Sunday, August 28, 2005

Typo of the Week

Amongst our junk mail was a flyer for a new Chinese restaurant. Intriguingly, it claims that it "catapults Chinese cuisine into the 21st Century". (Oh, look, there it goes.)

Even more intriguing is a dish (truth in advertising?) they have called "Fried Bean Crud in Oyster Sauce". Mmmmm.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Dread Inna Mi Kitchen

Those of you with an interest in things Rastafarian (and if not, why not?) should give thanks and praise to music polymath Andy Beta over at Moistworks and download the 13 tracks he has put up under the clever if not particularly relevant in an Australian context title "Trust-A-Farian". [Editor's Note: a couple of the tracks don't download as right-clicks but if you just click on the link to either of those tracks you will be taken to a veritable treasure trove of past and present Moistworks hits du jour, including the offending tracks. Of course, the problem may have been fixed by now.]

What you get is a singularly fantastic and well-thought-out set of reggae tunes, gravitating, necessarily, towards the 1970s end of the spectrum, and the bass-heavy end at that, but with the odd foray into more recent variations on the theme (not my own cup of tea, but also not in any way detracting from the flow). Some listeners will know Linval Thompson's ode to the medical benefits of inhaling (which appears on Don Letts' trawl through the vaults "The Mighty Trojan Sound") but one listener at least had never heard the version by Ranking Dread. He also throws in a dub of Dennis Brown's "Man Next Door", which also appears on "The Mighty Trojan Sound" but might be more recognisable to technogoths as performed by Massive Attack (and sung by Horace Andy) on "Mezzanine". I am particularly intrigued by Ranking Dread's "Bom Dub", which features a solid metallic guitar sound that may be viewed as the precursor of Konono No 1. The whole thing ends by dragging you so far down into the echo chamber that you may not emerge with your mental health intact. The perfect soundtrack for the depths of a long hot summer (or, for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, a long cold winter).

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Gimme Danger

I haven't seen the new Rhino reissues of "The Stooges" and "Funhouse". But I am wondering if they are calling them "Deluxe Editions".

A "Deluxe Edition" of "Funhouse" would be like describing someone as having "deluxe head injuries".

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bird Noises

This morning I was woken up by a bird whose call was identical to that bit in "Pressure Sway" by the Machinations where the singer (whose name I forget - forgive me) goes "call ... me up".

But before that, I was dreaming that I was walking through unrecognisable streets of Melbourne with my old school friend Mark Eddy, the person in those days whom I so much admired, some might say worshipped, some might even say followed along behind like a faithful but pathetic puppy. Mark Eddy, aka Doyle, aka the Albino Afro, aka Rufus Vasco da Gama, aka Eddie Dyer, aka the White Clive Lloyd. Where are you now?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Watch The Skies

It looks like the ILMiXor (link at right) rollercoaster may be cranking back into action. There is something about the whole concept of a collaborative mixtape that I find very thrilling, even if the results can sometimes look a bit like a dog's breakfast. Of course, I don't consider myself worthy of participating, as my collection contains nothing that is either new or obscure enough to justify a place.

On an unrelated note, Canberra is heading once more into its annual magpie swooping season. Better get the hat out. It seems to keep them away.


Debate raged over the title to the previous post. "Porno For Pyros" might have been the obvious choice, but I have always thought it was one of the dumber band names going. We could have chosen "Pages"; or "Mere Pseud Mag Ed" (not really relevant, but my favourite song title of all time); or "Dirty Mind"; or "Picture Book". Or "Don't Save Us From The Flames". It would have been nice to call it "Five Foot One", after the Iggy Pop song, on account of its containing the line "I wish life could be Swedish magazines". But in the end the terse simplicity of The Cure won out.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Pictures of naked women loom large in the imagination of a 15-year-old boy growing up on a farm, with a complete absence of females in his life except for his mother, his dog, a hundred or so dairy cows (oh, those big brown eyes) and his slightly older cousin, Heather, who in her infrequent visits from Melbourne had him wrapped around her little finger and who once ate a year’s worth of lollies and chocolates that he had been diligenty squirreling away for no purpose that can now be recalled.

Of course, for a boy such as this, pictures of naked women were as elusive as the idea of them was all-consuming. Hence, the day that persons unknown, but whom this boy perceived to be the Good Fairy of Dirty Magazines, dumped a large heap of periodicals, with names like Penthouse and Oui, at the start of the long dirt road that led to his parents’ farm was a day for rejoicing.

Or so he thought.

Convincing himself, contrary to what was fairly obviously the case, that his parents wouldn’t have noticed this large pile of colourful papers, even as they proceeded to blow around in the otherwise pristine rural landscape, fortuitously lying open (at least in his imagination) at pictures of enticing nudity, he commenced to hatch a plan to retrieve them for himself before they were too damaged by weather and car tyres, but more importantly Before Someone Else Did.

Physical fitness, he decided, would be the cloak beneath which this daylight raid might best be concealed. “I need to train for the school cross-country run”, he said, one day after school. This, in fact, was not a totally outlandish notion. Long-distance running was one of the few sporting events in which he demonstrated any talent or potential whatsoever (although he found negotiating the barbed-wire fences that always seemed to appear in at least one place on the courses set by the school a challenge of a different order), and he had a pedigree of sorts: his cousin Murray, who had attended the school some years previously, held (and perhaps even still does) the record for the event.

“Drive me up to almost the end of the road and I will run home”, he said to his mother. Note, especially, the use of “almost”, as if this would be enough to distance him from the coincidental disappearance of the magazines, on the off chance that his parents had in fact noticed them at all in the first place and would also notice their disappearance. He felt entirely confident they would never make that connection. All he had to do was run around the bend in the road to where it met the main road from Fish Creek to Meeniyan, surreptitiously gather up the magazines, and run home with them under one arm, striding out majestically in the unlikely but not impossible event of his meeting any cars, tractors or other passing humanity along the way.

At some point along the run home, his over-developed guilty conscience switched itself on, and for the first time the reality of what he was doing crept to the front of his thinking. He would be, if not killed, severely chastised and ritually degraded, perhaps even removed from his (neglible) social world, if he were to be found out. This also caused him to realise that he had failed to think through the completion of his plan, beyond the act of picking up the magazines and running home with them. Where would he put them? When would he look at them? Would he grow hair on the palm of his hands through the mere act of turning the pages? Would his eyesight become even worse than it was, through the deep and profound act of gazing at the skin-filled images? Had he, in fact, made a stupid mistake?

He contemplated turning around and running back to where the magazines had been, and skilfully, like a master flower arranger, scattering them in a naturalistic manner so that nobody would ever think they had been touched. But that would triple the length of his journey, which, aside from being more exercise than he thought he could handle, would most likely give rise to other complications, such as the impending nightfall and his mother’s inclination to panic whenever he was more than five minutes later than she expected him to be.

So he pressed on. He knew that nobody ever used the overgrown track that continued straight on from where the road did a sharp and steep right-hand turn past the truncated cream can that served as the mailbox and went up the hill to his parents’ house. So he determined to find a suitable hiding place there, and come back for them at a later date. Like the next day. An old wombat burrow beneath a fallen tree did the job nicely, and provided some shelter from the weather. He could also camouflage the hole with other sticks, leaves and things. All would be well. He jogged smartly up the hill and, breathless, collapsed on his bed.

This gave him time to think about what he had done, and particularly about what might be inside the magazines. In fact, he could think about nothing else. As he understood it, there were likely to be not just pictures of things he had never seen, but also stories about men and women doing things that seemed so unlikely, they couldn’t possibly be true. It was the hint of the exotic, the lure of the unknown. But with that came the guilt. He couldn’t concentrate on his homework. He couldn’t get to sleep that night. He would have to confess to his crime and face the punishment. He had been such a fool. And yet perhaps he could just spend a few hours pawing over the magazines before he gave them up. If someone else didn’t find them first. Had he hidden them well enough?

In this way the night was passed. In the morning, as is the way of these things, a more optimistic mood found him. Everything would be alright. That day at school he kept the secret to himself, which was a major struggle. How much cache would he have been able to get from the simple sentence “I’ve got 20 girly mags”? Nevertheless, by the time the school bus had dropped him off that night, curtains of doubt had once again started to fall. He was in a torment that was only heightened by his lack of sleep.

As the day reached a close, he could stand it no more. He knew what he would have to do, no matter how much it hurt. He stood in the kitchen doorway. He probably looked very pale. “Mum, I’ve done a bad thing”, he said. He then went through the whole story, making it plain that he hadn’t actually looked at any of the magazines. “Let’s go and get them”, his mother said. “And we’ll burn them.” So they walked down the hill, past the mailbox, and uncovered the illicit treasures. Then they carried them back up the hill. His mother lit a fire in the incinerator and, as the flames were taking hold, took the time to flick through a couple of the magazines before throwing them in, making sure to keep them away from where he might see what was on the pages, but making clear her disapproval of the contents by making peculiar little noises. They threw them onto the fire, one by one, and watched them burn. It took a long time because of the density of all that paper, and the dampness they had collected during their time outdoors. Neither of them said anything. They didn’t need to. His humiliation was complete.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I Could Be So Lucky

Yesterday I donned my overcoat, hat and dark glasses and ventured, perhaps unseen, into the Kylie Minogue exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. My observations are as follows:

1. Judging by the many costumes on display, Kylie is tiny. Like, actual little kid tiny. I had always assumed she would be larger than life.

2. The real Kylie Minogue may not exist. The overwhelming impression given by this exhibition is that “Kylie” is a cipher, a blank slate upon which photographers, music producers, video directors and magazine editors can project any kind of fantasy they can imagine. You want Liza Minelli? Kylie’s yer man. Marilyn? No problem. Motor mechanic? Too easy. (This may be why her career has been able to run and run. She has never had an image; she is an image.)

3. I have now seen, close up, an actual Gold Logie. You know what? It is a genuinely nice piece of (presumably late-60s?) design; if you won one, you would be happy to have it on your shelf.

Friday, August 12, 2005

White Town

Well, it snowed in the 'berra.

And it snowed in the 'burra (see the lovely photo on the front page of yesterday's Melbourne Age).

I wonder if it snowed in the 'gatha?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Up There Cazaly

We took the boys to the last quarter of the Kangaroos-Port Adelaide game at Manuka oval on Sunday afternoon. Having grown up in Canberra, they are not being sufficiently indoctrinated in the tribal rituals of the Sherrin worshippers. We are, clearly, failing as parents and felt it was time to make amends.

Match-wise, the signs were not good: when Adrienne left home to come and collect me from work (pity the poor wage slave who must work on Sunday) the Kangaroos were 40 points behind. But by the time we got let into the ground at three-quarter time they had crept back to within 10 points. So it looked like we had a game on our hands.

The crowd was larger than I had expected. We found four adjacent seats right behind the goal the Kangaroos were kicking towards. The boys were instructed to cheer for the Kangaroos, on account of our friend Nik who is the latest of several generations of mostly long-suffering North Melbourne/Kangaroos supporters. Carl was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of a number of Port Adelaide supporters sitting right behind us, and he politely asked one of them if they could be a little bit quieter please. It was a nice try. Then the football came sailing through the goal posts and into the knee of the man sitting beside him. Adrienne and Carl then moved to the front row, where it was a bit quieter if no safer from the football, especially as the Kangaroos were beginning to attack the goals with some purpose. It all became very exciting. I had been explaining to Julius important aspects of reading the game, such as, How many flags is the goal umpire going to wave? and How to read the clock beside the scoreboard to see how long the game has to go. Jules was getting quite wrapped up in the excitement of the game. He jumped up and down when the Roos hit the front, went quiet when they lost the lead and jumped up and down again (as we all did) when they kicked the winning goal and the siren went. The best moments: Carl in his tiny voice saying "Go Roos", barely audible beneath the roar of the crowd; and Julius, who had obviously been taking in the general nature of the comments and abuse being sent from the grandstand in the direction of players from both sides and umpires alike, taking a deep breath and shouting out in his five-year-old's foghorn "Don't you know anything?!" to nobody in particular.

After the game Julius and I joined several thousand others on the ground to have the traditional after-match kick-to-kick, in which Jules Nailed a Set Shot for Goal. Being on the ground then, with footballs flying all around us, felt a bit like it must have been in London during the Blitz. At any minute you could have had your glasses knocked through to the back of your head by well-kicked football, and yet you kept on playing regardless. Carl meanwhile had befriended a television cameraman who let him aim the camera at Jules and me. It was a good day to be alive.

Walking back to the car, Carl said something about Port Adelaide being losers. We glanced around to make sure no tough Port Adelaide supporters had heard him. Then we pointed out to Carl that there could only be one winner and that it was important to spare a thought for the losing team, who had travelled all that way and tried so hard, only to go home with nothing. It seemed like the least we could do. It would be a long drive home for them.

The Jehovahs In Their Pullovers Are No Casanovas

Off to the library again. Is it really three weeks already? After last time’s superb haul, my expectations were low. What did I find?

Beach Boys, “The Very Best of the Beach Boys”: I am confirmed in my opinion that I have no real need to venture far into this territory beyond where I have already ventured, viz “Pet Sounds”, “Good Vibrations”, and the curious fascination we all have with “Smile”.

Antony and the Johnsons, “I Am A Bird Now”: can’t see the Nina Simone comparisons, actually; early Brian Ferry is more on the mark. Which (obviously) is not a criticism. This is a spellbinding song-cycle, best listened to late at night with the lights down. I will be spending a lot more time with this record. A lot more time.

Jens Lekman, “When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog”: two Secretly Canadian releases in one week (see also Antony and the Johnsons above). Mr Lekman has been leaking his fluids all over the Internet of late. A number of songs have seeped into my own hardware, quickly becoming unexpected favourites. And here is an album. An album with a title that suggests a location somewhere between the twin pillars of “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me” and “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog”. Lekman combines the lyrical dexterity of Stephin Merritt with the innocent charm of Jonathan Richman, and adds to that his own ability to spin both a tune and a yarn. There is so much to enjoy about this album. I wish I could keep it. That’s all I want to say.

Solomon Burke, “Make Do With What You Got”: there will always be room on my hard drive for “Don’t Give Up On Me”; a fine collection of songs from a fine group of writers; a fine voice and fine arrangements. Just fine, really. So this follow-up never really stood a chance. What I do know is that he shouldn’t have tried to meet Doctor John on the good Doctor's own turf; it only reminds me of those white boys of the early 80s or thereabouts who tried to "do" reggae: step forward Men at Work; step forward 10cc (obviously, The Clash are exepted). Make do with what you got, indeed.

Esquivel, “More of Other Worlds, Other Sounds”: hard to believe it is ten years now since Lounge Music got the revival treatment. Of course, for some of us, our love of exotic music both pre-dated and lived beyond that revival. It will be interesting to see the reissues of Martin Denny, Les Baxter etc filtering back into second-hand stores, to replace the originals that were greedily snapped up in the mid-90s (and then re-sold to the gullible at exponential mark-ups, but that's a road I've been down before). Meanwhile the late Mr Esquivel still stands tall in his own field. In my naive early days I didn't understand why Esquivel failed to rate a mention in Joseph Lanza’s book on the subject; but of course Esquivel was really anything but “elevator music”: if anything, the relentless frenzy of his arrangements is closer to John Zorn’s more choppy works. The best fruit to have dropped from the Esquivel tree may well have landed on those two Irwin Chusid collections, but that is not to say there is nothing else out there to be enjoyed. This disc, a straight reissue of one of the original Esquivel LPs, is as good a way as any I can think of to spend 35 minutes of your valuable time.

De Phazz, “Natural Fake”: maybe I have been listening to this the wrong way; or trying too hard. I guess the German pedigree had me expecting something a little more interesting, but after three spins of this, all I hear is lowest-common-denominator pan-European “new soul”. A little too close to Sade for my liking.

Goldfrapp, “Black Cherry”: ditto. At least the beats and blips on this one give it a little bit of traction; but one wonders what this is doing on Mute.

LCD Soundsystem, “LCD Soundsystem”: the LCD Soundsystem parlour game has probably gone on for long enough. Oh, look; it’s Talking Heads’ “I Zimbra”. Oh, look, it’s Mark E Smith. Oh, look, it’s “Another Green World”. And so on. But does it stack up on its own? Yes of course it does. It’s like having your own record collection melted down and reconfigured into one convenient, easily digestible package. And there can’t be anything wrong with that, can there? Disc 2, the singles collection, stands on its own and is indispensable. “Losing My Edge” may, in fact, be the greatest song of all time. And as for the person who put the annotated lyrics up on their web site, with links to song fragments from every band mentioned in the song: dude, I am so not worthy.