Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Gosh it's ... Moomins

Has anybody ever been as excited about anything as I am about this?

Coming soon to a letterbox near, um, me.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kids say the darnedest things department

Carl has pointed out that the vocals on "Golden Brown" by the Stranglers (yet another one of the Greatest Songs Of All Time) bear an uncanny resemblance to Ewan McGregor in the most recent of the "Star Wars" movies.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

This Goes With That (one more time)

It has recently come to our attention that Ed Kuepper's mighty "The Way I Made You Feel" borrows quite liberally, and blatantly, and in a way that makes me feel that what Ed is doing is not "mere" appropriation (intentional or accidental) but, rather, genuine, honest homage, or a nod-and-wink "hello", from "Sunny Cellophane Sky", which appears at the end of Status Quo's "Messages From The Status Quo", a Quo album from way back in the days when they were not yet the Quo who produced enlightened lyrics along the lines of "Roll over lay down and let me in" and "Down down, deeper and down" (which latter was known to my father as "Down down, diddly down", which, I suppose, makes about as much sense, really).

What I Like

I like that there is an Australian motor-racing driver called Will Power.

I'll bet he's a winner (the reference here is to "Little Miss Sunshine", which I saw on Friday night and which was actually quite good in a low-budget, "quirky" Amerindie kind of way; the pageant at the end might have fallen into David Byrne "True Stories" territory [not good] if it wasn't for the magnificent awfulness of the host, who is kind of like Richard E Grant after a visit to Dr Frankenstein's surgery).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Unspecified consequences"

So, the United Nations has said to North Korea, as far as I can gather, something like "If you do something that we don't want you to do and that we would have no way of knowing whether you have done it or not, we're going to do something but we're not going to say what it is".

As potentially diabolical as the North Korean "crisis" may be for the stability of an already pretty darn unstable world, I can't help thinking about this idea of "unspecified consequences" and what that might mean; and what comes to mind is the scene in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" where the French soldier is standing up on the battlements, railing against his English visitors, throwing at them such lines as "go and boil your bottoms", "your mother was a hamster", "your father smelled of elderberry", and the famous "I fart in your general direction".

Yes, I can see that as the kind of response that would have the Eternal Bosom of Hot Love quaking in his boots.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Broad Sweeping Statements Dept

Is it just me, or is "Robotboy" by Robyn the greatest pop song of the modern era (at least, as of today)?

(Actually, it could only be the greatest in a world where "join Me In The Park" by Nathalie Nordnes didn't exist.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Be the last on your block

It has been pointed out to us (no it hasn't) that we have never linked to a YouTube clip.

Until now.

Watch in amazement as someonce called Stephen Colbert, whom we've never heard of (our loss, obviously), provides some "intelligent", "enlightened" comment about Zorn's Macarthur Foundation grant. No cheap shots.

(Thanks be to Sukrat for the tip-off.)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sydney: at last it can be told

[Warning: contains ranting.]

We took the bus to Sydney. I figured it would be me, Adrienne, and a couple of old-age pensioners, and that would be it. I was wrong. The bus was packed. Maybe a story remains to be told: three young children, two in school uniforms, and their mother bought tickets while we were waiting. “We’re going on a holiday”, one of them said. “Mummy was in such a hurry that she didn’t even have time to pack any clothes.” And sure enough, there were no bags of any sort, even school bags. They caught the bus with us, and immediately vanished when we arrived at Central Station, in Sydney. I wonder where they are now.

Sydney. We walked to our hotel, on the edge of Hyde Park and near the top end of Oxford Street, and immediately had a sense, which you just don’t get in Canberra, of the huge waves of people that move into, out of, and around, the centre of the city at the start and end of a working day. I find it overwhelming. It takes me a couple of days to in any way adjust to the pace of the place. But this time, after a stay of four days and doing a sort of reverse commute, out of the city each morning and back into the city each afternoon, I finally felt back within my comfort zone.

Observation: as the world teeters, perhaps, on the crumbling edge of climate change of such magnitude that large numbers of species, including perhaps our own, are in immediate danger of extinction, it strikes me as strange, or perhaps it is just further evidence of the irreversible nature of this process and the impossible struggle “western” man would have to take even small steps to curb his rapacious destructiveness, that we now see, in a modern, “enlightened” city like Sydney, an astounding, overwhelming, and fundamentally new pattern of consumption of (a) bottled water and (b) take-away coffee. Both of these things seem to drive the city. We even saw, to our continuing amazement, groups of uniformed boys walking to school sucking on take-away coffee containers. Say what? I’m not so far away from being a schoolboy (okay, yes I am), and I am sure that coffee was one of the furthest things from any of our minds in those days. Alcohol, maybe. Drugs, maybe. Girls, certainly. But, coffee? We have, clearly, gone mad. J G Ballard was right all along. It’s not enough, I don’t think, to rely on the fact (if fact it be) of the recyclability of all these disposable containers. For a start, I would be sceptical of how many are in fact put out for recycling. My concern is, why these things? Why so many? Why now? Can we really be so stupid, so unaware? Maybe we are just selfish. In which case we will get what is coming to us. And you don’t need to be a person of religion to see this. [Speaking of which, someone I know said to me that someone they know said that she “doesn’t believe in global warming”. This, apparently, is a person of some intelligence, a person in the media, and they don’t “believe” in global warming. You might as well say you don’t “believe” in the laws of physics: when Ballard’s “The Drought” and “The Drowned World” combine into the final narrative of humankind, she will still go down with the rest of us. “Believe”. Huh.]

But we did have fun. Lots of fun. And we did consume (but not take-away coffee or bottled water). We found Gleebooks, which has the best children’s section I have ever seen; knowledgeable, too. They even had a Moomin book we didn’t know of, and we know a lot about Moomin books. We marvelled, as we always do, at Sydney’s physical beauty and stunning geography, its lushness. We fantasised about the sign we saw twice each day on our trips to and from the workshop we were there to attend, which invited us to “ALIGHT HERE FOR BEAUTIFUL BALLS HEAD”. Maybe next time.

We ate at Wagamama. Twice. (Ten years to the month since we previously dined at Wagamama, in London.)

We discovered Kinokuniya bookshop, which had an extraordinary range of graphic novels and suchlike. It even had Alan Moore’s “Lost Girls”, although I baulked at the price and anyway I’m not quite sure whether I’m quite ready to go there yet.

Bookshops being both the theme and the improvisation, we also managed a visit to Aerial and two visits to Berkelouws. The latter, we had been tipped to, has a lovely little cafe whence one can gaze down at the shenanigans along Oxford Street, and count the number of Mercedes Benzes driving past.

The four-day autism workshop which was the purpose of our trip (although we also felt no guilt about having a good time while the kids were farmed out to Canberra friends and neighbours) was held at a conference centre situated up an industrial side lane at Crow’s Nest. As a child I often wondered what would be at Crow’s Nest (well, obviously it would involve pirates), a name which inevitably appeared as the postal address at the bottom of those ads on the back pages of comic books, the ones that tried to sell you (and tended to succeed in my case) bags of stamps from the world over (but especially, it seemed, from countries like “Magyar Posta” and “CCCP”, they all sounded pretty exotic, really, to a boy from Fish Creek). We also, coincidentally, saw an ad on SBS one night, back in our hotel room, which carried a Crow’s Nest postal address. That must be some post office.

Record shopping? I actually ran out of steam after some hard days’ workshopping, but I did drop into Birdland Records, located upstairs somewhere on Pitt Street adjacent to a monorail station, where I had hoped to find some Zorn, and in fact found in the vicinity of 250 Zorn and related CDs, many of which I would, in an ideal world, “need”, but only three of which I could take home. It was a not-quite-arbitrary choice: the Masada pieces are what I keep coming back to, and it was nice to find two of the 50th-birthday discs, by the Masada String Trio and the wickedly awesome (or awesomely wicked) Electric Masada “downtown supergroup”, along with another of the live quartet recordings, this one a two-disc set recorded in Taipei, of all places. It is bound not to have the intensity of “Tonic 2001” but perhaps given the beatnik obscurity of the venue I am expecting, and anticipating, a good amount of testing and experimentation. I may, of course, be disappointed. [Postscript: initially disappointed by the sound quality, most un-Zorn-like, but once you get through that barrier you can see why it had to be released: they sound unusually relaxed and playful, taking familiar Masada pieces in unexpected directions and bringing some less commonly played pieces out for an airing.]

The bus back to Canberra was equally packed, and was also half an hour late on account of Sydney Friday peak-hour traffic, so the boys, although they were (and in Jules’s case almost apoplectically) excited to see us, were also pretty damn tired and happy just to climb into their own beds (but not without demanding to see what we had brought back for them first).

And we also learned a lot, although I found the entire “conference lifestyle” experience a bit, well, quite, actually, disconcerting, like being hermetically sealed away from the rest of the world, even from the elements. Which I suppose is the point. (Those who stayed at the “recommended accommodation” nearby, and who were bussed to and from the workshop each day, must have found it even more surreal; at least we were able to suffuse ourselves into the life of the city during the after hours.) But I am glad to have had the experience, and to have done what we did. We met a lot of nice people from all over Australia, all of whom share the common bond (and it is incredibly strong, actually) of having to live with a child with autism. We are very optimistic that some good will come from the experience. Either that or we will immediately fall back into our bad, counter-productive habits and self-imposed isolation ...

This goes with that

The ongoing series that refuses to die.


"20th Century Boy" by T Rex goes with a song which may or may not be called "Revolution (Time Is Now)" by Leroy Sibbles (Wackies), well at least the "20th century boy / I wanna be your toy" bit does.

Next up, in the red corner, we have the bass line in "Bright Neon Payphone" by Cut Copy, which sounds mighty like the bass line in Devo's "Mongoloid". Other parts of it sound mighty like New Order's "Age of Consent". None of which is a bad thing. And, obviously, we're not saying anything here, we're just like, uh, y'know, saying.

And while we're on the subject, there are echoes of New Order's "Temptation" in "Alive Until Saturday Night", a fine pop song by Hexes and Ohs. Whoever thought the influence of New Order would have spread so far?

Taking a step off to one side for a minute, we might also point out that we recently had a listen to Justus Kohncke's "Shelter", in which the usually reliable German (we assume) minimalist dance/electronica exponent takes the opening four bars of "Gimme Shelter" (which constitute the best thing the Rolling Stones ever did) and does, well, not much at all with them, really. Which is a bit disappointing because the premise is at once brilliant and impeccable.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006

Three Feet High And Rising

Three best opening chapters:

Martin Amis, "Other People".

Don DeLillo, "Underworld".

Ian McEwan, "Enduring Love".