Bon Bons and Paper Crowns

We have to drive down Rocky Point Rd to get to our ancestral home – The Sutherland Shire. Its a soulless six lane strip lined with bland apartment blocks and brick veneer townhouses. Except for my Aunt Ida’s old place on the corner which is heritage listed. Its exterior remained much the same from when she was born at the beginning of last century to when she died at the beginning of this one. It adds a desperately needed touch of character to the area. I am glad it’s been preserved but despite this for me something has been lost….

A few blocks back down is an unremarkable medium density development. Thirty years ago there stood a ramshackle old house with a cracked concrete pathway and double garage that looked suspiciously like it contained asbestos. The whole shebang sat on a spacious quarter acre block – the type which has been consigned to history (at least in Sydney). It was my grandparent’s home.

My Mum is the second youngest of eight so as you’d expect I have MANY cousins – 15 infact. (And NO we are not Catholic). When the clan converged on the place for Christmas it was always bigger than Ben Hur.

Christmas lunch was an unfashionable feast. You’d never the likes of it on a gastro porn blog these days but Oh My! it was tasty. My grandmother and aunties would roast three different types of meat served up with boatloads of gravy. Apple sauce in a naff crystal bowl was de rigour to compliment to pork crackling. Everyone wanted the pork crackling. The veges were roasted to with in an inch of their lives. They were so soft that they sagged the minute they hit the plate (like a middle aged butt).

Dessert was the traditional sherry drenched pudding drowned in homemade custard, whipped cream and icecream. If you could possibly fit in any more, a family of naff crystal bowls, related to the one that held the apple sauce, offered up choc coated nuts and sultanas. There was even some of that awful white Christmas made with rice bubbles and studded with (cough, cough) glace cherries. The passing of time has not made that particular confection any better.

Not dreaming of a white christmas

Not dreaming of a white christmas

The fancy glassware was extracted from the display cabinent where it resided next to the trinkets Uncle Donny brought back from the Korean War. As a special treat the kids could imbibe sparkling grape juice directly from the shelves of Jewel ( a super market chain before the Colesworths apocalypse). We felt very mature and sophisticated indeed.

After all the plates were emptied and we all felt like exploding there was some actual exploding. The cracking of Bon Bons resounded about the room. Grown men donned flimsy paper crowns and guwaffed at the corny jokes. It was only then that the tribe could migrate to the living room for the presents.

With such large numbers the family stuck to a gifts for kids only policy. Still there were so many presents that a large section of the faded floral living room carpet was obscured. My Grandfather took the mantel of Santa and handed out each one. He always saved the very best for last – the bag of Violet Crumble that he coveted every year.  After that he’d umpire the game of backyard cricket. Our clan did it French style with under arm chucking in place of bowling. A hit over the fence was a six and out.

All my grandfather wanted for Christmas

All my grandfather wanted for Christmas

As the cousins grew up and scattered all over Australia the gathering shrank. Then in the late 1980s a developer approached my grandparents with an offer they couldn’t refuse.  They sold and moved to the lower Blue Moutains where my Grandfather contentedly spent his remaining years pottering about the garden. He left the building at age 83. Lung cancer defeated him whereas the Depression  World War Two, the times a changin’ in the 1960s, Whitlam and even the Trevor Chappell underarm bowling incident could not. My Grandmother battled on but was never the same without her beloved “Snow”. (That was his nick name because of his very blonde hair). She joined him in 2009. I was heavily pregnant with P2 at the time – her 33rd great grand child.

Team Abulous is pretty much assured of having a wonderful Christmas this year. We’ll join my brother and sister in law in the Shire. They are generous souls who love nothing more than putting on a magnificent spread. The girls will splash about in the pool  jump on the trampoline and work themselves into an excited frenzy with their cousins.  I’ll sip on Yellowglen laced with Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup. Undoubtedly some silly hat wearing and lame joke telling will happen.

There’s no doubt it will be a great day but I’ll feel a touch of melancholy when we drive back up Rocky Point Rd. For me a slice of history has been lost.

What will you get up to this Christmas?

Not my family but it could have been.

Not my family but it could have been.


PS: Thanks to all the blog fans who have put up with me in 2014.









Captain Australia

When an individual spends far too much time online their mind is bound to traverse some weird territory. Recently I have been oddly pre-occupied with the Marvel Comic Book universe and its stable of hotties. Whilst swooning over the lyrca and leather clad beefcake I noticed that the  antipodes are woefully under represented. In fact anything other than white American males and the ruling class of Asgard are under represented but that’s another Pandora’s box of worms. If we can have Captain America, an idealized super soldier fighting for good old US values of freedom, truth and justice with a star spangled shield, why shouldn’t we have a Captain Australia? Surely the right to down stubbies and dissecting the various footie codes whilst turning out the perfect snag on the BBQ warrants fighting for?

As I dont have enough to occupy my mind, I work shopped a couple of back stories for Cap Aussie. Perhaps he could be Gary Darren (aka Gazza Dazza) a mild mannered trades man from Sydney’s Sutherland Shire. Gazza drinks a case of irradiated Victoria Bitter left over from the ANSTO Christmas party* and acquires other worldly powers. Alternatively he could be Outback Jack “Jacko” Jackson a jackeroo from the back o’ Bourke.  Jacko is bitten on the arse by a genetically modified red back spider whilst sitting on an outside dunny  thus altering his molecular structure and conferring super strength. Another option is a mad scientist ( perhaps Dr Karl Kruszelnicki ) taking genetic material from a selection of legendary Australians (eg Don Bradman, Shane Warne, Bob Hawke, Phar Lap, Ned Kelly etc) and fusing it together to create a superior  being. He’ll have the looks of Hugh Jackman, the heart of a race horse, a 99.99999 batting average and the remarkable ability to down a yard glass in a single gulp.

As I have oodles of time to spare, I conducted serious research into this topic. You’ll be amazed to know I am not the first person to envision the Cap Aussie concept. A Captain Australia exists on the Marvel Comics Wikia. Apparently he made a brief appearance as part of the All Captains Squad. There is not much  quintessentially Australian about him other than the Southern Cross and the fact that he looks like he was plucked directly from a float on Mardis Gras night.

The official Cap Aussie.

The official Cap Aussie.

I dug a little deeper and discovered a Kick Ass style vigilante in Brisbane who has adopted the Captain Australia moniker.  His banner looked promising.  It is only fitting that our great nation is represented by a muscle bound hunk in unforgiving lycra.  However I’m unconvinced by the shield. I believe it should be an esky lid.

Moving in the right direction.

Moving in the right direction*

Sadly in a text book case of reality blowing, the dude’s website failed to live up to the hype. On the positive, the cricketing gloves are a nice touch.

Here's our hero.

The real life Captain Australia. Reality blows my friends.*

Further investigation yielded some interesting results. A fetching young hunk named Jonas does Captain Australia on the kids party circuit.  I’m quite partial to his interpretation. The boomerang is banging as is the Aussie flag cod piece. If I have any criticism, it is that the long red socks should be replaced with cricketing pads.

Jonas does Cap Aussie.

Jonas does Cap Aussie.

As comely as he is, Jonas is not quite the hero I’d imagined.  For starters, he is missing the all important esky lid shield. I also strongly believe he should wield other evil slaying  paraphernalia such as BBQ tongs and a bullet deflecting stubby holder. I was encouraged to stumble upon this work of genius by the awesome comic book artist Neill Cameron. Here Cap Aussie is envisioned as a bronzed surfie dude with his generous  undies on the outside. The radiation deflecting zinc cream on the nose is a delightful add in. While I’m happy to run with the boomerang as the weapon of choice, I am crest fallen over the absence of the esky lid shield. This should be NON NEGOTIABLE. To me this should be Cap Oz’ signature piece of equipment. Also I am dismayed about the choice of beverage. Freakin’ xxxx? You’ve got to be kidding. Surely there is no other option but VB.

Stone the flamin' crows cobber!

Stone the flamin’ crows cobber!


Now that we’ve got Cap Aussie’s look down pat its time to cast him in the inevitable film franchise. Hamish Blake you are being summoned to the casting couch.

Hamish Blake in lycra. What more does this country need?

Hamish Blake in lycra. What more does this country need?


How would you portray a fair dinkum, true blue Aussie hero? Who would you invite to the casting couch?



PS: The sequels virtually write themselves. In Cap Aussie 2 – ANZAC, he teams up with his mate from across the ditch Captain Kiwi. (Who will be played by NZ’s sexiest man – Jermaine Clement)
In Cap Aussie 3 – ANZUS our two heroes will go head to head with Captain America.



* ANSTO – Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation

* The pictures have been unashamedly pilfered from http://www.captainaustralia.net/

* Jonas can be found at http://www.superherocentral.com.au/ (absolutely NOT sponsored – just acknowledging where the photo came from)

* Check out Neill Cameron’s stuff at http://www.neillcameron.com. He does a lot of the 10th and 11th Dr Who so YOU WILL LIKE IT.


Shite Dadabulous Likes

Have you heard of the now infamous website “Stuff White People Like” (http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/)? It set the interwebs on fire by accurately satirizing our middle class pretensions. Its authors have lived every bloggers fantasy having won a book deal as well as merchandising spin offs. Even Australia’s own Remarkables Group does not have its own merchandising yet.

SWPL has spawned a number of copy cats including Melbourne’s  “Things Bogan’s Like”  (http://thingsboganslike.com/).  Things Bogan’s Like has mutated into not one but two books proving that the public cant get enough of social stereotypes.  I think its time that I grabbed myself a piece of the action. We at Team Abulous are sun reflectingly white and as Sutherland Shire escapees we are familiar with the tastes of the Bogan. So twisting these two threads together I bring you Shite Dadabulous Likes or more descriptively Stuff A Ranga Software Developer From Sutherland Shire Now Living In Sydney’s East Likes. That’s SARSDFSSNLISEL for short.


Dadabulous career is firmly rooted in software but he has a passion for hardware. Like any man Dadabulous appreciates a good screw. He is more organised about finding one than most.

Wanna' screw?

Wanna’ screw?

Our garage aka The Man Cave houses an infinite number of scary looking mechanical instruments sourced from Bunnings Warehouse.

Dangerous power tools.

Dangerous power tools.

I’m not 100% sure what he does with this equipment but I can only assume he uses the technology for good not evil. Sometimes he emerges from the man cave having magically produced stuff like this.

Dadabulous bent his wood.

Dadabulous bent his wood.

In case its not glaringly obvious, this is a feature lamp which Dadabulous created from scratch. He did the wood bending and the wiring. Its over 6 ft tall making it the imposing figure in Chez Abulous.

The man cave is also home to a vast array of threatening looking garden implements. Dadabulous tells me that these are our first line of defense against the zombie apocalypse.  I sleep peacefully at night secure in the knowledge that Chez Abulous is equipped to ward off a zombie attack.

Our anti-zombie arsenal.

Our anti-zombie arsenal.


Dadabulous is a man of eclectic tastes. He loves sci-fi, fantasy and the odd SBS science documentary but thinks Prof Brian Cox dumbs things down and speaks like a Nancy boy. His favorite TV program of all time is  the incomparable Red Dwarf. Yes that is the DVD collection of the entire series 1988 to 1999.

The antics of Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Criton never grow old.

The antics of Lister, Rimmer, Cat and Kryten never grow old.

As you would expect The Lord of The Rings (LOTR) was a key influence in his formative years. Unlike me he never tires of battles between orcs, elves, hobbits, gobblins, hob goblins, giant spiders and whatever else wages warfare in Middle Earth.

The gospel of Tolkein.

The gospel of Tolkein.

I imagine its possible to be a Tolkein enthusiast without getting mixed up in Dungeons and Dragons but its rare. Dadabulous and his bros are still enacting imaginary battles with mythical beasts on an all too regular basis.  He is particularly proud of his dice collection which features an icosahedron ( 20 sided ).

High rollin'

High rollin’.

Here’s one of his figurines. I’m not sure what it does but it probably involves slashing.

A slashie.

A slashie.


Dadabulous is insatiable. I can never give him enough – pie and custard that is. In fact desserts are the one area where I have neglected my wifely duty.

Clearly not Chez 'Abulous.

Clearly not Chez ‘Abulous.

He'll get it once a month if he's lucky.

He’ll get it once a month if he’s lucky.

What shite does your husband dig? Do you think you can get a book deal out of it?




* As you know, this is not my fantasy. My fantasy is to have Fass clean my bathroom.

photo credit: iriskh via photopin cc

photo credit: PetitPlat – Stephanie Kilgast via photopin cc


The Hobbit – A Confusing Journey

Team Abulous has a soft spot for Hobbits. We too hail from The Shire*.  As a family we are vertically challenged and broad of foot.  Dadabulous has remarkably hairy legs. Moreover Dadabulous has been a Tolkien devotee since reading the books in his teen.  He was completely captivated by the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) film trilogy and even owns the extended box set – as if the original theatrical releases were not long enough. Also being a consummate tech-head, he was very excited by the new fangled 48 frame per second technology. He moved heaven and earth to get a baby sitter so that we could join his man posse (aka SSBB – Sutherland Shire bum boys*) at Hoyts Broadway last night. Actually he simply asked his mother to mind the kids and she obliged. Thanks very much Grandma for giving us a night off.

Shire Hobbits are our people.

Shire Hobbits are our people.

We were concerned about being late but needn’t have worried. The pre-movie ads were interminable. Why is it that the longer the movie ( The Hobbit was a bladder busting 169 minutes),the more numerous the ads at the beginning? Once we finally arrived at Middle Earth the kingdom felt somehow different. The LOTR films were an amazing visual feast. However The Hobbit seemed oddly claustrophobic and the fancy 48 fps was to blame. The higher resolution meant the picture had remarkable clarity and this showed up every darn thing. The costumes, make up and prosthetics that wowed us in LOTR simply looked cheap, as did the sets. Clearly they were not cheap. The film had a reported budged of $180m but I felt like I was watching an episode of Dr Who. Infact I was hoping the Tardis would pop in because The Hobbit needed an injection of eye candy.

The plot was apparently true to the book. Basically in days of yore a civilization of dwarves were violently booted out of  their prosperous mountain home Erebor (or Lonely Mountain )by Smaug the Dragon. The displaced dwarves attempted to resettle but ended up having serious fisty cuffs with a bunch of Orcs led by the pornographically named Azog The Defiler. I guess it sounds much more menacing that Azog The Regional Sales Director. In the fraccas Thorin, heir to the Dwarf throne, slices off Azog’s arm which pisses him off mightily. You could even say he holds a grudge.

It's a nice day for some defiling.

It’s a nice day for some defiling.

Moving along a gang of 12 dwarves assisted by the Grey Wizard Gandolf  (Ian McKellen reprising the role) decide to take vigilante action against the dragon and reclaim Erebor. The hobbit Bilbo Baggins ( Martin Freeman) is roped into the team and the motley crew set off into the treacherous dark wood on their epic quest. Throughout their journey the gang encounter a confusing array of hazards including trolls, goblins and the still peeved Azog. To my untrained eye these creatures were barely distinguishable from each other. Giant spiders made a cameo appearance as did towering rock giants. The team made a mandatory visit to Elves city where robe clad hippies wafted around to the soothing strains of pan flutes and harps. The place reminded me of the new age crystal shop in Bondi Junction.

The inhabitants of Middle Earth have a callous disregard for Occupational Health and Safety. It’s something the Amalgamated Mythical Creatures Union really must get on to. Most of the fighting action takes place on rickety suspension bridges sans safety rails atop gaping chasms or narrow mountain passes in thunderstorms. Arrows fly, mountainsides avalanche, fierce creatures do their nastiest but no one on the side of righteousness gets a scratch. Along the way the team collects various weapons, all imbued with an heroic back story and beast slaying properties. The legendary “one ring to rule them all” finds its way onto Bilbo’s stumpy finger after a tediously long scene with Gollum. Nevertheless its significance is not discussed as the crew are to busy fleeing from goblins, orcs and God knows what else across suspension bridges.

Dudes - how did you get the DA for this bridge through council without a safety rail?

Dudes – how did you get the DA for this bridge through council without a safety rail?

Overall The Hobbit is less satisfying than LOTR. If bored by the relentless battles in the trilogy, you could immerse yourself in the stunning cinematography. Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom and David Wenham provided eye candy to compliment the amazing New Zealand landscape. By comparison the scant perve material in The Hobbit was hidden under layers of prosthetic goop. I found out that the dude who plays the dwarf  leader Thorin – Richard Armitage, is a crumpet with honey out of costume.

Richard Armitage - in costume. Not crumpet.

Richard Armitage – in costume. Not crumpet.

Richard Armitage out of costume. Crumpet!

Richard Armitage out of costume. Crumpet!

Apart from looking like low budget BBC sci-fi, it is simply too long. It could really benefit from some editing with chain saw.

Mumabulous Verdict: 6/10

Three hours of orc slaying pushed me to breaking point. The film is redeemed by some humorous dialogue and a very cool scene were the gang are rescued by a flock of gigantic flying eagles. Fans of the book should enjoy it but others will be let down. If your husband wants to see it give him a leave pass and stay home with a Colin Firth DVD.

* Sydney’s Sutherland Shire

* The clique were given that moniker some 25 years ago. No one remembers exactly why.


The Bear Necessities

The excitement that had been mounting for weeks at Chez ‘Abulous came to a head this morning. Today was the day of the girls’ lovely cousin, Miss A’s, 4th birthday party.  It was held at the Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sutherland Shire’s temple of retail, otherwise known as Miranda Fair. Other kids, stuffed toys and birthday cake are an irresistible combination for my girls.We were all smiles on the great pilgrimage south.

Upon arriving at the venue, it became clear that the humble Teddy Bear is no longer humble. The Build-a-Bear crew have brought Eduardo and Edwina Bear roaring into the 21st century in blaze of bling. The haute couture and accessories that accompany stuffed toys these days are mind blowing. They used to say that “Barbie can be anything” but I can honestly say that the soft bear species has the jump on the fantastic Miss Plastic.

The concept behind the Build-A-Bear franchise is to create your own one of a kind, custom made companion. The party goers are greeted by a host then asked to select the bear’s fur coat. Its at this point that you realize that “Build-A-Bear” is a misnomer. There’s an entire menagerie available.  Dogs, cats, rabbits, tigers, turtles, Disney characters, Elmos and Cookie Monsters are all vying for your attention. There are even more exotic choices such as wolves, seahorses and unicorns. Reindeers stand by ready to cash in for Christmas.

I was seeing unicorns on rollers skates before I had my coffee this morning.

She’s just an empty shell of a bear.

The next step is to stuff the animal. Its done with this machine. Although it looks uncomfortable and undignified, it gets the job done.

Go and get stuffed.

When the toys are properly fleshed out, red love hearts are inserted and their backs are stitched up. This just leaves the naming process and the issuance of birth certificates.  While all this is going on the children are encouraged to do traditional party stuff like playing games and singing songs. At the end of the session the birthday kid is treated to a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday and cake and lolly bags are doled out.

Parents have the option to stay or dash out for some shopping. For me hanging around was worthwhile so that I could gawk at   the store which was an over-the-top boutique of all things bear.  Teddies are no longer content with a simple bow tie. Nowadays they can dress like California guurls or guys, complete with swimsuits, flip flops, sunglasses and boogie boards (I kid you not).

The bear necessities for the beach.

They can dress like other iconic characters. I noticed Jedi, Spider Man, Iron Man, Toy Story, Disney princess,  pirate, nurse, soldier, sailor, astronaut and sporting star costumes on offer.  The bears could channel their inner glamour puss in pink cowboy hats for Mardi Gras or nerd it up with Jedi light sabres. There were cricket kits and Aussie flag hats for Australia day and even snow boards for that annual trip to Aspen. I noted with bemusement the collection of faux leather motor cycle jackets and matching bumless chaps? Here’s the photographic evidence.

Bear your bum in these.

While I found the experience a touch surreal, the kids had a wonderful time. P1 created a fluffy pink confection and aptly named it “Pinky Pie”. ( I think there is a My Little Pony of the same name but I wont bring that up). P2 made a dark brown doggy and christened it “Milo” after her daycare mascot.  Of course I was nagged to purchase some appropriately glam outfits for Pinky Pie but I was able to reason with my five year old. I asked her what she would rather I spent money on – clothes for her or clothes for the bear? It turns out that Pinky Pie will be dressed in fabric scraps from Grandma in a style that can be described as “vintage meets derelicte meets sticky tap and sequins”.

So hip its unbearable. (Groan)

Mumabulous Verdict: 8/10

A fun party option for clever kids aged around 4 to 8. It’s lovely have a keepsake to take home. My girls love the toys all the more for being part of their creation.

P1s Verdict: I liked it because I got to chose my own stuff for Pinky Pie. Can we go to Build-a-Bear Workshop again? Can we go again in the school holidays?

P2s Verdict: Me too.

For more information see: http://www.buildabear.com.au/