Thursday, January 31, 2008

What Next?

I just finished reading The Bride Stripped Bare. It’s the type of book that I would call bumfodder. Bumfodder is toilet reading material. Nothing in depth, nothing intellectually challenging and no vast complexity to the plot. You could quite happily pick it up every time you went to shit and put it down and walk away after the event. Clive Cussler is master of producing bumfodder. That’s not to say that I don’t like this kind of reading. It’s easy. The words flow in and out again as quickly as you turn the pages. It is time spent as an ultimate sloth – not moving, not doing, not even thinking.

What I didn’t like with this novel is the main character. I couldn’t identify with her at all. She was weak, basically. I think that not liking a main character really effects my enjoyment of the novel. If they aren’t a character who I would want to spend time with in person, why would I want to spend time reading about them? This character in The Bride Stripped Bare was not someone I would essentially dislike, but not somebody I would crave knowing at all. A person I just would not bother with.

I’m presented with the dilemma of having packed all my books into storage (where I won’t see them for at least another six months) and having a hell of a lot more spare time on my hands. That means I’ve got more time to read, but no more going back to the old faithfuls in my collection. It is time for a new author. This is a horror prospect for me, the person who can be in a movie store and waste the same amount of time it would take to watch a movie just wandering around the store trying to select one.

So I need suggestions. I love Stephen King to pieces – not for the horror aspect, though. It’s because he can make me laugh out loud while reading. Katherine Kerr’s fantasy series is fantastic and she should be jailed until she finishes it. Bret Easton Ellis is brilliant even though the characters are arseholes. That’s his point – they’re meant to be. I look upon Mills and Boon with total disdain. I loved the Da Vinci Code until the ending, which I thought was total shit.

What do I read next? Suggestions, anyone?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fucking Americans!

Today I was rudely ripped off by the good ol' yanks. I could have played the world's biggest playable guitar. But no. I got to play the biggest playable guitar in the southern hemishpere, because some yank went and built a bigger one. Typical.

It's 5.82 metres long (no, you can't have that in feet, yanks, you've already beaten it anyway), 2.019 metres wide and the length of the strings to the bridge is 3.98 metres. I think the people of Nerrandera, where it is kept, are a little embarrassed by it now, because they don't seem to care for it very well. The neck is propped up on a filing cabinet and it's chocked up by a couple of bricks at the back end. The poor thing is in dire need of tuning.

I had a go anyway.

The Dish at Parkes



Part of yesterday's massive road trip saw me land at the Parkes Radio Telescope (aka big dish in a paddock). It was the focus of the Aussie classic film The Dish, which is historically inaccurate but brilliant regardless. According to the movie, Parkes was vital in recieving the television transmissions of the moon landing. Since the Parkes dish is a radio dish, it recieved the better quality transmission later, but the first pics were actually through a tracking telescope somewhere else in Australia.





I was standing there, looking at the immensity of it, and all I could really think of was a scene from the movie. I stood there thinking Sam Neill played cricket in that thing. Dammit, I want a go!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Wide Brown Land


Today saw me embark on an eleven hour drive that still did not get me to my destination. I was driving along, right foot cramping so much that I swapped and used the other foot for a while - when I realised something was different. What the hell is going on? I thought. The white line was still flashing by but something was very different. Holy shit - I'm ging uphill! There weren't many of those on the drive.


At a little place with about four houses and a railway crossing:




It appears the crossing may have taken a few casualties:



Look through the bug road toll on the windscreen and it seems that Dive's mates from Pommyland have come and influenced an entire shire with their cooking.



Yep. There really is bugger all out here.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

On the Road Again

Two days ago my car Myrtle and I, loaded up with camping gear, a library of about two hundred CDs, and the absolutely essential laptop, embarked on the first leg of the adventure.

Where did I end up? Start laughing now...
Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Yep, they get 'em in nice an' young.

There were country hats everywhere. Leather ones, pink ones, sparkly ones with fluffy edges. You name it, some tryhard dickhead was wearing it.

The entire main street was closed off for buskers. You walk down the middle and it's an aural mixing pot of the lot of them all at once. I did it after hitting the town with a mate the night before, and hell was it a mistake. My head was already hurting, and then it was asaulted from all directions by 1/5 basslines and the occasional busrt of yodelling. How on earth does a child discover the talent for yodelling and succeed in being nurtured in the art, without being told to shut up and sing properly?

What I wanted to see was the people. I'll have to admit I've been to the festival before. It's a time where every single pub is open every night with bands on all through the day. I love that. If you don't like the music in one pub, you down your beer and walk on down to the next. I just love the fact that there is music everywhere. We'll skip on the quality of some of it, though...

But the people...

I have to admit to having a truly shit photography day. It may have been related to not being able to open my eyes to more than asian squint level. Or my pounding head. I wanted to sit around and take pictures of all the weirdness, but instead I just took it all in.

People carry camp chairs around to all the buskers, and if they like them, they set up camp and have a listen. It's all pretty laid back and easy going. There was a guy sitting on a swag, camp mug in had, reading poetry. Another, pictured here, was running a wood engraving market stall. He was nursing a guitar and on his head was a replica of a shed with a can of rum held onto it. On top of that was a chicken. A real one. He just went about his work engraving and ignored the bunch of people taking photos of him.

I spent some time sitting on a hay bale, listening to a family Jug Band. All the kids were involved and it was brilliant stuff. They were excellent performers. Then you move a little further down the street to find the Indian guy crooning along to a backing track... and walk a little faster, fearing for the safety of your ears.

Next on the list of experiences for music festivals is the East Coast Blues and Roots festival. Four days of absolutely everything. It costs an absolute fortune but I'm trying to get in as a volunteer. I hope to get there somehow, anyway.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fuck it, it's a meme

Old Crone tagged me with a meme.

The rules of this meme are:

Link to the person that tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.


So the deal is this:
I hate tagging others. Dive will probably have a go because the man can resist a meme as much as I can resist a beer.
Why do the things have to be unimportant? Fuck that. I can be a self-absorbed snot at times and I'm in the mood where everything about me is important.

1. The one thing I really am okay with about being a short little tyke is that breasts are at eye level for me. Oops. Sorry. You're up there.
2. Everything I know about nail care I learnt from men.
3. I lost all my sexual confidence when my girlfriend/fiance told me she'd rather cut her toenails than have sex with me.
4. My taste in ice-cream has changed. I am not so much a cookies and cream convert any more. Give me Rum and Raisin. Holy shit, am I turning into my mother?
5. I have not baked a cake, actually I don't think I've baked anything that isn't meat or vegetables since I was in primary school fo9llowing my mother's directions. It just doesn't interest me.
6. The best thing about doing the Monday Melee was that I could look up previous posts to figure out when my next period was due.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Letters to self

Maria has posted a letter - to her self as a seventeen year old. It's made me think, also. What advice would I give myself? If I could change anything, tell myself to snap out of anything, what would it be?

It's an interesting concept, but one I don't agree with. I have always been intrigued and ultimately confused by the concept of time travel and altering of the time line. It gets into the whole Star Trek concept of the Temporal Prime Directive:
"The Temporal Prime Directive is intended to prevent a time traveler from interfering in the natural development of a timeline. This can include altering events or informing those in the past prematurely to change an outcome."

It would be nice to change some things. It would be nice to realise that my ex is a box-assed life-sucking incarnation of the devil before I wasted my time on her...

BUT.

I am a product of my past experiences. We all are. Every single experience, good or bad, whether it is the break-up from hell or the out-of-date camembert experience that puts us in hospital, every single experience is a foundation for who we are right now, this very minute. I would not be in the place I am in, knowing the people I know now and being who I am without all these past experiences as a building block.

If I changed just one thing, that would all be different. A butterfly flaps it's wings in China and it rains in New York kind of effect. One small change and the echoes become increasingly larger. I don't want that.

Regret is pointless. I cannot change the events that have occurred in the past, and I believe that I should not be allowed to. The Temporal Prime Directive is about natural development - and that is what we all should experience. The only thing I have influence over is my own future.

So I choose to write a letter to myself, in the future:

Dear Vic,
Do not forget your experiences. Do not regret them.
Expect nothing. Experience everything.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mediocrity

I sat down last night to practise some serious classical guitar. Practise of that type, for me, represents an intense need for escapism. I can potentially focus on technical work with a metronome for hours at a time. Although there is a gain involved, I do it for the total focus on that one task that closes the door to any other bullshit that may be going on.

I realised that I haven’t done practise like that for months, or with any regularity for years. Since the days of living with my boyfriend. I do a stint every now and then, but I my focus with respect to guitar seems to be circular. I go through a steel-string phase, then a jazz phase, then a song-writing phase, and whatever takes my fancy. Eventually my focus comes knocking back on the classical door.

Frustratingly, my ear has improved continually over this time. My ability is far behind it and that session of practise was far less of a release than it should have been. So many times I berated myself for not being able to do what I could hear. If I did not value my instrument so highly I would have been wearing it around my knee.

Is this my fate? It seems that I cannot focus enough to achieve my full potential in any one area because there’s so much else to do, so much else to occupy my attention. Am I doomed to mediocrity because of my own diversity?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Taking a jump off the deep end.

I played percussion in a D-grade brass band up until the Christmas just gone. It was my local band, run by a good friend. Basically, I joined two years ago so I could have an excuse to spend more time with him, as our busy paths rarely got to cross. I fronted up with very little previous experience and the expectation of hell, it can’t be hard – I’ve just got to hit stuff. It represented a massive musical learning curve for me over those two years. The main player got sick and I went from taking shitty easy parts to being stuck on the kit most of the time. The only practice I got was at the two-hour rehearsal once a week, and mostly I coped.

From time to time people travelling through would front up to band. They were welcome to come and sit in and play during the rehearsals. When I left town with the aim of travelling I thought I’d do the same, front up to a band in whichever town I was in a the time and have a play. This would keep my skills up and boost my sightreading. It’s with the aim of having a personality building experience to learn to front up to a totally different situation and rely on my skills musically to get me through.

It would have been easy not to do. I looked for a band in town yesterday and got a phone number. They told me when rehearsals were. It would have still been easy not to go. But no, I was determined to put myself into this new situation, with people and music that I’d never seen before.

I get there and the people are nice. I introduce myself to a few and promptly forget all their names, as I’m prone to do. The parts are handed out for piece and I stare blankly. Holy shit. This is miles beyond my capability. Not just miles. Miles upon miles, upon miles, stretching out to a whole ocean away from my current ability. This is not a D-grade band that I have fronted to. It is not, as I was hoping, a C-grade band that would push me a little further. It was a fucking A-grade band, rehearsing for the National championships. Holy shit.

I stayed. At the very least it was a chance to listen to a fantastic professional brass band. I had a hit, and actually did okay for some of it. If I practised my arse off I believe I could do it. It was pure adrenaline for me and the funny thing is I love it. I get onto a high of concentration with adrenaline where I’m in the rhythm zone and it all makes sense.

Ah well, I thought. At least I gave it a go. It was a good experience.

They asked if I’d be back for the next rehearsal. Sometimes the world just blows me away.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Not the hand of death

I karate-chopped a cockroach today.

The little fucker's guts were smashed onto the counter and it still tried to drag itself away.

I employed the Thong of Death instead. Multiple times. The 'roach will not be coming back to life this time.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Health kick = temporary blindness.

I was a water child. Back in those glory days of being a kid my parents would get a family season ticket to the local pool. I could get to it in a minute and a half on my bike, and was always trying for a better time. My aim was for under a minute. I can remember that ride so well…

towel on the shoulder
down the drive out the gate through the big ditch in the spot where you won’t get bogged jump the gutter onto the footpath on the bridge and belt it down the other side
pick your timing through the traffic on the highway belt up the hill and ditch the bike at the top on the fly sending it skidding across the dark concrete that burns your feet into the corner of the walls
up the steps throw your towel to the left as you go through the gate and launch yourself at the water


I would do this every afternoon. Sometimes there would be nobody else but me and the lifeguard, but I could fuck about in the water for hours on end, doing the things that kids do. Making up games, trying to sit on the bottom for as long as I could, swimming lengths of the pool with my breath held. Once a week there was a swimming club for kids and we’d spend the afternoon doing laps. I was so at home in the water. Goggles? Like hell! I did everything in the chlorinated water with my eyes open and it didn’t hurt a bit. Goggles were for old people, or the weak who couldn’t handle it. Maybe the chlorine is a factor in the deterioration of my sight. I hadn’t discovered the need for glasses at the time – that was later into teenagerdom.

Despite the activity I was a lard of a kid, and as I got into highschool the typical peer teasing caused me to stop liking going to the pool. I just wasn’t strong enough in personality to say fuck you, I want to swim, not pose. I avoided swimming in sport as much as possible (difficult because the school was right next to the pool I described earlier, and the entire summer program was spent at the local pool doing lifesaving) and because the popular group were all beach bunnies I avoided being seen on the beach like the plague. I hated the idea of going there just in case they’d see me and say something.

It’s taken twenty-seven years to say fuck you, I want to swim and now I’m in search of it. Yesterday I went to an ocean baths to chuck on some laps – part of the getting fit and healthy attitude that tends to pair with summer and nice days. I don’t often spend much time in the water any more, but all those old growing up habits are right there. I pulled a few laps of the baths, getting more and more comfortable with my stroke and breathing patterns. Then I opened my eyes under the water.


That’s when I had the realisation that no, I am no longer a kid in that small town pool so close to my parents’ home.

This was an ocean baths, meaning salt water.
ouch, DAMMIT
Since the deterioration of my sight, I have been a habitual contact lens wearer.
Oh shit, I’m blurry on the right hand side. DAMMIT

It would have been a funny sight, this chick in a pool by the ocean tipping her head all angles, poking about the edges of her right eye trying to find if a lens got washed into the back of it. DAMMIT. I don’t carry glasses in the car with me – I try to ignore their existence as much as possible – so I had to drive away with double vision, blurry on one side.

It’s time to get old, and go buy some goggles.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In the blood

I left my town to get away from the stuff that I felt was bogging me down. People, bad decisions, work, everything. It was a culling of sorts. An effort to evict some of the crap from my life.

Are you still going to teach? was one of the most frequent questions I heard before leaving.

It’s funny that when I think about it I have been teaching since I left high school. I actually started teaching my friends while I was still at high school. But when I get asked where I work, for some reason I always default to saying Oh, I work in a veggie shop. Come to think of it, I’d even split it when telling the flatmates where I was off to. It was always I have to go to work for the veggie shop and I have to go teach when I was off to one of the schools. I never called that work, even though it was my main source of income.

Am I still going to teach? I’m mad not to, financially. It’s good money for doing something I love, and do well. Seeing my students achieve leaves me proud and happy. But I left my town to get away. To start off by having a holiday from all the things that defined my life previously.

Interestingly, the first place I stopped and spent a length of time after the whole Christmas crap contained a boy who got a guitar for a present. Yeah, I’ll show you some things says Vic. Next thing he’s introducing me to his friends as his guitar teacher and I’m working with him almost daily. It seems that to teach is a part of me that I cannot ignore.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Getting back into the Groove

I came to Kate’s river to spend some time letting go of my past life in a town I essentially grew up in. To connect with myself again. I’ve been playing music, writing music and feeling music. I got my groove back. It’s been absent for quite a while – since I started to feel squashed by surroundings and for long periods before that as well.

The Groover is an integral part of my personality. If there’s music, I’m most likely grooving to it. That is, if I’m happy. Happy tends to be accompanied by an internal groove track that only I can hear– usually something similar to John Scofield’s Over Big Top or Hercules from Aaron Neville- and the groove defines the way I walk and move, because you might not be able to tell but I’m dancing. Watch my fingers and they’ll be moving. Watch my head. It will hint at a beat, or possibly my shoulders will. If my hands are not busy doing something, they will probably be drumming on my thighs. I won’t be standing still at all.

I don’t know which is better:
I’m grooving because I’m happy
or
I’m happy because I’m grooving

I think it’s a bit of both.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Personal Challenges

Beer. I love the stuff.

I've recently got into home brewing and it's been going pretty damn well. I haven't had any explosions or undrinkable brews. There was one that was close to being not very tasty - but to me that depends upon the level of desperation for the first drink. Once you're through the first few mouthfuls of the not-so-good one your tastebuds adjust anyway.

I don't discriminate too much. I've brewed from ginger beer (alcoholic of course) to stout. The stout I haven't tried yet, however I got a text message from a friend that I gave some to - she tried it last night and it gets an enthusiastic thumbs up. I love trying different things and when you can cut your beer tasting costs by at least a third by brewing your own it has to be a good thing.

That doesn't stop me from loving the pub scene though. I'm a beer whore. So when my sister's hubby Mike and I spot a Bavarian Bier Cafe on the seaside Manly wharf... We were up to have a go. They served it in steins! How could I say no?

Then there was the challenge...

You could get a one litre stein.

Again, how could I say no? Some people climb mountains because it is a personal challenge. This was my challenge.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Boots by the seaside

Yesterday I walked into the Beachside Sydney suburb Manly in jeans and steel-capped boots. It's summer, but I was headed for a job agency and wanting to look a little more like I wasn't on holiday. It was not a case of Where's Wally at all. I did not blend. I stuck out like a sore thumb.

This suburb has three main things - a wharf, a paved mall area, and a beach. Every half hour a ferry arrives and a shitload of people pile off it, and are then funneled through the mall area toward the beach. It's madness with sweaty bits. All with a uniform of board shorts and a tan.

But then there was Vic... Jeans and steel-capped boots.

It was an exercise in not caring of I fit in or not. I thought that being in the biggest city in this country, that I could wear what I want and feel no judgement from others about it. But no. I could imagine these people thinking what the hell are you doing at the beach in BOOTS, dyke bitch? in my mind and it was pretty damn annoying.

I'm being me, that's what.

And steel caps are pretty damn handy if anyone wants to get in my way.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Not heartless, but smart.

Apparently pop duo The Veronicas have refused to refund a booking deposit of $17500 for a charity do. And now they’re copping flack for it. Being made out to be heartless, with a headline in one newspaper – ”A pop betrayal”. The concert was being held to raise money for a boy battling a brain tumour, but got cancelled because they couldn’t sell enough tickets.

Oh what a sweet thing. A kid with a brain tumour. I had a mate in primary school who had a brain tumour and I didn’t see her getting any concert. There are so many charity concerts for different things now – but what makes a concert? Music. That’s your draw card. Crowd-pleasing music, from a live band. What organisers of these events don’t seem to realise is that musicians do it for a living. It is their occupation. Nobody else gets letters asking them to work for free for a week for some charity on a regular basis. The people organising these things seem to have stars in their eyes and no practicality any more. They’ve got their heads up in the do-good angelic clouds and expect everyone to throw money and free products at them because their cause is more deserving than the chosen causes of the rest of the do-good angelic cloud dwellers.

It happens all the time. About a third of the gigs I’ve played have been fundraisers of some description. And we got fucked over countless times, to the point where we usually asked for a booking fee up front. For reasons just like this one – the events were poorly organised and usually fell down on the advertising side. Heartless? No. Practical, yes. We knew where our wages were coming from. You have a booking for a charity do for months, and turn down fifteen better offers for that particular date and then the do gets cancelled because of lack of interest. Whose fault is that? Not the people who’ve donated and lose out. Not the people who need to make a living at the end of the day.

Why don’t we have a Doctor’s charity week? Where you can go see your doctor and they will donate their earnings for that week to charity instead. Or Plumber’s charity week? Get the blockage in your pipes fixed so we can fix the blockage in this kid’s head!.

Maybe there should be a charity for traumatised musicians who’ve done too many charity gigs.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Half-Nekkid Thursday



I've left so much behind. This photo was taken the morning after I hit the road for destination uncertain, armed with a tent and a swag and a few other bits. I hit the surf at dawn and it was a rough, cold awakening into my new world. I left me utterly shocked but eventually refreshed. Bring it on, I say.