Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Today I made two loaves of zucchini and potato bread (as yet an untested commodity but as we are going to Nicole and Julian’s for dinner tonight I thought I would act on this impulse) and both rose really nicely, well, the first one less so because it rose so high it was flattened on the roof of the oven, but it’s still an impressive one. The other looks almost as good as a bought one. Why zucchini and potato? Well firstly through a frank exchange of views last week Mia told me my bread often dried out after a couple of days and was no longer pleasant (no man likes to hear that). I generally put a little olive oil in it to keep it soft but obviously not enough anyway I know that some kind of vegetable fibre aids the moistness factor no end so that seemed to be the smart way to go. And we had a zucchini left over from the lasagne of two days ago but not enough really to make much difference to two loaves, so I thought I’d add some potato as well as it’s always good. Just frazzled them in the microwave for a short time and they were fine for the purpose. Well, as far as I know. The breads might suck.
Sorry to talk about the toilet and food in the same posting, doesn’t seem very hygienic but there was gum trees in between, you may recall.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
So I baked the mother anyway, and have given the result to the dogs, Gavin Butler, and the mouse (see pic). Later in the day I made another, wonderful loaf, which will go down in history for its orange hue (it has pumpkin in it) and all-round edibility.
Toilet is leaking. Plumber Dean can’t make it till tomorrow. I hate our toilet. I think it is the worst toilet ever. A few weeks ago I found a snail in it (crawling out). That’s not even one of the worst things about it.
Grey Tapes rehearsal, which went really well. We do not seem to have practised since September 2005 except I suppose we must have practiced to play the Skaldowie song ‘0:20 am’ (aka ‘Twenty minutes past north’) at the 33 1/3 party in February. But otherwise we hadn’t done anything, and I had this recording of three tunes that I think James came up with last year which we were thrashing out and we picked up where we left off with that, and they came together really well. I even managed to throw together some lyrics, a cunning and extraordinary insight into parallels between getting a haircut and mowing a lawn. Also I found some other lyrics which Mia concurs were probably left by a friend who stayed with us last year, just 8 sad lines about a failed relationship, which fitted perfectly with the song currently known as ‘New 3 (tremolo)’. We were not all that au fait with other elements of our set but ultimately it did all work out, which was cool. So I was happy with that.
After that Mia and I dregged around a short while and then she packed the car and we went to
Talk ranged across many subjects, including Stephen’s funny experiences of his audio course and the many characters he encountered, some of whom sounded to me pretty awful but Fran suggested, and it seems true, that his experiences there could form the basis of a sitcom. I thought a kind of Welcome Back Kotter. No, Stephen’s character would not be in any way styled after Jerri Blank, so put that thought out of your mind. Fran and I talked about our students, she has fond feelings for hers, I do not have particularly fond feelings for mine, particularly what might be a saga I might soon be embroiled in where one of the universities I work for has already suggested that it is expedient to push up marks of some fee-paying students. Forgive me for being overcautious but I am unlikely to say anything more about this here. Less because I am worried about my own job security and more because, like so much of this stuff, I am unwilling to give grief to people I like who are caught between the administration and the coal face (I like to think of myself as coal face). We were keen to grab a banana fritter (each, I think it was going to be) but luckily I finally got through to one of the members of New Estate (Mia) who told me that they were going to start at 9.15. So we had to race down to the Dan and I had a red lemonade, a beer, two soda waters, and I think that was all. New Estate played three or four (actually I think just three) brand new songs, all of them corkers. They just completed the recording on their second album and the one sad thing is these new songs have come along and they’re starting to date the pre-existing ones already. I would have to say New Estate are in my top ten favourite bands. They are sounding really tight these days too. I think one of the best decisions they made was getting Brad in: I can’t think of anyone currently playing around town who plays bass that way. Also, he’s a gentleman, which is more than you could say for Mia or Chris (Mark is not a gentleman so much as a respectable young man).
Go Genre Everything were, as usual, tight and engaging, and Pink Stainless Tail were funny, loud and pushy. See pix.
Who was there? Olivia and Shane, Toby and Suze (or is it Suse or Sooz or…? One more argument for the Shaw alphabet) (though actually I do believe I have asked her how she spells it, she told me and I have forgotten), Mick, Debbie, God I can’t remember who else, sorry you. Bianca was there, two weeks out from her wedding day. When PST were playing I heard a member of staff saying to another in the room just outside the band room, ‘Who’s responsible for these intelligent people?’ presumably meaning PST.
When we got home we started watching Standing in the Shadows of Motown, which as a film would have to stand as one of the most appallingly cliché-ridden pieces of banality I have seen in days, and I definitely watched at least the first half-hour. It was after 2 am, so I might have been overtired, but it was one of those situations where a whole structure had to be erected (Motown was successful, Motown was great, not many people know who played on those records, etc etc – all spelt out in too much detail) before the story could start to be told. And then… the story wasn’t that interesting.
I am writing this on Sunday morning, having been woken up by Judy three times during the night – once at 4, once at 6, once at 8. Horrendous. The worst thing is I have no idea what on earth she actually wanted, she was just scratching at the door, like some kind of Edgar Allen Poe story, scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch scrabble scrabble scrabble scratch scratch scratch scratch. And then when you attend to her she seems to have entirely no idea what she wants. Finally at 8 this morning I fed her, which seems finally to have satisfied her. We have her a few more days while Jane has the remainder of her floors done. She has been reasonably ok up till now but these last 24 hours she has been a pain in the arse.I wrote this with
Friday, May 26, 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Now they’re saying that we’ll get the extension to Craigieburn next year. I am looking forward to Broady not being the terminus anymore though whether it will make any practical difference is difficult to glean. It probably won’t, man. I spoke to a woman at Moonee Ponds station last year who really didn’t want city/electric services extended to C’burn because she lives there and it would mean the end of express trains to the city. But really there should be express C’burn-Broady-Essendon-
I can’t understand why the extension is taking so long. They don’t have to build new tracks or anything just string up a few electric wires. We got a pamphlet in our letterbox a few weeks after we moved in to
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
And I am still not entirely sure why. At least, I know why but the fact that no-one else on earth seems to feel the same way entrances me. Are they in fact the last word in mediocrity and I am the only person who doesn’t get it? Or is the fact that no-one else likes them that much the thing that makes me like them a heck of a lot? These are the issues that the discerning music enthusiast has to grapple with. I think the reality is probably just that they are completely fuckin' brilliant and I am smart enough to realise it crossed with lucky enough to have been exposed to them.
I have the 2nd and the 3rd We Ragazzi albums on my MP3 player (The Ache and Wolves with Pretty Lips). I see The Ache as more or less an ersatz WR record, as it doesn’t include their ace drummer Alianna Kalaba on it – which is not to say the drummer they had for that album, Timothy McConville isn’t great, he actually is really great, but for some reason there’s something about that album that doesn’t entirely cut it for me. It might be as simple as knowing AK was not involved but it seems to be a bit too full-on sexy without any soul, like later period Prince. Whereas Wolves With Pretty Lips is such an amazing return to the form of the first album but with extra. Hmmm.
The Prince comparison is a groovy one. Anthony Rolando is such a charismatic person on record (he is the vocalist), I cannot imagine what he is like in real life (I mean I really cannot imagine. The possibilities veer, for me, between the sleazy teen who worms his way into some girl’s pants in the opening scene of Kids and some kind of Carey Grant figure. If those are the two extremes of what an American man can be.) I am also under the impression that the other two members of the band, AK and Colleen Burke are at least as fascinating. Of course I am talking about WR in the present tense but I do believe they presently do not exist as a band, though hopefully the individuals involved do exist as individuals (and they’ve split up at least once before so maybe it’s just one of those volatile things). I have no idea what they’re doing but I hope they have huge egos and occasionally do searches on their names online and they find this and one of them contacts me and tell me ‘hey, I have a new band you might like, it’s called Captains Courageous’ or whatever, and I hope that I hear that record and I like it, but I sincerely doubt I would like it as much as Wolves With Pretty Lips which is pretty much the perfect album of the 21st century as far as I’m concerned – it’s rugged, raunchy, scary in a sleazy kind of way, and extremely rockin’. That last sentence sums up everything there is about my bad music journalism style and exposes it for the crap it is, and it’s particularly harsh when I can’t actually say what I think/feel. Oh well. At least I remember and experience passion even if I can’t make a convincing case for it in words.
<>For instance, the drumming on ‘When Young Lovers Have Nowhere to Go’, which is one of the great standout tracks on Wolves With Pretty Lips. The drumming in the chorus is light, I think a kind of waltzy time (I am unbelievably bad at locating these kinds of rhythms) but it simply provides a skeleton for the raunchy tune; the chorus however is a complete romp drumming-wise, like some kind of rollicking march or the drumming equivalent of juggling big cats. I am absolutely enamoured of that drumming, because it seems deceptively clumsy and I know it is not at all clumsy, it is like some kind of ostentatious foundation to a streamlined building, gargantuan really, but not at any time out of place. It’s mathematically calculated to suit the whole idea of the song, which is the usual kind of seedy lament on behalf of poor people who want to have sex with each other (I hate that coy terminology but it’ll do for now) usually illicit in the sense that they’re already married, etc, yet they can’t afford privacy. I am not sure if I am familiar with any other song on that subject, though I suppose Morrissey might have alluded to the issue. Anyway the drumming on that song is perfect: bold, brassy, stepping on your feet, but ultimately delightfully crassly strong and totally complementary. By suiting the idea of the song I suppose I mean that like a lot of WR songs the song is about being out of control, or wanting to be, usually in a romantic/sexual sense, yet being constrained by pragmatic considerations be they money, violence, social mores, etc.
And then listen to something like ‘I’m Gonna Be Fine’ – that drumming is practically a concerto in itself before the singing even starts, it’s such an amazing testament to the sophistication inherent in popular culture that you can recognise that as a beat when it’s so hard to follow in itself, but so seamless too – it’s probably a testament to AK’s genius as well. I suspect she’s taking the Lindy Morrison attitude: she’s refusing to play through the melody, instead opting to give it its own whole new beat. And she makes it gothically huge, whereas so many drummers (like poor old me I suspect) would just tap-tap-tappity through or say ‘Hmm, I think it’s more powerful if I only play in the choruses guys’. And then, having clobbered the verses very effectively, she takes a whole different approach with the last minute or so where she tackles a straight-ahead musical onslaught by playing on the offbeat, almost ska-ishly. In this case I’m not sure why she didn’t just pummel it four-on-the-floor (once again, that’s what I would have done) but I have to bow to a superior intelligence and craftsmanship at work and concede that it is really very effective, it’s like Tchaikovsky or something. Not Bram Tchaikovsky either.
A smarter and more dedicated mind than mine could do a lot with the different scope of the three WR albums. The first one is over the top heterosexual and as Forrest Redlich is supposed to have said when he wanted to heat up episodes of E Street, ‘fucky’. (‘It needs to be more fucky’; he wouldn’t have said this of Suicide Sound System, that first WR album) It’s very instant. The second one is kind of restrained, in that as per the title it’s a lot more about desire and angst and anticipation (I don’t know if its piano-heavy nature contributes to this but it seems to). The third one is a lot more about identity I would say and a lot of that identity seems pretty gay, though I am not entirely sure I’m reading this right (‘Making You Queens Tonight’, various references to boys and stuff). But in all honesty I’m confused. Maybe it’s not possible to categorise these records that way. I’m happy just thinking about them.
Monday, May 22, 2006
I took Judy out to have a piss (she did) and there were bats flying over the house, which was so cool. It's grand living around here. I feel sorry for the 20 million minus 9 thousand Australians who don't have the pleasure of doing so.
I said I didn't want to go into detail but one of the errors I made was turning up at Eaglemont a week earlier than I should have for a short walking tour I was supposed to be conducting. I hung around an hour marking essays as it was a very nice day it really didn't matter. Except I feel like a dufus. But I was able to visit the so-called Homestead Reserve (above) which is always a pleasure. It has special status on a number of levels as a combination rear access driveway/parkland/community space dating back almost 90 years now. I'm into it.
I'm still reading Dead Europe. I'm about a third of the way through and as could probably be predicted, I have pretty mixed feelings about it. One of them is probably my inability (lack of imagination I guess) to forget that narrator Isaac is not Christos Tsiolkas necessarily (or more importantly is not intended by the author to present a rational, empathic protagonist). I find Isaac pretty annoying, or at least, I have virtually no sympathy for him. Perhaps none whatsoever. I love Tsiolkas' writing most of the time however. If I could write like that I would be pretty smug. I'm not saying he is. But he should feel free to be.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Now I have to muster the energy to go home. I suppose it can be done. Mark six essays en route.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Something very strange is happening at Gladstone Park IGA. One thing to see that bizarre SPC Spaghetti and Cheese freak can on the shelf but the snot yellow/snot green Aussie Aussie Aussie flag is a perverse abomination that also, I assume (should I?) leaves out a colour or two but nevertheless is proudly displayed above the dairy cabinet.
I suppose you can get put away for weeks under the terrorism laws for taking unauthorised mobile phone photos in supermarkets, but hell, this is material of national importance (and IGA were treasonous first!).
Monday, May 15, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
In the old days half way between computerised design and whatever they called the older form of design for publication – was it analogue? – I used to have the same impotent rages at the designers at Smash Hits. We liked the idea of big (say – 1/3 of a page) images of people, with them saying something (‘Hi popsters it's me, Collette and my shoes are too big! My new single is called All i wanna do is dance! Oops! Toodles!’) via a talks balloon. But no-one except me seemed to appreciate that the talks balloon had a, I don’t know what the word is for it, a pointer, a branch, a stick, you know, it comes out of the bottom of the balloon and points towards the mouth. That was the idea – it points towards the mouth. To show the person is talking out of their mouth. These people would be sticking the pointers into the person’s eyes, into their ears, into their necks, whatever - denoting to me that eyes, ears, something they swallowed, is talking. They were removed from the actual reason for the talks balloon and what it denoted. They thought (like so many of my students do these days when they’re writing sentences) that if you just bump things together that’s completely good enough and the fact that they coexist in proximity show that there is a relationship and to hell with anyone who asks what that relationship actually IS (and what’s a comma anyway?).
Anyway what are you and I going to do, the people who want things to be done properly and decently all for the sake of clarity and sense. We are fighting a losing battle mate, fighting a losing fucken battle. Some of us are not even really fighting I suppose truth be told.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Just to show the world is going to pot, no Six Feet Under last night. And I don't like the storyline about Stingray and the drink driving on Neighbours. I'm not sure why. It seems to make me nervous.
Monday, May 08, 2006
(Later: funny moment on ABC news radio where they took a snippet of an old JJJ interview with Grant where he said he did not think his songs were particularly Australian, 'only the lyric content'. Good example of an incidence where for a second you think he's not joking). (And of course if you accused him of joking he'd argue the point forever.)
Saturday, May 06, 2006
By this time I had got a message from Mia asking for minidiscs. The only place in Melbourne I know of for buying minidiscs is JB Hi Fi so I went down there on the tram and did the deed, also got her a vinyl version of Tonight's the Night (I might not have mentioned this previously but she's reading the copy of Shakey that Brad lent her so she's hoping to explore various Neil Young records that have hitherto been unknown to her). I also - this is getting embarrassing but you see I do have a little birthday money - bought a Split Enz DVD, a Cane Toad records compilation of 60s punk (a lot of Vince Meloney who intrigues me) and a $3 DVD of Francis Ford Coppola's first film The People. Then I came back to Fitzroy where the car was still parked in Gertrude Street and drove up to Dixon's, I forget why I wanted to go there although I was keen to sell a few CDs that had been sitting in the back of the car for a month. They only gave me $22 for 'em but this was adequately good swap for a Horslips album (my fourth), the Head Undone album (always liked that one), and a Crazy Horse album because I knew Mia was interested in Crazy Horse too. I have a Crazy Horse album with a beautiful cover but it's a bad record, but this one may be better.
Tomorrow night I am filling in for Alison on Two to the Valley on 3CR, so have a listen. I am still not entirely sure what my theme will be but I think it will be the weather. This will give me the chance to play:
Love is Like a Cloudy Day - Doug Parkinson
It's a Sunny Day - Johnny Young
Clouds - Mackenzie Theory
They're the only three I can think of, so it might just be those three over and over again. I will not be playing:
Rain - The Beatles
Raining in my Heart - whoever sings it
Friday, May 05, 2006
Marc played I think only four songs - relatively new ones which he has already recorded for his next EP apparently (he releases songs under the name Popolice). It continues to amaze me how, for someone whose own experience/taste in rock music of the past, he seemingly has no problem producing stuff that is so complementary to greats like T Rex, etc. It's the kind of thing that makes you wonder if there's something innate to rock music structure, you know, nature rather than nurture. I wonder what Richard Thompson thinks.
Batrider were their usual selves leading to a discussion afterwards with Mia about whether they are angry or funny or both. My jury is out on whether they are genuinely angry. They don't look angry. Tucker Bs as usual did not fail to amaze with their structuredness (B'rider are also very structured) (in both cases these bands can play something very repetitive for a few minutes and all stop together with no eye contact; all that really means I suppose is they've rehearsed, rehearsed and rehearsed, but I am still impressed, because I really do need eye contact just to confirm what I 99% already know - that it ends now.) Tucker Bs are a very funny band, and I think on some level they're meant to be. There were a number of girls in the audience I would typify as 'very Perth', doing their ironic dancing and working out hand movements to songs - kind of delightful and worryingly selfconscious at the same time. They may not have been from Perth (Mia is, and she'd never dance ironically) but they were being very Perth, sorry Perth if that seems rude, as you know I love Perth. More than many people who are very Perth do, I am sure.
Just to briefly elaborate I recall twenty years ago (so I guess I am talking about the parents of the people I saw last night) David McComb telling me that in Perth people used to take big bunches of flowers - gladioli? I can't remember - and dance with them and smash them on the ground at Triffids shows a la Morrissey in the early Smiths days. That's how I formulated my idea of 'very Perth', I guess, people who act out, or respond to, or comment on the latest cultural phenomena in a public forum. Rather than just be a passive audience member. I think they were doing, and possibly still do, the same kind of thing in Brisbane but there's a bit more cruelty to it in Brisbane mate.
I am still on my novel reading binge. Having finished Ornaments of Grace which I have to say was a bizarre experience I'm still getting over, I then started on Glen Tomasetti's third novel Man of Letters. I am almost precisely half way through and greatly enjoying it. Dorton Serry reminds me a lot of Dexter in Helen Garner's Children's Bach.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I am reading a freakout of a book, An Ornament of Grace by Jan Smith. I am up to page 80 and I am simultaneously fascinated and appalled. Presumably the full-on antisemitism of the protagonist is going to come to some kind of resolution but maybe not? Smith was apparently a Sydney journalist 'born in an infenitisemally small Queensland town' in 1935. The novel was published in 1966. Amusingly there is the occasional mention of the word 'cod' to denote 'penis' (or perhaps more specifically 'package' a la codpiece, though I am not entirely sure). I had never heard this before. Also I enjoy the idea of an intellectual publication called Current Thought.
I am reading this book because I went down to the library to get Dead Europe again and it is still not on the shelf, though it has been listed as available for some weeks now. I don't see the point in buying it. I already own too many books.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Yesterday I spent a neither agreeable nor disagreeable 45 minutes at Marshall Station, a new station in Geelong in the middle of what seems to be a light industrial area on one side and a farm kind of thing on the other. Few people were around and I could hear schoolchildren in the distance. Nothing more to report about Marshall station.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Monday, May 01, 2006
Write a review of the new Church album - done, ditto but ditto
Assemble the wheelbarrow (this is not a metaphor) - Mia did it on Saturday
Check PO box - done, empty
Do some washing (of various household clothing/bedding items) - done
Do some washing (of two filthy beagles) - done, most satisfactory.
Clean out the fridge - done-ish
Pick Mia up from airport - done with difficulties imposed by lack of green arrow from Centre road
Submit some invoices - oops
Submit some essay marks - um...
Make some bread - done, though not till yesterday
Do the other things that have to be done which I've forgotten already - done mainly.