I’m not above admitting low brow musical tastes. Those of you who tune in regularly will know I’ve confessed on this blog that: I Heart One Direction; my pet fish are named after Prince songs; the fact that Big W’s in house radio station played I Want To Know What Love Is made my day; and Wham! and I share a profound spiritual connection, especially at Christmas.
But, I don’t feel I’ve fully explained to you the extent to which I am the Reigning Princess of Truly Awful Musical Taste (if that doesn’t deserve a pink rhinestone flashing tiara, I don’t know what does).
You see, I was that drunk chickybabe whose Big Night(s) Out started AND ended, rather than just ended, at ICBM dancing to Whitney Houston, my sticky dance floor times punctuated only by the briefest of interludes at the Phoenix (so so mouldy) where I promised/threatened to dance on the table if My Sharona was played.
Whether or not this event actually occurred shall remain a mystery.
I am that colleague of yours who sings Don’t Stop Believing while I help you file a backlog of paperwork, even thought I can’t carry a tune in a bucket and falter on the high falsetto while imploring you to ‘hold onto that feeling’.
I am that person at the traffic lights in the vehicle next to yours, head back, eyes closed, thrashing my head side to side, in a particularly emphatic sing along to Love is A Battlefield, while you wonder if I’m having an epileptic seizure.
I am the woman who covers the screen of her iPod on the bus so you can’t see that I’m listening to You Shook Me All Night Long at 8am on a freezing Canberra morning.
I am Richard Kingsmill’s worst nightmare.
I am, indeed, the Reigning Princess of Truly Awful Musical Taste.
Being royalty of this nature has its advantages. The most important of which is that I have at my disposal a superior armoury of epic ballads for those moments when you need to plug yourself in and turn on the Power.
These moments occur frequently when you are writing a PhD, or any piece of writing that is long, hard, and, ultimately, 100% worth the effort. Over the years of my PhD candidature, I’ve honed the perfect power ballad playlist for belting out a 500 word chunk of thesis.
Intuitively, you’d think tunes to mellow you out would be the best accompaniment to an intense writing sesh. However, I’ve found that the only way I can work with my thesis, rather than against it, is to embrace the high baroque drama of intellectual endeavour and thematically arrange my playlist to work me through the peaks and troughs that characterise my writing patterns.
Now, the cool part of you is saying no, but there’s a little bit of you, your inner dag, that’s curious to hear what’s on my Power playlist. Don’t try to hide it, I know it’s there.
Or, at very least, you want to read my justification for why it’s these songs, these deeply embarrassing, terminally uncool songs, with cheesy, dreadful, lyrics, some of which I’ve incorporated here, which help me pound out some serious wordage more than anything else.
Well. Here it is. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the Power surge:
Eye of The Tiger (Survivor) Any Power montage has to start here. It’s the only music you can do pre-typing stretching to. Take your time, take your chances.
If I Could Turn Back Time (Cher) You’ve opened the chapter you’re working on, and, if you could turn back time, you’d take back all those words you wrote yesterday, as they’re kind of awful.
Wanted Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi) The times when you’re alone, and all you do is think.
When Doves Cry (Prince) This is what it sounds like when doves cry.
Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler) You’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks. You’re at the 200 word mark. Every now and then you fall apart.
I Would Do Anything For Love – (Meatloaf) You’re hitting 250 and the words don’t come easy. Take a vow, seal a pact. You will do anything for this to work.
November Rain – (Guns and Roses) Nothing lasts forever, even cold November Rain. Gunners are all that will get you through the 250-350 word doldrums.
I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing – (Aerosmith) Your work has turned a corner, but it’s not quite there yet. This means it’s time for a serious strings section. You could stay lost in this moment, this moment of knowing that you are so close to the finish, forever.
Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe – (Barry White) Debate this soul classic’s inclusion in a Power list all you want, but it’s at this point, where you’re whomping through that last 100 words in big, easy, sentences – something’s moving - that you need some serious soul.
Freedom ’90 – (George Michael) I won’t let you down, I will not give you up, you’ve got to have some faith in the sound, it’s the one good thing that I’ve got.
That, and a completed 500 word chunk of your thesis. Power to you.
PS: if you got all the references to all the songs on my Power list, the title of Reigning Princess of Truly Awful Musical Taste falls rightfully to you. But I’m keeping the pink rhinestone flashing tiara.
Friday, July 27, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
Those of you who know me well know, in my heart of hearts, I’m a chronic homebody. My little nest of an apartment pulls me in, and, like a homing pigeon, my sights are set on home, always.
And, yet, I love new places, new people, and the chance to know your travel buddies better. All of these things give scope to the imagination (to borrow a phrase from my favourite redhead, Anne of Green Gables).
Recently, it’s been my privilege to go on some brief sojourns, for business and for pleasure. This has got me to thinking about packing, and, more specifically, how not to do it. Sadly, I excel at the latter.
Question: how many scarves does one young lady need for a trip to Scotland? Answer: 17 (BELIEVE). My housemates at the time were capable of tough love, forcibly removing my suitcase and reducing the number of scarves to single digits. I'm forever in their debit.
A more recent example of my packing ineptitude is this week’s business trip to regional NSW. My colleague and I were going on a four day trip to one of the few places colder than Canberra (hard to imagine, but it exists, and is lovely, in spite of the cold). Logically, I packed three cardigans. So far, so good.
But, here’s where it gets messy: I packed ONLY ONE DECENT GOING OUT CARDIGAN.
YES. I KNOW.
The rest of the cardigan contingent consisted of my boudoir cardigan (inappropriate for non bedroom wear) and an old cardigan of MamaK’s that I wore ONCE with a VERY SPECIFIC outfit and only VAGUELY LIKED in that PARTICULAR CONTEXT.
What was this last cardigan in my suitcase? I have absolutely no idea. But, as there are no packing pixies in my apartment, I must have packed it for a reason. I just can’t recall what that reason was.
Being daft when it comes to packing does have its advantages. I’ve yet to go away on a trip without purchasing something amazing at a bargain price, often facilitated by my deficient packing skillz.
Had I not found myself rapidly running out of warm clothes this week, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so willing to try a slightly unorthodox but now-new-favourite jumper from the sale rack in Myer. A similar thing happened in Melbourne last month with my sparkly Camberwell markets sweater.
Perhaps it’s fair to trust that nature, abhorring a vacuum, will fill any voids in your capsule travel wardrobe with exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. And that, my friends, is just the ticket when it comes to successful packing: let go, trust the universe, and remember your credit card.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I’m posting a little early this week. Firstly because I have some wonderful visitors coming this weekend and, consequentially, will miss my usual Friday-night-writing-sesh. And, secondly, because tonight is the last episode of Offspring and I need something to keep me occupied while I wait till 8.30pm. I have written before about my addiction to TV shows. So, my need for writerly distraction while I wait to find out…
WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH NINA AND PATRICK?? AND BILLY AND MICK?? AND MICK AND ROSANNA?? AND ZARA, JIMMY, AND BABY ALFIE?? WILL CLEGG AND CHEREE GET IT ON AGAIN??? WHY AREN’T DARCY AND GERALDINE TOGETHER?? WHAT ABOUT ADAM-OF-THE-AWESOME-BEARD-AND-SUPER-NICENESS?? OH MY GOSH THERE’D BETTER BE A SEASON FOUR!!!
…should come as no surprise.
As tribute to Offspring’s Nina, this post is about a conflict I’m facing deep within my soul, an inner turmoil I’ve tossed around, played out, and visualised, Nina-style, for, ohhh, far longer than I care to admit.
Tonight’s emotional mini drama: I have this fabulous Country Road early 90s dress. It’s silk, with a small cream print on a navy background, and I picked it up for $9 at the Salvo’s last summer, so it’s got a great story.
Yet, I’ve never worn it. Why has this cute, savvy find been mouldering in my closet? Because, I cannot make up my mind about its length.
You see, the dress finishes mid calf. I know mid calf is trending massively, but, if you look carefully, mid calf skirts which work are cut full and in fabric with some body and drape, or close-hug your body all the way down, so much so that walking is an impossibility (who needs to walk anyway?).
My dress is neither of those things. Instead, the skirt hangs there, limp, half arsed, neither here nor there. A bit like Dr Patrick Reid, truth be told.
While the top half of this dress’s moderately low cut is best accessorised by a navy cardi and a peachy bosom, the bottom half’s mumsy wishywashyness is best accessorised by a Mormon braid and two sister wives waiting at home.
Yes, I’ve watched Big Love. Four times. Moving on.
The dilemma is this: do I chop the skirt at my knees, making the dress a more flattering length? Or, do I leave the dress as-is, in the name of preserving its early 90s glory, and toughen up the wishy washy with decidedly non-Mormon red high heeled boots?
I mean, it’s not as if I’m a serious vintage collector. I feel no obligation to preserve my pieces. I wear all of my vintage items, and I like to think I add to their stories by wearing them, circle-of-life style.
But, could I be unduly swayed by notions of stylistic correctness that relate in no way to reality? And, will I regret, later on, my choice to chop, a choice I can never take back?
I suspect that, like tonight’s episode of Offspring, my drama will not be easily resolved. At least, not within the space of a 45 minute episode. But I guess that’s why there’s a next season, to tie up all loose threads, and make room for fresh dramas, in my wardrobe and Nina’s life.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some TV to watch…
Friday, July 6, 2012
Although I was born here, travel on an Australian passport, and structured my English major around as many Australian Fiction units offered by our national university, I fall short when it comes to many significant aspects of Australian-ness.
For starters, I don’t do the team sport thing. I’ve tried to get excited about cricket - I just love the all-white uniforms and the silly hats - but a game where two teams throw a ball at each other for days on end leaves me uninspired. While I gleefully admit an abiding fondness for the Welsh Rugby team (on account of their lush facial hair) rugby’s union and league leave me cold once the national anthems are over. Large hairy men manfully singing is somethign I find rather stirring. Ball skills, not so much.
I know I’m risking deportation for putting this in writing, but I also don’t do the valorisation of sports stars as heroes. I skip the Bradman song when I listen to Paul Kelly’s ‘Songs from the South’, and make loud, prolonged fart noises whenever a faded sports star wins Australian of the Year. I have no desire to listen to has-been swimmers justify their bad behaviour on primetime TV. If you so much as mention our nation’s preparations for that eight letter ‘O’ word within earshot of me…well, let’s just say that it’s a word that might start with an ‘O', but it ends with a very angry Peggy. The only coverage of the ‘O’s’ that I intend to watch is the Bondi Hipsters’, and the synchronised swimming with Tessy Halberton, because those ladies gadding about in a pool is just too funny to miss.
On a broader level, I don’t gamble – even on the Melbourne cup – and I don’t drink much at all. My skin burns more than it bronzes. I don’t rate our flag, or our anthem, even when sung manfully by the aforementioned large hairy men. My favourite part of a BBQ is MamaK’s coleslaw. Emus scare the shiznet out of me, hot weather makes me intolerably grumpy. Home ownership and a quarter acre block feel like an impossible dream, barring a lotto windfall – an even more unlikely turn of events given that I don’t gamble.
Before you tear up my passport, though, I do have a few things to say in my defence, things that, deep down, make me True Blue.
Australia has light like nowhere else in the world, a light I ache for when I’m away from home. It’s in my bones, it’s there I feel its absence. I love the fact that we are a democracy, albeit an imperfect one, and that anyone who wants to can go and see Question Time in the House (I went last week at the suggestion of my wise colleague. Take my advice and go, it’s a hoot and a half). We have beaches like nowhere else in the world, and air and water clean enough – for now, at least - to enjoy them. And how I love our writers, our artists, our musicians and our filmmakers, especially when they capture something of our light.
But all this pales into insignificance when compared to my most compelling argument for my Aussie status: I can’t imagine a pantry without Vegemite.
There’s nothing better on toast or crackers, particularly when topped with bubbly grilled cheese, slices of jade-smooth avocado, or globs of bumpy, cellulitey, cottage cheese. I even take a leaf out of PapaK’s book and top my scones with Vegemite. We’re hardcore patriots (even though Vegemite is owned by Kraft, which is American – it’s the spirit of the thing that counts).
Although divided on Vegemite’s nutritional merits – on the one hand, those B vitamins, on the other, all that salt - I can’t help but gravitate towards Vegemite when I’m feeling, in the words of Flight of the Concords, more Vincible than Invincible.
Case in point: I had the 24 hr virus from hell a couple of weeks ago. I’ll spare you the blow by blow, but let’s just say I was so sick I fainted three times. If vomiting were a sport, I’d be representing Australia at the ‘O’s’. The first thing I ate when I was well enough to hold food down?
And just like that, I was on my way back to being a happy little Vegemite.