Friday, December 30, 2005

Noel Coward on the money - again

Last night, on a whim, we watched Midsomer Murders. Now, this show has been all over the place : later series on ABC (now up to series 9), earlier ones on channel 9. Thursday's was an earlier one, from series 4 in 2000. I like John Nettles (remember Bergerac ?), and Jane Wymark (Poldark) provides sterling support as his patient wife, but it's a little like the Rabbitohs - tantalizing but never really delivering.
Additionally, it finished at 10.40pm, so a late night in front of the teev made me agree with Noel when he said

"Time has convinced me of one thing : television is for appearing on - not for looking at."
Today, therefore was one of those training sessions where the best part is the warm down. 8k at an easy pace, looking forward to a final hitout tomorrow, before 2006 appears with good intent.
Yesterday was a 9k medium-paced run. 'Nuff said.
The leitmotif running through recent training sessions has been humidity. You know that summer is here when your insect repellent lasts 10 minutes due to high levels of sweat removing it.

Jonathan Carroll (US fantasy fiction writer) wanted to know
"where do flies go?"
Well Jonathan, I can safely say they head straight to the nearest runner, preferably SMSing their friends to join the party.

2. music
While manfully slaving away at work today, I sped up the process by slipping "Brother Where You Bound" (Supertramp 1985) into the Notebook. Some great tracks by Rick Davies here, although clearly missing Roger Hodgson (perhaps if only to correct the grammar). "Cannonball" is an old favourite, and harkens back to the 1974 "Crime Of The Century" album, notably tracks like "Rudy" and "Asylum". BTW, Roger Hodgson has done some great stuff since 1983 !

3. books
Well, Abbeys has to be just about the best bookshop going around in Australia. That's PHYSICAL bookshop - bricks and mortar. Just when I'm getting through the Akunin novel, chuckling and learning simultaneously, and considering what's next - bang !
The New Releases brochure arrived in the mailbox, along with their Suggested Reads catalogue. Teasing and taunting, this offers the unwary some swift and delightful ways to spend cash. A brief glance confirmed a few non-fiction history books may be patiently waiting in the wings for me.
Have a look yourself (disclaimer : I have absolutely no pecuniary interest in Abbeys whatsoever). Or phone and ask for Peter.

And since I'm in the mood for free historical mystery bookshop plugging, if you're in Brisbane, just call into

Pulp Fiction Shop 28 Anzac Square Arcade, 267 Edward St Phone: 3236 2750
Ron and the gang are very helpful (no website, just email

"Exit, stage left"

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Marianne Moore baseball fan but no runner

"Which of us has not been stunned by the beauty of an animal's skin or its flexibility in motion?" - Marianne Moore

Marianne was a Pulitzer Prize-winning Modernist American poet of the early-mid 20th century; a huge baseball fan, she apparently spent very little time running with dogs.

1. running
Yesterday's run took me through uncharted territory, along newly-sealed roads near Fyfe Rd. About 1/2 way in, two large black dogs joined me, full of joie de vivre, and keen to do some group training. I attempted to dissuade them, but am no Dr Doolittle - I don't speak dog. Setting a swift pace in an attempt to build an unassailable lead, I merely encouraged them to do intervals; another km into the run, they were joined by two more dogs, who seemed intent on rapidly slowing my training partners' pace via an on-road intercept. Not wishing to get caught up in the melee, I showed a remarkable turn of speed over 750m, and successfully continued solo.
Running once again at 8.30am, this became a LSR of 12k. A leisurely day followed, involving more pool fun with YD and S.

Having sturdily volunteered to man the company offices over the Christmas period (public hols excluded), I was rudely awakened today at 5.30am by the radio, and headed out 5.50am for a 10k easy trot around the Clean Streets. Scorecard : 1 lady and poodle, 1 jogger, 12 cars. A curious start to the day, weather-wise : being greeted with fog is a little unsettling, although often a portend of hot weather (35 degrees forecast for today).

Observant readers of this blog will notice an increase in km range from that stated previously as average (8k-10k), with more common distances of 10k and now 12k. This has been a deliberate attempt to negate the unhelpful aspects of Christmas. Three more runs and a gym session await me before 2005 draws its veil in a timely fashion.

No updates today on the books and music front.

To conclude, it is fascinating to think how much cumulative energy is expended in the 7am Door Rush of the post-Christmas retail therapy workout. I doubt CRs would be advantaged by interval training; colleagues confess what is most admired is dedicated hours spent mastering the Jostler 1000. That and the complete absence of manners.

"Exit, stage left"

Monday, December 26, 2005

Brown John Virgin

A mondegreen is, essentially, a misheard lyric. The term’s origin can be understood better at this excellent site, which contains some fine examples :

As Christmas day drew to a close, I was reminded of my own earliest mondegreen, when singing Silent Night. I often wondered what formed this virgin triumvirate:
Brown John Virgin, Mother, and Child. Years later, the mystery was solved, while studying German at school and translating Stille Nacht.

Yesterday provided the much needed excuse to studiously avoid complex dietary and exercise regimes; an early start beckoned, but no run was involved. Instead, youngest daughter (YD) emulated The Furies while rapidly determining Santa’s location of presents and actual suitability of said gifts. All passed muster.
Later in the morning, eldest daughter (ED) and son (S) joined us for BBQ lunch, swim, and viewing of Madagascar DVD. Suitable gifts were, thankfully, provided all round, and an atmosphere of cheer prevailed.
“Ca Plane Pour Moi” as that wily Belgian, Plastic Bertrand, wryly observed for us in 1978.

An observation on Public Holidays: it is interesting to understand how Public Holidays underwent the transformation from Holy Days (religious observance) to Holidays (secular), probably gradually phasing in during the earlyish part of the 20th century. I have no problem with either understanding how this process occurred, or its outcome. Nor do I have a problem opposing John Howard and his A Team in their quest to return to the enlightened conditions of the Dawn of the Industrial Revolution (we just don’t have the canaries for all those mines, and I feel today’s youth woefully underprepared for solid 16 hour days in mind-numbing factory work. I blame us parents).
My problem arises in 2005. I have no idea what today is. When viewing the TV guide, a swift glance confirms that, yes, there is a test match starting at the MCG, and the Sydney to Hobart race commences too. Logically, it’s Boxing Day, December 26th. Time to leave the boxed gifts for the poor, as per original custom. All is as it should be. But no!
Today is – apparently – the Christmas Day public holiday, and tomorrow is the Boxing Day holiday. Either that, or today is Boxing Day, and Tuesday 27th is the Christmas Day public holiday. I’m afraid I’ll need deeper understanding of the international dateline, political conniving and time travel to work this one out. Happy to have the day off work to spend at home; I’d just like to know what day it is !

1. running
today's 10k effort was essentially the same course as previous, just a smidge more swiftly completed in 52 min, and pulse back to normal weather 160/100. The weather wasn't as bad as forecast : 22 and warm at 8.30 am, with not even the Company Of Strangers for company. Perhaps I'd be better off taking note of George Carlin's weather forecast.
"Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning."
After more swimming and further readings of Alice In Wonderland with YD, the gym beckoned later today for a 50 min weights workout. The Swung-around Cat was in no danger of contacting others there today.

2. reading
Still engrossed in the Akunin novel.

3. music
I must admit the variety of music over the past little while has been limited; a casual perusal of the CDs would indicate some sort of unhealthy fetish with snow, trees and general jollity.

May I humbly suggest that, in Australia, this is always the best time of any year? Holidays, family, sun, presents, food, drink, swimming (and of course running early in the day!).

"The only thing bad about a holiday is, it is followed by a non-holiday."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The North Wind Doth Blow !

It sure doth, but I can assure you that the poor Robin need not fear snow in Sydney.

The Night Before Christmas may be upon us, but – believe me – the Morning Before barrel-rolled us.
Following a pleasant, convivial evening debating the relative benefits of chardonnay and beer (all participants concluded that, after careful examination, a strong case could be made for their co-existence, evidencing a pleasing tolerance of different creeds, so close to Christmas), an early start beckoned and was waved away.
Mrs BB, interpreting the 5.30am weather forecast as unhelpful to morning exercisers, chose 6.15am as her commencement time for her 7km walk. In retrospect, a sound decision.

On the other hand, I – sleeping the Sleep of the Just (or perhaps just asleep) – bounced out of bed for an 8.30am start.

Dante’s 5th circle of hell greeted me (believe me, I was feeling pretty wrathful). 32 degrees, hot north-westerly wind, and yes, sun. No flies, however, as their early morning conference must have made reference to Mad Dogs and Englishmen, correctly concluding that Noel Coward excluded them.

Although committing to, and completing, 10k, it would require a bow-stretch of Herculean strength to suggest it contained enjoyment during the 52 minutes trekked. The XC course being unavailable due to commercial interests (via locking the gate to the new estate), I simply extended the usual Clean Streets course to include the Baseball field park used by gogirl. Unsurprisingly, I encountered no salivating dogs, no delirious magpies, no urchins on BMXs – nothing; merely a number of cars whose drivers viewed me with what could charitably be described as a jaundiced eye. For statistics fans, the pulse rate deviated from the average by a statistically-significant amount (numbers refer to pulse at run end / pulse after 3 min) : normally 160/100, today 180/108.

Still, exertions over, the rest of the day proceeded as planned, with family pool fun, and completion of the Wishart novel. And so on to The Death Of Achilles, by Boris Akunin. The fourth in the series, it promises more adventures for our hero, Erast Fandorin. You may be unsurprised to learn he is Russian, and his adventures cover quite a few years of the late 19th century. I believe at least 8 novels have been written, but if you want to read 5-8 soon, learn Russian.
Set in 1882, Erast returns to Moscow after 6 years away, and is embroiled in a murder mystery involving General Soboles, the “Russian Achilles”.
Akunin’s earlier novels are excellent : quite literary but written in a world-weary style; apparently he is huge in Russia. I heartily recommend his earlier novels in the series :
The Winter Queen
Turkish Gambit

3. music
We will be celebrating Christmas Day in the traditional Aussie way (Santa, family BBQ, gifts, excitement and much talking). Like some other Aussies, we will also celebrate the birth of Jesus. Additionally, I'll drink a toast to Jimmy Buffett’s 59th birthday, along with Parrothead fans worldwide. I have a feeling that a few rounds of Margaritaville will be sung, alongside Bing's, Dean's and Perry’s offerings.

Wishing everyone a very happy and safe Christmas day, however you choose to spend it. I find it’s actually a great time to reflect on how lucky I am, and why that’s worth both appreciating and saying “thanks”.

AS JB sings :

“I’ve seen too much not to stay in touch with the world made of Love and Luck
I got a big suspicion ‘bout ammunition; I never forget to duck”

“Exit, stage left”

Friday, December 23, 2005

Progress just keeps on progressing

“Progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things” : Robert A. Heinlein.

It is interesting to reflect on Heinlein's theory (one of many among his SF writings), and perhaps apply it to running.

When I think back to 1979, which historians generally agree as being the real start of my running caper, I remember none-too-fondly the clothing and equipment which accompanied me. In short : Bonds cotton t-shirt, stubbies, Dunlop Volleys. Full stop.
Arriving at unconnected intervals over the years have been :
decent running shoes (starting with Brooks and New Balance), sports watches, caps, sunglasses and now the era of Coolmax clothing, coolrunning cap, Bodyglide and plenty of sunscreen.
Easier ? Sure. Lazy ? Debatable. Certainly assisting in the greater shelf life of the BB body (at times I am tempted to compose an Ode To Bodyglide on behalf of my formerly-chapped areas).

Today's update

Taking the good advice of one B Disraeli, who said :
"The secret of success is CONSISTENCY of purpose"
and thereby thumbing my literary nose at O Wilde, who merely ran into much trouble :
"CONSISTENCY is the last refuge of the unimaginative"

I once again headed out the door at 6am, this time for 8km through previously mentioned streets, although not the Mean Streets often postulated by R Chandler. I was encouraged to emerge from my supine position on the matrimonial bed by the arresting sound of the weekly garbage collection, suitably early to permit Clean Streets prior to Christmas.
Nowadays, I tend to manage/average 5 min k's, so the 40 minutes tends to provide ample time for setting the day up well. Or well enough. I attempt to focus on imminent work issues, which - as we know - the endorphines help to clearly clarify. Most often I tend to focus on more immediate concerns, such as

Did I remember the aerogard?
Should I say hello to that regular exerciser ?
How steep is this stupid hill anyway ?

This afternoon it's off to the local gym for an hour's weights session, followed by dinner with friends and an analysis of several chardies. Tomorrow morning looks like a 10k run through the newly-created roads in our suburb - not yet sealed, so an illusion of bush running, with only trees, birds and flies for company.

2. books
Nearly done with the Wishart - approaching the denouement, so a brief time for reflection then on to the next novel (8 currently in the BB to-read library).

"Exit, stage left"

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Heavens to Murgatroyd

"An eclectic mixture of sport, music and novels" may be a reasonable definition of this blog. Inspired by the gang at , taunted by the holiday season upon us, and egged on by colleagues who are, apparently, running a book on start dates, I'd like to entice you to read and comment on my blog.
Rather than an upfront personal expose, you'll need to be patient. As we progress together, there'll be time for profiles and such : I guarantee to avoid providing a full genealogical background, so rest easy.
Infused with updates on running and general exercise progress, you should also find filtered throughout, thoughts on music faves and HM novels (further doffing of the cap to the wonderful community at
For now, three updates:
1. running
2005 has proven to be a solid training year; although 2004 provided me with a PB in distance (> 3,000k), it also promoted regular friendships with both chiro and physio. 2005 therefore, was a consolidation year, with solid, consistent performance. No races, rather a set routine which proved challenging during winter : 6am starts in July provided ample time for philosophical reflection, which then ground to a halt when I recalled Henry Brooks Adams' definition of Philosophy : "unintelligible answers to insoluble problems". Henry was on the money there, and he certainly got around.
The BB family moved to another part of The Hills in Sydney during June 2005; managing real estate agents, solicitors, removalists and tradesmen was easy - what provided angst was the thought of finding ALL NEW RUNNING ROUTES. A note of thanks to "go girl" ( for her help here. Please avoid sneaking up on Mrs BB while running and raise her heart-rate to unmanageable levels.
Today was a red-letter running day: 6am, cloud cover, relaxing 9k run through the sleepy suburb, with only the occasional peripatetic dog and aerogard-resistant flies for company.

2. books
My attitude to novels is " go! read! ", as stated eloquently by BrerFox in her excellent historical mystery website (shameless plug :
I am more than a casual reader, and HM really attracts. Lots of great novels, which -when well researched - provide better understanding of previous cultures and times as well as being cracking good reads.
Currently I am enjoying David Wishart's "Food For The Fishes", featuring Marcus Corvinus, the senatorial amateur sleuth. The 8th in the series (I think), and very consistent, This time Corvinus and family head to the coastal resort of Baiae, near Naples. Naturally dastardly deeds follow. His wisecracking attitude is witty and entertaining, and Wishart's other main characters are also appealing, notably Bathyllus, Corvinus' major domo - sooo unflappable.
If you are an aficionado of Roman history/novels, there is much waiting for you : start with Wishart, Lindsey Davis and Steven Saylor. Superb.

3. music
If you like Jimmy Buffett, 10cc, Bowie, Al Stewart, Skyhooks, Supertramp, Harry Chapin, Steely Dan ( I assume EVERYONE likes the Beatles), then check back for regular thoughts in this part. If not, you're done.

As Snagglespuss says : " exit, stage left! "