Past conversations with my cat – 80

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This is Chester. We’re back watching the Maple Leafs.

This isn’t going to be pretty. While they have won a few in the last week or so they have also lost, and by large numbers.

I know this is a mistake watching it with Chester, the eternal pessimist, because his initial statement, ‘You know Anderson’s going to let you down again’ even before the match started, is a sign of things to come.

Yep. There it is 21 seconds into the game the other side scores.

Damn.

He turns his head and gives me the look, “I told you so.”

Double damn.

Nothing worse than a smart-ass cat is there, and especially when he’s right.

The game progresses, and then the internet dies on me, leaving a frozen screen. Bigger fish to fry now, with the internet provider, where we are, the NBN, which is little more than a joke. Try streaming anything…

It’s the same result.

Pixellation, blank screens, endless loading signs and then a seized screen.

Good.

For once I don’t mind because I don’t have to listen to the negativity.

Yes, they score again. And again. And yes, once again we’re looking down the barrel of another huge loss.

“Just what is wrong with your goalie,” Chester asks.

“Too many games and not enough faith in the backup, I guess.”

It’s hard to explain wat’s going wrong. I don’t know the ins and outs of the Toronto team because we’re not there. It’s the lot of a supporter whose 12,000 miles away.

Perhaps our year will be next year.

Chester doesn’t think so. Halfway through the third period, he walks off, the internet giving up the ghost. We all know how this end, don’t we, he says.

Yes. We do. The food you hate the most is in your tray.

Revenge doesn’t sound as good as it did in my head a few minutes ago.

Triple Damn.

Past conversations with my cat – 67

This is Chester. He’s come down from his bed in our bedroom to see what the commotion is about.

He stops at the top of the stairs down into the lounge room and sees the TV.

I might have guessed, the Maple Leafs are playing, he says.

Yep, I say, gleefully, and they’re winning.

Its not over until you know what…

Way to be a spoilsport. Stop complaining and take a seat. It’s a new day, a new coach, and a new invigoration in the team.

He sits and does that wrap around thing with his tail that indicates irritability.

Don’t get your hopes up, he says. And shouldn’t you be out in the office working on your NaNoWriMo project.

Under control I say. It’s practically writing itself.

Is that a shake of his head?

We have this sport called Australian Rules Football

In Melbourne, it’s an institution even a religion.  Traditionally it is played on a Saturday afternoon and luckily for us, we were attending such a game.

Of course, this was last year.  This year, with the COVID 19 virus everything, including football has been called off.

Except now we have ‘flattened the curve’ football can start again, only without the spectators.  Social distancing means we can’t pack the stadium, or go to a game.  For now, it will just be from our lounge rooms, watching it on the TV.

But, below, is the atmosphere that we have been missing, and probably will for some time to come, a game we attended last year:

The stadium is the MSG, one of the biggest and best in Australia.  Shortly after the start, I’d estimate there are about 40,000, but eventually, we were told there was 53,000, spectators here for a clash between the two Melbourne based teams.  It is not unheard of to have in closer to 90,000 spectators, and the atmosphere is at times electric.

For the die-hards like me who can remember the days when there were only Victorian-based teams,  in the modern-day form of the game, to have two such teams is something of a rarity.

However, it’s not so much about the antics on the field as it is the spectators.  They are divided into three groups, the members, the private boxes, and the general public.

But in the end, there is no distinction between any of them because they all know the rules, well, their version of them, and it doesn’t matter who you are, If there is something that goes against your team, it is brings a huge roar of disapproval.

Then there are ebbs and flows in the crowd noise and reactions to events like holding the ball attracting a unified shout ‘ball, or a large collective groan when a free kick should have been paid or by the opposite team’s followers if it should have been.

It is this crowd reaction which makes going to a live game so much better than watching it televised live.  The times when players take marks, get the ball out of congestion, and when goals are scored when your team is behind and when one is needed to get in front.

This is particularly so when one of the stars goes near the ball and pulls off a miracle 1 percent movement of the ball.  These are what we come to see, the high flying marks, the handball threaded through a needle, a kick that reaches one of our players that looked like it would never get there, an intercept mark or steal that throws momentum the opposite way.

This game is not supposed to be a game of inches but fast yards, a kick, a mark, a handball, a run, and bounce.  You need to get the ball to your goal as quickly as possible.

That’s the objective.

But in this modern game, much to the dismay of spectators and commentators alike, there is this thing called flooding where all 36 players are basically in a clump around the ball and it moves basically in inches, not yards.

It is slow and it is ugly.

It is not the game envisioned by those who created it and there is a debate right now about fixing it.

Here, it is an example of the worst sort.  This game is played in four quarters and for the first two, it is ugly scrappy play with little skill on display.  The third shows improvement and it seems the respective coaches had told their players to open it up

They have and it becomes better to look at.

But this is the point where one team usually gets away with a handy lead, a third-quarter effort that almost puts the game out of reach.  The fourth quarter is where the losing team stages a comeback, and sometimes it works sometimes it does not.

The opposition gives it a red hot try but is unsuccessful.  Three goals in a row, it gave their fans a sniff of hope but as the commentators call it, a kick against the flow and my team prevails.

It is the moment to stay for when they play the winning teams song over the stadium’s loudspeaker system, and at least half the spectators sing along.  It is one of that hair raising on the back of your neck moments which for some can be far too few in a season

We have great hopes for our team this year, and it was worth the trek from Brisbane to Melbourne to see it live rather than on the TV

Leaving the ground with thousands of others heading towards the train station for the journey home there is a mixture of feelings, some lamenting their teams, and others jubilant their team won.  There is no rancor, everyone shuffles in an orderly manner, bearing the slow entry to the station, and the long lines to get on the train.

Others who perhaps came by car, or who have decided to wait for a later train or other transport, let their children kick the football around on the leaf-covered parkland surrounding the stadium.

It is an integral part of this game that children experience the football effect.  Kicking a ball with your father, brothers, and sisters, or friends on that late autumn afternoon is a memory that will be cherished for a long long time.

It’s where you pretend you are your favorite player and are every bit as good.  I know that’s what I used to do with my father, and that is what I did with my sons.

But no matter what the state of the game, it is the weekend the football fans look forward to and who turn out in their hundreds of thousands.  It is a game that ignites passions, it brings highs and it brings incredible lows.

And, through thick and thin, we never stop supporting them.

After the anger, the serenity

I wanted to write a bit about how my day was going, and then I got angry.  It was a slow fuse because most of what I was angry about I’d been reading this morning.

And, yes, it’s about COVID 19, it’s about political leaders, those in power and those in opposition.

Listing to our opposition leader, briefly before I turned him off to watch a rerun of McHale’s Navy, it annoyed me that he had no answers to offer, only criticism.

Unfortunately, he’s not alone in the world.

Political leaders tended to blame everyone else for a pandemic that was not prepared for, totally unexpected and looking like it’s going to be a huge disaster, not just here but everywhere.

Oh, God, I’m back on my soapbox.

Forgive me.

I’ll shut up about it now.

 

It’s cold today, about 14 degrees Celsius, when it’s usually 27 degrees Celsius.  The sun is letting us down, and I suppose I should be grateful that we are not suffering from an ice age.

To be honest, I was seriously considering lighting the log fire.  Instead, we have reverse cycle air-conditioning, which is probably, in the long run, cheaper.

Have you seen how much it costs to buy wood?

But…

That could have made it difficult to write.

Not to come up with inspiration, but literally write, because my office is colder than a chiller room.  My beer in storage out here is colder than it is in the fridge.  Well, that sounded better in my head than on paper, but you get what I mean.

So, instead of writing, we sat down and binge-watched Sweet Magnolias, a light-hearted series from Netflix, and is of the same vein as Chesapeake Shores, etc, and more the sort of program I’d expect from Hallmark.

It was good.  It hooked me.

Three sets of lives intertwined in a largeish town in middle America perhaps.  I heard Charleston mentions so perhaps it was in South Carolina.

The good thing about it?  Not one mention of COVID 19.

Just good old-fashioned heartache, and trials and tribulations of trying to live your life, bumping up against the obstacles life throws up at you.

The town was called serenity, so there’s a pun in there somewhere.

It’s going to be warmer tomorrow so maybe I’ll get some writing done then.

Past conversations with my cat – 62

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This is Chester.  You wouldn’t think he would have an interest in horse racing.

But…

He does.  Today, in Australia, is the day the Melbourne Cup is run.  It seems to be the biggest thing on the racing calendar, not only in Melbourne but the rest of the country.

Chester, as usual, doesn’t seem to think it’s all that great.

He wants to know why the cat races are not televised.

What cat races?

It seems he had been watching Fox Sports, and there’s dog races, greyhounds he says.

I’ve heard of them, even went once or twice when we lived in Melbourne, where there was a dog race track.

\Well, he says, if they can race dogs, they can race cats.

I appear a little sceptical.  What are they going to chase?

Mice.

Isn’t that a little cruel, I mean, you’ll get the animal rights people up in arms.

Over mice, he snorts.  No one likes mice.  But if it’s a problem, why not rats?  Everyone hates rats.

So, I say, you’re up for it then.  We could make a killing.

A shake of the head, and nose in the air.  “Of course not, I’m a pedigree cat.  That’s for the alley cats.  I’ll be watching from the Royal box thankyou.”

Have you been watching the other news?

It’s never a good idea to look at the news.  I don’t know about you, but it always seems to be bad news, not good news particularly now with all this stuff about COVID 19.  I suppose if all they showed was good news, no one would watch it.

No, I’m more interested in the little things, the few words that cover an item that we might not suspect is anything but a filler.

However, despite the negative aspects of it, sometimes it’s a source of plotlines, even a new book.  In the print media, it’s usually a paragraph on page 5 that no one is supposed to notice.

I might not have if I hadn’t tripped on the bottom stair and nearly fall flat on my face. Something different.

Well, two things really, roller coasters and parachutes.

I’ve been on roller coasters, and they actually scare the hell out of me.  It was not always that way, but watching the news and seeing how they can come adrift and leave you literally hanging quite a distance up in the air, well, that has had some effect.

It started me thinking, and that’s not a good thing sometimes.

My fear, now, is that the car is going to come off the rails.

A bit like my life really.  Amazing sometimes how the mind works and makes parallels with something else that’s entirely unrelated.

I’m in the abyss and free falling.  The first thousand yards feels exhilarating.

I’m not sure if everyone has done skydiving, but it’s like that time before you pull the ripcord.

Absolute adrenaline rush.

Followed by a single thought.  Will the parachute open.  Again, I’ve seen too many TV shows where ripcords don’t work.

Ok, I get it, if you don’t like the heat in the kitchen …

But, I digress

Now I’m at a point where I’m starting to think about the landing.

You dash headlong into a job, thinking yep, you’ve got it covered, but, what if you haven’t.  What if there are variables you never thought of, what if the people around you, so happy to cheer you on at the start, are now starting to change their tune.

Abyss, job, choice of vocation, lifestyle, following a dream, there’s very little difference.

Writing is an individual thing.

Are we writing for ourselves first, or are we writing simply to make money?  If it’s the latter, it ain’t going to work, at least not until you are established.  If ever.

So, yes, it’s back to the day job.

Sigh!

Still in the abyss, or hanging upside down 300 feet in the air waiting to be rescued

Maybe tomorrow there will be good news!

I have to say I’m gobsmacked

Its been a short morning.

After a long two weeks of early mornings after very late nights, looking after grandchildren, getting one to school and home again, lunches and everything in between, it was a well-deserved sleep in.

What woke me up?

Donald Trump.  It took only two minutes to realize it was a campaign rally, ‘I am the greatest person in the whole world’ self-aggrandizing exercise.  And an opportunity to rubbish the Democrats.

As a person looking in from the outside, I would be easily led to think that the Democrats were worse than the Nazis.  Dancing in Chinatown when there’s a pandemic raging around them?  Wow!

And not one positive word about what’s happening in relation to the COVID 19 problem

Except of course, ‘they asked for medical supplies and I drowned them in supplies’, ‘thank you Mr. President’, over and over and over.  You have to back up only a day or so when the reality from someone on the front line was drowned out by the loudest voice in the room, that’s right, it was Mr. President.

With him in charge, why would I be worried?

Thank God then, I don’t live in the United States.

Fifteen minutes of headache-inducing self-aggrandizement was all I could take before switching to Selling Houses Australia.

And work on writing a new chapter with something far more pleasing in the background.

Later I sat back and considered conspiracy theories with the coronavirus at the heart of it.

What if a country developed a virus, stopped it from spreading in their own country, but allowed thousands and thousands of people to travel overseas, to the four corners of the earth.

What if there was a massive deception program to downplay how bad the virus is until the carriers have left the country so they can infect the rest of the world.

What if it also involves skewing the infection and death numbers so no one really finds out how infections could multiply exponentially.  Not until the damage is done.  Then the world can be told about it being asymptomatic during incubation and transmittable stage, spreading the virus without anyone knowing.

To what end?

Destroy the economies of their trading partners, bring on a global financial meltdown, or just because they can?

No, there’s a far more sinister reason this happened.  We just don’t know what it is yet.

Conversations with my cat – 94

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This is Chester.

We are in the middle of a philosophical debate.

No, it’s not about whether the world is flat, though sometimes I think he has that notion, as well as all humans are basically stupid.

I’ve been thinking about the pandemic and how it might meld into a plotline for a story.

Chester is not happy that I should use China as the country with global ambitions, after using the term ‘global domination’ and got a very silky retort.

He doesn’t seem to think that by causing a pandemic, making each of the G20 nations basically launch themselves into insolvency in order to maintain some semblance of economic stability, that China, who miraculously recovers, becomes the nation who saves the world?

It sounded quite good in my head.

Particularly when you see nations like the USA, the only other country that could tackle China as a ‘savior’ state, is going slowly down the gurgler.   Or so it seems, and it’s only a matter of time before something gives.

Chester and I now have mandatory viewing every morning, the Donald Trump show, where we lay bets as to whom he’s going to fire or lambast.

Chester thought the Doctor was gone for all money on Monday.

My money was on the reporter, who wouldn’t stop asking questions.

But today, it might be about Joe Biden and the Democrats, and the ramping up of the Republican’s political campaign.  Who said the COVID briefings had to be about that mundane virus?

Still, it’s back to the drawing board.  The overall plot is good, creating a virus that brings almost every nation to its knees, and one that rises out of the ashes to ‘save the world’.  It’s like you don’t need bullets and arms to fight a war, just a hell of a sneaky virus; you know, infecting people when you don’t know you’ve got it and infecting others.

Hang on, Chester’s calling.  It’s time for the Donald Trump show.

Reality television, just why am I watching this stuff?

If I was ever in doubt that there was one medium that could produce a thousand storylines, it’s watching reality television.

It is truly horrible, and is somewhat akin to a ‘train wreck’.  Why, then, do we watch it?  And why on earth am I watching it?

Currently, where I live, there was a show called ‘Married at first sight’.  Going by the title, you can guess the premise, two people are matched by ‘science’ (or perhaps by the number and size of the tattoos they have) and meet for the first time at the altar.  They then live together, with and without external influences for a number of weeks before deciding if they want to continue after the show ends.

As it happens, the experts here have yet to get it right in a number of series (or, I think they may have succeeded on one occasion).

Whilst the fact it looks to be scripted, a fact the Producers vehemently deny, it is impossible to wrap your head around some of the antics, and especially the words used by the ‘participants’.  Decent people do not ‘act’ in the manner of some of these people, and more often than not, several of the ‘participants’ are labeled by the public as ‘actors’.

I guess, in most reality television, ratings can only be achieved by controversy.

Certainly, the Twitterverse goes off after an episode, championing the good and railing into the bad.  Each will, good or bad, get their fifteen minutes of fame.

And, is it not surprising we have learned one of the participants is going to write a ‘no holds barred’ account of her time in the show, but given the fact all participants have to sign an NDA,  I don’t whether it will ever hit the bookstores.

I was considering doing the same, from an armchair perspective.   But, sadly, when I thought about it, it would never sell.  No one could believe or even identify with the antics these people get up to.

It’s the reason why Big Brother disappeared.

But, never fear, there’s a new disaster, I mean series, on TV called Love Island.  I’ve seen the promos.  Perhaps I should leave it at that!

Briarpatch: Another of those quirky USA network shows

I’m still reeling from the car bomb that exploded across the screen in the first few minutes, leaving not only two rather lowly tenants but the viewers shocked.

It’s an event that brings the older sister of the victim, both apparently a rent collector and a policewoman, of the bombing.

Two points to note, only small planes land at the airport, the town is deep in the heart of Texas, and it is very, very hot, even at night. How do we know this, there is always a sign showing the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. As it the sweaty faces didn’t give it away.

This is a slow burner, and has, for now, a recurrent theme of zoo animals on the loose, and, in particular, a tiger.

There is also a plate of uneaten food outside the room next to said sister’s room. It’s significance, in one respect, is at the end.

But, as I said, it’s slow to play out the nuances.

The sister is a senatorial investigator, though she doesn’t elaborate. This means she will get to kick some butts, and the first, a visiting senator who is also, well, a friend of sorts.

The Chief of Detectives and a Captain in charge of the investigation don’t seem to know very much, especially as to who had killed her.

And no one can say how the dead sister came to be so wealthy, or where she really lived.

We meet a few old acquaintances, and there it sizzles in the late-night Texan heat till the end.

Yep, another running theme, someone getting blown up in a car bomb.

Let’s hope it doesn’t happen every week, or by the end of the series, San Bonifacio, Texas will become just another ghost town.