Yaller Cat

Forget about the racial overtones of that Yaller Cat title – this is about the hot rod show, yaller cats attract the eye and stand out even in the dodgiest hall lighting.

In fact I have always been a little surprised that our local taxi industry did not settle upon the colour for the fleets of cars here in Perth – oh, there are yellow taxis in Melbourne , but the bulk of them out here are silvertops, black, or the ubiquitous white. I suspect that a lot of times the colour was chosen with an eye to resale of the vehicle…but by the time a taxi is ready to move on, the buyers need to beware of a lot more than the colour of the body. Note that the Japanese use the dear old Toyota Crown to this day.

The entry car for the WAHRS was, of course, a depiction of the yellow ’32 Ford coupe from ” American Graffiti “. Further in was our heading car with a yellow that came closer to Trainer Yellow than to Lemon Yellow. The ’39 Chev was probably somewhere in between, though the Royal Agricultural Society lighting is always a factor in any judgement you make. You’re best to view a colour out in the sunlight before deciding what shade you’re actually seeing – it would be disastrous to pick paint under the artificial light.

The original Mooneyes rail dragster is also probably as pure a yellow as you could get and certainly seems to match the memories I have of the model kits of the time.

And finally, note that yellow may feature a lot in our state’s team colours but it is also popular in Victoria and New South Wales.

 

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The Local Traveller

World travelling, we read, is a marvellous thing. It is said to broaden our minds and make us one with humanity.

I expect everyone who has ever stood in line to get their baggage checked onto an international flight…and then stood in line to board, use the toilets, get off again, pass the immigration and customs desk, and then collect the remains of their luggage has an appreciation of the delights of the experience. Then as they are attended by taxi drivers, desk clerks, tour guides, cafe owners, street beggars, local militiamen, and all the varied members of the aforementioned humanity, they get a warm, fuzzy feeling.

In most cases it is a yeast infection.

I have done my share of it, but as I’ve not re-enlisted in the Traveller’s Regiment and I’ve kept my discharge papers, I feel I’m safe for the foreseeable future. The world may turn, but I’m required neither to push it around nor grease the pintles.

But I do like the occasional drive in the country or air hop to another city in Australia. And, contrary to the overseas experience, I find the actual travel quite relaxing.

In the air, whether you are in the Business seat or Cattle Class, you are provided with a number of entertainments and stimuli – videos, music, frequent meals, etc – that you are allowed to ignore. You can sit there with a book, or a notepad and a pencil, and think. No-one that you are with ever interrupts you to stick another household chore or family revelation onto you. Your phone and tablet are in Aeroplane mode which means you are officially ordered to ignore them. ( Yay! ) and even Mark Zuckerberg cannot pester you.

Likewise on the road. As a driver you need your wits about you and cannot be talking on a telephone or reading a Mills and Boon while at the wheel. You need to obey increasingly complex speed and passing laws, and to avoid those who don’t. So you are in a cocoon of concentration. Break it every hour or so for a coffee or a wee and the experience becomes all the sweeter – you might step out of your Suzuki a little more fatigued than fresh from a Boeing but then you’ve seen more interesting things on the side of the road. And if they are recently flattened, you might have been able to scoop them up for dinner.

The trick is to pick a place to go that is worthwhile going to for your own reasons – not just the fulfilment of some travel agent’s urging – and to go there at your own pace. I pick country towns that might have a friend or an event nearby or a city that has stores I’ve not visited for a while. These will cheer the heart both in prospect and retrospect, and as long as you don’t overstay your welcome, every journey will be a gain.

Overstay? An Australian capital city is worth about 1 week, a regional city three days, and a country town 2 days. If you think the time too short to justify the return journey, then combine several destinations in a round trip. In all cases, leave ’em wanting more of you rather than less…

The Best Comedian Loved The Best Audience

You’ll hear a lot of guff about comedy today – every seedy pub that can afford a microphone and a wooden stool thinks that they can find Dave Allen in their general population of drunks. They can’t, of course, but that doesn’t stop them from chopping off fingers left right and centre in the search…The audiences would be better if they were working on ears…

The guff is generally to do with how vile and obnoxious you need to be to succeed as a joke teller. There’s a fair contest to lower the standard of the art and I must say that some comedians seem to have set their hearts on the Marianas Trench. Dark, cold, and under tremendous pressure – the only creatures to be seen have bulging eyes and enormous teeth. Melbourne comedy festival pub stuff all right.

Mustn’t bag the Victorians too much – I’ve seen local fun merchants roll jokes off the deck here in Perth with the pistols set for 5000 feet and then watched them wait with a silent mic until they detonated. They were so far down by the time that happened you could barely hear the pop.

I’m sorry for the passing of the clean comic. The family comedian who could run a half-hour show on a television network each week and not lose the custom of either the audience or the advertisers. Some of the classics could crack the screen with nothing more than a dead-pan doubletake…a signature silence that you waited all week to see and laugh at.

The humourist – stand-up, sit-down, or whatever – in the days of strict television and print standards had to respect their audience and craft jokes that amused without abusing. They wanted to be laughed with, as well as at, and the very best of them went further than that – they got the love of the audience as well as the applause.

PS: The lust of the audience is also good, but make sure that your clothes can be dry cleaned.

 

 

Booze At Bar Prices

When I am out of town – interstate or just in another part of Western Australia – I enjoy a drink in a pub or a tavern. Generally just the one and usually in defiance of the elements; a cold beer in summer and a whiskey or glass of port in winter. Part of the pleasure is the drink and part the experience of the place.

I accept that the price I will pay for the drink is more than I would pay if I had the same glass in my lounge room at home. This is sound business there in the hotel and sound management in front of my own fire. In neither case is there too much money spent – my tastes do not run to champagne or exotic vintages.

But I also do not wish to find that I have paid over the knocker for something that is under the measure – I suspect that this occurs in more places than you’d think. In some cases it is economics and in others ignorance.

The watering of a bottle of anything at a pub apart from a water bottle is supposed to be illegal. It is also impossible to police – at least from the drinking side of the bar. If you order a cocktail or other mixed drink you may very well see something poured from a bottle with a complex measuring spout, but you have no idea what went into the bottle before it was attached to the apparatus. If you order at a table, you get what comes back on a tray. And you are expected to drink it and approve by leaving a tip…in some cases the only authentic part of the transaction is the government banknote you hand over – not even the change is full-strength.

Has it happened to me? Only in three cities – Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney. And only in certain establishments – If you want to be properly served in Melbourne I should recommend that you frequent The Gin Palace or Young and Jackson’s – no half measures there. Here in Perth The Mechanic’s Institute is reliable, and I am still exploring Sydney. Country pubs generally manage beer well, though their kitchens can be problematical.

In all of these occasions you can depend upon your on-board sensors to tell you whether you are getting the real deal, the deal, or the reel. If it tastes fine, it is fine and if it tastes watered-down….well, it is watered down. The saving grace about an establishment that serves a cheatin’ drink is the threshold of the doorway. You can step over it on the way out and never re-cross it.

Bad Review – Good Review

I’ve just read a post on Facebook that deals with the consequences of posting scathing reviews on social media. The writer, an expert on law, points out that people who feel themselves to have been defamed by those reviews can pursue redress in the courts – redress that may be attended with stiff legal penalties.

It is a clear warning never to say anything to anyone anywhere on the net. Even if you are currently having your stomach pumped, undergoing skin grafts, or receiving psychiatric counselling as a result of whatever happened, you are not allowed to express distress or warn others. You must leave them to discover the horrible truth themselves.

This seems somewhat at odds with the signs on public transport and the net that urge us to speak out at every opportunity. Perhaps bad food, bad service, bad goods, or bad pricing are just a little secret that we all know about but are bound to keep hidden. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more…

It seems to be even worse when you get to someone’s artistic performance – the article points out how sensitive artists are and how the scathing review may be responsible for lost income and opportunities. This again is somewhat at odds with the old adage that any publicity is good publicity. Call me cynical, but I reckon as many people can be drawn to see an artistic train wreck as may be enticed to view a masterpiece.

Anyway, I’ve taken it to heart – I canned a review of an art exhibition in Melbourne that I attended recently and will replace the raspberries I blew with oohs and ahhs. The fact that they will be for the works of a different artist in the next gallery over is neither here nor there. If you go to the place you can make your own decision – as it is all free there is little to regret anyway.

These are the ones I liked. The dogs are the work of Northern Territory artists – they are rather good, aren’t they?

A Rest Is As Good As A Change

I have been embracing change as fast as I can recently – I found out all the shops and events in Melbourne over the Australia Day weekend that had gone bust or had decided to sit out the dance. It was a little like embracing a cactus. But as it was all external to me, and nearly always replaced by something just as good, I could view it with equanimity.

I’m also embracing the changes in my circle of friendship and acquaintance as I get older. Some people vanish into other spheres of activity – some remain fixed while I vanish. In any case it is all legitimate human interaction and not really a cause for regret.

The picture alters a little when I look at some of the things that flow through social media. I am the first to admit to being poor at judging truth or falsehood – the fake news and alternative truth pundits are just that good. I do tend to default to cynicism, and I think this has helped me out somewhat in the past. I’ve not fallen foul of scammers in the internet world as yet…though there have been a couple of credit card skims a few years ago. And I rarely fall for photoshopping that is too good to be true or apocryphal stories tricked up in new words. I do not believe in the Model A Ford carburetor that does 200 miles per gallon…

I noted as well that some people do change over time, but not in a good way. Oh, no-one in my acquaintance has become a bank robber, but some have become activists for a variety of political views that have started to make me nervous. Of course they are entitled to keep whatever ideas they wish in their heads, and there is a tradition of free speech in our country that lets them air some of them…but there are a few who I think go perilously close to the legal line in their posts.

No telling how many of these things are picked up by the patrol mechanisms of the internet before they get a chance to be broadcast…and no telling how many of them are canned through complaint by other readers. I noted recently that Facebook thought one of my WordPress columns was spam…but changed their mind when I explained that it wasn’t. Perhaps it was just a brush with a bot.

I do applaud the mechanism in Facebook that allows one to “rest” a contact for a month. It gives time for cooling of temper, and when you see their posts again in 30 days you may find that whatever caused the distress was just a passing mental gas bubble.

The Little World – No, It’s The Sets

I have a confession. I build model dioramas. I build model stage sets. I build model photography layouts. I talk about them to other people, even if they patently do not want to listen. In short…

I’m a sets maniac. I setually harass people. I have a sets addiction. And I’m shameless.*

So are the Ardman people. The key to the success of all their productions may well be the milieu – the sets that surround the animated characters. And the key to the sets is the detail. The recent exhibition placed the actual layouts that had been used for production before us in plastic protective cases, but fortunately lit them well enough that the sets fiends amongst us could slaver and tremble as we looked them over.

And what a focus. As you can tell from study of the pictures, the model makers have seen a great deal of English kitchens – every detail in the thing is real. Perhaps a little rounder or a little exaggerated for effect, but the overall ensemble is completely authentic. Look at the British electricity plug – the AGA cooker – the cabinets. You could cook in this set.

You could also send out for Chinese, as the menu on the notice board indicates. You can wash up with the Furry Liquid detergent…though it looks as if there are a few things that would benefit from soaking first…and the whole ensemble is as uncomfortable and inefficient as a proper British kitchen should be.

The real pièce de resistance is the dirt and dilapidation – the whole set could have been made neater and tidier – the walls could have been flat and the door could have been freshly painted and the cooker could have been clean…and we would not have been able to connect half as much as we can to this kitchen. The great artists see the most and the greatest artists reproduce what they see remorselessly.

*Actually, I have a book of plans for small  suburban houses of the 1940’s that I only show to ” special ” visitors, and then only if the window shades are drawn. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink…