Thursday, July 31, 2003

The Ugh Effect 

Sometimes, there's just one particular small thing that makes it simply inconceivable that you could ever like something, no matter how much your friends insist it's the best thing ever. Some examples:

I wish I knew why there have been about twenty different Google searches for my name resulting in visits to this site over the past couple of days. Is someone checking up on me? Does someone want to offer me a job? (Yes please, don't be shy, even if you work for a right-wing think tank or something…I can produce position papers on why hip-hop is ruining black people's lives, anything you like!) You know who you are, spill!

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Bad links? 

Apparently the links on my sidebar aren't working for Ian Penman. Is anyone else having this problem? They work OK for me.

And if they don't work for you, do you have the same problem with Philip Shelburne's blog, which uses the same template? Just so I can narrow down to a Blogger problem vs a me problem...

[Update: The problem seems to be Mozilla-related and should now be fixed, thanks to John. If anyone is still having problems, let me know.]

Consider the feeling pushed on 

Mark in the same post I linked to yesterday also had some mean things to say about Kylie, which I'll largely ignore, because my love for her goes beyond such banal considerations as "talent" and "looks."

But I will say that I never quite understood the fuss about "Can't Get You Out of My Head"-- its eponymous claim is true enough I suppose, but when I first heard it it sounded to me like just another one of the thousand or so tracks that nicked that particular three-or-four-note-staccato-melody-on-sort-of-Rhodesy-sounding-keyboards thing from the Nightcrawlers' "Push the Feeling On." (Since I'm not a dance music archivist, I couldn't swear that the Nightcrawlers themselves didn't steal the sound from someone else, but I seem to remember that track sounding quite novel when it first came out, almost like the house equivalent of pop-trance, with its focus on simple simple simple melody above all else). So to me "Head" sounds a bit like a throwback to the mid-90s, which would be fine except that (in common with the other tracks I've heard from the Fever album) it also lacks any real melodic inspiration of the kind that would compensate for its lack of sonic innovation. (I know what you're thinking, but a song that lacks melodic inspiration can too be impossible to get out of your head.) Is "Head" just celebrated for being the tune that broke Kylie in the US? In any case, I actually think that Dannii Minogue is currently putting out better songs than her sister…and it's nice to have an opportunity to big up Dannii, since she only just missed out on both my top 10 singles and albums lists.

Anyway, that Nightcrawlers track brings to mind something which Mark talks about in his reply to my reply: what he calls "the anti-madeleine effect," or "records so eternally on replay that they attain a Timeless Presence." In dance music I suspect it's less a question of particular records than particular sounds--that "Nightcrawler" sound for example, or the famous "Mentasm" stab that now just sounds totally ordinary, to the extent that it's actually difficult to hear Joey Beltram's "Mentasm" as a stand-out track in any sense. (Definitely not true of his "Energy Flash" incidentally, which still sends shivers etc after all these etc.) The paradigm case of the anti-madeleine effect in dance music would, you would think, be the 303 acid squelch, except strangely I think that of all sounds in dance music that one actually retains its ability to estrange. Maybe acidy squelchiness is just eternally interesting and renewable?

Oh and Mark is so right it hurts about "irony." (The concept of "irony" itself needs rescuing from its postmodern vicissitudes of course, but I'm hardly the first person to make this observation.) Can you believe there are still people who think my Buffy love is in some sense "ironic"? Would you credit it?


I do like that new Jamie Oliver show, but I have what you might call issues with the way Channel 10 has been promoting it. "Jamie Oliver risks everything to give these jobless gits the chance of a lifetime." Jobless gits??? That's certainly not how Jamie thinks of them! And what's so great about your job, arsehole, you do voiceovers for a TV station, it's hardly rocket science is it? (Just how difficult is rocket science, incidentally? Is it much harder than other kinds of science?)

Tuesday, July 29, 2003


In a post on some UK Channel Four program about the Top 100 British Singles, which he delightfully describes as "a madeleine-free experience," Mark at k-punk takes the opportunity to vent some spleen in Tom Jones's direction:
…The William Shatner of Pop, with the same unfailing knack of sledgehammering any trace of subtlety out of anything he comes into hollering distance of. And the comebacks are even worse than anything he produced in his 60s heyday. The grotesquerie of the 'Kiss' cover - how to turn something butterfly's-wing-precious and rare into a cheap, nasty, garish, 1000-storey-Shopping Mall: a three-minute summation of everything that was bad about the 80s.
On the whole I completely agree, especially about the comebacks (he was essentially a Trojan horse for that whole risible notion of people being "ironically hip," which forces those of us who really do love, say, The Carpenters, to constantly explain that we like them because they're bloody good, not because some rubbish indie band guest-programmed one of their songs on Rage…). And oh yes, that "Kiss" cover with that awful, awful mid-80s proto-big-beat production that those of us with no access to anything outside mainstream rock lapped up at the time because it was the nearest we could find to an actual beat that you could dance to (see also, speaking of sledgehammering, Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and the entire Simply Red catalogue).

But…I do have to make an exception for "What's New, Pussycat?" and perhaps one or two other songs from Jones's "classic" era. "Pussycat" is itself such an over-the-top parody of lewdness (I mean, come on…"I'll soon be kissing your sweet little pussy-[ahem]-cat lips") that it can only really be sung by a walking, breathing, sweating cliché like Tom, and indeed it's one of the few Bacharach songs that seems inextricably wedded to a particular voice, almost to the point where you can't imagine anyone else singing it. ("The Look of Love" would be another.) Having said that, according to AMG it's been covered by everyone from Barbra Streisand to Bob Marley, but oh well the point is you think of the song and you hear Tom's version, don't you? (It's also a candidate for the best blog title ever, incidentally.) And of course "Pussycat" is on my 3/4 compilation, nestled nicely in there just after Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression." (Speaking of 3/4, how did I manage to forget Herbert's remix of "Street Lullaby" by Two Banks of Four? That's definitely going in the final version, now I just have to work out who to ditch, Elvis Costello perhaps, but I digress…)

I wonder, would we actually look back more fondly on Tom's older stuff if he had never had a later, irritating pseudo-hipster incarnation? I'm reminded of another Welsh singer for whom undersinging a song is about as likely as Saddam Hussein going in for some minimal Bauhaus-influenced interior design in one of his palaces. And yet no-one ever has a bad word to say about Shirley Bassey, do they?


Tonight's Film Festival session was Taste of Cherry, my second Kiarostami film. Fortunately, after Chrisopher's experiences with Homework, this film was actually screened! Pretty slow going but ultimately extremely moving. Kiarostami, who is fast emerging as an absolute sweetie and total non-diva, introduced the film with a quote from E. M. Cioran, "Had it not been for the possibility of suicide I would have killed myself a long time ago," which gives you a good idea both of the subject matter of the film and of the grim (Iranian? or just Kiarostamian?) humour that runs through it.


Something you have to get used to about the Film Festival is spending a lot of time standing outdoors in long queues (big theatres, capacity sessions, small foyers, late starts). One fact has been repeatedly brought home to me as I notice the strange looks we festivalgoers get from passersby: people in queues always look silly. I mean it! When you see people lining up for something, especially outdoors, especially in inclement weather, isn't your immediate reaction "what's so bloody important? You're wasting your lives, morons!" Or is that just me?

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Ships that pass in the night 

It was vaguely on the cards that I could have met no fewer than three of my fellow bloggers yesterday (separately, I mean); the actual number ended up being zero but that's cool, it's nice to know I have potential new friends in any case.

Anyway, I've been to three more Film Festival sessions. First up was Abbas Kiarostami's Ten, part of a Kiarostami retrospective at the festival. I'd never seen any of his films before and it was guilt as much as anything that made me go to this one, but I was totally overwhelmed by it. I won't repeat Christopher's excellent description, I'll just encourage you to see it if you ever get the chance. The performances are absolutely astonishing, especially from the actors playing the main protagonist and her son, and (although it somehow sounds wrong to praise a film for this, but whatever) you do get a unique insight into the lives of modern Iranian women. But can I take a moment to diss the festival program: did the person who wrote that the film was made up of "10 separate sequences, all of varying lengths and without cuts" actually watch it, or just have it described to them? Because there were plenty of cuts in virtually every scene, sometimes between two cameras, sometimes jump cuts, but all of them noticeable.

Then last night was New Zealand director Gaylene Preston's Perfect Strangers, which I admit I went to mainly out of curiosity to see if Sam Neill was really as charismatic in real life as he seems on screen. Sadly, Sam wasn't there, despite being promised to us in the program, but there was a message from him shown on screen. Poor substitute! The film itself (this was in fact the world premiere) was an odd thing, a thriller that changed halfway into a very warped romantic comedy. It was one of those films that aims to be shocking and perverse and unsettling but somehow contrives not to leave much of an impression at all. Good performances from Sam and the lovely Rachael Blake (not making any attempt at a Kiwi accent, incidentally), but I didn't love it. And could that title be any more banal and obvious?

Today it was Catherine Breillat's Sex is Comedy. Another black mark for the program here, it wasn't a pseudo-documentary for Christ's sake! It was a film about film-making, sure, but would you call a pseudo-documentary? No, I didn't think so. Anyway, I found this a delight; if anything it seemed too close a fit with the preoccupations of gender studies and film studies (it's no doubt being added to a hundred syllabuses as we speak), lots of really interesting stuff about the visual representation of sex acts, and a frank demystification (which might have also been an arch remystification) of the actor-director relationship. Good stuff.

Anyway, must go, Australian Idol awaits!

[Update: On second thoughts, I realise that people who write film festival copy often haven't seen the films they're writing about, and are relying on second- or third-hand information. So let's just say I'm pointing out the mistakes as a public service, without necessarily apportioning blame...]

Saturday, July 26, 2003

A lot of animals were harmed in the making of this picture. We mean it, loads. 

Just back from my first Film Festival screening, Le temps du loup at the Capitol. I'm reminded again of how much I love that theatre; I don't think I've ever been so amazed on first walking into a building. (I mean, obviously St Paul's is nice, but I expected it to be nice.)

Anyway, the film was a gay post-apocalyptic survivalist romp from France, except not so much of a gay romp as all that. Pretty harrowing actually, but cinematically quite amazing, only natural light used as far as I could tell, lots of shots at night lit only by the moon or a fire, and some absolutely amazing scenes captured in pre-dawn near-darkness. Reminded me of school camps actually, both the light (I always used to wake up early in my sleeping bag, which would be all dewy, and it would always be freezing cold) and the cruel, atavistic state-of-nature milieu.

What struck me thinking back on the film was that I don't think a single animal appeared in it that didn't end up dead. And often you would see it being killed, too, and I mean actually killed in front of you.

But don't let that put you off! Lots of people--vegetarians, perhaps--left before the end, but they really should have stayed because the final scene was breathtaking.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Please, someone suggest a title other than "The Day the Muzik Died" 

It's a pity that Muzik is closing. As Scott at somedisco says, it was just starting to get interesting, and I'd just started buying it, and it was a pleasant read with enjoyably juvenile humour. Now I suppose I'll have to seek out Jockey Slut, which is almost impossible to find in Australia--I've only seen it twice I think, and even then it's covered in plastic so you can't actually sneak a read of it in the newsagent. Boo! (UK readers will be amused to know that it's actually easier to find Careless Talk Costs Lives in Australian newsagents than Jockey Slut. For real!)

There are still several dance music magazines left, of course, but none of them (apart perhaps from the elusive Slut) are what one wants: there's the drugs'n'clubs, how-I-got-trashed-in-Ibiza glossies, with pictures on the cover of sheilas in that state of blank-eyed ennui meant to subtly suggest that they are on drugs and having lots of fun (Mixmag and--the absolute nadir--Ministry), and then there are the worthy but dull magazines for DJs, with about 5,000,000 ten-word vinyl 12" reviews in every issue and a big section at the back about "gear" (this time actually referring to equipment), and pictures of DJs looking awkward and, let's face it, none too pretty on the cover (DJ Magazine and International DJ--it took me ages to work out that these are actually completely different magazines!).

No, it's been said before, but what's really needed is for the best of the music bloggers and the ILM people to band together and sweep all before them, whether it's dance music or pop in general we're talking about…although in reality that project is much more likely to be realised on the web, hopefully in the form of the revamped Freaky Trigger.


Now, I realise that I should be probably be cultivating a more aloof blogging persona, trying to be one of the tough kids smoking behind the bike sheds like Ingram, instead of squealing like an excitable convent girl every time someone notices me. But when in the space of 24 hours you've had your pigtails pulled by both Tim Finney (the brilliant young prefect who everyone's got a crush on) and Ian Penman (Head Girl), I think you're allowed at least a tasteful, ladylike gasp.

My urbane life, continued 

Also, after "Ten" and "Perfect Strangers" on Saturday night I'll be heading over to Deep Chord for some minimal grooves, and it would be even better to see people there...

Thursday, July 24, 2003

All MIFFed up 

Well, I've booked all my tickets for the Melbourne International Film Festival. This is no small achievement: reading the brochure, working out what films you want to see, and trying to fit them into a logistically feasible schedule, is a bit like playing chess against Deep Blue, and then there's the always-joyfully(ahem)-chaotic MIFF box office to negotiate; oh well, it's all part of the charm, and now I'm sorted I'm looking forward to it. Here's what I'm seeing; if any Melbourne readers are going to the same sessions and would like to meet up, let me know!

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


What is it about Felix da Housecat's tracks, in particular the ones that use Miss Kittin's vocals, that inspires remixers to respond to them by producing extraordinary, emotionally cathartic tours de force? The originals hardly seem promising for the purpose: dry, laconic, with a studied affectlessness and a sly, swaggering, 80s-inspired robotic groove. (Let me make it clear, lest that seem ambivalent, that I love the originals.) And yet, when remixers take hold of them…well, we have Jacques Lu Cont's string-laden Thin White Duke remix of "Silver Screen," possibly the lushest, most unashamedly "epic" product of the entire electroclash movement. Then Tiga adds his own vocals to "Madame Hollywood," in the process revealing the maw of spiritual yearning that lies beneath the material aspirations of all the world's Which? queens. (Well, yunno, maybe.) Finally, there's Röyksopp's "Follow the Sun" mix of "What Does it Feel Like," which takes Miss Kittin's monotone Eurotrash patter and turns it, via lovely twinkly glocky bleeps (like the ones in all Röyksopp's other tracks), into a big warm hug.

You know who should remix him next? Ewan Pearson! He's doing everyone this year, and he can match emotionally cathartic tours de force with the best of 'em.


As you may have noticed, Enetation, my comments service, has been having one of its turns for the past few days. The comments themselves are working, but the number of comments displayed in the link isn't being updated, so some posts look like they have no comments at all, whereas in fact epic discussions have been taking place there, absolute sagas, lasting for days, cross-referencing each other and being referred to endlessly on other blogs. We are assured that the old girl--Enetation, that is--will be back on her feet in no time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Regina Regina 

Which of course means "Queen Regina." Am I the last person to figure that out?

So, the finale was fantastic of course: that walk from the house to the studio, reuniting with housemates along the way, is always great and was done with real imagination this year, and all the emotional buttons were pushed on schedule.

But was I the only one who, staying tuned for the (great!) new Jamie Oliver show, saw an ad for Rove's "2 hour Big Brother special" and thought "eh, I'm over it." I doubt I really am over it, and partly it's just my intolerance for Rove in any form, but I must say my BB grieving process is becoming more streamlined year by year.


Why do people with excellent politics so often make crappy music (and vice versa)? Everyone may deserve music, but no-one deserves Michael Franti's "Everyone Deserves Music."

Monday, July 21, 2003

If you want to be like me, buy these! 

I basically agree with the ILM consensus that lists of albums are inherently less interesting than lists of singles, but nevertheless, to fill in the hours before the Triumphal Entry of Regina, here are my ten-and-a-quarter favourite albums of 2003 so far (in no particular order):I think it's been a good year so far for albums, but perhaps not a good year for great albums…the only ones on that list I would give an unhesitating five stars to are the ravishing Four Tet and--total surprise this one--the Audio Bullys album, which I'm loving more and more on each listen. Hooligan house forever!

Anyway, we mustn't be greedy, and I haven't yet heard the new albums from Luomo, Dizzee Rascal or the Matthew Herbert Big Band, all of which could potentially vie for top honours. (Even Alexis Petridis in The Guardian has given Dizzee five stars, albeit via the infuriating, typically rockist gesture of praising the particular to damn the general, ie all other garage MCs are rubbish, which even I know is patently absurd.)

Albums which I have heard but have gravely disappointed me: Massive Attack, Beyoncé (tracks 5-16).

And now here are some mix CDs and compilations from 2003 which I've loved (it's been a good year for these too):The five-star effort here is the Swayzak, which is amazing, every bit as good as I'd hoped. Miss Kittin comes pretty close too…pity about those boring downtempo tracks at the end.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

It's official 

A woman will win Australian Big Brother 3! That's all I've got, no analysis of underlying social trends, no citations of French philosophers, I'm just sitting here as slack-jawed and stunned and excited as everyone else.

It will be Reggie of course. It would be even better if it was Chrissie, but it will be Reggie and that will be completely wonderful.

On your knees, constable! 

Events on The Bill last night confirmed what I have long thought to be two of the most immutable laws of television narrative:
  1. If a man kisses another man, except in jest, he is gay. Women are allowed to "experiment"; men aren't.
  2. This one is more esoteric, but even more ironclad: The jealous prognostications of vicious queens (à la Craig's boyfriend) invariably turn out to be true. As oracles, nasty gay men are as reliable as post-menopausal black women.
Having said all that, I can completely get behind Luke Ashton being gay (get behind, heh heh)--it's not like the lovely Scott Neal hasn't been there and done that--but does he really have to fuck Craig Gilmour, possibly the most pathetic character in the history of television? Luke, darling, there are plenty of men out there, trust me.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Everybody needs Downtown 

I was a bit worried that I might have unintentionally plagiarised that Marcello Carlin piece on Petula Clark, so I looked it up. No plagiarism as such, I don't think (I was relieved to see no mention of the word "flâneur"!), and Marcello's take does turn out to be if anything even more melancholic than mine, but it was certainly Marcello's ideas that first got me thinking about the song along those lines, and this is as well worth reading as everything he writes.

Marcello also reminds us that the composer of "Downtown," Tony Hatch, went on to compose the theme to "Neighbours" (which is surely the paradoxical suburban counterpart of "Downtown," at least as Marcello and I read it, finding human contact in the proverbially sterile suburbs while "Downtown" fails to do so in the proverbially fertile city)…so I missed a very obvious segue in my last post!

Thanks to Christopher for pointing me in the direction of the lovely "Downtown"-sampling-and-referencing tune "Downtown Once More," by abstract electronic types People Like Us (sigh, the knots I tie myself into to avoid using the terms "IDM" or "electronica"!), who also seem to interpret the song as yearning and melancholic. (Does anyone actually think it's a happy song?). You can download it as an MP3 from this page; it's a bit hard to find, just do a search for "downtown." (I'd link directly to the MP3 but that's not really kosher is it?)

When you're alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go… 

As you may know, Petula Clark recorded all her hits in French as well as English. The French version of "Downtown" was called "Dans le temps," which obviously doesn’t mean "Downtown" or anything like it in French…it literally means "in the time," but the closest idiomatic equivalents would be "at the time" or even "back in the day." (You can get the French lyrics and a translation at the superb petulaclark.net.)

In other words, rather than translating the English lyrics, Clark decided to go for a French phrase that sounds a little bit like "Downtown" (especially as said by someone with a headcold and no teeth). As the translator at petulaclark.net tersely notes, "This version of Downtown is melancholic when compared with the lyrics to the English version." Quite! But what this version does is to bring out something that is actually inherent in the music, which is precisely a nostalgic, melancholy quality underlying its apparent cheerfulness. As someone pointed out in some blog some time ago (Marcello Carlin, was it?), this bittersweetness is particularly evident in that beautiful little minor-key caesura at the 13th bar of the verse (in the first verse it comes at "How can you lose?"), where Petula's voice sweeps down to the very bottom of its range, before pepping up again for the lead-up to the chorus. (This is, incidentally, an "extra" bar…it breaks the 4-bar segment structure of the verse, making it a total of 17 bars long rather than 16.)

It also strikes me, reading the lyrics (I generally do have to read lyrics for anything about them to strike me!) that this song (the English version, that is) is the ultimate flâneur's anthem. Note that it's not until the last verse that Petula seems to imagine her interlocutor doing anything much with anyone else downtown; the compensations the metropolis offers are those of sights, sounds and smells, rather than human company:
When you've got worries,
All the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know, downtown
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
Paging Baudelaire! And it may be my techno-addled mind speaking, but even "Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossanova/You'll be dancing with 'em too before the night is over/Happy again" doesn't seem to me to promise specific interaction so much as a kind of generalised sociability (ecstasy culture avant la lettre!).

Of course, there is that final verse where Petula, belatedly realising that what she has been offering as a cure for solitude is in effect the very un-pop solution of more solitude, hurriedly avers that "you may find somebody kind to help and understand you," but this all seems a bit redundant, doesn't it?


Heard on Neighbours tonight: Lou, Harold and Valda, having taken a "mystery flight" together to Tasmania, assemble in the pub, where they tell Max about their trip, including the fact that they had fish and chips for lunch. (Can you see where I'm going?) "Best fish and chips in Australia down there!" Lou avers.

Now, I know the families and friends of Big Brother contestants are organising ever more sophisticated campaigns, but to actually get an endorsement on Neighbours, the show that leads in to Big Brother, a mere three days before the winner is decided…wow, Reggie's people must have great contacts!


Talking of which…interesting thoughts on Big Brother from Christopher, in particular an eloquent paean to Dan's "weirdness." (His heretical comments about Reggie are best ignored, though.)

Friday, July 18, 2003


Blimey, I don't half go on about Big Brother, do I? Still, since I'm not a wannabe music journalist but a wannabe academic, I can be confident that uncarved.org's barb isn't directed at the likes of me.

How have I been portrayed? 

As the end approacheth (in Australia at least), some intriguing thoughts on Big Brother by Mark at k-punk…and I'm not just saying that because he has nice things to say about my panopticon post (honest!). Two of Mark's points strike me in particular; first of all, he agrees with me that the BB housemates always know they're being watched all the time (and therefore one of the key elements of the panopticon is missing) but goes on to qualify this:
Such knowledge does seem to be (merely) intellectual and cognitive; not something that the housemates can ever feel. The housemates, of course, are denied feedback, are unable to see themselves being mediatized. So the knowledge that they are being filmed is inevitably somewhat abstract, and liable to be overcome by more standard behavioural defaults. Which is what the producers are counting on, of course.
Yes, that's exactly right! For BB to be interesting, the housemates' knowledge that they're being watched has to remain latent (that word again); they have to engage in a kind of willed forgetting. And it seems to me that this may be one of the key differences between UK BB4 and Aussie BB3; whereas in the UK, according to Mark, "There's obviously been some kind of delayed effect from previous series: people policing themselves to an incredible degree," in Australia that hasn't been nearly so evident this series (it was actually more evident, I think, in the last series).

Why has this happened? Well, maybe part of it is that among this particular group of housemates, a group ethic has evolved according to which being visibly conscious of the presence of the cameras, or reminding other people that they're there, is a bad thing to do. You can see this in the fact that housemates (particularly Chrissie) have repeatedly used camera-consciousness as a reason to nominate people for eviction: "X keeps making remarks about the cameras, and that makes my time in the house less enjoyable, I want to forget the cameras are here." Not, of course, that I think the reasons given for nomination ever bear more than a vestigial relation to the real motivations, but the mere fact that being camera-conscious has (uniquely in this series, if memory serves) become a "nominatable offence" suggests that there is a kind of group consensus, even an unspoken one, about the desirability of forgetting.

Suppose I'm right, though…why has this happened? Why has this particular group of people seemingly come up with a joint determination to be entertaining, even at the expense of their own dignity or, occasionally, their individual chances of winning? It's as if they're a Brazilian soccer team! It's a mystery to me, but perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I am about group dynamics can offer an explanation.

The second point of Mark's that struck me was that, as a result of the above, "the fear in the BB house focuses not on the possibility of being watched…but on the possibility that what they are doing will be broadcast." In Australia, this takes the form of a phrase that appears on virtually every eviction show, "I don't know how I've been portrayed, but…" (I'm not really a selfish bitch, I wasn't really flirting, maybe you didn't see the incident that led to me hating this other person, etc.).

(Incidentally, this concern is still compatible with "forgetting" the cameras because it emerges post facto, it doesn't actually seem to affect the way people act. It's like everyone in the house has perpetual hangover guilt.)

What interests me about this is the way in which "media studies" ways of thinking have permeated everyday life, so that the Big Brother housemates (being, I repeat, actual real people) are completely used to the idea that narrative organises events in tendentious ways, producing particular meanings that the events themselves don't inherently embody. It's also interesting that they can use this knowledge to produce their own narratives: Saxon, for instance, insisted that it was only the storytelling designs of the producers that made it seem like he spent all his time with Joanne; in fact his time was divided more or less evenly among the housemates. Those of us who tuned in to the overnight feed know that this is actually a crock; he really did spend all his time with Joanne, and after she left, he spent all his time talking about Joanne. If anything, the daily highlights show understated the extent of Saxon's obsession; there are only so many wistful nineteen-year-old gazes you can fit into half an hour. But you still have to admire Saxon's determination to turn the producers' (openly admitted) narrative strategies against them. And other ex-housemates (notably Ben) have made similar attempts. (Whether they have actually succeeded is another question; I suspect largely not.)


Talking of k-punk, this post on the canonisation of pop songs as banal retro signifiers actually brought tears to my eyes, it was so deeply felt and so right. (And I hereby institute a campaign to make Mark's coinage "Deja Vudu" part of the vocabulary of every thinking person…)

Please note also in this post that rarest of things, an invocation of Proust's madeleine that is actually pertinent. Sorry for gushing, but k-punk really is all good…there's a great post on Moloko (recently featured on my top 10 singles) too, and a link to this story about a play which is being written about the life of Delia Derbyshire, the producer of the Doctor Who theme tune, which I recently realised has had a more profound influence on my life than any other single piece of music!

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Another letter from Cologne 

And this time it was from Mathias Schaffhäuser! If you've just tuned in, John and I had a music-geek disagreement about one of Mathias's tracks, "Some Kind Of," from the Kompakt Total 1 compilation, which I insisted was in 3/4 and John asserted with equal vigour was in 4/4. So I e-mailed Mathias about it and today, after going to the trouble of digging out the track and listening to it again (it was released several years ago), he got back to me.

So who's right? Well, both of us, or neither of us. According to Mathias, "the whole beginning and all the beats are in 3/4," but then when the big synth chords come in it changes into 4/4, and then alternates between the two. He also tactfully suggests that the vocal sample used in the song, which goes "Shouldn't there be some kind of structure?" is a big honking hint that such questions are meant to be undecidable. So I guess that makes it a draw. Mathias also says that he hadn't listened to the track for a while but has now put it back in his record box, so Cologne will be grooving to those block-rocking 3/4 (er, and 4/4) beats thanks to me!


Missjenjen has been in good form lately, fulminating against "human pop-up ads," those people who come up to you in public and, on any pretext whatsoever, monopolise several minutes of your time as if you've got nothing better to do. Of course, frequently you have got nothing better to do, but it's unpleasant to be reminded of this fact.

One type of human pop-up ad particularly puzzles me. This is a type which has only popped up over the past couple of years (in Melbourne at least): people who work for a charity, but don't want to take a donation on the spot. Instead, they want to sign you up for a regular donation scheme. Now, I'm a big fan of regular donation schemes (especially ones that don't engage in the neo-paternalistic rhetoric of "child sponsorship"), but is this really the kind of thing you would decide to do spontaneously when a perfect stranger accosts you on the street, especially since it presumably tends to involve handing over your credit card details? What could the strike rate possibly be? Also, I strongly suspect that these people tend to be backpackers working on commission, rather than volunteers. (I'm very happy to retract this if anyone knows otherwise.)

The annoying thing is, there's no easy way to get rid of these people. You can't just drop $2 in the tin, smile and walk away, and they always start the conversation by saying something innocuous like "Have you heard of [charity]?" I end up saying something very unwieldy like "I'm sorry, I already contribute in a similar way to another organisation," not the tersest of replies. Any ideas?

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Letter from Cologne 

No, no reply from Mathias Schaffhäuser, not yet anyway, but I did get a lovely e-mail from Margit at the record label he runs, Ware--but it actually wasn't related to my e-mail query at all, rather she had seen my post on Ware artists Coloma! It was in fact a very lovely e-mail considering the mean things I said about Coloma's lyrics; she thanked me for "contributing to the discussion," and then kindly offered to forward my query about that 3/4 track on to Mathias. (Incidentally I've found another track on Kompakt that's even more unambiguously in 3/4 that that one, "Motor" by Jake Fairley, off the "Speicher 9" EP, so if the worst comes to the worst…) Conclusion: Ware are fantastic and are interested in what their fans think, so buy their records!

(That's what I love about small labels…can you imagine someone at Sony sending me an e-mail saying "Thanks for contributing to the discussion about Beyoncé, sorry you didn't like the ballads"?)

And once you've downloaded all those... 

...you must proceed immediately to Gabba.net and grab "Put it in your mouth," Missy Elliot's take on the Beyoncé track. Put what in your mouth? You may well ask. (Oh, and no fancy peer-to-peer software required, so you've got no excuse.)

Monday, July 14, 2003

For your downloading pleasure 

My top 10 singles of 2003 so far:
  1. Dizzee Rascal - I Luv U
  2. Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z - Crazy in Love
  3. P!nk feat. William Orbit - Feel Good Time
  4. Herbert - Addiction
  5. Lea Klus - Deep Damage EP
  6. !!! - Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story)
  7. tATu - All the Things She Said
  8. Adam Beyer - Ignition Key (Speedy J Remix)
  9. Justin Timberlake - Rock Your Body
  10. Moloko - Forever More
If your favourite song isn't on here, that's because either (a) I haven't heard it yet; (b) it was actually released in 2002 (hence no shuffle-tech, all my favourite shuffle tracks turn out to be 2002 releases; also, re: Dizzee, limited edition vinyl promo releases don't count!); or (c) I have heard it, it was released in 2003, and it's rubbish.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Sweet justice 

It's not often that the world decides to comply with my idea of what's right and fair, but I was praying weeks ago that the final three on Big Brother would be Chrissie, Dan and Reggie, and thanks to Patrick's eviction tonight my prayer has been answered. I really don't mind which of them wins now. Chrissie would still be my first choice, but she has no chance. I hope it's Reggie just because I want a woman to win (although I'm not sure why, it's not as if it's my gender I'm barracking for; I think I just want to prove wrong the smug idiots who say that a woman can't win), but I could hardly begrudge Dan the money--what he loses by being a man he makes up for by being thoroughly weird, and really, you would have to be proud of a country that says, yes, of all the people we've been presented with, he's the one we want to give a quarter of a mil to. Hmmm, am I talking myself into changing my mind?


In the HMV dance department today they were playing Swayzak's new Fabric mix CD over the PA. This should be arriving in my letterbox in a few days; I can't wait. While I was in the store I heard Akufen's "Skidoos" then Luomo's "The Present Lover" then Herbert's remix of Louis Austen's "Hoping" (utterly mad, this--it has a woman's voice saying "jack me, jack me, jack me, jack me, jack me 'til I start to scream!", then morphs into a full-on Dean Martinesque orchestra-backed croonathon, but with a house beat--magic). Microhouse hits the big time! I love the fact that so many people will be exposed to this stuff just because they buy every Fabric CD as a matter of course. After all, I got exposed to microhouse by listening to Tiefschwarz's "A Little Help For Your Friends" (still my favourite mix CD ever, incidentally) and hearing the likes of Soul Phiction, Herbert, Recloose and Soft Pink Truth for the first time. In my case the gateway drug was deep house. And to think it was only a few months ago!


I've added so many blogs to my bookmarks lately (including the excellent Crooked Timber--I'm warming to the idea of academic blogs), I'm going to have to let some go. I think I'll start with Gawker…it takes ages to read and it's been increasingly tedious lately, with its stupid jokes about "hipsters" and trucker hats (just as stupid as hipsters and trucker hats themselves, surely), its daily celebrity sightings update (yawn), and its habit of linking to everything Choire Sicha ever writes…not that there's anything wrong with that, but I already read him so it's a bit redundant. So, it's the chopping block for you, Gawker…will somebody let me know if it gets good again?


I forgot to write about my, er, good news. I was sitting at the counter in the front window of Caffè e Torta on Little Collins Street yesterday (a favourite haunt, especially on weekends when you can watch the wedding parties from Reservoir or Mount Waverley arrive to be photographed amid a bit of CBD colour and grime), when the woman who was sitting next to me leaned over and said "Excuse me, but I read coffee cups and I have to tell you, you have love coming in your life." She expanded: apparently I am due to meet my soulmate from a past life by Christmas, especially if I write down a wishlist of the qualities I'm looking for ("personal qualities, not physical ones"--damn!), in pink writing ("or whatever colour is romantic for you") on white or gold paper, and put it under my pillow.

It's funny, but I was actually touched by this encounter. I'm going to try it, too! What's the harm? I did admittedly immediately fire off a jokey SMS to my sister (her reply: "The leaves never lie, or was it grounds?"; me: "It was froth!!") and I also had a laugh about it with one of the waitresses in the café. But the woman actually seemed really nice and genuinely concerned, and she gets major props for not mentioning any gender pronouns, unlike some psychics I've encountered…I was standing outside a bank in Chapel Street once when a woman came up to a security guard and snapped at him "I'm a psychic and I can tell you're really bored and unhappy!" then, without waiting for a reply (surely "duh, I'm a bloody security guard at a bank!" would have been the only possible one), turned to me and said "and you'll get married and have six children!" Um, slight problem there...


Warning to anyone who is tempted to sign up for the pay-per-view service at Fairfax: make sure that when you pay to read an article it's not one you've already read. Mim told me there had been a review of Meistersinger in The Age, but she didn't know anything else about it; I found it, only available on pay-per-view, and dutifully paid my $2 or whatever it was to see it, only to find out that it was exactly the same SMH review I linked to here a few days ago! (No option for text-only or "printer-friendly" output either, thanks guys.) Now, you'd think that some indication of when an article was syndicated might be in order for an archive site. It's not that I begrudge the $2, but just on principle, surely they must get the type of search that says "give me everything you have on Delta Goodrem" (sorry, she's been on my mind, poor lass, I feel guilty for all the mean things I've said about her), which must turn up tons of duplicate articles from The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, so you would think consolidating them might be a good idea.


Talking of Fairfax, weird instance of synchronicity: the front of the Review section in The Age today featured a checkerboard collage of thirty-six different cover designs for Animal Farm (illustrating a tribute to Orwell by "acclaimed author Margaret Atwood"…oh well, if she's "acclaimed" I guess I'd better take this seriously), whereas the front of Good Weekend featured a checkerboard collage of thirty different photos of…David Beckham! (Presumably this wasn't coordinated, since Good Weekend is put together in Sydney.) I mention this conjunction without further comment.

I only glanced at the Atwood piece (syndicated, naturally, although weirdly it came from a broadcast on BBC Radio 3), since in this centenary year I really have no further appetite for Orwell paeans (trust me, Terry Eagleton's is the only one you need), but I did notice this rather irritating sentence:
Animal Farm is one of the most spectacular Emperor-Has-No-Clothes books of the 20th century and it got Orwell into trouble.
Leaving aside the rather cloth-eared prose, especially coming from an Acclaimed Author, this metaphor is all wrong: it implies something that I'm pretty sure Atwood doesn't actually believe (although many do), that Orwell was the sole dissenting voice on the left in the 1940s, that everyone else thought Stalin was an utterly fabulous bloke and the incarnation of the hopes of the worldwide proletariat. As Christopher Hitchens has pointed out (I tremble to bring up that much-reviled name, and I'm sorry to defy the yes-no interlude's call for a moratorium on mentioning his name and Orwell's in the same breath, but what can I say, I'm still a fan in spite of everything)…as I was saying, as Christopher Hitchens has pointed out, this very widely held view ignores, just for starters, the existence of the followers of a person called Snowball…er, sorry, Trotsky.

In any case, what "got Orwell into trouble" was surely not his being the first person ever to make the observation that revolutions are intrinsically prey to the possibility of the oppressed becoming oppressors in their turn…anyone remember a guy called Thomas Carlyle? My own take, though, is that unlike the Carlyle-derived Tory tradition that right-wingers want to co-opt him into, where the revolution is doomed from the start and it would have been better if had never happened, in the case of Animal Farm it's actually crucial that you believe in the revolution when it happens and moreover you believe it could have worked. The real achievement of the novel is a sentimental, which is to say an ideological one: it makes you feel like revolution is something worth trying, which makes its ultimate failure all the more devastating, but also makes you think about the ways in which failure could have been avoided. (The message of the book isn't "don't try to change the world," it's "don't let the nomenklatura tell you what to think.") If you don't feel this, then you can fuck off, this book has nothing to do with you and your agenda. (Again, I'm sure this neo-conservative co-option of Orwell is not actually Margaret Atwood's position, it's just that she chose an unforunate metaphor…I suspect, in fact, that the Emperor's New Clothes is always an unfortunate metaphor.)

Saturday, July 12, 2003

DON'T click on this link 

OK, this goes against all my most deeply held principles, and I promise (for real this time) that I will never ever do this again, but just this once I can't resist (just be grateful I'm not posting the bloody graphic!).

(PS I got Oliver Wood...result!)


Where are we on a genealogy of shuffle-tech? Because my random playlist just brought up "Let's Get Brutal" by Nitro Deluxe (from the Warp 10+1 compilation), which the indispensable Discogs dates at 1986, and after seven odd minutes of classic, comfortable-as-an-old-jumper late eighties four-to-the-floor, suddenly, mere seconds before the track finishes, without any warning whatsoever the beat divides into three! And then it goes back to what it was, and the track ends and you can't quite believe what you just heard.

The Dialectics of Eddie McGuire 

I went to a production of Brecht's Mr Puntila and His Man Matti tonight. The play was…well, mildly entertaining (although Trades Hall has the most uncomfortable seats in the world, not ideal for sitting through three hours of agitprop), but what makes it notable was that the producer and director, Steve Gome (who is a friend of my housemate) funded it with the $125,000 he won on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Not only is this surely the most noble and high-minded enterprise ever to be the beneficiary of Eddie McGuire's largesse, but I don't have to point out the irony (quick mental check to make sure this actually is irony…hmm, yes I think so) of using your Millionaire winnings to put on a play by, of all people, Brecht!


I've been listening to the Coloma album Finery (on Mathias Schaffhäuser's Ware label, and no, Herr Schaffhäuser hasn't got back to me yet), and I keep wishing I had never come across Tim Finney's fiendishly astute observation that the lyrics are kind of like Tim Rice lyrics. It's so true; although the more obvious source is prog rock, with its fairy-tale/German romanticism aesthetic, and there's a bit of a windswept Euro high modernism thing going on as well, on top of all that there's an archness and over-cleverness to the imagery, an over-reliance on anthropomorphism, a "look, I'm setting a scene here" picturesqueness, that is pure Tim Rice (although I actually don't think Tim Finney meant the comparison to be a negative one)…"I want to wear the clothes that summer wears," "I'm the tailor who sews the emperor's clothes" (yes, clothes are a theme), or, to pick a more extended example completely at random "In hotels they are serving tea/Writing postcards, ringing the bell/They're still looking for the lighthouse key/So kiss me quick, I'll never tell"…ouch! You really have to be in the mood for this stuff. As you know, I tend not to even notice lyrics most of the time, but these are pretty hard to ignore, especially when, thanks to Tim F., you can't stop thinking "geez, what is this, Evita?"

Meanwhile, though, the music is gorgeous, certainly better than anything that talentless baboon Andrew Lloyd Webber ever served up: microhouse textures with real pop songcraft, melodies that make you realise how unmelodic most of what gets taken for "melody" in dance music actually is. And the singer can actually sing, which makes a nice change from most microhouse, where the vocals (when there are vocals) tend to be in an expressionless Teutonic baritone that sounds exactly the same no matter who is actually singing. The Kompakt voice, I think of it as, and very effective it can be too, but it's become almost as much of a cliché as that spoken "Ving Rhames doing a boarding announcement" basso profundo you hear on every single tribal house record, so it's nice to hear something a bit different, although the marked estuary English accent (Coloma are English but they live in the coolest city in the world, ie Cologne) takes a bit of getting used to, especially when it's singing those lyrics.

Overall, this is the kind of record I can imagine giving to a music theatre fan who was curious about microhouse. Rather a tiny market segment, perhaps, but I'm glad they're being serviced.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Can't take my eyes off you 

The funny thing about Big Brother commentary in the UK is that even people who vehemently, furiously disapprove of it all seem to be quite relaxed about the fact that they still watch it! It's almost as if they feel they don't have a choice. None of the self-exculpatory "oh, I happened to catch a glimpse of it the other night, I don't really watch it, but...Vincent must go!" stuff you get in Australia. I mean, check out Penman the other day:

I find it truly mind boggling, if you want to think about it for a second, that in however many weeks days hours it has been, not ONE of the Big Brother people has said a SINGLE interesting or controversial or off-menu thing. Not one. Not ONE.
Which just confirms my view, by the way, that the UK show must be much blander than the Australian one, because we have had plenty of off-menu stuff, from Kim's racist joke (I've decided to lose the scare quotes around "joke" because they're priggish and dumb--there's no question that it's a joke, an utterance intended to amuse, it's just a bad joke, and surely calling it racist is enough indication that you disapprove of it) to Chrissie's absolutely magnificent demolition of poor Daniel the other night. Dan is lovely, but his problem is that he just doesn't believe he's capable of being patronising or thoughtless. But darling, darling Chrissie really nailed him--"I find it interesting that you would say to me 'I think it's great that you're not bothered by your size' but you wouldn't say to Reggie 'I think it's great that you're not bothered by your limited vocabulary'"--I'm paraphasing but it was almost that sharp. I just hope this plays well with the public and they vote correctly, ie Patrick to go.

Master Bates 

As for what's keeping me from Harry Potter 5, it's Oliver Twist, a book I've strangely never read, despite being a big Dickens lover and having seen at least four different versions of it at various times. (The David Lean film, the recent BBC adaptation, and both stage and screen incarnations of the sublime Oliver!)

There are a couple of things you don't pick up from any adaptation though. Firstly, the rumours are true, there really is a character called Charley Bates who is referred to several times as "Master Bates." Secondly, Fagin is called "the Jew" by the narrator more often than he's called "Fagin." The antisemitism is right there.

There's a story about that, by the way. Forgive me if you already know this, but I wish it was more widely known: a Jewish lady wrote to Dickens complaining about the Fagin caricature in Oliver Twist, and he was so convinced by her arguments that when he came to write his last completed novel, Our Mutual Friend, he not only included sympathetic Jewish characters in it, but made one of the subplots a blistering critique of antisemitism. This is a nice story to tell people who try to tell you that everyone in the nineteenth century was antisemitic, that it wasn't even an issue anyone gave a second thought to. (Of course, it never seems to occur to people who make this argument that, just for starters, many Jews weren't antisemitic, so it could hardly have been "everyone".)


Tonight I watched Rio Bravo on DVD. I don't think I've seen more than a handful of Westerns in my life but this was fantastic! (I love Howard Hawks' other movies, of course.) The script was just superb, and oh my God Ricky Nelson! Holy shit, just look at that photo, need I say more?


Very funny (and spot-on) thread at ILM.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Slo-o-o-ow Love, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Ballad 

After Luka's admonition that "slow jams are great and if you don't like them you're a sourfaced puritan who puts exactly the same amount of toothpaste on your brush every single day and night," perhaps I should stipulate that I do in fact completely agree, ideologically speaking, and what's more I certainly love some slow jams (Prince's, obviously, for example), it's just that when the beat slows my attention does tend to drift a bit. Siegbran at ILM said something interesting about this a while ago; those of us who have 4/4 dance music in the blood (ie Europeans, mainly, but Australians too) simply find anything slower than 120 bpm difficult to deal with, which is why we (at least Siegbran and I), much as we love a lot of recent R&B and hip-hop, also often wish it could be speeded up just a little bit. Oh well, that's what pitch control is for I guess. Yet another reason I need more vinyl in my life.


I promise this will be my last word on Harry Potter (er, probably), but I wanted to respond at slightly more length to Jim's comments, both here and at B.org. First of all, when I said that the HP books could have been written 50 years ago, I didn't mean this to sound as dismissive as it no doubt did. What I mainly meant was that they're not conspicuously contemporary in the way that a novel by Ballard or Don DeLillo or someone would be; the Hogwarts kids don't use the internet, they don't watch Big Brother, they don't have mobile phones, etc. Jim insists that, on the contrary, despite the old-fashioned trappings of Hogwarts the kids and their schooling are actually very contemporary. I'd love him to expand on this, perhaps in his own blog (ahem). But also, remember that 50 years ago was the fifties, which might have been the decade of Father Knows Best but it was also the decade of Les 400 coups, so it's not like the idea of children as bolshie/flawed/unhappy was exactly unknown back then. (I'm cheating by citing Truffaut, obviously, but I’m sure you could find examples of this in children's lit of the era too.)

Still, it's good to see the books defended so vigorously for once, even (or especially) by someone who goes on to stipulate that he doesn't actually like them all that much! Have you noticed how, by way of contrast, the most ardent HP readers tend to get all embarrassed when you ask them why they like the books, and say things like "I know they're not very well-written, but they're real page turners"? Fuck that! The fact that snobs like me don't rate Rowling's prose style is all the more reason to maintain that she's the best thing since Tolstoy. If you're going to be a fan of something, at least believe in it!

Also, I forgot to mention that I myself enjoyed the first four books and am looking forward to reading the fifth (without being in any particular hurry), so I'm not a hater, honest!

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

I'm sorry about this, but it's a legal requirement that every blogger posts on this topic at least once 

Is there anyone in the world (apart from me) who is currently reading a book that is not Harry Potter 5? My flatmate is reading it; everyone on public transport seems to be immersed in a copy, my on-line forums are ablaze with considerately spoiler-fonted discussion of it, even the sixtyish lady sitting next to me at the opera the other night was reading the damn thing! (Fortunately only during the intervals; she was able to tear herself away for the opera itself.)

Now, I find Harry Potter scepticism just as tiresome as Harry Potter fanaticism. (Or rather, much more tiresome, since naïve enthusiasm always beats weary condescension.) But…oh, damn it, you know where I'm going with this, and the moderate Third Way, the "I come neither to praise Harry nor to bury him" approach is just as boring a cliché as the other two isn't it? (On top of which, soi-disant moderates always have the particularly annoying trait of believing that everybody else is an extremist.) Oh well, taking for granted then that I have nothing to say about this subject that you haven't read a thousand times before, I'll try to make this quick…

I just find it amusing that this cultural hysteria has occurred about a series of books that could quite easily have been written fifty years ago! The fevered anticipation of the release date, the compulsive need to finish it so you can talk to other people about it, the minute exegeses of Harry's adolescent emotions…(Hmm, there's a thought: Dizzee Rascal is Harry Potter for hipsters! And I may well be the first person to say that.) If you were writing a story where people got that excited about a new novel, you would make it something with a bit of social energy behind it (to use a Reynoldsism), wouldn't you? Something a bit Ballardy or Gibsony, postmodern, zeitgeisty, streamlined. Or, if you were more pessimistically inclined, you might choose some ghastly series of cult novels like the Left Behind books. You certainly would never guess that an entire planet would get its rocks off for some 900 page monolith about a little prat who goes to boarding school to learn how to to be a wizard! It's as if, instead of lining up for days to see The Matrix Reloaded, filmgoers were queueing up to see the latest Merchant-Ivory film.

Total Convergence, continued 

OK, it looks like I should have caught up thoroughly on reading my blogs before I posted anything, because it turns out that Jess's comment about Schäffel being a very fast waltz was borrowed from Jon, whose own riff on the subject was inspired by, well, moi, actually. Specifically my comment that Beyoncé's "Hip Hop Star" was "shuffle hip-hop", which to be honest was drawing a long bow (out of my arse, quite possibly)…perhaps the only thing it really has in common with shuffle-tech is the division of the beat into 3, there's not necessarily any actual influence there, but what the hell, latent affinities is what we're all about, eh?

If you'll excuse a spot of self-indulgence, the fact that this blog seems to be attracting more readers and even getting mentioned in other blogs is…well, strange. Gratifying, of course, but also part of me wants to just crawl back into my hole and hide. And part of me thinks, God, maybe I should have thought through that Foucault stuff more, and how can I presume to post about pop music when it's obvious my knowledge about it is paper-thin, and help help help I'm a fraud!!! Kind of like academia, but speeded up.

But mostly I'm enjoying the ride. Oh, and in my new spirit of hobnobbing with celebrities and cognoscenti, I fired off an e-mail to Mathias Schaffhäuser today, so let's wait and see. If you don't hear any more on the subject, you can assume that (a) he didn't write back, or (b) he wrote back and the bloody track was in 4/4. Or maybe he'll write in twenty years' time, once he sifts through his e-mail, like Ringo did to Marge. Do Cologne minimal house producers get much fan mail, do you think?

I've got Schaeffelfieber! 

Jess Harvell (glad he's blogging again) has an interesting discussion of Schäffel, including the suggestion that because it involves dividing each beat into three, it's actually a speeded-up waltz rhythm! La valse à mille temps indeed. I suppose it was inevitable that I'd come across this postulate, given the general theme lately of Convergence of All Aspects of My Life. Or am I just going crazy?


Movable Type have chosen me--yes, me!--to be a beta tester for TypePad, their new blog hosting service. I'm not supposed to say anything about it except to point you in the direction of my beta blog, which is here. It will have the same content as this blog, but, I dunno, go and have a look and leave a comment or something.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003


OK, so John has heard the CD and he doesn't think Mathias Schaffhäuser's "Some Kind Of" is actually in 3/4 time at all. I'm more than positive that he's wrong, but still, I wouldn't mind someone backing me up. Does anyone out there have the Kompakt Total 1 compilation? Would you mind awfully giving it a spin and counting the beats in that Schaffhäuser track? Mathias, sweetie, are you out there?


Talking of celebrity readers (well, sort of), it was nice to get a visit from Mark of k-punk, one of the most consistently interesting music blogs out there. If you're not already reading it, you're probably beyond help, but check it out anyway.


I'm back from Sydney. As planned I stayed up all night on Saturday and went straight to the airport to catch my 8.00 am flight, so I'm still catching up on sleep. Sydney wasn't very cooperative with my insomniac plans though; most of the chic little bars there are attached to restaurants and have restaurant licences, which means they close at 1 am. You're never going to be as cool as Melbourne until you do something about those licensing laws, guys! I ended up drinking vodka martinis back at Mim's house with Mim, her German friend Maggie, and Steve Davislim, the (very talented) tenor who sang David in Meistersinger. Not only that, but we had to huddle in the cold in Maggie's room because there were people sleeping in both Mim's room and the living room. How Bohemian! (More in the Baz Luhrmann sense than the real sense, perhaps.) After they all decided they'd had enough, I had a quiet coffee on Oxford Street then arrived at the airport in the early morning light. Slept all the way home. A very good trip although I did none of my usual Sydney things. No ferry ride! Didn't even catch a glimpse of the Opera House; the last few trips I've practically lived there. (Meistersinger was at the Capitol Theatre.) No dance parties, no cocaine-fuelled orgies, nothin'. Still, a good time.


I should probably ask this at ILM but I'm too shy: when did people start using the formula "X vs Y" to refer to unlikely or eclectic collaborations? As in Leftfield vs John Lydon, Run-DMC vs Aerosmith, Anal Cunt vs The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, that sort of thing. It must have been sometime in the 90s, but what was the first one?

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Fun with gerunds 

I'm in a net cafe in Sydney's Chinatown. There's a sign up saying "Dear customer, Please take care of your belonging!!!" This is quite a nice aphorism if you think about it. Take care of your own belonging, because no-one else is going to take care of it for you.


It turns out that my brother and I have been cited by another Melbourne blogger as useful vocabulary resources. Glad to help, Suzette! And "panopticon" is really one of those words that's indispensible in everyday life, don't you think?


Just had a very nice lunch with John, his wife Thuy and their friend Kat. Off to the opera again this afternoon, then if I can convince anyone to stay out all night with me, I'm planning to do that because I have to be at the airport at 7.00 am. Nessun dorma!

Friday, July 04, 2003

Swedish porn star 

Excellent review of Meistersinger in the Sydney Morning Herald, including a cute photo of Mim in her Swedish porn star outfit. I'm probably going again tomorrow.


Apparently one of the Aussie BB housemates is going into the UK house: Joanne, the lawyer/model who left a trail of broken hearts behind her. Hmm, I couldn't stand Jo myself, as you can see from previous posts (if you care to look for them; I can't be bothered to link and I'm on the clock here) but it will be interesting to see what they make of her over there.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Don't ever tell me I don't have my finger on the pulse 

I'm sitting in an Internet cafe and guess what just came on the radio?

[Erm, OK, that permalink's not working for me but it was Guru Josh's "Infinity."]

So vey, vey tahd 

Opera good. Got to bed 5.30 am. Had to check out of hotel by 10.00 am. Need more coffee.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey... 

Sydney just does not understand the concept of a shower. It's been raining, heavily, continuously since I got here. Glad I remembered my umbrella. Remind me again why Sydneysiders get to tease Melburnians about our weather?

I'm staying in a hotel in Kings Cross, the red light district of Sydney. I've never really explored this area before, but apart from a truly staggering number of sex shops it's quite charming. Maybe all the rain makes it seem more European, I don't know.

Some guy on the plane was wearing a face mask! What a wanker.

Opera tonight. Can't wait. The whole show, including intervals, lasts for six hours! Wagner was not what you would call a terse composer.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Sin city here I come 

I'm off to Sydney until Sunday, to catch up with friends and to see my sister in the opening night of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg…her biggest role yet. I think I'm more nervous than she is.

Anyway, blog updates will be sporadic, or at least there'll be a respite from the frenetic pace of the last few weeks. Probably just as well, it will give you all a chance to reflect on my panopticon entry and pick holes in it!


Found another 3/4 song…"Open Up Your Heart," off the album Echoes by The Rapture (which I don't think has even been released yet, that's how cutting-edge I am). It's good too--kind of a neo-post-punk ballad with bleeps. I'll have to decide whether it can displace something off the current comp. or whether it can wait for Volume 2…

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