29 December, 2010
16 November, 2010
She gets annoyed when I mention this. And if the three stooges want to have a little fun at her expense, they'll use her maiden name when talking about helmets or any kind of safety headgear.
Now, my family name is Scottish and Irish, and translates as someone engaged to establish or maintain a garden.
So when Curly informed us this morning that he needed a new bicycle helmet, TLOML thought for a moment and decided they'd better go get one tonight after school.
So I told Curly, "You couldn't be in better hands, y'know. If anyone's going to know how to get you a great bike helmet, it's the former TLOML Bike Helmet herself."
This got three big laughs. And a fourth, if you also count me laughing at my own wit.
"Yes, and it's lucky I actually live up to my name, as opposed to dad, who is useless in the garden despite having the near-perfect name for it."
This got even louder laughs. I didn't feel disposed towards helping the cackfest along any.
"You nailed me", was the best I could come up with as I slunk out the front door.
08 November, 2010
It used to annoy the absolute bejesus out of my 13-year old self that I had to endure every race form the Saturday Melbourne race meetings while I was waiting for the World of Sport Football Panel to come onto our black and white TV. Racing was a blocker. I'd made a half-arsed attempt to convince myself that I could get into it when the 50c mum put on Rain Lover for the 1969 Melbourne Cup paid $1.65 for a place.
But later that year, joining schoolmates from St Brendan's PS helping out at local stables in Flemington made me aware that horses put out a lot of shit. And the universal method of cleaning out their stalls was to do it with your bare hands and not complain. I wondered if a lot of horsy girls didn't have that piss-their-pants fixation with horses drop away completely at about the same point in the journey.
And it's not like there was any tyranny of distance, either. I grew up close to Moonee Valley, played football and cricket for the clubs that also bear that name, and include among my contemporaries many with a keen appreciation and significant weekly investments in the Sport of Kings. And for the last 22 years, Flemington Racecourse has been at the end of my street, for fuck's sake. Spring Racing Carnival? I'm almost oblivious to it. Hell, a lot of people who go are oblivious to it.But do I actively dislike it? Well, no. But I do have one issue. It bothers me not a jot that rich, famous people have it so much better than everyone else. There's an extent to which I even think that's as it should be. Just in case I'm ever rich and famous. But I don't like the way the Spring Racing Carnival, and its press coverage, is so insistent about rubbing our noses in it. That's all.
25 September, 2010
I leave work at around 5pm, which puts me on time for the 5:14 to Craigieburn. And if the 5:14 is too jam-packed to get on, which happens around once a week, the 5:22 is usually okay. But not always. Sometimes the 5:22 is just as crowded and then I'm stuffed. Because the next two Craigieburn trains run express between Kensington and Moonee Ponds, which means Newmarket is by-passed so those trains are effectively no good to me.
And it shits me. There must be a solution... wait! I think I've got it!
Craigieburn trains are interspersed with Sydenham and Upfield Line trains, all of which stop at North Melbourne. So if I get on a Sydenham or Upfield train arriving at Flagstaff before the next Crigieburn train, I can get out at North Melbourne and walk up and then down the ramps to the Craigieburn Line platform. Even if that train is jam-packed, there are stacks of people who disembark at North Melbourne to hook up with Williamstown and Werribee Line Trains. So no matter how chocka that Craigieburn line train was to begin with, I can always get on at North Melbourne.
I never have to miss a train home again! Ever!
Period of daily train travel taken to arrive at this stunningly simple course of action? 2.25 years.
Draw your own conclusions. But I'm on the verge of working out where babies come from too.
21 September, 2010
Rubber Soul - Day Tripper; We Can Work It Out;
The opening track, Paul McCartney's Drive My Car, has a contemporary feel even today with its sinewy guitar lines and urgent vocals. Three of the most poignant ballads you'll ever hear in Norwegian Wood; Michelle; and Girl are interspersed throughout the track listing. It's a litany of great Beatles' songs and you could imagine the four songs already mentioned plus probably I'm Looking Through You; In My Life; and Wait all being hit singles instead of album tracks.
There was a lot of experimentation on Rubber Soul by contemporary standards. Backwards guitar solos, the sitar on Norwegian Wood, pianos sped up to sound like harpsichords, and clear influences from India to the US West Coast. The overwhelming majority of it sounded good, which is not always the case with experimentation. There would be a lot more of this on the next two albums from the fab four, Revolver and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band but Rubber Soul laid the bedrock for it.
McCartney's singing is a pure throat-shredding scream (lots of luck nailing that one, cover bands) and as with their very best songs, all vocalists can be heard distinctly through the harmonizing. This was one of those great times when a huge hit was also a seminal moment in rock history.
So Which Tracks Would Miss Out?
On an album with 14 tracks? None, not even the Ringo song, What Goes On. And the length of the album would stay under the LP limit of 45 min, with two great additions to the track listing.
17 August, 2010
The author of Audrey & The Bad Apples is Clementine Ford, an Adelaide-based writer and broadcaster. If you thought there were some right-wing nutters in the Melbourne tabloid media, the City of Churches has a cast of regulars to make them look like the Oxford Union. So it's a tough town in which to be one of the voices of reason. Writes warmly and honestly about personal matters too.
This music-based blog provides a really eclectic mix of album and artist reviews, much more so than what's usually found within the narrow confines of this blog. Delves into jazz and blues and manages to encapsulate what would normally be lengthy back-stories. Can cause you to reappraise your views (read prejudices!) about certain artists and their output.
Ears On Stalks
Boo had already made a name for herself with her other still-extant blog, The Galloping Skirt. A keen observer of the extraordinary in the everyday. Makes the personal universal.
The Perth-based Frankie writes poignantly and yet matter of factly about her life there. I like the kick-arse iconography too.
A political blog of some note. The best of his high-quality posts are those that deconstruct wrong-headed spin.
Want to hear the viewpoint of a sex-worker? You've come to the right place. CJ works as a masseuse in a parlor in south-east Pennsylvania. A unique perspective with a clear leaning towards witty myth-busting.
My only worry is Sydney might not be big enough for this 28-year old. She has a nice way with a snappy comeback and writes perceptively about her life in a vibrant metropolis. Maybe it is the Emerald City after all.
Interesting aspects of the English language are covered by this talented writer and knowledgeable linguist. Never pedantic, she always relates her arguments to meaning.
You could spend hours on her iconography alone. Fantastic images of women from the past, many juxtaposed ironically. And then there's her writing - always entertaining, she segues back and forth from the topical to the personal.
Man At The Pub
No, not the nasty drunk you try to avoid at all costs. This personal blog is always a little on the wry side and downright hilarious for it. You sometimes need to look very closely at the images.
Lean and Green. And why not? Somebody's gotta hang onto their principles. This activist is also a software architect. Work, life and community. Not a bad mix.
Much Ado About Sumthin'
Alternately prolific and dormant, Steph is one of the doyennes of blogging. Hilarious and not a little titillating, she also manages to make her legions of blogfans (I'm not kidding: 120+ comments per post, for chrissakes) feel special. Gives all comments a personal, and personable, response.
Geoff is a comedian based in regional Victoria. The Penguin Hunter Diaries used to be wide-ranging but are now devoted largely to Geoff's passion for golf. Available for product endorsement contracts.
This was one of the first blogs I ever followed. She's twenty-something and lives and works in Sydney. Quite a stylish writer whose voice is unique. Another blogger who takes great travel photos.
Sixth In Line
Writes about writing. Always thought-provoking. Great interplay in the well-stocked comments section too.
Veni, Vidi, Blogi
Ah, Latin. There's no other language does it quite as well. This guy says he's trying to be wry. And I reckon he succeeds. Another clever linguist.
15 August, 2010
There are also a number of live tracks. I'm inclined to the view (and you can shoot me down for this if you like) that live tracks belong on live albums. The Grateful Dead's reputation as a great live band might take something of a tumble with a few listens to these tracks. And they sound like padding. I've always thought Goodbye Cream a terrible album due to its live-tracks padding.
So I still think of the Dead as something of an enigma, one I haven't yet been able to unravel.
Anthem of the Sun at amazon.com - MP3 files and reviews
I normally try to steer clear of absolutism. So okay, I might like Bob Dylan a lot, but I can understand someone else not liking Dylan. The same goes for the Rolling Stones, the Who, Eric Clapton, you name it. If people just aren't that into them, I believe I can see where they're coming from. I really do. But not only do I not like the mid-60's Los Angeles-based Love's second album, I don't see how anyone could.
This is a stinking, steaming pile of complete shit. It sounds like a parody of self-indulgent, flighty, whimsical 60s music. I kept seeing it on those lists of the 20 Greatest Albums of All Time that kept appearing in the press during the 90s. And then, I shit you not, it came in at 40 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time!
I'm sure you can imagine that I bought this album expecting exciting new worlds to open up for me, as they did when I explored albums by The Byrds and The Doors. And it was a reasonable expectation, considering Love were one of the top bands on the LA scene during that seminal period from 1964-1966 that also gave rise to the Byrds, the Doors and Buffalo Springfield.
Redeming features? In short supply, but they include high production values - it's a much clearer, vibrant sound than anything Buffalo Springfield or The Byrds were getting on their records. Some songs display similarities to the kind of innocent trippiness that would be better realized a little later by star-studded British psychedelic band Traffic, so Love might even have been a little prescient. But they still sound like phonies.
So why is it regarded highly in some circles? Well, back in 1966, Love had the almost irresistable ultra-cool mix of black and white guys in the band. And they had two prolific and, it must be said, original, songwriters in Arthur Lee and Bryan McLean. I also think there were a lot of people making bets on the future of what would become rock music, and Love had all the trappings of the very now.
But look, it might well be that Love had a lot of fleeting LA street cred, but their music just wasn't substantial enough to make them sound like anything better than a fad.
Forever Changes at amazon.com - MP3 files and reviews
11 August, 2010
And yet, Blue was an almost instant critical and commercial success, peaking in the top 20 in the Billboard Album Charts in September 1971 and also getting to 3 in the British charts.What I do understand about Joni Mitchell is that it might well be a case of some people getting her and some people not, with me firmly in the latter category. What I hear as shapeless, meandering quasi-melodies with what seems like two octave shifts in every line, others undoubtedly hear as well crafted, tantalizingly-structured, not easily accessible songwriting and unique singing from deep inside a beautiful soul.
But put it this way: if I was in charge of security at my local shopping mall and had to find a way to stop teenagers from hanging around, I'd be piping this album through the PA.
Sailin' Shoes - Little Feat:
So many people I admired sang the praises of this outfit that I probably had unrealistic expectations. I thought maybe they might sound a bit like the Allman Brothers, or Atlanta Rhythm Section, or maybe Lynyrd Skynyrd. Or possibly even the Rolling Stones.
Little Feat recorded this album at Sunset Sound Recorders in Los Angeles, where the Stones' Exile On Main Street was being finalized in 1972, and apparently the two bands got along like a house on fire and traded a few licks during whatever down time the Stones' had. It was even rumoured that listening to Little Feat had influenced the songs on the "country side" of the Stones' double album, but this is very much unconfirmed.
What Sailin' Shoes sounds like to me is like an album of sub-standard outtakes from the Grateful Dead's country-rock period in 1969-70. I can't think of a single song that stands out as a really good track. The songs are lacklustre and unmemorable. Neither the country nor the rock really works and they certainly don't blend very well on this album.
But there's one thing about Little Feat that makes me not want to give up on them completely: the guitar playing of Lowell George. He is one of the greats of the slide guitar with a uniquely fluent, bluesy style. It's difficult to understand why he wasn't given more prominence on Sailin' Shoes. It might have made a few songs passable. His playing on a 1979 cover version of I Can't Stand The Rain from Thanks, I'll Eat It Here, his only solo album, is terrific. And on a cover of a disco song, for fuck's sake!
A great many players have cited George as an influence, particularly Mick Taylor, who started using a heavy spark-plug spanner after he saw Lowell playing slide with one.
I don't normally use this expression, but for Sailin' Shoes, it's the most apt description I can think of:
09 August, 2010
"This is sooo boring."
I turned around and it was Sophie Lee, then host of the linking segments between Bugs Bunny cartoons shown during kids' viewing time. The joke around at the time was that as much as the cartoons had universal appeal, Sophie had her own male-dominated fan-base too, and was dressed to keep them interested.
"What are you here for?"
"Oh, I'm one of the contestants on Sale of the Century today."
"Well, why aren't you taking the tour with the rest of them?"
"Um, I - I did it last week and they said I didn't have to do it again, so I'm here watching TV."
02 August, 2010
I'd seen Mick Taylor once before at the Chevron in Melbourne in 1982. If that was the realization of a dream, this took it up a notch. I was going to see Mick Taylor. In New York, for fuck's sake!
We caught a cab downtown and ate at a cheap Mexican restaurant in the East Village. But still got to the Lone Star Cafe just in time to snag one of the last available tables. The joint was starting to fill up as the support band, a blues outfit from Chicago, went through its final set. Our waitress reluctantly introduced herself. She didn't seem to like the look of us and it soon got to the mutual stage. My experience of the Big Apple is that it is NOT a friendly town. But we were prepared to peacefully co-exist with her. The Japanese couple sitting opposite were nice though, and we exchanged pleasantries with them until Mick hit the stage. Just as the guy was assuring me that "Everrywun rrliike Rorrrling Stonez."
Mick kept things pretty bluesy throughout his two excellent sets. And there were no complaints. The audience were way too cool to call out the names of Stones numbers. He played a couple of songs from his excellent eponymous 1979 debut solo album and I was rapt that the knowledgeable crowd reacted to these little-known gems. He even dipped into the Clapton catalogue with Key To The Highway. His singing was fine. Nothing to write home about but well-suited to the material.
And Mick Taylor played great guitar. His sound and his style were just beautiful. He's a really sweet blues guitarist and I suppose I'd rather listen to him cut loose than anyone. I heard recently that Slash rates him as a major influence (I'll update as soon as I track down a link for it) One thing that's always struck me about his slide guitar playing was that he seemed to do a fair bit of it in standard tuning, unlike Keith Richard who wouldn't use a standard tuning if his life depended on it. So it was tempting for rank amateurs like me to think they could go home and just churn it out like Mick. Fat chance.
When it was over, our waitress gave us the bill as perfunctorily as her service throughout the evening and we argued amongst ourselves about the tip. Suitably warmed by the drinks and the fact that I'd just spent an evening with one of my idols, I argued for ten percent, what I thought would be the base rate for tipping based on what I'd gleaned form the last few days in New York. They were either a cheapskate regular crowd at the Lone Star or she hadn't been making much in tips because she whooped and high-fived. She might have been taking the piss, but it was the first time she'd looked happy all night. Not like me.
During a break earlier in the evening, the guy next to me at the urinal said something that still haunts me. Nothing to do with size, you sillies. No, he mentioned that if I'd been there the night before, I would have seen Keith Richard on stage with Mick and his band. According to this bloke, Keith had strolled around from his nearby Greenwich Village home and got up and had a blast with his ol' Stones offsider. I thought the guy might have been mouthing off and didn't give his info much credence but bugger me if I haven't read of exactly what he described referred to in separate interviews with both Mick Taylor AND Keith Richard a couple of times since. Missed it by THAT much!
Mick Taylor performing with the band at around the same time as this gig occurred.
29 July, 2010
Anyway, there's a staff newsletter that goes out once a week and I put together a review of Shane's visit. Being something of a
The Writer Who Arrived Late
He was the kind of tall, stoop-shouldered streak of misery who looked like he’d been slapped around. By a dame. All his life. His oversized glasses sat crookedly on his sallow face. Plenty of laughs so far.
“Can’t help you, Maloney. I don’t do matrimonials. But that’s not the whole story either. In my line of work, you get used to taking slaps from guys the size of beer trucks. Or the occasional slug from a pearl-handled .22 straight out of an alligator purse. But if there was any sort of law in this town, it’d say don’t tangle with VIT. I don’t like ‘em. Nobody does. And I don’t like the racket they’ve been running shaking down teachers these last eight years. But we both know a bankroll fed by a guaranteed $70pa from 110,000 chalk-jockeys can buy a lot of nasty friends. So far, only the ambulance chasers and yellow press have had the guts to try to put a kink in their hose. I figure if your wife’s mixed up with them, you’re already near the top of the coroner’s dance card. And I’m not going to be the sucker wiping up the grease stain left behind once they’re through with you.”
Turn on the charm. Start with a slow smile. And let ‘em know you’re onto ‘em. That you’ve got a make on their racket. Hell, even show a little knowing admiration for the kind of cunning needed to get a stranglehold on the teaching caper in this town. Do that, and they’ll be grinning at you through their shark-teeth like you’re one of them, a co-conspirator.
Once they’re hooked, you can take ‘em through the reading process from their point of view and then hit ‘em with an insightful history of your writing. Why it reads the way it does. How your main character, ALP drone Murray Whelan, came into the world and how he makes his way down its mean streets. Then give ‘em the inside dope on the crime-writing schtick: how you gotta play the game the way other crime writers have, but with your own angle, not following a recipe.
Throw in a few celebrity name-drops whenever you can too. Everybody loves insider gossip. That kind of stuff’s been filling seats since before Vesuvius gave
He was nodding like one of those toy dogs all the Sunday drivers used to have in their back windows.
So, did you work out which bit rendered it unsuitable?