Sunday, May 29, 2005

a night of Payne

Thursday is often a busy day at the church office, but this week had some wrinkles that I hadn't expected. David had been in early in the week and run off about 5,000 pages on the photocopier so I wasn't surprised to see that the little light was on indicating it needed servicing.

I arranged for this to happen on the Thursday when everyone was at the office and the task was duly completed.

The problem was that we discovered the machine was running worse rather than better, producing images of such a low quality that we weren't able to run off the Sunday bulletin at all.

Julie was aghast to discover that her favourite repairman Bob had retired and was all in favour of dragging his young replacement back and making him fix the machine if it took all night. Cooler heads prevailed and it was arranged that he should return tomorrow morning, after which I should be able to do this week's printing.

I think it was Bob who once explained to me that the reason photocopiers seemed to go wrong so often was that they were an unholy blend of the chemical, the mechanical and the electronic -- meaning there were three different areas in which things could break down.

I don't usually go to the office on Fridays, so I had reserved that morning to go for a blood test at Hobart Pathology. As soon as you hear the word "diabetes" from your doctor you need to resign yourself to a life of being stuck with needles of various kinds.

Getting up a bit earlier meant I could fit in both things, though I didn't care for the snow that had settled on the mountain overnight. It looked to be down to about the 500-meter level [about 1600 feet] after a 4º degree night [about 40º F].

This month's guest at the Moonah Arts Centre show was Kaye Payne and the jazz trio Eklectrika. Kaye is a cabaret performer in the great tradition of the "torch singer", very much in the style of Peggy Lee or Julie London.

She's certainly got the look -- blonde hair, diamond ear-rings and a long black coat.

The name of the group comes from what they call their brand of "eclectic jazz" which includes elements of Jazz, Swing, Latin and Blues. They play some of the classic numbers, but also a lot of originals -- for her third album It's Jazz, she wrote or co-wrote all but two of the 13 tracks.

Severe weather meant it was a small crowd but everyone applauded warmly and lined up afterwards to buy CDs. It was a great hour of pure entertainment.

Read The Spider Strikes, a reprint of a story from the first issue of the pulp monthly The Spider in October 1933. Richard Wentworth behaves like a classic pulp-fiction vigilante, but the writing (in the first story at least) is very much in the 19th century picaresque tradition.

Wentworth has all the usual accoutrements of the pulp hero -- a secret identity, a laconic foreign manservant, a beautiful lady companion and an ominous trademark. He's feared by criminals and hunted by the police -- because, to be candid, he is a serial killer who happens to prey on the underworld.

Comparisons could be made between The Spider and The Shadow, to put it mildly, but though his magazine ran for 120 issues he is less remembered today than Lamont Cranston.

You can download a copy of this for free from the pulp fiction section of the Blackmask website if you'd like to read it for yourself

You can't fault the April issue of Popular Mechanics for its range of subjects. Along with the usual DIY features, there's a cover story on amateur rocketry (a very American hobby -- the Boy Scouts even have a badge for it) and a hair-raising account of what it's like to "ride shotgun" driving through Baghdad.

The most surprising thing is a brief article by Joe Bargmann called "Tunnel Vision". This reveals that for the last 30 years one of the world's most ambitious engineering projects has been underway hundreds of feet beneath the busy streets of New York City.

When the sandhogs finish the prosaically named City Water Tunnel No.3 in 2020 it will run right across New York supplying water to more than eight million people. City Water Tunnels No.1 and No.2 were completed respectively in 1917 and 1936 -- so a new pipeline is well overdue.


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