Friday, June 24, 2005


You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be saved?

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Not because it’s large, not because of it’s importance to the development of the English language and not because of it’s almost canonical reverence. But because this book is just full of lots of good stuff and when the world is burning around my ears I want to read about foolish kings, star-crossed lovers, villany at it’s best, drunken fairies, revenge driven idiots, battles across the world and all that other great stuff that Will managed to pack in. Shakespeare is pulp-fiction and when the world goes to hell it is nice to know that there are people who have worse times and that there are things to make you laugh.

And then, when things have settled down, I’d like to run a pirate theatre company that tours the land and performs at dusk these tales as old as time and as fresh as the morning dew.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

No never. Well except for Mary Jane Watson, Kitiara Majere and Hannah Green. But that goes without saying.

The last book you bought was…?

Gotham Central Vol 2 – Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark

I'm a big fan of crime books and this little series is fantastic. It's killing me that each collection seems to be taking years to come out.

The Losers Vol 3 – Andy Diggle and Jock

The best action film never made.

The Forgotten Man – Robert Crais

When I grow up I want to be Elvis Cole, Robert Crais’ fictional LA detective.

The last book you read was…?

The Devil Knows You’re Dead – Lawrence Block

Lawrence Block writes about a number of characters but it is his retired New York cop Matthew Scudder that is my literary equivalent of a Coopers Pale. The books have a calming and soothing influence that can be enjoyed again and again no matter what the time.

I’m a big fan of character arcs and Block has taken Scudder through a long journey (13 books so far) to make him the character he is today and it hasn’t been an easy journey either. Scudder is full of flaws and Block is smart enough to have these flaws affect the story rather than drive it. It often feels that Scudder is directing the path of the books instead of the author.
While Scudder is the attraction Block writes in a sparse, rhythmic style that just carries you through. It is reading at it’s most effortless.

The co-star of the books is New York. Block creates a living city within the pages that changes with the years just like Scudder. But it isn’t the New York of Sex in the City it has more in common with Batman’s Gotham (and is probably why Block writes the forward to the first Gotham Central TPB) as a city in which a great deal happens in dark shadows and city basements rather than swank restaurants and night clubs.

I’ve worked my way through most of the Scudder books at least twice by now but I see no sign of not visiting again in the future.

What are you currently reading?

Called to Serve: creating and nurturing the effective volunteer board – Max de Pree

I’ve just started on the Board of Canberra Youth Theatre and I’m trying to get my head around governance in all its forms and the intricacies of Australian Company Law.

Hope To die – Lawrence Block

More Scudder and I think I’ve raved about this enough.

Five books you would take to a desert island?

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

Everything is in this weighty tome and as a bonus I can use it to stun wildlife and break open shellfish.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts – Douglas Adams

Perhaps the funniest thing ever written on a piece of paper, full of hours of amusement and plenty of funny voices to boot. Just the thing to keep me going if I have to spend years talking to myself. Hey if I’m Zaphod Beeblebrox then I can’t possibly be myself. Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster anyone? Don’t mind if I do!

How To Be a Man – John Birmingham

If the plane crashes then I wanna know how to fly it if I can get it going. And if I can’t get it off the ground then a bloody solid daiquiri recipe always comes in useful.

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

I can read this from one cover to the next then just start at the first cover again. And reading this book with my feet being lapped by warm ocean waves just sounds like heaven.

Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed – Jared Diamond

If I’m gonna have to start a new society it would be good to have the mistakes and successes of past ones to guide me forward.

Who are you passing this stick on to and why?

I’m gonna throw it out to Gra, because he seems to be ignoring it. But i'd really like to email this to my Dad to see what he comes up with.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

32 Songs - Track 21

I Got You - James Brown

I feel good
I knew that I would now
I feel good
I knew that I would now
So good, so good, I got you!

No matter where you are on the planet chances are if you pick up a daily newspaper somewhere in it will be a list of notable people born on this day.

Sometime in primary school (when these things are important) I looked in the paper and discovered that I shared a birthday with the Grandfather of Soul James Brown. I knew of the singer but didn’t know much. On a trip to Singapore with my Grandmother I came across a copy of Live at The Apollo for 1 Singapore dollar in a street market I bought it to listen to on my spanking new walkman (for those keeping score the other tapes I bought were Dire Straits’ Making Movies, the Ghostbusters soundtrack and some best of compilation).

Despite tinny earphones and a cheap pirate cassette Brown’s performance radiates with the energy of the sun. I am quite certain that only the dead would be able to keep still at a James Brown concert and even they might be compelled to dance again.

James Brown still lives, i almost quit my job so i could see him perform not long ago, but i find myself repeatedly refering to him in the past tense. And i do this because he has fallen victim to the uncurable condition that often occurs to those who have great success, human weakness. The crimes and misdemeanors he has been associated with are many, and often tawdry, and they have sucked the light out of this glowing beacon. It happens to many and those of us who have great affection for these fallen idols often employ a sense of selected amnesia so our memory remainse pure.

Part of me was glad that i never got to see Brown perform on stage. It would have been a catastrophic let down because he is no longer the man who tore up The Apollo dozens of times, the great perfectionist who had the best backing musicians going and drilled them into such a tight outfit that they could have stolen the show if James Brown was anyone else. The instrumental breaks in Live At The Apollo have to be heard to be believed.

To pick one James Brown track to go on this list wasn’t that hard. The driving horns of I Got You put it right up there as one of my favourite songs. I Got You is fun, frivolous, tight as a drum and guaranteed to make me shake my booty.

Just the way James would want to be remembered.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


A while ago i mentioned how The Beatles Abbey Road album just doesn't work as well on CD. It was designed to be a double-sided record as each side starts solidly and then finishes with a closing song. This habit faded with the invention of the tape player and completely vanished with the CD.

The White Stripes Elephant is probably on of the best CD albums ever made. And i'd throw Oasis' Definitely Maybe, Foo Fighters The Colour and The Shape and The Streets A Grand Don't Come for Free as other examples of great CD albums.

But lately I’ve been pondering this question. In this world of iPods and iTunes stores will we see the death of the album and the re-emergence of the single and the EP?

It’s almost a recycling effect. Are we heading back to the compression of the medium that was around when we first had records and only one or two tracks could fit on each side?

A band releases an EP onto it’s website and charges one native dollar for each track. You can buy the whole thing or select an individual song to purchase. It might even enable bands to get a bit more experimental in what they do.

Or will bands just whack more mediocre stuff on their albums since people are only buying what they like off the online stores?

The next ten years will be really interesting in music.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Think, Listen, Read, Absorb, Consume:

Twin Freaks - Really Love You/Lalula double sided single.
Paul Mc and The Freelance Hellraiser go for a slash and burn followed by some extensive re-landscaping through the big Mac's back catalouge.

Starwars v Hatiris
For some reason i can't stop listening.

The Go! Team
It's a party in my ears and the entire neighbourhood got invited.

The Panics
The red dust, hot roads and relaxed muscles of the australian instrumental rise again.

Gorillaz - Demon Days
It's ivy crawling along my brickwork and breaking down some solid foundations. and i'm enjoying the change.

Iranian terrorists take 300 hostage and torture my making them jump up and down for four hours
They started with the Imperial March for goodness sake!

He may be the world's gayest DJ but the chicks still dig him
We didn't have the heart to tell the girl who kept flashing him all night that Danny wasn't that way inclined.

I've worked my way through two terry pratchett books. I might blame my recent heart condition on them. I'm now retreating into the world of Lawrence Block to patch myself together with soft words, wounded souls and bourbon with coffee.

Owen and Jenny's Birthday present of 30 beers for 30 years has wound down to the greatest six pack in the world. Hoegaarden White (8.5%), Carlsberg Elephant (9%), Delirium Tremens (11%), Forbidden Fruit (8%), Coopers Vintage (11%) and Ruddles Ale (500ml).

The flame sided cowboy boots have been repaired and improved thanks to Joe @ Joe's Boots.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

32 Songs - Track 20

Living Doll - CLiff Richard and The Young Ones

Got a rovin eye and that is why she satisifies my soul
Got the one and only walkin talkin livin doll

Since we are on the topic of defining moments I guess The Young Ones would have to crop up at some point. In 1985 Dave, Nathan and I used to charge around to Nathan’s house after school to view the latest episode of The Young Ones. Nathan’s older brother would record them and we would sit there in raptures for 30 minutes as the world was exploded in front of our eyes.

Foul language, puppets, random violence and off-the-wall situations (I’m not a vampire, I’m a driving instructor from Johannesburg), just what a ten-year-old boy needs in his life.

But what really turned my head was the music. All but one episode (and there were only 12) featured a band playing. Madness, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, The Police (minus Sting) and Motorhead were the notables but my god there was amazing stuff. As a result of the show I would go on to discover Sigue Sigue Sputnik, The Clash, The Jam and The Cure.

This collaboration between Sir Cliff and The Young Ones came about as a fund-raiser for the charity Comic Relief. It was released in 1986 as a 7 inch and 12 inch single in the UK and here in Australia. And this song makes the list because for nearly 20 years I’ve been trying to lay my hands on a copy of the single. I’ve got the song on a compilation tape but that’s it. It’s become an obsession. Every 2nd hand record store I go into this is the first thing I look for.

While researching for this project I’ve discovered, finally, the 12 inch version of the song as well as a live version performed at a Comic Relief performance. This has settled some of the raging fire within but I still dream of the day I hold the flat, black plastic in my hands.

Monday, June 06, 2005

32 Songs - Track 19

Blue Monday - New Order

How does it feel
To treat me like you do
When you’ve laid your hands upon me
And told me who you are

I really don’t know how to start talking about this track. It’s a bit like saying to someone “Whack out a hundred words on how the colour purple tastes, oh and let me know how Kylie’s I should be so Lucky smells”.

The repeating drum loop that starts it off and then the syths kick in and something tingles within me. It’s been this way since the first time I heard it years and years ago on a dodgy tape that had been played a thousand times. And it is the sound of the song, rather than Bernard Sumner's haunting lyrics and voice, that continues to fascinate me each time i hear it.

To put the whole thing into perspective I should you tell you that Blue Monday is the ring on my mobile phone. During the Festival my phone would ring at least every five minutes, 12 hours a day for two weeks. That equates to me hearing Blue Monday over 1,500 times in a fortnight. Yet i don't get sick of the song at all.