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An Endless Journey into Deep Space


A tiny spacecraft drifts through the vastness of space. It carries messages from Earth. It is not alone.



Launched in 1979 it has a twin which carries the same messages.

These messages could be read by any intelligent Extra-Terrestrials who may intercept them.


On the other hand, they may never be discovered by any intelligent beings.

In that case these two tiny probes will travel through
the vastness of the Universe
until the end of time!




A Baker's Dozen

I have always had a keen interest in the short story form.

Writing these stories was a way of putting my insomnia to practical use.

I published this collection of short stories as a limited edition in 2007.

Here are a few samples of stories from that book.


To John on Patmos from Peter in Rome




Rome, AD 64

'La Dolce Vita' for the few, a turbulent and hard time for the many.
The city of Rome was devastated by a great fire which some believe was deliberately
lit by Emperor Nero. Others believe Nero merely played his fiddle while the city burned.

The fire was blamed upon a strange sect from Judea, followers of Jesus Christ.

In the year AD 64 two of the leaders of this sect were executed. These martyrs of early
Christianity are known by their baptismal names, Peter and Paul.

Saint Peter sent his final epistle to his friend John, the ‘beloved’ disciple of Jesus,
writing his book of the Gospel on the island of Patmos.

This epistle was recently discovered inside a ceramic jar in a country region of Australia.


Denver Duck Soup


One dark night while trawling the net I stumbled upon a recipe for Duck Soup.
Despite the long list of ingredients I decided to give it a go.
Living alone in the wilds of Denver, Victoria, with the most wonderful companion,
my good dog Holly, I procured a duck from a neighbour.

A bit overwhelmed by the enormity of this bird
I fired off a little prayer to my friend, the Lord of the Universe,
AKA: The Great Cosmic Jester:

"Dear Cosmic Jester... can you please send someone to help?
A Guardian Angel perhaps?"

And He, or She, sent me three!

The Dynamic Duo

 

Oh for those halcyon days of the 1950s, the Sat'dy arvo flicks at the Camden, or the Rivoli,
Batman
or Superman serials along with newsreels and cartoons before intermission,
when our mighty but deeply flawed super-heroes almost saved the world
before they nearly got themselves killed and we had to wait a whole week to see
how they would get out of that last sticky situation!




A Trunk of Books


A trunk filled with old books, a gift from some person who was
totally unknown to me has shaped my life and interests.

The influence of this literary legacy from the life of a total stranger
has formed my consciousness to a very large degree.

In a series of emails discussing these serendipitous connections
with my friend Vicky, a whole world of potential associations
was opened to me.



An Ancient Egyptian IQ Test


Long before the great civilisations of Greece and Rome,
the Egyptians produced many architectural wonders.
We all know about Pyramids and massive temple complexes,
and we've all seen countless documentaries
detailing their construction.

One enigmatic site deserves more attention
than it has been given in our time.

It is the site of a failure in Egyptian monumental architecture.
This site forces us to consider the enormity of their enterprise
and the breath-taking optimism of their endeavour.



Gifts of Music

Many people have shaped my life with gifts of music,
from the earliest days.

These pieces are in the form of emails to some of those friends,
thanking each of them for the gifts they have bestowed on me.

In a sense they describe my world, how my musical life and taste
have been formed by these unexpected casual gifts.



Acland Street

One evening in 1948 me and my family went to Essendon Airport to welcome

my Dad’s brothers Edmond and Joseph to Australia.

 

At the time I was only five years old. The airport experience, the bright

lights, the huge noise of the planes, and the expectation of meeting

my new uncles made this an extremely special event.

 

After the shedding of many tears, many hugs and many kisses, me and my sister

and baby brother being totally squashed by my huge uncles, we returned to my

Aunty Adele's house in Acland Street, St. Kilda, where I often stayed in summer.

 

That night there was a huge party in that tiny house!

Alfredo

Venice St. Box Hill, about 1950, a new house and new friends for the whole family.

 

Our house was extremely cosmopolitan, our guests coming from many countries.

 

Mum and Dad met two couples from Egypt, although they were of mixed origins:
the two husbands were of Italian extraction, one wife was French and the other German.
These two Italian-Egyptian men profoundly affected my life because

of the totally different streams of music they brought into our home.

Reverie

My Dad had huge expectations of me as I was the first son in a family of five children.

 

I certainly did not live up to my father’s expectations.

 

One evening remains of considerable interest to me as we shared a quiet night

in the lounge room listening to a classical record I had bought with the first

week’s wages I’d earned from doing from a holiday job.

Maureen's Gift

My sister Maureen died after a long and terrible struggle with cancer.

It was a very heavy time for all of our family, especially as Mum had

passed away just a few months earlier.

 

Maureen’s funeral was held in a Catholic Church. The church was packed.

Very few people were allowed to speak on behalf of Maureen.

I had to fight for the right to speak for my sister, to celebrate her life.

I was under instructions from the priest in charge of that service to

keep it short!  I was granted just a few minutes in a ceremony which

lasted the best part of an hour.

 

 I sent this story to my friend John describing that event and the tremendous

gift which Maureen had brought into my life when we were teenagers.




A Terrible Beauty


Like millions of young children around the world, as a child I was fascinated
by obsolete weapons such as swords, spears, bows and arrows.

Later in life I began to question the nature of that allure.

In this essay I have examined the relationship between
weapons designed to kill and their aesthetic appeal.

That led me to examine the relationship between the
rectangle and the curve, order and chaos,
symmetry and a-symmetry.

It brought me to consider the idea that the development
of aesthetics in human consciousness is in some way
connected to the development of objects whose
primary purpose it to kill an animal, or another person.




Lessons of History?


From my earliest years I was attracted to 'historical stories' such as
fables, myths, legends, and recorded historical events.

Often I was taught that an event was a factual historical event
when it was either legendary, mythical, or a pure fabrication.
It took me years to discover that a so-called 'true historical fact' was nothing but pure fantasy.

Telling imaginative stories which pose as history may be completely harmless.
However, historical texts have caused enormous harm to many people
since the first written records were created.

This essay explores some effects which false histories have had upon our world,
and which continue to be harmful to modern nations.




The One True Book


The Bible? The Koran?
No!
There is only one "true" book...
The Book of Wisden!

Why don't we just teach the Afghanis, the Taliban, the Israelis, the Palestinians,
ISIL and the Syrians to play Test Cricket?

Over the course of a 5-day Test Match their hearts and minds, their passion and anger,
would be channelled into the contest between the bat and the ball.




The 1896 Melbourne Cup film


 



The Search for Truth in Documentaries
Robert Flaherty & Frank Hurley






Interview with Albert Maysles


The editors of the online journal 'Documenter' asked me to interview Albert Maysles,
of the famous Maysles Brothers team, which was responsible for three magnificent
observational documentaries: "Gimme Shelter", "Salesman", "Grey Gardens".

In 1999 I had the great pleasure of chatting with Albert Maysles via telephone connection.

This is the transcript of that interview which appeared in 'Documenter' in January 2000.