Uzbekistan

I love looking at travel photos … unless they were taken by those couples go on holidays seemingly for the sole purpose of standing in front of iconic things together and having their photo taken.

I always imagine that their trips are rushed and stressed, as they race to stand in front of a pyramid and the Eiffel Tower and some snow capped mountain, all of which would be really interesting to look at, were it not for the fact that they are obscured by the couple in question.

I’m not a total Scrooge. Standing in front of things is okay … in moderation.

Anyways, my friend Jason recently went to Uzbekistan and his travel photos are absolutely amazing. They’re both gorgeous and compelling. You can look at them here and then email him to tell him how much you love them.

I love your PHOTOS Jase, they made me want to go to there.

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A Short History of The Wuzinator

The Wuz was born on October 6th, 2007, which is the day after my birthday + 25 years. It was meant to be. She was born on a little farm, one of four kittens in her litter. Her mum got cranky a few weeks after the kittens were born, so they just hung out together, in a little bundle of cuteness. When I first met The Wuz, her tail was no longer than my little finger. She was so aborbs.

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The Wuz is an Exotic Shorthair, a breed renowned for being friendly and social. No-one told me they were also completely ridiculous, though to be fair, that could just be The Wuz. The name her breeder gave her was Princess. Her mum’s name is Willangi Rosette. Her dad’s name is Willangi Fernando. Neither of them have tongues that stick out all the time.

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I changed The Wuz’s name to Fizzgig, after Fizzgig from The Dark Crystal. I wish I had spent more time thinking about names, because I never call her Fizzgig and I really don’t like that movie. I wish I had called her Falkor, after Falkor the luckdragon from The Neverending Story. But even Falkor is a bit of a lame name.

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Because the neighbours couldn’t know of The Wuz’s existence, I obviously couldn’t go around calling ‘Puss puss puss!’ all the time, so ‘puss’ became ‘Wuz’.

Because that’s so clever and subtle.

People get confused about how to pronounce ‘Wuz’. It does not rhyme with ‘fuzz’. In fact, rather than try and explain it, please enjoy this short instructional video on how to pronounce ‘Wuz’ and the other nicknames she has:

American Journeys – Don Watson

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I was the only patron in the bar of the Crockett Hotel. The barman wanted to talk. He had grown up in San Antonio, in a poor neighbourhood. Crime, violence and gang warfare were part of daily life. While still a schoolboy, he was walking home with two friends one night when a man appeared from the shadows with a revolver and fired point-blank at the boy beside him. But the gun misfired. They stood and watched as the man cursed and fumbled with the gun – and then they ran for their lives. Ever since, he had wondered what it would be like to die – American Journeys, p 258-259.

Shoulda just stayed in bed.

Today I logged into my bank account to do my monthly shifting of money, as I always do after I’ve been paid.

It was a nice surprise to discover the account was almost empty and there was a very large transaction glaring at me, from a flight centre in New York.

Apparently I have purchased a flight to Poland.

The worst part, the part I hate most, the part I have dealt with so many countless times after stuff like this has happened, is dealing with the subsequent red tape.

My bank advises it will take 6 – 8 weeks for my fraud claim to be resolved, and am I sure I didn’t purchase a flight? Because I often spend almost everything I have on flights for trips I don’t have planned, you know? Screw bills and rent and food.

6 – 8 weeks of my time, my stress, my chasing it up, my hoping it really does only take 6 – 8 weeks.

Also, in a spot of bad timing, of the money I have left, which isn’t much, the vast majority is being transferred out today into my pretty much impossible to access high interest bank account and I have no way of cancelling it from work.

All of it makes me feel like this:

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Road Trippin’: Bathurst & Beyond

When I was visiting the parents, I knew I wanted to do as many road trips as I could.

My modus operandi was mostly that I had a few places I really wanted to go to take photos and that I had some really good road trip mixes I wanted to listen to, but also I had recently been craving driving, which I really haven’t felt much of an urge to do since a car accident I was in a few years ago. I had, pretty much, developed a phobia of driving, whether I was driving or someone else was. I was not a fun passenger.

I woke up on the Tuesday and looked out the window and the day was magnificent. In the country, before a storm, usually a large storm, the sky turns almost black, and for some reason this makes the paddocks turn a strange luminous orange.

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I set out in the afternoon, with no particular stops in mind, except that I wanted a few hours of continuous, fast driving. Driving in the country is a different beast to city driving, and, in my humble opinion, much more fun, especially in a manual, which is also my preference and Mum was kind enough to lend me hers.

Coming down the hill from Bathurst, it was suddenly obvious that there was indeed a hell of a storm on the way. Like most country towns, the cemetery is right up against the road on the outskirts of town. I’ve taken photos at Bathurst cemetery before, and it’s never been a particular favourite, but this day, the gravestones were lit up against the purple sky and at the last second I decided I had to stop.

I am so glad that I did and my only regret was not spending more time there.

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At this point, I did start to wonder how big the storm was going to be, and where it would hit.

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I spent the next few hours visiting friends living out either side of Bathurst [I’ve never been so happy to have GPS], before heading back to Orange at about 10:30 that night, when ice was starting to form on the road, cars and trees.

There’s a fairly windy piece of road, maybe 40kms out of Orange, called The Rocks and visibility was probably 10 metres when I drove through, a semi right behind me for most of the way, which is never fun, no matter what you do, their lights hit every mirror at night.

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It was kinda exhilarating and so much fun.

Dark Night of the Soul – Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse

Today I bought a physical copy of Dark Night of the Soul, a mysterious previously un-released project I first heard about last year.

Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse came together with guests including Black Francis, Vic Chesnutt, The Flaming Lips, Nina Persson and Iggy Pop.

The photos accompanying the album were taken by David Lynch.

The concept sounded very noir-ish and depressing, which, frankly, a large amount of my music collection could probably be accused of being.

There was a dispute with EMI, which seemed to stall the project and for a long time it was speculated that the album would never be released, indeed Danger Mouse obliquely suggested people find the music online and the very limited edition version of the album packaging was sold online with a blank CD-R.

Since then, tragically, both Vic Chesnutt and Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous have commited suicide. A few months ago the album was given a release date. It’s hard not to be cynical, so I’d like to think that the label realised it would be important to many fans to have access to the project as it was intended.

It’s a beautiful and moving album and incredibly cohesive for one with such an extensive list of collaborators.

It is already one of my favourite albums of the year, and one which I think I will return to for years to come.

Revenge – featuring The Flaming Lips

Man Who Played God – featuring Suzanne Vega

Angel’s Harp – featuring Black Francis

Wonderpants

When I was a kid, I played a few sports, badly.

Dad was way more into the sports I played than I ever was. He ended up being my netball and hockey coach at various points. I can only imagine the experience would have been better for him if I actually had some kind of co-ordination or interest.

Cut to a hockey field in the depths of a bitter Orange winter. Julia is perhaps nine or ten years old. Play is down the other end of the field and as Julia watches this, miserably, she also realises the elastic in her underpants is, well, unreliable. She can perhaps run two or three steps before the risk of losing her underpants altogether becomes too great.

Soon, the thought of exposing herself to her team, the other team and various mothers, fathers and other adult carers takes up all her concentration. She practises trying to run with her hockey stick, whilst simultateously holding her underpants up as subtly as possible. It works, but just barely. She feels some relief. She may not be able to actually chase after the ball if she manages to hit it, but she may just well get away without anyone noticing her dilemma.

Soon, the other team wrests control of the ball and play starts to head towards Julia, who is at this time sure she’s got this whole one handed hockey playing thing down pat. She runs for the ball when suddenly a noise louder than any siren or whistle ever made booms across the field. It is Julia’s dad, yelling at the top of his lungs as he runs along the sideline.

‘JULIA! Can you leave your undies alone for a second and keep your eye on the ball?!’

I think that was my last season of hockey.

Steers + Cats

On the farm, my parents keep two kinds of animals, steers and cats.

At the moment, they have Hereford steers, which are about eight months old. Sometimes the steers might need to be herded. In order to be able to work with them, you have to make them less skittish and to do that, you have to bribe them. Cattle are easy to bribe, and cheap! It takes about two weeks of work, and a bit of lucerne hay. My price is higher than hay, but not by much.

At the moment, the most recent steers are still a bit nervous, so for the most part, I hung around in the 4-wheel drive, but they are good enough that if you call them, and they see a bit of hay, they come running. Eventually, Dad won’t need to drive out and get them, he should just be able to call them to him. It’s a pretty amazing image, a herd of cattle stampeding when called.

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My parents are also big cat people. They have two cats. It gives me no great pleasure to introduce Betty and Tom:

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Betty is the black and white lady on the right. Betty as in ‘Whoa Black Betty’; however, she was known for a period as Satan, due to her good nature [insert sarcastic face here]. She’s basically a stereotypical cat. She just wants to sit in front of the fire and relax and be fed and would you kindly piss off, don’t you know this is her house?

So Mum bought Tom, seen here on the left, who is a Burmese, an allegedly friendly breed. Tom is also a lady, don’t even ask me to explain the name. Tom is not friendly. Tom is tiny, but is the heaviest cat I’ve ever held, because she is ALL muscle. She is all muscle, because during the summer, she disappears for days at a time, and feeds herself on rabbits. Yes, cat can take down a rabbit. I steer clear of Tom, but she and my dad love one another. So Mum has Betty as a buddy and Dad has Tom.

However … Tom has an Achilles Heel and it is the most ridiculous weakness ever. Tom is scared of … The Wuz.

I have to give massive kudos to my parents for being exceptionally accommodating to The Wuz, as her visits tend to turn the order of everything upside down. Neither of their cats get to sleep indoors, but The Wuz does and they even keep a litter tray and litter for her and even though Dad thinks her face is stupid, they are very kind to her and find her quirks funny. So unlike the other cats, The Wuz is allowed to do stuff like wander around on the 80 million tables and sniff the flowers and eat Mum’s plants.

The Wuz loves the farm.

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Kudos must also go to Mum for breaking up a fight Tom and The Wuz had while I was on a road trip yesterday. And for booting Tom out and making sure The Wuz got settled in front of the fire for some quality fire time.

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Spending time in front of the fire and relaxing is pretty much the best part of a winter visit.

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It’s a hard life being a cat.

Finally, before I leave for brunch, this is a postcard that Mum found somewhere. I think it illustrates the nature of dogs and cats perfectly:

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Bon Voyage.

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Yesterday Steph and Joel headed off on a six-month trip which will take them to Thailand, on tour with Cloud Control in the UK, through Europe and then from west to east coat in the US.

We got together with Joel’s family in Newtown for lunch before heading to the airport. Lunch was meant to be two families farewelling the newishly married couple before their big journey, a journey during which Joel is apparently going to sit in various poses pondering his future and getting massaged, but it quickly degenerated into a few hours of the Moopa trying to see what he could feed Vincent.

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Afterwards it was us versus them in a race to the airport. I think perhaps we were the only ones playing, but we were serious. There was both the Gregory’s and GPS being used to make sure we were the first family, Amazing Race style, to arrive at the airport. We won, my new glasses coming in very handy in spotting no right turn signs from a distance at intersections where we needed to turn right. I like to think I played my part.

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And then they left, damn them, on a trip of a lifetime. I seriously can’t wait to read Steve’s travel blogs and to see if her ability to shame herself in public will translate overseas.

Afterwards, we went and bundled The Wuz and my eight million tonnes of luggage into the car and headed to Orange. I hadn’t mentioned that The Wuz tends to cry for entire road trips and we made it about half way down Parramatta Road before Dad was all ‘Cat, I am going to tie you to the tow bar’. Mooma, however, had other ideas. She loves The Wuz, partly because The Wuz is friendly, partly because she’s hoping to one day wear her as a coat, and so to make The Wuz feel better, Mum sang to her. First, and dubiously, (How Much Is) That Doggy in the Window? then later, some sea shanties.

Then we played Guess What I’m Whistling. Dad was ominously silent. I think it’s safe to say Mum and I have an overinflated opinion of our own whistling.

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It was dark and cold and hit zero degrees at about 7:30pm.

When we got home we ate cheese and biscuits and lit the wood fire and drank a bottle of red and [in my case] mercilessly mocked whatever Dickens was on the ABC. I identified strongly with the menacing character who lurked in the background eating apples and whispering to a pig’s head and causing characters to fall under wagon wheels.

This morning, I woke up to this [well…actually this morning I woke up at 3am to the sound of The Wuz falling head first between the bed and the bedside table, getting stuck upside down, but I digress]:

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And now I must go. I heard something about a trailer and firewood needing to be collected and I am still in my pyjamas [which I discovered last night, are identical to the pair Dad is wearing at the moment].

Shorthand.

After an atrocious 2009, I went on a bit of a break from being an adult.

This doesn’t really seem to be having any negative effects on anyone [Except Optus, hello Optus!] and I am about thirty thousand times happier. Admittedly, sometimes I tune out and forget to tune back in but it doesn’t seem to be doing any damage [Except to Quickflix, hello Quickflix!].

All of this is leading to: I feel like I do more things the way I want to do them now, and ‘Hello Mooma, today I got another tattoo’.

The idea came from Steph. We were discussing lyric tattoos and both of us agreed that we liked them, but that the potential for people to be asking all the time what it meant and why you got it was pretty high. Then Steph mentioned she thought about turning the lyric into shorthand, being that she can write in shorthand.

A few months ago, I asked if she’d mind doing that for me and we tossed a few ideas around and I started keeping a list of lyrics I really liked. A few weeks ago, I settled on one and a few days ago, Steph started drawing it for me.

Today I went to Mischief Moon and Steph and my tattooist, Greg, worked on it together, to make it bigger and look like brush strokes. A shout out to Greg is a must, he was very accommodating and interested in what was a very small job and he was hella funny and I think we all know how I feel about funny people. Lotsa love.

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I think Greg’s only regret was that Steph left without any ink.

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The lyric is At sunrise the monkeys will fly and it comes from the Sparklehorse/PJ Harvey song, ‘Eyepennies’.