Wednesday, December 24, 2008

christmas

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all
And His shelter was a stable
And his cradle was a stall.
With the poor, and mean and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

- Once in Royal David's City, C.F. Alexander

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people
...
to rescue us from the hand of his enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.

- Zechariah's Song. Luke 1:68, 74-75

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

of saints and streets and grammatical confusion

It has come to my attention that there is trouble afoot in the world. All is not as it should be. Yet what can be done?
I refer of course to the correct method of abbreviating the word 'saint'.

In the course of my university degree, concentrating as I did on the Medieval period, I wrote a number of essays about or including saints. After receiving many of these essays back with numerous corrections I came to the conclusion that the abbreviation of saint was 'St' with NO full stop, which distinguishes it from 'st.' which has a full stop.
The reason for this, which I may have made up in my own head, it's hard to tell, is that 'street' is shortened, and the front two letters used to form an abbreviation, while 'saint' is contracted, with the middle removed, and the first and last letters removed. So the full stop in 'st.' stands in for the missing letters, which wouldn't make sense in the case of 'saint'. This seems like a fairly satisfactory conlclusion to me, although it does make me feel that 'saint' should be 's't', like, say, 'don't' etc. But that hardly seems like an elegant abbreviation, more like a character from a bad sci-fi novel.

The problem is that I'm not sure if any of this is true. I came acrosss the St. George (sic.) Bank website today, where I found that they spell their name with a full stop. Also a Google search turned up more 'St.'s than 'St's. While this grates on me and makes me feel that the world is wrong, maybe it's just me. Any help?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

if anyone is interested...

I have some new webcomics up on my sidebar! Mostly to make them easier to navigate to, and an attempt to update the links a bit. They are 'A Softer World' and 'Pictures for Sad Children', both are slightly whimsical with a disturbed edge.
I recommend this from 'A Softer World' as commentary on our economic condition.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

bands, bands, bands

On Friday night I went to see Cloud Control at the Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills. Now Cloud Control is a small local band that I've been following for a while, cos I know one of the members, and I like their music, and the Hopetoun is somewhere that I've always wanted to go, so it promised to be a good evening. And a good evening it was!

The support act was lots of fun, they were called 'Philadelphia Grand Jury'. There was another support act but we missed it because we were eating dinner upstairs (it was mexican). Their music was pretty good but they were very entertaining. They had a song called "I don't wanna party party, but I'm gonna cos you're fantastic" (which was also the chorus). It was quite silly but enjoyable. At the end the keyboard player unplugged his keyboard and walked out the door.

Then after much fiddling with sound and instruments and setting things up generally, and a mad scramble to the bar by me through a fairly solid crowd which was even bigger by the time I managed to fight my way back, Cloud Control came on. They were really good. Every gig I've seen them at has been good, but often the sound has not been done well and has kind of marred it. But this time everything was smooth and the music was just great. Instead of being made to sound rocky, it was just pure alt-folk. Someone Andrew ran into after the show decribed them as playing music with sunshine in it, which I guess is true. They looked really happy to be there and have so many people come to see them as well. It was a real buzz, and I think the success can be judged by the fact that Julz came along, and although she was new to Cloud Control she left vowing to introduce them to everyone else. So that was a good sign.

I also really enjoyed the Hopetoun, it was nice and intimate, and someone had written on the toilet door "if I loved you then that's my fault", which is a quote from Conor Oberst's latest album. And I happened to have seen his show the week before, at the Enmore Theatre. That was also really good, although the support act wasn't half as fun. Angi and I got through it by drinking Midori and lemonade and making fun of their lyrics. We came to feel for the band members, with their earnest yet amateur approach and obvious love of music, and yet it was hard to feel for their songs. Conor Oberst was good though. He played alot of stuff I'd never heard, and a song by Paul Simon (or was it Art Garfunkel? I think Paul Simon), but the highlight for me was hearing him play the songs from his album live. They sounded amazing live.

I think Cloud Control and Conor Oberst both sound great live. I have their CDs but hearing them live was better. And all up I think maybe I even enjoyed Cloud Control more, just with the atmosphere and general enjoyment levels. But the real message I want to leave everyone with is that live music is great and I want to see/hear more.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

work and whimsy

It's been a busy few weeks, what with starting a new job and all. When leaving my old job I got a little bit nostalgic, since everybody was saying good-bye. I was thinking "this is the last time I'll mop the floor" etc. I started wondering whether or not regular customers would miss me, or even notice I was gone. All those people whose orders I remembered by heart, who I used to exchange a smile with when they came in, I remember them, but I wonder if they'll notice I'm not there... I started worrying about a regular elderly man who comes in and sometimes seems confused. He never knows how to order. I hope they look after him.

But then it was all over, and I said good-bye to the world of fast food and hello to offices and Excel. The world of high-finance and rush hour commuting and so on.

Currently I don't mind getting up in the morning so much. All the sunshine helps, as well as the person who went around tying inspirational quotes to trees with ribbon. I discovered the first one when walking home from the bus stop in the dusk, and the second one walking to the bus stop in the sun. My favourite said "If your daily life seems poor, blame yourself that you are not poet enough to bring forth its riches". Which seems like just the thing you need to hear when starting full-time work. I think it is always important to take notice of the rich texture of life and the world.

At first I wasn't sure if this was an anonymous poet, or someone quoting poetry. A quick web search revealed it to be an 'inspirational quote'. Somehow this sucked some of the joy from it. But I still think it's great that someone took the time to print out and tie these things to trees, to add that little bit of joy and whimsy to someone's day. Thank-you, anonymous benefactor.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

movie questions

Tagged by Ronni, who has livejournal.
1. One movie that made you laugh: There are many. For some reason the only one I can think of right now is Pirates of Penzance, which hardly counts as a movie really but I remember watching it when I was younger with my mum and my sister and literally rolling on the floor in merriment. Good times.

2. One movie that made you cry: I always prided myself on not crying in movies, although I get teary pretty easily in real life, but Atonement defeated me.

3. One movie you loved when you were a child: The Disney Robin Hood, with the foxes. Absolutely loved that one.

4. One movie you’ve seen more than once: I'm going to give two, for balance, When Harry Met Sally and Star Wars.

5. One movie you loved, but were embarrassed to admit it: Many romantic comedies, or dramas. I really enjoyed P.S. I Love You.

6. One movie you didn't like: I love criticizing movies I don't like, so there is always a positive. I'm going to say Super Troopers. Partly because Andrew loves it and it makes me seriously question his taste. :p

7. One movie that scared you: The Ring. I saw the Japanese version on SBS one night, and even thinking about it the other night kept me awake. Just the thought of her coming after you... *shudder*

8. One movie that bored you: There was a movie about Egyptian gods in a robotic future, all in digital animation, on tv some time ago that I couldn't be bothered to watch. Don't remember what it was called though.

9. One movie that made you happy: Pirates of the Caribbean. That was an enjoyable outing to the cinema. Nothing like a bit of swashbuckling to make you feel good. :) Also Once. That was one of the most beautiful films and comes highly recommended. Short and sweet, but not too sweet at all and real but also a musical.

10. One movie that made you miserable: Beowulf and Grendel? It was kinda amusing but very frustratingly inaccurate and had a gratuitous rape scene. I don't mean the Neil Gaiman Beowulf, that was enjoyable. I can't really think of any though, although I'm sure there have been some that have made my life worse. I can only think of books. I'm sure if the movie Running with Scissors is anything like the book it would make me miserable. I'm not going to risk finding out.

11. One movie you weren’t brave enough to see: Running with Scissors I guess, though I have no wish to. Cloverfield, most thrillers really.

12. One movie character you’ve fallen in love with: Dmitri from Anastacia (hottest animated character ever), Han Solo... They're so dreamy...

13. The last movie you saw: Azumi on DVD, bad ninja flick with much blood. At the movies I think it was Ironman. It's been a while...

14. The next movie you hope to see: Dark Knight, though I think we may have missed it at the cinemas. There are more but I usually forget them when I go to the video shop, and hence never get around to watching any.

15. Now tag five people: Vivian! Make your blog live! Also Pun, if you have time. And Angela because you need procrastination. :) Also anyone who enjoys doing these things, take this opportunity to do it :)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

generations

A couple of days ago I bought the new album by Conor Oberst, the singer/songwriter from Bright Eyes. I am always impressed at how each of his albums has a sounds distinct from each of the others, and yet they all have a common thread, mostly due to Conor's voice and lyrics I think. I have four of his albums and this is true for all of them, including this latest one. The thing that first struck me about this latest one is how conventional it sounded, more tuneful I suppose. Getting further in I have revised my opinion, it is not conventional as such, it just has a style that seems very firmly rooted in the music of the '60s.

This is where I feel a lack of musical knowledge, I'm sure that there are others who could tell me if this was correct and give me more precise information, but the drums and guitars just shout to me of some decade from the late 20th century. Conor Oberst's music has always struck me as somewhat 'old-fashioned' in this way, but while his previous albums have struck a country/folk chord (apart from Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, a foray until electronica), this one moves toward rock. Folk rock mostly, I would say, but genres are slippery things, so it's never easy to say. I thought that Bright Eyes, though rather obscure, would perhaps be a good band to introduce my parents to. I tried this, but they were not greatly impressed. I was surprised, thinking that it seemed to encompass many elements that they talk about in their favourite bands, my mum especially. But then I thought about it some more, and I don't know why I was surprised, because I've never really liked Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, even though I used to really enjoy my dad's more traditional folk stuff.

It all made me think of something I just read, in a book about writers in the 20's and 30's by Malcolm Cowley, who says "They all felt... a sharper sense of difference in regard to writers older than themselves... [i]t seems to me now that the feeling was insufficiently grounded in fact". That in fact different generations are not so different. This sentiment was shared by a tv critic writing about the show on SBS, that I forget the name of, about 'generation y'- which is my generation. Everyone seems so critical of my generation- we are drains on society, staying at home too long, apathetic about politics, handed everything on a silver platter.

Well obviously as one of these people I protest at such characterisations. In my time at Uni I met many people who were very passionate about political issues and active in pursuing their cause. Most people I know care about the environment and are doing various things to help, usually small I guess. I haven't lived at home since I was 13, and although I know many people who live at home I am also very aware of the property market being particularly unaffordable at the moment.

There are probably some differences in broad social trends, I haven't looked into it myself. But I feel that we get this rap because we're just past being teenagers, we're still young and therefore of course irresponsible, and in any case every society throughout history seems to have seen the world as declining (except perhaps for the Victorians). So maybe it is natural to view the younger generations that way? I thought it was interesting though, because we all grow up influenced by the previous generation, and then express ourselves in new ways, or old ones, and there is a common thread but not always understanding. I think that it is always better to look for common ground. Maybe something to remember when I have kids?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tagged!

So Viv has tagged me, and this is what I have to do:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

Not sure if it's the nearest book or not, but the book I've been reading is 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (although a week of skiing has distracted me from reading much at all).
Let's see...

And Rebeca did take a casual look toward the wall and was paralyzed with stupor, barely able to react and wave good-bye to Arcadio. Arcadio answered her the same way. At that instant the smoking mouths of the rifles were aimed at him and letter by letter he heard the encyclicals that Melquiades had chanted and he heard the lost steps of Santa Sofia de la Piedad, a virgin, in the classroom, and in his nose he felt the same icy hardness that had drawn his attention in the nostrils of the corpse of Remedios.

I like this book, but that would be a very confusing place to start. I suppose it's all pretty confusing anyway.

Tagging people is difficult, who has a blog, reads this blog, and has not been tagged?
Sam, if you read this, you could revive yours. Jeremy, actually I don't know if you have a blog and Ronni, though I don't know if you read this. That's only 3, but 'tis enough.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

going out in sydney town

Life does feel busy at the moment, with social engagements and plenty of shifts at work, all of which distracts me from job hunting and cleaning the house. I have written the last in case any of you come over and judge me on how messy my house is. Although I suppose a busy social life is not an excuse, you will only judge me for being terribly frivolous and bad at time management. Speaking of which I did spend most of yesterday afternoon napping, and to be perfectly honest I spend a large proportion of my time asleep.

So where does that leave us? Well now you have a short summary of my life I can now write about whatever I like. And today that is a list of some of my favourite bars in Sydney, for your edification.

I was thinking of this topic as I sat in Zeta Bar on Friday night, sipping a delicious cocktail in funky surrounds, having actually managed to grab a seat. I was also able to carry on a conversation with Andrew at the same time as the music was at just the level where it was loud enough to make you feel like you were out somewhere, while still being soft enough for conversation to be possible without shouting. I find it extremely cool, if also very expensive. Also as we approached the Hilton we saw an enormous line, and were discouraged until we asked after the Zeta Bar and were ushered straight into the lift. The line must have been for Marble Bar. But I was happy where I was. My drink recommendation is a passionfruit and almond rocks.

If you head down King St. you will find a plethora of bars, pubs and kebab shops, making this an ideal location for a night out. You can't go past Kuleto's two-for-one happy hour (twice as long on Thursday nights!) which goes from 6-7:30 Mon-Sat and also 9:30-10:30 on a Thursday. These cocktails are very tasty and good value, and the place is always packed. Their cocktail list is fairly long, from memory the Red Corvette is nice also the Toblerone? One of those choclatey-creamy-baileys-ey drinks. It has a more casual feel than Zeta Bar, which has a lot of city suited types. I should also mention Zanzibar, a bit further along King St, I have heard of it's famed roof garden but have never seen it.
Also on King St is the Coopers Arms Hotel, a pub which I have only visited once, but was so impressed that I have to mention it. We went for dinner and the food was great, on the expensive side for pub food but the quality was worth it. Nice atmosphere upstairs as well. Nice place, recommend it for a meal or a drink.

For a very expensive drink with an amazing view, the Opera Bar is good. My only visit was as part of 18th birthday celebrations, which is a while ago now but I enjoyed it at the time. I ordered a bellini, and it was good.
The Orient in the Rocks has retro music and beers and a good atmosphere, though sadly I can't remember the prices and these days it always seems too crowded for comfort.

Are there any that I'm missing? Do remind me. If I haven't been for a while I've probably forgotten it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

new post and honeymoon stories

Well, it's been a while since I wrote a new blog posts, sorry to y'all. I know this happens periodically, usually when I don't have internet at home. As is the case at the moment. Since it's been so long, I'm not sure what to write about. I could write about the wedding, but most of you were there, and those who weren't have probably already read about it. I think that that any description I could write would be inadequate, since I was in something of a daze at the time. So perhaps it would be better to write about the honeymoon, since none of you were there and I haven't even had the chance to say much about it. Just mentioning a few moments, since it was pretty long for one blog post...

After the wedding we stayed at the Sheraton on the Park, and spent a day in Sydney buying a new hairbrush, taking the lift to the top floor of the Sheraton and admiring the view all the way to the harbour and visiting the Australian Museum (good old skeleton room). Not to mention the buffet breakfast, which was awesome, and we enjoyed thanks to the wonders of daylight saving.

Then we headed up to Blackheath in the Blue Mountains. We stayed in an awesome studio apartment which was tiny but had absolutely everything and was just lovely. Blue Mountains highlights included having a delicious pie at the Blackheath pub, and then playing pool while the local darts club competed. We also tasted possibly the best sausage roll ever made, after a crazy car trip down wet and windy mountain roads into Megalong valley. Andrew lamented the fact that he didn't have his car, but enjoyed the sausage roll. I had a couple of delicious homemade scones with jam and cream. Everybody had an enjoyable afternoon. We also went on a walk from Evans Lookout to Govett's Leap, through beautiful scenery ranging from dry forests to swamps, past waterfalls, along a cliff edge. I discovered how unfit I really am, pausing many times on the uphill climbs to admire the view and gasp for breath.
The Blue Mountains was also the location of our most disappointing restaurant experience, at the Post Office Cafe in Leura. It was the cheaper option for a meal in Leura, although still more than we usually pay for a meal. The service was, admittedly, good, but that was about it. The music was a strange mix of Three Tenors and electronic music, played almost too softly to hear. The walls were yellow and the light fittings were crooked. It was the meals that really pushed the experience over the line. They cost $20-$30, we rated them as worth about $10. Pre-cooked vegetables, ordinary meat. I even had a piece of cooked lamb, possibly left over from lunch, on my plate of chicken. So an anti-recommendation for this place. The ice-cream sundae was good though, with an impressive piece of toffee in the top.

Well that was a bit long, I might leave Melbourne for another time, hopefully sooner...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

i'm getting married in the morning

I feel terrible looking at this blog and seeing that there are no posts at all in March. Which means I guess that there are not many people reading at the moment? You have all probably given up on me. It makes me sad because I do check the blogs, and I like a nice regularly updated blog to keep me entertained and up to date. It's just that with moving house, organising a wedding, and not having home internet, it has been a little hard. Happily I now have some spare time. Well, it's not exactly spare, but printing things takes a long time and it's the computer that has to do all the work, so I'm free to update! Yay!
And what's news? I'm getting married in two days! Which is pretty crazy. Andrew and I have been running around like mad all week, and I'm sure not everything we wanted to do will get done. Note for others, when getting married, doing everything yourself to save money may sound like a good idea, but may also drive you crazy. And therapy doesn't come cheap these days you know.
But I am excited, and looking forward to things happening, and no longer needing to be planned for, and then the day will all be over and Andrew and I will go away and not have to do anything anymore. Sadly there will still be a lot of moving house, unpacking, etc. to do when we get back. But no matter, a holiday is as good as a holiday they say.

Oh, and I'm graduating! They sent me a letter and everything. My graduation is on the 23rd of April. It's a pretty big month all round I guess. I'll be pretty lazy after this... But always willing to help people who are getting married! Yeah. Anyhow, that's kind of the stuff that's been going on at the moment. I'll have to be rushing off somewhere else soon, but hope you all enjoy your days until the next blog post. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

new house

I had a very eventful weekend, I moved house. Well, not completely, there's stuff still to be packed and moved but I'm living in Stanmore now. Unfortunately this house does not have internet access as yet, and since my laptop has been broken for some time I'm not sure when internet access will be forthcoming, so no regular internet access for me. :(
So this blog will likely be even more neglected...
But it's kinda exciting anyway, and I also got to see Merry and watch Juno (which I recommend, by the way! Also liked the soundtrack).
Hi everybody by the way! Also I have been shopping for wedding shoes and I find that my feet are too big and practically nothing fits them. Stupid feet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

book list 2007

Haven't written a blog post in a while... And have been meaning to write up my book list from 2007, so in lieu of thinking of something interesting to say here it is: New books read in 2007

Puccinni's Ghost- Morag Joss
The Secret River- Kate Grenville. Good, but sad. Well drawn characters really make this book what it is.
Mister Monday- Garth Nix
Grim Tuesday- Garth Nix
Drowned Wednesday- Garth Nix
Sir Thursday- Garth Nix. Young adult fantasy, read on beach holiday, fun.
Enduring Love- Ian McEwan. Really very much liked this one. Well written, messes with your head a bit.
Daughter of Fortune- Isabel Allende. Pretty cool, sweeping historical adventure.
The Memory Keeper's Daughter- Kim Edwards. Why are so many of the books I read so sad?
Black Swan Green- David Mitchell A review of this made me start reading David Mitchell. Still like number9dream best.
Great Northern?- Arthur Ransome
Wieland- Charles Brockden Brown. For American Gothic course, one of few books I finished for the course.
Flowers in the Attic- V.C. Andrews. Also for American Gothic. Trashy, with horrible editing/grammar, but readable.
Wise Blood- Flannery O'Connor. Sam recommended it to me, but I didn't really like it because all of the characters were horrible.
The Labours of Hercules- Agatha Christie
Heart Songs- Annie Proulx. Beautiful short stories.
Chaucer's Constance and Accused Queens- Margeret Schlauch. A book about Chaucer and folktales, written in the 20s. I found it fascinating, came across it while writing a presentation.
Aunts aren't Gentlemen- P.G. Wodehouse
Hot Water- P.G. Wodehouse
Sam the Sudden- P.G. Wodehouse. I bought some second hand Wodehouse. Always highly enjoyable.
In the Woods- Tana French. Pretty good murder mystery, with somewhat obvious twist. Also sad.
Suite Francaise- Irene Nemirovsky. The saddest of all, but good.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- JK Rowling. Much hyped, satisfying end to a series, with fan-fiction-esque epilogue.
The Left Hand of Darkness- Ursula le Guin. Ursula le Guin is just so good at sci-fi and fantasy...
The Handmaid's Tale- Margeret Attwood. Why didn't I believe everyone who told me this would be good? Read this and Left Hand for Utopia course.
Snow Crash- Neal Stephenson. Also for Utopia. Very readable, fast-paced sci-fi with dubious history and philosophy.
Peepshow- Leigh Redhead. Murder mystery, somewhat trashy modern Australian noir/hard-boiled.
Crime and Punishment- Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Deserves its classic status. What more can I say?
Making Money- Terry Pratchett. Always love a new Discworld book.
Atonement- Ian McEwan. Annoyed me intensely, but was well written.
Old Goriot- Honore de Balzac. I believe I've always known this as 'Pere Goriot', but my translation had 'Old', which is a pity as the whole father thing was pretty significant. Biting but amusing along the lines of Dickens.
Case Histories- Kate Atkinson. More murder mysteries. I thoroughly recommend Kate Atkinson, except for 'Human Croquet'. Mostly she doesn't write murder mysteries but when she does shes does them well and with originality.
Gentlemen's Blood: A History of Duelling from Swords at Dawn to Pistols at Dusk- Barbara Holland. Fascinating, but irritatingly American-centric and NRA friendly. Would have liked to hear more about swords in Europe as well as pistols in America.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The French Lieutenant's Woman- John Fowles. It had it's good moments, but the characters ended up annoying me and the central conceit could be a little wearing at times.
A Question of Death- Kerry Greenwood. More Phryne Fisher! Light and fluffy fun to finish off the year.

And that, my friends, was my year in books. Perhaps I should also mention the Old English narrative poem 'Andreas' here. I seem to be reading less every year, but I guess I can blame the thesis.

A lot of these books were very good, but some personal favourites were 'Enduring Love' and 'Heart Songs'. As well as 'The Handmaid's Tale', 'Crime and Punishment' and 'Case Histories'. And I did enjoy 'Old Goriot'. I will keep an eye on Ian McEwan in the future, hope Kate Atkinson writes some more and dip into the occasional Annie Proulx. Because she really does have a beautiful writing style, and her stories are so well drawn and character driven and... I dunno, good.
Happy reading in 2008!

Friday, January 25, 2008

puzzling

I just got a phone call. Not all that puzzling you might say? But you would be wrong. Firstly, it was a phone call to my home phone number in the middle of the day. Secondly, I was already on the phone to Andrew at the time. Now, sad to say, I very rarely get phone calls from people other than Andrew, and everyone seems to call my mobile anyway, particularly in the middle of the day when I might reasonably be expected to be out and about. So I expected telemarketers or a wrong number.

What I got was a lack of response when I said hello, and then an elderly voice saying "yes?". I had answered the phone, and at that unhelpful response gave my name, so that they could determine whether it was a wrong number. If I could remember word for word the conversation that followed I would write it down, but all I can remember is my growing conviction that this old lady was waiting for me to give my reason for calling her. She sounded quite confused. I asked her who she wanted to talk to, and who she was, repeatedly, but she seemed baffled by this line of questioning. At one point she said she couldn't hear me. So I'm not sure if she heard none of what I was saying, or whether she was suffering from dementia, or what was going on. Eventually I managed to communicate:
"Who is this?"
"Mrs May"
"Who would you like to speak to?"
"Don't worry love, it doesn't matter"
Pause for me to be confused in, then I said
"I think you have the wrong number"
and was left with the beep of the telephone line.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

is it ironic?

So writing a post about fear of death and how I wasn't generally scared, and what happens to me but I get into an accident. Worst car crash I've ever been in, but no-one was hurt apart from the cars.
What happened was, Andrew was driving me home to Maroubra, and then this car came through an intersection, we just saw the lights and Andrew braked then it hit us on the side and we spun round, not really knowing where we'd end up. We ended up halfway up on the kerb, facing almost the way we'd come, with the car door smashed in and the rear wheel out of place. We both got out the passenger door. Then it was just a two hour or so wait until the police arrived, they were tied up with a bigger crash in which someone was trapped. So we were lucky, and only scared, but I'm still not sure how much fear of death generally affects me.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

don delillo, whiskey, and a blinking midnight clock

I recently read 'White Noise' by Don DeLillo. Every time I would go to pick up the book, that line from 'Gold Mine Gutted' by Bright Eyes would pop into my head. Funnily enough, I always thought of it as "Don DeLillo whiskey", it just recently occured to me that it might be "DonDelillo, whiskey". I thought Don DeLillo liked to include whiskey in his books, or maybe was an alcoholic, and that his name was used as some sort of associative descriptor. Then it dawned on me that this was just a list. Commas make a difference people, but it's hard to hear them sometimes.
If Don DeLillo and whiskey did not prove to have any great connections, then Don DeLillo and Bright Eyes certainly seem to. I was listening to the album 'Digital Ash in a Digital Urn', on which 'Gold Mine Gutted' is found while reading 'White Noise', because getting the song in my head was bugging me, and for a sense of symmetry. Doing this was like a revelation, things clicked and fell into place. Something in the style of the lyrics reminded me of Don DeLillo, but they remained distinct. The interesting thing was the themes. I recall I once wrote a post mentioning that almost every song on this album mentions death. 'White Noise' is about death, and the fear of death, in America. Mostly fear of death I guess, expectations of death. The main characters are preoccupied with it. 'Arc of Time', from 'Digital Ash' has the lines:

To the deepest part of the human heart
The fear of death expands
Until we crack the code we have always known
But could never understand

The fear of death, the talk about code, things that are preoccupations of 'White Noise'. The reference to Don DeLillo makes me believe that Conor Oberst has read 'White Noise', and is in some way influenced. There are several small points of similarity. Reading one while listening to the other creates pleasant resonances, like standing between two mirrors, an accumulation of meaning.

There is something there of the weirdness of America, the gothic, the "sorrowful midwest" to use some lyrics from Bright Eyes, that is found in Don DeLillo's supermarket. Watching a documentary on Mormons on the SBS last night recalled this to me. Because they were making the point that Mormonism is an American religion, made in America, transferring religiously significant events to the land of America. Their chosen land is found in America. And the conflict and the politics and the slaughter of people in log houses- the old timey photos of Mormons from a hundred or more years ago- just created in me a sense of wonder at the weirdness of American history and landscape. The thought that we all comfort ourselves with: "only in America". This is the most interesting thing about America, I think. The gothic underneath.

The next thing that recalled it to me was an item on the news about suicide chatrooms. These are not 'only in America', originating there perhaps but being used world-wide. Where does the fear of death fit in here though? Teenagers on suicide chat rooms. Which brings me back to Bright Eyes, and the lyrics "sometimes I pray I don't die / I'm a goddamned hypocrite". How different is the perspective on the fear of death of a twenty something songwriter from the middle aged academic in 'White Noise'? Is fear of death essential to the human condition? As a twenty-one year old student type I have to say I don't think I think about it that much.
Another thought, that in 'White Noise' the questionable idea is suggested by another professor of killing as a way to stave off death. I thought, maybe that's what all the gun ownership in America is about. The fear that Michael Moore talked about in 'Bowling for Columbine' is deeper than burglers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

music of 2007

So, hte beginning of the new year, time to reflect on the old year... Haven't gotten around to posting up books of 2007 yet, but I was voting for the Triple J Hottest 100 today and it made me reflect on the music that I liked so I think I'll try my hand at some music reviewing. Here are some top picks and new discoveries, in no particular order-

Bright Eyes- Cassadaga
The CD that I have been waiting for ever since I first heard Bright Eyes, since it contains the song 'I Must Belong Somewhere'. This CD did not let me down, it had some awesome songs, and continued the great Bright Eyes tradition while at the same time sounding different to all the other albums. What can I say, Conor Oberst is a genius. That said this probably isn't my favourite Bright Eyes album, it's very good, but I'm not sure if I liked the swirly new age sounds as much as the countrified 'I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning'. Still a great buy.

Cloud Control- Cloud Control (EP)
I must admit, I'm a bit biased with this one, as I have some connections with the band and that always makes me excited about a band. But I can honestly say that they play some very good music. Their song 'Vintage Books', which I just found out is nominated for this years Triple J Hottest 100, is a stand out. But that does not make the other songs filler, they are consistently very good and I enjoy them heartily. I think I first heard them described as 'folk-influenced', and they do have a folky mellowness to them, with also a cheerful party vibe to tracks such as 'She's Crazy But She Doesn't Care'. But when I say 'party', maybe it is best to think of an afternoon party, with a BBQ perhaps, and some sitting around sipping beer with friends. Also good for listening to alone.

Once- Soundtrack
I loved the movie, and I think it was about ten minutes in that I turned to Andrew and whispered, "I want to buy this soundtrack". Took me a couple of months to do it, in fact I just bought it two days ago. So it's a buy of 2008, but since I first heard it in 2007 I will count it here. This has some beautiful music. Fairly sparse, and not overly produced I guess, it's just lovely and honest and did I say beautiful? I left the movie with 'Falling Softly' stuck in my head, it had this really simple melody played out on the keyboard at the beginning that just catches you. Andrew was a big admirer of the 5/4 drumbeat in, I think, 'When Your Mind's Made Up', another great track. I think, after a couple of listens, that the first half of this album is stronger than the second, but maybe I should listen to it a few more times to see... :)

Amy Winehouse- Back to Black
Now a bit of a change of pace from those quiet alternative albums, this one is jazz and funky. A kind of poppy, funky jazz. Amy Winehouse has an awesome old school jazz voice, in the way that she sounds like a world-weary singer in a smoky bar, but she also sounds very modern. This album makes me want to dance, excpet in the sad songs. It is an album for dancing to in a slinky dress. Favourites are the single, 'Rehab' and the so-funky-you-hardly-notice-it's-sad 'Tears Dry on Their Own'. Great for dancing or just listening to, or even for doing the washing up (provided you can dance while washing up). Would be good at parties I think.

The Cat Empire- So Many Nights
Speaking of parties, this CD makes me want to throw parties, it is so perfect for anything from a BBQ to wild and crazy dancing. I don't own it, but I want to. Because how can I throw a party without it? I saw Cat Empire in concert earlier this year, at the Metro, and they were awesome. The place was packed and moving and I got a bit of a crush on Felix. I think my favourite song on this album has to be 'Fishies', it's awesome and fun and cheeky and makes you dance. Oh, if I didn't mention it before, this album is also pretty jazzy and funky, but I think more Latin influenced than say Amy Winehouse. Back to the songs, I also have to mention 'So Many Nights', mostly because it has the awesome line "put your waistcoat on". In a slightly different tempo, 'Til the Ocean Takes Us All' is slower, a love song with less razzamatazz but still so good.

Honourable Mentions: Lily Allen, Gotye- Like Drawing Blood, The Audreys- Between Last Night and Us

I would throw in some dishonourable mentions, but I don't listen to music I dislike enough for it to be memorable for me... Except perhaps for 'Stronger' by Kanye West, which I dislike mostly for the lyrics. But that's just one song. I'm sure I could think of some others if I switched my radio on...

CDs/Artists I've heard about and now would like to hear:
Radiohead- In Rainbows
Ok, I have heard this one but I'd like to hear it again. It had something. Sounds like a good CD for lying around listening to, perhaps while reading.
The Decembrists
The Howling Bells
The White Stripes- Icky Thump