Friday, October 23, 2009

from yesterday 22 october

‘What a day it’s been need to rest my head. Time for a [juice? absinthe? can't remember] no, milk it instead.’ Was that really an ad that was on television? For some reason it is embedded in my mind and I don’t think I made it up. I might have though. But then there is the coda, ‘what’d I say… I said milk it instead.’ That’s pretty compelling. Unfortunately it's not on youtube.

I am of the generation thoroughly turned off milk by the provision of free milk to primary schools which was delivered and left outside the door, in the sun, to turn rancid within a few hours, and to then be drunk by children who knew the off product as ‘milk’. That was how it worked. We were being given a healthy food in case our parents did not provide it for us.

At primary school also we had Miss Chivers (later it was funny, that her name could be said ‘mischievous’). She would come round to us as we sat in booth arrangements at the north side of the school building and put a smiley face in sauce on our pies. Today I would rather die than eat a meat pie. I could be tortured by being made to drink milk I suppose and would bear it.

One day, because of what I now understand to be an inequitable situation through which she was undertaking a strenuous degree while caring for two small children, as was my mother also I suppose come to think of it, the woman who was meant to pick me up from primary school forgot to do so. I was left waiting at the school with nowhere to go. I hung around for a long time (now, I have compounded this in my memory with other fearsome things that happened at the school but which probably didn’t happen that specific afternoon, like a bully whose name was John showing me a box of matches and threatening to set me on fire). There were two elderly (?) people who were caretakers at the school who somehow saw that I had not been taken care of who for some reason contacted the fire brigade and a teenage girl, a daughter of a fireman, took me home. How she knew where I lived I don’t know; I lived far too far away from the school to walk back myself, it was too far really for me to walk with someone else, however much of a responsible person they may have been.

What I now think is funny is that the caretaker couple apparently called the fire brigade, presumably not 000 but just rang the station. Maybe there was some other kind of arrangement. I will never know. They are dead now without a doubt, unless they were actually in their thirties and just seemed really old (no, they were old). I suppose that was about 37 years ago. I haven’t forgotten it yet.

Meanwhile, as I’m jumping around (but there is a connection: PA went to the same primary school as I did, a mere 25 years earlier) is this the last year we’ll be hearing Philip Adams and/on Late Night Live on Radio National do you think? Since I got my ipod I have been listening to more and more LNL, in fact for the first time probably – given that I commute 10-15 hours a week at least – I have been listening to pretty much 4-5 hours of LNL, the full contingent, each week. I pick and choose with the ‘classic’ show on Fridays, I’m ambivalent about that, but I particularly enjoy PA’s discussions with Bruce Shapiro and some of his other regulars (Laura Tingle is particularly good value I think, PA is a little nervous around Christian Kerr I would say and that translates to affect my enjoyment of their discussions). Anyway, when I do listen to classic LNL on Fridays, which is usually shows from earlier this decade or late last, I feel that the PA of not-that-distant yesteryear is a much sharper and less fusty man. In the last year he’s repeated himself a lot, seemed vague, and there are a lot of tech errors (on Tuesday’s show for instance he twice started talking without the microphone on; the second time, he acknowledged having pushed the wrong button).

Hey who knows maybe it’s not age, maybe there are other things involved. I don’t want him to go, because while when he’s bad he’s dreadful, I like him being there and I’ve been enjoying him a lot lately. There aren’t too many nightly talk shows that actually, literally, teach you something every time (even if the something is only ‘there are people who concern themselves with that kind of junk!?’). So I don’t think it’s time to end Philip, just wondering if there’s a succession plan.

Speaking of old crusties, Whatever Works is actually a really funny film, at least, I laughed seven times (yes, I counted, because I thought there was a chance I might not at all and when I did in the first few minutes when LD started talking to the camera to the consternation of his cronies, thought it was time to start gauging). It’s extraordinary to imagine that WA wrote this script in the early 70s; it hardly seems to fit with, say, Annie Hall or Manhattan, I started writing some meandering wonderings about zeitgeistification there but I stopped as it was unformed and perhaps even unformable. There is something frustrating about WA in the last, say, 10-15 years, I first noticed it with the film which if I recall correctly was entitled Shadows and Fog, where the dialogue sometimes gets so stylised (in a mundane way), stilted and convoluted you feel like you’re at a first play reading or listening to a Red House Painters song. But at the same time if you can relax and ease into it, it can be really enjoyable. I assumed Larry David would be a really crappy actor but he wasn’t, if it was the first time I’d seen him I’d say, yes, that guy was actually perfect for the part and did it really well. I won’t go so far as to say he is a brilliant actor, because he was still playing the character he played in CYE (i.e. something that is presumably an amplified version of an aspect of himself) but he was great here. Everyone else was good too. There was one confusing bit where I’m sure there was a description of LD’s mother in law as having a prolific range of sexual exploits starting with her affair with Leon and graduating to his friend the art dealer, but then we see her only having a relationship with both those men. I mean it’s not impossible that she would be living in the ménage a trios and also having other affairs, but in a film where so much is spelt out, why was this confusion left in?

Today it is warm and I thought this is about the last chance I will have to wear that 4 seasons yellow nylon shirt, without having to take it off about half an hour later and scrub it and myself. So I am. It’s a pretty decent shirt, very sharp lines, you know, lines on it. I can’t believe I am still using this laptop (I’m writing on the train – I should be marking student essays – and I will – very soon – as soon as I get this important stuff off my chest). The laptop keys are so worn that the c, the v, the m and the n are worn off. Oddly I find that if I am looking at them I have no idea what these keys are but of course when I am touch typing it’s fine (actually I suppose that’s not so strange).

I am listening to Michael Hurley on the ipod now, he is always enjoyable, that’s not true, almost always. I do like his work though. A very good sense of melody, more than most of those folk-country people. I suppose at a pinch I could put him in the same box as Jonathan Richman – a putative naïve who sometimes just happens to break out of that mould for affect; plays with popular music (including his own prior excursions within it).

If I learnt to play guitar and wrote songs, I could have a whole new musical career from which all my prior exploits in musical performance would seem like a dry run. I mean, I would be really excellent at it, and would quickly develop a wide fanbase. But I can’t be bothered.

There’s a cool band called Manchester Mourning (too bad about their name) who have a cool EP out which I’ve been listening to a lot. Funnily though when I put it on my ipod gracenote thought it was by a band called Fantastic Planet and gave the songs other titles. I suppose this happens from time to time. Now I don’t know what the songs are called. The one I’m listening to now is called ‘Fellin Lucky’ and yes the ‘Fellin’ is [sic].

What do you think of myki. I see they’re trying to get the machines operational at the moment, while there are problems with people being overcharged in other parts of Victoria. Well, could anything be worse than metcard? That’s probably the important question. Metcard has been a frustrating piece of crap since it began, and we all know it was only brought in in the first place because the tender was half the price of all the others. The product was always extremely poor and it should never have been allowed to continue. If I wasn’t so mellow I’d make a big long list of all the metcard travesties I’ve been party to or heard about. Just one: the time my weekly card got stuck in a machine about a day into its tenure and metcard refused to refund the money until I provided a receipt, which incidentally would only have proved that I bought a weekly metcard, not that it had been stuck in a machine. And another: the bollocks about how metcard validations help metlink to plan new timetables. And a third: those foul ads about how if you havne’t paid your fare you should offer to mow other people on the tram’s lawn, because they’re funding you. I mean if we start going down that road in a society where services are provided via tax contributions we’ll never stop, and we’ll crash at a bend in the road, where no-one will be able to rescue us. Still, myki seems relatively crap, by which I mean relative to other things, not necessarily relative to metcard, I guess we’ll (a) see and (b) be stuck with it whatever happens. Why payment for these things are never tied to objective measures I don’t know – actually, I do, it’s because state governments find it too hard to admit they’ve made errors. I understand that.

Hey I’m looking forward to Rush tonight. As usual. Last week’s episode at Trinity College was fine, I loved the people being shot with arrows. I don’t care strongly about the Shannon-Josh story though, particularly the idea that something good will come from that rich prick being killed with an arrow – that Shannon will help Josh get over his tragic outlook. Blah.

Today I got my glasses, they’re only for reading so don’t expect to see me wearing them unless you walk in on me reading. I needed them today though at Melbourne Central station when I thought I saw ‘Waiting to meet Bruce Chatwin’ on a girl’s t-shirt. It was actually ‘Prince Charming’ she was waiting to meet, though I think either way she has a wait, as they’re both pretty much dead men.

Can I suggest playing both embedded youtube clips in this post and the Craven Fops one below simultaneously, for a grouse result.


Christian Kerr said...

Your site came through via my Google alerts and... is that the crinkle of an ear of a beautiful beagle hound I see in one your pictures?

Richard Forster said...

Following even the old and fusty Philip Adams (long may he live and broadcast his musings)will be a pretty tall order... I know what you mean though - you can hear in the timbre of his voice that he is getting older, especially against the classics, which are often pretty worthwhile.(I want an indexed archive available for free download.)
Still, he's way more compelling than anyone else around. For instance, how interesting is the format when Norman Swan or whoever else steps in? Often not very...
I called our local Safeway to see if they had "Whatever Works" in their automatic dvd dispenser and the woman said she'd go check. I actually waited while the call waiting played three different reggae songs before deciding that she wasn't coming back.
Anyway, I hadn't read the bit about LNL when I first read your bit on Larry David - Woody Allen (I guess I scrolled down quickly past your portrait and my attention was grabbed by the embedded head of LD), and I was very surprised, confused and uncomfortable to see Christian Kerr in your comments... now I get it, I suppose...

Jim Betts said...

I vote for Stephen Crittenden for LNL