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 a while, it was just be from our lounge rooms, watching it on the TV.

But, as some of the states began to get on top of the virus, football teams moved from Victoria, and played in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, and the Northern Territory.

And as the Victorian situation got worse, the decision was made to move the grand final, which had never left the MCG in Victoria, to Brisbane. It was like America never losing the Americas Cup, until they did.

But, below, is the atmosphere that we have been missing, and has returned in a limited sense as coronavirus restrictions eased (but not completely), 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.

Is this more TV gold?

I have been watching television for a long, long time, and a lot of it has come from either the US or from Britain.

I have Cable TV by satellite, an interesting contradiction in terms, and it has a channel that shows all of these old series, such as,

The Prisoner, a rather fascinating series that starred Patrick McGoohan about a man who became a number. Of course week after week we puzzled over who he was, and came to the conclusion he was an ex spy put out to pasture. Each week he’d try to escape, each week a big white ball would appear on the scene. And what was his number? 7 I think.

Years later I saw Patrick McGoohan in an episode of Columbo, so he must have been popular in the US.

The Avengers, which was my all time favourite because of Emma Peel. Yes, huge crush I’m afraid. But, then, I think Diana Rigg had a lot more men with crushes. Nobody really cared about the others, one of which was Patrick McNee, but I couldn’t tell you who his character was, or who Emma’s partner in the show was.

The New Avengers was not a patch on the original, but I did watch a few episodes because of Purdy, who, of course was Joanna Lumley, equally as intriguing as Emma Peel.

The Saint, only because I liked reading the book versions of the stories by Leslie Charteris, and that my mother liked Roger Moore so we got to see it. That came from when Moore was in Ivanhoe, a real knight rather than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Roger Moore of course turned up later among other roles, as James Bond. Probably not the best contender for the role.

Upstairs, Downstairs, a forerunner to Downtown Abbey, the first introduction to the lost class system that gradually disappeared from the 1900’s onwards.

Rumpole of the Bailey, which starred an Australian actor, Leo McKern, who was a delightful claret drinking barrister that never had ambitions of being a judge, and hinged his success on the infamous Penge Bungalow Murders trial. I like reading the books too.

Are You Being Served, with John Inman, and others that made this show a riot of a comedy. We saw John Inman much later in a stage play in Melbourne, and when two people turned up late and interrupted the performance, Inman recited all the lines of all the roles up to that point so they wouldn’t be left in the dark about what was going on,

It was one of those rare performance’s when you just had to be there to believe it.

More on other series later.

Is this TV gold?

I have been watching television for a long, long time, and a lot of it has come from either the US or from Britain.

I have Cable TV by satellite, an interesting contradiction in terms, and it has a channel that shows all of these old series, such as,

Bonanza, yes back on the old Ponderosa, with the Cartwright’s. I was astonished to see Lorne Greene pop up in another series, much later, in outer space, called Battlestar Galactica, a poor man’s Star Wars. It was 14 years of westerns.

This if course was accompanied by Rawhide, with a very young Clint Eastwood. As we all know, he went onto bigger and better things.

The Munster’s, yes, a rather creepy bunch of kooky people, the only sane one was the daughter. Herman, though, he was a barrel of laughs. I’m not sure what Yvonne DeCarlo thought of it, coming down from a movie career to television.

The Addams family, another bunch of kooky people who were quite funny, and of course my favourites were Lurch and Thing. Not too sure about Uncle Fester and Cousin Itt though. And moonbaking? Really?

Hogan’s Heroes, and the Stalag 13 crew was another of those strange but intriguing shows that showed a lighter side to what must have been a really grim situation. I’m sure a POW camp wasn’t this much fun.

Gilligan’s Island, a rather interesting bunch of castaways whom I’m sure could have got back home without much trouble, but who close to stay on their island. Jim Baccus, the voice behind Mr Magoo made this interesting, along with the skipper.

Bewitched, with Elizabeth Montgomery, and another old movie star Agnes Moorhead, but it was the changing of Darren that had me doing a double take, and it sort of went off cue when they introduced a baby, Tabitha. Bad Samantha was a treat.

My Favorite Martian with Ray Walston, another actor that descended from the movies made this a little more interesting than it really was. Still there were enough laughs in it to keep the interest going.

Mr Ed, the talking horse. Yes, special effects were working overtime with this one, but really, a talking horse?

The Beverly Hillbillies, I could never get into this. I doubt anyone finding oil on their property these days would get rich and moved to Beverly Hills. Perhaps a quiet ranch in Montana?

Get Smart, who could forget the cone of silence, or the phone in a shoe. How the producers would have loved mobile phones back then.

And my all time favourite, Mission Impossible. Those early episodes were the best, especially with Martin Landau, who later turned up in Space 1999.

There’s more, but we’ll get to them later.

There’s more time for TV

Being confined to home because of COVID not only gives me, and a lot of others more time to write, it also enables us to explore a few more leisure options to fill in the time.

After all, we can hardly just keep writing endlessly.

Well, perhaps some of us could.

At first I decided I would do some virtual travelling, you know, go to places I would never go in person, like South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, South America, you know the sort of places I mean, the ones where you can’t get travel insurance cover, or not without mortgaging your home.

That lasted about a day. Seeing the pyramids online was not the same as being there, getting the sand blown in your face, or the tour bus being hijacked, and you spend the next three months in a dark, hot, hell hole while the kidnappers negotiate with governments that refuse to negotiate with terrorists.

So far, I’m not filling in my time very well.

There’s weeds to be pulled, lawns to be cut, shrubs and trees to be pruned, painting to be done, you know, all of those chores that you put off until tomorrow, knowing tomorrow will never come.

Don’t ask me to explain that.

So, we’re left with television.

Firstly there was a series called Yellowstone, a western in a modern setting, three series worth. Yes, we watched all of them, no, didn’t like the swearing, or Beth Dutton, Rip was channelling the Duke, and Keven Kostner, well his stint in Dances with Wolves stood him in good stead.

Geez though, how much trouble can one ranch attract? Indians, speculators, developers, and an international airport? To be honest, at times it spiralled out of control, but for sheer entertainment value, it was slightly better than I thought it might be. As for Jamie, how could one person be so complicated?

Then there was another series, Away. OK, this was about as far fetched as a premise could get, and the characters, as diverse, and sometimes as obtuse as any I’ve seen thrown together for over eight months. Thank god we didn’t have to suffer eight months of it.

IT was good, I guess, with people being the way they are, and I’d espected in the confines of that small space for so long, they might have killed each other off one at a time, like in Lord of the Flies, but no such luck.

My favourite? The Russian. He might have been blind but he was interesting. Just would have liked a few subtitles for us non Ghana, Chinese, Russian, Indian people.

As for White House Farm, I’m still trying to work out who killed them all, because if definitely wasn’t the daughter. It had to be the indifferent son, or at his behest. Full marks to the dogged detective, who, the last time I saw him, he was a rather improbable Hercules. Funny how your impression of a performance goes back to one you’ve seen him before.

Which is another of our viewing interests, watching a show and trying to work out where we’ve seen the actors before. Some are familiar, and seem to be in everything, others rarely seen, or remembered. I hope this is not a sign of their acting talent, or more to the point, lack of it.

At the moment we are in the middle of Young Wallender. For those who may have seen Branagh in the Wallender series would remember this as being the most stultifying of series, filmed bleakly in a bleak country with bleak characters, and bleak crimes.

Fortunately the Young Wallender series is not as bleak, but it has dark undertones. Some might call this gritty. There;s four more to go so it can only get better.

Like jumping off a ten storey building, it’s so far so good…

Have you ever…

Started to write a post, get so far, and another theme or idea slips in, and demands to be written first?

I’m on this nostalgia kick, simply because when I turned on the TV to catch up with the latest COVID news, it was on a channel that shows old movies.

In case you don’t realize it, I love old movies, not just those from Hollywood, but also from Britain.

What was on?

An American in Paris.

Well, it had to be one of my favorites, even though I’m not a great fan of Gene Kelly, the sheer majesty of the music more than makes up for the story in between.

Could it be said, then, this was from the golden years of Hollywood? Such bright and cheerful movies such as Singing in the Rain, and An American in Paris, perhaps exemplify the Hollywood musical.

Years before, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the quintessential musical stars, followed by the likes of Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin, and later Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. A couple of musicals, in particular, comes to mind, firstly the Wizard of Oz and then High Society.

Moving forward to more modern times, several stand out in the1960s, My Fair Lady and Sound of Music. By this time theatergoers were dining on the superb talents of Rogers and Hammerstein, and Learner and Lowe. Of the former, musicals such as Carousel, South Pacific, and The King and I were on my list of favorites.

Even later still in the 1970s, there is Funny Girl, and Hello Dolly, which has a connection to the past with its director, none other than, yes, Gene Kelly.

But it seems once the 60s had passed the notion of the Hollywood blockbuster musical had gone, and we were left with clip shows like That’s Entertainment, put together while Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire were still alive. WE still had the film versions of the stage plays, but the lustre had, somehow, gone.

Perhaps it will return, who knows, after all, everything old is usually new again, it just takes time to go full circle.

I’ve been reading a lot

And at times wish I hadn’t.

Having been a journalist in a previous lifetime, and one that always believed that the truth mattered, it didn’t take long to realise that journalists should never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

Newspapers, and all other forms of media, will only write what they believe will sell, or what they think the public wants to read. The truth, sadly, is not the first thing on the readers mind, only that someone is to blame for something they have no control over, and it doesn’t matter who.

And the more outlandish the situation, the more the public will buy into it.

This, I guess, is why we like reading about celebrities and royalty, not for the good they might do, but the fact they stumble and make mistakes, and that somehow makes us feel better about ourselves.

Similarly, if the media can beat up a subject, like the corona-virus, and make it worse that it is, then people will lap up the continuing saga, as it relates to them, and will take one of two stances, that they believe the horror of it, and do as they’re asked, or disbelieve it because nothing can be that bad, and ignore it and the consequences of disobedience. knowing the government will not press too hard against the non compliers simply because of domocracy issues it will stir up.

That is, then the media will get a hold of this angle and push it, and people will start to think disobedience is a good thing not a bad.

So, our problems of trying to get a fair and balanced look at what the coronavirus is all about is nigh on impossible. We are continuously bombarded with both right and wrong information, and the trouble is, both sides are very plausibly supported by facts.

And that’s the next problem we have in reporting. We can get facts to prove anything we want. It;s called the use and abuse of statistics, and was an interest part of the journalism degree I studied for. We were told all about statistics, good and bad, and using them to prove the veracity of our piece.

I remember writing a piece for the tutor extolling the virtues of a particular person who was probably the worst human since Vlad the Impaler, using only the facts that suited my narrative. I also remember the bollocking he gave me for doing so, but had to acknowledge that sometimes that would happen.

Integrity of reporting only went as far as the editor, and if the editor hated something, you had to hate it too. This is infamously covered in various texts where newspaper publishers pick sides, and can influence elections, and governments. It still happens.

So, the bottom line is, when I;m reading an article in the media, I always take it with a grain of salt, and do my own fact checking, remembering, of course, not just to fact check to prove the bias one way of the other, but the get a sense of balance.

We have state elections coming up where I live, but it does not sink to the personal sniping level as it does in the US, we haven’t sunk that low yet, but we haven;t got past the sniping about all the wrongs and failed promises of the govern,ment of the day, or the endless tirade against the opposition and how bad a job they did whenb they were previously in government.

You can see, no one is talking about what they’re going to do for us, no one is telling us what their policies are. It’s simply schoolyard tit for tat garbage speak. What happened to the town hall meeting, a long and winding speech encompassing the policies, what the government plans to do for its people in the next three years, and then genuinely answer questions?

Perhaps we should ban campaigning, and just get each party to write a book about what they intend to do, and keep them away from the papers, the TV, and any other form of media, in other words, don’t let them speak!

And don’t get me started about the drivel they speak in the parliament. Five year olds could do a better job.

OK, rant over.

It’s been a long day…

I wonder what secret agents do when the the jobs done and they go home,

No doubt they are aching from head to foot, and every step it takes from the car dropping them off to the front door is like a mile and a half.

And, inside the door, do they drop the bag/case/duffel on the floor and just lean against it, and look at what is their ‘other’ world’, that one that doesn’t include luxuripous hotel rooms, the finest dining, and fastest cars, and weaponry.

You feel the inside of your jacket, and, yes, the gun’s not there because it had to be handed back, and for a moment you feel just a little unsafe.

You think, what if an enemy agent had been waiting for me, how would I defend myself. But there isn’t and you don’t have to.

The place has that slight musty smell about it, like you have been there for a month or so, because you haven’t, and your first inclination is to open the blinds and let the light in.

And then you think, no. I just need a rest,

Perhaps a drink first, check the pile of mail that had accumulated inside the door, perhaps a postcard from an acquaintance made.

There isn’t. And then you remember you were going to restock the bar, but that call came and you didn’t have time.

You stretch, and, yes, there it is, a strained muscle from that fall off the roof, that tug of a tendon that you pulled chasing a villain down the road, and then beiong chased by a car, didn’t thin you could outrun an Audi did you?

No, nothing to do but rest.

A slow shuffle to the lounge, use the remote to switch on the TV, change the channel to the news, what’s going on in the world.

An election. Damn.

How far away is that liquor store?

Another night of stargazing…

And this is what I found:

Neptune.

It got me thinking.

Why did we name the planets after mythological gods?

I did a little digging and found that the Romans named the five closest planets to the sun after their most important gods, this one, named after the god of the sea, which to the Romans was Poseidon, but in translation, Neptune, and matbe because it was ‘blue’.

Of course, we all know about King Neptune.

We also know about Poseidon, which was the fictional ship that got hit by a tidal wave, and was turned into a blockbuster movie.

But in terms of science fiction, which is not what I write, but I seem to spend a lot of time watching, it strikes me that seeing the moon, we could assume that the moon could be a stopping off point on a trip to the pouter planets.

I’m always surprised at the ingenuity of ‘Sci Fi’ writers in how they can turn what is scientifically impossible to live on but not necessarily impossible to get there (after a long sleep), into a place where we can destroy with equal rapaciousness as our own planet.

If I was going to write something, perhaps it would be about turning the planet into a holiday resort, staffed by robots…

Uh oh, that’s reminiscent of another ‘Sci Fi’ series. I’ll let you guess what it is.

Past 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.

It’s a cold snap, and a do or die playoff game for the Maple Leafs

It’s an interesting expression, a cold snap, which probably would be more suited to describing freezing vegetables than the state of the weather.

But, it’s a fitting description, made all the more miserable watching the Maple Leafs playing the fourth game in the series, vying for a chance to continue their campaign for the Stanley Cup.

It’s two goals to none and no prizes for guessing who is none, and as much as I hate to concede defeat, it doesn’t look good.

So, it’s back to the weather, currently a more interesting topic of conversation.

Usually in winter, in Brisbane, it’s a lot warmer, and it’s supposed to be 26 degrees Celcius today, which would imply blue skies and sunshine.

As usual, the meteorological department has not quite got it right. Right now, its just past midday, and the temperature is 22 degrees centigrade, but there’s no sunshine, so there’s a ‘feels like’ factor here, and my guess is it’s more like 12 or 13.

And, just as I stepped out to check the weather, and the Blue Jack scored another goal. It’s now 3-0.

It’s looking very grim looking in this direction which is towards the ocean.

Looking the other way, there’s a ray of hope with slivers of blue sky trying to break through the cloud cover.

Where are the Maple Leafs?  One gets the feeling right now, they’re just going through the motions.

Oh, well, back to the weather…

Meanwhile…

Hang on, we just scored a goal and it’s 3-1. Hope springs eternal? The player I follow, Nylander, scores.

Now we’re playing with an empty net, sometimes a dangerous thing to do. OK, I just managed to catch my breath, and we just scored another goal. The score is now 3-2.

How many players can you fit in a net, because everyone is in the Blue Jackets net? Attacking. Attacking.

Yes, another score. It’s now 3-3.

I can’t believe it, and neither can the commentators. I don’t think anyone can, but if there had been spectators, there’d almost be a riot right about now.

So, we now have over time.

So, time to calm down, get a drink and a snack, and get back in time for the fourth period.

Of course, we expected the Maple Leafs would continue with their late boost in momentum, but things sorts of evened up as the minutes’ tick by.

Thinking that it was bogged down, I left the room to do something else, and, lo and behold, Mathews gets a goal and we won.

Typical.

Then I went outside and the weather had changed, more along the lines of what the weather bureau predicted.

Or was it because the Maple Leafs won?

Let’s hope the sun keeps shining because there’s another game to go.