It's a Resolution, Baby!

52 Weeks. 52 New Year's Resolutions.

Week 33. Resolution 33. Catch up with my family. August 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — H-Ro @ 6:49 PM
Tags: , , ,

In a couple of weeks I am planning on attending a writing seminar called ‘Not So Happy Families’, which concerns itself with the topic, ‘Are the foibles of kin and family feuds fair game when writers look for inspiration?’  I could tell you that this seminar is an answer to my many prayers and will finally allow me sleep-filled nights after so many spent agonising over this very subject, but that would be lying, which is punishable by smacks and going a week without TV.  The truth is that I thought it would be funny, which is precisely the attitude that got you into all that trouble as a kid.

But after spending time with some of my extended family I now understand the seriousness of such a dilemma.  Over a week I have collated enough fodder to fill three chapters or one unbelievably hilarious feature article.  But would I?  Could I?

** As it’s likely to be too troublesome to put faces to this story, please enjoy some photos from awkwardfamilyphotos.com.

Pretend this is us

A little backstory:  In a time before TV my father found himself with six brothers and sisters, or half brothers andsisters, or cousins—the official story is unclear—and now, three generations later, we have amassed into a sizable mob that only gathers for deaths, marriages or the odd family reunion.  A group of people can peacefully coexist when each member has their tolerance filter set to ‘high’ and their manners set to ‘best’ but as family are forced to love you unconditionally it’s easy to fly your true colours flag instead and before long everybody is all up in everybody else’s business.

As an only child I am endlessly in awe of these antics.  I realise that families are rarely sunshine and rainbows and whiskers on kittens, but I also don’t understand why they fight like cats and dogs.  Personally I love catching up with them all and I adore each and every one of them, oddities included, because they provide me with a sense of community I wouldn’t otherwise have.  But is there a way to relate their stories with only good intentions and avoid offending individual members?  Or will even making the attempt be akin to swapping my neutral Switzerland position for that of Germany?  I’ll give it a shot …

This particular gathering coalesced in Adelaide to celebrate the nuptials of my beloved cousin and her beau.  As most of the family is scattered throughout Queensland this involved a long and arduous trip via more flights than was expected thanks to fog delays, causing tempers to dive before the festivities had even begun.  It probably didn’t help that my family of three had managed to avoid all this drama by catching an earlier flight and were enjoying the company of beer and heaters while progressively angrier text messages kept us updated.

Five hours later than their scheduled arrival time they descended, following episodes of vomiting, telephone calls made from the plane, overdrawn credit cards and free bus trips.  That is, most of them arrived.  One particular aunty managed to lose herself SOMEWHERE outside of Adelaide providing the position of ‘between two trees’ as a guide.

By the following afternoon two family members were no longer speaking to each other and wouldn’t again for the entire duration of the trip and it was simply best for the remainder of us to stay out of the firing line for fear of having to choose a side.  That evening, the 22 of us who had already arrived at the wedding destination—a winery in the Adelaide Hills—crammed into a room the size of a large bedroom to catch up over wine and cheese and a short-lived peace descended on the clan of Roberts once more.

Come morning and everyone was too busy with wedding preparations and beautifying rituals to instigate trouble at the house, although the family staying at a hotel nearby may tell a different story.

The wedding was a beautiful ceremony overlooking the vineyards which the groom, and particularly the bride, had put an overwhelming amount of effort into.  Although some difficulties arose while taking family photos as to who would and wouldn’t be in the same picture together, most of the reception was hitch-free with much alcohol consumed and much dancing danced.  But soon enough one cousin was slurring a little more than was usual which inevitably resulted in one vomit-covered cousin and some very pissed off relatives.  Then I practically threw the mother of the bride across the room, nearly breaking her back which began a chain reaction of at least half the family members succumbing to gravity at some point during the night, including the bride.

Real photo

Of course, festivities never end when they should and before the night was over one of my cousins and her boyfriend had bizarrely managed to bog their car simply backing out of their parking spot.  This resulted in my cousin’s boyfriend swinging his guitar around his head in frustration while my cousin ditched him and came back to the house to drunkenly warn us of the stupidity of boys.  Meanwhile, back at the hotel, my uncle and another cousin nearly came to blows because my cousin had supposedly been supplying our other 19 year old cousin with alcohol.  (Best not to ask questions as that’s a can of worms which is much safer closed.)  This resulted in a barrage of unkind words that it would be just plain wrong to render in print.

Morning dawned on many a sore head, particularly the head of a certain vomit encrusted cousin who somehow managed to contact gravel before contacting pillow.  Then a suitcase contacted another family member’s rental car leaving scratches which nearly resulted in having to contact the police.

As there is only so much drama one person can take (at least I thought so until this trip), I will end the story here but rest assured there were at least two more days of these shenanigans.  Regardless it was a wonderful weekend, made all the more better because it left me with plenty of memories to savour and tales to tell.  If only I dared …

 

Week 32. Resolution 32. Watch movies I’ve never seen. August 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — H-Ro @ 6:29 PM
Tags: , ,

These days it’s “virtually” impossible to navigate the Internet without tripping over some poor schmuck forcing their thoughts upon the world in blog form.  They litter the World Wide Web like cocooned flies awaiting spidery mastication.

While some bloggers have found fame (the Diablo Codys and Julie Powells of the blogosphere) most will clam up before long, particularly those with challenge based blogs (a good example is: http://extremetwentyten.blogspot.com/), and as the author of one such blog I’ll admit, it can be a pretty thankless hobby.  But then I remember my seven dedicated subscribers and my renewed faith gives me the strength to face an empty word document once more.

A growing number of these challenge blogs are related to the watching of movies, perhaps inspired by Michael Adams’s book, ‘Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic’s Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made’.  One reviewer refers to the “quest” described in his book as a ‘stunning achievement’, a ‘gargantuan effort’, and speculates about the ‘human cost of such an adventure’.  Mr Adams watched a bunch of movies.  How hard could that be?

Only one way to find out my seven dear readers!

But what films would I watch?

At first I considered the Top 10 Best Films of All Time until I discovered that everyone has an opinion and no one’s is definitive.  So instead I decided to concern myself with all the films I’ve always wanted to see but, for whatever reason, never gotten around to.

As a pop culture aficionado I am embarrassed to admit there are certain cult films I’ve never seen.  However as a list-making pop culture aficionado I have three lists dedicated to just this subject which I’ve been adding to for years.  Hell, I even have a list listing where the other three lists reside.  Thus I spent the week couch-potatoed in front of the idiot box cathartically ticking off these list-worthy must-see films.  What follows are my celluloidal thoughts.

The Bicycle Thief (or Bicycle Thieves depending on who you ask) is a black and white award-winning Italian film from 1948.  As film-making was my original passion I’ve heard endlessly about this movie in every film studies course I’ve attended, but until recently had a tough time “chasing it down”.  It details the plight of a desperate man, who, obviously, has his bike stolen, but in order to support his destitute family he needs the bike to perform the only job he can find.  It is a clear, relatable story told in an engaging fashion but without having other films of the time to compare to it’s difficult to fully grasp why it was so “amazing”.

Dead Poets Society (1989) – I’ve previously tried to watch this a couple of times but have always lost interest after the first scene.  My instincts were not wrong.  I hated this.  It’s predictable, male-oriented, dumbed-down ‘Catcher in the Rye’ style rubbish.  Plus I always find watching Robin Williams reminiscent of the sad circus clown who has a pistol and a bottle of pills waiting for him at home.  Carpe frigging Diem.

Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) – I saw half of this movie a few years back and always wanted to see the ending, which was well worth it for the sky-diving Elvises.  Although it was released a year earlier, this is the comedy version of ‘Indecent Proposal’ and is both funny and original.  Sarah Jessica Parker is more breathtaking than ever and Nicolas Cage’s performance and comedic timing are faultless.

What The Bleep Do We Know!? (2004) – Quantum mechanics is one of my secret passions but my brain is simply not wired to comprehend the mathematics of it which is why I experienced nerd-levels of excitement when this came out because I thought it explained quantum physics on a “user-friendly” level, which sadly isn’t the case.  Instead it explores, in the zaniest way possible, the relation of quantum physics to spirituality.  As such it has been criticised as inventing a kind of ‘quantum mysticism’.  It is a really strange film—part interviews, part drama, part ‘what the bleep drugs are these people on’, but impressive and mind-blowing nonetheless.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) – I was in love with this film from the opening credits.  It details the story of an aging silent movie actress whose career was ruined by the “talkies” as she tries to reconcile with her lack of continued fame and ultimately turns crackpot.  It contains rich performances, witty dialogue and beautiful cinematography that fully utilises the contrast between black and white.  Wonderful dahhling.

Reservoir Dogs (1992) – This film about a robbery gone wrong was released at a time when I was still allergic to violence and as Tarantino films tend to be a bit unpredictable except for containing A LOT of violence I hadn’t gotten around to seeing it since.   While watching it I found I was unexpectedly … bored, although it did remind me of why I used to love Tim Roth.  But I was REALLY annoyed when I couldn’t figure out who shot Eddie.  So I looked it up.  http://www.greatestmoviedeaths.com/2009/02/reservoir-dogs-who-shot-nice-guy-eddie.html Turns out no one shot Eddie which is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.  Stupid Tarantino.

Gone with the Wind (1939) – I always thought this movie had been heaped with critical acclaim simply for being long and expensive so I was genuinely surprised to realise it’s actually GREAT.  It’s also a misconception that this movie is romantic.  It’s not.  But it does portray a real love story rather than a perfect one which I was thrilled by.  And epic—after three hours I actually thought the last hour felt rushed!  The characters are fantastically multidimensional, the story is woefully tragic and the drama so over the top that I actually laughed inappropriately, especially when she beat the horse to death without batting an eyelid and then threw up over a radish.

Charade (1963) – As a Heppers lover (that’s Audrey Hepburn to you heathens) I was ecstatic to find a copy of this on DVD for $2 so I could revoke my status as an incomplete Audrey fan.  In this comedic gem she finds herself caught up in a crime with no one to trust.  It’s well written, has good pacing and throws in an interesting little end twist, while the lovely Audrey Hepburn is as delightful as always.

Le Voyage Dans Le Lune is a funny (peculiar) ten-minute piece from 1902 about a group of explorers who go to the moon that you can watch here:  http://vimeo.com/1472736 It inspired the Smashing Pumpkins film clip for ‘Tonight Tonight’ and also, I suspect, the moon from the Mighty Boosh.

It’s A Wonderful Life (1946) – I once saw the end of a movie about an angel getting their wings and on enquiry was told it was this one.  It wasn’t.  Instead I was treated to another overly dramatic film about a bit of an asshole with a temper who runs his life into the ground.  I may be heartless but I didn’t like it and I will never understand why it makes people cry.

An Affair To Remember (1957) – This is the movie that has inspired countless lovers to rendezvous at the top of the Empire State Building.  I honestly always thought these iconic romantic movies would portray idyllic relationships but I was so very wrong.  They are faulted and that’s what makes these films amazing.  A really lovely film about a couple in a ghastly predicament.

The Godfather (1972) – There was a lot I didn’t understand in this film.  But by GOD was Al Pacino handsome.  These days the world is overwhelmed with mob stories but I can imagine how amazing this glimpse into the shadowy underworld would have been at the time.  I’ve seen so many comical references to the horse head in the bed, yet still found it brutally disturbing.  Unfortunately I had to forgo The Godfather II at the last minute due to lack of time.

Fantasia (1940) – At first I acquired Fantasia 2000, not realising it’s different from the original.  I also didn’t realise how heavily focussed they are on the musical compositions.  In this advanced day of animation it was all a bit boring really.  Although I love how they describe The Nutcracker in 1940:  “It wasn’t much of a success and nobody performs it nowadays.”  One of the animations also contained the now debunked Triceratops, which had me wondering when they’d make reference to Pluto.  But then I remembered that Disney and Pluto are almost synonymous.  You’re a real Nostradamus Walt Disney.

Mad Max (1979) – I have a friend who actually signed up to the Sci Fi channel on Foxtel because this was on one day so I figured it was going to be amazing.  But 20 mins in and I was completely clueless as to what was going on.  30 mins and I’d lost interest.  40 mins found me STRUGGLING not to turn it off and class it as the worst movie I’ve ever seen.  I am utterly gobsmacked as to how this spawned sequels, and worse, why so many people like it.  After complaining about it on Twitter someone aptly commented that “you must not be doing it right”, mirroring my own thoughts.  It was shit in so many ways.  Plus it spawned ‘Saw’ which sucks.

Rocky (1976) or as I like to call it, the male version of Flashdance, had me offside from the start as I found myself loathing anyone who boxes.  Plus I thought Rocky was creepy and overbearing.  And oh look, he has values!  He likes pets and shuns crime and is ohhhh so misunderstood.  I kinda liked it though and by the end I was considering checking out a boxing match.  Plus I’ve really gained an immense amount of respect for Sly for writing it and fighting for it and then going on to write all his other blockbusters.  What a guy.

Some Like It Hot (1959) – This is the original version of White Chicks where some dudes dress up as ladies in an effort to disguise themselves from the baddies.  Having never seen a Marilyn Monroe pic I was delighted to note she has almost exactly the same figure as me, although sadly her face is VERY different.  She’s a total siren who knows how to shimmy those assets.  Some Like It Hot was no doubt described as “riotously funny” in its day  but my killjoy tendencies found it difficult to enjoy the humour since the film’s comedy is built entirely around the lecherous nature of men.

That’s all folks!  Seven days.  Sixteen films.  If only all the resolutions were this easy.

 

Update on Resolution #4. Read 3 Books a Month. August 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — H-Ro @ 11:40 AM
Tags: ,

Without further ado, or any ado at all, here are the booky-books I’ve been stuffing into my noggin over the past two months.

JUNE –

  1. When You Reach Me – Rebecca Stead – This is a delightful and clever young adult read which brought me a lot of happiness.  It’s a perfect story in which every detail matters about an engaging young girl grappling to make sense of the strange occurrences in her life.  It’s well written and keeps you guessing until the end, plus it’s about time travel so BONUS.
  2. Manga Sampler – featuring Naruto, Bleach and Full Moon among others – I picked up this manga sampler at work as I enjoy Japanese anime and graphic novels and so I figured manga was the next natural progression.  It’s not.  In fact I don’t get manga AT ALL.  It’s strange and nonsensical in a way that only the Japanese can be.
  3. Crowfield Curse – Pat Walsh – Another book for the young reader this story is set in a monastery and details the quest to discover the bones of an angel once buried in the surrounding area.  A slow and easy read.
  4. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner – Stephenie Meyer – Ms Meyer continues to milk the Twilight saga with this truly painful “novella” which I read on the Internet for free.  As usual it’s so poorly written that I felt braincells dying as I read it.  But in true Meyer form it’s completely addictive.  I don’t know how she does it?  Even when you don’t like the characters you find yourself thinking about them all the time.  There’s just something about the way they behave and the places they inhabit that gets under your skin.  You’ve been warned.
  5. The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim – Jonathan Coe – This is the kind of book people describe as a rollicking good read.  As it focuses more on making a social comment about the disconnectedness of our generation it has a plot in which not a lot happens, yet it somehow manages to be a totally engaging read as the character’s thoughts are so rich and intensely human.  You’d almost believe it was a bio.  The story was masterfully conceived in a way that really resonated with me while at the same time convincing me I could never be a good writer in comparison.  It also has one of the strangest and most controversial endings I’ve come across (besides the TV show Lost).
  6. I swear there were six books.

JULY –

  1. Mosquito Advertising – Kate Hunter – Set in Brisbane, Mosquito Advertising outlines the advertising efforts employed by a young girl and her friends to try and save the company of her mother’s employer.  It’s a quaint little adventure story that would make good holiday reading for a teen.
  2. The Lovers – Raymond Peynet – The only way to adequately describe Raymond Peynet is as an artist who created French cartoon soft porn in the 1950s.  I first discovered him on eBay and then bought this Penguin compilation of some of his quaint and naughty illustrations.  Cute—although unfortunately some of the references have been lost to time and/or cultural differences.
  3. Vampire Kisses – Ellen Schreiber – Bloody vampire books.  Why are they so addictive?  This series is aimed at the younger teen as it is centred on an excitable and misunderstood younger female protagonist who strikes up a relationship with (or more appropriately, STALKS) the son of a new family that moves into town.  But is he a vampire?
  4. Mercy – Rebecca Lim – A being is slotted into other people’s lives for a short time in an effort to resolve some of their problems, Quantum Leap style.  While the writing is confusing at times this is a compelling YA story about solving a local “missing person” mystery in a game of spot the psychopath.  For younger lovers of crime and paranormal.
  5. Death Most Definite – Trent Jamieson – When I picked up this reader from work, a colleague had left a note in it saying ‘Clunky writing.  Doesn’t explain’.  I agree with this sentiment—I almost gave up on it entirely after a few chapters—however there’s much more to it.  Again, set in Brisbane, this book employs a unique approach to the whole zombie genre.  While the writer has made up his own rules about writing it still adds up to an engaging, action-packed story with a fresh subject matter.
 

Week 31. Resolution 31. Splendour in the Grass! August 9, 2010

I’ll be honest with you.  Most of these resolutions, well, they’re not exactly life changing.  But attending the Splendour in the Grass music festival is not merely another resolution, it’s a complete shift in perspective.  If someone gave you the opportunity to queue online for hours for a ticket, queue in traffic for hours for entry, have your belongings pawed over and your alcohol snatched away, set up a tent in the mud in the middle of winter, forgo creature comforts for creatures of the eight-legged variety, have 30,000 other people as bedfellows, and indulge in cold showers, long walks, overpriced food and phenomenally expensive mid-strength alcohol for three days and four evenings of your life—you’d jump at the chance wouldn’t you?  Of course you wouldn’t, because you’re not mad.  In fact you’d probably say to that someone, “Rack off Ashton Kutcher, you crazy geezer”.  But for Splendour in the Grass you do it.  You do it for the love.

Splendour in the Grass typically hosts the most mind-blowingly amazing array of local and international bands of the entire Australian festival circuit.  Previously hosted in Byron Bay, and now having temporarily located to Woodford, the festival has seen crowd numbers swell from 7,500 strong to a wild-eyed throng of 32,000 in the space of ten years.  These days if you’re not one of the people attending the festival you’re one of the people whinging about not attending the festival (or you’re holidaying in Bali for two weeks and spending far less money).  This is going to be a long blog post so you might want  a nanna nap in preparation.

My particular “Splendour Bender” began on a sleepy Thursday morning after picking up the holy grail of campervans, a campervan that took countless hours (well, probably eight hours spread over a couple of months) of harried Internet searching to find.  It was nicknamed ‘Cranky’ which I hoped was not a sign of things to come, but after my Splendour friend spent 45 minutes reducing the staff of the ANZ bank to tears over not being able to access his money, I could tell it was already working its way into our consciousness.  I hastily renamed it the Splendora Explorer.

By leaving early we avoided the queues that would later take up to eight hours  and within an hour we were at Woodfordia, fingers and toes crossed while our van waited in the queue for alcohol checks.  Thankfully our search was cut short due to general incompetence and power struggles between the security guards and our bottles of vodka chinked together merrily as we took off over the hills in search of our campsite.  A campsite so elusive that we we drove and drove AND DROVE until finally were directed to a small patch of grass as far away from the festival entrance as possible which we would call home for the next four days.  So much for arriving early.

After setting up camp and swilling a bottle of wine while waiting for festival gates to open we donned our stylish (and sadly, matching) gumboots and headed in for an evening of pre-festival entertainment.  The Woodfordia site was purpose-built to house the annual 7-day ‘Woodford Folk Festival’ held every Christmas.  Having been to the Folk Festival five times previously I have grown to love Woodfordia as it is somewhat of a fairyland, reminiscent of the fey fayre found in Neil Gaiman’s ‘Stardust’, tonight being no exception.  We spent the eve perched on a hillside listening to a DJ spin eighties tunes from a boat in the middle of a lake surrounded by fairy lights and bubbles while the troops danced feverishly.  It was marvellous.

Boat DJ

Boat DJ with bubbles!

But come morning those fairies would be stomped to death by 32,000 people rearing to have the best possible time EVER (Sad huh? But fairies aren’t really real so never fear.)

I felt ROUGH, a situation which was not helped by the 20 minute walk to the festival or the extra 30 minutes it took to find our friend’s campsite, handily located at the completely opposite end of the sprawling campgrounds.  (Apparently there was a shuttle bus running but as one of our marshals explained, tracking it down was a bit like trying to find Narnia.)  My almost fanatical obsession with, as the scouts so aptly put it, ‘being prepared’ had me suitably packed for almost any situation but being the middle of winter I did not expect a 20-bloody-6-degree day and so I had only a thick long sleeve shirt to traipse around in.  I thought I was going to die.

(I must make further mention here of the camp marshals.  They need a blog all of their own as their antics were clearly worse than any of the festival going public.  While the rest of us suffered for our confiscated alcohol the marshals of Area I were sitting around openly knocking back beers as we passed by.  They would not share.)

Due to the stealthy preparations of our friends their campsite was amply stocked and so a couple of well-deserved vodkas later and we were adamant to make it into the festival for local rock act, Violent Soho, having already missed two must-see bands of the morning.  For half an hour we stood in front of the stage muttering amongst ourselves about how late the band was so when we heard ‘Hi, I’m Dan Sultan!’  our dismay at being at the wrong stage saw us hightail it out of there before he even played a note.  The proper stage was a ten minute walk away.  We had been walking for five when the enormity of this three day monolith of a festival slapped us in the face.  My Splendour friend exclaimed ‘I can’t go on.  Let’s turn back and get a drink’.  And so we did.  That brief visit was sadly the only time we made it to the GW McLennan stage.

A week before a festival I diligently highlight every band I want to see on a timetable, hopeful that I can manage to rush between stages and catch them all, primed like a pokemon master.  After 15 years of festival attendance I still haven’t learnt that I might as well just rip those well prepared timetables in half because I ain’t gonna see even half the bands I planned to.  Instead, all that important viewing time is overridden by meeting basic human needs and appeasing the whims of your cohorts.  In truth, I think it’s more fun this way without having your day scheduled into hour long compartments yet I still feel so bitterly disappointed by all the bands I miss.  At a festival like Splendour, you could easily spend all your time visiting the myriad of stores, attending workshops, fashion watching, looking at sculptures and talking to people while missing every band entirely and still have an amazing time but could you live with yourself for paying a $450 ticket price for the experience?

He lost a bet apparently.

For the next hour we escaped the sun in the Forum Tent, home to a number of panels presented by our favourite Triple J and ex Triple J announcers.  We caught the first half of the ‘Music Trivia’ panel hosted by Myf Warhurst who every girl wants to be friends with and every guy wants as their girlfriend, accompanied by Sam Pang, the voice of Eurovision.  I’m glad we didn’t choose to participate because the questions were way too hard and my brain was struggling simply to be PRESENT, so we left.

By this time it was 3:30 and we were still yet to see a band so we began the arduous trek to the amphitheatre for Yeasayer.  The amphitheatre is a phenomenal venue comprised of a vast basin shaped hill which looks down onto the stage however it’s a ten minute walk from the festival hub, along a flat ‘low’ road which brings you out to the centre of the hill or a steep ‘high’ road which brings you to the top of the hill where the bars and toilets are.  With magic hour upon us it was a perfect time for Yeasayer to hit the stage but as someone who wasn’t entirely impressed with their album, Odd Blood (although it was hard not to get carried away by the hype over their songs O.N.E. and Ambling Alp), I found my attention wavering to more pressing matters such as getting another drink.

I was quite keen to catch the end of Foals but my Splendour friend was adamant on taking a break back at camp and so deciding I wasn’t quite ready to tackle the crowd-shaped shit-fight on my own we opted out of festival life for the next few hours.  (I later found out this desperate need to head back to camp was because my friend had organised a secret rendezvous with his ex-girlfriend.  BUSTED.)

We returned in time for Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem at the Mix Up tent, two bands that have a song or two I quite like, but ultimately that I can’t really stand and I was simply overwhelmed by the immensity of the crowd and the disappointment over the long trek to the amphitheatre and the campsite to enjoy myself.

I believe the measure of a good festival band is one that commands your attention, one that immerses you so completely in their performance that you forget yourself entirely, even when their recorded music doesn’t float your boat.  That band at Splendour 2009 was Bloc Party.  In 2010, while other bands came close, that band was Scissor Sisters.  Epic.  Orgasmic.  Utterly captivating.  Now I’ve always desperately fancied crazy-eyed Jake Shears in all his glorious gaiety, and the gyrating, stripping and R-rated banter between himself and Ana Matronic just proves that stage presence is equally important as musical ability in a live setting.  Apparently Jake got totally naked.  I didn’t see it.  I don’t know how I could have missed it!  My eyes were glued to the man.  Regardless, their performance alone justified the ticket price.  In my memory they will always be a new and improved less-horror-more-disco version of the Rocky Horror Picture show.

By the time DAY 2 rolled around I was rearing to go, having made the mental adjustment required to tackle the rest of the festival and was awake and showered before my Splendour friend even opened his eyes.  However, in a predicament that matched my own a day earlier, when the time came for action he was simply not having a bar of it and so I sat around waiting for him to pull himself together (I couldn’t ditch him cos his phone was dead), desperately trying not to punch people because I was missing Marieke Hardy’s ‘Women of Letters’ forum.  I’m sure Marieke would have whole-heartedly approved of this lady-like behaviour had I not managed to contain myself.

Thankfully we made it to the festival in time to catch my first ‘CANNOT MISS’ band, Gypsy & the Cat.  Recently discovered by Triple J on their Unearthed site, this was Gypsy & the Cat’s very first festival performance.  They combine layered vocals reminiscent of the Bee Gees with 80s inspired electro-pop and I love them.  Plus the lead singer is HOT and that never hurts.  With a set that kept my limited attention span the whole time it was a perfect way to ease into the day.

Staying on in the amphitheatre we caught half of Jonathan Boulet, who, after aurally assaulting the audience with his first song, lead into his percussion heavy folk-pop classics.

Our spot was nearby

Sadly we had to rescind the ‘perfect spot’ we’d discovered on the amphitheatre hill which was right near the bar and toilets and even had plastic chairs to sit on, to venture to the Mix Up stage to check out Yacht Club DJs who energised the crowd with their mash-ups of classic songs and crowd favourites.  It’s never crossed my mind before but I became convinced I’d make a fantastic DJ and my friend and I got carried away discussing how we could be the next big thing.

On our journey back to the amphitheatre and our plastic chair haven we saw the only crowd-stopper of the whole weekend—a massive GOANNA.  The poor fellow was terrified and behaving erratically and so naturally everyone stood around carrying on and taking photos.  Thankfully within a couple of minutes it managed to make its way behind the barriers and away from us frightening folk.

While lounging in our oasis we saw Band of Skulls (who I honestly wasn’t paying any attention to) and The Drums.  Was that a reincarnated Ian Curtis leading the band?  They were certainly doing their best to excite the masses with their energetic performance but sadly the crowd wasn’t really feeling it.  Or maybe they were, and I wasn’t.  Whatever.

My second ‘CANNOT MISS’ band of the festival was Delphic.  I first heard these guys early last year on Richard Kingsmill’s New Music show and instantly fell in love with them.  I tracked the band’s process, eagerly awaiting their album release which I bought the day it came out and in the process developed a strange sense of ownership over them which had me feeling genuinely surprised when hundreds of other people flocked to the Mix Up stage for their set.  They did not disappoint with their New Order inspired dance sound keeping the crowd enraptured for the set’s duration.  Superb.

Back up the hill despite the screaming of my calves I witnessed my third, ‘CANNOT MISS’ act, Tame Impala, whose psychedelic rock has captured my heart like none of their musical influences has managed to before.  Sadly the set felt flat, which was certainly not helped by our prime hill possie being drowned out by a bright floodlight while the punter next to me droned on about how disappointing they were.  Ah well.  I’m sure we’ll meet again Tame Impala.

Art Vs Science

Down the hill we marched again to meet up with friends and watch Art Vs Science (we chose to forgo Florence & the Machine as we’d caught them earlier this year).  Art Vs Science are a fun and frenetic live band even though, admittedly, their novelty music normally does nothing for me.  Live, the band’s energy combined with the pure joy of the audience was uplifting and I found myself in hysterics for a good part of the set at the antics of the crowd.

It was around this point that shit hit the fan.  While we should have been heading over to Band of Horses, instead we found ourselves caught up in festival hysteria.  All the bars across the site stopped serving alcohol simultaneously, the festival gates to the Amphitheatre were closed and rumours began to spread that there’d been a crowd crush.  With The Strokes about to start the panic was palpable and some folk simply decided to leave the venue, convinced their chance to see The Strokes had gone.  Naturally this wasn’t good enough for us so we marched over to the cops and asked for information.  Turns out the amphitheatre had just reached their 20,000 capacity and the gates were reopened minutes later.  Admittedly it was a bit cosy but we still managed to find a prime spot to enjoy the amazing performance The Strokes served up.  While rumoured their shows have been a let-down in the past there was plenty of banter from Julian between delivering their biggest hits, accompanied with a phenomenal light show that culminated in a set I would have been pissed off to have missed.

...becomes night!

Day...

Plus we saw a dog run past.  A dog.  In the middle of 20,000 people.  Although since we were the only ones who reacted to it and it seemed to disappear as fast as it arrived we chalked it up to group hallucination.  About ten minutes later the dog was replaced by a naked man streaking along the hills.  Sam from True Blood anyone?

After The Strokes our friend entertained us (and select other crowd members) with his make-shift drum kit made out of sticks, empty cans and two fairy floss containers he’d found(?).  Hilarity ensued until the security guards kicked us out.

We attempted to keep the night rocking but our efforts were in vain and so we caught some shut-eye in preparation for DAY 3.  (Seeing the marshals violently beat on a hippy while walking back to our campsite was not a highlight.  Even hippies don’t deserve that kind of treatment.)

After a communal breakfast with friends discussing whether that dog incident really happened we bravely approached day 3, starting off with Miike Snow in the Mix Up tent, which we bored of quickly, before checking out Surfer Blood at the amphitheatre.  I have one word to say to you Surfer Blood.  Lacklustre.  Although by now I was starting to suspect this had more to do with the amphitheatre stage than the bands.  To amuse ourselves in lieu of their mediocre performance, Splendour friend and I played a game of “I’ll pick out guys from the crowd I think you’d fancy and you do the same for me with the ladies”—a game that proved so interesting even We Are Scientists could not divert our attention with their nonsensical off-putting banter.  Hmm, day 3, hmm.

After a campsite reprieve we managed to catch the start of Jonsi.  His dulcet tones combined with haunting compositions built into an atmospheric wall of sound that was just sublime, but when your friend says to you ‘umm, why did you want to see this band?’ after 30 seconds, all enjoyment is pretty much lost and one of my biggest Splendour regrets is walking away after two songs.

Next we saw Passion Pit at the amphitheatre and full points to them for exploiting the crowd interaction which made for an entertaining show.  Musically, I can’t say I was blown away but the singer’s joy was infectious.  Admittedly witnessing the big blow up zebra in the crowd meeting the small blow up zebra in the crowd and having a kiss-off was the highlight for me.

Afterwards I promised Splendour friend I’d catch Goldfrapp with him to make up for missing The Mess Hall.  I don’t like Goldfrapp, not even a little bit.  But Alison Goldfrapp’s Stevie Nicks inspired onstage writhing sure got the crowd going.  Personally I was happier watching the kids nearby play with glowsticks.

At this point I was abandoned for the first time all festival as everyone migrated to the Pixies and I was left behind, adamant to see some of Empire of the Sun, praying I didn’t become the ‘friend lost in the field’ as Art Vs Science so adequately put it.

Luke Steele’s showy Empire of the Sun wankery isn’t for everyone but I’ll admit I’ve lapped it up wholeheartedly.  If Luke Steele were to lead a head-dress wearing revolution, I would follow him without question.  Even though he’s a peroxided, big-haired, make-upped chubby fellow I cannot still my beating heart at the thought of him.  At first I decided to stay for two songs.  Then three.  Then four.  I loved them, with Luke flouncing about stage accompanied by elaborately choreographed dancers.  Loved.  It.  But after being barraged all weekend about how great the Pixies would be (even though I saw them earlier in the year) I simply could not miss them.

While schlepping up to the amphitheatre for the VERY LAST TIME there were so many people leaving that I thought they’d finished early.  Then as I heard my first snatches of the Pixies it took all my power not to be drawn back by Luke Steele’s magnetism but I did it.  I shouldn’t have.  The Pixies played all the hits, of course, but they must have left their charisma at the airport because their set was sorely lacking in any form of emotion.  Even Frank Black’s yelling seemed too perfectly honed now to carry any weight.  Mind you, elsewhere Richard Ashcroft was chucking a tanty and storming off stage so it could have been a worse way to end the festival.

To the man who fell off his crutches and rolled down the hill, bowling several people over in the process, taking advantage of all the people who rushed to your aid, and then getting up and running off with crutches slung over your shoulder.  You are an ass.

Afterwards we dwelled by one of the bonfires and lounged about in Tipi Village but any hope of sparking more exciting adventures had fizzled away.  We had a couple of campsite beverages with friends but the icy-cold wind (oh, THERE YOU ARE WINTER) cut short any further proceedings and we sadly realised we’d ridden the Splendour bus as far as it would go.  On the way back to our campsite we got lost for the umpteenth time and with our 20 minute walk turning into an hour I finally lost it and ‘Cranky’ got the better of me.

The next morning all traces of civilisation were gone.  No more warm shower water.  In fact, most of the bathroom units were shut off completely.  While we had the choice to queue with 30,000 other people to exit the premises we had been told of a secret exit, metres away, by our friends the marshals.  (This was after one of them proudly showed me his bruised knuckles from beating people up with the comment, ‘I hate it when people fall onto my hand’.)  It took us a minute to get from our campsite to the main road and with that Splendour was over.

I’ve heard many people say this was the best Splendour ever.  To be honest, I was left feeling a little hollow, probably because I never ease the hell up on myself.  However, having relived all these memories in written form I could easily go back right now.  This second.  And do it all again.  No regrets.

***Please note, the terrible photos are mine – I was using a borrowed camera I didn’t know how to operate.  The beautiful photos were taken by Justin Edwards and were appropriated from http://www.messandnoise.com.

 

Week 30. Resolution 30. Appreciate past achievements. August 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — H-Ro @ 12:14 PM
Tags: , , ,

As a youngling I was really bothered by fellow students who wrote in the yearbook that their aim in life was ‘to be happy’.  Why wish for something so dull when you could BE AN ASTRONAUT or WIN A NOBEL PRIZE?  I just couldn’t fathom why people would wish for something so fleeting and abstract.  Everyone’s definition of happiness is different and I am rather curious to know what brand of happiness they aspired to, and, more importantly, whether they achieved it?

In my yearbook I asked for the biggest thing I could think of—to stop chewing my nails.  Clearly it was this kind of big-picture thinking that has made me so successful today.  I did stop chewing my nails two years ago but it turns out that you’re just as unlikely to find lasting happiness through achieving your childhood goals as you are from asking for it in a yearbook.  Maybe if I’d just asked for something bigger.

But then I recently heard someone say that while they have everything they want from life they are constantly plagued by self doubt and it reminded me that regardless of our status we are not alone in our fears and dissatisfaction.

There’s nothing like Facebook to highlight the inadequacies in your life.  No longer do you need to attend high school reunions to hear about the success of your friends and foes.  While it’s wonderful to see so many people kicking life’s goals it just makes it all the more difficult justifying why I’m a single, broke, virtually unemployed, Gen-Xer who studies via correspondence and lives with my parents, thus representing the triangle shaped person who won’t fit into society’s square shaped hole.  I wonder which of us is happier?  I’ve never aspired to conform to society’s ideals but I also won’t lie in saying that it is an incredibly frustrating period of my life.  But if it were not for my current life predicament, there would be no resolution challenge, and if not for the resolution challenge I may not have appreciated that I wasn’t always so stellarly unsuccessful.

Last week while reading bucket lists on the Internet as research for future resolutions I realised I have already completed a number of life’s most popular must-dos; accomplishments that each brought me happiness and of which I should be proud, and so for this week I wanted to list these as a reminder of my past and to provide hope for the future.

I also felt it was important to outline these achievements in case you were wondering why there are certain resolutions I haven’t tackled amongst my 52.

OVERSEAS TRAVEL

  • Visited five of seven continents (not South America or Antarctica)
  • Lived in a foreign country (Britain and for a short time, Japan)
  • Backpacked and travelled solo
  • Been to Disneyland (in both Japan and the USA)
  • Ridden a camel in the Sahara
  • Seen the Mona Lisa in the Louvre
  • Ridden a bike in Amsterdam and wildly danced the tango with a stranger in the gay district (NOT a euphemism)
  • Parasailed over the Blue Lagoon in Turkey
  • Eaten pizza and gelato in the home of pizza and gelato, Naples
  • Slept in a castle (Banff, Canada)
  • Seen (the original) Michelangelo’s David in Florence
  • Visited and fallen in love with Pompeii
  • Seen the Sistine chapel (and took sneaky photos)
  • Visited Auschwitz and cried for a time when humanity lost its way
  • Thrown a coin in Rome’s Trevi fountain, ensuring I will go back
  • Visited as many of Gaudi’s buildings in Barcelona as I could
  • Watched the Changing of the Guards in London
  • Seen Stonehenge
  • Touched the Berlin Wall
  • Visited the Amalfi Coast and each of the Cinque Terre
  • Toured the Colosseum in Rome
  • Attended the Carnevale of Venice 
  • Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Eiffel Tower
  • Toured the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris
  • Visited Shakespeare’s house in Stratford Upon Avon
  • Ridden a Shinkansen, Japanese bullet train
  • Shopped at Harrods
  • Visited the Christmas markets in five different German cities and villages
  • Been on a cruise
  • Seen Barcelona from above in a cable car
  • Slept on an overnight train
  • Seen snow

AUSTRALIAN TRAVEL

  • Been camping / slept under the stars
  • Driven the Great Ocean Road
  • Snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef
  • Zorbed on the Gold Coast
  • Watched turtles hatch and run (waddle?) for the ocean
  • Been gold / sapphire fossicking

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Written and distributed own newspaper
  • Taken a sick day when I wasn’t ill (only once to spend time with a friend and see the Pixar exhibition in London)
  • Walked all the way to the top of a Bungee jump, and walked all the way back down again
  • Been on TV
  • Had backstage access at a film premiere and numerous music festivals
  • Contributed to a work displayed in a museum
  • Learned (and forgotten) a second language (Japanese)
  • Participated in a demonstration
  • Broken the law (drinking in a public place)
  • Been kicked out of a limousine (not my fault!)
  • Climbed a mountain – one with a trekking trail in Glasgow, one in Cairns with no path at all where we strung up a huge banner that said ‘Believe’ where the whole city could see it
  • Had my portrait drawn
  • Been deep sea fishing
  • Had a job that I loved
  • Been in the newspaper
  • Flown in a helicopter
  • Broken into a haunted house at night
  • Bought a brand new car
  • Been a fulltime carer
  • Read the bible
  • Provided a character witness in court
  • Taken a martial arts class (only one, never went back)
  • Made own jewellery
  • Learnt about personal finance
  • Had something I’ve made broadcast
  • Been canoeing and rowing
  • Jet skied
  • Ridden a horse
  • Ridden on the back of a motorbike
  • Roller and ice skated
  • Learned to play an instrument (flute, organ)
  • Raced in a sports car
  • Met a number of famous people
  • Won a lip-sync competition
  • Gotten a degree
  • Performed in a play
  • Danced in a production with the Royal New Zealand Ballet
  • Had High Tea
  • Made a short film
  • Been on a parade float
  • Won a competition based on artistic merit
  • Had something published (in the newspaper when I was younger)