It’s not Philly


Last week I finished my first term of proper teaching and getting paid for it. Not paid much mind you but it was all pretty stress-free and relatively enjoyable. Back in Korea most of the time I had to cajole the students into being interested in learning the Englishes. But if you live here and don’t know the language you know it as soon as you get to the bus stop.

My class was about half Aghan, half Karen-burmese and two Tibetan guys.


In other news, Big Bash League cricket: making cricket watchable again.

, — yak sox @ 10:53 am, December 23, 2015

Chocolate Santa

Considering I’ve been paying to have this blog hosted on the internet this last 12 months I really should be making better use of it. At this rate it’d be working out to 3 or 4 dollars per post—not good mileage at all.

Dick Laurent is dead

And by that I mean rest in peace Robert Loggia. I know he was typecast as a mobster baddie but he did it pretty well. My favourite part of Lynch’s Lost Highway :

It’s strange to think that next year both Twin Peaks and The X Files will be returning to TV.

yak sox @ 3:20 am, December 7, 2015

a crash in tejes

Well it’s only been a month since my last post. Not bad considering how busy I have been getting through the end of study while working at the same time. My procrastination is pathological in proportions! And I spend time thinking about it and at this point I think it has to do with how I don’t seem to feel any sense of satisfaction when I finish something big. Normal people I imagine would pat themselves on the back or celebrate in some small way but I tend to just feel flat and a bit tired.

I do really enjoy the feeling of having the whole day open—nothing to do—and then squandering it doing absolute bullshit. I think I enjoy knowing there’s a bunch of things I still need/want to do, and could potentially get around to doing them tomorrow.

I don’t remember this tree flowering as much as this, this time last year.


I do like mornings this time of year when the weather’s on the upramp and there’s a bit of humidity in the air. I really should spend more time in the backyard.


— yak sox @ 10:50 pm, November 4, 2015

expiration date

My itunes music subscription trial is about to expire. That was a quick three months. I won’t be continuing with it. It was kind of cool but I didn’t use it enough to warrant the cost. I did listen to some new stuff but there’s only so much, only a little, new stuff I can consume before wanting to circle back and listen again so that I can get some kind of perspective on it.

I kind of missed out on the whole White Stripes/Jack White emergence and only listened to a couple of those albums now—and he does have a catchy guitar style going. The Dead Weather is good too, with White on drums. They just put out an album: it sounds like Hollywood action movie soundtracks.


, — yak sox @ 8:11 am, October 3, 2015

Mad Rush by “Lucky Phil” Glass


I came across the rack of images that were sent off into space on the Voyager space craft. They have a great 70s retro feel and I particularly like this one above which I would informally title, “Food Party!”

Looking through the images I notice the lack of war/conflict photos and how that sits with the interestingly worded statement by the then World President Jimmy Carter—basically saying ‘we hope we can work our shit out and join you’. You’d think they would have at least included a photo of a mushroom cloud.


I am presently watching Breaking Bad. I held off for this long because I wasn’t interested in watching a TV show glamourising crystal meth, and I still don’t like the way it’s portrayed – use of it seems way too casual. In the second season it’s showing heroin use as being more addictive than meth use which seems wrong to me. Although it is a fairly well written show. I guess I’m fairly critical of it because it so hyped when it was running. I don’t know if using different coloured clothes to symbolise different states of mind of walter white qualifies it as the best tv show of the decade.


I still prefer watching stuff where I’m not expecting much and it delivers more. Like, thru the winter, revisiting The Professionals, which was on when I was a kid. British TV shows like this have such a sense of understatement.

I didn’t take any screenshots because I was watching and didn’t want to interrupt myself but I did note things which would’ve been good screenshots. Use your imagination.

  • Gordon Jackson as Cowley – the original hardarse boss, especially in the 1st season. He only got one episode about him – I guess he was too old and unsexy for the audience—great actor though.

  • Lewis Collins as Bodie – Collins was basically playing a Daniel Craig-class Bond character in an era when all we had was a discoball Bond. RIP.

  • The version of the series I found on the great river that is the internet was from the original prints which had aged and yellowed, making London look pretty crusty. But I like it and apparently the remastered dvds look bad.

  • I.E. doing the Miami Vice look before Miami Vice had even started. There’s no doubt Michael Mann saw The Professionals and was influenced by the triangular chief and two cop buddies format. Miami Vice had a lot more noir-ish baddies-get-killed endings than The Professionals but the connection is visible.

  • The essence of the understatement: CI5 cops have to drive budget but still sporty cars -> Ford Capri and Escort. Also being creative with budget; doing on-foot chases instead of with cars. Running through building sites, abandoned factories, across rooftops – 1970s parkour.

There was virtually no drop off in the quality of stories either. Season 5 finished and that was it. Nearly every other show I’ve watched that spanned more than three years I can’t remember how it ends up because I lose interest. Not so with The Professionals.

, , , — yak sox @ 2:40 am, September 25, 2015

please, drive him home


I’ve been so busy I haven’t even been able to get on here to say how busy I am. I also got a note in the mailbox saying a pet rabbit had been found somewhere on the block here last saturday night.

Been doing teaching placement i.e. working and not getting paid. But still interesting. Teaching the english overseas is like The Enterprise’s 5 year mission, teaching it here is like Deep Space Nine, where the action comes to you. Also busy studying and procrastinating about studying.

— yak sox @ 7:57 am, August 25, 2015

apple music streaming service

from the perspective of a broke anti-streaming slacker

Thanks to the annoyingly catchy and trendy tv commercials it’s pretty hard to miss the news that apple have started a music streaming service. For anyone that has an iphone and has bought an app, and therefore has an itunes account, it’s very easy to opt into and start the free three month trial of “Apple Music”. Important reminder: go into the settings and turn off automatic subscription renewal.

The first noteworthy thing is that 3 month trial. Three months is a long time. It’s very clever. Not many companies would have the capital to pay for all that initial set up without some return in the near future. More importantly, for schleppers like me three months is long enough to get hooked.

Up til now there have been a couple of global streaming services – spotify and pandora. I tried spotify for about half an hour and was not impressed. They have no free trial. If you want to listen to it for free then they insert lame-oh advertisements after every second song – thus turning your favourite album into bad radio.

So I started trialling the apple service a couple of weeks ago expecting it to be rubbish. It’s not but the jury’s still out on whether I’d actually pay for it. It’s 12bucks a month in Australia so over a year $144 which if you’d decided to take a different path through reality, would be I guess about 6 physical albums. If at the end of that year you cancel the service then you’re left with nothing except those sweet memories. And then there’s always the chance apple will raise the price.

For me one of the big sticking points is that it’s streaming. That’s okay at home using the internet and wireless router but for outside I’m a) on a budget phone plan and use phone megabytes sparingly. I try to make 100Mb last for two months. It doesn’t work but there’s certainly no room for 4Mb per song or whatever it is. B) Even cellular coverage in Australia is patchy let alone the thought of streaming via wifi while out and about. I lose phone reception on the train between Geelong and Melbourne. But at home it’s fine and I was listening to music all day and it didn’t use any noticeable amount of bandwidth here.

The main thing I was dubious about was what music they had available. One neat thing is you just use the itunes program on computer or app on a phone the same as you would with your own owned albums. So for the last two weeks I’ve been quizzing it. I think of some old or somewhat obscure artist and think Oh you got that? – look it up and mostly I’ve been impressed. Although my musical taste has been sliding to a slightly more mainstream point over the last ten years.

They got 13th floor elevators, they got Stetsasonic, they got Ganggajang and they even got this album (just packaged differently) :

 Of course it’s always possible to find the odd artist here or there that’s not on the service, perhaps because the artist had previously taken control of the copyright to their music—taking it from whichever company originally published it. An example it the ‘90s Melbourne indie group, Sandro. Their album Hate Songs is not on there. But then you could trawl five or six music shops in Melbourne and not find the CD there either.

hate songs


Here is a list of other failings I found.

  •  The Bell Sisters. I tried loading up an album of theirs. It was a compilation but I don’t know that they ever really did proper albums. Some music librarian data entry person goofed because instead of those two ‘50s girls voices I got Duke duke duke duke of Earl.

  •  Swervedriver. Despite being a pretty popular alternative crusty UK grungish rock outfit in their time, Swervedriver ended up with a series of record deals from hell—or something like that. A couple of good albums were essentially buried, deleted and difficult to get a hold of for years and years after release (in the ‘90s). And indeed 1995’s Ejector Seat Reservation is missing.

  • Occasionally songs just don’t come through. Like Guantanameraby The Sandpipers. It’s the lead track of their 1966 album, Guantanamera. I click on it – and nothing. Yet the other tracks from the album play. *[Edit]* A week later I try it again and now it’s working.

  • Even for a well known artist like Aphex Twin there’s a whole lot of stuff that’s not there – like (one of my faves) the EP Mike Flowers Pops Vs The Aphex Twin, and the Mike & Rich album. That’s one thing but also Richard D James recorded under a whole load of names (AFX, Polygon Window etc.). The iTunes interface could make it much clearer in linking collections of music made by the same artist. There is an ‘artists you may also like’ thing on the side but then for example on the Aphex Twin page it lumps AFX in with completely unrelated, maudlin try-hards Autechre.

expert knob twiddlers


My other major criticism is the search function is always steering you back to the popular. I look up an artist and you get in order, top singles, top albums, and then ‘albums’. The top result is nearly always a ‘best of’ compilation.

I like drilling back, finding who influenced who and I just prefer to go about it more studiously most of the time and listen to one album at a time.

Or at least that’s the theory. The convenience of looking up any music you can think of and have it playing a few seconds later is pretty mind-blowing. I’m still in the phase of engorging myself and barely getting to the end of one song before going on to the next thing.

What I’d like, uh-huh

I’d like to be able to search by record label. I type in Tommy Boy, and I want to see a list of the albums released by that label. Same with 4AD and so on.

I’d like to be able to click on that 150 X 150 px jpeg of the album cover and then get a much larger HIRES version of it to look at and if possible be able to flip to the liner notes or inside fold artwork.

For us cellular-challenged Australians I’d like to see a function where an album or selection of songs could be downloaded onto an iphone in a way so that the album could be played once but then be locked—so it’s not being stolen but can be listened to once at least, offline before getting back to somewhere with wifi.

I’d like to be able to use the Siri voice recognition function (on computer as well as phone) to cue up albums or songs using only speech so that I might feel LIKE A GOD.

A whole other thousand words could be written about how streaming audio media is going to completely reshape the experience of music but I can’t do it now. I can barely think because of Jello Biafra & DOA’s Full Metal Jackoff is rattling the windows—I haven’t heard it (or thought of it) since the sharehouse in Westgarth in ‘95.

PS. It was just in the news that Australians love to pirate media more than most countries, and it was pointed out that if movies or whatever were more easily accessible (legally) and priced reasonably then people would go for it. This is where Apple Music is succeeding – in comparison, torrenting albums is arduous. And the streaming service is relatively reasonably priced.

, , — yak sox @ 9:48 am, July 23, 2015

bowling ball

I’ve just spent a week on the trains. Vline changed the Geelong to Melbourne line two weeks ago. There are more services now but they go a different way. Instead of going through Werribee and Newport they now go through Sunshine and a bunch of other strange new places. It takes about the same time but it feels longer.

Last week I was travelling during peak-times which is very different (i.e. unenjoyable) to when I’m heading to Footscray to study as I have been this last year. More services but going a different way is kind of like a friend giving you a bowling ball for you birthday, which is good because you needed one but then the person says Now I’m coming with you every time you go bowling.

Also I’m pretty open minded when it comes to ‘the ‘burbs’, at least compared to some of my terminally trendy friends but these places like Tarneit and Deer Park are morbid. Terrible little houses—designed badly, stacked together, no trees—what hell! Wyndham Vale, the furtherest out new station doesn’t even have that yet – it’s just paddocks ready to be turned into the cancerous growth that is new, car-dependent (apart from this already overloaded train service) suburbia.

So anyway I needed a new podcast to fill the time. Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin has a lot of episodes so you can pick ‘n choose the kind of interviews that are more your thing.

— yak sox @ 6:13 am, July 5, 2015

Lemon Slushie

I’m doing a short course in the melbourne cbd just down the street from Allens music store. It’s going to be hard resisting the temptation to snap up one of these lovely looking lemon-top “slash” epiphones. Cheap guitars are the best guitars but I really don’t need another one. Good to see there’s still at least one shop that has prices competitive with what’s available via the internet.

Slashy  lemon

, — yak sox @ 8:08 am, June 30, 2015

Why Runaway Train (1985) is probably my favourite movie ever

Until last night it must have been over ten years since I’d watched Runaway Train and I wasn’t even remembering it right because I thought it was Charles Bronson in it but it’s Jon Voight. And I didn’t remember all the prison scenes at the start either. But what did stay in my mind all that time was the shots of the train blasting through the snow.

Here’s what really works in this film:

1. shots of the train blasting through the snow


The four locos teamed together, muddy-black in colour. The long shots show the desolate Alaskan winter and the driving snow emphasises the speed of the train. This is what cinematography is all about to me; showing something in pictures that can’t be described in dialogue or words of any kind.

2. The basic elements of the plot

Apparently this was a story and screenplay originally written by Akira Kurasawa. It was later adapted by the people who put together this film but there’s something about the way the main elements of the story hang together that have Kurasawa’s name all over them. I actually don’t know that much about him—I’ve only seen a couple of his B&W 50s(?) samurai films but there’s a simple way of story-telling though visuals he got down that others have been influenced by for decades.

The reason I can tell it’s not pure Kurasawa is the way it jumps from the scenes in the train what Voight kills, and the scenes in the train line control room. It’s like going from a quality drama to Flying High! Who ever was casting or directing, in these bits at least, really dropped the ball.


3. Jon Voight.


He probably did the only good acting in the film. Even then I wonder if the way he did the character might have been influenced by the way Stallone played the character Rocky Balboa. There was a couple of short monologish scenes that he nailed to the point where if this was a more popular movie then people would be parroting them the way they do De Niro in Taxi Driver.


Honourable mentions for cool things are – The actor and character that played the head prison warden. Every crazy, deathwish-seeking escaped convict needs an equally crazy sheriff hell-bent on bringing him down.

In both of these characters I can see an archetypal simplicity that Kurasawa would’ve outlined that made them so easy or successful to play.

And the on-train stunts and cinematography of the stunts. Hyper-real in how they look and the angles at which they were captured at. No CGI. The way heavy-falling snow combined with the speed of the train creates a darkening of the shot. Plus everyone knows how slippery ice is and everyone can guess how slippery it would be when trying to climb onto the nose of an EMD F7 at 70 miles an hour.


Because of the ‘80s schlock of the control room I’d almost say that this was a film ripe for re-doing but I know they’d never get the good parts right. No one in the two thousand teens wants to see a train barrelling through the snow, right? We’ve got too much ADD for that. No one wants to see relationships and motivations unfolding inside a boring, boxy black locomotive’s interior. So I can live with the bits that are a bit quaint because I know that Hollywood today would red rubber-stamp the whole thing ‘QUAINT’ including the live action stunts and the symbolism of an out of control train carrying a rebel on his last flight.


, , , — yak sox @ 4:10 am, June 25, 2015
« Previous PageNext Page »

Sunny Breaks: A Quinn Martin Production.

(c) Sunny Breaks |x| Barecity