I ended up buying a compilation of Hot Chocolate a few years back because they have so many great, wacky songs. …Cadillac is probably my fav though because it’s so deceptively heavy and has genius use of violins. The above version is especially cool because it is actually live. They must have had the horns and strings off-stage.
For slackers like me the Premier Guitar online magazine stuff is great. It’s much easier to peruse and read magazine articles about guitar than actually knuckle down and practice playing guitar.
One day a while back I was reading an article on the history of pedal steel. In short, it’s gone in and out of favour with the commercial country scene since it was invented.
The article mentioned a couple of recent artist who’ve had some sweet pedal steel twanging in their music so I had a quick listen via youtube. Most of it didn’t take my fancy but I came across Nikki Lane and her album All Or Nothin’. It’s got slide guitar on there. Al couple of the stand out tracks are KILLA and were enough to prompt me to buy the album. I still feel woe about this whole buying music digitally situation because it’s so nothing but this album at least came with a digital booklet that has the stuff that used to be liner notes—the stuff that I miss—like reading who wrote the songs, where they were recorded and such.
I guess it’s classified as ‘alternative country’ whatever that is. For me in one way it feels a lot like pop because it grabs you quick with the catchy but then there’s not that many relistens in it because there’s not a lot of depth. Dan Aubergene from the Black Keys produced the album and I can definitely hear his hand in there.
Speaking of interesting, guitar-playing women, I would also mention Courtney Barnett but she’s already getting enough press. Let’s wait to see if her second album’s any good.
I don’t want to let April slip away without me posting at least once here, so. How much of a surreal, sci-fi living legend (ledge) is Elon Musk? I was sitting wasting time waiting for class to start at uni the other day when I looked at this tweet of the first stage rocket booster narrowly failing a perfect landing and I was struck by how far out of the mundane this stuff is.
It’s the little things, ya know? Like how Musk named the landing barge, “Just Read the Instructions” in the spirit of Iain M Banks’ spaceship names for the Culture series. Or the fact that the electricity used for recharging Tesla cars is all offset by the power generated by SolarCity ie. the project is genuinely green, not just electric cars using fossil fuel-made electricity.
There was a bit of info about this Chinese documentary, ‘Under The Dome’ in the news lately because it had been censored (ie. taken off the Chinese internet) by their government. It’s still on youtube and has had English sub-titles added, although I should mention that if you’re going to watch it then prepare your brain because the subtitles are not the usual family-friendly SBS style—they come fast and you’re bound to miss bits and pieces of what’s being said.
Very interesting. For me, the biggest thing that stood out was how frank and un-hostile most of the interviewees were, especially the guy who was head of Sinopec. As an aside, some of the dialogue gives the sense that Mandarin (hard as it is with all those tones) is full of colourful metaphors the way English is. The description he gave of Sinopec being ‘a big person, but it’s all fat and no muscle’ seemed very apt and parallels the state apparatus there now too.
The other thing that was interesting was that the key points that Chai Jing, the host, pushes are not earth-shattering. Cleaning coal before use, upgrading the petrol being used and enforcing exhaust filtering on vehicles are all very mundane things by western standards. It shows how very much China has fallen to the temptations of evil capitalism.
And this summer has been way more stormy than last so there’s been plenty more exciting colours like this.
I meant to mention a week or so back we went to an Ethiopian restaurant in Flemington. The food itself was kind of interesting. We had a sampler of several dishes – some lentil based things as well as a bit of goat, chicken, fish and lamb (which I steered clear of on the account of my suspected allergy to it). The real surprise was that there was no cutlery involved. I’ve never eaten that kind of stuff with my fingers before—or at least not since I was 2 or 3yo. It was served on a spongy kind of bread which you can kind of grab and wrap the stuff in but it’s only useful to a point, then you have to just dig in a get dirty. The tactile experience was kind of interesting but I can’t help but think that using fork, knife, spoon is more logical than fingers.
Speaking of logic. RIP Leonard Nimoy. As an emotionally turbulent teenager I idolised Spock’s cool, detached way of dealing with the mysteries and troubles of the universe. Sure, it doesn’t work in reality and even in the TV show he did occasionally flip out and try to kill his captain but everyone needs something to aim for, especially as a youngster.
After cruising through some of the farmish parts of rural victoria and then down through parts of the otways I have to say I lament the fact that the Great Ocean Road and Otway hinterland have become weekend playground for melbourne yuppies and international tourists who accept being fleeced. Everything is priced ridiculously (I paid $7 for a pie!) and there’s too much useless new-agey stuff. The Otway Black Snail, pictured right, is neither overpriced or useless. In fact I wish I could bring home a team of them to live in my back yard and eat the regular, plant-eating snails. If this was america there would already have been a movie made about giant flesh-eating snails.
We went for a couple of days driving out west as far as the southern edge of the Grampian mountain range but not actually into them. Stayed in Dunkeld for the night.
But back to the travels. A two thumbs up to Southern Grampians Cottages in Dunkeld. We stayed there one night and it was really nice.
I’d forgotten how small small towns could be. I mean, the name is on the map and we drive there and indeed there is a sign saying you are there. There’s speed limits, a couple of houses, maybe a pub, no one around and that’s it. I found myself trying to get a feel for these places but it’s hard to do if you’re still going a 60kph and not stopping. But I started to wonder what constitutes a town and why does one small country town live on through changing economic circumstances while another seems to die.
We passed through Derrinallum on Sunday and they happened to be having a market under the trees on the main strip. We stopped to have a look and ended up buying a bunch of stuff like honey, bikkies and a hand-knitted beany. (Prices in real country towns like this, as opposed to touristified towns, are very reasonable.) There was kids for the local P-12 holding a raffle to raise money for something and generally acting goofy. There was a woman singing old-timey songs and playing an amped up ukulele.
Then on Monday mid-morning we passed through Lake Bolac and it looked dead as a doornail. Maybe it was the difference in day but the main thing seemed to be that there was no centre to the town. It’s split by the highway. The populations are about the same and Bolac has a P-12 school too, not to mention a tourist info centre and a lake. But it looked a whole lot less appealing.
And then on a whole other level is Timboon, where I lived as a small boy. They don’t even need you to come and visit as a tourist. Just buy their accordingly-priced boutique cheese, icecream, honey, alcohol and even bread. In Dunkeld the little grocery store was selling bread for the Timboon bakery. I used to walk past that bakery on my way home from school and all I can remember it making was very run of the mill white bread so something’s changed there.
Cheeseworld in Allensford gets a lot more visibility in the tourist literature than it deserves. It’s not a terrible place—it’s an okay place. It’s a local-level okay kind of place to eat but the best thing is the giftshop because of how it brings together all kinds of local/Victorian produce for the coachloads of Chinese tourists to buy.
I hadn’t realised how how active the sprintcar scene in country Vic was either. They really should just be called dirt buggies. We passed by at least 4 speedways (i.e. dirt tracks) in very rural areas. It’s a shame this kind of stuff isn’t on TV. It’d be much more amusing and genuine than a series like V8 supercar.
Finally got around to revisiting Fairy Park in Anakie. As a kid my family went there many times although I can only remember two —one when it was sunny and the other cloudy. Yesterday was sunny but I think I prefer it better when it’s cloudy there. More Germanic feeling.
We got there a few minutes after 10am, when it opens, and there was still people ahead of us. It turned out to be quite busy a couple of hours after that. People from all over: international tourists, other parts of the state and locals.
The playground had been totally remodelled but apart from that it hadn’t changed much since the early ‘80s. All the displays were the same and in one case had lost function (Jack no longer climbs the beanstalk). I guess the hazard insurance for having little kids crawling all over the joint must be high but apart from that the owners must be raking the cash in for the part of the year that it’s open and hibernating nicely during the part that it’s not.
What was really nice to see was all these northern hemisphere conifers that have grown over the years.
Went to the tennis yesterday. Even though it’s been two years since leaving korea I can still appreciate the convenience of having world class events like the Aus. Open happening right on our doorstep. We only had ground passes, so no entry to the two really big-name stadiums but that was plenty fine. And mum gave us the tickets because she couldn’t use them. Tennis (compared to something like motor racing) is really worth seeing in person compared to on TV. It’s pretty cool being that close to the players and seeing the game from different angles.
Having said that, the first thing we saw was in ‘hisense’ arena – a women’s match with players I wasn’t familiar with and we ended up sitting behind and to the right of the main TV cameras so all the fotos from that match look as if I’d photographed the TV at home.
I wish we’d been better prepared for the sun. It wasn’t an especially hot day but the sunshine is unrelenting even with sunblock on. I sat out at a smaller court watching Sam Groth play doubles but an hour was about all I could take.
I didn’t know there was a juniors section to the tournament but they were out on the back courts and all hitting it just as hard as the pros. Here’s Japan’s Chihiro Muramatsu carving up against a GBR girl. If she becomes super-famous remember you heard that name first here at Sunny Breaks.
My only criticism of the tournament organisation is the ridiculous prices of food and drink within the venue. People pay a lot of money to get into these kind of events, so why not show them a little respect by providing some decent, reasonably priced food? If we’d known we’d have made sandwiches. As it was we had some wedges and a crappy ‘pizza’ plus a couple of drinks for 45bucks. It was Je paying. If it was me I’d probably have left early. I watched a family of four come into the place we were at, they sat down, looked at the menus for a few minutes then left.
Went to a few Korean restaurants in Melbourne recently. It’s fairly hard to come by authentic dishes. Partly because of the embarrassment of riches we have here in Australia when it comes to ingredients. For example, beef is used sparingly in Korea (if it’s on the menu at all) but here it’s cheap so the temptation for restauratuers is to use more but that completely changes the food.
Presentation is also different.
This place in Richmond is a good example of a kind of korean food but definitely one for a mild australian taste. Also the stools you sit on here were ridiculously uncomfortable. It really is an indicator that these leeches we call real estate agents rule the land when you’ve got a city as sprawled as Melbourne is, yet here I sat is a busy (and therefore presumably successful) restaurant that was tiny and elbow-to-elbow.
In contrast, we went to another place in Clayton called Kang na roo which I am guessing is play on words. This was just like what I’d get in Korea at an everyday restaurant, right down to the plastic bowls and tupperware-style bottle of water. The only difference was the price, in that it’s a good deal more expensive here but then that’s to be expected. Two thumbs up!