Tuesday, March 12, 2024

OneDownManShip (™)

All too often, when E@L was telling a story to TBITP* about the outrageous things he, um, had heard about on his last trip to Pattaya, Bruce might cut in and say, "All very good and depraved sir, but let me tell you of my even more intriguing episode. I had taken to chatting up this dwarf, when two ladyboys and their baby elephant..." 



It's called Onedownmanship(™).


Getting used to being not quite the reprobate he thought he was is 


* Forgotten so soon? The Boys In The Pub.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Foundation And The Eleusian Mysteries.

From the Hmm, I Did Not Know That, and The No-one Who Reads My FB Feed Cares So This Goes To The Blog files comes this fascinating connection:

In Series 1 Epsisode 8, "The Missing Piece" of Asimov's Foundation on Apple+, "Brother Day embarks on a journey that no other Cleon has ever attempted." This is a religious ceremony that involves a long arduous walk in the sun without food or water that is deadly for many, called The Great Spiral. Br Day expects to reach a sacred cave, referred to as a womb by a priestess (note the rebirth motif) where salt in the water has some mind-altering property that may grant him a vision of the three goddesses (mother, maiden and ... cleaning lady?) and some enlightening message.

And hopefully some aloe vera for that sunburn.


It just so happens that The Eleusian Mysteries of ancient Greece bear a striking resemblance, at least part, to this fictional ritual journey. The Mysteries involved a once in a lifetime experience for the elite of the time and requiring them (people like Marcus Aurelius!) to oversome some harsh trials/tests/etc? and reach a certain underground temple or cave, ritualistically descend into hades and return with the goddesses Persephone and Demeter (daughter and mother).

References to re-birth from a seed (it obviously began as an an agricultural festival), visions, a revelation of spiritual and mental enlightenment, and eventually, as the mysteries evolved, eternal life and maybe even becoming a god. Magic mushrooms or some other psychedelic may very well have been involved, but we don't know as the rites were (the clue is in the name) a Mystery.

Anyone seen Marcus?

E@L couldn't find a correpsondence to this TV show's Great Spiral subplot in the books by polymath Isaac Asimov. Well, research, as in he did a search for "cave" and "goddess" in the seven Foundation ebooks he has, with no result. Maybe the scriptwriters' put it in? Seems unlikely. It must be there. Anyone here read them all?


Anyway, it was an interesting (to E@L) parallel, even though he has probably misread the details in the Wikipedia entry completely as he was drinking a double negronic (negrotonic? Anyway, negroni topped up with tonic) as he drafted this.


No doubt a dunk into reddit or somesuch chat area, even Google, would provide E@L with a wealth of discussion on this obvious, to many, association and several PhD theses have already been submitted on it and Stephen Fry probably explained it on Qi (even though he doesn't do it anymore) or in his latest book, and it is only because E@L lives in isolation from the cultured world (the bars of Bangkok and breweries in Singapore?) that he can claim to claim it as his own discovery.

To be totally honest, the correspondence hit E@L while he was doing his daily constitutional around said culturally isolated home village, sipping his barista-brewed flat white, and listening to a recent Sam Harris podcast on the use of psychedelics in religious ceremonies in the ancient western world, and the blindingly obvious pagan origin of many Christian rituals, natch. The guest describes the Mysteries in as much detail as, even more than, any brain could hold onto, least of all the exploding one of


Saturday, November 11, 2023

From The SMW* Files Of E@L

E@L has just discovered an excellent book review podcast called Backlisted, where they pull out an overlooked or under-appreciated book from some time back and get experts to go over the tome’s inexplicable and unfortunate desuetude.


The first one he listened to while he was doing his morning walk yesterday. The topic was M. R. James, the Eton don who wrote “weird” and ghostly tales in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, specifically his Ghost Stories of An Antiquary from 1904.


The second episode he Iistened to while he was on the road back from No1 son’s place in Melbourne this afternoon. This episode was about Diane Johnson’s 1972 biography, The True History Of The First Mrs Meredith And Other Lesser Lives. George Meredith, the husband in question, being the early Victorian era novelist.


After the excellent discussions on the podcasts, E@L bought them both for his Kindle (0.99c for the James) and after dipping an eyeball into both he can heartily recommend them! Johnson’s book is brilliantly entertaining despite what you might think of as a dry topic. It was reissued by NYRB a few years ago, so obviously it is not all THAT overlooked.


Look, listen, and learn. Here’s the point:

Kindle Loc 32 of Ghost Stories: “…of a more formidable prosecutor than a termagant wife.”

E@L had to look up termagant when he read it this morning in the first of M.R. James’ stories; easily done on the Kindle: “Harsh-tempered or over-bearing woman.” From the moon wandering (vagant) between three (tri = ter) places: heaven, earth, and hell. E@L can’t recall reading that word in the last few decades, but it was vaguely familiar. Such an obscure and extremely rare word, yeah?

After a spine-tingling (not really) jaunt through a few of James’ quite short spooky stories, E@L thought he should check on the Johnson biography this evening! He found it terrifically witty and clever, and then…

Kindle Loc 361 of The True History: “… was left by his wife, a termagant and too clever by half; she took their little boy Tom…”

Jaw. Drop. Floor.

WWWwwwwwwwhat is going on here? Seriously. we mean, WTAF? Guess who's afraid to pick up another book now? 

Looking anxiously over his shoulder for a spooky apparition of a possibly termagant Mary Ellen Meredith née Love Peacock creeping in from one of James’ eerie tales is


*Spooky. Mystic Weird.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Angiograms Don't Show Demons!

It's round about the 50th anniversary of The Exorcist (cue Tubular Bells).

What a great movie! Scary etc etc. for sure, but such cinema verité as well! (Probably got that term wrong.) I mean as in superb naturalistic acting and non-intrusive directing, for the most part anyway, not counting, you know, the exorcism part..

However, a great source of amusement to me about this fillum, is that what freaked out my friends more than any guacamole, pea-soup, head-turning, bed-bouncing, etc, were the medical sequences.

As the radiologist stabbed Reagan's carotid artery directly and withdrew the stylet prior to putting in a guide wire, then attaching the tubing with a Luer lock connection to the angiomat injector, blood spurted out very realistically, and then went up the tube very realistically. Did they actually cannulate the poor girl? Probably not. But to my friends this was incredibly distressing and they thought it was most horrible thing they had ever seen! Worse that the rest of the movie, as it was so realistic and the rest was obviously, you know, a horror movie...

But not me, it was just another day at the office.


I was a young radiography student at the time we were all old enough to see the movie at the drive-in (around 1977? drinking Melbourne Bitter long-necks on the bonnet of the car), and when I was rostered into Room 2, the angiogram suite (hardly a suite! A cramped room full of antiquated public hospital equipment with jerry-built accoutrements to do the job despite that generous Govt funding - a bit like the battered and chipped equipment they used in the film GE I think) we used to perform two, three, four, six, of these procedures on our angiogram days. It also the room we used for barium enemas, etc. But the stabby, bloody bits were just part of the terrritory, as it were, for the brain (as in the movie), but also for the kidneys, the aorta and down the legs etc... (We didn't do cardiac.)

I would occasionally own that pair of hands that are holding Reagan's head still while the needle is being placed... The blood spurting out was a sign the radiologist hadn't missed (always good) so for me that gave a positive feeling, as we could get on with the radiography bit.

However! One issue that has really bugged me since I first saw the movie, and I can't get it out of my head or forgive them 46 years later, is that when they were actually taking the x-rays and the AOT film transport machines were banging away, moving a film up the intensifying screens, then moving it out and placing another one, (we had to load them in a pitch black darkroom, counting the metal slots for each film in the desired sequence) was that...

*Reagan moved her head in the middle of the bloody procedure...!!!*

We she opened her mouth here ^ for a silent scream, she lifted her head as well! I'm sure it was great acting, but it was terrrible patienting!

"Noooooo! You've blurred several of the most important images!! We'll have to do it all again! Oh my God. Open more contrast, Bruce. Sister Zoe, we'll need another guidewire... Now listen! Please! Keep! Your! Twisty-turny Green Vomity Head! Perfectly! Effing! Still! (You stupid demonic bitch!) Phillip, tighten those head straps (until her skull cracks)!"

Sigh. Verisimilitude collapses like Schrodinger's wave function, and the cat is dead after all.


As an aside, the mechanised display system they used to look at the array of processed films (kachunk, kachunk - the Film-o-matic, or something stupid like that - someone here will know) was a pain to load (it was often done by the - you guessed it - student radiographers i.e. me), and every now and then it broke down, or a film fell down underneath it and was a shit to retrieve...

An another anside: not long after this film was made, radiologists changed to a different approach to cerebral angiography, so that the needles were not longer stabbed into the neck (occasionally causing a dissection of the carotid - never saw one thankfully...).  It all moved down to the groin, using the Seldinger technique of placing the needle into the femoral artery (hopefully): remove the stylet: advance guideware up to the aorta: remove the needle: advance a shaped catheter over the guidewire to the root of the aorta: remove the guidewire: attach the Injectomat (hopefully a nice new one) and inject from there for the first bilateral run: put the guidewire  back in and reposition (replace?) the catheter into the appropriate carotid near the origin and off you go for the next run... Don't forget to stress the student radiographer out when he goes to processes the films after each run, refill the AOT of whatever the brand name was with the right number of films in the right sequence or Herbert will throw a film cassette at him...  


Ah, back to the movie: the crucifix scene was probably not quite as explicit in the version we first saw (or perhaps I had my hands over my eyes at the truly scary scenes)... but just as a suspense movie, great effects, great score, fantastic acting (the coffee scene with Lee J Cobb and Ellyn Burstyn, brilliantly understated - however Ellen in The Last Picture Show, OMFG, how good was she there?!), and not to forget the accurate medical sequences, The Exorcist is undoubtedly one of the top 10, maybe top 5, top 3? films of all time for


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Absolutely Brillat!

Someone anticipated my blog many, many moons ago...


"Another  reproach which might be levelled against me is that I sometimes let my pen run away with me, and tend to turn garrulous when I have a tale to tell. But is it my fault if I am old? Is it my fault if I am like Ulysses, who had seen the cities and ways of life of many peoples? Am I to be blamed if I include a little of my own biography?"

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste (Physiologie du goût), 1825.


E@L found a Folio Society edition from 2008, in mint condition, in a second-hand store in Geelong for a bargain AUD25.

How that last  quote, eh?

'I looked about me and took note of what I saw, and often at the most sumptuous banquets I have been saved from boredom by the pleasure I derived from my observations'

Brilliant Brillat. Worth the money right there.

We are talking (and observing pleasurably) about: recalcitrant toasters in hotel buffet breakfasts; komplex kopi concerns; restaurant capers and caprices.

Much of E@L's blog in an edible nutshell! 


Interesting also that "goût" is essentially, says arrogant anglophone, spelled the same as "gout" (at least you don't have to cut and past the latter from somewhere), so many may mistakenly think of this foody's treat as a treatise on the afflictions associated with improper uric acid metabolism! 

Ha! Nuh!

Fortunately, fingers and toes crossed, this is one of the few afflictions that has not (yet) brought low that gallavanting gourmand of the grand guignol that was his former expatriatdom, 


Sunday, May 21, 2023

Un-Blocked At Last

In case no-one has noticed, I should explain that I am having trouble making a start on any of those writing projects I told myself I’d be doing to soak up the damp hours and soggy days of retirement (enforced, or otherwise)

When someone asked Anthony Burgess if he had ever had writer's block, he shot back, in typical snarky Burgess fashion, “Of course not. I am a writer. I write. Have you ever heard of a cobbler getting cobbler’s block?”



My paternal great-great-grandfather, Charles Radnell was one of the two cobblers in a small town of Tarnagulla, initially called Sandy Creek, in "The Golden Triangle" of central Victoria in the mid/late 19th century, from the time of rapid development in that area during the great gold rush. 

His father (also named Charles) back in Nottingham was a leather-worker and harness-maker, and GGGF Charles presumably picked up the suitable shoe-making skills from him. It seems that after said GGGF Charles passed away in 1890, the tools of the trade; its awls, chisels, punches, edgers and various knives and cutters, and shoe rests or lasts, presumably went to his son (my GGF) William John, the second child with that name. His namesake, the firstborn, died at 10 months while GGGF Charles and GGGM Sarah were living in a tent town, in the goldfields of Llanelly at the height of the Victoran gold rush. 

"Diggers" were coming in from all over, including Hong Kong and the provence of Canton. There are several Chinese memorials doing their best to survive the elements in the town's cemetery. Lots of stories which I won't go into here about the struggles of the Chinese in Australia during the gold rush. 

For the lucky few, a good living could be made in the many gold strikes in the region, such as the Poverty Reef mine, right in the heart of Tarnagulla, which was still in full stride when GGGF Charles moved into town in 1853. Several of his sons, GGF William John maybe, and his brothers, later worked there. Two of the six brothers, Charles(!) and George, were killed in action in the Great War.

I am guessing this heritage of cobblerdom because I don't know what GGF William John's actual trade was, but when his daughter, my paternal GM, Ethel [daughter of Annie née Titus - aunt of the great Richmond footballer in the then VFL, now AFL, Jack Titus] married my GF, John George Ramm, apparently known as George. [Geo. the Neat Executor of the card, below], the evidence would strongly suggest that he learnt the trade as well. ["Bot. of" - meaning: ???] 

There was only one cobbler in town by 1920. That would have GF Geo, who lived there until he passed in 1950. 

A young GF John George (Geo.) Facial enhancement by Topaz AI.

Of course, back in the heady rushed days of sudden golden wealth and desperate arduous slog in mud and non-glittering rock, those gold miners needed solid work boots. Their wives needed dress shoes too,  maybe with bows on them, for social events at the town's Garibaldi Lodge or, in later days with Geo as bootmaker, at the Masonic hall in nearby Dunolly... 

So for a fair part of a century, the Radnells and a Ramm ran the town's cobbler business, unblocked.


Aside: The Poverty Reef mine in Tarnagulla was named after Poverty Bay, the New Zealand home of the two prospectors who made the first strike there. And then they made their fortune. Isn't that ironic! Doncha think?

The mine was intermittently operational until quite recently, though it peaked production with 13½ ton(!) of gold in the inital years of 1852-53.

As the seam became exhausted, different methods of gold extraction were tried there, and the first cyanide factory in Australia was built just behind it. 

Some locals


This is the house where my paternal family lived. I guess it is where my father was born. When we were young kids, our widowed mother required respite, so each summer we stayed with my uncle and aunt who still lived there, for two weeks or so. But we weren't to go into the closed front room, the one behind what once might have been a shop window (presuming here), under the recently refurbished awning. 

Too much important stuff in there for clumsy children. General uncle and aunt storage, my father's stamp collection for sure, etc... And some of my great-great, and great, and grandfather's work implements. 

When we were allowed in, once only I think in the many years we holidayed there, I recall trying to figure what this strange multi-footed steel montrosity was exactly. I doubt that we could have damaged it, however clumsy we were.

(Not GGGF's or GF's but same same.)

A cobbler's last. A block of steel that allowed consistant work from a range of angles. Shoes for men, women, and children, made to order. Neatly executed repairs. And cheap! 

If I had one now, I would rub it as a talisman of progress, and getting a move on from this blogger's block would be  


Saturday, May 20, 2023

A Week Of Serious Drinking*

On Friday evening after work, EvilD called EvilK, E@L, and Bruce and asked if they wanted to go out for drinks...


They went to Lan Kwai Fong and drank a few Carlsbergs and jello-vodka-shots on the street corner there. 

Soon it was 1am and LKF was closing down, so they took a taxi to Wanchai, particularly The Wanch, where a criminally awful band was playing. They drank a few Old Speckled Hens, which was on tap, and they pretended to fit in with the awkward Lamma locals. 

When the band finished, E@L suggested Mes Amis, a slightly classier place. There they switched to G&Ts until E@L was kicked out for knocking over half the dance floor with his bouncy bouncy interpretation of Fatboy Slim classic. 

Right there, right then, they all moved on to one of eight girly bars on Lockart Rd for a laugh or seven, and shared few $250 ladies’ drinks with the girls and bar staff. Bruce grabbed E@L's Charisma Card before he paid for those18 tequila shots for the three women on his arm, and they exited hastily though the heavy red curtain, Bruce with luminous lipstick marks on the front of his jeans.

When the bars and clubs started to shut down around 3am, EvilD said he knew a place where you could get beer - it was where the band from Amazonia goes after their gig. E@L discussed the Hendrix chord with Sammy, the best and shortest lead guitarist in Hong Kong (and Singapore one week a month).

Soon the sun came up to separate the sheep from the goats, which they all toasted with another jug of margaritas! 

By 7am the early openers were there for the working girls coming back from their long-times, and for diehards like EvilD, EvilK, E@L and Bruce. With Guinness being on tap, they were well supplied with calories. 

They kept drinking like this all Saturday; in Wanchai Irish pubs to watch AFL by themselves, and EPL jammed in a crowd, and to cocktail bars to watch potential tai-tais cadge drinks, and by Saturday evening you could find them dancing on the bar at Carnegies. EvilK suggested some shots of absinthe, which triggered a series of most welcome hallucinations, such as: They were sober enough to have more shots...

Saturday night and Sunday morning were more of the same, right through to Sunday lunch when it was High Tea at the Filipina Bars. They stumbled down various stairs to basement level bars like Uranus II, where off-duty maids went to dance in front of mirrors until their 9pm curfews. A few other expats they knew were there on the pick-up, so a few rounds were shouted until one by one those expats paired off with an amah in time for a quickie before their girl had to get back and cook 5 different suppers for 5 different people, and darn the underpants of the incontinent uncles, then grab a bowl of cold rice before unrolling her blanket under the kitchen table for her 2hr kip, or to wake up in a king-size bed with her boss and his wife. 

There was another EPL game Sunday evening so the crew headed to back the Irish bar on the corner where several ladyboys accosted them briefly, and Bruce nodded a shy greeting to the ugliest one. Guinness and Kilkenny were on tap. Sharpeners. Lovely. 

Sunday night, once the game was over, they moved to Joe Bananas where the manager greeted EvilD with a huge hug and an insistence that they all have a free bottle of Jack Daniels for the night! Still dancing and sweating it out on the crowded floor at 4am, trying not to spill their JD (third bottle) and diet coke on the floor, they shook themselves to the duff duff beat from the DJ’s extensive collection of duff duff music. 

Monday was a holiday, so they had no cause to stop partying, and the cycle repeated itself. Beer here, G&T’s there, with EvilD scoring free shots for them at Dusk ’Til Dawn. Bouncers were high-fiving and fist bumping EvilD, EvilK and Bruce as E@L looked on in awe at how popular his friends were with the staff, the bands, and working girls everywhere they went. So it continued right through until the next morning. 

They were too far gone for work on Tuesday, so they all called in sick and stayed out drinking still at various bars. 

Wednesday was the same, with a variety of vodkas at a new bar that EvilD remembered, down by the cop-shop, which brought them past Crazy Camel, where Western girls in bikini tops and cut-off jeans danced on the bar and poured free tequila shots into the mouths of customers who, like the crew here did repeatedly, leaned their heads back over the grog-sticky bar.

By Thursday, E@L was feeling a little squeamish, so he said the EvilD, “How about we get a packet of peanuts and some chips?”

EvilD was furious! “What? Listen! Did I invite you out for dinner or to have a drink?!”


Punchline stolen from another joke, but the rest is a compendium of something close to a previous reality, which may, or may not, have included the person who was



* Recommended: Hallucinatory, magic unrealism.

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