The Olympic Games Are Dead

OK, I called it a couple of weeks ago – here – but it is actually official. The Olympic Games is dead! If you still don’t believe it then read this article in the Wall Street Journal . Even Toyota, Japan’s biggest company, had decided not to advertise during the “games”. Who can blame them? And to add to that people are just not watching around the world on the TV.

Personally I have only been watching the boxing – mainly as it is the only sport on offer that I am interested in these days. Plus many of the boxers on show will soon turn professional and be the future world champions or contenders. The standard has been very good. Plenty of competitive fights including some real tear-ups.

Meanwhile, The city of Brisbane, who have suckered themselves into “winning” the right to host the games in 2032 is currently in lockdown over a handful of so called “cases” of a virus. The same virus that has delayed the current Olympics and is still preventing spectators from attending. Truly pathetic.

Well at least I can say “I told you so”…

What’s in a Word?

Ever since the Olympic Games began my seven year old on has occasionally been heard singing the Australian national anthem, “Advance Australian Fair“. It’s a song that is heard often during an Olympic games as this country usually does quite well in winning gold medals.

He barely gets past singing the first couple of lines before he realises I am listening. These lines:
Australians all let us rejoice
For we are one and free

Word Change

Now for anyone outside of Australia let me explain something about that second line. It used to read: ‘For we are young and free’ but the word was changed only last year (officially) because it was suggested that the country is not “young” at all. Just because Europeans settled here only 251 years ago does not mean that the country is ‘young’. In fact the indigenous population had been here for thousands of years it was said.

Is that what the ‘young’ in the song was meant to refer to? Who knows? Now of course you and I, and any sane individual reading this would not care about the exact significance and use of a word. After all, in terms of the rest of the world knowing about Australia’s existence it is indeed a relatively new country. But let’s not get into all that trivial nonsense… Because that is not even the word I want to talk about.

They have changed the wrong fucking word!

The word I want to talk about is at the end of that second line: “free”. Because one thing is clear now in Australia. This is no longer a free country. It is not alone in losing its freedom (perceived or otherwise) of course. This covid garbage has seen hard fought for freedoms taken away by useless politicians backed by their geeky “scientific advisors” in most so called ‘democratic’ countries. Is it not more important to be ‘free’ than ‘young’? (Or ‘one’ for that matter?)

In a rush to appease certain grievance-mongers* they have changed the wrong fucking word!  Maybe that whole line could be re-written. here are a couple of examples:
For we are now unfree
For we are one not free.

I don’t know. But it does beg the question; what are kids being taught about their national anthem? and should they now be questioning the word “free”? When media and political commentators casually use the phrase “Ring of Steel” (to describe the lockdown level in Sydney) without equating that to “The Iron Curtain” around post-war Eastern Europe there is not much hope is there? Personally I find the use of that term “Ring of Steel” shocking. But then I am old enough to remember East Germany and even visited the place. It was fucking grim let me tell you! I wonder how many currently working in the media are even aware that there was an East Germany?

* Yes there are people who are being paid (probably all from the public purse) who actively go looking for this kind of shit. They are indeed professional grievance-mongers. How they have twisted that word is beyond me. But surely that is now not even relevant. That is not the word that should offend anyone. Things are very different right now…

A Final Word (on another Word)

Incidentally, the next two lines of the anthem are:
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil
Our home is girt by sea

So how many people (especially the ‘young’ actually) know or care what “Girt” means? Come on, be honest! Exactly. The song was written in the 1870s for crying out loud. I give up… But please let me know what you think about the words of the anthem.

Oops! That Last Post Jinxed Them

Oh dear! That last post – Watching Women’s Rugby in the Olympics  – was what you might call a jinx for the Aussie team. They were knocked out in the quarter finals by Fiji last night.

Well there will be no showing off an Olympic medal at Dani’s school after all. Which is a shame in a way, especially for the kids. But looking on the bright side; I don’t have to watch any more women’s rugby! As the saying goes: Every cloud has a silver lining.

Watching Women’s Rugby in the Olympics

Now there’s a line I never thought I would write. “Watching women’s rugby in the Olympics!” Never mind actually doing it. But I have been watching a little bit. In case you don’t know it is 7-aside (aka Rugby 7s) in the Olympic Games.

Why the sudden interest?

Normally I would tell anyone (who was prepared to listen) that the only people who could possibly be interested in watching women’s rugby would be women rugby players themselves. OK, call me old fashioned. Call me sexist. Call me whatever the heck… I have been called worse. It’s just that I have never had even the slightest inkling to watch it. But this sudden, seemingly unhealthy, interest is due to one of the Aussie rugby team members.  Yesterday I learned that one of the Australian team is a former student at Dani’s school; only last year.

Her name is Tia Hinds and she played a part in both the Aussie team’s victories yesterday in the pool (group) stage matches. She graduated (left school) in 2020. Technically, for that one year, she was a school colleague of Dani’s – although there were 10 years or so between them.

Medal Hope

In the last Olympic games Australia won the gold medal in the women’s rugby 7s. So it is quite likely they will win a medal this time around. If that happens I dare say she will pay a visit to her old school to show off the medal and inspire the kids. Let’s hope that happens.

Dani described how the kids, who were actually at school, watched the first game in class cheering the team – and Tia – on.  It turns out that she was taught the basics of rugby by the same sports teacher who takes Dani for “touch” rugby.

Who’d have thought?

So now, after completely ignoring the sport, I find myself cheering on the Australian women’s rugby team. Only in the hope that she can bring a medal to show the kids in school you understand. They would love that. I know Dani would. But it just goes to show. You can teach an old dad new tricks.

Property Managers? Mis-managers more like

Back in February of 2020 I wrote about “the easiest job in Australia” – click here to read that one. That was when we had not long arrived in Sydney and were busy looking for a place to rent. A not so subtle dig at estate agents downunder and especially in Sydney. Now, almost 18 months later, we have moved house and the new place is supposedly managed by the estate /rental agency under the guise of “property management”.

I thought renting out and selling property was easy around here! But this “property management” caper seems even easier. They should call themselves “Property Mis-Managers” because the way they operate is nothing short of scandalous. You may find this hard to believe but here goes…

Property Management Skills to Amaze You…

When we collected the keys to the property they are “managing” they gave us a property ‘condition report’. Standard stuff, I know. It listed anything they thought needed to be recorded but also gives you as the new tenant the opportunity to add anything else that may be wrong and/or needs reporting. Presumably with the end result being that the “property manager” gets it fixed. Right?

Wrong!

When we arrived at the property and found that the lounge lighting was not working, we later read in the ‘condition report’ that these idiots had written exactly that: “Lounge lights not working”. It turned out that there were five lights that did not work, all with similar comments. Alongside their observation in the “report” they ask you to circle “Yes” or “No”. Incredibly, that is it. They have done nothing about getting it fixed but they expect you to agree, like; ‘Yeah, well spotted. The lights don’t work. Nice one. Thanks for pointing that out I may have missed that one, especially when it gets fucking dark!’

The apartment lighting is not working and what’s more, we cannot find the fuse/circuit breaker box! Do you think the “property manager” knows where it is? Like f*#k they do! Surely the “property manager” should know all this stuff?! Well not here in Sydney. They are a total bunch of wankers. Pure and simple. Their calling card slogan could be: “Maintenance? No chance mate. Robbery without violence a speciality.”

Here’s another example: The bedroom windows have blackout blinds fitted but the draw strings to operate them were broken. The “property managers” report reads: ‘Unable to inspect as blinds string torn’. Yeah, they are probably ok mate but you won’t find out until someone fixes the draw strings! What?! There were a couple of other items with a similar lack of action on the part of these “property managers”.

So “property management” does not mean performing or even organising basic or routine maintenance work on the property. It only means inspecting the property and writing about the conditions – whether the item is fully functional or simply not working. It matters not to these clowns.

They just don’t care though. They inspect, find things and expect the tenant to accept them as “not working”. These people are fraudulent conmen. There is no doubt about it. But if the law allows them to operate like this then what can you do? Who knows? If it wasn’t so blindingly stupid (almost to the point of being comical) it could make you crazy.

Wait a Moment. I Just Had an Idea!

But then it does give me an idea. If this is the standard of “property management” around here then surely that leaves a huge gaping hole that needs filling (no pun intended). I could set up a genuine  “property management” company. Our slogan could be: “Real Estate Management. Property Managers who actually give a toss!

 

The Return to Sydney – Part Two

West Wyalong to Sydney

On the final leg of our return journey we went from West Wyalong passing through Glenfell,  Cowra and Bathurst before arriving at Sydney.

The West Wyalong district is the largest cereal-growing centre in NSW. The area became one of the major world exporters of eucalyptus oil in the early 1900s. Agriculture is still what generates the wealth in this part of NSW. Before that however, in the late 19th century the town of Wyalong (5km east) was the centre of a major goldfield. The two places still remain curiously separate but West Wyalong is definitely the larger. We stopped the night in West Wyalong in one of the many motels. For some reason there are a lot of motels on the stretch of road between West Wyalong and Wyalong. I am really not sure why there are so many or when they can all be full. If anyone knows can you please tell us?

It certainly guaranteed us a room for the night.

West Wyalong Roman Catholic Church
West Wyalong Anglican Church
Replica of the True Blue Mine Poppet Head built to honour the gold-mining past.

West Wyalong is a busy little place with plenty of shops, pubs and places to eat. Plus impressive churches for a small town.

Grenfell

Further east about 100km is the town of Grenfell. Like so many small towns in this part of the world gold played a big part in the foundation of Grenfell when it was initially called Emu Creek. Nowadays agriculture is the main industry. The railway station was built in 1901 but passenger services ceased in 1974. The station closed but was later restored by local groups and was listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register in April 1999. It is considered one of the finest surviving examples of a pioneer terminus station with timber platform face

Grenfell railway station. A heritage listed building
The railway station was restored by local groups

Another example of ‘Big Stuff’. A monument to the town’s gold mining past.

Grenfell is what you might call a quaint old town. There is plenty of old architecture and for its size the town seems to be thriving. Another of those places I would return to and spend more time in.

One of several interesting hotel/pubs in the town.
Another fine example of the town’s original architecture

One of the main attractions here was another fine example of silo art. This fantastic example was painted in 2019 using 180 litres of regular paint and 800 spray cans.

Grenfell Silo Art

Cowra

Another 56km east we came to Cowra. It is a small town but for these parts it is relatively large with a population of about 10,000. We only passed though Cowra but stopping only on the north side of the town to see its most famous spots. Cowra is a location that brought the struggles of the second world war right into the heart of Australia.

During World War II, Cowra was the site of a large prisoner of war (POW) camp. Most of the prisoners were Japanese and Italian military personnel. On August 5th 1944, hundreds of Japanese POWs organised a mass breakout from the camp. Some Japanese committed suicide or attacked fellow countrymen while others attacked guards. During the breakout and subsequent recapture of POWs, four Australian guards and 231 Japanese died. A further  108 prisoners were wounded. The dead Japanese are buried in Cowra in the specially created Japanese War Cemetery. It is the only cemetery of its kind in Australia.

The Cowra War Cemetery plaque explains…

The Japanese graves are laid out in rows with small plaques displaying the names of the dead.
Local soldiers are also buried nearby
Little remains of the POW camp but the location is historically important for many including Japanese visitors.
I thought this Declaration of War sign was interesting.

Some of the dates and actions on the war timeline (above) made me smile. The one right at the end for example: Norway got brave when it was all but over, declaring war on Japan in July 1945. Exactly one month before the first ‘bomb’ was dropped on Hiroshima.

I would like to take a proper look at Cowra, but for now we just wanted to get home. From Cowra it was just over 300km to Sydney. We did it with only a short break  in Bathurst,  a town we would return to just over a week later….

The Olympic Shames

Today – Friday 23rd July 2021 – the 2020 Olympic Games opening ceremony will take place in Tokyo, Japan. Postponed for one year because of a so-called global outbreak, a ‘pandemic’ no less. I remember writing about it, way back in March 2020, when I suggested that cancelling the games in August of that year would be “an unprecedented move” (you can read that post by clicking here.) Yet it happened. Some events (or should I say non-events) have already started.

A Year Later… The Games Begin

The games were rescheduled for this year and all set to be a great welcome back for international sport. Then further outbreaks of “new variants” of coronavirus happened – if you are to believe the politicians and media that is. In any case the Games are still going ahead but there will be no crowds. Zero people! That’s no paying customers! Let that sink in for a minute…

So who is paying for it all? The amount of money that the city of Tokyo (and Japan as a whole) would have spent will not be recuperated through ticket sales and souvenir sales etc…It is not just the cost of winning and setting up everything for the Games. This time the costs just continued to go up as they had to reschedule and of course now have to quarantine the athletes and media. (Oh yes, sorry. I forgot to say that representatives of multiple media outlets across the world will be there to watch the sport. Just not you or I, or any other tourists.) The organisers also have to continually monitor and test everyone. That won’t be free either.

What’s more, far fewer people will tune in to watch stale events with no crowds. That will probably affect the advertising revenue. It is as if there is a money tree in the centre of Tokyo and suddenly money is unimportant. Amazing eh?

This is the first Olympic Games my son will be able to remember and he has already talked about it. But will it be worth watching? Probably not.

While I can recall bits from the 1972 Games in Munich, the first Games I can fully remember was the Montreal Olympics in 1976. I also remember how much of a financial disaster those games were for Montreal. The city not only failed to recover the spending costs, it infamously lost a lot of money. I would expect Tokyo to lose far more money that Montreal. Even the London games in 2012, where all events were a complete sell-out, actually lost money!

The cost overrun for Montreal 1976 is the highest cost overrun on record for any Olympics  $1.5 billion, a 720% overrun. It took 30 years to repay and almost broke the city.  The cost overrun for Montreal compares with a cost overrun of 51% for Rio 2016 and 76% for London 2012.

Seriously: If you are going to have the Games then let people pay to watch. Otherwise what’s the point?

Brisbane 2032. What a Joke!

Now usually different cities in different countries fight for the right to host this illustrious sporting event. Before a new games begins the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announce who has won the “bid” to host a future Olympic Games. This time around the “bid” was for the 2032 Games. And the city of Brisbane in the state of Queensland, Australia, won that bid. But it wasn’t a normal process this time. Brisbane was the only city in the ‘race’. Something to do with making the real decisions way back in February when there were other cities (supposedly) in contention. But who really cares?

This one almost slipped under the radar even here in Australia. There was a TV show on celebrating the “win” last night but I couldn’t bring myself to watch it. I am sure it was one of those hard to watch programmes, if not vomit inducing.

Forget the fact that the state of Queensland is not allowing people in or out – even from down the road in New South Wales – without all kinds of paperwork, tests etc… Now they think they can open their doors to the whole planet? Or are they planning to operate with no spectators? I know it is nine years away but when the country can’t even host a Formula One or MotoGP race this year then it just seems pathetic.

So now the city of Brisbane is saddled with hosting an extremely expensive sporting event that possibly nobody will turn up to watch. That nine years may seem a very long way off but if the past 18 months has taught us anything it is that things may never be the same again. At least the way things are going now – which in Australia is backwards!

They may never recoup even a fraction of the amount the city will need to spend. But that didn’t stop those involved putting Brisbane forward as a candidate. With all the rubbish that is going on right now! Would you say that was optimistic?  Possibly it is. But where is their optimism now when the people of Australia need it? Nowhere to be seen sadly.

It is more like:  ‘Hey Brisbane (and other cities in Australia)! Close down your businesses while we make out how bad this “new virus variant” is. Don’t worry if your business goes bust. We have just “won” an Olympic Games. Hoorah!’

Is it just me or does all this seem like something out of The Twilight Zone?

Now, click below…

Back to School. Or Not?

Today was the first day of term three. The kids’ holidays for the past three weeks were completely wiped out by the New south Wales government putting Sydney into lockdown Basically banning anyone from leaving the city. Not that any other destination would allow anyone from Sydney into their state/town/whatever.

Schools have been encouraged by the politicians to do that thing they laughingly call ‘remote learning’. In other words keep your kids at home and have them sat in front of a computer screen all day via google classroom (or whatever the hell they call it). But the schools themselves remain open and it is not against the law – or rather the lockdown restrictions – for kids to attend the schools. At least as far as I know.

So, for Daniel it was back to school…

When we arrived there were very few signs of any other kids. Two or three kindergarten age plus one maybe a year below Dani. I thought he might be the only one in his class but it turned out that there was a 20% attendance for his class and about the same for his school year. I think those numbers will increase as the week goes on but that’s still a lot of kids being kept at home. Dani attends an independent school so the parents of the kids in that school pay for the privilege. I suppose I am just puzzled as to why so many parents are keeping their kids out of school when they are paying for it. In our case we are lucky; it is being paid for by Dani’s mum’s company as part of her work deal. But there’s still no way he won’t be attending.

For me school is not just about English, Maths and history classes etc. It is also about mixing with your peers and also other adults in positions of authority (the teachers).

Of course it is totally up to the parents but I feel they have not been allowed the benefit of informed consent in all this. The media hysteria is all one way so effectively they have been frightened out of their wits. (Actually in Australia there is a TV news channel that speaks a lot of common sense. But only one.)

The very same thing happened last year. So much for lessons learnt eh? After a few days the kids started returning to the classroom. Quite rightly in my opinion; even if it was only because the parents could not deal with them schooling from home. We shall see how this year’s scare tactics pan out. Things have a habit of changing rapidly and on a daily basis.

Consider this…

All of this got me wondering. If (or when) the wonderful politicians say that young children can (or should) have the vaccines, will it be the other way around? Will those kids now absent from school – the 80% majority – suddenly all be there waiting in line for a needle? While the small number in school right now are not? Food for thought eh?…

The world is becoming an increasingly confused place to grow up. I really fear for my son. And his classmates – whether they were in attendance today or not. And every child caught in the middle of this nonsense.

The Bondi Mermaids

I noticed a statue on a recent visit to the local Library – before it was closed due to this latest lockdown. It is the remains of what were known as the two Bondi Mermaids. Way back in 1960 (before my time that) the two statues were installed on a rock at the north headland of Bondi beach. The large rock came to be called Mermaid Rock.

The mermaids were the creation of a local artist called Lyall Randolph Williams. One was modelled on Jan Carmody who was Miss Australia Surf 1959. Now I have no idea whether “Miss Australia Surf” was a surfing contest or for looking good in a bikini (possibly holding a surfboard – but not essential?). I can find almost nothing about it so (in this day and age) it is safe to assume it is the latter. The second mermaid was modelled on Lynette Whillier who swam for Australia at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Lynette also happened to be runner-up in that same 1959 Miss Australia Surf contest.

Lyall Randolph originally asked the local council to sponsor his project but when they refused he funded it himself. He claimed that by siting them on the rock offshore they were technically not under the council jurisdiction and installed them on April 3, 1960. Good on him I say. Remember when artists were as rebellious as they were creative? Real Rock ‘n’ Roll? It’s hard to imagine an artist doing something like that today.

A month later…

One month later University students removed Mermaid Jan form the rock as a prank. She was later found at the Engineering school and eventually repaired and restored. All paid for with public funds as by then the mermaids were well loved by the public.

Lynette Swept Out to Sea…

In 1974 Mermaid Lynette was swept off the rock and out to sea and was never seen again. Mermaid Jan lost an arm in the same storm. Two years later the well sea battered Jan was removed and stored at a council depot for years.

Eventually in 1999 the Friends of Waverley Library paid for the remains to be preserved and she now sits on display at the library.

Mermaid Jan – What’s left of her

Is it just me or does Mermaid Jan look like a young Margaret Thatcher? Is that what years of erosion by the sea does to a Miss Australia Surf?

There has been talk in recent years of installing new replicas of the mermaid statues at the same rock. Will they find a Miss Australia Surf to model for them? I somehow doubt it.

Film Review – Nobody

Here’s one that almost slipped past me. It was about a coupe of months ago that I saw this one in the cinema. So this movie will probably be available for rent or on some streaming service near you any time soon, if not already. My advice is simple – watch it !

Nobody – Cast and Plot

The main character is Hutch “Nobody” Mansell played by the fantastic Bob Odenkirk (who played Breaking Bad’s best character Saul Goodman). Hutch is living a typical life of an average Joe with wife, kids and a routine job; but was clearly something else in a former life. It turns out he was a CIA operative. As was his father David, also a retired agent (FBI this time) who is played by Christopher Lloyd. As the story unravels we first hear from Hutch’s half-brother Harry Mansell, played by RZA (no, me neither!) – who is apparently a (c)rapper called Robert Fitzgerald Diggs. We finally meet him near the end of the movie.

The basic plot is that Hutch is clearly pissed off being Mr. Average. Especially after he is burgled and fails to attack the robbers despite seeing his teenage son having a go. He is trying his best to contain the inner beast. Fortunately for us that beast soon springs to life on a bus when a group of loudmouthed thugs threaten a lone young woman. Hutch is just bursting for it to happen. He manages to beat them up but not before taking some bad injuries himself. Still, he has regained his pride.

It turns out that one of the bus riding thugs is the younger brother of Yulian Kuznetsov, a notorious Russian crime lord. Aren’t they always? Brother or son? How many Russian mafia bosses have complete arseholes for brothers/sons who go around openly terrorising their local poor communities just tying to draw as much attention to themselves as possible? Well, you get the point… It’s all about setting up the totally absurd violence which follows. So crazy in fact it made me laugh and almost makes this seem like a ‘feel-good movie’. Think John Wick after his dog is killed, or any of the spaghetti westerns and you get the point.

Aleksei Serebryakov plays Kuznetsov brilliantly, including doing a couple of live songs at the mob’s own cabaret club. Things move quickly as Kuznetsov inevitably goes after Hutch. Realising the threat Hutch decides to send his family away to safety before burning his own house down to destroy any evidence. It turns out Hutch was an “auditor” who killed for the agencies and was considered untouchable. Them pesky Russian criminals had better watch out eh?

The rest, as you can probably guess, is non stop absurd violence and a body-count movie. Some people (understandably) will not like that but many will love it. I was one of the latter. So no spoiler alerts, just watch it all unfold….

Critique (and Soundtrack)

I thought this was just a good old retribution movie. It was so comic-book it can’t possibly be taken seriously despite the levels of violence and blood flow. I also happen to like Bob Odenkirk – ever since watching Breaking Bad – so it was great to see him get a fun part in a big screen movie.

The official soundtrack is made up of music by David Buckley, specifically composed for the movie, but there are also some great old tracks skilfully embedded into this story, including:

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Nina Simone
Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar
I’ve Gotta Be Me by Steven Lawrence
What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
And more… even a couple of Edwin Starr numbers…

Still on the soundtrack: I challenge anyone to watch the final bloodbath scene without smiling as Gerry and The Pacemakers version of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone‘ plays along. It is a total body-count scene that sees father and his two sons doing battle with what is left of the Russian mafia gang. With a lot of help from some entertaining pre-prepared booby-traps. “When you walk through a storm” – indeed… Fantastic.

Another great use of an old classic is sung by Kuznetsov as a karaoke number – The Impossible Dream (by Andy Williams), or was it I’ve gotta be Me? Maybe both, I can’t recall. Great stuff though. Again it just sits well with the, by now, outrageous storyline and even more daring antics of Hutch.

I give this movie 4 stars (out of 5). All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable film if you like gratuitous violence that is totally unrealistic (in that, ‘there’s no way he would survive all that!’ sort of way). An easy, don’t take too seriously, just sit back and watch film. Enjoy Odenkirk and Christopher Lloyd’s performances. And, when he finally appears on screen, RZA too.