Thursday, 28 June 2007

Meme tagged

Paul has tagged me to share eight things about myself. Well then.

1. I spent four years at University studying Science and Mathematics. While largely useless in my current career (except, oddly, some of the maths) it was hella fun.

2. My last appearance on stage was in full makeup as a clown. That was over 11 years ago. I used to do a lot of theatre back in the day, in fact . . .

3. I was recently married to a beautiful lady whom I met when we were both in a production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. She's still my queen.

4. My cat Milligan, named after Spike, displays the same sorts of manic and depressive tendencies as his namesake. He is, however, yet to produce a groundbreaking radio comedy.

5. My lovely wife just made me a lovely Turkish pizza for dinner.

6. I'm doing a "Manager as Coach" training course tomorrow. Not sure what it involves, but I'm treating it like the weekend has started a day early. Is that wrong?

7. I think Battlestar Galactica is the best show on television.

8. I like portello.

Monday, 25 June 2007


A little cottage industry in the US has sprung up recently, selling buttons and bumper stickers bearing the simple logo "1/20/09".

In Ameri-speak this is 20 January 2009, and the date of the next presidential inauguration. Specifically, this date represents the official end of George Dubya's reign. Apparently it's now a mainstream activity in the US to count down to the date when Bush Jr will officially no longer be president.

While I look forward to this as much as anyone, it's sad that there is such a sense of resignation to the idea that nothing can be achieved between now and then. People in the US seem to be marking time until that date, with the feeling is that only after this date the economy and the environment will be back on the agenda, and only then something can be done.

What's going on? The US country is supposedly a democracy, isn't it? Don't the people decide how it should be run? When the universal opinion is that the current administration is no good, why can't it be replaced?

Here in Australia we have something resembling some balance. The elected Government can be sacked by the royally-appointed Governor-General if things get out of hand. I suppose the Congress could impeach Bush, but they'd have to get some intern to give him a blowjob. And none of them seem keen.

Some democracy. And this is the peculiar brand of democracy that the US wishes to foist, by force if necessary, on the rest of the world.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

In the studio (Part 2)

Here's some more photos of our recent recording session.

Robb and his mandolin

Podge and the recently-repaired lagerphone

Stopping the music briefly to pose

And again

Something's funny, apparently

Could be this

All together now

And . . . . stop laughing . . . . Now.

Songs may be downloaded freely and without guilt from

Here you may also read the remarkable and truish history of Tom Black and the Caesars, as told by our good friend Budge.

Monday, 18 June 2007

The price of charity

A man was shot and killed in the street behind my office building this morning. He was helping a stranger in trouble, and got a bullet in the chest for his efforts. Looking out the window at the rear of the building, I could see the sheet covering his body.

It's odd that mere proximity can make such a difference to the way we feel about this sort of thing. I didn't know this man, or any of the other people involved. They are as unknown to me as any of the myriad people tragically killed every day. One man killed maybe makes this less of a tragedy than the Virginia Tech shootings earlier this year, but this has affected me so much more.

It may be as simple as the feeling that it could have been me. I walk past that corner all the time, and like to think that I too would have stepped in to help. But like anyone else who hears today's story, I'll certainly be more hesitant now.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of the man who died. I cannot imagine anything worse than knowing that a loved one died in pain. Or in fear. I hope the fact that he died heroically, and that his name will be revered for it, will be of some comfort to them.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Tom Black Online

Apologies for lowering the tone with that previous post. Tee hee.

In an attempt to undo the damage, the official website of Tom Black and the Caesars can now be found at

That should raise the standards a little.

Thanks to Kate for the amazing artwork.


Saturday, 16 June 2007

What's in the box?

This has had me giggling for days.
Who knew Justin Timberlake did funny?

***Adult Content Warning****

Friday, 15 June 2007

News For Nerds

Here's some of the interesting things that got my attention this week.

The Atlantis mission is up there sticking some solar panels on the International Space Station. And they took a copy of Firefly with them. Well, you would, wouldn't you. Nothing to look at out the windows.

Now this is cool. The kilogram, which for years has been defined by a lump of metal sitting in a Paris vault, is to be redefined as the mass of a specific number of silicon atoms. My rough calc puts the number at about 21 septillion (that's 24 zeroes, kids).

Some uber-geeks are working on producing wireless electricity. Because apparently we need more electromagnetic radiation in the air.

Some new and interesting uses for mathematics this week. Now it can be used to predict the outcome of war. I wonder if we can rig the methodology so it always works out that both sides lose.

And finally . . .

A second season of Jericho has been officially confirmed after CBS caved in to formidable fan pressure. Well, it's sort of a half-second-season. Hooray.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

O Republic Where Art Thou

M'learned colleague Budge has responded to my previous post with a lovely discourse on monarchies and republics.

He makes a number of good points, one being that no-one who wants power should be allowed to have it. I couldn't agree more. And I must admit that hereditary monarchy is a great way to achieve this.

I also like the really-big-hat model.

Reading back over my last post, I realised I hadn't made any statement about my feelings on the issue. So here goes.

For Australia, I like the idea of dropping our links with the monarchy, but it's very much a symbolic thing. The monarchy is nothing more than a symbol for us and we are nothing more than an irrelevancy to them. Anyone who has been shuttled through the Aliens entrance at Heathrow knows this. And I believe it’s a symbol that can be changed quite painlessly.

(Begin rant. We've been fortunate in this generation that we have had a reasonably benign monarchy. How many monarchists would we have right now if Lizzie were another Richard III ? You see, I'm always a little nervous that they might turn. Surely all that inbreeding can't be a good thing. End rant.)

Now, I don't want to see any major change in the way things are done at the moment, and I find the idea of a directly-elected president quite rancorous. In fact, I voted yes in the 1999 referendum particularly because I didn’t like the direct-election model.

A directly elected president would, by definition, have to be a politician. Further, they'd either be aligned with the party in power, or aligned with the Opposition. Either way, it would be intensely irritating for we observers and constantly distracting them from their actual duties which are (as m'learned colleague pointed out) cutting ribbons and smiling awkwardly at sick kiddies.

The candidate should have to be agreed on by both sides of Parliament. Under that model, you're going to get someone not aligned with either major party, politically harmless and basically irrelevant. That'd be perfect.

Also, I’m not a big fan of the title “President”. It’s too American, and after Dubya, has too many bad associations. I think whoever gets the gig should be able to choose their own title. I’d be “The Dude”.

Your Majesties, your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. Please welcome to the stage . . . The Dude.

I will be voting yes in a referendum that has the simple question "Do you want Australia to be a Republic?", but it is a bit of a punt.

It will be done in the fervent hope that after all is said and done, it's just a re-branding exercise.

I want to see the Queen's Birthday long weekend changed to The Long Weekend. Dude.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Happy Birthday Liz

I'm on record as not being a huge fan of the monarchy (mainly because it doesn't seem to be a huge fan of us). But I do appreciate a day off.

So I think we should all take a moment to think of Lizzie today, given that most of us have had the day off in her honour.

On ya Lizzie. Here's to you.

Now that that's out of the way, a couple of things occur to me.

1. There's a better-than-even chance the ALP will win the Federal election later this year.

2. While they've been a bit quiet about it lately, I'm tipping another Republic Referendum will promptly follow an ALP victory.

3. There's a fair chance the Yes vote will prevail (assuming they don't ask another stupid question that splits the Republic supporters . . . and why would they?)

All this leads me to the inescapable conclusion: this could very well be our last Queen's Birthday long weekend.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

In the studio (Part 1)

Yesterday Tom Black and the Caesars hit the PBS studios in Collingwood to lay down some tunes. It was a great day and a great experience.

Tracks will be available for download . . . but in the meantime, here's some photos.

Budge and Robb getting funky

Podge at the mixing desk. Note the Hulk Hogan doll.

Our awesome production guy Darren.

I believe I've mentioned before how rock I am. Well, here's proof.

Budge doing the beautiful guitar bit in Ciao. Just wait till you hear it.

In the mixing room. It's a little crowded.

Robb in a heartfelt moment.

Stay tuned. More photos to follow.

Friday, 8 June 2007

More Tintin

Spielberg and Jackson could do worse than check out this sensational work for inspiration.

*** Extreme Language Warning ***

Now that's funny, kids.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Vale Ferrari

A little black cat joined our family as a stray in 1990. She was already a year or two old (we think) and for all that she was keen to attach herself to us, she was never all that affectionate. At least initially. Sarah named her Ferrari.

Ferrari was happy to be fed, and happy to laze around on our back veranda, but she wasn't that keen to be picked up, or even approached. I often wondered if she had been hurt by someone . . . if she had joined our family because it seemed a safer option than wherever it was she had come from.

Over the years she seemed to mellow. A succession of feline companions (Gizmo, Vienna and Caviar) took their turns hassling her, but Ferrari always bore it all with great grace and patience. (I'm not sure that's 100% true, actually, but this is an obit, so whatever). And as she got older she grew more and more affectionate.

It's noteworthy that of the four of them, Ferrari was the last to go. After all, she was well and truly the oldest. We lost Vienna a few years ago when she was hit by a car. Caviar just up and disappeared one day, never to return. Gizmo succumbed to old age (he was 16) late last year, and now Ferrari has gone too.

It's funny how these little creatures can become such a part of you, and such a focus for your affection. It's not just their helplessness; their reliance on you. For me, cats have an amazing way of making you believe in their superiority. They manage to convince you that they deserve the attention you lavish on them. You just know that you shouldn't expect any payback in the form of affection or otherwise. And it's not important. That's not why you do it.

For a lot of people, that's why they prefer dogs. But this, to me, in the centre of the cat's appeal. It's not the Master/Pet relationship you have with a dog. It's more like a friendship. That a cat chooses to be with you is very special. To earn the trust and affection of such an individualistic animal really means a lot.

This was what made Ferrari particularly special. We didn't go to a store and choose her. She chose us. As a wandering stray, she could have gone anywhere, but she saw something in our family that she decided was worth staying for.

Like all cats, she could be grumpy. And dismissive. And at times, very skittish. But like all cats, it was just cool having her around. Even in her final arthritic days she carried herself with an elegance and grace that warmed my heart.

Mum and Dad made her final weeks comfortable and warm. She was propped up on cushions in front of the heater, food and water close by. This had to be as close to paradise as a cat could get. Then she went quietly in her sleep on Friday night.

Ferrari, thanks for choosing to stay with us. You made our lives a little better and I really hope we made your life all you wanted it to be.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Back on the blog again

Wow, it's been a slack week-and-a-half. But it's a new month, and there's a new resolve to hit that blog and hit it hard. Or something.

Maybe it's just Friday and I'm feeling the weekend stretching out before me like a big stretchy weekendy thing.

It's been a hell of a week, to be honest. Kate finished up at Andorra today, and begins at KCX next Wednesday. Being headhunted after two months in the industry is pretty good.

I could go into great detail about how Kate feels about this. But then you never know who's reading, do you? And quite frankly you can ask her yourself. Or she can get her own goddamn blog.

Love ya babe.

Anyhoo, Tom Black and the Caesars (aka The Band) will be hitting the studio to lay down some tracks next weekend.

(See how I can speak the speak? I am so goddamn rock.)

As a result we've panicked and decided that our usual approach of jamming every 4-6 weeks is probably insufficient. So we practiced last weekend. We're practicing this weekend. And we'll have another one midweek.

In related news, the lagerphone was sadly damaged last week when its precarious position leaning against the balcony door resulted in a fall onto a hard surface and the snapping of the handle.

I'm not pointing fingers, but the culprits know who they are. And it's not my fault for making the lagerphone from a weak piece of pine and making the handle too thin. It's just not.

A quick trip to Bunnings last night secured the necessaries for repair, so we'll see how it goes. Better be good. After all, there's a record to be made.

Naturally, recordings of the band will be available where all good pirate rock is sold.

Which for the moment will be just at our gigs.