Friday, October 09, 2009

HECTOR'S BALI TIMES DIARY [for Oct. 9]

DO DROP IN: Janet DeNeefe pitches for business




Celebrating a Sturdy Pick-me-Up

A SMALL and suitably decorous affray took place in the sheltered (and √ľber-svelte) ambience of the St Regis Resort at Nusa Dua last Monday. It was by way of being a birthday party for a sometimes loud and rambunctious lady – the sort common enough in certain circles in Bali, or at least in Seminyak, we grant you, and therefore not necessarily something to do more than run away from.
But this was for a very special lady, who was turning 75. Well, these days that’s the new 15 or something. But seriously (well, sort of) this lady goes by the name of Bloody Mary, and she is a friend of a great many people, your Diarist included.
St Regis claims a genitive link with Mary. It is said, as one of several legends about the origin of this significantly kick-your-butt drink, that it was named for the lady friend of a bartender in the originating establishment in New York. She was habitually late for dates. He is said to have assuaged his pain about this by concocting the vodka and tomato juice slammer in her honour, and to have named it thus.
In those faraway days, before politeness was outlawed as discriminatory and uncouth became the new couth, it was not done to swear at your date. Far better to disguise your profanity in a tall salt-rimmed glass with plenty of ice, a double shot of Russia’s pride, drown it in potassium, season it with Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper it to taste, and then shake the bejesus out of it before decanting it into a glass with a stick of celery, a lemon twist on the side, a drinking straw – de rigueur in most upmarket establishments nowadays – and a swizzle stick if that’s your bag.
Bloody Marys are not, generally speaking, evening drinks. They are the hair of the bloody dog that bit you, far better employed as an instant hangover cure on the morning after the night before – been there; don’t want to do that again – or, at the far extreme of opportunity, as an accompaniment for brunch. No matter. If the lovely Geetha Warrier of the St Regis, where the Bloody Mary is the signature drink, commands your presence at sundown for a media-focused Bloody Mary extravagance, who are we, ordinary mortals all, to demur?
Thus, last Monday, your Diarist achieved a creditable sixth place in the Bloody Mary-making competition that was part of the show. We shan’t mention that this was out of nine competitors. As Sophie Digby, of the YakBud – the pushmipulyu girl – sagely observed, Bloody Marys are a personal thing. First place went to Now Bali, by the way, propelled by the hitherto undiscovered skills in the pick-me-up department of Dewi Kartika Suardana from that rather scarce publication.
Unusually, Jack Daniels of Bali Update was a late arrival. He may have been interviewing himself again. But he certainly missed the competition. He made up for this lapse by advising that his own recipe for a Very Bloody Mary involved drowning several highly lethal Mexican herbs in the vodka and keeping their cadavers there, like poor little princes in vats of wine, to flavour the poison for later use.
Dinner afterwards was a delight.

Warning Bark

SUE WARREN, of the Bali Street Dogs Fund in Australia, got into Hector’s ear this week about their annual appeal night in Melbourne – and quite rightly, too. At this time, when rabies is being combated by the Bali government and local regency action, it’s important to note that the fate of Bali’s uncared for animals is a matter of some little concern to many in Australia – our top source of tourists.
Last year’s Melbourne benefit night raised nearly $A50,000 (that’s more than Rp423 million at today’s exchange rate). The Bali Street Dog Fund supports the Bali Animal Welfare Association’s desexing programme and this year its members have been vaccinating street dogs against rabies wherever possible.
But this year too, Sue says, it’s proving much tougher to generate interest and attract publicity for the annual benefit event. That’s understandable. Melbourne is dealing with a number of problems, the horrendous Victorian bushfires of February this year drained a lot from the pool of private donations, and St Kilda, Hector’s favourite Melbourne suburb (and footy team) lost its best chance at the ALF premiership in 43 years ... but we digress.
This is the fifth year the fund has held Bali Nights. Last year it was a sell-out. As a small group, they put all their energy into this one shot at a win (pity St Kilda didn’t do the same, hrrmph). But this year ticket sale for the event – held at the historic Rialto building – are very low.
Hosts this year include Pete Smith (a local hero from Australia’s Nine Network TV) and Carla Bonner of the TV soapie (that’s Australian for sinetron) Neighbours.
It should be a good night. Hec can’t be there himself, but he’s going to work the phones, in a manner of speaking, in a reprise of the life of advocacy he abandoned four years to come to Bali for a rest. Let’s hope it goes well and brings in some much needed support for the overlooked victims of the rabies outbreak here.
It really shouldn’t be a dog’s life in Bali, after all.

Supine Position

SOME of you may have noticed that the 2009 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival is under way. This year it has even spread its favours to the Kuta-Seminyak foreign ghetto.
It was therefore no surprise to see Janet DeNeefe, Ubud notable and originator of the festival, gracing the virtual pages of the online Kabar magazine recently, promoting the annual celebration of things literary and less, that has, we are told, focused global attention on the little spot that Walter Spies and other chaps first put on the map so well in the misty distance of the early 20th century.
What was a surprise was the style of photographic image chosen to illustrate how great minds come up with great ideas. We reproduce it here without apology (our photo this week).
Let’s just say it’s not Jane Eyre. Instead, it seems to be more in the mode of the rather outr√© play readings that are a feature of the 2009 festival – or the x-rated poetry on offer for anyone who wouldn’t rather listen to their martini.


They’re Aussies

GOVERNOR I Made Mangku Pastika is not keen on the Komodo dragon. He doesn’t want the smaller Flores variety housed in Bali – even in secure zoo conditions – as part of an emergency plan to ensure the species survives.
Now it seems he may have a point: by some accounts Bali is already overrun with Australians and scientists say the Komodo – a monitor lizard – actually has an Aussie background.
New research by the team of palaeontologists and archaeologists, who studied fossil evidence from Australia, Timor, Flores, Java and India, shows that Komodo dragons most likely evolved in Australia and dispersed westward to Indonesia.
Scott Hocknull, Senior Curator of Geosciences at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, on Australia’s north-east coast, said Australia is a hub for lizard evolution. “The fossil record shows that over the last four million years Australia has been home to the world’s largest lizards, including a five meter giant called Megalania. Now we can say Australia was also the birthplace of the Komodo dragon,” he said this week.
It’s also the home of the truly poisonous bluetongue lizard. This is not named for the all but ubiquitous practice of the inhabitants of The Great South Land to insert the copulatory adjective into every sentence.

Not Deceased

IT HARDLY seems possible that it was 40 years ago this week that the madcap Monty Python comedy crew in Britain dusted off an awfully ancient Athenian joke – about a dead slave, whose seller refused to compensate the buyer on the grounds that the unfortunate object of the sale was alive when the transaction was made – and invented the skit about the dead parrot.
Hector, as you might imagine, exhibits a measure of ambivalence about the tale. He’s not into the concept of parrots that are no more, or which have dropped off the perch, or ... well, you remember the joke, or you should.
Python humour took British comedy to another level. It is alive and well and significantly rejuvenated as a result. For that we should always be grateful.

Hector's Diary is published, as Scratchings From The Cage Floor - The Bali Times Diary, in the print edition of The Bali Times every Friday. The Bali Times is also on the web at http://www.thebalitimes.com/.

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