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If you should find offenses to the English language in any of my articles please leave a comment and let me know so that I can obliterate it forever! Thanks!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Gospel of Matthew - Chapter One

I come to this with some trepidation. Most of my blog site is full of my wit and is brushed with my own flavour of creativity but now I want to talk about something that is not my own and yet is mine to own and everyone's to share. Neither is this my achievement. It came to me some 17 years ago while I was sitting in my school auditorium watching some students rehearse something Shakespearian. At that time I was memorizing the Bard and had already had quite the theatrical background. But I also had this other life apart from School, and that was my growing spiritual side and my intimate relationship with the Lord and with his Word - The Bible.

As I sat there I started thinking, if I could memorize Shakespeare then what was stopping me from memorizing Scripture? At the time the thought seemed revolutionary but as I dipped my feet into the shallow end of God's pool of amazing words I was soon to realize that there was something more to this than just committing a few good ideas to memory. There was no "shallow end". I've started to see God's word for what it is, a force stronger than any Nuclear Weapon on the planet for "...the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12)
As a Christian I am called not to be "conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2) A process that I know can only be achieved by committing yourself to the Word and seeking his face in prayer.

I have become aware of a believers responsibility to sharpen their knowledge of the Sword daily:

Joshua 1:8 - Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful...

Deuteronomy 17:18-19 - When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the priests, who are Levites. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees

Proverbs 4:5 - Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.

Without being aggressive, but rather stating a sad fact, Christians here in the West are standing in the midst of a great and terrible battle clapping their hands and singing songs with big grins on our faces while hordes of lost souls lie butchered on the battlefield around us and we seem perfectly oblivious to the magnificent sword dangling by our waists (or hidden among our TV guides), that if we would just take it out and swing it we might do some serious damage to the Devil's army that rips us to shreds without us even being aware of it...

I have done so little. But by the Lord's grace and the immense help of his Holy Spirit I have started the ball rolling and have memorized most of the book of Matthew with one hope - that I will get to preach this word to believers and non-believers alike. As Paul said in the first chapter of Romans - I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God, for the SALVATION of everyone who believes. I have not learned this to keep locked away in my head for my own pleasure, to win theological arguments or so I can pride myself at the next Bible trivia night. I have done this because with a little bit of skill I might be able to swing my Sword and watch the bowels of the Devil's demons spill out on the ground, and ultimately to wake up a sleeping generation of Church goers who, frankly, need a swift kick into action.

Its my prayer that this starts something.

If you are a Pastor or a church leader then my request of you is simple: please watch this video and ask the Lord this question: "Do you want this Gospel preached at my Church?" If the answer is yes then contact me.

Please pass this onto your friends, and ask them to pass it on. In my 32 years this is the most crucial and important activity that I have been involved in, and the only thing I want to be remembered for.

I hope to plant a seed in your heart that will grow into an incredible hunger for God's Word such as you never thought was possible.

God Bless

Kerin Gedge

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fatherhood at 8 Months, 2 weeks and 2 days.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the home of some friends of ours. They have two kids with a 3 year head start on our young family. The smaller is just over a year old and every time I go round she hops up on her little trunks and waddles across the floor in a mammoth effort to make it to my legs and then tries to launch herself upward by tugging on my knee caps. They’re really cool kids. The three year old boy is already first in line to be my daughter’s husband (so far as I’m concerned) and every time I see him I make a point of asking him, “Are you going to marry H when you grow up?” He nods his head yes but sometimes gets confused and tells me who else he plans to marry. Actually he sometimes even tries to claim my wife as already being his! But it’s still early days and the brain washing process that I’ve started may take a few years, but at least the seed has been sown. He certainly enjoys kissing her good-bye at the end of each visit (In a perfectly innocent Anne Geddes sense).

Having friends with kids is helpful because I can gauge my fledgling’s progress against theirs. A great example is one little girl who had a nice crusty layer of boogers moustaching the area between her nostrils and upper lip. You see it on a great many kids; at some point the parent’s click that wiping it off would be a waste of natural resources because it’s just going to keep gushing back, one minute a gooey sort of booger-fall, the next a crackly dry wasteland of snot. I asked her mother, “So when can I expect H to have snot on her face all the time?” because up until this point she had been relatively snot-face free.
“Within a few weeks of starting day care.” Was the unwelcome response.

And so it begins. The relentless crawl up the immunity ladder as my child builds her immune system from scratch. For the most part, as long as she is taking breast milk she is largely protected from all manner of nasty’s that mommy is already immune to. So for the first 8 months of her life we thought we had a super baby who practically never got sick. I almost sort of looked down my non-runny nose at other kids who always had something trying to escape their nostrils or stomachs, whether they be coughs, sniffles or abundant mucus. Of course she threw up her milk after most feeds and had the odd blocked nose that required the torturous effort of an aspirator to remove the blockage but as far as actually being sick went, complete with a high temperature and the obvious struggle of a baby who can’t breath and who can’t understand why; that had only happened once when she was about 4 months old…

Flash back. Middle of winter. One day perfectly healthy baby. Next day you can hear the bubbling of breathing through a drippy nose. Babies take a while to learn how to breath through their mouths consistently so keep trying to take in oxygen through the tiny holes above their lips. Frequent waking throughout the night when the tiny snore stops because no air can get through. Eating is a chore because they can’t breath, yet babies seem to eat for comfort so the cycle begins of trying to feed for relief and becoming irritated when there is no relief. As a parent you can sympathize with their helplessness because you yourself are helpless, there is no way of communicating to them that it’s just a cold. There’s no way of listening to their frightened little thoughts, they are having a grizzly crash course in learning how to be sick. The first time they discover a fraction of how cruel the world can be, not just because they’re not feeling very nice but because in many ways, despite the round-the-clock attentiveness of the anxious parents, psychologically they are doing it on their own...

The least exciting part of the whole ordeal is the Aspirator. A little rubber bulb like thing with a plastic nozzle on the end. It looks like a portable icing decorator only this handles nothing sweet, and certainly not anything you would rush to put onto a cake. I remember the many times, just to give my baby a chance to breath, sticking it up her struggling nose to suck the insides out while she screamed and writhed in genuine terror at the monster that daddy has become. I felt torn between the guilt of distressing her so or the guilt of not doing anything. You can try to tell them it’s for their own good but they have no idea what “their own good” even means. All they know is you’re sticking something cold and plastic up their sick nose and the arms that they’re so used to receiving cuddles from have suddenly become firm restrainers, frightening shackles in a prison of fear, wailing with an already raw throat…

Fast forward. After that mid winter dreadfulness super baby returned and I was able to put the memory of that ordeal in a coffin of concrete and drown in the deeper regions of my unconscious and with it the memory of putting my mouth over her blocked nose to suck the stuborn salty snottiness out myself when the aspirator failed to do the job I had paid for it to do.

But then comes Day Care.

On the outside Day Care looks like a friendly place filled with badly drawn but none the less colorful finger paintings, lovely ladies with smiles that glitter like the rainbow and a house sized toy box. But really it’s an incubator of a myriad of bacteria, the airport where virus’ congregate to say farewell to their loved ones before they disembark on a journey on board the next 8 month old they can hitch a ride on.

Of course its all completely necessary. This is how they’re little bodies adapt to the harsh microscopic world around them. Putting this thing in their mouth, trying out that virus, getting immune to it, putting that thing in their mouth, catching a tummy bug, building up a resistance... Unfortunately they bring it home with them and its usually something Mommy and Daddy aren’t immune to because the circles we frequent don’t include 12 kids all wanting to stick the same thing in their mouth or in their ear and then pick your nose with the same grubby little fingers that prodded the kid who had the interesting booger or the strange substance that came out of the other kids mouth and landed on your plate and you just had to try some for your self. Goodness know s what goes on in that place.

Nearly 3 years ago my Nephew came home from a Day Care with a tummy bug. Within hours I found out firsthand what it was like to throw up the previous nights steak dinner – through your nose. I couldn’t enjoy a barbecue for nearly a year after that experience.

So last week my offspring chokes in the middle of the night. My wife and I leap out of our bed, no time for me to whip on my Jammie's. Here’s naked delirious Dad launching himself to the cot to clutch the choking baby out of her slumber and potential death (melodramatic I know, but wait until you try it). By the time my wife turns the light on here I am with my floppy child upside down between my hands. Somehow she has managed to do a 180 degree turn in her sleep and groggily wakes up to an upside down bedroom swinging from side to side. Obviously she isn’t dead, but my heart is racing and my nerves are wrecked as I plonk her on our bed to check her mouth for obstructions. We assume that the blanket must have attacked her in her sleep so banish it from her cot. For the next 3 nights her bed becomes a blanket free zone. All blankets are naughty and have to endure time out.

Except it wasn’t a blanket that tried to strangle my baby, no it was the latest Day Care gremlin trying to force her to gargle vomit in her sleep. We discovered this the next morning when she let go of her morning meal on parts of my wife that shouldn’t have to endure stomach acids!

Mom went to work and I was left with a floppy lethargic baby who still had the will power to wrestle with a pink giraffe, roar like a lion cub and finally throw herself against her daddy only to hurl warm chunks down the back of his shoulder. After mopping her up with a warm flannelet I let her flop into a sleepy heap on our bed and while I surveyed the damage to our bed spread I realized that having your child churn out the contents of her belly all over my back is no where near as bad as seeing her weak little body heaving and dry wrenching like she was a teenager at a party she wasn’t allowed to go to....

To be continued...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

AVATAR - A Review

I think when people heard the words “James Cameron’s first movie since Titanic” they lost perspective. It didn't matter anymore that this movie still might suck, it was James Cameron’s first movie since his last sinking ship and that’s all anybody cared about it. You could put the contents of a used tissue on a cinema screen for 3 hours and people would still go and see it if it had Cameron’s name on it.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Aliens, I also swam in the Abyss and relished in the Terminator franchise in which Cameron proved he could make virtually the same movie twice and people would still go and see it. Heck, I also enjoyed that other Arnie movie he made, True Lies. But somewhere along the line I can’t help but feel some directors lose the plot. John Carpenter lost it, Spielberg sometimes loses it and even Lucas lost it somewhere between episode six and episode one. Cameron has lost it as well - he lost it and used very expensive special effects to distract us from noticing...

The Titanic was boring until everyone died and even now, 15 years later I am still haunted by the songs that practically ended Celine Dion’s career. Even the fantastic James Horner, composer of some of the most memorable sound tracks ever; Glory, Brave Heart and Bicentennial Man- sunk with that rust bucket as the mixture of artificial sound with smooth real life strings clanged in my ears like an ice berg scraping against, well, a great big ship. The only good thing about that movie in my mind was that it was the film that marked the end of Leonardo as a teen heart throb and launched him into more eccentric roles. Thanks for drowning Jack.

But this review is not about Titanic. This is about a movie that has recently sold more tickets than the great Titan of the sea ever dared. And I’m still trying to figure out why.

Avatar, Cameron’s 3D vomit which offended me in more ways than three.

Ok ok, I hear it now, the hordes of patrons screaming “sacrilege!” So let me make one thing perfectly clear before I continue – This movie was stunning, brilliantly made, the special Effects spell binding, the CGI believable. In every visual sense this film was breath taking and every other cliché I can think of lavishing it with, but… and that’s a very big “but”…

Just because a film looks good doesn’t mean it is good. Snow white’s apple was after all shiny on the outside while therein lie the poison that put her to sleep, and this movie was the poison that put me to sleep!

First of all the story was totally and horrifically unoriginal. In fact I’ve seen it before,, I believe it was a Kevin Costner film called Dances With Wolves in which a military man gets sent to the farthest outpost in the mid west where he befriends the local tribe and eventually becomes one of them until the climax where he gets to fight the “white man” to protect his new found cultural identity. He even keeps a diary. In a nut shell this is AVATAR rattling inside the walnut.

As soon as I realized the film was Dances with Wolves in Space it felt like Dirty Dancing Havana Nights all over again. Nobody puts baby in a corner and that’s exactly what this film tried to do – to make you believe it was original with lots of clever camera trickery and 3D glasses while laughing at you behind some bushes and insects with propellers for wings! BORING!!!

The second thing I didn’t appreciate was that I felt like AVATAR was made by the Joseph Goebbels of the modern Hippie Movement… it was like Al Gore was standing in the side lines whispering in Cameron’s ear, saying, “Excellent, my young apprentice… soon you will learn the power of the dark side” This movie was so green you couldn’t see Kermit the frog singing “It’s not easy being green” against it! Ok so there’s nothing completely wrong with environmentalism except most of what we are being forced fed in so many movies today about global warming and the like is complete and utter nonsense. This movie, while not at all about global warming, couldn’t help side swiping human kind for demolishing their own planet just so they could go and do the same to someone else’s.

Actually, admittedly, that was rather clever; I've always thought Alien Invasion movies were a tad unrealistic because in them we are always the goodies. When in actuality we would be the Invaders and some Kangaroo like tribe in some far away planet would be feeling the end of our spears. But I like to think Human beings are inherently evil because of our propensity to lie, to cheat, to steal, to think evil thoughts, to murder, to commit adultery and all that jazz. I don’t agree that our worst sin is that we kill trees.
Thirdly I don’t like one bit the notion that if we just return to nature then everything will be ok. This is an idea that predates this movie which nobalizes the savage and perpetrates the lie that if we just ditch society and go live with the monkeys we would enter into a veritable nirvana here on earth. No no no, why do we always forget that a great many of the cultures “white man” over ran were also cannibals with spares and human sacrifice on the days agenda? Being a fourth generation colonial I'm beginning to resent the "white man" complex most of my generation suffers from, being forced to feel guilty for a sin our great great granddaddies did. AVATAR just reminds me I'm living in a culture that encourages something much worse than catholic guilt - cultural shame in a land where the only land I've ever stolen is the dirt under my shoe!

I can see it now, clear as day the various scenes of long tailed blue alien people swaying to and throw as they worshipped the great mother tree. Give me a break. Sounds like raw paganism to me. I’m not buying it. In the real world it reflects something sick in the heads of todays elite, a belief called Gaia Theory, in which the Earth is a living organism complete with an immune system bent on eradicating the human virus which needs to learn to behave or Mother nature will sneeze us out of existence just like she did to the dinosaurs for leaving a mess on the foot path. Just read Richard Branson's "Let's not Screw it, let's just do it" and you'll see I'm not making this up. There are people out there who really believe we deserve every bit of cosmic radiation the earth wants to expose us to, just because we built a factory or two, pumped oil and killed some trees. So let me get this straight, the Earth is aloud to do her mindless thing and exterminate the rodents but the very idea of a transcendent God who would allow us to be punished for blood shed, violence, child abuse, theft and not honoring our parents and a whole host of things that are part of our shameful humanity - simply offends and disgusts most people.

I'm also not happy that Cameron invented an Alien resembling a cat and a spider monkey that's blue like a smurf but being human enough to attract the double take of every young male watching the way a very sheltered lad might view his first National Geographic. I imagine many people had some rather mixed feelings about human attraction after watching this film. Its not a very nice thing to do James.

Perhaps I've been a bit harsh but I've never quite got over Cameron's pseudo-archaeological documentaries about the so called Jesus Family Tomb or the Exodus of Moses.

In any case I better save some of my distaste for AVATAR for its sequels, soon to come no doubt, but if I had my way I would gladly wait another 15 years. Hopefully Cameron will take the money and run...

So for entertainment I would give this movie an 8 out of 10, wow so high for a scathing review - but like I said just because a movie is entertaining does not make it any good by a long shot! For content, depth and originality I will lend it a 3... I say lend because I might want that 3 back later to swap it for a 2!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fatherhood at 8 Months

I have a new state of the art alarm clock with arms and legs and a mouth that chimes “Wa wa waaaaa” every morning at about 6.30 in the a.m. The difficulty is I can’t set it to any other time and neither can I return it to the manufacturer to ask for a replacement or a refund. So I have no choice but to adjust my nightly routine of staying up with the Xbox until 3 a.m. to actually going to bed when the rest of the world does to minimize the effect when dawn comes and I don’t feel like a sledge hammer just tried to blow a raspberry on my forehead.

Some alarm clocks you just want to punch with a closed fist so that the springs fly in all directions and you’re forced to buy a new one, but this one has a smile so it’s harder to negotiate with. I wake up in the morning to its wines; transfer it to the feeding station – the mother of the alarm clock, usually half awake and dreaming of the days when she was something other than a milk processing place. When the winging turns into smoochy feeding noises and the occasional “Argh! Her nails are too sharp!” I usually take the opportunity to sneak back into unconsciousness or I otherwise get up and have my 30 minute zombie like shower and contemplate whether I’m going to shave today or ever again. Then I come back into our room and there she is, the little Koala like ball of sun polish looking back at me with a smile that could give the Tin Man a heart and make just about any young woman look at her husband and say “Sweetie, let’s have a baby!” – My wife included.

Eight months is, for me, when the fun has just begun. I mean it was still fun before. It was fun watching the Texas Birth Massacre nine months ago in 4D. It was fun for the first 6 weeks of sleep deprivation that almost had me knocking on the mental asylum with myself in a basket and a letter stapled to my temple saying “Dear Sir/Madam, please take me in”. It was fun, all those nights when I was convinced that my wife was the only person who could put the baby to bed because I thought I sucked at it.

But sarcasm aside, it was fun going to public places and just about every grandma, her dog and female of the human species’ reaction to a dad and his daughter was to suddenly give me more attention (at least in my imagination) than I ever got in high school!

It was fun, but then it got funner. I left my wife and daughter in Australia for 3 weeks after Christmas while I held down the fort at home. I missed them excruciatingly as I counted down every atomic second that we were separated. My heart felt the way mince does just before it gets turned into mince and probably just before it gets eaten as well. When I left my little girl she was rolling around on the floor like a run away sausage rolling across the patio. When we were reunited she could do something completely strange to me; after seven and a half months of not being able to do much at all she was suddenly sitting…

What an incredible difference sitting makes to a human being. We’re so expert at it after years of sitting all over the place that when your child does it for the first time you think its magic! There she was sitting on the floor like she was designed to, with a look of achievement on her face that seemed to say “I’m catching up to you Dad.” She reaches out for toys with a sense of purpose and power as she tries to eat that book or that thing that might have been fluff or a dead insect before I dive at her with my finger trying to pry those baby jaws open to fish whatever it was out again.

I’ve noticed there’s something of a scientist in her as she experiments with gravity and hurls herself backwards and then thinks about whether she is going to cry or not after the naughty floor banged her so unfairly on the back of the head. The floor is a wise teacher though; she seems to be learning its lessons quickly enough.

One thing the floor has trained her is how to mimic a praying mantis. First she sort of rolls over onto her stomach. Then she lifts herself up like a soldier doing sit ups until her diminutive hands and the tips of her toes are holding her up in a hovering pose, tipping forwards and backwards while she ponders what’s going to happen next. She thinks “Am I going to face plant into the carpet or am I going to do something I’m not quite sure what yet?” You really do get the impression that she is thinking about crawling but doesn’t quite know what that is yet, but any minute now she’s going to figure it out. So you help her along by putting something exciting in front of her like a mobile telephone with polyphonic ring tones. Very exciting; so exciting that she plonks back to the ground and waves her arms and legs about like an Olympic swimmer, only not getting anywhere. Occasionally she manages a sort of pseudo-commando crawl, although not quite registering the significance of the feat she just performed because she is too concerned with putting my singing cell-phone into her snapping and ravenous gums. I quickly take that off her as well.

Although there was the one time recently that a bottle of milk had her actually crawling two whole knee jerks forward. Just like her Dad it is clear that her remote control is in her stomach and she is being directed by a hungry tummy resolute on defying the laws of biology and physics combined to get what it wants!

One thing you learn not to do when your child is in those critical stages before taking that giant leap towards infant mobility is to clap and cheer, because the moment you do she instantly stops what she’s doing, smiles and looks at you like you’re some kind of circus attraction, forgetting all about the monumental miracle she was about to perform and concentrating instead on her bizarre parents who have suddenly turned into fin slapping sea lions, only without a ball balancing on their noses.

I hear all those who have gone before me shaking their heads and saying, “It’s the beginning of the end; once they start to crawl your life is over.” Except they said the same thing before she was born, and they were wrong then so I’m not listening now. In fact since she was born I’ve heard the following from well meaning idiots:

“Once that baby comes…

Your life will be over…
You’ll have to keep that dog outside…
You’ll have to move that book shelf
You won’t be able to go out any more
It’s hard when you’ve got a baby, but just wait until you’ve got TWO!”

Of course it’s all complete and utter ridiculous nonsense. I’ve learnt quickly that once the baby comes:

Your SELFISH life is over and is replaced by a more sacrificial one with added value!Your dog doesn’t give a monkey’s butt about the new baby in the house!
The book case isn’t going to chase the baby and jump on her and is safe where it is for the time being.
You can go out, just not until very late which is probably better for your aging body anyway. And people will use their baby as an excuse not to go to the homes of people they don’t really want to hang out with anyway!

Having two is just like having one – you love them both and can’t stop thinking about them all day!

Actually my favorite quote was from my sister-in-law, “Once they start walking you’ll lose so much weight from chasing them everywhere all the time.” She said as her child darted away from her at the zoo. That suits me fine as long as I don’t have to do my three-times-half-an-hour-cardio per week routine anymore!

So as I sit on the sofa and watch my little adventurer take her first motions forward I think to myself, “Oh my, I’m actually going to be able to do something with her soon!” I’m already planning our first trip to the park with an ice cream in one hand and a helium balloon in the other, throwing stale bread at the ducks and soaking up the grannies compliments of “Oh isn’t she just adorable”, thanks ladies!

But for now I will put sharing an ice-cream with your 8 month old on the list of things to do when you’re contemplating suicide because it’s a risk you’ll live to regret. First she sees you eating it, then she wriggles like a freshly caught snapper making those noises which in any language, adult or baby, mean give me some of that yummy stuff right now or else! You think foolishly that one bite is going to be enough but after that simple transaction of sugary creamy yummyness she now owns the rest of the ice-cream and will rebuke you every time you bring it to your lips instead of hers.

Speaking of stupid things to do with your 8 month old I did learn one other thing. I discovered that it is not a good idea to take her into the shower with the idea that you will take the nappy off while you’re in there. I discovered to my dismay that this diaper was brought to me by the number “2” and by the letter “P”. Next thing I know I’m soaking in stuff that isn’t nice stuff and resembles discolored swamp vegetation. Not a nice experience when the water pressure in your shower only comes out at a trickle.

But moving forward, the day came after 8 months of adventurous maternity leave, days filled with full nappies and conversations that usually begin with “You should have seen the poo she did today” (and no, I’m not being immature, every parent does it because no one can believe that such a little thing can produce such an enormous and alarming amount of fecal matter) My wife returned to work. Just for three days a week of course. Neither of us could stomach the idea of someone else raising our child full time while we raised our bank balance, so I rigged my Mondays to Wednesdays so I only worked in the evening and could spend the day with my baby. In my first week I learnt so very much about this little being from my wife’s belly.

For a start, after months of not sleeping for mummy, I discovered that she will sleep for me after all. It’s great. We have a little play time in the morning which usually involves trying to eat a book or my face… yes, she is obsessed with my whiskers, after all mummy doesn’t have them so they must be edible. After discovering that none of her toys, including my chin, are palatable she winges until I give her something from a jar that has names like “Fruity Porridge” or “Mango banana custard” on the label. But don’t let the names deceive you they taste like the bottom of a horses shoe.

I’m convinced that taste buds in a baby are developed later in life. Although this doesn’t explain their addictiveness to substances like ice cream it does bring light to why a baby can devour 200 mls of baby formula like a starving dog would attack a man in a steak suit. Let me elucidate further – baby formula tastes like a raw fish on a fisherman’s bait tray, or like molten copper or a coffee mug full of blood and golden syrup. Actually it tastes like all of that disgusting goo, blended together to give your child all the Omega 3 and nutrients it needs while annihilating his/her palate. In short, test the temperature of the milk on your elbow, not on your tongue.

So after she’s gulped down the mushy muck from the jar and goes back to eating her toys she reaches out to me for a cuddle. I pick her up and before I can say, “What would you like to do now?” I’ve discovered she has already used me as a decoy to her conscious state and has slipped off to whatever it is babies dream about.

Then I get to have another sleep myself. It’s great.

An hour later its more toy eating and fish gut flavored milk until its time to drop her off at Day Care.

Leading up to the first day my wife and I were more than a little apprehensive about leaving our fragile little munchkin in the hands of strangers. We thought she would scream and wail and howl like a mauled rabbit but that was just our egos.

I took her to the place where other parents had previously dumped their kids, feeling guilty at the prospect of doing the same and convinced that from here on in our relationship would be based on her desire to exact revenge on her horrible father for leaving her alone in a place full of toys, foam flooring and friendly ladies with great big smiles…

But when I got there the first thing she did was reach out to the friendly Asian Day Care lady for a cuddle. Then once she saw the box of blocks Daddy disappeared into the background of her perception – she really couldn’t care less if I stayed or went. The blocks were far more interesting.

I called an hour and a half later, hoping to hear her screaming for Daddy in the background but I was told that she was having a wonderful time. I still don’t entirely understand why that disappointed me so much. But I guess my wife and I had been projecting our own reactions on to her because as I drove away from the nursery I was the one who did the crying, heaving out a sob or three while trying not to run over anything along the way.

After I got over the personal insult of not being missed I returned to Day Care the next week with the bravado of a proud Dad who is convinced he has a baby genius on his hands; despite the fact she spends most of her day rolling around on the floor using her mouth as her primary information gathering device.

My belief in her above normal intelligence was fueled on this occasion by an event that took place early Monday morning. I lay on the floor entertaining myself with Disney’s entrancing tale – “The Jungle Book”, which surprisingly I had never seen before. Just as I was figuring out that this was not the retelling of Tarzan but a completely different story and as I wondered how a bear came to be living in the dense Indian Jungle and where did that kid get his ornage underpants from, I felt tiny hands put pressure on my knees. I looked and there was my progeny using my legs to pull herself onto her feet, and just when I thought this was the most remarkable thing I had seen her do to date she let go of my legs and stood on the floor as if she was a dessert dweller standing on a surf board for the very first time; you got the impression that the floor might fall out from under her any minute. The tremendous occurrence only lasted for about 3 seconds and as I retell the tale I like to think it was my shocked audible gasp that sent her backwards like the apple from the tree that threatened to kill Sir Isaac Newton. Unfortunately she misunderstood my reaction of share unadulterated astonishment and pride as one of something much scarier and she did that thing that babies do when they take a few moments to get their face in just the right position before letting out a great big genuine bawl. I was quick to ladle her up and tell her what an intelligent and brainy baby she was for making me regret watching the Jungle Book instead of her!

So with that in mind I went to day care where some other kid looked up at me, the bearded boogie man, and burst into frantic tears, further puffing up my super-duper-daddy demeanor. I thought now was as good a time as any to declare that we had already started toilet training her.

Interesting story actually... about a friends daughter who, if there was a potty training school, would have brought back corporal punishment. Training her to do the unnatural with the natural was like training a duck to bungee jump or a cat to brush its teeth. She was the sort of kid who knew exactly what it was she was meant to do. She got it alright, but refused to take part in the exercise unless it involved a McDonald’s Happy Meal at the other end. 5 poos in the potty amounted to one trip to the Restaurant with the yellow M, except the moment the Mc Nuggets stopped she protested with a few of her own special brand of nugget that without a nappy amounted to World War 3 erupting at home. The amazing thing was she knew exactly what she was doing. It was a calculated dropping just to spite her mean parents who had vetoed the flow of the meal that came with a toy. The same child’s mother told us about a method she wished she had used called “Communication Illumination” or something. So my wife did the research and discovered it’s all for real. There is a school of thought that if you hang around your baby long enough you can catch them before they do the deed just by reading their facial expressions. Sounds like a fun game to play on a train when you don’t have a book to read. We didn’t want to be too gung-ho about it so decided to buy a plant pot, because the only potty big enough for a 3 month old usually came with a toy doll. Then, after every nappy change we would sort of “Hiss” in her ear as we dangled her over this container (actually it started as an ice-cream container before we upgraded to the pot, for some reason that makes me laugh a little) Amazingly, like clock work, like it was just meant to happen that way we got the tinkle we desired and got as excited as a kid who just got a bike for Christmas. Just imagine how thrilled we were when she did her first “second” on the thing. Even as a 3 month old she would have this vague look on her face that sort of said, “Yeah, so what? Haven’t you seen one of those before?”

Knowing that this new Day Care was happy to participate in the Potty Training process I boldly declared that she was already well on her way.

I was expecting a fan fare to follow, or some kind of equally star warsian Sound Track to play in the back ground as I stood there like the world’s first $6,000,000 Dad. But if there was a sound track it sounded more like the Imperial March when Darth Vadar strides into the room, wiggles his finger and his sniveling underling chokes to death as if by invisible hands and falls to the floor in a crumpled and unimportant heap.

“We don’t do that here” was the response. “We’ve heard about the method and it goes against our philosophy!” I felt like I was becoming a baby myself as the care giver told me that they don’t start training a child until a child is ready and shows cues that they are so and that at the end of the day you can train a child to do almost anything if you really wanted to but that it would be improper to teach them to do something before they were psychologically ready.

I handed my micro-treasure over to the sinister forces that just pulled the cork out of my ego and sent it farting across the room. At least she said we are welcome to continue doing “that sort of thing” at home, something I was sure to do, only that would be the last time I ever bragged about it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stay Tuned

To those of you curious enough to return...

Thank you - come again!

I promise I'll be back with something shortly, all this living out of a suit case business robs me of the internet sometimes...

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, January 8, 2010

This Week on Planet Me

For the first time this week I’m sitting here staring blankly at the screen and realizing I can’t be bothered writing anything.

But the show must go on even when I have nothing to say.

One of my many New Years resolutions is to read more this year. This is one resolve I don’t want to see in the Grave Yard of New Year Promises. In 2009 I probably read a total of 3 books and yet saw over a hundred movies (slight exaggeration). Even scarier is that I wrote more than I read and when you read a blog by someone who talks more than he hears and writes more than he reads you know you are going to walk away from this hopelessly misinformed!

Actually I’m reading a book on Prayer at the moment by the late great Derek Prince. It’s called “The Secrets of a Prayer Warrior”. It’s a pretty good Biblical perspective on how to pray and have your prayers answered, and goes about shattering the myth that so many of us hold on to – that prayer is like reading a shopping catalogue and unconsciously we treat God like some kind of divine shopping assistant; rather prayer is a way of inviting God to do his will through us and when we pray according to His will, as revealed in his Word, then our prayers will be answered. Of course there’s a lot more depth to the tome but I’ll write a review about it some time.

I watched two very unusual films from either end of the spectrum of unusualness – The Forbidden Planet and this other drug induced John Carpenter space comedy called Dark Star… which was like an American parody of Red Dwarf except 20 years before Red Dwarf was even conceived. Expect to see a review on those classic time wasters in the near future…

It wasn’t really such a waste of time as I got to eat a large dose of curry with friends and drink 2 beers, because that’s about all I can handle. But now that they have gone home and I have work tomorrow all I can think of is creeping downstairs, switching the old Xbox 360 on and escaping to the wastelands of Fallout 3 which is occupying more than a generous amount of my spare time these days…

And as for creeping downstairs… I’ve been house sitting for a family from my church. Lovely family; lovely house, except I had grown so accustomed, in the last 9 years, to having a dog around to warn me when a cat or a homicidal maniac was lurking about in the darkness outside. Now all I have is a security light that activates when a fly moons past. Every time a cat runs along the roof tiles I instantly freeze at the thought that it’s something other than a cat, like a giant Cray fish from out of space or a zombie horde. I told my friend how I feel about being alone in a big house all by myself and he told me I sounded like an old woman. His wife told me I sounded like an old woman. But they don’t know what its like, especially after the tomato robbery. The what? I hear you say… Well, the owners have a superb garden out the back. Designed to survive a nuclear holocaust, provided it happens somewhere else. They keep the tomato plants in a giant cage to keep them from running away, or probably to keep out the possums. Either way there was a juicy red tomato I had my eye on several days ago, but then the next day it was gone, having escaped the confines of its cage. I’ve decided that tomatoes don’t just vanish into thin ear unless they are from the future. No, there must be a tomato bandit and the noises I hear on the roof at night are somehow connected.

Actually I figured out who it was in the end and it was too much of an anti climax to write about so for now I’m going to stick with the tomato bandit story.

It’s been a stress ridden week of me being alone while my wife and child bask in the Australian sun. Training a uni student at work, who reminds me constantly of my less than academic mentality and staying in a big lonely house where my diet of baked beans on corn chips, curry and horse trough loads of Uncle Toby’s Cheerios has left me with enough gas to fly my own private air balloon to work tomorrow… now that would be a great blog…

I had over 40 page views yesterday, a tremendous feat for someone who never knows exactly what he’s on about. In the odd chance that you come hear regularly to laugh at me or with me or perhaps you appreciate my serious side and get something out of this site I strongly urge you to find me on facebook and become my “acquaintance” so I can up to date you constantly… that would be nice. Another thing you can do is whenever you read something on here that you particularly like then please forward the link to your chums or chumettes so I can get these Google ads working for me!

In any case, I’m now going to play computer games until my eyes can’t stay open anymore and just maybe I will wake up in a heap on the living room floor tomorrow morning. At least I’ll be closer to the kitchen!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas in Peregian

I returned from my week off in the sunny Sunshine Coast and was asked by my jealous co-workers how I enjoyed my break.

My honest reply was of course that it wasn’t really a break, at least not in the holiday sense of the word.

My idea of a break is going to a place where people are a figment of someone else’s imagination, where you can leave your towel on the floor, walk around wearing the same pajama pants 24 hours a day, grow your beard so long so that your face becomes its own buried treasure and you can fart out loud and compliment your effort because there’s no one else around to criticize your personal escape to mandom.

That’s a real holiday.

But let’s face it, that sort of get away is boring, makes for an arcane blog and doesn’t present you with the mental and social challenges of Christmas with the family.

And what a setting!

Here in the Southern Hemisphere, and that’s the earth’s bottom for those of you who are wondering, you don’t just dream about a white Christmas, you scratch your head and wonder what one would even be like, the very concept of snow at Christmas time is foreign and almost as fictional as Santa Claus himself. (insert disclaimer for those of you who still believe in the jolly fat man).

The only equivalent to a sleigh ride here is catching a wave on your boogie board, and the warmest Christmas attire for us Aussies and Kiwis is a bikini or a pair of budgie smugglers. You need flip flops, thongs or jandels (as we kiwis call them) to stop the sand from char grilling your feet until they look like something from a burger king bun. Instead of snow warnings the weather man with zinc on his nose warns you of the danger of a heavy cloud of potential skin cancer moving in from the east with occasional thunder storms.

Actually the difference between an Aussie summer and a kiwi one hit me square in the sun burnt parts of me this year! It’s like the difference between a cat in a potato sack and a wombat in a frying pan!

In the weeks leading up to my holiday I was in Auckland complaining about the December “heat” debilitating my motor functions and harvesting sweat beads all over my hot oppressed self. I was still wearing jeans though, and I slept under my cozy covers.

My first night in Queensland and I was wondering if taking your skin off would help cool you down; jeans were now a thing of stupidity and bed covers were decorations to be kicked off before you went to sleep.

But I can’t complain, our room faced the wonderful expanse that is Peregian Beach, so the sweet sea Breeze came in through my window and had its cool way with me while I slept, only to be greeted by the sun at 5 am, the fiery red bugle boy in the sky, beckoning me to watch him play regardless of whether I liked his flaming hot jazz.

It was nice for my baby though. Being a winter child she has never been 10 minutes out of a jump suit. Now she was free to have fun in the sun with nary a covered bum and little else.

Peregian is beautiful. Alien compared to New Zealand beaches; a strange land full of gum trees, other trees and Bush Turkeys. They came out to look at us once but were suspicious and wouldn’t eat the dried apricot I threw their way, but instead ran away from it like it was a time bomb or a cautiously disguised laxative – more on that later.

In the Sunshine Coast the Beach never gets lonely. We were some of many visitors who offered their bodies to its open arms on a daily bases. One day in Noosa, another in Peregian, you can’t seem to run out of beach there’s so much of it.

In Noosa there’s a bay you can swim in with the fishies and then bake on the sand while parrots in the trees above drop seeds on our head, showing their contempt for the tourist industry or upset that the majority of topless sunbathers consisted of fatties like myself.

Noosaville was a pleasant scene, on a river where you can hire a boat or a barge for an afternoon and travel to a secluded spot, light up the Barbie and feed the sausages you don’t eat to the hordes of fish watching you from under the water’s surface… a mate and I spotted a cloud of little fish, no bigger than my pinky, only better swimmers. They traveled in a thick cloudy mass. We jumped on them to try to separate them and they still stuck together like there was a mysterious gravitational force pulling them together… then they started biting us and the game wasn’t fun any more.

The wild life in Australia is always present it seems. No matter where you are. We ate fish and chips, wonderful fish and chips, by the river in Noosaville under a huddle of palm trees where an Aussie Bat bullied us with a steady rain of miniature coconuts, although missing every time. I threw one back to prove my superiority but failed.

These Queensland Bats are amazing. If you can imagine a Walla bee in a Bat Man costume, that’s a Queensland Bat; only imagine 10,000 of them flapping their way across the sky in the twilight, probably all holding miniature coconuts ready to pelt at the next unsuspecting tourist they see.

I saw a dead bat once on the side of the road in the Gold Coast, like a giant winged teddy bear only smelly, rotten and hardly cuddly. There was is nothing cuddly about the occasional crispy bat you see dangling quite dead like from the power lines in the middle of the day either! A friend of mine once told me a story of when he went to take a bite out of his precious ham burger when suddenly a giant fruity poo landed splat bang in the middle of his dinner still clasped in his hands. They’re a beautiful nuisance and a spectacular treat for a kiwi like myself who knows the only exciting thing in the sky back home is the great big invisible hole in the ozone layer.

Incidentally if you are a kiwi planning a trip to sunny QLD then don’t bother purchasing your sun screen until you get there because the Aussies have obviously cracked the sun screen code, having found a way to provide their citizen’s with cheap lotion, like it was a basic human right or something; unlike New Zealand, the skin cancer capital of the world, where you have to be a suit to get the required amount of UV protection.

(Mental note to self, bring back sun screen next time I go to Oz)

The conundrum of Queensland is people need to wear more clothes, and yet they can’t. Fashion designers have the impossible task of inventing new outfits using the least possible amount of fabric. It gives a hot blooded male the wrong impression when the ladies in the shopping mall are wearing almost the same thing as the ladies at the beach! But it’s the sun that wears the Prada and dictates what people don’t wear, which is practically whatever they can get away with… The ancient Victorians of 130 years ago would not like present day Noosa for that reason, and I’m afraid I must be two thirds Victorian…

Christmas Eve came and my wife and I took a lovely stroll down to the Peregian Township by the sea to listen to the Carolers singing a song called “6 White Bloomers” which I assume is some Australian folk song about underpants. I was hard pressed to hear what it had to do with the true meaning of Christmas and even the usual Christmas intruder, Santa himself, would be confused. It sounded like Karaoke on the beach so we turned around and put the nightmare behind us.

That was the night I ate half a bag of dried apricots to naturally push the indulgent holiday food of the previous 4 days out of my constipated self. It worked like a treat but made for an extra long game of Scruples that night as I politely disappeared from the gaming table to do what can’t be written about. It’s a curious thing about me and holidays, its like my bowels go on holiday too and refuse to do any work and every one wonders why I’m not as mobile as they are!

So apart from the violent tendencies of the wild life, the half naked Australians and the potent apricots I would say Christmas in Peregian is a delightful cultural experiment. A far more enjoyable pass time than hiding in a hole on your holiday or watching the snow land on your windowsill!

So I came home after a week of shorts and an open shirt and quickly put my jeans on. The blankets are cuddly at home in Auckland and I can drive with my windows wound up and as I sleep I wonder if the Christmas Turkey I ate was what was left of one of the locals after feeding him an apricot.

Next Christmas we’re aiming for Fiji…

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Dream Sequence 3

In a perfect world one intending to record a dream would get up early and make it the first thing he does before he goes to hades… sorry, I meant to say work; but I would rather trade a perfect world for a perfect nights sleep, which is what I was experiencing this morning as I slept through my alarm and it was a pure miracle that I woke up at all…

The dream was intense, so intensely intense. I found myself in my pajamas and on a road trip with two other people who are rather close to me.

We were travelling in my second car, a white Hyundai Excel with no air conditioning and therefore no soul. It was night and we were on our way to a camp called Chosen Valley, where I used to go as a child as both a camper and eventually a camp counselor. On the way we stopped for KFC but ended up getting ice-cream instead. I got mine first and got fed up with waiting for my two companions so I said I would walk along the road until they caught up. But as I walked I grew tired and pulled a blanket over myself and went to sleep on the foot path until I was awoken by the familiar sound of my Hyundai’s engine chugging past.

I jumped to my feet and waved but they did not see me. I ran onto the road and waved some more but in the night no one can hear you scream at their rear view mirror. I was furious that they hadn’t noticed me though, even though it wasn’t really their fault. I whipped out my cell phone and called one of them but got their voice mail instead. I left an abusive message along the lines of, “This is the worst birthday ever!” I didn’t even know it was my birthday until then.

As I sulked down the road I decided to call Chosen Valley to see if they could send my companions back my way. A girl called Briar whom I did not know, but according to the dream we were old acquaintances, answered and said she would let them know for me as soon as they got here. I blinked and in the twinkling of a raspberry I was right there talking with Briar in person about how I wanted these friends to go back and get me even though I had already arrived ahead of them.

The conversation changed into something much more personal like, “Its been so long, how are you these days?” Then I saw another girl from my childhood all grown upand very pregnant. We hugged and I kissed her on the cheek which was totally out of character for me because I hate kissing people on the cheek, its awkward and I almost always end up biting their ear or something equally upsetting. Its one of those family rituals that doesn’t occur in my family but it does in just about everyone else’s.
But in this case it was a sign of my new found and acute confidence…


Well I have always thought of cars as representing my life and the direction it is going, i.e. “Life is a highway” and “How many roads must a man walk down” blah blah blah…

The two people I am travelling with remind me of nothing else except they both make considerably more money than me and are happy in their jobs, so they leave me behind in my pajamas by the side of the road.

My Pajamas are interesting because I tend to sleep in the promotion shirts that film distributers give my employer. Lately we’ve been forced to wear them as a uniform, even though projectionists stay well and truly hidden from the public eye. I could grow an eagle’s nest on my face and crack a dinosaur egg on my forehead and no one would know about it, let alone care. To me they constitute a free shirt and are only good for wearing under the covers, collecting night drool and bed lice. Just today I was looking down and cringing at my Alice and Wonderland t-shirt which I refused to wear to the super market because the idea of Johney Depp’s transfestilic face gazing out of my chest seems less than ideal to me.

So I’m unhappy with my career. That much is apparent.

When a person is in that state its an effortless step to view those around you who are “doing better” (in this case my overtaking companions) and sometimes even curse them under your breath for travelling faster than you but in the end I needed to pick up the phone.

The cell phone is most likely prayer. I had spent time under the blanket on the side of the road escaping from my problems. I had spent time eating ice cream escaping from my problems (I’ve been playing copious hours of computer games and cat napping recently to escape the harsh world around me) but when you pray it is the polar opposite of escapism. It is when you lay everything before God and say, this is it, this is all I’ve got, now what can we do with it?

I left a message on my friend’s voice mail which is acknowledging my issues.

But then you have to move on and actually take action, so I called the destination for help.

I’m thinking of that verse, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added until you.” It’s Jesus speaking in Matthew 6.

The thing I want more than anything is to be in ministry. You may have heard me mention already that my calling is to be a pastor and a preacher of the gospel. Chosen Valley represents that Goal and my sudden translation there is indicative of my need for supernatural/divine intervention to get me there. Only God can open the doors for me to serve him in that capacity. I must not worry about what those around me are doing or how fast they are getting there, but instead keep praying and focusing on the destination like Abraham and the Promised Land.

As an afterthought

I realize these dream sequences are rather personal. Some people might read them and wonder what the dang I’m on about, but in my boredom I’m just scrambling for things to write about.

My Christian reader’s might find it a bit too mystical and are probably wondering if I'm on some sort of New Age slant but I simply believe that God gave us dreams. I know there are heaps of examples in the Bible where God spoke to people through their dreams so I’m open to the possibility he still does, even though I also have noticed the quietly loud absence of Dream Interpretation from the spiritual gifts mentioned in Paul’s letter s.

But in any case if you find the more personal blogs to be mind-numbing and hazardously dull, then by all means drop me a line and ask me a question about anything and I’ll answer it as incorrectly as possible!

Calamari and Me

Tonight I am rather exasperated and my heart is decaying for lack of company. I’ve been on my own for nine days while my wife and wonderful child are in Ozzie lappng up the sunshine and all the other glorious gems in that great big red treasure chest.

Here I am in cold but beautiful New Zealand, alone in am empty house that is so quiet I can hear my fingers banging away on the keyboard like they were angry chickens who had just walked into a KFC and seen what was on the menu…

Because I am in this despondent mood I would like to talk about something that brings me much happiness. Something other than my wife and wonderful child because although they make me happy, their absence and the steady reminder of it makes me sad and leads me to iniquitous thoughts of eating more of those “hundreds and thousands cookies” I found in the pantry or the box of Cadbury chocolates that doesn’t belong to me…. Nope, I must harmonize my thoughts to brighter and nobler affections - such as Calamari.

I love Calamari. Squid makes my blood thinner and my head dizzy just thinking of dipping it on a fresh bowl of thousand island dressing and planting it firmly in the soil of my lips so that a smile may grow therein…

When I was a child, growing up in the small community of Maraetai Beach, a lovely place full of hardly anybody, there was the occasion where mom would say “we’re having fish and chips tonight” and we would cry “yippee” and “choice!” Because getting take aways was a big event not dissimilar to Christmas Eve or wagging school. I would be given a small fortune, an entire $5 note bearing the queens lovely smile that said, “Go get em young man” and her advice would carry me down the hill to the shop by the beach where this mega amount of cash would get me a parcel made of actual news paper covered in real ink that told stories that no one cared about any more; stories that willingly forwent their lives for the sake of my Friday night meal.


And as the rest of my family sunk their slippery fingers into the mess of chips, battered sausages (we call those hot dogs in NZ) on a stick, or deep fried Pineapple fritters laced with sugar and cinnamon like they were donuts with a soul made of fruit, or the crumbly snapper or whatever their personal request from the take away man may have been – I had my squid rings, my lovely chewy fat filled squid circles that I ate slowly, proudly and delectably.

There is something sacred about a ring. Tolkien knew it and published a whole anthology about a magic one that almost brought an end to a world that never was. People have used the ring as a symbol of eternity to seal their marriage vows and the fish and chip industry has set in the stone of my heart the sacred squid ring to remind me that so far as sea food is concerned I am married to the squid.

And so were the first 19 years of my life, when asked, “Do you like sea food?” I would answer, “No, I hate it… except for… Squid rings….” While licking my quivering lips.

But I was in for a rude awakening. One that would rock the foundations of my culinary empire that up until this time had no natural disaster or calamity besiege my tongue strong enough to shatter my illusion that when it came to squid I knew what I was talking about…

I moved to Australia.

I can not remember the exact location of this fish and chippery except that it was in Melbourne, near a beach somewhere. I was only 19 when my taste buds bowed down to something they were not expecting…

I looked at the menu and could not see Squid Rings but rather something else, C-a-l-a-m-a-r-i… which I vaguely understood to be squid related but under a more cultured guise, which I was not prepared to discover in this land of Australians (sorry I couldn’t resist making an Aussie joke…) so I orderd it…

What I got was a box which contained two slices of lemon and these very large circular things that looked like Squid Rings except they were some how larger and more tyre like. I squeezed the lemon juice over the fare, more out of curiosity than anything else and tentatively proceeded with the eating of the C-a-l-a-m-a-r-i..

My eyes went wide when I realized that something wonderful was happening. It was like the fourth of July on the tip of my tongue, like every 5th of November took place inside my mouth and any false idea I had beheld about what made a jolly good squid ring was shattered. I was caught in a mixture of anger and ecstasy, like someone had thrust me in a machine that squashes strawberries and mixes them with frozen yogurt, painful and yet incredibly delicious….

The thing I realized there and then was this – the Aussies beat the kiwis hands down in the match for who knows how to prepare Calamari.

And so it was on that day in 1999 that I was converted and became a follower, a loyal disciple of the Australian TakeAway shop.

The shocking truth is that here in NZ your average local fish and chippy place has no clue when it comes to preparing Calamari… but even more appalling is that I’m not sure they even know what calamari even is! That’s right, the thing I had been wolfing down my whole young life pre take out conversion was not Calamari at all but rather some kind of fish paste or reclaimed meat of some description, squeezed into circlets, deep fried and passed off as squid, whereas in Australia at least what you are getting was caught, killed and cooked – simple as that! Between Byron Bay's tea room, that served a sweet chilli calamari salad that likens the dining experience to your first kiss and Alaxandra Heads own Mandolin Seafoods that thinks outside the box and serves its Loligo opalescens in finger shaped cuts that make you want to cut your own fingers off and replace them with what you are eating,you can find a myriad of take out joints all ready to rain their delights upon your plate...

But not here I'm afraid.

In the odd chance that I actually have some fellow Aucklanders reading this and you happen to know where I can get real tentacle meat then please pleasure me with you’re your comments, because I am yet to find such a place…

Its sad that we live in such a ridiculously beautiful country as New Zealand with all its native wonders; rolling green hills and sheep and flightless birds and hot mud pools and richer that Aaustralian culture and yet we can’t get our Calamari right! It’s a travesty, pure and simple!

When I was in the Sunshine Coast a few weeks ago I made sure I downed a bucket load of the stuff in an effort to savour the flavour and cherish the memory of that great white rubbery meat of the sea….

Which brings me back to where I started, darn it! The best Calamari is in Australia, along with my wife and my wonderful child and I am here in this miserable lonely house with its pink icing cookies and my xBox begging me to stay up until 2 a.m.

At least I can console myself with this truth … we still make a darn good steak and mushroom pie!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fatherhood 7 Months in…

Recently I found myself locked in a dark room with a 21 year old university student and before your mind wanders in the wrong direction I should point out he was a new employee I was training at work.

In between threading up movies and watching the clock we began discussing more topics than your average chimpanzee might over a bright yellow banana from religion, political philosophy (whatever that is) to the life and death hypothetical’s they throw at students these days, like “If you were in a life boat with five other people and one of you had to be thrown overboard to save the other 4 then what would you do?”

He couldn’t get over how my Christian beliefs would throw me overboard as the one most likely to live forever while giving the other 4 a chance to live long enough to meet their creator this side of the grave.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, as most such discussions go it came to the age old questions about the ethical demise of abortion and people like me who refuse to be anything but black and white on the issue.

This chapter is not about abortion but rather the direction the conversation went. He wanted to know what my view would be if an 18 year old girl were to fall pregnant after taking all “reasonable” precautions, with her sparkling career before her and a whole life about to be shattered by the arrival of a baby; would I consider it reasonable for her to have an “a” word ?

Did I mention that this article is not about abortion?

My answer focused on the following.

The fact that any of us are here at all is an absolutely phenomenal miracle.

Before we got married my wonderful wife and I were surrounded by couples who were wrestling with their unfulfilled desire to have children. It’s painful to get caught up in a conversation with a woman longing to duplicate her genes but for whatever reason, often an unknown reason, can’t. Seeing someone in that sort of pain, trapped in longing, can only be compared to someone who is mourning the death of someone they loved very much, only in this case the person they loved dearly hasn’t even been born yet and the grave is her own empty womb.

You can pat these people on the back and say “there there” but what else can you do?

It was in these later months of our 7 year “courting” that Sarah and I decided to pray about our own hopes for a family and this is what we said, “Dear Lord, we would love to have a family but only if and when you think we’re ready. Otherwise we will be happy just to serve you, in Jesus name, Amen.” (non verbatim)

We fell pregnant the week we got married.

Someone might argue it was all the zinc in the shell fish I was eating that week or even the impeccable timing of our wedding day but I believe God didn’t just answer our prayer; he also complimented us by saying, “Yep, I think you’re ready.”

That was miracle number one.

Then comes the next 9 months of your wife changing experience, like she was Doctor Who or a caterpillar, and in my case it wasn’t a bad thing. In my younger years I thought pregnant women were as attractive as a tyre factory; but that wasn’t my experience at all. My wife was beautiful.

I better not get too carried away here, I am after all meant to be talking about the Miracle…

When you’re a pregnant Dad for the first time you become a sort of freaked out wide eyed hypochondriactic nutrition ridden wombat. Seriously, not that I know what a wombat does when its at home but over and over again you are reminded of all the things you can eat, all the things you shouldn’t eat, all the things you actually ate but wish you hadn’t eaten. Too much fish has too much mercury; no pate, no Christmas Pudding, no hot pools no sky-diving, everything becomes a matter of should I shouldn’t I. I must have woken up 270 times during the course of the pregnancy to remind Sarah to roll over onto her left hand side because if you lie on your back there’s some artery your baby can squash and consequently kill you. Frankly you get the impression that when you become pregnant you become this great big self destruct button that just about anything can successfully push. You wake up a further 3 times a night because you’re being kicked in the ribs by something inside your wife’s stomach that feels like a chipmunk with a jack hammer!

Then there are the medical things like my wife happened to be O negative. So what? Well turns out when you’re O negative and have a baby with a positive blood type you can potentially develop anti bodies that might kill off any future babies with positive blood types, provided their blood comes into contact with yours. Its called Rhesus negative and it sucks. But don’t worry, the doctors have a special vaccine called “Anti D” that will save the day and keep you populating the globe for as long as you can before the Carbon Taxes stop you. (Thankfully our little tiger was A negative so we got a green light for more youngsters to join the Gedge army…)

Then there are the multiple things that can go wrong when the baby is born. Some ladies can get a thing called Group B strep which is a nasty bacteria that would otherwise be completely harmless if you weren’t about to cough up another human being the wrong way out. Baby comes into contact with the stuff and bam you got a very sick and potentially dying baby.

The head has to be in the right place, the cord can get wrapped around his neck, her hands can get in the way, and did I mention the long list of pain killers and apparatus they show you at Anti Natal class that get Dad thinking he’s about to walk into a torture chamber and participate in some sick ritual that will potentially cost him his consciousness and/or sex life?

Hence the miracle.

On the one hand you get these people who can’t reproduce and wish and pray that they could. On the other hand you get the ones who brave it through the most bizarre, surreal and yet rewarding ordeal to get this thing that despite all odds popped out just in time to say hello with its little screams and twisted fingers and kicking legs with feet that looked like they fell off a porcelain doll…

I can’t honestly say that there would be any such thing as a “reasonable precaution” when the thing precautioned against is something so incredibly remarkable as your own child.

And along came Christmas…

As my wife handed me 7 pairs of socks she apologized because we’ve been so broke and that was the best we could do. I felt shocked that she forgot to mention on the Christmas card “I got you socks because I already gave you a baby as an early Christmas present!”

Haydn Emma herself gave Daddy a few presents this year and she didn’t even need a wallet. I will have to find out how she does that, it would save me a lot of money!

She is saying “Dadadadadadadadadad” a lot now. Of course I don’t think she knows what she is saying or has associated it with this bumbling big buffoon who can’t stop cuddling her but at the very least I wonder if she says “Dadadadadadad” because it must annoy “Momomomomomomom”? Well, it would were it not for the fact she says that occasionally too. (But she says “Dadadadad” more)

Present number two was when she was on the bed watching me wrap the secret Santa’s. To keep her occupied I let her play with some paper while I concentrated on the intricate sticky taping of a book until I looked up to discover my little girl now had a purple face, purple fingers and a great big purply tongue! Naturally I freaked out and stuck my finger in there to get whatever was in there out again. We think Kids aren’t very smart because they’re kids but after that experience I realized that a child is only as stupid as their parents.

The purple dye must have contained a mutagen or steroid or something because on that same day she got up on her hands and knees as if to take off like a thunder bird but then she stopped, probably deciding to save that discovery for when no one is looking.

Her Granddad had the privilege of giving her her first taste of ice cream. Her reaction wasn’t quite as exciting as when I gave her her first Lime only a few days before but at least she enjoyed the ice-cream. I have a nice picture of her painting her face with it after she grabbed the spoon from Granddad and proceeded to continue with munching on it by herself. She does that when she gets enthusiastic about her food.

She even got a cool toy that projects teddy bears and stars onto the ceiling. The idea was to use it to help her get to sleep at night but she’s onto us; she knows when we’re trying to put her out for the night and will stop at nothing to stop us from succeeding…

To be continued...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sherlock Holmes: An Elementary Review

I find myself torn by my normal desire to tear through a film like the toilet paper it might have been or praising it for the simple fact that Robert Downey Jr was his usual brilliant self as he expertly portrayed someone else - in this case the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

In fact Robert Downey Jr is one of the only reasons I consider the acting profession a real art form, because he does it so well, and after seeing him in this role of the clever detective I've also come to the conclusion that he just might be the only American capable of one day playing the role of Doctor Who, if only the producers of my favourite science fantasy would cast but a glance in his direction.

Jude Law is ok as Doctor Watson but always under the bright shadow of the better actor of the two. Jude has slain his thousands but Robert his tens of thousands so to speak.

Anyway, the story is obviously a prequel of sorts, or rather a set up for a bigger production soon to come, although I haven't checked elsewhere on the net to find out, but one doesn't need to be a detective to spot the hints and clues that this plot was the foundation for more big bucks to be made in the future. The two detectives are on their last case together, a fact that Holmes is finding hard to come to grips with as is seen later as he subtly undermines Watson's efforts to leave 221 b Baker's St to join in Holy Matrimony to a young Governess in pursuit of a less exciting life... But back to the scene of the crime where a bunch of dark robed devil worshippers are performing a sacred ritual on a poor young woman who holds a knife in her hand ready to sacrifice herself but is saved by Holmes just in the nick of time! (Who is the Nick of time anyway?)

The leader of the cult is one Lord Blackwood who is tried and hung for his misdeeds only to be resurrected again 3 days later - all by himself. And the game is well and truly afoot! Holmes and a very reluctant Watson must uncover a plot so thick with intrigue you could lather a Chelsea Bun with it, the way Auntie Marge used to with thick chunky butter, leaving you wondering where the bun begins and the butter ends...

There's some explosions, some questionable science and some weird love interest with that girl from the Notebook whose name I can't remember right now. But the brilliance of it all is in the fact that in the very far far back background there is Professor Moriarty, whose face you never do see, manipulating events and pulling strings, not attached to the main story at all but cleverly preparing something dastardly for the next movie.

I love when you never see the bad guy, it just makes him a hundred times more eviler than the guy you actually see, like Sauron from the Lord of the Rings and all you see is this great big flaming eye on top of a dark tower; in this film Moriarty is the elusive black figure hiding in the shadows with a neat party pistol he hides up his sleeve...

The movie also comes complete with some dead frogs, pigs and a man who is murdered in a bath tub - everything you want to see on a Saturday night when there is nothing better to do.

It was interesting that the Villain, Lord Blackwood, had a moment where he quoted Revelations 13:4 and then rose again on the third day to set in motion his plan for world domination as if he were the anti-Christ. The reason I find this interesting is sometimes, occasionally you see in movies or stories an unconscious understanding of real Biblical truth - that one day there will be an Anti Christ who will seize the reigns of society with clever tricks and loyal followers, but alas there will be no Sherlock Holmes to rescue us. Though seriously, not to go too deeply into it, its like the god/man myths of the ancient world where a man who is half god dies and goes to Hades only to ascend later into Olympus as if they knew, maybe on a spiritual level, that one day in real history God himself would become a man, die and ascend into heaven... maybe I got bored and read a bit too much into it?

I certainly ate a lot of popcorn and drank most of my mother's coke. Naughty me I hear my teeth chide.

Despite the occult imagery you can rest assured that this is not a horror flick and I wouldn't worry too much about the undertones of witchery because at the end of the day, in true scooby doo like fashion, Sherlock unravels everything and exposes the supernatural activity as simple fraud and slight of hand, and maybe feet as well.

I would give this film a 4 out of 10 for plot and originality, sorry it just wasn't clever enough and didn't capture my interlect more than it caught my eye for good old fashioned clothing and wondering how they made London look so old and muddy again. (and yes, I know I miss spelt intellect)

But for fun it deserves a 7, that is if you go to the movies for fun that is.