Monday, August 14, 2017

The Race for the Spoon

Fortunately I missed the Bulldogs last game. It was another Thursday night game, but I was enjoying dinner with my mum and fiance while my team was once more demonstrating how they have 'packed it in' for NRL season 2017.

This week, against fellow also-rans, the Rabbitohs we managed a goal to end the abysmal  6 week sequence of scoreless first halves. Incidentally, just three years ago the Bulldogs and the Rabbitohs contested the Grand Final. As I said, the mighty have fallen.

Bulldogs coach, Des Hasler, who must shoulder much of the blame for this forgettable season, described the team's performance against the Rabbitohs as 'flat'. 'Flat' seems a woefully inadequate word. We can't score points or stop points- in fact we can't even hold on to the ball, and we haven't won a game since we just beat the last placed Knights by 2 points in round 18, 6 weeks ago. Pathetic seems like a more accurate descriptor.

With three rounds to go until the play-offs, and the teams below us on the table, playing well and actually winning some games, the once-were-mighty Bulldogs could be headed for the ignominy of the Wooden Spoon. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Sad Bulldog

My team, my beloved Bulldogs have been in the feature Thursday night football game for two consecutive weeks. This inevitably leads disgruntled and disappointed fans like myself, to donning our jerseys and settling down to cheer for our team, knowing that we will, in all likelihood, lose the match despite our most insane hopes. Everyone else watching knows it too. 

It also means suffering through the pre-amble, the pre-match panel discussion which these days is just a tragic reminder of our inadequacies as a rugby league team. Even the commentators know we will lose, and don't pretend to 'talk up' their chances.

Among the usual things said about how we are limited in attack ( a kind way of saying that we suck) and therefore would probably lose, this alarming statistic was shared with viewers around the country: The 2017 Bulldogs have the worst attacking record of any Bulldogs team since 1968. That's 49 years. The same number of years I have been visiting this planet. Back then we weren't even called the Bulldogs. We were known as the Canterbury-Bankstown Berries and with a sissy name like 'Berries', it's a wonder we won any games at all.

We played the Panthers last Thursday night and competed well in the first half. In the second, it was anybody's game, but winning would require a change of gears: a lifting of intensity. The Panthers shifted gears and began to overpower us. In response we maintained maximum effort without changing gears. The final score was 8-16, but it may as well have been 8-36 or worse. 

There was a game earlier in the year against the defending premiers which was likewise in the balance. Ours for the taking, if we were good enough. We weren't. We aren't. Woe are Bulldogs fans. Woe. Woe. Woe.

Maybe we should start calling ourselves the Berries again because we play football as well as fruit does.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Celebrate the Small Things: A Visit to Heaven

I believe that earth is a mixture of heaven and hell. People, places and the experiences we have with them and at them. There are times when we feel like we are in Heaven and times when we feel like we are in Hell. However, these turn out be rare when compared with the 'in between' times, which to extend the analogy using a Roman Catholic concept, I will call purgatory: the waiting room. Most of us spend the majority of our time in the waiting room. True highs and lows, the agonies and ecstasies of life are not the norm, but that is exactly why we rejoice in the good times, and, armed with hope, we fight through the hard times. Last week was a week of highs.

Early Wednesday morning, I dropped my daughter at the airport to catch her flight back home to Wollongong via Sydney. The week she spent up here, in what some call paradise (dry season), Darwin, was so great. Wonderful on many levels and for many reasons.

I'm stoked that she came, and that we were able to do heaps of cool and fun stuff together. As Jessie  and I were working through the week, my daughter also had plenty of time to chill and enjoy being on her own: warm, relaxed and unhurried.

Last Saturday we drove to Litchfield National Park which is about 90 minutes from Darwin. It is just one of many places in and around Darwin where nature can be seen at her spectacular and beautiful best. One of the places inside the park we visited was Wangi Falls, and I can't imagine a more heavenly place. It was awesome. The photo, as is normally the case, does not do it justice.

I'm so grateful to have had this time with my daughter, who is now a young woman of whom I am immensely proud. But wait, there's more: this time next week, my mum will be here for a visit, and there's no need to say how much I am looking forward to that.

What's the most beautiful place you have visited? When have you felt like you were in heaven?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Bulldogs Blasted

At the conclusion of the match I tore off my jersey and threw it on the floor - I am prone to melodrama. The funny thing is, we scored first. We actually led 6-0, until we remembered that we don't know how to play. What can you say when your team negatively exceeds your low expectations? What can you say when the tiny flicker of hope is rudely and dramatically snuffed out by reality?





To be fair, we had very little possession...what? Wait a minute! The reason we had very little possession is because we either

  1. kept dropping the ball
  2. kept giving away stupid penalties
  3. missed so many tackles that the Broncos either scored, or were able to force drop outs and have repeat attacking sets
The truth is we were appalling as usual. The try we conceded right before half time epitomized how far we have fallen. I'm pretty sure, I could score a try against the Bulldogs at the moment - I mean, by myself.

This game against the Broncos was really our last throw of the dice. We simply had to win to have any hope of making the play-offs (or so they kept saying-as I laughed until my sides ached) and not only did we not win, we did not even come close to winning, and the opposition, The Broncos, were not THAT good.

Final score:     Broncos 42.   Bulldogs 12.

Only deeply ingrained thrift and sentimentality prevented me from tearing my Bulldogs jersey and throwing it away. (They are not cheap and this one was a gift from my children.) It is also true to say that even if we never win another game of rugby league, I will remain loyal to my team even if it kills me to do so.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Two Points Guaranteed

Under normal circumstances it would be hard to find something to say about your team's performance -either good or bad- when they did not play on the weekend. However, the demise of the 'once were mighty' Bulldogs is not an ordinary state of affairs.

Yes, we received two competition points for nothing, courtesy of a bye. Each team gets two of these during the season which makes it impossible for any team to finish the season with zero points. The byes are organised around the State of Origin period (New South Wales V Queensland) and are designed to give representative players are little bit of breathing space, and to offset the negative effects felt by teams with a high number of rep players who are unavailable for their clubs the weekend before each Origin game.

The Bulldogs had three players in the NSW team, but did it make any difference to our performances? No. Rep players or not, injured players out or not...it's all the same. We try hard-most of the time-but seem unable to sustain the effort for the whole 80 minutes. In patches we look good, and our defense is not terrible. In fact we are ranked the third best defensive team as measured by number of points conceded.

Having such solid defense should see a team placed higher on the ladder. The best defensive team, Melbourne Storm, are leading the competition and also boost the best attack. Makes sense right? Statistics may not tell the whole story but they don't lie.

Why can't we score points? Here are the three things hindering our attack.


  1. Lack of organisation. The Bulldogs do not have a dominant organizing halfback.
  2. Lack of speed in the play the ball: both in the actual getting up and playing the ball, and in the service from dummy half.
  3. Lack of speed in the backline. The Bulldogs do not have any guns in the backs. The backs score most of the tries.
I rest my case. I can hardly wait to attack my team again next week after we have done battle  with one of the top eight contenders: the Brisbane Broncos. I would wish us luck but we need more than luck.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Celebrate the small things: mawish

Let me begin with a confession: I thought moreish was spelled mawish. I even confidently told a student so. M-A-W-I-S-H, I said, is a synonym for hungry, as in I'm feeling mawish. Yes, shocking isn't it? Not only the wrong spelling, but the wrong definition. Upon realising this grave error-just now- I have determined that I am no longer fit to teach English as a second language, and I will therefore be submitting a letter of resignation on Monday.

The timing is most unfortunate though, as I am soon to be, if my
information is correct, made permanent, having been unwillingly retained as a casual employee for nearly a year. I learned this piece of good news last night at a work dinner held to farewell one of our colleagues who received a better offer, and rightly accepted it.


I chose the restaurant: a little selfishly picking one within walking distance of home, so I could have a few drinks. The restaurant was called Moorish-no kidding. What a coincidence right?

Not at all. The name of this terrific tapas bar and restaurant made me think of the word mawish, which I now know is actually spelled moreish and evidently does not mean hungry, but rather refers to food which makes you want to eat more of it. You know the feeling: you taste something and you love it and you have to eat more of it.

Moorish refers to the Moors (North African Arabs), so Moorish food is cooked in the style of this region. We had a four course tapas banquet which featured a succession of wonderfully flavoured and textured dishes. Everyone was pleased with the food. We had a great night. The place was packed, but the service was sharp. Read my review of Moorish cafe. An all round winner, and the inspiration for this celebrate post in which I was all set to play with the words Moorish and Mawish. Unfortunately, as I explained earlier, mawish is not a word, but Moorish and moreish still works as an example of a pair of homophones.

Homophones? I guess I still have something to offer as an ESL teacher. Perhaps I won't quit after all. Maybe I'l stay and enjoy being made a permanent employee, which effectively means a pay rise. 

What do you think? Should I stay on? Have you eaten Moorish food? What food would you describe as moreish?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Strange Horizon

Title:The Strange Horizon                                     Glimpses into the Mind of a Dreamer

       
 ISBN: Ebook 978-1-62420-324-4

            Print     978-1548336950

Author: G. L. Didaleusky



Genre: Short Stories (mystery, suspense, contemporary, horror, science fiction and fantasy)

Excerpt Heat Level: 1

Book Heat Level: 1


 Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

TAGLINE
A Collage of Short Stories emerged from my imagination--a few actual experiences--and some possibly conjured from a previous life, if you believe in reincarnation and Edgar Casey.

BLURB
The Strange Horizon ranges from stories less than a hundred words to over four thousand words. There isn’t any profanity, gore or sexual innuendo in any of the short stories. The genre varies from mystery, suspense, contemporary, horror, science fiction and fantasy. You may smile, chuckle, express a tear or two, feel a sudden chill or feel a warmth at the end of the story. Emotions are in the mind of the reader and the heart cuddles or rejects those emotions.


EXCERPT
Guiding Spirit

Adam leaned forward and slid his shovel between the sidewalk and six inches of snow. His peripheral vision saw someone walking toward him. He straightened up and gazed at an elderly man wearing a parka. A cold northern wind gently blew at the man’s white hair and long white beard. Adam threw the shoveled snow next to him and said, “How are you?”

“Just fine, thank you.”

“I’m Adam Morris.”

“Please to meet you. I’m Ben Stanton.”

“Didn’t you and your wife move into the old Kramer house last month.”

“Yes. We did.”

“Is everything all right there? It sat vacant for a few years.”

“It’s just fine. We’re very comfortable.”

“I heard you’re going to play Santa Claus at the family shelter on Christmas Eve,” Adam stated.

“Yes. I’m looking forward to it”

“You sure do fit the part. Don’t need an artificial beard.”

“No. I don’t,” Ben said, pulling at his beard.

“I understand you retired a few years ago.”

“That’s right.”

“What kind of work did you do?”

“Public relations for a large global company.”

“Did your wife retire too?”

“You ask a lot of questions. You must be a newspaper reporter.”

“Yes. I am. How did you know that?”

“You’re standing in front of the Northern Star Newspaper office.”

Adam rolled his eyes, grinned. “Never was good as an undercover reporter.”

Ben placed his hands on his large protruding abdomen and chuckled.

“You laugh from your belly just—”

“I know,” interrupted Ben. “Just like Santa on TV or in the movies.”

“Didn’t mean to offend you.”

“You didn’t. It doesn’t bother me at all. Matter of fact, I take it as a compliment.”

Two teen-aged boys approached them. “Hey old man, where’s your reindeers?’ asked one of the boys. The other boy snickered.

“Get out of here you juvenile delinquents.” Adam scowled at them.

The boys kicked snow on the shoveled sidewalk in defiance and took off running.

“You little brats.”

“They mean no harm,” interjected Ben. “They got good hearts. Their attitudes just need some guidance.”

“Being in public relations, I would think you’d have negative judgments of people.”

“No. I try to see positive attributes in people. It’s the way I am. Too old to change now.”



~ * ~



About a week before Christmas, the Santa at the mall became sick. Adam heard about it when the manager of the mall came into the newspaper office to place an ad in the paper. He contacted Ben, who accepted the position.

Ben sat in a large, adorned chair. A woman in her late twenties, holding the hand of a girl around six-years-old, walked up the red-carpeted entranceway and stopped a couple feet away from him.

“Hi, Santa,” said the little girl.

“Well, Jasmine, how are you today?”

“How did you know her name?” asked the woman, frowning.

“Santa knows all the boys and girls of the world. Although, I heard you call her name a few minutes ago when you walked behind me.”

“So, Jasmine. What do you want for Christmas?”

“A daddy. Mine died when I was a baby.”

“I’m not sure if Santa can promise you that.” Ben glanced at the mother. A tear ran down her cheek.

Jasmine’s face saddened, as her shoulders slumped. “That’s okay, Santa Claus. I still love you.”

“Bless your heart. What else can Santa bring you Christmas morning?”

“My own bed.”

“Do you share your bed with someone else?”

“Oh. No Santa. The shelter owns my bed.”

The mother leaned forward. “We’re staying at the family shelter in town. It’s just temporary until I earn enough money for a place of our own.”

“I hope things work out for you and your daughter. Have a Merry Christmas. And God bless you.” Ben handed Jasmine a candy cane.



~ * ~



On Christmas day, Adam sat at his dining room table surrounded by family members.

“I heard that Ben and his wife suddenly left town two days ago,” Carl remarked, Adam’s brother. “No one seems to know where they went.”

Adam frowned. “That’s strange. Ben was looking forward to playing Santa Claus at the family shelter.”

Maybe they wanted to spend Christmas with relatives in another town or state.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Why’s that?” asked Carl.

“Ben and his wife were ‘only children’ and didn’t have any relatives. At least that’s what he told me a while back.”



~ * ~



“Jasmine, get over here.”

“Karen. She’s okay,” said a young man in his late twenties, sitting next to her on a bench in the mall. Across from them, they were dismantling the Santa Claus stage.

“I still can’t believe how we happened to meet after not seeing each other since high school.”

“Me either. The elderly man that was playing Santa here at the mall came into my store a few days before Christmas. He asked me if I would go to the family shelter on Christmas Eve dressed up like Santa. I couldn’t believe it when I saw you there.”

 Email address: gosky1@outlook.com


Website URL: www.gregdidaleusky.com