Friday, June 23, 2017

Phallic Friday - Love

I'm quite a bit wild today, as last night the blues (NSW rugby league team) fell back into old habits and lost the frigging game. I'm going to behave and not have a huge rant, except for this comment. At the end of the game, after Joey (commentator; former player) ranted about the stupidity of NSW in the second half, Freddie (commentator; former player) asked Laurie (coach; former player) if he'd been sending messages for them to target JT who was playing without full use of one arm. Laurie looks dopey at the best of times but he gave a dopier look and said, "No. There's no point. You hassle JT and they just move him out to the wing and protect him." WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?! Moving their defense around is KEY to the game. It's how you get past them and score. Why did NSW lose? Why did they play stupidly? I think there might be an answer in that comment. Having said that, there's still 13 blokes (plus reserves) playing the game who could have easily done what had to be done, except they were too stupid to(o).

But LOVE. Love stopped me being wild. Love even stopped me being a one-eyes Blues fan.

Let me get off the game of football and look at the families at the end of the game. Guys bring their kids onto the paddock these days after the game. It's just what they do. Sometimes it's a bit old; not last night. Billy Slater was back in Origin after a horror run of shoulder injuries, surgeries, and rehab. And he was awesome.

I used to not be a Billy fan. I thought he was dirty, especially when he went feet first into tackles. It made me wild. But he was penalised, copped many serves about it, and changed the way he plays...which forced me to change my mind about him. Recently, he scored his first try back from injury at the Storm vs Dragons game when I was there watching (I may have even cheered loudly in the middle of all those Dragons' fans).

Anyway, end of the game last night and they're interviewing Billy, when his daughter comes sneaking up to curl against his leg. My heart started to melt. When he finished speaking, he swoops down to hug her, and is swamped not just with his kids but Cameron Smith's (his Storm teammate) as well. Lots of hugs all around. Then he picks his daughter up and more melting on my couch.

Next time we see Billy, he's heading for the stand and his wife, and there's no deviation; he's on a mission. She's beaming and reaching for him. They kiss, then swamp each other in a hug. In that hug, there's so much love but also signs of all the sacrifice, cooperation, determination, and support.

I stalk her on Instagram. I started because I saw a timelapse video of her painting lorikeets. I can't paint to save my life; my artistic skills are stunted at about an 8 year old's level. She went from a few fine lines to this amazingly, bright, gorgeous painting with just a few sweeps of a paint brush (I exaggerate a bit!). It was beautiful to watch. Her art work is amazing (@NicoleRoseArt) but while admiring her art, I've come to admire her love of family.

Their world is not all about football. There's also kids, pets, horses, farms, friends, and love.

I know it may just be the rosy-coloured glasses of social media and TV, but I hope not. I hope this kind of love exists.

I tried to create some of this is in Team Player. I wanted the Glebe Gannets to have an atmosphere where family was important, where kids and wives mattered, where player welfare was a concern. I didn't want to write a story about the negative side of life or football. I wanted to write a story that made you smile. A story that picked up the good in life and football, and expand on that. There's enough shit in the world. Enough bad press for football. Enough stupid players (although there is one in Team Player - but I have a plan to reform him!).

I wanted Team Player to celebrate life and love. Like the Slaters did last night.

Do you believe in love?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wildlife Wednesday - tailor

The last few weeks I've been talking about fish, after a fishing day with Dad. Today we're looking at the Tailor. The Australian Museum even calls it by the same name I do - bonus! You can find info here.

Since I was a kid, the Tailor has always earned my respect. It's a clever little bugger, with a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth that it uses incredibly well. If you're losing fishing tackle, you can bet you've got tailor around. And the Museum website says this is how they earned their name - their ability to cut fishing nets. It says they can grow to 1.2 m in length - but we've only ever caught small ones. This one is about 15 cm or so.

Dad and I were losing gear. I lost hook, swivel and sinker pulling in a fish, There one minute, gone the next. I was ashamed to have lost the fish, and it brought back awful childhood memories of losing many many fish for not pulling them in correctly, or whatever other silly thing I did. But I thought I was doing this okay. Anyway, I rerigged my line.

Dad had a baitless hook in the water while he sorted out a tangle (I know I shouldn't gloat about this, but I was so damn glad he had the tangle and not me, I was almost grinning from ear to ear as he detangled! As kids, my sisters and I had so many tangles and he got so frustrated at us. But having taken my niece and nephew fishing recently, I do understand why he was frustrated, I just didn't when I was the source of that frustration!). Anyway, when he pulled in his line, there was nothing at the end of it.

"I think there's Tailor," Dad says.

Over the day, I think we lost 3 or 4 hooks, a couple of swivels and sinkers to phantom attacks, plus a couple when pulling in lines. And Dad happened to catch one of the culprits. Again, I played with the photo to get the mean looking teeth shot, but the fish is quite elegant and attractive. It gives a good darting fight. And they taste great, but we didn't eat this one. I used to eat them as a kid. They have lots of bones but are sweet, well, that's what I remember anyway! Phew. My memory isn't wrong. The Get Fishing website says they're great eating fresh, but if you freeze them, they go soggy. I would have eaten them fresh on holidays after catching them.

Do you have a favourite fish for eating?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Team Player - Cover Reveal

My latest book, Team Player, is coming on 4 August. This is the MMF story I've rabbited on about for some time.

Let me show you my glorious cover! Do you like?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wildlife Wednesday - bream

Following on from the last two Wednesday fishing posts (Flathead and Giant Toadfish), is today's catch from the same trip - a Silver Bream.

Before you get too excited, can I just say that I was a little creative with my photography with this fish. It's actually smaller than my hand, so it was nothing to be excited about! I just took the photo up close to give the impression of a much larger fish. If you don't know bream, you might be overly excited for my catch.

And what do you know...I call this fish the wrong name! In reality, it's a Yellowfin Bream. The trusty Australian Museum has corrected me again. You can find the bream webpage here for more information. Gosh, you'd think I'd know something I've been catching since I was a kid, wouldn't you!?!?! It seems not.

Anyway, let me tell you what I do know. These guys are fun to catch. Bream are kind of shy feeders. So they almost 'peck' at the bait. If you're holding the fishing line, it's like little grabs at it. But when they get hooked, these guys fight like billyo. You're pulling them in, and they're constantly swimming away, or trying to, fighting you with every molecule of their being. It's the size of my hand, or smaller, yet it's been the best fun pulling it in. It's not the pisss-zing of the line racing through your hands like when a big fish takes off. It's not the dead weight of an octopus or a crab. It's not the darting runs of a flathead. It's constant fighting against you, even though there's no way of the fish winning. As a kid, that was so reassuring. You could wrestle with this fish and feel a sense of accomplishment at not losing it in the struggle to land it. You might be able to tell that I've lost my fair share of fishes!

Silver Yellowfin Bream and Reddies (Red Bream, which are baby Snapper, or at least I think they are!) were my favourite fish to catch as a kid and I don't think it's changed. They have that row of dorsal spines you can see in the sunlight in the photo, but other than that, they're pretty harmless. You can easily hold them to unhook them without being spiked (unlike the flathead). And they're polite - once you hold them, they usually lie still and don't thrash around. This is important for a kid wrestling with a fish and a hook, trying not to drop the fish and get the line tangled, and have your dad yelling at you. NOTE: I'm wrong again, the Museum website says that there is a strong spine in the pelvic and anal fins (the ones underneath the body; anal being closest to the tail) - but the fish usually lies these down (like in the photo) and I've never had a problem with them (polite fish, see :) ) The fin that lies just behind the gills is the pectoral fin and it's non-spiny.

As an adult, I still enjoyed catching these guys. I enjoy that I can pop them back in the water, without contemplating anything else, and hopefully they'll live to see a long life. They grow up to 65 cm in length, so this baby has a way to go!

Do you have a favourite fish to catch while fishing?