyway they like, and they have the right to not give a flying fox if they are in the way of anyone else. Well a big fat heads up to you tools…, ALL THE TROLLEYS ARE THE SAME SIZE!!!!!!!!!!!!! (note I didn’t do the “!!1!!111!!one!!” joke in the over use of exclamation marks, because I am a mature cow.)

I say to these people, use the same rule as I use when you are in a car; “If you can’t park it, don’t drive it”. Plain and simple, and the whole thing will work out a lot better. So when someone says “excuse me” don’t stare at them blankly, like they are about to offer you a free sample, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY!


Speaking of free samples, they are a sample people. Not a fifteen course buffet lunch! I tend to go to Costco during the middle of the day, because I work odd hours, and have no social life. Oh, and also I hate weekend crowds, because that’s just what I have described above (and will do below) amplified. But during the day, you get bus loads I’m sure of nursing home inmates, or even just the card carry member variety of senior citizen, who think they are a seagull, and Costco is the biggest hot chip in the world. Samples are meant to be something you get on the fly, not hang around clogging up the aisles waiting for the next batch of offerings. Not everyone wants to try out “Johnny Cock Block’s Secret Caribbean Sauce, fresh from the seas of South Dakota”.


My last gripe is at the check out. People, you have just spent 15 hours going around the store, filling your belly with Cock sauce, blocking up the aisles with your inabilities, and trying to decide if you want to park your car or stare at the flashing lights. Now is not the time to decide you would like to buy the “Turn your little brat into an NBA basketball superstar starter kit for $799”, and decide to go get it. Once you have got to the check out, you have effectively left the store in my book. Even if it’s the cheap chokito’s or latest tabloid wankfest about new Princess Di weight loss claims from beyond the grave, TOO BAD! Get your stuff, and get out of the way of everyone else. You’ve had your go, so get going.


My final word about Costco is about their chopped onions. Seriously, these things are good, and you get them by turning a little wheel. It’s an endless supply of joy for the world. But there are only so many you can fit on your hot dog. So my suggestion is simple. Get the hot dog and soft drink deal they have, but instead of using the cup for soft drink, fill it with onions. Seriously, you may be thirsty, but you’re going to have enough onions to get you though the day.


That’s always a good thing, because it’s going to take you all day just to get out of the car park.

The (SECOND) Unexpected Variety Hour – Review

So I headed off to see The Unexpected Variety Hour show again, and if you were to look at recent blog posts, you may think that’s all I’ve been doing. Seriously though, I am working on other blog posts, and my fingers are sore from all the typing, to do with non blog post related things. I’ll get them posted soon, some things take time you know.


It’s said that the way to measure to quality and worth of a performer, is to see how much they put into each show. I don’t know if that’s an exact quote, and at this late hour I really can’t be bothered using a search engine to find the right thing. Needless to say, the mark of a great performer is someone who puts just as much energy into show 100 as they did for show 1. Tonight, I got to see the mark of a truly great performer, and her name is Jenny Wynter.

The first time I saw this show, I was moved to tears, felt a shiver down my spine, and wanted to stop the show and give Jen a hug. This time, I knew the run of the show, so there was no way she was going to stump me again, but she did. Once again I was captivated by her performance. I was taken on a journey into the world of Jenny, a place where you hang on every moment, and rejoice in it leading to another. I have to say, and it is no lie, I enjoyed this performance just as much as the first time I saw the show, and the credit for that can only go to Jenny. She has created a wonder and moving piece of art, that you simply can’t not enjoy. Yes, that may be a double negative, but two wrongs do make a right in this case, and The Unexpected Variety Hour is right on the money.

There isn’t long to go until the show has to wrap up it’s Melbourne season, so get in quick and have a great night of entertainment, that will have you smiling long after the show has ended.

The Unexpected Variety Hour – Review

So tonight I trundled off to semi hip/gentrified/Post Modern/Urban Art/Now/etc Kensington, to see Jenny Wynter’s show, The Unexpected Variety Hour, at Revolt Theatre.


I may as well get the quote suitable for promotional material out of the way now, “If it wasn’t for my birth defect resulting in no tear ducts, I would have been crying though out this show with joy, sorrow and there is always a third analogy”. Mmmm, a bit long maybe.


Ok, so I have known Jenny through the internet for many years now, and I went to this show with an air of excitement at finally meeting her. But the show changed me. It was a wonderful roller coaster ride, that had me wanting to stop her show, just so I could give her a hug. The Unexpected Variety Hour takes us hand in hand through Jenny’s life, from Flashdance, to flashing lights around her name, to  flashings of her life before her eyes as she gives birth, to flashbacks to her beautiful mother. What I saw tonight certainly lived up to the title of unexpected variety, but it was one of the most heartfelt things I had ever seen. Jenny’s ability to carry a one woman show is only outclassed by her powerful voice, oh and what a voice she has. We’re not talking some half baked shower warbler, we’re talking goes up to 12, because 11 just isn’t powerful enough.


I certainly got more than I bargained for with the show, and for only $20, you wont find better entertainment at the festival. Jenny certainly is a comic talent, who does more than just throw out one liners, she is an all round performer, who just keeps giving her audiences more. Sure this may sound a bit bias, given I know Jenny, but seriously, I was really entertained tonight, and that’s a pretty hard thing for anyone to do. I’m going back to see the show again, as I’m sure you will do too, after you see it for the first time. Get in quick, because there’s not long to go, before Jenny heads off to share her talents with the rest of the world.

Honey is the sweetness of life.

Us cows are not known for the consumption of alcohol (don’t believe what you see on YouTube), but we do enjoy the taste of honey.

Recently we had the chance to visit an outlet for many of the amazing honey’s produced here in Australia. Now we are not talking about supermarket honey, which is mass produced, mixed together and served up in different coloured jars, to make you think they are different products. No, we went to a place that had no less than 20 different honeys, each as individual as the last. In the end, four were selected, and here is a review of their tastes.

First of all is the Tasmanian Leatherwood. Their blurb is: Tasmanian Leatherwood Distinctively floral like malt flavoured Scotch whisky

This honey is a personal favourite. So despite it being well tested here in the barn, it certainly was on the shopping list. Leatherwood is a honey that many people have a love/hate relationship with. It’s a very strong and bold flavour, with an almost relative bitter bite, but it adds to the richness of the honey, you can really taste the wood aromas, like a freshly chopped stack of wood, sitting next to the fireplace.

I like it for it’s boldness, and it is great for cooking with. Ideal in stir fries, or for an ultimate indulgence, use it instead of sugar when making Yo-Yo biscuits.

Next is the Tasmanian Christmas Bush. Their blurb is: Blank. No review at all.

For me, Christmas Bush is a honey like no other honey I have ever tasted. Such a wonderful smell, texture and taste. It’s a really light weight honey, not too sharp on the sugar, but then you get a kind of lemony mint kick from it a few seconds after eating.

Next we move on to Banksia, which they describe as: Nothing at all.

With Banksia, the taste began even before I open the jar. Banksia is a much darker colour than the other honeys. There is a hint of roasted tomatoes in the aroma, the flavour is very mellow, but hard to pinpoint a particular taste. It is kind of like the honey you would give someone as a step up from a mass mixed honey, and before they realised it, they would be enjoying the taste of a fine product  You can sort of taste freshly picked peas, eaten straight from the pod, while a field of flowers send out their aroma from a nearby field.

Finally we move on to the Spotted Gum. Which does have a description, which reads: Strong distinctive caramel flavour.

With Spotted Gum, the aroma is one of a honey that has already been cooked. It’s a taste you would enjoy on crumpets on a cold winter day, or mixed into a lemon juice brew. It’s a playful taste, but not with out character. Another fine honey to cook with, and one that would go just as well between two slices of bread for a school lunch, or equally as well glazing a ham for Christmas lunch. With Spotted Gum, about the only use you couldn’t find for it, is attaching heat plates to a space shuttle.

So there’s the reviews, and we’re more than happy to hear from you with your honey suggestions.