Saturday, 28 February 2009

Don't Dance On My Boots And Tell Me You're Raving

I went to a Nine Inch Nails concert on Wednesday and even though Wednesday is not usually considered the ideal night to cut loose and get down it was still amazing.

There seemed to be a certain amount of confusion amongst elements of the crowd on the function of doors and how you need your ticket and ID to get through them and into the licensed area so we were still standing outside when the support band started up.
Well, the support two dudes.
The support band – Jaguar Love – was… wait a second, I just want to savour the name Jaguar Love… Jag-uar Looove… Heh heh heh… OK, no I’m back.
The support band Jaguar Love was supposed to feature three people but one of the guys, I’m guessing the drummer, was mysteriously missing. So it was a very brave guitarist working through his set, the haunted keyboard playing some backing electronica all by itself and the singer going completely batshit insane with his hair in his eyes so he didn’t have to see where he was going or what he was doing. He did have a rather impressive vocal range though, no idea what he was saying but he could say it in a range of tones.

After our two-thirds serve of Jaguar Love had vacated the stage and we were waiting for the main event to begin one of the people I went with decided to pass the time by having a self-indulgent quasi-elitist grumble to his partner, my mate R, that half the people there wouldn’t know which album any of the songs had come from and had probably started listening from With The Teeth and had never bothered to check out the back catalogue.
As I am one of those people who is hard pressed to put song to album I ignored this with my usual good grace, waited for the lights to dim again and then just listened to Trent Reznor straining and hating and emoting and hoping like a professional.
And it was great.

The band was a well-oiled note-remembering machine, Trent put on an excellent performance and I am reliably informed that he spoke more to the audience in that one night than at many of the previous concerts combined, and the atmosphere was excellent.
Except for this one dude who seems to have gotten lost and apparently accidentally bought a ticket thinking this was the city’s most expensive rave party.
And he stood right in front of us.
Well I say stood.
It was more an explosion of syncopated elbows and knees than anything else.
I will never have that guy’s level of rhythm or coordination but I also hope that I never have that many people hoping that I either bugger off or quietly OD and fold up into a much less obstructive heap on the floor.
By virtue of his much lauded elbow-action he was taking up the space of five people and made it dangerous to attempt to stand still and impossible to see the band.
He definitely appeared to be enjoying himself but I got the distinct impression he would have enjoyed himself just as much if the two of you were standing in a deserted warehouse and you had kept pulling the string on a soft toy that played Pop Go The Weasel. Or even if you’d got bored, ditched the soft toy and bunked off for a beer, leaving him in silence.
What’s the point in that, fella?
Couldn’t you think of something else to spend the ticket price on?
For instance, more drugs as you were obviously somewhat enhanced already.

After a short amount of time and several near misses with the elbows I took life by the ho-jos and just pushed in front of him. If he managed to hit me in the back of the head I vowed that things would go badly for him but he seemed to be capable of avoiding that which was in front of him, just not that to his rear or sides.
That left the people behind me to deal with him but it’s every person for themselves in the concert world and given I’m a maximum of 5 foot 2 in flats I tend to be a bit more mercenary than some about this rule. I have to use all my swaying and jumping and toe balancing skills to get a good view and that’s when things are going my way.

Luckily partway through proceedings two girls, to whom I shall remain forever indebted, started making out right next to me and suddenly I was in the centre of a circle of men standing very still and staring and I could finally see the band without having to jump up and down. Thanks ladies!

The lessons I learned from this particular concert are fourfold:

  • Next time I see any gig at Festival Hall I will be on the balcony - the vertically challenged must seek out high ground!
  • Support acts are very gutsy - standing up in front of a crowd who is there to see someone else and putting on your best performance (I assume) when missing a band member has got to take chutzpah.
  • Guys who have waited years to see their favourite band will still completely ignore it just to watch two girls kiss.
  • Nine Inch Nails put on a phenomenal live show.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Vultures Of Love

I have the mixed blessing of living near and knowing some of the folk from an Australian Army base.
I say mixed blessing because I always assume knowing and being near folk in the military could be a big plus when the zombies rise but until then I have to put up with their other little foibles.
And their little satellites.

You see folks, Army men – and I’m not being sexist here, just accurate – Army men tend to attract a certain kind of woman. I like to call her ‘the vulture of love’.
I assume it’s the same in a lot of armed forces, the enlisted personnel and junior officers are moved about on a fairly regular basis, shuttled to where ever they’re needed and sometimes just as a practice for the time when they might get shipped off overseas and need to be used to packing up and moving out.
This makes dating a little stressful as even if you manage to pick out the ideal partner on your first day in Town A you only have a year or two before you will be given your marching orders to Town B which could conceivably be on the other side of the continent.
So what do you do if you don’t want to have to keep going through the relentless dating mill, the getting to know you phase, the no-really-baby-of-course-I-love-you-sex-now-plz? relationship development and all the associated and sundry issues?
Why you get married of course!
Then you can take your girlfriend – I mean wife – around from place to place with you and don’t have to start from scratch each time.
Even though she does.
But that’s OK because she has factored this in to her plan.
Her plan to land an Army man.

The vulture of love is typically five to ten years older than the Army man she is grooming for matrimony as her desperation to marry is based more on the idea that time is running out and the biological clock won’t keep ticking for ever. She wants to get married, he wants to get married, it’s a match made in a sort of bargain basement heaven.
The vulture of love isn’t overly worried about compatibility as her spouse is most likely going to be away or largely unavailable for most of the year with responsibilities, training and – in some cases – deployment.
The most important thing for a vulture of love is that she can use the words ‘My Husband’ with unnecessary regularity, the hook-line-and-sinkered Army man effectively ceases to have a name as he must be referred to exclusively as ‘My Husband’ just in case everyone hasn’t picked up that she is married. When vultures gather together they may use the alternative ‘Your Husband’ to refer to fellow-vultures spouses which can lead to an orgy of mutual-validation that just really shouldn’t be seen in public.
Ideally ‘My Husband’ just has to be home long enough during the year to get the vulture of love pregnant. Because then she has something else to add to the list!

This also gives the colony of vultures something else to talk about along with the lamentations about the never ending washing of clothes that all look the same, what ‘My Husband’ is like when he gets back from any course or event that can be identified by an acronym, what ‘My Husband’ is like when he goes ‘out with the boys’, how you have to ‘let them have their own space’, how fast they’re all going up up up the ziggurat lickety split and now the joys of motherhood.

Don’t get me wrong I think both marriage and parenthood can be valuable and fulfilling experiences if undertaken by the right people for the right reasons. I also think that there are equally valid and fulfilling alternatives available to people with different expectations from life. However the vultures of love do not.
In their eyes marriage and spawning are the only possible goals for sentient mortals.
Either you have achieved them and are ‘winning’ or you want to achieve them and are currently in a state of ‘lose’, they will accept no argument to the contrary.
Even amongst those who are ‘winning’ there is a complex pecking order.

What is your ‘My Husband’s rank?
How old was he when he attained it?
How many times have you uplifted?
How many children have you had?
How close together were the children born?
How well behaved are they?
When did they reach their developmental milestones?
How well do they cope with uplifting and how fast do they make new friends and become the best swimmer/footballer/rhythmic gymnast this base has ever seen?

Some of these are common points of competition amongst civilian parents as well, who also take living vicariously through their children as a ‘from conception’ competition and don’t even wait until they can walk before they’re trying to make out that they’re better than other children and will indeed be a rockstar-supermodel-scientist just like Mummy/Daddy would have been if someone hadn’t been dragging them down and holding them back.

The vultures of love do not believe that you are not jealous of them, they also do not believe that you can possibly be happy without having achieved the Wedding-House-Baby trifecta.
The Wedding need not have been fancy (as they are saving for house/children/dune buggies).
The House need not be theirs (verily the Army may provide or the Rental market may take away).
In one or two ‘we-don’t-talk-about-it-but-we’re-all-pretty-sure’ cases the baby need not necessarily be his, I mean ‘My Husband’s – it’s just important to have it.

If you are a woman who is married to a non-Army man this is considered an acceptable consolation prize but in no way as good as the alternative, you will be accepted but only to a certain point as there is no way you can ‘understand’ what it’s like to be married to a military man.
If you are not married at all then you are to be pitied and reassured that one day all this could be yours if only you play your cards right. Try not to gag too hard on that one.

Observing a colony of established vultures and vultures-in-waiting in action can be quite entertaining but you have to be careful, spend too much time around them and they will start gently trying to match you up with any so far unencumbered friends of their ‘My Husbands’ and you will be lucky to escape with your life.

[Disclaimer:] I know there are many, many women who have married Army men because they love them and the fact that they are in the Army is neither here nor there. These women factor any moving about the country into their lives/careers/plans, see their spouses as actual people and stay as far away from the vultures of love as physically possible as they have standards. And brains.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Nanna Had It Right

Written Monday 09/02/09

Almost as addictive as the weekend sleep in and twice as decadent, ladies and gentlemen I give you the ‘nanna nap’.

I was a shuffling zombie corpse at work today. I staggered between my desk and the tea urn and the bathroom, I re-read sentences multiple times, if I didn’t actually smell like the undead I certainly sounded like a member of the grey-skin clan as I responded to questions or comments with a uniform ‘Hurhmmmmm’.
I, of course, had nobody but myself to blame for this.
I got delightfully trashed on red wine last night.
I was light-headed and witty and gay*, well at least in my own mind I was. The main point was that I was having a good time and even though I knew I had to go to work the next day I didn’t want to relinquish that good time.
So I didn’t.
This, or a variation of this, occurs on a semi-regular basis as I often have a hard time denying myself things I really want. Luckily it’s usually things such as the odd sleep in or CD rather than anything hugely expensive or really detrimental. I’ve always known I have a somewhat addictive personality so on that front it’s lucky that I’ve never really been interested in drugs. Besides, considering some people don’t think it’s a great idea that I continue to have access to sugar I think it has been fairly unanimously agreed upon that I don’t need drugs and in fact could bring about the apocalypse if I ever got my hands on them.

Anyway back on topic, I got to the end of the day and I was wrecked, I was still tired, didn’t feel like I’d accomplished anything and could foresee nothing but bad things for the next day if I didn’t fix this.
So I took matters into my own hands. I declared ‘nanna nap’.
This evening at 6pm I eschewed clothing, rolled myself into bed and snuggled down with all the determination of a general in WWII who is sure that if only they send enough of our laddies over the top at Fritz we’ll all be drinking champagne in Paris by Christmas time.
And I slept.
And it was glorious.
The sun was still out, the open window and the gentle breeze was testament to this and yet I was asleep.
There were probably some not particularly engaging programs on television but they had to be mediocre without my company because I was asleep.
The small cabal of people who call me on a regular basis to explain their problems to me as if I somehow know what to do about them despite the fact I never have any of them and think everything could be solved with a liberal dose of Hellboy must have sensed my serenity and left me to my sleep.

In fact I have only just awakened at 11pm, gently and somewhat shame-facedly prompted by my stomach who doesn’t wish to be a bother but does madam remember that during her less than stellar day she didn’t have a particularly edifying lunch and dinner would be appreciated if it isn’t too much bother.
It isn’t. I will have dinner at 11pm. I am nothing if not reasonable.
And then I will go back to bed.
And I will sleep some more.
And it will be awesome.

*Not that kind of gay, the kind your Gran used to talk about. So unless she was in a rather adventurous cabaret group or was living an alternative lifestyle for the time she probably meant 'happy'. And if she did mean the other kind, good for her, go for it Gran(s).

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Leonard Cohen Made Me Cry

The title of this post may not sound like a particularly extraordinary thing to some people, especially those who have actually listened to Leonard Cohen’s music, but I don’t mean it in the drink-a-bottle-of-red-and-listen-to-Leonard-Cohen-whilst-feeling-maudlin way.
I went to his concert.
It was amazing.
I cried.

It wasn’t the body wracking sobs of some of the folk in the crowd but I did leak a salty fluid from my eyes which is a bit out of character for me.

This might sound a little improbable but I only really started to get into music about two years ago.
I mean I was aware of music before then obviously but…

Ah bloody hell… look, in the beginning there was the radio and that was where my parents got the news from and listened primarily to the ABC and sometimes to Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy and that was what I thought the radio was for. I didn’t really think about it that much.
Then I got to high school and a couple of the other kids explained to me (once they’d pried me out of my books with a crow bar) that the radio could also be a source of music. A couple of my cousins made me mix tapes and I went ‘oh, interesting, I should look into this’.
And I actually tried tuning a radio and found a few things that sounded OK and went through the usual teenage obsessed-disinterested-obsessed-disinterested pattern with different artists and songs.
But deep down, I really didn’t give a shit. It was an alternative to silence.

Then I started my current job.
And then R started lending me CDs.
And all of a sudden music was huge.
It was big and beautiful and hard and dangerous and it matched my moods and challenged my mind or just fucking rocked in a way I had never known it to rock before.
I had heard the names of some of the bands before but had never heard of others and had heard next to none of any of their music and one band or album lead to another and my CD collection began to increase at an exponential rate and for the first time in my life I wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument and I wondered if this was what everyone else had been feeling all this time.

And I sat in that stadium with all those other hundreds of people and I listened to that man sing those songs of hurt and thought and personal history and saw the wry humour and humble pride.
And I cried.
Not only at the beauty of the music and the skill of the musicians who had spent decades perfecting their craft.
But out of gratitude that I found out about the music in time.
And that I was there.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Hourly Comic Day 2009

This year I had a shot at Hourly Comic Day.

I have an amazing amount of respect for the other 'comickers' who made it through the day and live in awe of some of the artistic talent on display in the forums.

I also hope that over time if I keep drawing my abilities will evolve, or at least by next year I might have learned how to use the scanner...

If you click on each of the little panels you will be provided with larger versions complete with ghostly rubbed out lines and ghostly lettering!