Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Supporting the rubber industry

There comes a time in the life of every conscientious parent (or one who stands in loco parentis) when action must be taken. Thus to last night when Andrew seemed unusually pleased with himself, after an evening spent with his girlfriend. I swear he exuded self satisfaction. As I said to Sonya later that evening, he had every appearance of someone who'd gotten lucky!

Perhaps it's too late; perhaps the horse has already bolted, but it seemed to me that perhaps it was time for concrete action. Thus to the supermarket this afternoon, to purchase the kind of thing that was once almost impossible to purchase without a marriage certificate.

Indeed, I remember once swaggering into the local chemist (pharmacy) to purchase a pack of the unmentionables. A young lady (this was about 1975 so she's most likely a grandmother by now) assisted me in my purchase. As I left the cash register the male chemist, a dour looking man in his late fifties, took me aside and requested that I make any further such purchases through him and not embarass the young lady.

I don't recall her being all that embarassed; certainly rather less than I was.

Now it's one thing to purchase em for ones own use; quite another to purchase them on behalf of ones underage stepson. Especially when it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that some moral simpleton may take both exception and action. It's no acccident that I'm very careful about certain things in this household.

On the other hand, we always have Morgan as the example, par excellence, of what can go wrong when one buries ones head in the sand. I discussed the issue with Sonya (he's her son after all) and she was in complete agreement with my proposed course of action.

So I took him aside after dinner, outside and just the two of us, and gave him a present accompanied by a very short speech. I wasn't particularly embarassed but I well remember being 17 years old. Indeed, I had the experience, as I've related before, of my mother taking me aside at not much older than Andrew now is, and her handing me a pack of the same items we're not talking about, with much the same speech. 'We're not encouraging you, Andrew, but we're realists. Take care.'

I give him credit; he wasn't much embarassed either and he had the grace to say 'thank you'.

I think he'll turn out just fine!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Back in 1995, our movie safely finished (4 years previously), and 'Scarless: The Unseen Bits' (the inevitable making of movie) finally finished and shown, Gary, Heino and myself found ourselves lacking an excuse to get together every Sunday.

As I'm the only drinker of the three that meant beer was out and, so far as I can tell, Heino's the only one of us interested in sport, so that was out as well. We certainly never went bowling!

So we invented other excuses. I remember one Sunday morning they arrived at my house, computers at the ready and we networked them and played Hearts. You have to remember that this was before the Internet was easily available and when the idea of networking a couple of home computers was quite the novelty. Indeed, Heino was asking me just the other week if I remembered why they kept bringing their computers over; he recalls going to the extent of making a crate with styrofoam cutouts for it but can't remember just what we did once they were at my place. Alas, I can't remember either. Surely we didn't play Hearts every weekend?

We *did* drive down to Williamstown frequently, to get fish and chips and wander down along the beach, even in winter. Since much of our movie had been shot in Williamstown there was much reminiscence which led to the idea of us hosting our own late night TV talk show, to be called 'Boring'. The premise was simple; there'd be a large couch or two, the show would run for three hours and there'd be a studio audience to hang on our every word!

As for those words? It would be unscripted and we'd just talk the same rubbish we talked every Sunday afternoon together!

Such hubris.

Needless to say it didn't happen. Just an idea to kick around of a Sunday afternoon.

You'll remember I mentioned a week or so ago[^] that I was planning to be in Australia in September 2010 for the 20th anniversary revival of our movie? (It'll actually be just short of the 19th anniversary but round numbers are so much better).

Heino and Gary have been, it seems, spending an inordinate amount of time on the project. Methinks Heino is much more the driving force; when we were making the 'making of' movie alluded to at the start of this entry Heino moved away briefly, to Sydney, for a job, leaving Gary and I to continue in his absence. Upon his return a quarter of a year or so later he was disgusted to learn that nothing had been done. I still have the 'Highly Commended Award for Sustained Inactivity' he presented Gary and I with hanging on my wall.

I foresee much chivvying about the soundtrack over the next 18 months. Indeed, Heino asked me just a week or so ago whether I'd started writing it. I had to answer no; I'm writing a Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra right now. But I'll make a start soon, I promise!

I hope to have most of it in at least rough sketch by September 2009 when I'm next to be in Australia, so we can argue about it.

Meanwhile, there are plans for the inevitable DVD release of the movie! Back in 1991, when we premiered it to an audience consisting entirely of cast, crew, friends and family, we ran off VHS copies (and a few Beta copies for luddites like myself). Those copies contained only the movie.

Not the DVD! Nope, this is to contain the movie aforesaid, also the 'making of' aforesaid, a gallery of stills we shot during production, a copy of the script and a directors commentary. Now in reality Heino was the director; Gary and I get a credit each and Gary's is probably deserved, mine really isn't.

When I heard these plans I couldn't resist commenting that it sounded rather like the directors commentary was going to be our only chance at making 'Boring'.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


When I lived in Melbourne I had personalised number plates (car tags). MANDO. It's one habit we Australians seem to have, when abbreviating someones name, to stick an O on the end. Thus, when abbreviating my name from Manderson it becomes Mando and was for quite some years. Of course, when I was a short trousered urchin, my friends of the time would tee hee as they abbreviated it to Mandy and I endured that particular cognomen for a number of years. Little bastards. We'll pass over any similarly juvenile 'humour' in which I might have participated!

Now I wouldn't want you to think *I* went out and got those number plates! Nope, they were my 40th birthday present from my second wife. I was, however, inordinately pleased at receiving them and would say, to any who cared to listen, that I 'used to think people with personalised plates were wankers and now I are one'. You can tell that my standards of humour haven't improved appreciably over the last half century!

A couple of years later I awoke one Saturday morning and went out to the car, to find someone had left a note under the wiper. Uh huh. Did this mean some neighbour objected to the way I parked? Nope, it was from one Campbell Manderson offering to buy my plates, at a premium, as he'd always wanted MANDO as his rego.

A pity then that he had left no phone number, no address and I had never heard of him! Might have been able to turn a tidy profit, especially as my second wife and I had parted ways by then.

I notice that the tradition continues; someone left a note on my previous post, Three dags[^] wanting to get a quote or two from yours truly about a post I wrote way back in 2006 about Adams Ribs[^], for possible inclusion in an article to be published in the Chicago Sun Times.

Such a pity then that the journalist posted as Anonymous and I have no way to reply save through these pages.

I'd love to be quoted. Contact me at rob (dot) manderson (at) gmail (dot) com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Three dags

Photobucket (the site I use to host images) was down when I wrote the last post. Here's a shot of three dags.

Left to right, Gary, Moi and Heino. Can you tell we get more sunlight where I live?

A new countdown

started last night. Uh huh, counting down until the *next* trip to Australia, which is happening a year earlier than I anticipated.

It all began the last time I was there, half a year ago. Heino and I tracked Gary down; found the bastard two days before I had to return to Phoenix! Gary, if you've forgotten (or haven't poked around in the archives under 'our movie' over there --->) was the third member of the triumvirate involved in the making of the movie aforesaid.

Heino and I were the other two.

We spent a wonderful evening, the three of us, watching our movie and reminiscing. As the senior member I wussed out around 3 AM - I was falling asleep. I understand the two of them kept at it for another two hours! On the Sunday Gary met us at the airport as I was leaving and we got a shot of the three of us.

Well, just because I was condemned to a long flight back home to the US did not mean that Heino and Gary were. They, it seems, repaired to Garys house and continued the reminiscence.

Now you have to understand that Heino, in particular, just can't let sleeping dogs lie. I reckon he'd see one in proximity to a stick and just have to use the latter to poke the former. Hence the latest project - the digital remaster, in widescreen dolby thundervision, of our movie. I've been roped in to write the soundtrack. I'm not sure I *can* write 47 minutes of music of interest to a general audience but I'll sure try.

Hence the planning of a trip back to Australia in September 2010 - we reckon we might have finished the remastering by then! Besides, it's always good, on projects such as this, to have a deadline.

Things have proceeded to the point where they've already selected the venue, the Sun Theatre[^] in Yarraville. They couldn't have chosen a better venue! It is, after all, one the cinemas I used to frequent with my mates back in the early 60's when they still did Saturday afternoon matinees. If you can be bothered clicking on the link you'll see that it's moved on a bit since those days; what was once one large cinema is now 6, each named after cinemas of the area from the 30's on, most of them now closed and most of them once enjoying my patronage as a small urchin!

It seemed to me, a couple of weeks ago, that it might be fun for Sonya to come with me to Australia this time (September 2010). Thus to some planning. Minor details such as how much it will cost!

Now you can't actually book a flight that far ahead so we thought we could at least get some indicative pricing by looking at pricing for September 2009. It didn't come as much of a surprise; approx $1800 each, return via United, a little less on Air New Zealand, a bit more on Qantas and a staggering $3400 each on Singapore Airlines. Chalk that up to Australian Federal Government policy over the last quarter century; there were only two airlines permitted to fly direct from the US to Australia (Qantas and United). Air New Zealand get around that by going through New Zealand, which is, at least, in the right direction. Singapore? That's a bit out of the way but they're Star Alliance so frequent flyer points accrue.

Last week Delta Airlines announced their fares for US to Australia, commencing in July. Uh huh, that 25 year old (at least) policy is relaxing a tad and by the end of the year there should be 4 airlines doing US to Australia direct. The opening fare was very tempting, $A777 return. Translated into US currency somewhat cheaper again. I started thinking, wouldn't it be great to go, alone, a year earlier *and* go again in 2010 with Sonya?

Of course there's a fly in the ointment. Ain't that always the way? This particular winged insect in the unguent is that the quoted price is Los Angeles to Sydney. Heck, all I want is an extra hours flight at each end, Phoenix to Los Angeles and Sydney to Melbourne.

Deltas offering is ridiculous. To fly from Phoenix to Sydney on Delta I'd have to do the following - Phoenix to Atlanta, Atlanta to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Sydney and then I'm on my own as far as Delta are concerned. Same on the way back. Total travel time not counting the Sydney Melbourne leg? 33 hours each way! Delta don't even list *my* Melbourne as a destination; they only have the one in Florida.

Thus, last night, I found myself juggling itineraries on three airlines, one to get from Phoenix to Los Angeles, Delta itself to Sydney and then the parlous choices in Australia to get to Melbourne. Considerable scheduling difficulties (do I really want to try and catch a 5AM flight out of Phoenix?) and the ticket price was starting to add up.

On a whim I checked the United pricing again. And bugger me drunk if the fare hadn't dropped a thousand dollars in one week. Amazing what a new entrant to the market can do! On top of that, it's the familiar route, on the one airline, from Phoenix to Melbourne and back. Drop off my baggage in Phoenix and worry about it again in Melbourne!

Some quick emails back and forth to Heino (I *do* impose on the poor bastard) and it was settled. I clicked the booking button and went to bed with visions of fish and chips, dim sims and the whole rigamarole dancing in my head.

Oh, the countdown? 184 days at the time of writing. Not that I'm counting!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A misunderstanding

Andrew had been rather secretive a couple of months ago, something I put down to being 17 years of age. It turns out that I wasn't far off the mark - there's a girlfriend in the picture!

This fact emerged slowly, at least from what I could observe. You understand that I, being a curmudgeon, have certain ideas regarding how far one should go in accomodating ones step kids, and that does not include ferrying the little bastards half a mile when they could perfectly well walk it.

Thus Sonya had met the young lady in question well before I did. Suspecting that perhaps Andrew was concerned that I might embarass him I promised that I would do no such thing; even if she came to dinner on Sunday night[^]!

And so to this week; when I arrived home from the office on Tuesday evening it was to find Andrews computer strangely neglected and nary a sign of World of Warcraft. This is so unusual an occurrence that I asked Sonya if he was feeling well. Nope, it turned out that he was up in his room with a girl! Ah ha!

A few minutes later they emerged.

She's cute. As an aside, I always like to lie about the meaning of that word. I'll describe myself as being cute and when the listener, understandably, demurs, I say 'well, if you'd read the dictionary you'd know it really means 'ugly but interesting''. How cute that no one has ever called me on it!

As another aside I couldn't help but notice that Sonya would call out to Andrew every so often as he lurked upstairs with her. I understand that Sonya even barged in on them once without knocking. Apparently the imminent arrival of a second grandchild courtesy of Morgan has taught her something!

The next morning at the office I mentioned having met the damsel and commented that she was 'cute as'. Shocks all round! How dare I notice the damsels backside let alone think it cute.

After laughing uproariously I pointed out that had I meant that I'd have said 'cute arse' and *not* 'cute as'.

Really, after half a year of my accent you'd think they'd know better!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The triumph of optimism

over experience.

You'll remember that I mentioned, a couple of weeks ago, that our cat Tiny had died. I wasn't kidding when I said that losing him had hit me harder than the loss of any other cat; I still can't believe he's dead. If I weren't such a hard headed realist who doesn't believe in the concept of 'fairness' in life (ain't no such thing) I'd say that it was most unfair that Tiny died. But he did and one copes as best one can.

Krylenko seems to have missed him as well. I try and avoid the worse excesses of anthropomorphism where my cats are concerned; what do I really know of what goes on inside their heads? Nonetheless, he *did* seem to be exploring the places Tiny frequented, perhaps wondering where his buddy was.

Sonya was hit as hard as I was when Tiny died. Possibly harder; she was the one who cried the tears though I have to admit I got damn close a few times. Still do if the truth must be admitted.

Eight or ten days after Tiny's death the subject was broached; should we get another youngster 'so Krylenko will have someone to play with'?

Well you know me. Cat? Good! I wasn't opposed to the idea. I was a trifle concerned at the suggestion of getting another Himalayan though. Not because Himalayans are genetically predisposed to Kidney disease or through any other prejudice against the breed; nope, this was sheer practicality. Another Himalayan would look rather more like Tiny than any other breed and it's not a long step from there to expecting the newcomer to *be* Tiny reincarnated.

When Tiny died the vet asked us if we wanted his body back. Well no, this is a condo and we don't own the land outside the walls; where would we bury him? Did we want his ashes? Apart from a certain cynicism (how would we know the dust we were handed *was* Tinys) I also wondered what we'd do with them? Make a shrine of them?

Call me hard hearted if you will but that's just not my way. I haven't had a lot of experience, yet, with the deaths of those I knew, but what little I've had suggests that it's better to remember them than to guard a vial of ashes.

I still remember my surprise, nearly twenty years ago, when walking through Melbourne Cemetery and hearing a tinny tune near a grave. Careful listening pinpointed the source; a birthday card propped up next to a marble headstone. Yes, I do remember the date and the name but I'm not going to mention either here; the date on which I found the card was a couple of days after the birthday of the person buried there; the card was for his 21st birthday. Curiousity led me back there a year later and sure enough, there was a new card.

Sometimes you have to just let go.

Much better, overall, that the newcomer *not* be subjected to disappointed expectation.

Krupskaya[^] has lived with us for 12 days. She's a Tabby about 8 months old and very comfortable with the humans who live here. She's also very playful, as befits a youngster.

Would that she were so comfortable with the other cats! Imagine how poor Krylenko felt when he trotted up to the newcomer, full of goodwill and friendliness (he's the friendliest cat I've ever known) and his reward for his pains was snarls and spitting! Quite the shock!

I can't blame her; she'd spent time at the 'animal shelter' in a cage waiting for someone to come rescue her.

But it's getting better. Tonight Krylenko ignored the newcomer and did his usual burying of the nose in my armpit with the newcomer a mere foot away on the couch. She, for her part, regarded him benevolently and didn't feel the need to snarl and spit.

I have high hopes that they'll be playing by the end of the week.