Sunday, September 30, 2007

Weekend Wandering

Please answer today's question on your own blog, any time until next weekend. Just link to this blog (or to this post) so I can follow the progress of the discussion.

And the question is: What do you like most about blogging?

On Your Marks, Get Set, Glow

Keeping Us In The Dark

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


More often than not, it's the little details that attract me. The thing that really caught my attention here was the soft amber glow of the street lamp here in Melbourne. Then I looked around and realised that the glow seemed to suffuse many aspects of the scene. It was reflected not only on the metal surface of the street lamp itself, but it kissed the wires as well, and even touched the castle-like structure on the left.

And as I got my camera out, I realised I had an interesting silhouette against the sky as well. This shot was an interesting exercise in very low light, but the overall effect of the variety of angles is almost like visual geometry as well.

Wake Up Call

You Think You're An Artist? In Your Dreams, Buddy!

Imagine if you could draw like Michelangelo, but only sometimes. A man who sleepwalks is a talented artist when he's asleep - but he can't draw at all when he's awake. Lee Hadwin, 33, of Henllan, North Wales, can't remember drawing, and can't even recreate his sketches when he wakes up. He scribbles on anything - even walls and tables. He said: "I've been filmed to prove it's true. I've tried to do the pictures when I'm awake but they are rubbish." The Edinburgh Sleep Clinic said he was "unique".

FOOTNOTE: I've got more details, but they're a bit sketchy.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Aussiejourno's Weekly Blog Awards

Top Blogs For Week Ending 29 September

Aussiejourno's Weekly Blog Awards are meant to encourage bloggers from all round the world and they give new bloggers the chance to get their work noticed.

1. Bob T Bear, 2. Chewy, 3. Mushy,
4. Victorya, 5. Deborah Gamble, 6. Rambling Traveller,
7. Kissing The Dogwood, 8. Phaseout Girl, 9. Cherished 79,
10. Carol Cooper, 11. Hammer, 12. Creek Journal,
13. Brian in Oxford, 14. FHB, 15. Grumpy'n'Farting,
16. Bart, 17. Dan Mega, 18. Blue Yak,
19. Jenera Healy, 20. Yes But Images, 21. Querkey Turkey,
22. Ianqui, 23. Pasture Musings, 24. Cariboo Ponderer,
25. Random Blethers, 26. McGlinch, 27. Oz Lady,
28. Craver vii, 29. Woman Wandering, 30. Goddess,
31. Diesel, 32. Ruth's Blog, 33. Mrs Nesbitt,
34. My Name Is Girl, 35. Les Becker, 36. Country Girl,
37. It's The Little Things, 38. Lotus Reads, 39. Luke Dockery,
40. Invisible Studio, 41. Ak-Man, 42. I Gotta B,
43. Scooter Guy, 44. Mur 38, 45. Pope Terry,
46. Merisi, 47. Karoline, 48. Nobody's Friend,
49. Kitchen Fire, Joint 50. Cuckoo, Joint 50. Digital Flower Pix.

WILDCARDS: Allan Cook, Photoxification, Brookville Daily Photo, Danielle's Musings, Dan's Blah Blah Blog, Plumpie Mousie, Skinny Little Blonde, The Hippie Parade, Broken Man, Blog Guelph, Chumma Chumma, Bellur, Rabaul Daily Photo, Jo Beaufoix, House of Lime, Anna, BC Mom, Squiggles Mom, Chris Online, Ohara, Michal, The Max-e Files, Sketch and Colour, Bruno's Blusterings.

And honourable mentions go to: Confused Sam, Shashikiran. Suz.50, Laurent, Gerald the Goat, Lady T, David's Pics, Unforeseen Paths, Prof Bush, Copper Stiletto, Terry's Playpen, Kalyan's Dreams, Near Post, Colorado Bob, Chalkhills Collective, Chess World, Lensational, Ubertramp, I'm On My Weigh Down, Daub du Jour, Chele 76, Movies Sans Frontiers, Sandip Madan, Who Dat Dare Pokah, Love's Ragpicker, Coffee Conversation, Peace With Guns, Ms Creek, Roc Rebel Granny, Travellin' Mama, Magick River, Praveen Who Writes, Auto Parts, Savannah.

In conclusion, I would just like to say I've been mentoring several bloggers for a while and it is important to know that the work of a blogger whose url has only 10 hits can be ranked alongside a blogger whose url has 10,000 hits or more. I would like other would-be writers and bloggers to benefit from the fact that I am a bestselling novelist (`Vegemite Vindaloo', published by Penguin) and career journalist with almost 30 years' experience in writing, editing, design, newspaper technology and production.

Any Storm In A Port?

Final Analysis For Aussie Rules

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


It's the last Saturday in September, so Melbourne has come to a grinding halt to watch the Grand Final. The second quarter has just started and Geelong, the firm favourites, are in front of Port Power, 67 to 14. Can Port come back to win another premiership to go with their 2004 flag, or will Geelong win their first flag in 44 years?

Geelong won 163-44, the biggest Grand Final defeat ever.

Beware The Pepperazzi

Pepper? Just Take It With A Grain Of Salt

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Since this week's Photo Hunt subject is "Original", I was tossing up between several images. Then I decided to kick up my heels and have some fun, indulging in my own originality. I decided to twist a very common word - paparazzi.

The word "paparazzi" gained common acceptance in the English language after the release of the movie "La Dolce Vita". Marcello Rubini, played by Marcello Mastroianni, is a gossip writer who hangs out with opportunistic photographers who take pictures of celebrities and sell them to the tabloids.

So I dug out all the pepper I could find in the house ... and some of the cameras as well!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Post Of The Day

The laurel wreath for today goes to Walks Far Woman, for the post Night Blooms. And believe me when I tell you it's a crowded podium today, with Amazing Gracie's Thursday Thirteen - Cats; Cecilia's haunting image Sunrise; Lin's Let There be Lght; Brian In Oxford's What Would happen If and OzLady's Hanging Flowers.

Them's The Breaks

Yo, DJ, Get Down And Bust A Move

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


These colours of this breakdance display were just too vibrant to ignore. The rich shades on the display were highlighted by the clear blue sky in the background. It was as if the colours were just calling out to me to photograph them. So I did. I was also drawn to the wonderful caricature of the DJ. There was so much animation in his expression, too. Look at the rakish angle of his cap, the focus in his eyes, as well as the beetling eyebrows and the zest with which he is using the microphone. Now that's one cool dude.

To Be Shore, To Be Sure

Hoax British Beach Doesn’t Exist

A Cornish joker, Jonty Haywood, has set up a website to lure tourists to a beach that doesn't exist. A website for the fake Porthemmet beach boasts it is the best in the county and the only one in Britain "to allow topless sunbathing". It quotes Bill Oddie as supposedly saying: "Porthemmet and its surroundings are one of last remaining natural treasures of the British Isles." But its name gives the game away to locals as "emmet" is a derogatory word for tourist in Cornwall. The site tells unwitting visitors an emmet is someone who loves Cornwall and says if they tell residents they are emmets they will fit in fine.

FOOTNOTE: Must have been a pigment of his imagination.

You're So Vane

Do I Look Like I'm Crowing?

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


I guess it's not every day you get the chance to photograph a weather vane. I spotted this one last weekend and had to wait for the breeze to swing slightly, because I wanted to try and get the weather vane in the same frame as the giant ferris wheel. Believe me when I say I had to work like a contortionist to get the right angle. Hmmmm, it reminds me of the old joke about the two red blood corpuscles - they loved in vein!

Trigger Happy

I Hope This Is Not The Last Resort

A former US intercontinental nuclear missile base - with a network of underground tunnels and silos - is on sale on eBay for 750,000 pounds. Located in a remote corner of Washington state, the 56-acre site is being marketed as a "gorgeous" property and potential resort. Bari Hotchkiss bought the base 10 years ago from owners who obtained it in the 1970s after the US government deemed the Titan missile system obsolete. "The only limit is imagination. We've always wanted to see it turn into a summer camp or resort camp," he said. The sales pitch describes the buildings as "castles of the 20th century".

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Post Of The Day

Today's championship belt goes to Lynette of Portland Oregon Daily Photo for the post J Is For Joy. It's a spontaneous picture, and the accompanying story worked for me too. Other posts that deserve mention are House of Lime with Out of the Mouths of Limelets, Old Tom Wigley with Midnight Moon, Jeni at Down River Drivel with Weary and Jo Beaufoix with When Miss M Is A Teenager.

Telling Right From Wrong (Part 10)

Make Sure You Find The Right Agent


No, no, don't sign up with a secret agent. You need a literary agent!



Today's question is from Deborah Gamble, a Utah-based writer and blogger who is thirteen chapters into her first book.

What does it mean when a literary agent says "no multiple submissions"?

I'd never heard the term but I wanted to make sure that I gave Deborah (and other writers) the correct answer. So I ran the question past someone who until very recently held an extremely senior position with a major Australian publishing group.

This is what I asked. ``Does it mean they don't want you to send a manuscript to other agents? Or does it simply mean that they don't want to to keep bombarding them with the same manuscript?''

The former publisher was just as bewildered as I was. ``I've never heard the term before but I assume it means don't send it to more than one agent.''

So my suggestion would be to make a list of all the agents who deal with the genre you are writing. Then note the ones that say ``no multiple submissions'' and put those ones aside for the moment. Send your manuscript and query letter to all those that do not make the stipulation. It's better to have fifty agents reading your work at the same time than to have just one assessing your manuscript. If they all say no, then you've still got the others to fall back on - one at a time, of course!

All of which brings me to the next question, which I often get asked by aspiring writers.


If I want my work published, do I need an agent?


My answer is always a resounding ``Yes''. This is because some major publishers do not accept manuscript submissions unless they come from agents. It is also because agents are a great litmus test of whether a manuscript has literary value.

There is another significant reason. Despite the fact that most people are multi-skilled, being a good writer is no guarantee that you are an expert when it comes to understanding and negotiating publishing contracts.

Naked Ambition

Is That A Crevasse, Dear? Or A Crevice?

A UK couple are braving the elements by attempting to climb nearly 300 mountains - naked. The naturists, known only as Stuart and Karla, want to reach the peak of Scotland's 284 Munros, which are mountains more than 1000m high. So far, they've conquered 15 and record their progress - complete with photos of them naked and cold - on their own website.

FOOTNOTE: Hope they don’t get frostbite.

East Is East And West Is West

And He Who Captures Both Will Be Richly Blessed

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Yesterday was an overcast day today, with thick, low cloud. Melburnians didn't see the sun at all - except for about fifteen minutes at dawn and for not more than two minutes at dusk. Strangely enough, I was able to capture both moments at opposite ends of the city. And in each instance, there was just a narrow band of visibility under the low cloud.

In the dawn picture (above) that's the silhouette of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the venue of the Australian Football League grand final this weekend, between Geelong and Port Adelaide. And in the dusk picture (below) the pinpricks of light are the headlights of cars coming downhill.

The Best, Bar None

The Moe The Merrier

A US comedian claims he is the inspiration behind Moe the Barman, one of the best-loved characters on The Simpsons. Rich Hall, 53, has always thought the cartoon landlord - who is obsessed with Homer's wife Marge - was rather like him. "I suspected that Moe was based on me because I used to write with George Meyer back when he was one of the original writers on the show," he said. "Matt Groening was a fan of my stuff. Other people said 'You look and sound just like Moe'. Then Matt confirmed it. It's an honour, once you get over the shock of seeing yourself as a horrible, yellow caricature." To see a composite image of Rich Hall and Moe, go to Ananova.

FOOTNOTE: This bloke is really Rich - and famous.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Post Of The Day

She's great to read when she's mellow, she's great to read when she's funny, she's great to read when she's reflective and by crikey, she's great to read when she's fired up. Today's winner is the multi-talented Deborah Gamble with the very aptly titled Hot And Bothered. Strangely enough, there were two bloggers who chose similar subjects: we have Brian In Oxford with Let’s Try This Again and Suldog with Blood in the Suds; then there's Walks Far Woman with Life’s A Dance, We Learn As We Go and Cecilia Mercado with the touching post David's Weekend Question.

Dirty Fokker

J Is For Jindaroo Creek

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


No amount of money will get you a seat on the whale-watching flights operated by Frank Walker, owner-operator of Dirty Fokker Flight Services at Jindaroo Creek.

And no amount of searching will pinpoint Jindaroo Creek, a tiny bush town in the South Australian outback, where the pub looks like a London double-decker bus, and where you can donate your (unused) G-strings to the so-called "Eurovision Thong Contest".

Don't bother trying to locate the airline, the pub, or even the minuscule Australian outback settlement on a map. Or on satellite pictures.


Jindaroo Creek doesn't exist. Nor does Dirty Fokker Flight Services. Well, not in real life. But you can still read about Jindaroo Creek. It's where two chapters of my fiction-based novel, Vegemite Vindaloo, are set. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that I would never have been able to conjure up the imaginary place if I hadn't made a trip to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, back in 1999. All the photographs published with this post (taken with a simple point-and-shoot Ricoh Instamatic) portray the real bush scenes that are rendered into fiction in my novel.

For someone with an Indian upbringing like mine, I have always been fascinated by contradictions such as great vistas and little details. It is why I hanker for the view of Kachenjunga from my school, North Point, in Darjeeling. It is why the barren expanse of Alaska (and we're not talking about the pubs, either) captivates me. It is why the Yukon and the unspoilt beauty of Muskoka in Canada inspire me.

It is why the Australian outback touches my heart, not just as a writer, but as a photographer as well. I guess I'm just a sucker for stark beauty.

But when I was on the Eyre Peninsula, not for one moment did I think the unique terrain would spring to mind when I was casting about for an arresting outback location for a couple of chapters in 'Vegemite Vindaloo'.

In the middle of the Nullarbor (that's Latin for no trees - and they're not kidding) the track is red gravel and as dry as a bushman's wit. There are no distinguishing features, just low scrub as far as the eye can see. No trees, no plants. Nothing. There is a strange beauty in the barren surroundings.

The Head of the Bight is where the country comes, dramatically, to an end. The sheer cliffs are practically vertical, down to the thundering ocean below. It is not recommended that visitors peep over the edge. Standing a few feet away, you can see why. The fall is so steep, so dramatic, that it looks as though someone used a mammoth bulldozer to cleanly scoop away the rest of the land. Like so much of this vast country, the beauty is borne of the startling, unexpected severity.


Welcome to the Bunda cliffs (above). Everything here is one colour, yet it is many subtle shades. Everything here is serene, yet the crash of the ocean below reminds you just where you are. Everything here is bare and barren, yet there are, at my feet, impossible splashes of colour.

Amid the red rock and ochre shale are delicate, tiny pink flowers. The wildflowers are not out yet, for the winter has been bone-dry and harsh, but these tiny blossoms thrive where the ground is unbelievably parched.

The cliffs themselves span the palette from reddish-brown through to salmon and even, in parts, to a pale calcium-like shade. They stretch, curving gently onto the horizon, in a sweeping, arresting arc. The ocean below is startlingly luminous in its range of color, so vibrant as to be almost improbable. Turquoise melds to pale blue, which in turn gives way to azure streaks. At the cliffs' edge, the tumult ends in white froth, then departs to shimmer through the hues once more. A cloudless sky imparts the perfect canopy to the scene.

So I guess it's no surprise that Jindaroo Creek turns out to be located in the vicinity of the Head of the Bight, the Bunda Cliffs and the amazing sand dunes that fringe the area. No surprise, either, that one of the characters in the novel tosses in a city slicker's life to live in the outback and fly tourists on whale-watching flights.

Yes, I had a whale of a time. The place is so beautiful, it darn nearly made me blubber.

Join Travolta

These Tactics Just Ain’t Fair

Strange though it may seem, one of Bollywood's biggest stars is promoting a skin-lightening cream. In a 40-second advertisement for Fair and Handsome, an Indian product, a dark-skinned man who has no luck with women is handed the cream by actor Shahrukh Khan, with some mild admonishment. Weeks later, the confident, paler young man struts like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, with girls flocking and chanting: ``Hi, handsome.'' The ad appears on YouTube.

FOOTNOTE: That’s not Grease enlightening.

Up, Up And Aweigh

Wordless Wednesday

Melbourne sunset. Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Sweet Truth

Big Price Tag, But It’s A Real Gem

This is the ultimate sweet-tooth treat. A Sri Lankan resort is charging $14,500 for what it calls the world's most expensive dessert, a fruit-infused confection complete with a chocolate sculpture and a gigantic gemstone. "The Fortress Stilt Fisherman Indulgence" was created to give visitors at The Fortress resort in the coastal city of Galle a one-of-a-kind experience, said the hotel's public relations manager, Shalini Perera. She said the hotel has taken calls about it from as far away as Japan, but no one has paid to try it.

FOOTNOTE: Is this Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Post Of The Day

Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Camikaos, whose post When You Need A Friend leads the field today. Also in the mix are Queen of Dysfunction's Photo-blaaaaaaaaaaaaag; Rachelle's Life’s A Dance, We Learn As We Go; Wanda's Smalltown USA Celebrates 100 Years; Mrs Nesbitt's Rain Rain Go Away; Victorya's Vague Recollections and the very talented Chewy's artwork post, 07 Sep 24.

Swan Lake

To Beak Or Not To Beak, That Is The Question

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


I was in the city just before dawn today and figured I would take my camera down to the river. There was just a light breeze and I shot about thirty frames and was walking away when my attention was caught by an unusual fluttering noise. I turned and through the darkness I saw a movement on the water. It was a swan - a typical Australian black swan with a red beak. I shot two photographs and kept walking.

But for some reason, I could not take my eyes off the swan. A few second later I realised it was going to swim through the reflection of two high-rise office buildings, so I got my camera out again and shot this solitary frame. I didn't have a tripod and I didn't even stop to brace myself to take the shot. I took this literally in mid-stride.

Now, twelve hours later, I'm sitting here in my study and reviewing the day's pictures. And that's when it hits me, the realisation of just what a rare image this is. I've lived in Melbourne for twenty years and the only place I've seen black swans is in the zoo. I've never seen them on the Yarra. Never.

FOOTNOTE: I should have worn my cygnet ring.

Going Out On A Limb

He Didn’t Have A Leg To Stand On

A Californian man has been charged with using his false leg to smuggle three endangered iguanas from a Fiji nature reserve. Jereme James stole the banded iguanas during a trip to the South Pacific island in 2002 and constructed a special compartment inside his prosthetic limb to transport the reptiles. Officials only began investigating James after receiving a tip-off. The iguanas will be placed in a breeding program.

FOOTNOTE: It musta been a hollow promise.

Turn The Other Chic

Simply Open-Mouthed With Admiration

Photgraphs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


When I was growing up in India, fairgrounds were all about fairy floss and games of skill. Now that I've lived in Australia for twenty years, I reckon one of the most enduring favourites for children is the Clown Game. The clown's head rotates about 120 degrees, from left to right, and the aim is to drop a series of table tennis balls through its open mouth, to try and get them into a series of numbered slots. Prizes are determined by the total.

FOOTNOTE: So where d’ya keep the clown jewels?

Hens’ Knight

William And Harry Take Up Guard Duty

A farm in England has recruited two unusual security guards to protect its hens from harm. Tremayne Farm in West Cornwall has taken on two Peruvian alpacas - named William and Harry - to keep predators away. Farm director Lisa Rowe said: "Alpacas are used extensively in Australia and New Zealand to safeguard sheep".

FOOTNOTE: This isn't a game of chicken.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Post Of The Day

Let's all raise our glasses to Ak-Man, for the wonderful post Ex - and join me in wishing him luck with his book. Among the other contenders were P V by It's The Little Things, Orchard Boy by Kimberly, Cat Laws by Catmoves, I've Just Got To Make That Train by Easy Breathing Fella and David's Weekend Question by Karoline.

Telling Write From Wrong (Part 9)

Why Did I Call My Novel `Vegemite Vindaloo'?

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


It's always great to know that your work is appreciated by others, so it was very heartening to see the review of my novel Vegemite Vindaloo by Canadian boook reviewer Lotus Reads. There was some interesting feedback too, with comments from readers who said they liked the title.

Radha said: "Love the name of the novel Vegemite Vindaloo". Asha wrote: "This book interests me very much, funny name too!" Tara said: ``You've made me want to read this book. I also love learning about different cultures through reading and this sounds great." Tanabata commented: "Great title! I always enjoy learning about different cultures so another one to add to the wishlist!" Booklogged said: "I definitely want to read Vegemite Vindaloo even though I don't have a clue what either word means" and Framed wrote: "I will certainly be adding this one to my TBR list. Love the title."

I guess that brings me to today's question.

What is the significance of the title Vegemite Vindaloo?

The choice of title has an interesting background. When I first started writing the novel, I had no specific title in mind. The plot was just a story playing out in my head. It was only when I was more than halfway through it that I began trying to think of a short title that would accurately encapsulate two cultures and two countries, for the book is set in India and Australia.

I honestly cannot tell you the exact moment the title Vegemite Vindaloo occurred to me, but I did run it past some of my journalism colleagues and they thought it was great. And I figured it would be very hard to find a two-word title that would immediately signify Indian and Australian cultures respectively.

Vindaloo is a curry-like Indian dish that comes from Goa and has strong Portuguese origins. In its original form, it is made from pork, but it can be made from chicken or beef. It is distinctive for its vinegar content and for the absence of potatoes.

Vegemite is a dark-brown paste made from yeast extract. A quintessentially Australian product, it was first produced by Fred Walker and Cyril Callister and arrived in shops around Australia in 1923 - in jars shaped like lighthouses!

I guess it was a bit of a gamble to call a debut novel Vegemite Vindaloo, but I can honestly say that at no stage was I asked to change it, or to even consider changing it. There was no pressure from Penguin, or from their managing editor, Ravi Singh, to go for something safer. In many ways, I thought it would be an intriguing title, even for readers who were not familiar with Vegemite or vindaloo – or both!

The novel was first named on the bestseller lists in The Telegraph in mid-2006, and was a regular inclusion in subsequent lists published by The Statesman. This list, from November last year (with the Booker Prize winner at #1 and a Calcutta-born author in the mix with some big hitters) is my favourite, for obvious reasons.....


FICTION
1. The Inheritance Of Loss: A Novel Kiran Desai, Rs. 395.00
2. The Innocent Man John Grisham, Rs. 268.00
3. Vegemite Vindaloo David McMahon, Rs. 295.00
4. The Afghan Frederick Forsyth, Rs. 268.00
5. Cat O'Nine Tales Jeffrey Archer, Rs. 276.00

Hard-Boiled Approach

Green Eggs And Ham (And A Great Rhyme, Sam)

A New Hampshire federal judge was driven to rhyme after receiving a hard-boiled egg in the mail from a prison inmate protesting against his diet. District Court Judge James Muirhead reached for Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" for inspiration after getting the egg from inmate Charles Jay Wolff. "I do not like eggs in the file," Muirhead wrote. "I do not like them in any style. I will not take them fried or boiled. I will not take them poached or broiled. I will not take them soft or scrambled/Despite an argument well-rambled." He then ordered the egg destroyed: "No fan I am/Of the egg at hand. Destroy that egg! Today! Today! Today I say! Without delay!"

FOOTNOTE: I could rhyme, if I had the time.

Mustang Tally

She's A Bit Long In The Tooth Now

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


The P-51 Mustang was a fighter that dominated the closing stages of World War II and I had the privilege of photographing this one recently. She was cordoned off at a recent air show, so I had to use the 125mm lens to compensate for the distance. I was very restricted in the angles as well, but this shot (above) shows the magnificent sliding cockpit, the distinctive paintwork, the fishtail exhaust and the radio mast behind the canopy.


This shot, the second in the series (above) shows one yellow-tipped blade of the trusty four-blade propeller. Just under the tip of the blade you can glimpse the undercarriage strut and to the left of the frame you can see the three machine-gun ports in the starboard wing.


Then I moved to the port wing to make better use of the light. Immediately, I could see the difference. The rivets on the metal skin were so much clearer from this angle, and I was able to get a much better shot of the shark-tooth paint job. You can still see two of the gun ports in the bottom left-hand corner of the frame and if you look carefully, you'll see the stains behind the last of the exhaust stubs. A great fighter, and a wonderful test of photographic adaptability in difficult conditions. Next up, I'd love to photograph a Spitfire one day ...
PS: I just visited the site Mustangs, Mustangs and realised the timing of this post could not have been better. The world’s greatest gathering of Mustangs and their pilots, including many of the men who flew them into battle, is to be held on September 27-30 at Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK), Columbus Ohio. For bookings and information, go to The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends.

Castle Keep

A Lot At Stake For Dracula Legislators

Legal experts in Bucharest, Romania, have begun debating whether the Transylvanian fortress commonly known as Dracula's Castle was legally returned to an heir of Romania's royal family and whether he is allowed to sell it. Bran Castle, which has been featured in many movies, was returned to Archduke Dominic Habsburg, the son of Princess Ileana, last year. The princess had been given the castle in exchange for good deeds done by the royal family, which ruled Romania from 1866 until the Communist era. The 14th century castle was confiscated by the Communists in 1948. Habsburg, 69, an architect from North Salem, N.Y., pledged to keep it open as a museum until 2009. He offered to sell it last year to local authorities for $80 million, but the offer was rejected because of the high price.

FOOTNOTE: I'm not going to stick my neck out.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weekend Wandering

Please answer today's question on your own blog, any time until next weekend. Please link to this blog (or to this post) just so I can follow the progress of the discussion.

And the question is: Who was your best childhood friend?

Web Sight

Spider-Man Plays A Leading Role At The Show

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


We've just come back from the Royal Melbourne Show, which is the biggest fair of the year and runs for ten days. It was originally a yearly display for the Royal Agricultural Society and still retains its original flavour, but the fairground is now the big attraction for the younger patrons. As you can see, lifesize Spider-Man figures were the hot prizes this year. This shot (above) was taken in a split-second, as the guy walked past.


And I couldn't resist this shot (above) of a woman carrying Spider-Man in rather ignominious fashion, as if he were an oversized Gucci bag. I had to run for this shot, and it was taken using my 125mm lens through a crowd. It took me about three attempts, because with thousands of people at the show, someone always seemed to be walking into the frame.


When I lined up this photograph (above) I was actually concentrating on the upside-down Spider-Man figures. I shot one frame, with total tunnel vision. Then I saw something move behind the figures. And with a laugh I realised that there were "real live" people behind the Spider-Man figures. Look carefully and you'll see two stall attendants (one in a clearly visible "Crew" jumper and her blonde companion in a white jumper) obviously having a well-deserved rest.

Tree's A Crowd

This Could Be Bloom Or Bust

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


The fruit trees here in Melbourne are a wonderful sight in late August and throughout September. Right now we're in the first month of spring and the colour palette has shifted from the pink blossoms to the white. Against a clear blue sky, they make a compelling sight. How can you walk past something as beautiful as this and not reach for your camera?

Plastic Fantastic

We’ll Drink To This Achievement

A Serbian maths professor has celebrated his retirement by moving into a house he built himself - entirely out of plastic bottles. It took five years and 13,500 bottles for Tomislav Radovanovic, from the central town of Kragujevac, to build the 60 square metre house. He hopes to enter the Guinness Book of Records and has already sent them an application. Only the foundation of the property is concrete, and all other parts of the house are made of plastic bottles that he had been collecting for years. Even the kitchen furniture and windows are made of plastic bottles. To see a picture of the house, go to Ananova.

FOOTNOTE: People who live in plastic houses shouldn’t stow thrones.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Aussiejourno's Weekly Blog Awards

Top Blogs For Week Ending 22 September

Aussiejourno's Weekly Blog Awards are meant to encourage bloggers from all round the world and they give new bloggers the chance to get their work noticed.

1. Bob T Bear, 2. Chewy, 3. Mushy,
4. Victorya, 5. Rambling Traveller, 6. Deborah Gamble,
7. Bart, 8. Kissing The Dogwood, 9. Cherished 79,
10. Grumpy'n'Farting, 11. Hammer, 12. Phaseout Girl,
13. Creek Journal, 14. Brian in Oxford, 15. FHB,
16. Carol Cooper, 17. Dan Mega, 18. Blue Yak,
19. Jenera Healy, 20. Yes But Images, 21. Querkey Turkey,
22. Ianqui, 23. Pasture Musings, 24. Cariboo Ponderer,
25. Random Blethers, 26. McGlinch, 27. Oz Lady,
28. Woman Wandering, 29. Ruth's Blog, 30. Goddess,
31. Craver vii, 32. Diesel, 33. Invisible Studio,
34. Ak-Man, 35. Luke Dockery, 36. Lotus Reads,
37. Mrs Nesbitt, 38. My Name Is Girl, 39. Les Becker,
40. Country Girl, 41. It's The Little Things, 42. Scooter Guy,
43. I Gotta B, 44. Mur 38, 45. Pope Terry,
46. Merisi, 47. Karoline, 48. Nobody's Friend,
49. Kitchen Fire, Joint 50. Cuckoo, Joint 50. Photoxification.

WILDCARDS: Allan Cook, Digital Flower Pictures, Brookville Daily Photo, Danielle's Musings, Dan's Blah Blah Blog, Plumpie Mousie, Skinny Little Blonde, The Hippie Parade, Broken Man, Blog Guelph, Chumma Chumma, Bellur, Rabaul Daily Photo, Jo Beaufoix, House of Lime, Anna, BC Mom, Squiggles Mom, Chris Online, Ohara, Michal, The Max-e Files, Sketch and Colour, Bruno's Blusterings.

And honourable mentions go to:

Confused Sam, Shashikiran. Suz.50, Laurent, Gerald the Goat, Lady T, David's Pics, Unforeseen Paths, Prof Bush, Copper Stiletto, Terry's Playpen, Kalyan's Dreams, Near Post, Colorado Bob, Chalkhills Collective, Chess World, Lensational, Ubertramp, I'm On My Weigh Down, Daub du Jour, Chele 76, Movies Sans Frontiers, Sandip Madan, Who Dat Dare Pokah, Love's Ragpicker, Coffee Conversation, Peace With Guns, Ms Creek, Roc Rebel Granny, Travellin' Mama, Magick River, Praveen Who Writes, Auto Parts, Savannah.

In conclusion, I would just like to say I've been mentoring several bloggers for a while and it is important to know that the work of a blogger whose url has only 10 hits can be ranked alongside a blogger whose url has 10,000 hits or more. I would like other would-be writers and bloggers to benefit from the fact that I am a bestselling novelist (`Vegemite Vindaloo', published by Penguin) and career journalist with almost 30 years' experience in writing, editing, design, newspaper technology and production.

Flower Power

Just My Way Of Saying Thank You

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


This bearded blossom is a native protea, and since I cannot possibly send real flowers to everyone who welcomed me so warmly to the Photo Hunt quest, this virtual tribute will have to suffice for the time being. As the new "kid" on the block for the popular Photo Hunt, I was expecting a few other participants to visit and say "G'day, Aussie" - but I have been completely overwhelmed.

Just minutes after posting the photograph The Crepes of Wrath, I was flooded with generous comments. It was a most memorable welcome and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. As I always do, I will reply to each comment individually. I'll also return every single visit (as I always do) but it might take me a few days as I juggle a deadline for my second novel, 'Muskoka Maharani'. My thanks to all of you.

To participate in the Photo Hunt, go to Home of the Photo Hunt.

The Crepes Of Wrath

Photo Hunt: Paper

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


This is my first entry for the popular "Photo Hunt: Paper" theme. I recently bought a gift-wrapped cyclamen for someone I love very much, and the square decorative pot had this simple pink crepe paper around it, wrapped in place with a wide ribbon. A couple of days later, I took the ribbon off and lifted the pot out to water the plant. And that's when I noticed the unusual perspective of the soft pink crepe. Out came the camera and I fired off half a dozen frames from different angles before replacing the cyclamen.

FOOTNOTE: Isn't the Tour de France really a cyclamen race?

Honest, It’s Abe

Helter-Skelter, Delta Swelter

Were you on the Delta Shuttle from New York City to Washington DC on Thursday that had a VSP - very special passenger? Did you get your picture taken next to Abraham Lincoln? Yes, that’s right. President Lincoln (well, it was his wax figure) was on the flight, clad in a black suit and bow tie. The waxwork is part of the exhibition at the opening of Madame Tussauds DC in the capital, which opens on October 5. Visitors will be treated to a demonstration of the 200-year-old process that Madame Tussauds staff use to create a wax figure.

FOOTNOTE: I’m all for Abraham linking.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Post Of The Day

Today's top post is Kimberly's Dark Side, but it was a tough choice, with many worthy contenders. The others that caught my eye today were Are We There Yet's Saturday Comeback Challenge Kid; Akelamalu's tongue-in-cheek Hollywood, Here I Come; Muffin53's Survivor China; Confessions of a Rotten Correspondent's Books and Bloggers; Victorya's What Are You Slave To? and Helena's Strange Light.

Ripple Effect

Ribbons Of Light Across The River

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Maybe I'm attracted to water because I grew up in a wonderful, rambling house next to the Kidderpore docks in Calcutta, India. I also enjoy photographing the Yarra River here in Melbourne, because it shows many colours and many moods. This shot was taken pre-dawn, shooting across from the other bank, so I was using my 125mm lens. The picture is not enhanced in any way, so what you see here is exactly what I shot. I took only one frame, wthout a tripod, but I'm rather pleased with the result. The soft glow of the lights has been transformed into gentle ribbons across the black surface of the eddying river. Gotta be happy with that.

FOOTNOTE: Do slow eddies eventually become Fast Eddies?

Click here: Pentax K100D, Shutter speed 1/4, F4.5, ISO speed 800.