What is it about the turn of the year and annual celebrations? All our happy holidays are crammed into and around the months of summer: first ticking over with Halloween (if you're into that), but really getting started with the Melbourne Cup in November, building up steam through Christmas, New Year's Eve, a dozen summer music festivals and Australia Day in January, coinciding with the Big Day Out, petering out a month or two later with Easter and Anzac Day... followed by the long winter of nothing more exciting than the Queen's Birthday. It's surprising that, of all things, a radio show manages to stand out as one of the highlights of summer every year. Yep, it's voting time for the world's biggest music poll: Triple J's Hottest 100.
Bluejuice - The Reductionist
An early one for this year. Pure mental party fun good time. Won't rank highly, since it came out in January.
The Bronx - Knifeman
Hardcore punk music from seriously angry guys. I don't like it every day, but when it works, that chorus is absolutely ferocious. Won't break the top 100.
Cog - Bird of Feather
It really seems like this song is about something, you know? But I'll be damned if I can figure out what. Will be in the lower half of the top 100.
Cansei de Ser Sexy - Left Behind
'I'm gonna jump onto the table and dance my ass off til I die!' Not a song to be taken literally. Should make the top 30.
The Herd - The King is Dead
Perfectly captured the mood of the week after Australia finally decided it had had enough of the Rat King and his bullshit: pure relief. Better late than never. Will be top ten.
Kings of Leon - Closer
Brilliantly spooky. May be my song of the year. Will be low in the list, well below Sex On Fire and Use Somebody.
Ladyhawke - Paris is Burning
Sounds a bit unusual in English, but totally appropriate in French. Should be top 50.
Ladyhawke - My Delirium
Catchy! Another contender for song of the year. Might crack the top 20.
MGMT - Time to Pretend
I've had serious MGMT overdose this year, but I still remember when I first heard their first single while I was half-asleep watching Rage at 2am. With the synth sound and the intentionally-crappy video, it really didn't stand out at all... but it stuck in my head for days. A few months and a few singles later, this song about fast-burn superstardom was already starting to look like a self-fulfilling prophecy:
'Yeah, it's overwhelming, but what else can we do? Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?'
Will be top 20 for sure, unless people overlook it when voting for Kids and Electric Feel.
Cog are sometimes slagged off for writing paranoid-lefty music:
'Yes, they're making lists of people interested in this And they're scanning all their databases, hunting terrorists. Yes, they're making lists of people interested in this And anyone who speaks their mind is labelled anarchist.'
But when the state government is defending Victoria Police conducting spyingoperations on anti-war campaigners, environmentalists, animal rights activists and members of civil liberties groups - using tax money, of course - I'm bloody glad somebody is writing the protest songs.
Dawn Landes - Bodyguard
Flight of the Conchords - Inner City Pressure
Also groovy. Also funny. I think there are laws against this.
Gnarls Barkley - Run
It's no Thriller, but this is damn creepy for a pop song. Good stuff.
Jack White and Alicia Keys - Another Way to Die
To fit Alicia Keys into a Jack White song, it sounds like they had to turn off the auto-tuner and manually 'scratch up' her voice with a megaphone effect. They nearly pulled it off.
Josh Pyke - The Lighthouse Song
Usually Josh Pyke is too twee for me, but this hits the spot. Maybe it's the swearing.
Kings of Leon - Use Somebody
This would have got a vote if I wasn't trying (unsuccessfully) to limit myself to one vote per artist.
Ween - Your Party
Sounds deep but is really a song about a dinner party. It's amazing how much passion they put into lines like this:
'There were beverages laid out for the party There were candy and spices and tri-coloured pastas'
If you haven't yet heard about the Federal Government's, ahem, rather ambitious plan to censor all internet traffic in Australia, take a look here first, or here for the less serious take on things. Then you can read the email I sent to the man responsible, Minister for Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy (it could be tighter but I was too sleepy to re-edit it).
Dear Senator Conroy,
Please accept my profuse thanks for your efforts in introducing the Clean Feed for Australian internet users! I am so relieved that this plan is on the way to being implemented. When I heard so-called "experts" of the IT industry claiming that it was impossible to filter all internet content without significantly reducing internet speeds all across the country, I was sure the goverment would back down on this pressing issue. I thought the Labor Government would be afraid to stand up to the selfish elements in the community who would bleat and moan if their Facebook pages took an extra few minutes to load or if their access to naughty pictures required them to put their name on an official Pervert List. (I don't have a problem with adults accessing any kind of legal content, but ordinary working families and their government have a right to know which seemingly normal members of their community are harbouring these deviant tendencies.)
It's pleasing to see that this plan will combat not just one but two disturbing trends in online media in recent years.
First, obviously, the online proliferation of exploitative images such as the work of that paedophile Bill Henson. (Art is one thing, when properly framed and displayed in a respectable gallery, but computer graphics are quite another; I do remember members of your own government demonstrating with reference to scientific factual research that interactive media such as internets and video games are much more harmful to children than traditional, more wholesome forms of media, such as classical AM radio and drive-in movies.)
Second, it's an added bonus that this Clean Feed will help to rein in the ever-increasing speeds attained by internet users over the past fifteen years. Don't they know that speed is dangerous? For all the talk about how Australia needs much faster internet speeds to remain functional and competitive in "tomorrow's globally connected world" (and other such nonsensical buzzwords), I find the internet already quite dizzyingly, threateningly disorienting as it is. Why is it that, after five television channels has been plenty for so many years, nowadays every youngster with a video camera and pretensions to creativity wants to have their own television channel on these You Tubes? And who is watching to make sure these youths are not using curse words or describing sexual acts on these online television channels?
It can't be a coincidence that the pace and sheer chaos of the internet have increased just at the same time as the youngest generation started to grow up as "digital natives". Today's children barely have the single-mindedness to sit through a single afternoon of television, instead bouncing around between this social networking site and that online encyclopedia and some other touch-screen telephone as though they expect us to believe they feel comfortable using such patently unnatural and frankly suspicious media forms. We must never forget that the internet is interactive: how can we trust a media form which lets our private internet use (or our children's) be interfered with by any crank, loon or thick-headed busybody out there with an axe to grind or a moral crusade?
Which is why I am so sincerely grateful that the Federal Government and its bureaucracy is, has always been and always will be free of cranks, loons and thick-headed busybodies with moral crusades or axes to grind.
Sticky Situation - Aren't All Band Names Just Sexual References?
I've always been of the opinion that there's no evil, just mental dysfunction. Habitual thieves are invariably people who don't feel guilty for taking other people's property (or feel compelled to steal despite any guilt they might feel, in the case of kleptomaniacs). Paedophiles invariably suffered some abuse or neglect in childhood. Serial killers are usually either delusional or suffering (if that's the word) from antisocial personality disorder - those are the Charles Mansons and Ivan Milats of the world. Whether they were forced into their behaviour by a hostile upbringing or simply have an unusual arrangement of brain tubes, they're not the same as us civilised folk. It's not truly their fault, although admittedly by this reasoning nothing is truly anyone's fault; they're just faulty.
I think in the modern political vernacular that makes me a bleeding-heart liberal. Anyway.
If you accept that criminals aren't evil, just motivated by different glands, that leaves you with a problem when it comes time to sentence them. Sure, some people can avoid prison by pleading insanity, but when up to 75 per cent of the prison population is estimated to have antisocial personality disorder (that's psychopathy to you) it kind of makes it a moot point: gaols already are secure mental hospitals in a sense, just without the focus on treatment.
All this is interesting to me because I've just found out that I have an unconscious capacity for violence.
I'm one of those people - you've probably heard about a TV special on us at some point - who does things while they're still asleep. In my case it's not sleepwalking but something called either sleep inertia, sleep drunkenness or confusional arousal, depending on how clinical you want to be. Occasionally I wake up before my brain does and start doing... something. Most often it's harmless, the kind of thing you might do if you kept trying to apply the logic of your dream to the real world after you woke up.
Once, soon after we moved out together, Emily awoke early in the morning to find me leaning out of the bed, sorting through a pile of clothes and making sounds of frustration; when she asked what I was looking for, I struggled for a second and replied "I'm looking for the sounds." When she tried to get me to explain, I said it again, louder: "I'm looking for the sounds!" Annoyed that she was being so obtuse. "You know, sounds? Sounds!" It took a full minute before I woke up enough to realise I was the one not making sense.
I've had other nonsensical conversations while waking up. Usually I'll ask her a question about something that doesn't, that can't, exist, and be absolutely convinced that the answer should be obvious - for thirty seconds or so.
Sometimes I've swiped items off tables and I'm sure our cats have had the odd sudden hard shove off the bed at six in the morning. This morning I swept a lamp, a book, a coffee cup and a bottle of deodorant off my bedside table all at once, and when Emily sat up to see what was going on I grabbed her by the wrists; not for the first time. Once I grabbed her throat.
I have little or no memory of any of it. I can remember coming out of it: having vague recollections of what I was doing, slowly forgetting the meaning behind what I have been saying just as I start to become fully aware that I'm saying it. I can remember the sensation of adrenaline banging around in my chest and a deep-rooted knowledge that something is happening and I have to catch it right right now!
It's not aggressive, but a defensive instinct that kicks in too hard paired with a state of scattered thinking. "Presence of mind" is the term: I literally do not have the presence of mind to control what I'm doing. My body is acting but my mind isn't present to say what's a good or bad idea.
The thought of doing something truly violent worries me, but not too much. It's like catching cancer or getting in a car accident: it's a risk, but not one that's likely to present itself any time soon. For one thing, the experience is rare: I know of maybe ten instances in the past three years that I've had a reliable witness around to observe it. For another, it doesn't last long: from a few seconds to a minute at most. And most importantly, when I have gone into grappling mode, I've only had the instinct to grab and subdue whatever was threatening - whether it was my lovely companion touching me on the arm or the alarm clock looking at me funny. Still, it's a sobering truth to have to face that I really am not in control of myself.
Oh, and I suspect it might happen more often after a night on the turps, so if you see me with a glass of water next time we're at the pub, don't give me shit about it or I might just crash at your place for the night.
Clint Eastwood = Old West Action Astronomers = Moon starers Desperation = A rope ends it Mother-in-law = Woman Hitler A domesticated animal = Docile, as a man tamed it Salman Rushdie = Read, shun Islam David Letterman = Nerd amid late TV George Herbert Walker Bush = Huge berserk rebel warthog Mel Gibson = Bong smile
[Okay, those aren't bad for a warm-up. But instantly overshadowed by this effort:]
Quote by Oscar Wilde: There is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about. = Wilde died broken, beaten 'n' total nut. Hate being sunk in that rotten gaol. Shh, gay is taboo! (by Larry Brash)
[Or for those with a more philosophical bent:]
Quote by Kurt Vonnegut: Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn't mean we deserve to conquer the universe. = A masquerade can cover a sense of what is real to deceive us; to be unjaded and not lost, we must, then, determine truth. (by Cory Calhoun)
[A remixed classic:]
From Hamlet by William Shakespeare: To be or not to be: that is the question, whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. = In one of the Bard's best-thought-of tragedies, our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts about how life turns rotten. (by Cory Calhoun)
[Just one more! It's a doozy.]
The Curse of the Ring (from The Lord of the Rings)
In the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie, One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, And in the darkness, bind them.
Who fears Nine Morgul men, A lot of bandit demons, The gathering torrent, And Him, one Dark Lord Sheltered within His hell? Men, blind to the One Ring. (by Michael J. Mateyka)
- Fight For Your Right (to Participate in the Democratic Process)
This was a struggle.
I barely listened to music at all last year, so the voting list looked like heiroglyphics to me. That said, I have had Triple J on at work a few times a week, I listened to some friends' recommendations, I spent all this evening scouring the internet for clips of anything on the voting list that wasn't by former members of the Wu-Tang Clan - and it's all been pretty mediocre.
Sure, my shortlist started off as long as always, but 80% of that was the sort of "wistful" Angus-and-Julia-Stone softly-softly mood music crap that I like, but which bores me to distraction most days and is all totally unmemorable. Even bands who have rocked out in the past went all Sufjan Stevens for 2007, as though they all heard Radiohead's latest album and didn't want to be left off the navel-lint-collecting bandwagon.
MUSICIANS! STOP SITTING AT HOME WATCHING SCRUBS. GO OUT AND GET IN SOME FIGHTS. AND START TAKING DRUGS AGAIN! YOUR HEALTH SHOULD SUFFER SO OURS DON'T HAVE TO.
Most years I vote for songs I really dig, but this time I blew half my votes on catchy indie-pop songs I'll probably hate after a few more listens. I had to add a song that wasn't even in the voting list to make up my ten, as futile as that is, because I couldn't stand to vote for my next preference (i.e. The Gossip - Listen Up!, which I only really like because Standing In The Way Of Control is badass).
Has anyone else found it to be a great year for music? Am I just not feeling the groove?
Beasts Of Bourbon - I Don't Care About Nothing Anymore
I used to give my money to the motherfuckin' poor But I don't care about nothin' anymore
Bluejuice - Vitriol
Good luck and don't dare give up Give it a little bit of vitriol
Cat Empire - So Many Nights
It doesn't matter what I say It doesn't matter what I do It seems I'm going to have to change my look for you
Clare Bowditch & The Feeding Set - When The Lights Went Down
This won’t bring our dog back This won’t unstitch time
Cog - What If
What if in the future people just decided No more leaders fighting to control us?
Faker - This Heart Attack
I'm going away to be alone I'm coming back with answers
Nine Inch Nails - Survivalism
I've got my propaganda, I've got revisionism I've got my fist, I've got my plan, I've got survivalism!
Puscifer - Momma Sed
Momma said like the rain, this too shall pass Like a kidney stone, this too shall pass It's just a broken heart, son This pain will pass away
Urthboy - We Get Around
We could bang heads, bring a new slogan No more known as Irwin, used to be Hogan That’s what we promote, let the quote do the work It’ll work, it’ll be worth the dough Unlikely, “crikey” is just unlike me It’s not like it’s in the national psyche Who could be fake as that? Like Phillip Ruddock and his Amnesty badge
The White Stripes - You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)
You just keep on repeating all those empty "I love you"s Until you see you deserve better, I'm gonna lay right into you
Honorary Mentions For Songs I Haven't Heard That Have Funny Names:
Driving a gas-guzzling Hummer is reprehensible, but driving a gas-guzzling old Volvo is not; eating a Big Mac is unconscionable, but not imported cheese or crème brûlée.
It’s not just the content of our moral judgments that is often questionable, but the way we arrive at them. We like to think that when we have a conviction, there are good reasons that drove us to adopt it.
People don’t generally engage in moral reasoning, Haidt argues, but moral rationalization: they begin with the conclusion, coughed up by an unconscious emotion, and then work backward to a plausible justification.
When anthropologists like Richard Shweder and Alan Fiske survey moral concerns across the globe, they find that a few themes keep popping up from amid the diversity.
The exact number of themes depends on whether you’re a lumper or a splitter, but Haidt counts five — harm, fairness, community (or group loyalty), authority and purity — and suggests that they are the primary colors of our moral sense.
In the West, we believe that in business and government, fairness should trump community and try to root out nepotism and cronyism. In other parts of the world this is incomprehensible — what heartless creep would favor a perfect stranger over his own brother?
The ranking and placement of moral spheres also divides the cultures of liberals and conservatives in the United States. Many bones of contention, like homosexuality, atheism and one-parent families from the right, or racial imbalances, sweatshops and executive pay from the left, reflect different weightings of the spheres. In a large Web survey, Haidt found that liberals put a lopsided moral weight on harm and fairness while playing down group loyalty, authority and purity. Conservatives instead place a moderately high weight on all five. It’s not surprising that each side thinks it is driven by lofty ethical values and that the other side is base and unprincipled.
But in any conflict in which a meeting of the minds is not completely hopeless, a recognition that the other guy is acting from moral rather than venal reasons can be a first patch of common ground. One side can acknowledge the other’s concern for community or stability or fairness or dignity, even while arguing that some other value should trump it in that instance. With affirmative action, for example, the opponents can be seen as arguing from a sense of fairness, not racism, and the defenders can be seen as acting from a concern with community, not bureaucratic power. Liberals can ratify conservatives’ concern with families while noting that gay marriage is perfectly consistent with that concern.
And nowhere is moralization more of a hazard than in our greatest global challenge. The threat of human-induced climate change has become the occasion for a moralistic revival meeting. In many discussions, the cause of climate change is overindulgence (too many S.U.V.’s) and defilement (sullying the atmosphere), and the solution is temperance (conservation) and expiation (buying carbon offset coupons). Yet the experts agree that these numbers don’t add up: even if every last American became conscientious about his or her carbon emissions, the effects on climate change would be trifling, if for no other reason than that two billion Indians and Chinese are unlikely to copy our born-again abstemiousness. Though voluntary conservation may be one wedge in an effective carbon-reduction pie, the other wedges will have to be morally boring, like a carbon tax and new energy technologies, or even taboo, like nuclear power and deliberate manipulation of the ocean and atmosphere. Our habit of moralizing problems, merging them with intuitions of purity and contamination, and resting content when we feel the right feelings, can get in the way of doing the right thing.
For those who live in Melbourne, missed out on tickets to the January 30th Rage Against the Machine concert and would like to do a good deed, my friend Max White has organised a fundraiser: Rage Against the Scalpers.
After a 20-hour wait on a city street a few months back, he bought six tickets to Rage, while at the same time one of the friends he was buying for managed by sheer fluke to get three more tickets over the internet to this most-quickly-sold-out-gig-ever. So he has three spare tickets to Rage, and rather than be a greedy capitalist about it, he's raffling them off to raise money for Oxfam ("non-profit, non-government and non-religious").
The competition is officially registered with and overseen by Oxfam. Entry into the draw is $20. The winner will be picked at random on January 14 and will receive all three tickets.
If you win, it's an amazing deal; if you don't, your money still goes towards helping the world's starving, dying and displaced.
Official details are here. Whether or not you enter, it would be great if you could spread the word.
I got a letter from uni today to say I've been accepted into the Honours program for next year, although I think I'll defer until 2009. I'll be studying new ways of storytelling now that print is dead, nothing is sacred and everything is modifiable. I have a lot of ideas opinions, but I need to sleep on it for a year first.
Something is rotten on the roads of Victoria. Compare the penalties: being caught talking on a mobile phone while driving will set you back $145; being caught on a tram without a ticket, or with the wrong ticket, will cost you $162 for a first offence, $216 for a second and $270 for a third in a three-year period. That means if you forget to buy a ticket once a year, in the third year you'll be fined almost twice as much as the idiot nabbed yapping away on the blower to their mate while hurtling down the road with one hand on the wheel and no concern for public safety.
A study in Australia by the British Medical Journal has shown mobile phone use while driving makes crashes four times more likely. Neglecting to buy a Metcard endangers nobody and only costs the public transport operator chump change in lost revenue.
The State Government claims to be encouraging public transport use to tackle traffic congestion and climate change - so why is it punishing public transport commuters? Any pollie who wants to back up their clean-green rhetoric and help reduce automobile deaths at the same time, start here.
It was a struggle to compress it into the 200-word limit; I could have written a thesis. Unfortunately the "colourful" comparisons of public transport users and selfish, vacuous, text-messaging 4WDers had to go.
6. "The Commonwealth" shall mean the Commonwealth of Australia as established under this Act.
"The States" shall mean such of the colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia, including the northern territory of South Australia, as for the time being are parts of the Commonwealth, and such colonies or territories as may be admitted into or established by the Commonwealth as States; and each of such parts of the Commonwealth shall be called "a State".
"Original States" shall mean such States as are parts of the Commonwealth at its establishment.
So first George Bush gives himself the power to declare a national emergency... and then he issues a directive to say that, in the event of a national emergency, he would become America's all-powerful fascist dicator god.
I'm dumbfounded by the ready availability of Americans - apparently "normal" Americans, with all their own teeth - who have the insensitive gall to suggest that the antidote to gun violence is more guns. I can only assume these are the same folk whose answer to global warming is to crank up the air conditioner.
"The idea is that if one of the Virginia Tech students had had a gun with him, he could have come to the rescue like Dick Dauntless, and shot the Korean.
"Well that’s true. But what if 300 students had guns, and they were all on the look-out for a student with a gun? I’m failing to see the genius of this plan, though no doubt I’ve overlooked something obvious."
Step 1: Put your media player on random. Step 2: Post the first line(s) of the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song (minus instrumental tracks, songs not sung in English and songs with the title in the first line). Step 3: Let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from. Step 4: No cheating!
25 random songs don't sound hard to arrange, right? Bloody hell. First, it turns out I have a LOT of songs with the title in the first line - like, over half, no shit. Then there were a good handful of instrumental tracks, which surprised me. There was a song that began in Italian: "Figlio di puttana, sai che tu sei un pezzo di merda?" (translation). I threw out a Ghost in the Shell trance mix because it's probably not by Aphex Twin like I thought, but by Fractal & Benza (though I'm not sure). I even had to reject ISIS - Not in Rivers but in Drops because even the internet couldn't tell me what Aaron Turner is moaning about! I must have been forced to reject 40 songs before I finished this list. It's not a bad selection, though.
There are two covers; a bonus point each for naming the correct version.
I reckon I can pick exactly which people will get each song, but prove me wrong. Comments are screened for two days. Go!
1.So glad to see you well / Overcome them, completely silent nowA Perfect Circle - The Noosedodgethis
2.I feel nothing, said I don't feel nothing and I won't feel nothing at allKyuss - Hurricanedodgethis
The Big Day Out was great, except for everyone who attended. Between flag-clad yobs, drugged-up mosh junkies and the selfish bellowing violent freaks that are Tool fans, most of the crowd merged into one great heaving mass of cocksucker.
I think System of a Down and Slipknot still hold the record for having fans with the least sense of common sense and basic human decency, but Tool are a very close second.
Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males were good as ever, Trivium were decent but also had seriously rude fans, Lily Allen was alright but will be washed up within two years, Kasabian were the obligatory Surprise Hit of the Year, John Butler, the Killers, Jet and Muse were all as you'd expect and Tool... I'm glad I'm seeing them again on Wednesday.
The mobile* I have now was generously donated to me by dodgethis. I appreciate it, but as always you get what you pay for; in this case, the infamous "phone that was dropped in the toilet." It survived, but I've never been quite comfortable pressing it up against my face.
I'm looking for a cheapish new one, primarily through the good folk at Virgin Mobile. If anyone owns one of these phones and has a good or bad word to say about it, let me know.
At the moment, I'm considering the Samsung E370 and the Nokia 5300. I'm also thinking about the Nokia 5140i, aka the Juggernaut, the main feature of which is that it can survive thermonuclear blasts. There's also a good deal on the Motorola RAZR V3i, but I've heard they're more style than substance.
I would normally do my own research, but for once Google is letting me down hard. I'm amazed there's so little information about phones on the web; just the odd article here and there. If you want to know about cellaring practices for Iranian mountain goat's cheese you're set, but mobile phone reviews is asking too much, apparently.
There I was, thinking the web browser on the Wii was useless, but it turns out there are already a stack of Wii games on the web. That was quick.
[EDIT: Looks like they're just pre-existing Flash games that work with the Wii interface. Still handy though, even if most of them are three-second throwaways.]
The most frustrating thing about bleed-heavy injuries isn't the pain (real men don't have nervous systems) or the inconvenience or the stitches or any of that, but the way it makes you ache deep inside for a coldie, which you're not allowed to have, lest your blood thins, the cut fails to clot and you develop temporary haemophilia - a condition which sounds like a particularly deviant sexual practice but really just means bleeding all over the carpet.
And now, a conversation. Refresh the page or click on the picture to see it from the start.
I was cutting rolls with great haste when suddenly WHOOPS THAT'S NOT BREAD NOW IS IT! Although I for one was interested to learn that human flesh cuts just as easily as your average bakery produce.
After the shock wore off, I was totally cool with it for several hours, until I heard Emily on the phone to her mum describing the accident, and then I very nearly threw up all over the sofa.
In other news, I'm finally sick of a workmate calling every CD I put on "Norwegian Death Metal", so I decided to give him a compilation of My Kind Of Songs so he can maybe learn something. The problem is, this is one of those people who claim to listen to "everything", which is always code for "I like most of what they play on pop radio and Golden Oldies, which is all the music in the world as far as I'm aware, oh and there was this one techno song I liked once." So I'm trying to compose an easy-listening introduction to my musical taste, minus songs already way famous (no MJ).
You're born, and that's nothing. That's just checking in. Signing your name on the dotted line so no one gets sued when bad things happen to you. It's kinda ominous, but, hey, everyone signs, right? It's just a precaution. You'll get through without any serious trauma. You won't catch a wasting disease at puberty that sparks pain signals through your nerves every few minutes for the rest of your life. You won't be thrown in a solitary prison for five years without charge, without rights, without visitors only to be told you were arrested for breaking laws first written while you were spending your fourth year counting cold bricks in your cell. You won't be born ugly, or deranged, or in Burkina Faso. Probably.
You get a few years to orient yourself - put on the jumpsuit, learn where all the buckles go, sit through all the safety warnings. It's all basic, all grounded. You're still standing on solid rock, supported by Mother Nature and Father Time.
Around puberty you file on board the plane with everyone else. It's a bit cramped in there, and it smells musty and unfamiliar, and this lumpy jumpsuit they've made you wear is hardly comfortable for sitting around in, but at least you are still sitting down, right? Okay, so the plane's taking off, which feels a bit weird. You feel both light and heavy as gravity fights lift, there's a subtle pressure growing in your ear drums and you have to shout to be heard over the engine's roar, but you still have that solid base to stand on.
By the time you're used to the plane, when you feel normal again in a shaky new way, someone up front throws open the door. And you've known it was coming, but you're not quite ready, and if they wouldn't mind giving you, oh, another two or three years in the good old plane that would be nice, and isn't it awfully windy out there oh dear.
Somehow you're gently pressured to the doorway, with little nudges and suggestions so it almost seems like this is your idea, and you're there now, okay, and and and it's really very windy, I mean you'd heard but you didn't quite realise, and the ground is so far down it's just a concept, not a real thing, not really real, and and you're sure it'll be okay once you step out, probably, I mean that's what everyone says, just like falling off a bicycle, a very tall bicycle ha ha! and you're out and tumbling straight down.
It's - Jesus! - wow. Ha! Wow. This is fast. It's going so fast.
The view is magnificent!
But it's all far away. Laid out below you, far below and in all directions, is solid, rocky certainty. That's the way you're travelling, veryvery fast, but right now actually there's not a lot going on. It's exciting! The wind, the clouds hurtling up to you and past, it's like the greatest race ever! All insubstantial, which is the thrilling part, of course, but for a moment you see the ground below and wish you could grab some of this cloud-racing spectacularity to your chest and really take it with you.
You remember bits of what the instructors said back on the ground and in the plane - stuff about ripcords, body positioning, rope tangles, what to do if this rope gets caught around your neck or that handle refuses to pull. It all seems so far away, though you could swear not a minute has gone by since you were in that plane and the ground is growing ever closer and shouldn't you be doing something right now? Something important? Is it enough just to be enjoying yourself?
You do a somersault. That's fun, so you try a corkscrew. Flat pike. Cartwheel. Cannonball. Star jumps. John Travolta Saturday Night Live fruit-picking dance. The world's longest swan dive.
You figure it's time to slow down. The ground, still just an idea, is looking a lot more concrete. You're, what, 30 now? You can only free-fall for ten years or so before it loses a lot of its shine. You want some support. You want a net to keep you afloat. You never thought you'd say this, but you'd kind of like a parachute. Does that mean the dive is over? No, surely not; you just want some time to enjoy the beautiful view, that's all. You can see it in much greater detail now.
By the time you realise the parachute was one of those nice reassuring if-only stories people tell to children, another decade's gone past and you're stuck in this routine, swimming through the air, same motion every time, because that's what's easiest. This is what you've always seen people do in videos and they seemed to enjoy it. You think you might be doing it wrong, but there's no one around to ask.
A moment later, when you realise you just lost another five years up into the air, it occurs to you that for all the effort you've put into air-braking, it's still no parachute, and maybe since you're up here anyway you might as well enjoy yourself. You search around for the buckles and unclip them, one by one, loosening the useless parachute bag from your back. You can't seem to reach some of the clips, around your back, but you get the damn thing half-off which makes it a little easier to breathe. The air isn't so cold and thin down here; it's warmer, wetter, more humid, and it smells a little acrid, like carbon monoxide, unless that's your imagination.
You're finally starting to relax. Kind of. So many years of stress and tension have put a few kinks through your nerves but you can, mentally, enjoy the familiarity of the ride. You can look back up and say, "it was fun while it lasted," not that you noticed at the time, and "remember that old plane we flew in back then, way up high? That was a good plane." You're finally starting to smile and shrug and not worry so goddamn much, it's kind of liberating, except you've reached the ground now and it's
But it's my last year of study, proper jobs and respectability are looming and besides, it is freakin' hot under that thing (ref. Fraser the Human Anti-Radiator). So I walked into the local hairdresser, and one hour later I had lost two kilos and she had shagpile carpeting.
Tool - Vicarious The Saboteurs - Steady As She Goes Belle & Sebastian - The Blues Are Still Blue Butterfingers - Get Up Outta The Dirt The Audreys - You & Steve McQueen Augie March - Thin Captain Crackers Wolf & Cub - This Mess be your own PET - Adventure Thom Yorke - Black Swan Regina Spektor - Fidelity
It is immensely hot. I couldn't feel less energetic if I was dead.
I don't know why but my body temperature is permanently five, ten degrees above the norm. (That's degrees Celsius, not degrees Fahrenheit or Ivy-League-with-honours, and norm as in normal, not Norm your balding neighbour who does his gardening every Sunday in short shorts with his wee-wee peeping out the bottom.) I'm a singlet-in-winter kind of guy. No matter how cold it is, I can't wear a long-sleeved top while walking or I overheat and end up panting on the floor, stomach up and legs projected limply in the air, like your dog on a hot day. I once had a competition to see who could keep their hand in a bucket of ice longest; I thought the first guy to pull out was joking, and I only ended up walking away myself out of boredom, five minutes after everyone else had run gasping to stick their frozen paws next to the heater. I am not a white man, I am full-on sunburn pink, despite my pasty indoorsman habits.
I don't do well with summer.
While everyone else in Melbourne has been scratching their head waiting for the heat to set in, I've spent most afternoons of the past month dazed on the couch, waiting for my face to melt off. The apartment is strewn with water bottles and sweat-marked chairs. There's a pile of t-shirts opposite the door from when I get home from work and rip my top off the moment I'm out of public view and toss it across the room, already staggering toward the fridge.
So we've been eating a lot of cold fruit salad.
Around 8 this evening Emily and I are lounging on the sofa. She's been playing Wii baseball and I've just staggered in from the mid-20s Centigrade burning heatwave, so we're both too ruined for anything as strenuous as, say, watching television. We're picking at this bowl of cold watermelon pieces. Every few minutes, one of us will focus, draw on all our inner strength and muster the energy to say something like:
"'s pretty hot."
Two or three minutes later, the other will have gathered enough power to respond:
We're getting through this bowl of cold watermelon pieces like the tortoise in the race: it's happening perhaps marginally faster than evolution, but there's no force on Earth that could stop us.
We take turns. I've had my piece, and I'm eyeing off the next one, so I fork a nice juicy bit and wave it toward Emily. She looks at it like it's an Aramaic instruction manual - What do you expect me to do with this?
"I don' wanna," she says. "Not yet."
I take a second to frame the explanation that I'm patiently anticipating her taking a piece to allow me to proceed to eat mine in turn, but my vocal chords are all Zzz... Sleepy... Gimme fi'e more minnus..., so I just stick the end of the fork in her mouth and wait for her to take it.
She does, but she doesn't chew. Just lets it sit there. And immediately, her expression starts to change. For a second I think it's a yawn, then it looks like disgust, and after a minute it's like the face of a mime who's just been called boring by an eight-year-old - exaggerated, theatrical misery. It's only just now occurring to me that this is not some random chewing motion, and just as I say "You look like you're about to cry!", she's sniffling and there's red around her eyes.
I extract the watermelon with the fork. For half a minute she's still teetering on the verge of tears, and then - nothing.
"Are you okay?" I ask, genuinely concerned.
"Yeah," she says. "Fine. Completely fine."
"What was that about? You looked really, really sad."
"I don't know. It was that watermelon. Something about it, hanging there... it just made me really sad."
I picked a nice big bit, stuck it in my gob and left it there. It wasn't uncomfortable - actually it was refreshingly cool on my tongue - but after a second, I felt distressed. Undefinably, but distinctly, like: There is a great disturbance in the Force.
Some quick experiments found the longer we left the watermelon in our mouths, the sadder we became. We were briefly too weirded out to go on but, whatever, it was good watermelon, even if it was haunted.
Does this ring any bells for anyone? Anyone encountered this phenomenon before with food? Or are we just the victims of the Uncanny Spook Fruit?
I'm a full-time student. That is to say, I go to university two days per week. One and a half, really. A grand total of nine hours of classes.
That's when I go to them all.
So life's pretty hard is what I'm saying. Just to make the load that much more unbearable, my biggest ongoing work commitment in one of this semester's courses is - brace yourself, it's a toughy - to keep a blog.
Life... so hard.
There probably won't be much here for a few months, aside from some cross-posted stuff. If absence makes the heart grow fonder til you're gagging for a fresh taste of me - when you've already re-read all my archives three times this week and it's just not enough - when all you can do is breathlessly beg for more! more! - then you should come find me here.
[Language warning, I suppose. But you can all deal with that.]
I've read that people-watching is supposed to be relaxing. I want to go to the city of the person who came up with that, because they're not seeing the same shit I encounter around the streets every day.
Mid-afternoon on a packed tram in North Melbourne today. A lot of people were sitting alone, reading, listening to music or talking quietly, generally following those librarian rules of polite society for crowded places. But two conversations stood out clearly over the top of the background buzz. One was between a couple of teenage punks. They were distinctly ocker; I won't call them yobs, but only because I'm feeling generous. And also because they were pretty tame next to the young bloke and his mum whose brassy, overpowering dialogue sounded like a bad parody of a Barry Mckenzie movie. These two were not well trained in the Indoor Voice. Brief relief came when they stopped talking to swig cheap bourbon and coke from the cans they clutched close to their hearts ("25% Extra Free!"). Funnily enough they were discussing the son's internet cafe; go figure. (Cf. CUBS.)
During a brief quiet moment, the teenage punks suddenly, simultaneously belted out a line from the CD they were listening to together. It was loud; at first I thought it was a squeal of pain, as though two girls' arms had snapped in synch.
Immediately, someone piped up from down the tram, "Shut the fuck up!"
As though waiting for this, one of the girls yelled back, "Suck my fucking dick you fucking cunt!"
This prompted Mr Internet Cafe to turn around and roar, "Watch your fucking language, there are fucking ladies here!"'
I don't think the irony of this dawned on him.
The punk hit back with a simple "get fucked", but was drowned out by Mother Bogan, who remarked, "If you were my fucking daughters I'd smack you around for that!"
The punk sneered. "Well we're not, so you can't!"
Mother Bogan's comeback: "I can, I will smack my daughters around!" I'm not convinced this is entirely fair to the poor innocents, but them's the breaks.
Each party bitched quietly about each other for a few minutes - quietly, as in, the rest of the tram had to lower their conversations a little to hear them - until Mother Bogan and her Techbogan offspring reached their stop. They eschewed the closer tram door in order to exit past the punks, apparently so Mumsy could lean over these 15-year-olds and growl "Watch your backs!" with eyes wide and nostrils flaring. She made a sharp cutting movement with her hand. "Thwack!"
Once they'd gone, the quieter punk spat, "What a fuckin bitch!"
The other laughed and said, "Yeah, but that'll so be us in thirty years!"
Channel Nine is showing Friday Night Football (from 8.30pm to 2am, which is almost enough football even for me). At the moment, they're playing "Crazy John's Quiz" on the life, times, career and trivia of Chris Isaak. The contestants: two ex-footballers vs one ex-footballer a member of Chris Isaak's band... and Chris Isaak.
Jon Bovi and the Power Ballads - Candle in the Wind Machine
When I was eight years old, I was mean to two Chinese girls in my class at school. They spoke to everyone else in that WASP-saturated place in English, but between themselves they conversed in Chinese - and I hated that.
I hated that I couldn't understand what they were saying. I hated that they could do something I couldn't. I hated the inherent secrecy; I was eternally suspicious that they were gossipping about me and my friends. I resented them for what I saw as a gross injustice.
So I told them to stop it, in the persuasive way only little kids have. When they ignored me, I'd repeat myself a few hundred times, flick things in their direction, talk about them loudly so they'd hear and generally disrupt their conversation.
I didn't consider what it must feel like for them, particularly the girl who had lived in Australia only a few months, to have to adjust to not only a new language but an entire new culture, into which they would never fit seamlessly; destined for decades of people asking "so where are you from?" without expecting "Balwyn North."
Of course I didn't think about any of that. I was eight years old. I didn't think about anything besides sugar and violent cartoons. So as far as it goes, it's not particularly remarkable. The part that makes it stick in my memory came when I complained to the teacher about these inconsiderate curs and their Oriental babblings - and she immediately told them to knock it off, stop being so inconsiderate. At the time I was satisfied with my little victory, but looking back on it...
I guess it must be little episodes like that throughout childhoods across the country which culminate in a nation full of Liberal voters.
bronnyo has her doubts that he's honestly singing backward, rather than faking it in front of a blue screen. It's always healthy to take the internet with a grain of salt... or, say, an entire salt mine of salt.
SRI LANKA! Home of a thousand mad-eyed suicide bombers.
Our Government says: "Don't go there! Or if you must go, stay away from Colombo. And look, no matter what else, more than anything, do not even think of approaching Trincomalee. Shit be completely fuckin' crazy out there."
Basically: the Tamils are an ethnic minority who live mainly in the east (Colombo) and north (Trincomalee) of Sri Lanka. They were brought over from South Asia as slaves back in the day and duly oppressed for decades. More recently, many of them got mighty pissed about their ill-treatment and decided to start their own country. The government got all Charlton Heston about that, all: "You can have this land when you pry it from our cold, dead fingers." The Tamils said: "Alright."
What's the significance?
My Dad grew up on a naval base in Trincomalee. A few of weeks ago he went back, despite many, many travel advice warnings. Yesterday he sent me this email from Colombo.
Thanks old lad - yeah, we even went into Trincomalee, hee, hee - there was a bomb in the fish market (where I used to meet my girlfriend when I was 12!) two days earlier, which killed, I think, 12 people, and one the day after we were there, following which the army closed off all access to the town.
As it was, the day we went there there were pillboxes with armed troops every kilometre or so for about 30 ks of the access road, and our car was stopped several times. They didn't let us into the dockyard area where we lived, but very nearly did, and I'm sure they would have if only I had written to the Sri Lankan navy headquarters for permission in advance. I actually remembered the general layout & vista of the place surprisingly well from 55 years ago.
There was a bomb in Anuradhapura the day after we were there, so also in another place called Kikale or something, and one, delivered by a pregnant young woman suicide bomber in Colombo the day before we got there.
So I reckon we were lucky to be able to tour the country at all and so pleasantly - all the old smells and smiles hadn't changed, but the volume of small motor bikes and tuk-tuks sure had. The Hill Club at Nuwara Elia, to which I hadn't been before, was starched white-suited and white-gloved deferential waiters, leather chairs, baleful deer heads on the walls, and all the trappings of the Raj, apparently unchanged in time warp...except over the past 30 years or so they actually allow black people in there (provided they wear a jacket and tie at all times after 7 pm, of course).
I imagine whoever organised the host for the White House Correspondents Dinner last Monday has been fired. I say this because they chose Stephen Colbert (of the Daily Show fame) to host it, and he ripped them to shreds.
"I mean, it's like the movie "Rocky." All right. The president in this case is Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed is -- everything else in the world. It's the tenth round. He's bloodied. His corner man, Mick, who in this case I guess would be the vice president, he's yelling, "Cut me, Dick, cut me!," and every time he falls everyone says, "Stay down! Stay down!" Does he stay down? No. Like Rocky, he gets back up, and in the end he -- actually, he loses in the first movie.
"OK. Doesn't matter. The point is it is the heart-warming story of a man who was repeatedly punched in the face. So don't pay attention to the approval ratings that say 68% of Americans disapprove of the job this man is doing. I ask you this, does that not also logically mean that 68% approve of the job he's not doing? Think about it. I haven't."
"[I]f you are an artist or anyone who has ever put up any of your original work on Myspace.com's servers you should be aware that it is all technically the property of Myspace/Fox/Newscorp forever. While I am aware I am being extremely paranoid, as far as laws go, Myspace has every legal right to publish or distribute any of your work without compensation to you. That's what it means to "granting them a worldwide, royalty-free license.""
A few people have asked for copies of Tool's new album, 10,000 Days. I don't say this out of any particular distaste for bootlegging - not in this case, as I'm sure they have more money than they know what to do with - but do yourself a favour and buy the album. It's worth your $20 for the wrapping alone: part of the cover is a pair of lenses which turn the intricate biological/mystical diagrams into intricate 3D fantastic dioramas. Seriously cool. Not something I've seen before.
The Experiencialists - Lucy's Spaceship Hits Warp Five
I haven't posted recently since I bought a Nintendo 64 off eBay. Regular updates will resume once I have impending homework due to be put off. This is how I work; the only thing that inspires me to act constructively is a crisis, and then I'll set to work busily on a completely unrelated task.
And yet somehow, despite my mind-rotting pastimes, minimal effort, total lack of work ethic and violently allergic reaction to conducting interviews, I've won RMIT's Herald and Weekly Times Award (fifth down) "for the best academic performance by a Bachelor of Communication (Professional Communication) student in first year Print Journalism courses".
Doesn't say much for the competition.
EDIT: Immediately after posting this, I closed the browser, logged off, stood up, went out the front door and closed it behind me, thus locking myself outside with no key. Good job, Journo Boy.