Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bottle Top Boat Racing

I’m working pretty hard today considering…
Considering I’ve got a flu happening…but I’m reminiscing even harder about old times and my old chum Florstar, when we were kids and bottle top-flotsam and jetsam boat racing in the man-made creeks of Sir Charlie Gardiner hospital’s parkland. It was so much fun. I remember enjoying it so much that it sears into the present now…
and I’m there, splashing water, warm air and clear blue skies. I remember a couple of little objects that became like champions to us…maybe a slightly crushed white plastic milk top and a stubby stump of anonymous orange plastic. These were vessels that won several races in a row…fast, consistent performers…continually in the top three of a race. One of our favourite flotsam-boats won again and again. The mythology grew, we had a little character here…our own private champion. Through the treacherous conditions they sped, gloried over by us as race stewards bounding nimbly across the rocky creek bed, along the slick grassy banks of the watercourse chasing fields of boats as they hurtled to the finish line. Magical play.
Then the time we lost one: A close race that put too many boats across the finish line too quickly for us to steward…too quick to gather them all, lost in the excitement of a probable dead heat, too quick to grab them all to safety as we’ve lunged and splashed… “Plastic Whiteys gone!” Shot through for a win or a place…it was too close…hit on through the rapids as we scrambled to grab the fleet…a great close race, four, five or even six vessels tightly bunched on the finish line and we’ve lost precious seconds in our roles as stewards and adjudicators…there was a race won, but by who?…Hearts pumping, paused mid stride hovered over the finish line, trying to pick the winner, then mad scramble, reports go out…The champs missing! The final collection of little boats normally a relatively simple affair…races where boats usually only came through on their own or in groups of two or three…but this whole fleet of flotsam & jetsam bundled through “race of the century!” Hair raising frozen with glee at the prospect of it all… lunging for the boats… “the boats… the boats!”
“Florstar! Have you got Plastic Whitey?”
- “Nup”
Splashing and cursing… Our little champion, our little genius piece of trash elevated to mythic nautical speedster in our minds…our new sporting world expanding with every passing second, but he’s gone…
we scour on, searching the reeds at the edge of the run through the rapids, out along the banks to the greater lake that the creek plunges into. “He’s gone through the rapids and gone out to sea!” We scan the surface of the lake but can’t see him. The excitement begins to give way to a mournful recognition that we’ve lost the champ. Reality briefly shines through the curtain of fantasy…but we were vigil:
All other races are temporarily called off. Proceedings halted. No more championship regatta till there’s been an inquiry…a reckoning. Renewed searches for the plastic fantastic Plastic Whitey. To no avail …we stop empty handed…
Everything is quieter for a few moments…just the popping and sploshing of the creek and the low distant hum of the hospital generators.
But the game must go on and there are new rounds of elimination trials to be held. Search for a new champion…up away from the creeks and reeds, by a lunch area with benches, looking for bottle caps and popsicle sticks, down by a drain entrance …push through the reeds for a bit of old rubber thong…or a shapely branch stub, or an old comb…Things we should have enshrined with notes, but time is not passing when your young and there’s no end to finding new bits-n-bobs to try their speed as grand rapids racers…and new days and new ways to celebrate our love of such story and high drama and competition…the uplift of the winners…our winners. The arvo dims and we head down Abedare road to the deli on the corner of Florstar’s street for pre-dinner hotdogs and cokes…Florstar has a twenty, he is the treasurer.

* Bottle Top Boat Racing first appeared on the creative arts website Fabulist Savannah

Monday, May 18, 2009

Babel Fish

This one's for Douglas Adams I think:

Recently I got a beautiful email from our friends at A La Ferme B&B on Somme. One of the owners Jean-Claude doesn't speak a lot of English and so wrote to us in French. I had to use yahoo's Babel Fish in an attempt to translate it. The result was funny and off-kilter in a poetic way. Eli thought it would be interesting to compare how Google-Translate went with the same text so she ran it through that and got a similarly strange and yet lyrical result. Please see below the Original email in French and then the two attempted translations:


Hello les amoureux.

En Français

Merci pour votre très sympathique e-mail.

Notre amitié va toujours vers des personnes sympathiques et particulièrement

vers le peuple Australien qui a payé très

cher en hommes pour nous défendre lors de la grande Guerre.

Vous pouvez réserver bien sur dans notre B&B, par contre faites le plus

rapidement possible.

Nous espérons que Eli a repris des couleurs et que nous vous reverrons en

pleine forme.

Nous vous réserverons naturellement le même accueil.

Isabelle, Jean-Claude

Yahoo Babel Fish:

Hello in love ones. In French Thank you for your very sympathetic nerve e-mail. Our friendship always goes worms of the people sympathetic nerves and particularly towards the Australien people which paid very expensive as men to defend us at the time of the Great War. You can reserve of course in our B& B, on the other hand made as soon as possible. We hope that Eli took again colors and that we will re-examine you in full form. We will reserve the same reception naturally to you.

Google Translate:

Hello lovers. 

In French 

Thank you for your very nice e-mail. 

Our friendship will always friendly to people and especially 

to the Australian people who paid very 

expensive men to defend us during the Great War. 

You can book well in our B & B, made against the 

quickly as possible. 

We hope that Eli has taken the colors and that we meet again in 


We give you the same natural host.

Listening to: Dappled Cities 'The Price' (Download Free here)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Some random things I think of when I think about Eli:

  • Eli is unusual and likes unusual things and yet when I tell her about the most mundane crap that I’m currently interested in she gives it her full attention and makes me feel ok about it. - This in turn reminds me that celebrations of life can be found almost anywhere and this I believe is key to how she lives. She loves things big and small, significant and passing alike; Eli’s passion for knowledge reminds me of what having an open mind can do.

  • When I look at Eli I see the primal joy of living refracting off of her like a crazy fantastic rainbow. 

  • Eli drinks water funny and it makes me happy.

  • Eli smells like the future.

  •  Eli laughs like a lemon might laugh if you gave it a little face or crossed it with a pixie (assuming you could find one of course. Eli would probably help you look), her laughter reduces me to childish exuberance.

  • Eli’s way of being reminds me that innocence is neither contingent on naivety nor synonymous with weakness.
  • Eli is a fem-fantastic warrior-poet and I love and admire her. It has been both an inspiration and a pleasure to know her and I am grateful for every day of it ….I sincerely hope to know her for many many years to come