Thursday, March 23, 2017

Songs of My Life #54 - Scatterbrain - Don't Call Me Dude - 1990

Songs of My Life #54 - Scatterbrain - Don't Call Me Dude - 1990

Back in 1990, another strange kinda song started creeping onto the airwaves of Australia. It was a strange song, mixed as it is in style and genre. It was also reasonably long, so it was strange for radio to take it on. Of course, the music video attracted some of the attention, and the story subject matter of the lyrics also created amusement amongst the young people.

I enjoy this song, but the reason this song is listed here is because it led me to go out and get Scatterbrain's debut album which this song was on, "Here Comes Trouble", and it is just brilliant. Not only that, I then went and saw the band live when they toured Australia at Waves at Wollongong, and it was one of the best gigs I have seen.

What is probably not a surprise to you laymen out there that don't remember the song but still surprises me to this day is that Scatterbrain didn't go on to bigger things.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Songs of My Life #53 - D-A-D - Sleeping My Day Away - 1989

Songs of My Life #53 - D-A-D - Sleeping My Day Away - 1989

You know when you come at me with a two string bass that things are going to get aaaaalll messed up. And like a few of the one-hit wonders that hit the world in the late 1980's and early 1990's, this song caught on through the magic of music video and then forced its way into the charts regardless.

Their album 'No Fuel Left For the Pilgrims' made a splash at this time basically on the back of this single. For me it was the guitar sound that hooked me in, almost gutteral in its effect, and the looniness that goes on during the video clinched the deal for many people. What I most remember is the song catching on, and when you are 19-20 years old and under the influence at bars and clubs that are playing this, then it can seep its way into your subconscious. I almost went and saw these guys back in the day at St George Leagues Club. I'm probably not disappointed I didn't.

Is it a great song? No. But it's one that I recall fondly because of the time and what I was doing in those days, mucking around with my mates, playing in our band and drinking lots of cool refreshing beer. Youth has a lot to answer for.

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S4 E18: The Bard

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S4 E18: The Bard

Hurrah! We've had plenty of criss-crossing episodes that have Death or the Devil becoming involved, and always for the worst possible outcome for those that have summoned them. However, using black magic to summon people into the world to help out with their work... well, we haven't had that. Until now.

Still, how far into the unbelievable do we want to swing? Do we really think William Shakespeare is going to write a brilliant sitcom? Do we think it will be accepted and work? Do we think Burt Reynolds is really going to do a Marlon Brando impersonation for the entire episode? It seems like a stretch, but then again it isn't being played straight, it is being played for laughs. And there are a couple. The question as to whether it holds your attention enough is open to the watcher. I didn't mind it, but I guess it was slightly more unbelievable than even a Twilight Zone episode can be - especially in the reactional change of those around the protagonist.

Rating: What light from yonder window breaks?  3/5

When a Draw is a Win

What a pleasant feeling it is to be sitting here this morning, soaking up the glory of a battling draw in a Test match, defying the thoughts of most in seeing off the Indian bowling attack for the final day’s play in Ranchi. Those that suggest Test cricket is dying simply have no idea what cricket is about, and the five days of this Test have proved it is alive and well in at least some parts of the cricketing world.
  1. Renshaw and Smith did exactly what they had to do. Their partnership was perhaps the toughest of the day, with Renshaw especially getting the ball jumping from the surface alarmingly one ball, and then dying lower the next. He was superb against Jadeja, getting forward and smothering or ball and watchful. He was dismissed to a ball that stayed low, but that he didn’t get fully forward to because of the smart bowling from Ishant. When Smith misjudged a ball from Jadeja in the following over to be bowled, the hard graft of over 90 minutes looked as though it may be going to be wasted.
  2. Back at the conclusion of the diabolical tour to Sri Lanka last year, the selectors pretty much handed to the media two names that were ‘locks’ for the tour of India. In their opinion, Shaun Marsh was their man for the sub-continent after his century in Sri Lanka, and the uncapped Peter Handscomb whom they considered the best young player of spin in the Sheffield Shield was the other certainty to go on tour, and perhaps debut there. The selectors stuck to their guns. Handscomb was already entrenched in the Test team by then, and Marsh had returned from injury and was chosen despite a lack of form in the white ball game. In the five innings completed before this innings, both had looked assured at times. Handscomb had made five starts without going on past 25, while Marsh had made one score and several other lower contributions. Today was the situation that the selectors would have had in mind when they chose these two for this series. Handscomb and Marsh came together with half an hour until lunch and still 89 runs in arrears. That they weren’t parted until they had put together 124 runs and batted for 62 overs together is a testament to their efforts and to the vision of the selectors. This pair drew the Test match for Australia from a position that in the past they have lost. Handscomb broke his 25 barrier to finish on 72 not out, while Marsh, who continues to baffle and divide opinion as to his place in the team, made a dogged 53. He must crave consistency as much as his detractors do, and it is innings like yesterday’s that shows he can play at this level. Both were superb.
  3. Much like in Australia’s victory in the 1st Test, the luck with umpiring decisions tended to run with them on this final day. LBW decisions referred to the DRS by India on both Handscomb and Marsh were judged to be ‘umpire’s call’ after Ian Gould had turned them both down, meaning both batsmen were reprieved, and India lost both reviews. This caused a similar conversation in the commentary box about ‘if it’s hitting the stumps it should be out’ and ‘you shouldn’t lose a referral if it shows it is hitting’. Those comments are for discussing on another day, but the upshot of it was that the ‘Gunner’ had given the batsman the benefit of the doubt, and the doubt was proven by DRS. On another day both may have been given, and the batsmen would have been out. Perhaps Gould’s focus was that the batsmen were working their guts out, and only deserved to be out if it was shown to be plumb (which he would have given out anyway). Kohli also burned one review himself, when a ball from Ishant to Marsh was shown to be pitching a foot outside leg stump, hitting him outside the line of off stump, and missing off stump by a foot and a half. So maybe that too played on the umpire’s mind. Whatever it was, those calls going Australia’s way helped enormously.
  4. After the nervous thoughts of most before the Test had started, the surface at Ranchi turned out to be a dud. Certainly batsmen had to focus and concentrate for long periods in order to score on it, and bowlers had to be patient and give nothing away in order to try and snare wickets, but the horror that some expected never came to pass. Only 25 wickets could be pried out in five full days of cricket. You wouldn’t want to see too many Tests like this one, but it was riveting viewing for the most part. It will be interesting to see what is dished up for the 4th Test, where Inida must now win to reclaim the Border Gavaskar Trophy.
With three Tests down, and the series locked at 1-1, what lies ahead for both teams? Will Virat Kohli’s shoulder miraculously heal itself so he can field for more than one afternoon? Will Australia’s bowlers be able to recover after their mammoth effort here in Ranchi to do the same again in five days time? Will any changes be made to either team? Will Australia surprise and throw in Mitchell Swepson for the final Test? None of us really believed we’d be here one a Test to go and series still able to have all three results available. Test cricket is alive, and Australia has the chance to make a statement on the sub-continent that it hasn’t made for 13 years. I for one can’t wait for the next instalment.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Songs of My Life #52 - Vixen - How Much Love - 1990

Songs of My Life #52 - Vixen - How Much Love - 1990

Everyone has guilty pleasures when it comes to their music tastes. Those songs that, if you told your mate that you listened to that band or loved that particular song, your mate would exclaim something like "what the fuck?!?" While I probably have a few of those bands and/or songs, the one I get the most roasted for is Vixen.

These four ladies came together in 1988, and with the help of Richard Marx (yes, I know) released their debut album. Their second album, "Rev it Up!" came in 1990, and this song comes from that album. And ever since I got these two albums on cassette in Bali in 1991 I have been a fan. Not of everything, but quite a bit.

Yes, it's a classic rock ballad, but come on. Four rock chicks belting out hair metal songs. Roxy Petrucci with her motorbike drum kit and kicking that cowbell throughout. Share Pederson smashing the bass guitar in rhythm, the terrific Jan Kuehnemund who is sadly no longer with us due to cancer, playing lead guitar and those backing vocals, and *sigh* Janet Gardner on awesome lead vocals (and rhythm guitar on the albums).

This song still finds its way on to most of my mixed playlists. And while most will mock me and laugh at me, I really don't care. If you listen closely, you can here me now...

"How much love is it gonna take! To prove I'm not another heartache! Till you begin to let your heart give in - tell me how much loooooove" (cowbell!) \m/ Not much Janet... not much at all...

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S4 E17: Passage on the Lady Anne

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S4 E17: Passage on the Lady Anne

More spooky boats in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by fog, with mysterious people who speak in riddles and never actually letting on as to what is happening. Well, it is intimated of course, and it isn't too hard to follow. Perhaps the ending could have been a little better, but you can't always have everything.

The Ransom couple board the Lady Anne in a fractured state, looking for that last chance. They are met by other passengers, all of whom try to persuade them not to get on the boat. They refuse and the ship sails. So too it appears does their marriage, when they agree that once they arrive in London they will go their separate ways.

While the story itself progresses as expected, it is the characters themselves that keep it enjoyable. The wonderful acting of the support actors around the Ransom couple is fantastic, and they make the show well worth watching. Another Charles Beaumont special.

Rating: Death ship, ghost ship, love boat?  4/5

NRL Round 3: Do the Tigers Need to Play Against Robbie Farah Every Week?

It's round three of the NRL, and already there has been a slight shift away from the initial period of excitement once the new season starts. We get back into the routine of "really, another bloody Broncos/Storm/Titans/Manly game, is there anything else on?" Can I really be bothered staying up on a Thursday night to watch a match I don't really care about? Rugby League for me is still a Saturday and Sunday afternoon game. I can survive a Friday night match, but that takes away from family time. Sometimes a good thing, sometimes not. Anyway, I digress...

  1. I only glanced at the Thursday night match between Storm and Broncos, and for those reasons stated above. I don't care about either team, and it's too late on Thursday to watch. I'm sure it was a reasonable game, but all I cared about was finally getting a tip right (Storm winning 14-12 did that).
  2. Once again the Warriors look as though they are going to disappoint their fans, while the Bulldogs managed to find enough this week to get a victory. The 24-12 win would have pleased their fans without solving any of the issues raised in their first two matches. Their attack was better without being perfectly well run. Their defense though was solid again. The Warriors meanwhile have had three matches in New Zealand for one very scrappy and undeserved victory over last season's wooden spooners. With their roster, they appear in all sorts of trouble.
  3. The Eels played their third away match in succession, on only a five day layover, and without their playmaker. Compared to most others, it is a very ordinary draw. The inevitable loss to the Titans on the back of that will be put down to the Norman factor, but the draw is somewhat unfair. The Titans have more injury worries, but the loss of Jarryd Hayne from last week appears to have improved their attack nicely. One wonders if his unsettling influence being missing helped their endeavours. The 26-14 victory tends to prove it does.
  4. If nothing else, at least Newcastle are proving competitive this season. They were perhaps a little unlucky to lose to Souths 24-18 at home, and Souths were fortunate not to have two players sent for the game let alone only one going for ten minutes. The Knights are on a learning curve though, looking to fight their way back to respectability. Souths seem to be just fighting, but are now 2-1 having won two away games in succession.
  5. I didn't see either of the later games, only smatterings while being out and about and when the cricket went to a break. The Roosters outlasted the Panthers up the mountain, which is no mean feat, but surely the three tries to one gives a better indication of the difference. No matter, the Roosters are 3-0 and the Panthers (title favourites?) are 1-2.
  6. I know the Cowboys had some injuries and suspensions, but really did anyone expect Manly to go on and win this 30-8 at Townsville? No team will go through this season unscathed by injury, and how you perform without your best 17 available will be the difference between making finals or not. The Cowboys will know they have to do better. The Sea Eagles have at least shown they won't be the soft underbelly they appeared to have last season. It opens up the field substantially with a result like this so early in the season.
  7. Ooooohhhh Tigers fans. It looks like the whole season is very close to unravelling. After what appeared to be a good opening to their game with the Raiders down in Canberra (despite both teams constant dropping of the ball) the Tigers suddenly forgot how to play, and the Raiders stopped dropping the ball. The 46-6 thrashing will have revived local fans after last week's 'brain fade', but where do the Tigers go from here? Do they have nothing to motivate them if they aren't playing against Robbie Farah? They look shot.
  8. Seriously, what is going on with the Shire partners? The Sharks couldn't beat Brisbane at home, then pumped the Raiders away. The Dragons surprised against the Panthers, then failed to consolidate against the Eels at home. The derby is always a game played with feeling, but for the most part the Sharks didn't have any. The 16-10 victory for the Dragons feels like it is just a band-aid before the inevitable collapse, but the Sharks at 1-2 need to find something quick or they will be fishing in rougher waters.

Pall of Doom Hangs Over Australia's Chances

When it comes to predictability, especially in regards to a Test match played in India by Australia, Day Four in Ranchi probably upheld everything that you could have expected. India was behind the eight ball, struggling to contain whatever deficit they were likely to face to a minimum, before Australia went about increasing that lead in their second innings. Of course, what transpired was exactly the opposite, and not for the first time in the last 40-odd years of tussles between these two nations, the visitors are now in a precarious position.

  1. For two sessions, Pujara and Saha held the Australian bowling quartet at bay, kicking away the balls outside their stumps, calmly prodding away those on the stumps, and when they felt comfortable enough they moved the ball for singles or twos. Starting the day 91 runs behind Australia, that deficit was still to be erased at lunch, but once they did post lunch, and the two of them still together, each run started stabbing at the heart of the Australian batsmen. In many ways it was as frustrating to watch as the Dravid/Laxman partnership 16 years ago, and as on that occasion the two batsmen were patient and took no outward risks, and just slowly built their partnership. It wasn’t until it was decided that quick runs were required that they both fell, for innings that neither will forget in the context of their careers.
  2. Ravindra Jadeja once again delivered in circumstances that were tailor made for him. Firstly, with a lead already established, he came to the crease and could play his natural attacking game with no threat of damaging the team’s position, and in this carefree situation delivered the runs that the team needed. Then almost as if by divine proclamation he found spit and fire in the pitch that had been hidden from the Australians and delivered two wickets in the eight overs they had to face before stumps, including the one they would have wanted most in David Warner. The stars appear aligned again today for him to be the winner of this Test for India in such conditions.
  3. The Australian bowlers can be proud of their efforts over more than two days in the field. On a track which has fooled everyone and offered almost nothing for the bowlers, the four Aussies stuck to their guns, and gave nothing away. There was practically no easy runs, and while thewicket was mostly docile they occasionally found a way to get through. Steven O’Keefe was magnificent for 77 overs over bowling, finishing with 3/199. Some would say he was negative in his line outside leg stump to Pujara, but given the partnership of 199 with Saha was through taking no risks, the tactics had to be to wear him down or be worn down. SOK stuck to his task well under the conditions. Hazlewood and Cummins were magnificent. It will be interesting to see, in light of recent ‘concerns’ over bowler workload, what will happen with these two for the final Test. Lyon was solid but unlike the other three tended to give those loose balls that allowed the batsmen to rotate strike.
  4. How will the wicket play on Day Five? Day Four showed it was still placid, and to be honest perhaps the fact that neither Australian spinner was able to get much out of it is a concern, especially after what Jadeja did in four overs at the end of the day. I know I harp on about this, but I spent the day pondering what a wrist spinner may have gotten from this surface. A bit of variable bounce? A bit of turn by spinning with the wrist rather than the fingers? We’ll never know, but you can be sure that the way Day Four progressed will mean that Mitchell Swepson’s Test debut may be a lot closer than we thought a few days ago.
  5. The massive holes in Dave Warner armoury are being exposed for all to see on this tour. After his dismissal last night, he is averaging 21.83 with a highest score of 38. In Sri Lanka last year he averaged 27.16. It will be more troubloing to himself than it is to us cricket tragics, and he will be more determined to find a way through it. His reputation is not in tatters, but the mental battle has been well and truly won by the Indian spinners. To be honest, if you were England at the moment you would have to contemplate opening with a spinner in the upcoming Ashes series on the back of this. With one Test to come, Warner will have two chances to put this all behind him and find a way to get his mojo back.
  6. Finally, wasn’t it great to see Virat Kohli so excited about the fall of Warner’s wicket, that he decided to mock himself by holding his shoulder in ‘triumph’. I know it will be all happy times in India and it will be seen as a vindication that they are well on top. Surely the rest of the world currently just see him as a show pony who is trying to compensate for the fact that he too cannot seem to score a run against this bowling attack.
The future of the series hangs on today’s result. Australia’s record in these situations is… rubbish. On a day when it looked as it would be Australia pushing for victory, now they can only dig in and hope to bat out the day for a draw. With two wickets having already fallen and a deficit of 129 runs still in arrears, only the most optimistic supporter would say they can survive without defeat. It is a great test for Renshaw, Handscomb and Maxwell to prove their batting powers, and for Shaun Marsh to prove he is worth persisting with. I hope I can sit here and write tomorrow’s summary as a huge positive for Australian cricket, and not the repeating disaster than hangs over this final day like a pall of doom.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Songs of My Life #51 - Moving Pictures - What About Me - 1982

Songs of My Life #51 - Moving Pictures - What About Me - 1982

Still one of the finest Australian songs ever written. When this came out it was plastered over the radio and Countdown and any other show that would put music videos on. It captured the time, and sat perfectly between the Aussie Pub Rock culture and the New Romantic era that was being shepherded in.

Relying mostly on the piano, synthesiser, sax and heavy drum beat when required, this was so different from what was being done in music at the time. But the starring role in the whole song is Alex Smith's perfect vocals. Not just his range, but the perfect use of emotion at the right time to drive the song harder or bring it back to a melancholic tone. It's a roller coaster that still gives me goose bumps whenever I listen to it today.

This is one of the greats - that was very nearly destroyed when Australian Idol contestant Shannon Noll hijacked it and stripped it of its glory and replaced it with huge vile chunks of vomit. There is only one version of this song, and Moving PIctures are the sole owners of it. Enjoy.

Three Stories Highlight Fascinating Day of Test Cricket

The 3rd day at Ranchi was dominated by three individuals, whose own performances on the day showed the differing skills, temperaments and mental application that abide within the series. While two succeeded where one continues to live inside his own bubble, the tough grinding day of Test cricket has once again failed to give either side an advantage leading into Day Four.

  1. Cheteshwar Pujara has played the tough mongrel innings that he seems to save for Tests against Australia. He batted through the entire day rarely looking troubled, and ensure the deficit was slowly but surely knocked away. His one moment was an LBW appeal referred to the DRS, where depending on your point of view, it could be said that the ball may have hit the pad slightly before his bat which would have led to his dismissal. The third umpire disagreed and he survived. He saw off the threats of Cummins and Hazelwood, he padded away O'Keefe's line outside his leg stump, and he worked Lyon away through the leg side with ease. It was a terrific example of the mental side of cricket, something that should not be lost on his teammates such as Vijay and Rahane who lost their wickets to rash shots. He remains on 130 not out, and is the Indian who is most control of whether his side face a deficit in the first innings, or possibly gain a lead.
  2. Pat Cummins has returned to Test cricket, and picked up where he left off 6 years ago. He was managed well by skipper Steve Smith, given shorter spells and used as a strike bowler. You could see the difficulty of the situation, because Cummins was the one who looked like getting the breakthroughs and both he and his captain would have liked him to bowl more, but you could also see the tired walk back to the bowling mark through his fourth over of a spell, and you just knew he couldn't be pushed much further for fear of ANY injury occurring. This aside, he was truly brilliant in conditions that were in no way suitable for him. It was his sheer pace and effort that got him his wickets on the day - the brilliant ball to get Kohli and the effort balls to get Rahane and Ashwin. He now has 4/59 from 25 overs in the innings, and the only concern now is how he pulls up after that workload. It will be a familiar question for him over the next two weeks given his history. The supporting cast for Australia did their job on a thankless surface. Hazlewood was a metronome, while O'Keefe and Lyon both toiled with few troubles for the batsmen. Their time will come on Day Five if they are in a position to bowl India out in their second innings.
  3. For a man who has taken it on himself to be the man to drag India to this series win, Virat Kohli had yet another unspectacular day. After spending most of the first two days inside the change room, he decided to make his presence felt when Australia lost their second DRS review against Pujara. While applauding vociferously (which must have been a strain on that poor injured shoulder) he deliberately moved out onto the balcony so that the whole world - and specifically the Australian players - could see him. One could see that as being provocative. No, certainly the Indian media ignored that, they were more concerned when Glenn Maxwell dived for a ball in the field in the same way Kohli had done to 'injure' his shoulder, and then 'mocked' Kohli by smiling and grabbing his shoulder. That was where the problem lay, apparently. And when the cropped photo of Steve Smith with 'his' hand on his shoulder when Kohli was dismissed (which was actually Handscomb's hand on his shoulder) Indian's went vitriolic. Until it was proven false, at which point they remained indignant without being apologetic. When it mattered though, Kohli failed again, edging Cummins to Smith at slip for just 6, and the Aussies were ecstatic. Despite not being able pry out the whole order, getting the Indian captain cheaply again would have made the beer at stumps worthwhile.
India trail by 91 runs with two days to play, and all three outcomes are still possible in this Test. Significantly it will be the Australian top order that is again under the most pressure today. Whether they start with a lead or not, they still have to ensure they do not collapse as has been their wont in recent times. They must have a lead of around 200 by stumps on Day Four with wickets in hand if they are to be in a position to push for victory. Anything less than that opens the door for India to sneak under their guard and steal a win that would be, from an Australian point of view, undeserving.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Even Day Leaves Test and Series in the Balance

Day One at Ranchi was an unfamiliar feel. The pitch played fine. Australia's number six scored runs. India's spinners didn't halt progress. Australia almost felt on top. Day Two ended with a much more familiar feel to the series, and while the result isn't set yet, there is an air of inevitability creeping back into the contest.

  1. Glenn Maxwell. He got to that century that he craved, and the innings as a whole was terrific, and helped rescue Australia from a grim position to a good position. Today the runs he scored were more of the flashy variety that we are used to from the Big Show. He wasn't as secure at the crease, he was looser in his technique. His century was a flashing cut shot just wide of gully. He was dismissed a couple of overs later to a loose shot, but at least not an audacious one. We celebrate the innings, but await whether it is the start of something big or just a false dawn.
  2. Steve Smith. Like yesterday, there is little that can be added. He batted through the innings to remain not out, guiding his team to a first innings total of 451 that was a necessity for Australia's chances in this match. 
  3. It was Ravinda Jadeja who again forced his way through the batting order, finding the ball more grip and rip than on the first day. On these types of surfaces he shows why he is so successful, his accuracy depriving any runs being scored, and when the ball misbehaves he tends to strike. On the other hand, it was interesting to note the genuine lack of threat that was evident from Ashwin. Certainly the pitch was a major part of this, as was shown by the same lack of penetration by the Australian spinners. But with no success, the swagger was noticeably absent.
  4. The return of Pat Cummins to Test cricket could not have gone too much better. He was swift, he was accurate, and he showed all the tricks he has learned in six years. To be honest, it was wonderful to watch. No matter what thoughts I may have had on selection issues leading to his recall, it was great to see that mop of black hair and steely blue eyes ripping the ball down the wicket in a Test match again. He claimed the only Indian wicket to fall, by mixing short balls and full balls and slower balls. Today will be a sterner test (no pun intended) but the opening spells were a terrific start.
  5. I still believe Nathan Lyon is bowling too fast to be truly effective. Yes, his 8-fa in the 2nd Test would seem to show I don't know what I'm talking about, but that was a different surface. Surely here, where currently the only problem is the lower bounce of the wicket, it would be beneficial to try and beat the batsman in the air, giving the ball a bit of flight and variety in speed.
  6. For the first time this series, the Indian batsmen must be licking their lips. Day 3 can be their day to show their fans that they are ready to seize the initiative back and put the Australians to the sword. Vijay and Pujara look set last night, and their middle order partners must be looking forward to batting on this surface. Without the threat of massive spin and variable bounce from the Australian spinners, the batsmen can again treat them with the disdain they tend to feel for them. If they cannot do that today, they will have some issues in forcing a victory in the time remaining.
  7. Virat Kohli again did not appear on the field during Day 2. For some reason however, the injury he sustained to his shoulder on Day One has been deemed as an 'exterior' injury, which means he does not have to serve a time penalty and not bat higher than number seven in the order. This seems somewhat extraordinary, given the fact that he had to go for an MRI and that it is said that he has ligemnt damage. I don't recall any external ligaments on the human body. Once again, if this was anyone else would it be allowed? All it looks like from the outside is that the Indians have decided that their best chance to have their captain get back into scoring runs is to ensure he didn't have to field for a day and a half while Australia scored 450 runs, instead drinking tea in air conditioned comfort.
Not for the first time this series, today is set up to be a beauty, one that will be of great influence in this series. As an Australian, it could turn out to be tough as everything is set up for India's batting to dominate the day. However, the Australians bowling this series has continued to surprise, and if they can find a way to get into the middle order which hasn't fired in this series, then perhaps once again they can find a way to take the initiative. Pat Cummins taking 10 wickets would be a great start.

Friday, March 17, 2017

40 Years Ago - Centenary Test 1977 Australia V England

Today - March 17 - marks exactly 40 years to the day that the Centenary Test concluded at the MCG, with Australia defeating England by 45 runs - the exact margin that they had won by 100 years previously.
It therefore marks exactly 40 years to the day that I had appendix removed, as I was taken to hospital for the procedure that day. Dad was forced to watch the scintillating final session of the match from the TV in the waiting room as I was being prepared for surgery. Sorry Dad.

For those that haven't seen this video, I can  only suggest you take the 70 minutes to watch it. It was (from my hazy memories of when I was 7 years old) an amazing match, and with so many amazing performances it is impossible to list them all.


Songs of My Life #50 - Spandau Ballet - I'll Fly For You - 1984

Songs of My Life #50 - Spandau Ballet - I'll Fly For You - 1984.

In the first half of the decade of the 1980's, Spandau Ballet had the music world at their feet, with hit albums and hit songs across the globe. Anyone who grew up during those days could not help but be exposed and influenced by their material.

I could have chosen any number of their songs here (and may do so in the future) - "True", "Gold", "Only When You Leave" - but I have chosen "I'll Fly For You" for two reasons. Firstly, it struck a chord with me on its release, and I recall it being on the radio quite a bit at the time, especially on Kasey Kasem's American Top 40.
Secondly, in an age when the music video was the most important of all artforms in order to sell your product, this is perhaps the most convoluted story ever told in such a video clip. Apart from watching Tony Hadley walk around pining after his woman, and then the rest of the band infiltrating the court case, and then amazingly breaking her out of the police car during mardi gras - can anyone really work out what the hell is going on? Lucky it's a good song, because... well...

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S4 E16: On Thursday We Leave for Home

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S4 E16: On Thursday We Leave for Home

This episode has everything that Rod Serling loves to present to you in his own written episodes. He is brilliant at showing the frailty of human endeavour. At how power can corrupt an individual or a group. He takes a scenario and uses these to highlight these human flaws in a science fiction story in his usual brilliant and clever way.

Such is the fate of Brooks Hanlan - sorry - William Benteen, who for thirty years has held together the stranded society on a rock in space, unquestionably in charge in order to survive. When a ship signals it is coming, everyone is happy that they will be able to return to Earth. But as with stories like this where a man in power realises he will lose that position, he begins to rail against it.

Everything about this story is terrifically done. James Whitmore is excellent in the role of the troubled and confused Benteen, whose mad lust for power, as in all of Serling's stories, leads to his eventual downfall. It may be somewhat predictable all the way through, but it is in the acting and the way it is told that makes it worthwhile.

Rating: Another one bites the dust.  4/5

Smooth Surface Allows Smith to Sail on Calmer Waters

For all the talk before the match as to what the surface was going to offer in this 3rd Test match in Ranchi, it was still going to be obvious that batting first would be an advantage. From the moment the coin fell in Australia's favour, they then had to grind their way to a position of strength. They're half way there.

  1. What to do about the Flat Track Bully? Once again David Warner has been found out on a surface that isn't an Australian road. Today he was so confused he bunted a little full toss back to the bowler! His mindset is completely shot. He is at his best when he is being positive without being over aggressive. So far this series we haven't seen that at all. The mental game here has been well and truly won by India.
  2. what happened to Matt Renshaw? His finest asset in his short career to date has been his constant leaving of the ball outside off stump. It is what has made the bowlers bowl to him. He was terrific early, and looked set to make a huge score. Then Yadav returned and began to reverse swing the ball that was about an hour old, and Renshaw lost his mojo and started stabbing at it outside off, eventually culminating in his wicket. Let's hope it is a one off, because he greatest asset so far has been his patience. We don't need the Warner Factor to start rubbing off on him.
  3. Shaun Marsh again managed to disappoint. His typical series of one big contribution and then several non existent ones appears to be right on track. So too Peter Handscomb who got his fifth straight start only to fall when he should have been set. Both will be disappointed. One wonder, on this surface, what Usman Khawaja would have achieved. It looked to be perfect for his play...
  4. So here is the conundrum. Glenn Maxwell's selection on tour and then for this Test goes against everything that selection should be. Or at least that's what I've written here for the past week. And yet, today Maxwell showed that he can bat, and that he can bat to the conditions and the fate of the match. Everyone knows he can bat, but it is the constant flurry of unorthodox shots that eventually leads to his downfall that pisses off the Australian public. But today, they were all shelved. He defended well. He pushed for singles, He rotated the strike. When the ball was in his zone he launched it into the outfield - but safely. He played the perfect foil for his skipper at the other end. It wasn't until he was on 74 that he deigned to try a reverse sweep, and very nearly lost his wicket. Then it was put away until stumps. In essence, it was the kind of innings that we sort of knew he was capable of, but were unsure if it would ever happen. It's a day he should be proud of. What comes today though is the next chapter. All that good work is ruined if he doesn't push on in exactly the same way today and makes good on the selectors faith in his ability.
  5. There's not really much more that can be said of Steve Smith. Whereas he had the series' only century before yesterday, he had effectively been given five lives in that knock. Yesterday it was flawless apart from one french cut. 5000 Test runs, 19 Test centuries, but most importantly once again he has stood up as captain of his country, after all of the vitriol of the past week, and lead the way by getting is team into a position of strength. His serious demeanour when acknowledging his teammates on reaching that century indicates he isn't finished yet.
  6. Just to note - once again, not one Indian applauded Smith's century. And not one word was mentioned about this lack of acknowledgement. If that's the way it is, fine, but don't go screaming to mommy if the Aussies show the same lack of respect when an Indian reaches that milestone.
  7. Interesting to note that once there is little help in the wicket, it is the Indian seamers that come to the fore and not their spinners. Yadav was superb again yesterday, with excellent reverse swing, and Ishant solid. The two spinners toiled and bowled the majority of the overs, but without that doctoring effect were less than effective. How the surface plays over the next 3-4 days will be interesting indeed.
  8. What is with Virat Kohli? Did anyone really think he could have damaged his shoulder in the way he tried to dive and field the ball? The fact that he was off the field for more than half the day, and left Rahane in charge, lessened India's impact. It will be interesting now to see where he is allowed to bat if he doesn't take the field today.
Australia couldn't have asked for a better day than yesterday. And while one of the combatants was unsurprisingly at the forefront of the battle, it was Glenn Maxwell's contribution from 4/140 that has gotten Australia to within sight of a 450 first innings total. Few people would have seen that coming 24 hours ago.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S4 E15: The Incredible World of Horace Ford

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S4 E15: The Incredible World of Horace Ford

Moving back and forth in time is a difficult proposition for a science fiction writer, but this tale touches upon some excellent home truths. Horace Ford is wonderfully played by Pat Hingle, who makes you believe he is a grown man who is transgressing to his childhood as he continues to thinking about the great times he had as a child. In fact, it's all he ever talks about.

When he decides to revisit his old street that he grew up in, he discovers that it is just as he remembers it - too much so in fact, as he meets up with his old childhood protagonists, who are all still 10 years old. What transpires is a lesson that we all possess selective memory when it comes to some things in our past, and that sometimes we can romanticise those memories.

It mightn't be a wonderfully pleasant episode to watch, but it is well written, and excellently acted, and the final outcome pulls all the strings together in the right order.

Rating: Are the good memories just a shadow?  4/5

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Songs of My Life #49 - Hear 'n Aid - Stars - 1986

Songs of My Life #49 - Hear 'n Aid - Stars - 1986

Following on from “Do They Know It’s Christmas” with the biggest UK pop artists in 1984, and then “We Are the World” with the biggest US pop artists in 1985, Jimmy Bain and Vivian Campbell from Dio came up with an idea to have a similar type of benefit song, recorded by musicians from the heavy metal genre. When they proposed this to band leader Ronnie James Dio, they wrote the song together, and put together the project that was entitled ‘Hear ’n Aid’ which went forward and recorded the song entitled “Stars”. It was recorded on May 20 and 21, 1985, but unfortunately problems between the artists many varied record companies meant tit could not be released until early 1986, negating the impact it had. Not that it stopped me – I still bought the 12” vinyl single on its release and played it to death.

The song not only gives many of the best metal vocalists of the time the chance to showcase their wares – names like Eric Bloom from Blue Oyster Cult, Don Dokken, Kevin DuBrow from Quiet Riot, Rob Halford, Dave Meniketti from Y&T, Paul Shortino from Rough Cutt, Geoff Tate from Queensryche and Dio himself, it was unique from the other projects in that it gave the guitarists of the metal industry space to show what they were made of, and it is this section that really makes the song what it is. Carlos Cavazo from Quiet Riot, Donald Roeser from Blue Oyster Cult, Brad Gillis from Night Ranger, George Lynch and Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Ojeda from Twister Sister, Neal Schon from Journey, Craig Goldy (soon to be in Dio) and Vivian Campbell. Along with this the kings of melodic guitar Dave Murray and Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden provided the rhythm melody throughout. Backing them all is the choir, with even more greats from the era lending their vocal support for the chorus of the song.

It might be a bit cheesy, but as a collection of great metal artists at the time, it was brilliant. I still love it, just to see and hear them all again in their pomp.

975. Blaze Bayley / Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II). 2017. 3.5/5

Taking on the second album in his Infinite Entanglement concept trilogy, Blaze Bayley returns in his quest to continue his relevance in the heavy metal field with Endure and Survive (Infinite Entanglement Part II). There is little doubt that Blaze has been a little bit hit and miss over recent releases. For me it has come from not having a solid backing band and writing conglomerate, but I could be completely mistaken. With the setting for his concept piece already in place and the same co-writers in place, it should have made the writing here a bit more solid.

Starting off with the title track “Endure and Survive” Blaze sets sail on his conceptual journey on the right note, his vocals soaring above the fast paced chorus and dual melodic guitars plying their trade throughout. “Escape Velocity” continues along this path with pleasing effects. “Blood” too moves along driven by the double kick of the drums, but it is the almost ritual chanting of the lyrics that tends to hold up this song. It feels a bit staged rather than comfortably going along with the flow of the music, it comes across as stop start. As the middle of the song becomes the story telling part played by the characters involved, it just makes it hard to fully enjoy. However, it is the end of the song that proves to be the real mover, and shows where the direction should have been all along.
“Eating Lies” slows the album back to a lesser tempo, giving a different emphasis on the band and showing off Blaze’s vocals in different scenario. I still don’t know if I like this song or not. For the most part it doesn’t grab me, yet I do like Blaze coming through the quagmire into the emotive highs he can show, and once again the excellent guitaring by Chris Appleton is showcased in another solo spot that is worth rating the song on alone. “Destroyer” follows a similar path, in a way that is difficult to describe. There doesn’t seem to be much that is brilliant here, but a snatch of vocals and the majority of the guitar solos are terrific and make it worthwhile listening to. The best song on the album is “Dawn of the Dead Son”, one where all of the band are best utilised, and the music and vocalist come together in their best possible light. Its power metal guitar leanings give it the best sound of any song on the album, and Blaze also gives us the soar of his vocals that seem to be missing for the most part on this album. Great song.
The acoustic solitude of “Remember” is enjoyable enough, twinning together his frequent collaborators for another crack after their efforts on the preceding album. The song does have enough energy in the vocals to not make you completely lose your focus on what has come before it, but really it is only forgivable in the sense that it is a part of the story being told for the concept album itself. “Fight Back” brings the album back to life with its double kick and hard strumming rhythm, allowing Blaze to control the song with his vocals, and leave the open air for the excellent solo to chime in towards the end. “The World Is Turning the Wrong Way” chugs along more than gathering momentum, and while it is more than listenable it just feels like it is missing something. “Together We Can Move the Sun” is Blaze’s attempt at the epic closer, clocking in at over 8 minutes and combining the emphatic and soulful vocals mixed with the intrinsic guitar solo, before moving to the quiet and reflective take for the second half of the song. More’s the pity with the constant repeating of certain lyrics over and over, which just ends up becoming annoying rather than definitive. And of course, there is the spoken word element to close out the track, setting the story up for its conclusion to come in the third album of this concept trilogy.

As I have probably mentioned in the review for the preceding album, I am all for Blaze coming out with this concept idea and pursuing it in his own way and with his own style. As an artist it is great to see him still in the market place and making great music. But the trilogy idea is a difficult one to keep on track, especially if it tends to water down the style of music that you have garnered your fans with. Listening to this album for the past couple of weeks, I have found my enjoyment for it growing over that time. The problem is, when I have switched to another album to compare it with, such as Silicon Messiah or The Man Who Would Not Die there has been no comparison. They just metal up harder and faster, and it’s that style of Blaze’s music that I’ve always loved. It isn’t as prevalent now as it was. That will continue to be a stumbling block for me no matter how much I admire the man and his music.

Rating:  It's no The Empire Strikes Back.  3.5/5

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S4 E14: Of Late I Think of Cliffordville

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S4 E14: Of Late I Think of Cliffordville

Ahhhhh. I would watch this episode just for Julie Newmar. She is great as Miss Devlin - yes, you can probably work out who she works for with a name like that - and when she smiles and laughs she just lights up the screen. Awesome.

What makes it even better is that it once again shows the folly of the time traveller. Old bozo William J. Feathersmith has everything in the world and he's just fleeced yet another old rich person. But he's still not happy. So, having been approached by Miss Devlin, who sells the home truths about his position, he is transported back in time, so that he can make even more money with his knowledge of the future.

Of course, if you aren't completely prepared for your travelling through time there are things you will forget - and when making a deal with a person of no morals you will also probably find you have been cheated. Of course by the time Feathersmith works all of this out he's in danger of being stranded with nothing, so he makes a final deal to return to his present time, but a present time based on what he has now changed in the past.

While it not be a perfect scenario, it is pleasant enough to be watched, and with that twist that the Twilight Zone can always manage to provide.

Rating: Be careful not to have all your eggs in one basket.  4/5

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Songs of My Life #48 - Judas Priest - Freewheel Burning - 1984.

Songs of My Life #48 - Judas Priest - Freewheel Burning - 1984.

Back in the mid-80's when Rage first started late Friday and Saturday nights on the ABC, there was always a period between 2 and 4am on Sunday morning where they would play half a dozen metal songs. One of their favourite ones to play was this music video. It seemed to be on every weekend for about 6 months. And that was great, because not only is it one of the best ever Judas Priest songs, it is hilariously 'stuck in the 80's' when you watch it now.

The star of the show in this song is the dual and duelling guitars. Glen Tipton and K. K. Downing are on fire throughout this song, and the harmonies are terrific. Add in Halford's vocals and you have yet another pearler from the legends of the genre.