Monday, January 28, 2008

We Want Control Of Our Bodies

And another thing. I seem to be catching a lot of internet flak for suggesting that the movie Juno is anti-abortion propaganda. Let me explain my position here. Juno is the perfect comeback to the pro-choice argument that no abortion = teenage pregnancies. It suggests that not only is adoption an emotionally easy and socially preferable option, but that your bastard child will be scooped up by wealthy and wholesome parents who will love love love it forever, and you will get a slightly dorky but totally cute boyfriend out of the deal. There are so many dodgy class and race assumptions going on in the film, and it's perhaps no coincidence that they're the same class and race assumptions that rightwing christians and conservatives everywhere base their logic on. So, let me restate for posterity: Fuck You Juno. Any film executives interested in my pro-choice love story can reach me through the comments section.

Let's Bowl, Let's Bowl, Let's Rock And Roll.

Of all the terrible, terrible sequels I can think of - and at the moment, Blues Brothers 2000 and Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason in particular spring to mind - surely Grease 2 is the worst. Not even the fact that it gave the fledgling career of Michelle Pfeiffer its first nudge towards bug-eyed brilliance redeems it. It is such a terrible movie that watching it was referred to in the Drew Carey Show as an example of a truly pathetic way to waste one's time. The line was, I believe:

"Oh, because you're so busy sitting around watching Grease 2 in your underwear".

This is the kind of line that can have a chaos theory-esque effect on a sharehouse, and did, in fact, result in me and two of my housemates seeing a lot more of each other's skin than we had previously. But you should not let our immense and devastating loss of pride deter you. I urge you to instead share in our collective humiliation by going out right now to rent the movie and then, having done so, gather those you live with together and strip down to your bare essentials. Even if you don't enjoy the movie - and you won't - you may enjoy the experience. Maybe.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I Live In The Mud

I have tattoos, and as such am privy to a number of conversations about tattoos. Chief among these is the conversation about tattoos that "I'm going to get soon." Inevitably this means hearing about some special Chinese character, or Tibetan symbol, or persona from some obscure Greek mythology. I fear, however, that we are looking past our own rich resources, and in the process missing out on a lot of kicking rad tattoo ideas. The southern cross tattoos I keep seeing amongst the Cronulla riot / Big Day Out crowd display nothing more than a lack of imagination (well, and xenophobia, but I digress). So, when next you're passing your local house of permanent scarring, and feel the need to express your love for your homeland, I suggest the following ideas:

1. A Bunyip

Surely the Australian equivalent to a dragon, a sasquatch, or even the loch ness monster, the bunyip seems to have been overlooked as an intimidating presence. But get a load of this picture! That's some scary shit. Recommended for the biceps of skinny white dudes with an overabundance of Metallica t-shirts.

2. A Rainbow Serpent

Actually, I'm surprised I haven't seen a bunch of these already. Highly recommended for the Nimbin crowd, for whom stealing the spirituality of other cultures is second nature, the rainbow serpent surely has what it takes to be the new yin yang symbol. Appearing, very small, on the hip bones of some dreadlocked, thai-fisherman pants wearing, lotus-position flake-oid soon.

3. Drop Bears

This one speaks for itself. Illustrate the tales of horror you tell dopey german tourists with your own immortalized image. I recommend a full back piece for this one.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

So They Called For Another Elephant

According to Grant, who has "insider" friends in Hollywood, Heath Ledger is not dead, but is actually involved in some publicity-provoked practical joke in order to increase interest in the forthcoming Dark Knight. In the movie he plays The Joker. A little cute, don't you think? This may well be the reason the massage therapist called fucking Mary-Kate Olson before she called the ambulance. Because I know if I wanted to spread some bullshit all over the world, I'd want an Olson twin on my team.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bike Rides And High Fives.

In these last few dying days of the school holidays I have taken a little bit of time out of my hectic socializing schedule to go out into the mountains and ride up and down hills. Half way up a particular brutal ascent I realized that I was enjoying the torture more than most punk rock shows that I go to. So here, for your reading pleasure, are a bunch of reasons why biking is better than shows.

1. The faux-environmentalist ethical overtones of biking are grounded in something close to reality (you know, using your bike to commute instead of a car...), as opposed to the faux-anarchist ethical overtones of punk.

2. Biking hurts, sure. But rarely as much as the busted nose I saw at the Mindsnare show last weekend. Biking also hurts your back, but with changeovers between sets at shows seeming to take longer than ever, standing up for an entire show hurts our poor, aging spines a lot more.

3. Biking actually increases your health, as opposed to shows, which decrease it. As evidence I offer my dramatically thickening thighs and my dramatically thinning hearing.

4. Sportswriting - even cycling writing - kicks all kind of ass over music writing. As well as reading BikeSnobNYC, you should also check out Dave Zirin's Edge of Sports column. There's a long and impressive history of sports being used as a vehicle for social justice. In addition to the writing kicking ass, sports movies also kick ass over music movies. Come on, which would you rather watch, the first Rocky or Almost Famous? That's what I thought.

5. When you're at a show, it's a disappointing inevitability that you will be almost surrounded by fuckwits. This sometimes occurs when biking, but when you're biking, if there are fuckwits around, you can just ride away from them. Simple as that. And, as an added bonus, when you're biking, no one deliberately crashes into you and, when you take umbrage, tells you that "it's punk rock, man..."

So, there it is. Time to get rid of all your black t-shirts and replace them with lycra. Trust me, you won't ever look back.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pass Me My Monocle

Reading the new Monocle yesterday (yes I am a trust-fund wannabe) I came across an article on a Berlin bookshop called 25 Books. The shop only stocks 25 books at the one time, rotating the collection every couple of months. To say that I am in love with this idea would be an understatement. Faced with an overload of cultural product, be it books, cds or dvds, wouldn't it be great if someone had already hand picked the best from all over the world. Honestly, too much choice is a burden that we just don't have the time to deal with.

If I were to run a similar bookshop, you would not find the following things: anything by Dan Brown, little fucking gift books that people who don't have any soul buy, self-help books, how to get stains out of your carpet books, cook books by Australian cricketers, anything to do with how 'nice girls' don't get corner offices/promotions/rich, scrapbooking manuals, self help books (it needs to be repeated), Little Britain talking dolls, "James Patterson" novels (inverted commas because he doesn't actually write anything himself), books with movie tie in covers. You get the picture.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh, Look At The Pretty

I often judge a book by its cover. It is my way of narrowing down potential reading material from the thousands of things I could read. I also do not wish to have books on my shelves that do not look good. Call me shallow, but there just isn't enough room. And not only do I judge, but often will buy a book purely based on its cover. It was this aesthetic shopping philosophy that recently led me to the new Adrian Tomine graphic novel, Shortcomings. I knew nothing of the book or the author, I just had to own this beautiful item. As a newcomer to the world of graphic novels, I was blown away by Shortcomings and have since followed the trail to the work of other talented artists such as Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes and Chris Wares. I also discovered the power of representing human tragedy in the form of a beautiful graphic novel such as Maus or Persepolis. Looks and substance do not always have to be mutually exclusive.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Emancipation Procla-Something

Not Your Typical American

Occassionally, in my guise as media magnate, I get sent zines. Most recently I received a copy of "Oh Really" zine. I have no idea what this zine is meant to be about, but it does contain a series of pretty pictures, two stickers, and a business card. Seriously, what the fuck? This is like people who join Facebook for "networking" (you know, rather than seeing who from your highschool got totally, totally hot). I'm not into zines for world fame or global domination, so take your business-world bullshit and stick it up your ass. If you're going to send me a zine, write me a fucking letter. That's how we roll, get it?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Consider Someone Else

Here's my idea for a movie. Boy meets girl and everything is going great. But then boy gets girl pregnant! Oh no! Things are looking pretty bad. But then she has an abortion, and though it's heartwrenching, everything works out. They get married and live happily ever after. There. Fuck you Knocked Up, and fuck you Juno.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Brusha Brusha Brusha

You would think with the glut of design students floating around, generally annoying everyone with their pseudo-hipster styles, that the toothbrush companies would have employed at least one of them. But unfortunately they seem to have employed a bunch of preschoolers with a love of gaudy colours and sparkles to design their entire range of toothbrushes. Or maybe the Wiggles.

The toothbrush I want to buy is clear, with a long handle with no brand name etched into it or finger grips. I would also like the bristles to be the same length and the head to be a standard rectangle. I do not wish to see the following features: tongue scrappers, pulsating or flexible heads, ergonomically designed handles, sparkles, glitter, bristles that fade when you need a new toothbrush, diamond shaped heads, or Buzz Light Year motifs. Not hard people, not hard.

These Arms Of Mine

One of the benefits of shooting your mouth off half cocked is that occasionally people give you stuff in the name of proving you incorrect. Such was the case yesterday, when Leith handed me a bunch of drone cds. I think I'm supposed to give them back, but I may keep 'forgetting' to do so. It strikes me that drone is in a lot of ways comparable to free jazz, in that you have to let go of nearly all your ideas about what music should be and just, you know, roll with the experience. And I guess, even though when I'm weary I depend on singsongy rhythms and basic chords, I can see how electronic soundscapes could be relaxing. Special mention at this point must be made of of Default Jamerson, which is kinda killer.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Where Playtime Meets Work

As the shine fades from the new year and all my best intentions for productivity disappear, I find myself playing arcade-style games on the website Miniclip. Obviously a great procrastination tool. However, there is a disturbing theme emerging from the few games I have been playing. They require you to work! And not in a collect-the-shiny-coins-and-advance-to-the-next-level way. You are required to make money, develop your business, invest in capital works, and hire employees, all in the time frame of a working day.

Take the game Sushi Go Round. A daily goal is set, customers come in, you make them sushi. Customers get cranky if you take too long. If you run out of rice or nori or sake you have to order more, but only after you have taken enough profits to afford said orders. If you don't take empty plates away new customers don't come in. By the close of business you need to have reached the daily target or you fail. Sound familiar?

Or try Youda Camper, where you have to build a camping ground from scratch. As customers come in you have to design new camping spots for them to suit their needs. And they make complaints. The toilet block isn't close enough, there isn't a parking space close enough to their tent, there isn't enough greenery, the tent is on fire etc. etc.

My personal favourite is Kindergarten. You are running your own child care service where you get paid $10 per kid per day. You have to feed, wash, change, entertain these kids and if you don't do it quickly enough, you fail. You can hire help and buy more facilities, but only after you have slaved away for weeks to earn enough money. Talk about pressure.

As someone who has suffered through many customer service jobs, I find myself having flashbacks to being abused by the general public and having to meet daily quotas to keep my job. I like my mindless entertainment to be just that, mindless. Not packed with the stresses of everyday life at the bottom of the employment ladder. Raft Wars is the game for me. Kids on rafts piffing tennis balls at each other to knock them off into shark-infested water. Simple.

Majorca, Fear Like Us and Defiance Ohio at Cat Food Press, 17-01-08

I never thought I'd say this, but the show at the Espy will be better.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Look Out, Here Comes Another Cliche.

Further to the article below about music that sends us literally to sleep, I was told the other day that my childhood and continuing friend Leith likes to listen to drone as he dozes off. Not the Drones, but the genre of music. Now that's an interesting one.

What Goes On.

This morning, on one of my usual flights of fancy, I throw on Midnight Oil's Greatest Hits. It's been a while since I've listened to it - perhaps not even since Peter Garrett became the Honorable Member for Kingsford-Smith. And I find it totally, totally ruined. Songs that before held heartfelt activist sentiments now just seem to be well-worded press releases. I keep imagining him in the House of Reps, using the lyrics to Hercules to belittle the opposition and convince the public. It just doesn't work for me any more. Every song has become a Workchoices ad.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Takes A Worried Man To Sing A Worried Song.

Whenever it's really late at night and I can't sleep - like now, at 2.38 am with an alarm that's going to go off at 7 - I put on the Carter Family. Not the Carter Sisters, not June Carter, but the originals - Sara, AP, and Mother Maybelle. I'm not really sure why. I don't know much about old timey or Appalachian music, but I feel similarly about Bill Monroe (immortalized in One Tree Hill as "Motherfucking Bill Monroe"). I guess there's just something about that high lonesome sound that puts me at ease. I know that most of this blog is about punk and hardcore, but fuck, it's tough trying to get to sleep to that shit.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Keep The Customers Satisfied

Incidentally, after yesterday's brief rant about tone, I find this quote from Davey Von Bohlen:

"Right now, there are only three perfect records that I know of: Slayer's Reign in Blood, Prince's Purple Rain, and Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA. Those records are completely perfect in tone, you know? Each one of those records can describe one color, just like everything on Purple Rain is purple. And Reign in Blood, that record is fucking red. It's so great, because there's nothing to deviate from what they were trying to get at, and I don't think our record does that... But I'm not expecting to accomplish that anytime soon. If Simon & Garfunkel couldn't do it, I'm expecting the worst."

But I have to disagree with Davey here. The Promise Ring's Nothing Feels Good does have a consistent tone, and is one of my favourite records from the 90s. And I'm also not sure that Born in the USA could be described as a singular colour. Sure, it's a great collection of songs, but when you hold up Darlington County next to I'm On Fire, they don't really look like they're even in the same colour wheel. The songs Springsteen wrote in the Nebraska sessions stick out like sore thumbs, which is perhaps why Nebraska is one of those perfect records and Born in the USA is not.

I Ain't Been To Heaven, But I Been To Oklahoma

I was going to write a big, long, oldfashioned review of the Wagons show at the SoCo Cargo bar in St Kilda last night, but really, after a scorcher like today, who can be fucked. Suffice to say that the venue sucked about eleventy-thousand different kinds of ass and the Wagons were good. They were best, however, when it was just Henry solo, as it took some of the adult contemporary vibe away and just left guitar and voice. And when you're as awesome as Henry Wagons - himself another noise music graduate - that's gotta be a good thing. They're playing as a duo at the Labour in Vain on the 20th, which could be worth checking out.

At this point, however, I could well use the Wagons to illustrate a larger point about the novelty hip hop song. Look, I know it's easy to bust out a hip hop beat on the drums and talk for a little bit instead of singing, but really, way too many bands fall prey to this temptation. It's kinda funny, and a St Kilda crowd will always love it, but fuck, it breaks up the tone of the set and reduces all the rest of your songs to novelty as well. If your token rapper has skills, like Sy the Philanthropist obviously does, let them go hang out at Obese until someone offers them a record deal. Until then, keep your set all country, ok?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Often On, Often Off.

I bump into Tara at Brother Baba Budan this morning and she elaborates on her text from last night: Majorca will be playing a house show in Brisbane, with the Diamond Sea and I Heart Hiroshima (look at me, providing links today!), around the time that Live and Let DIY is on. Now, the shitty thing here is that the weekend that all this glorious stuff is happening is also the weekend immediately following my first week back at work. So right now I'm asking for recommendations: do I risk the wrath of my boss (who already hates me due to the copious amounts of anarcho-syndicalist propaganda that spew forth from my office) and take a couple of sick days, or do I just wait until IHH wanders back down the east coast for a Melbourne show?

Further to the other day's post about Melbourne's booming population, a Business Council of Australia study released yesterday shows that it is actually increasing by one thousand people a week. That's a fucking lot of people. My hope is that they're all vegan - or at least vegetarian - and will cause an explosion in Brendan-friendly eateries.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hotter Than Shaft In Africa

Ok, so in the interests of increasing my readership from one to two (surely in the blogging world, a successful blog is one that isn't read exclusively by its author), I have invited other folks to contribute to this site. Hopefully this will also broaden the scope a little bit. Let's wait and see.


Raspberry Beret

Due to some post holiday season grumpiness I haven't really been to many shows lately - the crustfests on over the new year period didn't really appeal, and there hasn't really been much else on offer. Wandered up to the UV Race / Majorca show on Saturday, braving the heat and impending appearance of Assassination Collective on the bill. Sat outside for nearly the entire show, only venturing in to see Majorca play. And they were good, as per usual.

There are, however, some freaking sweet shows coming up. The Defiance, Ohio bandwagon should be rolling into the country sometime this week, and making their way down to Melbourne on the 17th, staying for two shows, bringing all of Fear Like Us with them. And perhaps equally as exciting is the show coming together that Saturday night at the Arthouse, with 731, Jaws, Straightjacket, Agents of Abhorrence, Extortion and - hold your breath - Mindsnare. God, I don't think I've seen Mindsnare since they were called Mad Circle.

I read in the paper the other day that Melbourne's rate of growth - in terms of population - is faster than any other Australian city, and by 2018 it will have taken over from Sydney as the country's biggest. Do your bit to help out that weekend by convincing all the members of Extortion and Jaws, as well as the Newcastle contingent of Fear Like Us, to move here. Then not only would Melbourne be number one sooner, but we'd also have a near monopoly on sweet bands. Perhaps someone could have a quiet word to I Heart Hiroshima too.

Is My Name Writ There Upon It?

Further to my inarguably well-researched theory that there is no one in the world who does not like the Bon Jovi classic "Living on a Prayer", I offer the following scene: On new year's eve I sit in a very cramped stairwell and listen to a piano-voice duo sing Tiny Dancer. They follow with Wuthering Heights, but it isn't til they launch into those first cheesy Jovi chords that everyone joins in. Once again, I'm surrounded by a chorus, screaming their lungs out. You never want to expect too much from NYE, given the inevitable let-downs, but occasionally it produces some gems of goodwill and grace. This year it outdid itself.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Train Train.

I've just come from seeing The Darjeeling Limited. While I think that the question of its race politics have probably been debated enough, I don't think that the class politics have been touched on at all. I mean, for fuck's sake, the whole movie - aside from the Natalie Portman bit - seemed like an ad for the neo-Raj, plundering the exotic east for what is surely the new millennium's hottest commodity - spirituality. I'm getting pretty fucking tired of watching movies about uptight upperclass Manhattanites searching in desperation for meaning. You wanna find meaning? Go out and get a fucking job. I've had to come home and watch nearly a whole disc of Trailer Park Boys just to wash the stench of bourgeoisie off me.