Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quote: Robert F Kennedy

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

Robert F Kennedy (1925-1968)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

News Item: F***ing Hell Beer

Caution:  The following item has risque language. 
It is a reprint from a story in today's which, in turn, was a reprint from The Sun.  It can be found at:

Brewing scandal over F***ing beer

Published: 29 Mar 2010

A CHEEKY brewer has won the right to market a beer named after the Austrian village of F**king.

The European Patent Office originally rejected the brand 'F**king Hell beer' saying it contained a swear word. But after the brewery proved the village of F**king actually existed, EU officials were forced to back down. Brewery spokesman Stefan Fellenberg said: "In German the word for a lager beer is a Helles Beer, so we have also patented the name F**king Hell, which means lager from F**king of course. I don't understand why the patents office think of something else. They must have dirty minds."

Stefan added that if F**king Hell beer was a success they planned to open similar small breweries in the neighbouring German towns of Kissing, Petting, W**k and Piss.

Quote: Beryl Bainbridge (1934 - )

"The older one becomes the quicker the present fades into sepia and the past looms up in glorious technicolour."

Origins: Fire In the Hole

Anyone who watches TV, especially Mythbusters, will have heard the expression “Fire in the hole”. It is usually called out before a blast or explosion is deliberately detonated, warning those present to take cover.

Having wondered why someone pushing down the plunger on a detonator that looks like an upright shoebox would shout out “Fire in the hole” rather than “Watch out” or something similar, I looked it up.

It turns out that it is a leftover from the days when armies fought by walking towards each other into cannon fire and rifle shot, playing drums and fifes. You can see such battle scenes in Barry Lyndon.

The cannon in those days were simple. You took a big metal tube and put gunpowder into it. Then you put in a cannonball or lots of metal shrapnel. Then you put wadding down the tube, tamping it down with a big stick with a big lump on the end (impressed with my military jargon and technical talk?).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Logos: Formula 1 and LSO

What with the Formula 1 race being held  in Melbourne on Sunday, it is appropriate to present another logo containing a hidden item.  (Other logos with hidden items have been emailed in the past and will be posted again on this blog in the future).

The Formula 1 logo uses a black F and a  red numeral 1.  The white space in between also creates the numeral 1.

Here is another such logo, that of the London Symphony Orchestra.  At first glance the logo is composed of the letters LSO but a second look will show a stylisaed depiction of a conductor with a baton: 

Quote: Joe Valachi (1903-1971)

“You can imagine my embarrassment when I killed the wrong guy.”

Joe Valachi, US gangster, testifying in 1963 to a US Senate committee about the Mafia. The murder, carried out in prison in 1962, was with a pipe from a nearby construction site and was of a man, Joe Saupp, who Valachi had mistaken for a Mafia member by the name of Joseph DiPalermo.


Robert Culp (1930-2010)

Robert Culp, American actor, died last week outside his home after falling. He was 79.

He is best remembered for partnering Bill Cosy in I Spy as a pair of American undercover spies. Cosby played a world class tennis player and Culp was his coach.

None of the reports that I read about his death mentioned one of his best, but little seen, movies, Turk 182. In that movie Culp plays the role of Mayor Tyler, the Mayor of New York, who is the subject of Timothy Hutton’s attempts to embarrass him politically through the use of graffiti. If you can get the movie anywhere, it’s worth a look. It also helped promote the popularity of graffiti, which is not an approving  recommendation, only an observation.

The following is a scene from Get Smart (I loved that show) in which he plays the waiter…

 The Bill (1983-2010)

“You’re axed, me lad.”

It was announced last week that The Bill has been cut by ITV, after 27 years on the air. Once the top rating show in Britain, its viewers had fallen from a healthy 7m to 3.5m. Attempts to revive the show with faster action and a later timeslot didn’t work, although in Australia the show still rates well and episodes will be seen until September.

Unlike most cop shows, The Bill showed ordinary situations and scenery, often dingy Council estates and depressed areas, in a realistic manner. Also unlike other cop shows, instead of focusing on one particular group of police, it showed the activities of all the police during one shift.

The following is a montage of pics from the show, plus the various opening themes..

Btw, the term The Bill  is a shortening of The Old Bill, a slang term referring to the police.  The exact origin of that term is unknown but the website for the UK metropolitan Police gives 13 possible derivations:


Byter Charles states that the Luv Gov (item posted 25.03.2010) was not properly quoted in that his aide had not heard the Gov properly.  Governor Stanford did not say that he was off to hike the Appalachian Trail, he said "I'm off to find some Argentinian tail."

Music: He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss) / The Crystals

Sometimes choices made turn out to be real duds. Witness, for example, the comment by the Emperor Franz Josef to Mozart about The Marriage of Figaro: “Too many notes, Mozart, too many notes.” No one remembers what else he did, only that he told Mozart there were too many notes.

Sometimes the Streaker’s Defence applies. That defence comes from the words spoken by one of the first streakers to be prosecuted in Sydney, back in the 1960’s. On being asked by the Magistrate why he had done it, the young man mumbled that “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

So it is with music: what seemed like a good idea at the time can turn out to be a real loser because events or attitudes change, or because it should have been thrown out at inception.

I mention this because in the early 1960’s there was a girl group known as the Crystals, who had hits with He’s a Rebel and Da Doo Ron Ron. Early in their career, after some initial limited success and before their later hits,  they recorded a clunker called He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss).

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Art: The Archibald and Dobell

The winner of the Archibald Prize has been announced, Sam Leach for a portrait of Tim Minchin. I personally find it a bit of a ho-hum painting but each to his own.

The Archibald is today regarded as the foremost portraiture prize in Australia (a $50,000 prize), although it is being rivalled by the Moran National Portrait Prize ($100,000 prize, the richest portrait prize in Australia and in the world).

As a digression, an artist, Roger Akinin, once saw a photo of me asleep on a couch with cats perched on me. Although I didn't know him, he asked to paint that image and for me to sit for him. I agreed and, whilst the portrait was submitted but not accepted as a finalist for the Archibald, it did make the final 5 for the 2000 Moran National Portrait Prize.

(Click on pics to enlarge)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Origins: Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Sometimes a respected political career is ruined or tainted by an adulterous affair, leaving the politician remembered for the wrong reasons. More importantly for us, it often enriches the English language in the process.

In 1983 Liberal Member Michael Hodgman called PM Bob Hawke a “retired boudoir bandicoot”. Bill Clinton may have been a fine President but his Presidency will forever be remembered for his 1998 words “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” And who will forget 1993’s Camillagate, with Charles declaring “I'll just live inside your trousers” and stating that he wanted to come back as Camilla’s tampon. Shakespeare would be envious.

In June 2009 it was the turn of Mark Sanford, the Governor of South Carolina. Mooted as a future Presidential candidate, Sanford became Governor in 2002 after serving 5 years in Congress.

Iconic Photographs: American Girl in Italy / Ruth Orkin

(Click on picture to enlarge)

The Italian café near Burwood Local Court has the above photograph, enlarged and framed, on the wall.

It is by a an American photographer, Ruth Orkin (1921-1985) and it is her signature image and most famous photograph, American Girl in Italy.

The café is favoured by the legal fraternity and recently I overheard a barrister chatting with the other members of his group. He was admiring of the photograph and said that having been to Italy, the photo was very typical of local street scenes. He said this in a laughing manner and his party made similar comments.

The photograph has always struck me as a dark, almost sinister image. The single female being eyed by 15 males, the holding of the shawl across her front almost as a protective gesture, the downcast eyes, the hands in the groins of the men to the left and the legs splayed gesture of the male on the Vespa all contribute to the feeling that the female is not so much a person but prey. I have discussed the photo with the young lady at the café who said that she felt the same way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quote: Rita Rudner (1953 - )

"I love to shop after a bad relationship. I don't know. I buy a new outfit and it makes me feel better. It just does. Sometimes I see a really great outfit, I'll break up with someone on purpose. "

Music: PC and Teacher Songs

A point made in previous posts is that things that were acceptable in the past may today be unacceptable because of changes in society, outlooks and political correctness. There are many such issues: women’s roles, racial and ethnic differences, religion.

These days there is a very strong position against teachers having relationships with students and vice versa.

There is a difference, however, in reporting in the print media when a young male student has a relationship with an older female teacher, especially if the teacher is physically attractive. The attitude of some newspapers, being a reflection of a common attitude in society in general, is that the young student “got lucky” and there is no harm done. In reality students in such situations can end up as psychologically and emotionally disturbed as young female students who are in relationships with older male teachers, with their sexual development and ability to form meaningful relationships often stunted and adversely impacted upon. It is the female student/male teacher relationships which are more widely condemned.

Songs in the past did not exhibit a condemnation of the teacher/student relationship and were much more relaxed about the issue.

Some examples:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vintage Ads

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Humour: Column 8

Column 8

An addition to those items posted a few days ago:

22 March 2010

"Nick Flowers beat me to it with his report of the Loose Women's Institute," laments Julian Mallett, of O'Connor, ACT (Column 8, last week). "But I'd like to inform you of another branch of that august organisation – in a town near where I used to live in Essex. The town's name? Ugley."

Humour: Heaven and Hell

An email from Leo...

While walking down the street one day a Member of Parliament is tragically hit by a truck and dies.

His soul arrives in Heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

'Welcome to Heaven,' says St. Peter. 'Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'

'No problem, just let me in,' says the man.

Cricket Sledges: Merv Hughes

During a tour game in South Africa, Merv Hughes was bowling to the South African captain, Hansie Cronje. It was an especially flat wicket and Cronje was hitting Hughes for fours and sixes.

After quite a number of boundaries, Hughes headed down the pitch, stood near Cronje and loudly broke wind.

He then turned to Cronje and said "Try hitting that for six."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Movie/Music: MASH / Suicide is Painless

The TV version of M*A*S*H lasted 11 years whereas the actual Korean conflict went for 3.

As with many TV series, it came from a movie, also named M*A*S*H, which was released in 1970. At a time when the US (and Australia) were involved in the Viet Nam war, M*A*S*H was director Robert Altman’s comment on that war but set in Korea.

When the movie became TV fodder, it took with it from the movie Gary Burghoff as Radar and G Wood as General Hammond. Notably it also took the theme music, played during the opening credits of the TV series but this time without without lyrics.

The haunting song,"Suicide is Painless”, was sung in the movie by Ken Prymus during the suicide scene and is also used for the opening credits.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Movie: Jeremiah Johnson / 'Liver-Eatin' Johnston

Another of my favourites although not included in my Top Ten. With a minimum of action, scenery and people, it is nonetheless an engaging and thought provoking movie, made the more interesting by being based on fact. Every scene is memorable. Images, issues and messages from the movie linger in the mind. I have not seen it on DVD although it is available. Try renting it at your local video store. (Notice how they’re still called video stores even though most of them now carry only DVD’s).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Humour: Column 8


Some items on a continuing theme from Column 8 in this week's Sydney Morning Herald:

March 17:

''Travelling north from Sydney I noticed a sign which said 'The Entrance Exit', writes Robert Felton, of somewhere on the road. ''What a nice little oxymoron. What next? 'Orange Peel Off', or perhaps the 'Ipswich Turn Off'?''

March 18:

Yesterday's item about the ''The Entrance Exit'' highway sign reminded Peter Chrystie of Melbourne about the sign on the outskirts of the small town of Speed, in western Victoria, which reads ''Speed - Slow Down'', and Margaret Richards, of Mount Riverview, of the ''Young Senior Citizens Centre'', in, of course, Young. In a similar vein, Andrew Lishmund, of Castle Hill, has ''been trying to organise a trip through the Loire valley from Tours in France. Google can't seem to handle 'tours from Tours'. It's much simpler to search for 'day trips'.''

March 19:

Apropos of our item yesterday on the Young Senior Citizens Centre, Nick Flowers, of Chichester, England, informs us: ''In the village of Loose, near Maidstone, Kent, there is a sign proclaiming the Loose Women's Institute.'' Jennifer Dinneen raises the tone, slightly: ''I have a friend who lives in Fertile, Minnesota, who has six children, who was a member of the Fertile Women's Softball Association.''

Iconic Photographs: Vulture and Child/Kevin Carter (1960-1994)

Kevin Carter (1960-1994) was a South African photojournalist. Having commenced as a sports photographer, he changed to photojournalism with the intention of showing the brutality of apartheid. He was the first to photograph a public execution by “necklacing”, the practice of putting a petrol filled tyre over a victim’s arms and chest, then setting it alight. He justified his photographs by saying:
"I was appalled at what they were doing. I was appalled at what I was doing. But then people started talking about those pictures... then I felt that maybe my actions hadn't been at all bad. Being a witness to something this horrible wasn't necessarily such a bad thing to do."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Laws of the Universe: Parkinson's Law of Triviality

“Organisations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues.”

A corollary is that:

“The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved.”

Parkinson's Law of Triviality, that organisations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues, was advanced by him as part of a satirical look at bureaucracies in his 1957 book Parkinson’s Law.

Quote: Mossy

If you haven't seen them on the TV, you will have seen their pics on the billboards around Sydney... Matt and Gabrielle Moss, aka Mossy and Gabe, the NSW reps on My Kitchen Rules.  (Yep, I admit watching it and that I like it).  For those who don't watch it, My Kitchen Rules is like Masterchef with couples instead of individuals, all amateurs, who compete in cooking against temas from the other States.  Mossy is a detective and Gabe is a solicitor in real life.  So much for the belief that coppers live on Maccas.

Unfortunately they got booted on Tuesday night's show, which was a cook-off to make it to the grand final.

Interviewed afterward, Mossy summed up the experience:

"We learnt so much about cooking and we got to travel around Australia, stay in the best hotels, drink the finest of wines and sample wonderful food. I feel like I've had a big kick in the arse from a rainbow."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St Patrick's Day

Question: Apart from an excuse for young people, who are as Irish as my wife’s Maltese Shih Tzu dog, to get boozed to the eyeballs, what exactly is St Patrick’s Day?

Answer: It’s the annual feast day that celebrates St Patrick, the most commonly recognised, and best known, of the patron saints of Ireland.

Some St Patrick’s Day trivia, to be sure, to be sure:

RIP: Peter Graves (1926-2010)

Peter Graves, who died today, was always there after school when I was a kid.

Originally he was the head of the Broken Wheel ranch as Jim Newton in Fury. Fury was a horse, an equine Skippy who always managed to save the day. His young friend was Joey Newton, the equivalent of Sonny Hammond. And just as in Skippy, no women in the household.

That was followed by a wonderful Australian series, Whiplash. Filmed from 1961 in French’s Forest, it reached 34 episodes (two of them written by Gene Roddenberyy, the creator of Star Trek). With westerns such as Gunsmoke, The Rifleman and Rawhide dominating the ratings, Britain’s Independent Television Company (makers of Robin Hood and William Tell) decided to branch out into a western. Not having any Western scenery in Britain, they decided to film in Oz and make the film an Aussie Western. The series featured Peter Graves as Christopher Cobb, the American who developed the Cobb & Co stage line in Australia.
See the opening and a few minutes at:

I loved that show. That’s Frank Ifield, another great Aussie of the time, singing the theme song.

Some years later Peter Graves reappeared as Jim Phelps, head of the Impossible Missions Force.

And who will ever forget Captain Clarence  Oveur from Flying High...

Operator: [Captain Oveur is on the phone with the Mayo Clinic] "Excuse me, Captain Oveur, but I have an emergency call on line 5 from a Mr. Hamm."
Captain Oveur: "Rght, give me Hamm on 5 and hold the Mayo."

Peter Graves died of a heart attack, aged 84.


I know that I stated yesterday that I would be posting only one item per day and that today you have a whole batch.

One reason is that Tony Abbott’s dig at political correctness was too good not to pass on.

Another was to post the dig my lad had at me for getting the reference to Quentin Tarantino wrong. I also posted some incoming messages.

Btw, comments can be posted by clicking on the comments item at the end of each post. You can do so anonymously. That will enable you to respond to a specific post and will also save me opening a separate item.

If you only access the blog through email, take a visit to the blog itself and check out the revamp, courtesy of my daughter. It looks great. You can do so by visiting or by simply clicking on the words bytes daily at the top of the email page.

Finally, I couldn’t let the death of Peter Graves pass without a mention.



From George:

Movies that fit your category (in my opinion) and deserve an honourable mention.

1. Snatch – A Guy Ritchie film – simply an awesome watch with British wit at it’s best and could possibly be my favorite movie. I would argue that Snatch, Guy Ritchie's second film is better than the first one, Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, which in its own right is a great film worth a watch many times over.

2. Pulp Fiction – QT’s best effort.

3. Cars – A children's catoon. The level of detail, coupled with an old but tested storyline makes for a wonderful relaxing watch. Plus I have a small child and I have watched that movie at least 5 dozen times, in a row and I still find myself watching it from start to finish. The same can be said about most of the kids movies such as:
a. Madagascar 1 & 2
b. Shrek 1, 2 & 3
c. The Incredibles

4. Stripes – Bill Murray has done some great films and I am a big fan. I would put Groundhog Day third behind Stripes and Lost in Transaltion with Scarlett Johansson (what a goddess).

From Shirley:

Groundhog Day an absolute - another wonderful move – To Kill a Mockingbird – wonderful move, wonderful adaptation of an amazing novel – Gregory Peck perfectly cast as Atticus Finch.

From Maz:

Australia has never had farthings. They were UK. Although as a kid I can remember getting a few as novelty items.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Message: Coconut

"You got the Coconut thing wrong... it was played over the closing credits for Reservoir Dogs, had nothing to do with Kill Bill.."

-  Email from my son.

(He's right).

Quote: Tony Abbott

“..this is.. genuflection to political correctness...   Sometimes it's appropriate to do those things, but certainly I think in many contexts, it seems like out-of-place tokenism."

-  Tony Abbott (1957- )
commenting on the misplaced sense of political correctness of Labor Party members in acknowledging at official functions the traditional owners of land.

Quote: Albert Einstein

"A photograph never grows old. You and I change, people change all through the months and years, but a photograph always remains the same. How nice to look at a photograph of mother or father taken many years ago. You see them as you remember them. But as people live on, they change completely. That is why I think a photograph can be kind."

- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)


Dear Byters

Having transferred a fair bit of the old emailed material, from today I will be reverting to the format of one post per day.  I believe that this will be easier for people who read their emails at the start of each day, especially working days.

My daughter will be making some changes to the blog appearance in that she belives it needs a spruce up.

Hopefully you will continue to enjoy and find the Bytes interesting.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Money Matters: The Royal and the Dollar

In 1966 Australia’s currency went decimal.  Instead of the pounds, shillings and pence, we now had dollars and cents.

In the old currency, 12 pence equalled one shilling, 20 shillings equalled one pound. Something that cost one pound, 2 shillings and 6 pence was written as £1/2/6 and it was expressed as “one pound, two and six”. To make it more difficult, we also had:
-  halfpennies, pronounced “hape pennies”
- quarter pennies, called farthings
- guineas, an amount of one pound one shilling.

All that changed in 1966. This was accompanied by a mass public awareness campaign in the media, headed by a cartoon character called “Dollar Bill” who explained it all. At the same time there was widespread playing of a jingle to the tune of “Click Go the Shears”:

Movies: My Top 10 (Plus 2)

In past posts I have mentioned some movies as being in my Top Ten. Here is my Top 10 list.

The first thing to mention is that my Top 10 list has 12 movies. It is not that I have difficulty counting to 10, although I sometimes feel that John Mortimer was actually referring to me when he wrote that Rumpole’s abilities, when it came to mathematics, were very like those of tribal Australian aborigines who would count to 3, everything after that being simply “lots”.

The reason that I have 12 films in my Top 10 is that I couldn’t work out which two to cut from the list.

The next thing to mention is that these movies are not in order of favouritism. It was difficult enough culling favourites without also having to work out the order of priority for those that remained.

The final thing is that my criteria in selecting the movies was simple: what movies do I like most and are good for repeated viewing? This simple criteria means that some movies classed as great by critics don’t get a look in. Those same critics would doubtless look with pained expressions at some of my selections. Citizen Kane has been voted the No 1 film by critics and directors for the American Film Institute and British Film Institute lists of greatest films of all time. But who here has bought a copy or has actually seen it?

Feel free to disagree. Add a comment in the comment box at the end of the post as to your Top 10 or Top 12.

Movies: Racism

Hands up all those who love watching the Marx Brothers movies.  Now keep your hand up if you’re a racist.  Hmm, all the hands went down.

I make this comment because of the fluid nature of cultural attitudes towards matters of race.

The 1915 silent flick Birth of a Nation by D W Griffiths is regarded as one of the most influential American movies. It was the first US “blockbuster”, established the concept of feature films (any film over 60 minutes) and used innovative technical techniques.

Music: Harry Nilsson/Coconut

It is always an indication of age when a song that I know from first release is known to my kids as part of a retro soundtrack. An example I gave previously was the use of Little Boxes in the TV show Weeds

So it is with Coconut, which is known to them from its being featured in that great Quentin Tarantino flick Kill Bill. I could go on for hours about Kill Bill but we’ll save that for another day, this post is a music item.

Everyone knows that brother bought a coconut for a dime, that his sister put the lime in the coconut and that as a result she developed a belly ache, necessitating the calling of the doctor. Sure it’s nonsense, but what wonderful nonsense.

There is a marvellous clip on YouTube of Coconut being sung with the guys dressed in gorilla suits. See it at:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Quote: Joan Rivers (1933 - )

"I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again. "

Poetry: Not Waving But Drowning

Not Waving But Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much farther out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Florence Margaret “Stevie” Smith (1902-1971)

"Not Waving But Drowning" is a poem about unheard cries for help. The speaker feels that her attempts to call attention to her unhappiness are overlooked as mere "larking." All her life, she was "much farther out" than her friends thought, "And not waving but drowning." The speaker wanted help, but her efforts were disregarded as jokes. The old man for whom it was too cold and "his heart gave way" probably died from loneliness. The speaker's statement that "it was too cold always" show that she feels chronic despair.
As a matter of interest, Stevie Smith suffered from depression for most of her life, endured a nervous breakdown and died of a brain tumour.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Movie Misquotes: Sherlock Holmes

Misquote: “Elementary, my dear Watson!”

This is a big misquote because Sherlock Holmes never said it, at least not in any of the books!

This quote was first made in a film review in the New York Times on October 19, 1929. It became popularised only after its trademark use in The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929) (the first Holmes film with sound), with Clive Brook and H. Reeves-Smith.

Origins: Boobs

It is hard to believe that there is a connection between the slang term for female breasts and the Black Death, the deadly bubonic plague pandemic that afflicted Europe between 1348 and 1350, killing 30% to 60% of Europe’s population.

(Pictured above is an illustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible, 1411. The buboes characteristic of the bubonic plague are quite evident).

This is the history of the use of the word “boobs”, meaning breasts, as presented in Cassell's Dictionary of Slang:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quote: Kerry Packer (1937-2005)

Having received some admiring and positive commentrs on the previously posted quotes of Kerry Packer, here is another...

In 1990 Kerry Packer suffered a heart attack whilst playing golf at Warwick Farm and was clinically dead for 6 minutes.   He was saved only by the fact that an ambulance was fortuitously passing by.  Even more fortuitously, the ambulance contained a defibrillator.  Without that, the ambos would not have been able to revive him.  He subsequently paid half the cost of fitting all ambulances in NSW with defibrillators, the State Government picking up the other half.  The machines became known as "Packer Whackers". 

Some time later Packer was approached by a person writing a story on after-death experiences.  The person asked Packer what his experience had been, having been dead for six minutes.  He replied:

"I've been to the other side, and let me tell you son, there's fucking nothing there."

Email: Steve re Spike Milligan

An email from Steve:

I have a documentary about Spike Milligan where he recounts an amazing experience he had when touring Africa and tracing his Grandfather's steps (Grandad was a British soldier who fought against the Zulu's during the Zulu uprising in the 1880's). It seems that Spike and his wife were staying at a very up market hotel (can't remember where, would have to watch the documentary again) and when asked by the Head Waiter why he was in Africa, he recounted the story of his Grandfather's involvement in one particular battle over there. The Head Waiter disappeared for a few moments and returned with one of the kitchen hands - a Zulu who's own grandfather had apparently been in the same battle!  The Milligan's left early the next morning, and as they were driven through the gates of the hotel, there on a small hill by the entrance was the kitchen Hand, in full Zulu Battle Dress, chanting a Zulu war song in honour of one great soldier's grandson to another.

A lovely story, and it must have been so moving for Spike. One of life's magical moments.

Vintage Ads

Is anyone else reminded of Chucky when looking at this child?  Call for Father Merrin and Father Karras.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quote: Oscar Levant (1906-1972)

It seems fitting, at the time of the Oscars, to have a quote by an Oscar...

"Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you'll find the real tinsel underneath."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Quote: Dwight D Eisenhower (1890-1969)

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

Days: International Women's Day

It has been pointed out to me by Byter Shirley that today is International Women's Day and that a Bytes item would be appropriate.

I am grateful to Shirley for pointing this out.   March 8 of every year is IWD. I didn’t know it until Shirley raised it and I looked up Wikipedia.

There is no reference to IWD in my diary for March 8, notwithstanding that it notes such events as Constitution Day, Japan (3 May) and Vesak Day (?) Singapore (28 May). There was also no mention of IWD that I saw in any of the newspapers, although that would be understandable, attention having been focused on such headline events as the Oscars, Lara Bingle’s nude photo and Daniel Mortimer’s signing with the Eels.

Some notes about International Women’s Day:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscars: Trivia

First awards: 1929
Called Oscar because in 1931 Margaret Herrick, the Academy librarian, remarked upon seeing the statuettes, "Why it looks like my Uncle Oscar!" Her uncle's full name was Oscar Pierce
The sealed envelope was introduced because the Academy used to give the results to the newspapers the night before on condition of secrecy, but in 1940 the Los Angeles Times announced the results beforehand.
The statuette is of a knight standing standing on a reel of film with 5 spokes. The 5 spokes represent the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.
Since 1950, the statuettes have been awarded on condition that neither winners nor their heirs may sell the statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for one dollar. 
If a winner refuses to agree to the stipulation as to the Academy’s buyback right for $1, then the Academy keeps the statuette. Oscars not protected by the above agreement have been sold in public auctions and private deals for six-figure sums.

Oscars: Quotes

“I hope to God I don't win an Oscar tomorrow night. It would really depress me if I did. I really don't deserve it. It wasn't that important a part anyhow." - Dustin Hoffman, 1968
"The Academy Awards are obscene, dirty . . . no better than a beauty contest." - Dustin Hoffman, 1975
“Contrary to what Mr. Hoffman thinks, it is not an obscene evening. It is not garish and it is not embarrassing”. - Frank Sinatra, presenter during the Oscar broadcast in 1975, responding to Dustin Hoffman.