Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Let's talk Strine

Okay. A man walks into a cafe. Says: "I'll have a cappo, thanks."

Say what?

I suppose you could say it's a part of a long Australian tradition of shortening a word and adding an "o" at the end. Reffo. Compo. Dingo (oops that's a word).

Mind you if he'd asked for a "Muggo" I may not have been able to restrain myself.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Maybe it's right to be nervous now

It seems we must now add one more name to the list of fallen heroes of the punk rock wars: John McGeoch, mighty fine guitarist with Magazine, Siouxsie and the Banshees and (I didn't know this, it must have been during my anti-Lydon phase) Public Image Ltd. According to Pitchfork, he had been drug free for years and simply died in his sleep at the age of 49.

Which is rather sobering news for those of us who, in six weeks time, will no longer have a "3" as the first digit of our stated age.

Being Boiled (Part II)

Slight correction to earlier post: Paul Lester was in fact slightly misquoted by me. He didn't say Yo La Tengo are a less talented band than My Bloody Valentine. He said they are a MUCH less talented band. There, that's cleared that one up, then.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Snakes and ladders

Whatever happened to the cardboard football ladders that used to be given away by the ANZ Bank each year at the start of the footy season? They were good advertising for the bank (I don't know too many homes whose fridge door didn't support one) and indispensable to football obsessives. I remember each Saturday afternoon ritually swapping around the positions of the teams to reflect the results of the weekend's games (and then checking my ladder against the one shown on the ABC news that evening to make sure my calculations were correct - percentages are a tricky thing). And then a friend or cousin would come over and put their own team on top and Melbourne on the bottom. Or occasionally I would put Melbourne on top just to see what that might feel like.

As for Scanlan's footy cards, well, Darren can tell you much more about those than I can.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Being Boiled

Hard - impossible, in fact (I tried) - not to respond to this. My Bloody Valentine may well have inconic status, and Loveless may indeed be one of the most mesmerising, unfathomable, unputdownable records of the last dozen years, but ...

Paul Lester in the Guardian's Friday Review of 12 March 2003 cannot in a million years get away with calling Yo La Tengo a "less talented band" (along with Placebo and "Joy Zipper", as if there were some kind of equivalence even between those three, itself a highly debatable proposition) than MBV. In an admittedly subjective field, that has got to be so objectively false as to be a jaw dropper.

Or maybe I have just taken the bait and, in the parlance of our favourite child rearing manual, he has "hooked a marlin". But that would make no sense. Would it?

Sunday, March 07, 2004


The plan was to meet Jules’s friend Matty at the Kingston mini railway at 11am. The mini railway is a fascinating part of Canberra, a nondescript piece of real estate dominated by a narrow gauge railway line and run by a group of incredibly nice but very serious people who fall under the rubric of “train enthusiasts”. On the last Sunday of every month they open the gates for children’s birthday parties and for anyone else who likes riding on little trains. While Carl was in his Thomas the Tank Engine phase we spent many Sundays there.

So at 10.45 we all piled into the car to get over there; I turned the key and nothing happened. Someone who shall remain nameless (hint: he’s four years old) had been playing inside the car the previous morning and had left an interior light on. After much wailing of voices and gnashing of teeth we all piled out of the car again to wait for the man from the NRMA. He duly arrived one hour later and started the car in no time. His advice was to leave the engine running for an hour, under no circumstances turning it off within that time.

So we all piled into the car again, arriving at Kingston a possible record (for us) 80 minutes late. Miraculously, Matty and family were still there. Matty is himself a bit of a train buff and so was in no hurry to leave, notwithstanding our failure to appear. So I dropped Adrienne and the guys off - remembering not to switch off the engine - and took the car off to sit in the shade with the engine running for half an hour or so, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, with the windows down and wearing my 1940s Private Dick hat and my dark glasses. In the absence of a newspaper to glance over the top of, I took to reading the liner notes of a David Byrne CD that happened to be in the car. Disappointingly, nobody walking past took the least bit of notice of me. Maybe I should think about becoming a spy.

And then I had to wait for the others for 15 minutes or so past the allotted time (I couldn’t go in and get them unless I left the car unattended with the engine running) because Jules’s hat had blown off while they were riding around on the train and also because the train had to stop to take on more water halfway around the line; and then I had to wait another ten minutes while Adrienne and Jules went back in to buy sausage sandwiches (and retrieve Jules’s hat which someone had kindly collected and returned to the old ladies who collect the tickets for the train rides with a ruthless efficiency) and Carl sat in the back seat of the car whinging and moaning about having nothing to eat (he wouldn’t come within a country mile of a sausage sandwich; the only other thing I could offer was a peppermint, which was impolitely declined); and then Jules and I had to sit in the car at Carl’s friend Will’s house while Adrienne and Carl went in to collect Will for a play at our house and Adrienne chatted to Will’s mum for what seemed like an eternity but probably wasn’t; and then we were home and well over an hour had passed so I switched off the engine and exited the vehicle. (And then a couple of hours later I went out and turned the key just to see if it would start. It did.)

Which in a nutshell was Sunday morning.