Thursday, July 31, 2008
One of the IT crew had his last day and we went out to lunch to farewell him on his upcoming adventures in Asia and the Middle East. Also, another colleague announced today that he's leaving to go to Sydney. Crazy Tamsin, who left our work at the end of last year has been in touch and I've been reading the blog of her Asian adventures she had in 2005-06. All these things are getting under my skin and starting to give me itchy feet. It seems a long time to wait until October and our Vietnam trip.
The billboard I spotted on Fanshawe St, central Auckland the other day - during a sudden and very short interlude of sunshine while I was driving through town.
And the view from my commute home today with a suitably apt soundtrack, coincidentally playing on my CD player as the rain lashed down.
As a postscript to todays somewhat whiny blog, I have just read this concept of the USA having "cowardly socialism" on David Byrne's Journal - and now feel much more cheerful at being stuck in NZ in the rain (thanks David).
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
For a teaser there is a free mp3 download available at http://www.bobdylan.com/ - you just need to register to pick up the track 'Dreamin' Of You'. I've listened to it 4 or 5 times today and it is not like any other Dylan song I can think of, and is rapidly growing on me.
If a song this good was left unused on the studio floor when Time Out Of Mind was recorded then I can't wait to hear the other 30+ tracks on the new release. Roll on October.
Equal to the buzz about this release and its contents, is the unhappiness at the pricing options - here's another bloggers view on that.
The previous Bob masterpiece, unreleased until late 2007, and most welcomed into the official world is this song from which the movie 'I'm Not There' gets its name. The lyrics are only partly formed, the song dates from the sixties around the time of the Basement Tapes and was never finished, (Bob tends to leave behind songs that he's not totally happy with rather than re-working them later on) but it somehow manages to draw you in as though in a dream and the mystical non-words make sense in their own way. ... heres one translation of what he is singing..
It’s alone, it’s a crime
the way she moult me around
was she told for to hate me
by this dong fortaken clown
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
We both gave Lenny 7/10. There were a few laughs, but not totally tummy tickling. He's best when he gets into one of the Jamaican characters and also quite funny singing rap, or as Michael Jackson or Tina Turner. Here's Lenny talking about his show and his experience of Maori culture.
Today, after a session at the gym and a swim, I've been pottering around at home: made a DVD slideshow for a Filmscan customer and cut some backup CDs of the latest iTunes purchases. It is STILL raining here. I am counting down the weeks until summer.
On the bright side, our passports arrived back from the Vietnamese Embassy with colourful visas inside.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
The band now average 62, so this is another fine example of would-be retirees kicking up a storm and refusing to act their age!
Let's impeach the President for lying
And misleading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door
Who's the man who hired all the criminals
The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
They bend the facts to fit with their new stories
Of why we have to send our men to war
Neil's Living with War site
And in his own words...
Saturday, July 26, 2008
While the storm outside rages - here are three films worth reporting on from the last 3 days...
"The Savages" is a black comedy about a family called Savage. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney as siblings and self obsessed 40 somethings who have never quite grown up. The news that the father they had lost touch with after an unhappy childhood is no longer able to look after himself and needs their care is a wake up call to them both. A sombre, touching film about their lives before and after taking responsibility for their increasingly out-of-it ungrateful father.
"O'Horten" (see trailer) was a joy to watch, in an understated, slightly odd, Norwegian way. The main character 'Odd' - maybe thats a real name in Norway - retires after 40 years driving trains up and down the snow covered length of the country and finds he's alone and at a loss until he has a series of adventures, meets some even odder characters and tackles some of his long standing fears. Funny, sad and beautiful to watch. After, we ran across the road in the rain to the aptly named eatery the Engine Room for some Thai prawn salad with lychees and lime, followed by salmon with white bean puree. Mmmm.
"The Visitor" sees a bored, in-a-rut economics lecturer confront his attitude to illegal immigrants when he falls for the mother of Tarek, a Syrian who he finds living in his little-used New York apartment. As a privileged white male he tries to wield influence upon the unyielding US immigration system and the private company that holds detainees. Another sad view of the US system.
Saturday came with a severe storm warning: a cyclone, the worst for a decade, due to hit Auckland this afternoon. This from todays paper:
Civil defence tips:
* Do not travel unless absolutely necessary.
* Open a window on the side of the building away from the wind. This will relieve pressure on the roof and help prevent it lifting.
* Close all curtains to slow down flying glass and airborne objects.
* Stay away from doors and windows. If the wind becomes destructive, shelter further inside the house.
4PM update: John just came back from underneath the north side of the harbour bridge where he filmed waves crashing onto the motorway. There were a couple of boats off their moorings being smashed up against the harbour wall.
We are supposed to go to a movie at 5pm but the drive over the bridge is putting us off. We came back from town at 3pm and there were 60kph warning signs flashing and gusts of wind that felt they would lift the car if slightly stronger. If it gets worse the bridge may be closed to traffic. So I think we'll make a log fire and have a night at home listening to the howling wind. If the worst happens and a tree lands on our roof then we can claim a new roof which we badly need anyway!!
8pm update: Seems to have passed over, else we are in the 'eye' and have part 2 to come. The news said some areas have no power due to lines down. The only damage for us so far has been losing a branch of a tree out front and having some garden furniture and pot plants thrown about a bit
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Today I have a couple of film scanning jobs on the go. A small one, just a dozen images, for a professional photographer and a larger pile of 300 slides for a guy in Noumea that will take me a couple of days at my relaxed pace. Am glad that its pouring with rain so I am not tempted to go beach walking or cafe cruising. I can happily sit in the warm & dry, listening to Dylan bootlegs and feeding slides through the CoolScan machine in between editing the images, sipping tea and reading Murakami.
I am now halfway through 'Wind-Up Bird Chronicle', and Toru is trapped at the bottom of a deep well. I read this part while lounging in a hot bath. I tried to screw my eyes tight and imagine the darkness and isolation but it was hard to overcome the comfort of the warm water and the cheerful music from the lounge below.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Dinner conversation involved a few rants (mostly from John). I think I must have missed out on the 'rant' and 'gossip' genes, as I'm not very good at either. On the other hand, I do like abstract puzzles and mazes which some people don't see any point to. I've added a link to Robert Abbott's Logic Maze Puzzles - they are pretty tough and can keep me amused for some time.
Here is a staircase to nowhere I saw on a walk this morning. I guess the demolition guys ran out of time or something.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Man on Wire trailer
Friday, July 18, 2008
Covering the same theme, but way less grim is 'The Road Home' by Rose Tremain. One of my favourite authors. Well worth reading.
Here's some musical beauty to relieve the grimness. It was only in the last few months I acquired Drake's 1969 album Five Leaves Left. Nick was in his mid 20's in 1974 when he died of an overdose. He had released a trio of albums which did not sell very well, not helped by his shying away from the media or performing live. He had battled loneliness and depression and his lyrics reflect this. It has taken 30 years but there now seems to be growing recognition of the unique music he made. Here are 2 tracks to enjoy.
River Man here
Day Is Done
I think there has been a re-release and compilation issue of all his material in recent years.
Time goes by
It's 'the time of your life'
Easy now, sit you down
Chewing through your Wimpey dreams
They eat, without a sound
Digesting England by the pound
Early footage from 1974, with Peter Gabriel in a nicely strange costume and a young fresh-faced Phil on drums.
I have a sentimental attachment to London's tube system. In a previous life I spent 8+ years commuting to St. James park tube where I was a Transport Planner at the offices above the station known as 55 Broadway, the London Underground HQ. It was very interesting work which I loved and wouldn't have left if the move to NZ hadn't put a little strain on my commute to work. One day early in my LUL career I had to travel down to Heathrow T4 station for an early start (around 4am) to make sure some contracted survey staff were up & running. The only way to get there was to flag down the staff train at Acton Town, which stopped for me to get into the drivers cab. Chatting to the driver on the way to T4 he kept insisting I take over the controls, which scared the hell out of me. Cool seeing the tunnels from the front though.
Anyhow, back to the GU blog: it appears that Tube buskers have reached a far higher standard than those I remember ...
I'm having a Dylan-free today today (a rare thing) - to and from the gym in the car I've been listening to Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Found this on Youtube - no idea who the lead singer is - they must have co-opted someone, it is neither Peter Gabriel or Phll Collins but it is the best live footage I could find, and he does a pretty good job of it too. Best played loud!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
After supper I stretched out on the sofa to read Haruki Murakami's "Wind-Up Bird Chronicle". I'm only a couple of chapters in but it's grabbed me even more so than his other books. I love the understated surreal writing. If I ever write a novel I'd aspire to this type of weirdness. I can't wait to get to the next chapter to find out the significance of the missing polka-dot tie.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Apart from this, I recorded some old video camera tapes onto DVD to preserve them. In the process, I had a nostalgia trip and marvelled over how, in 1991 I looked incredibly thin and young, (I was 30) but was noticeably less confident and tended to shut up and shrink down. I'd like to have that body back but am happy with my current age in other respects.
I also found footage of BotBot as a wee kitten when she was a 'Combi-Cat'. We lived in a VW Combi van for a couple of months when we arrived in NZ, and she travelled the country with us.
A pop top combi like the one we had in 1992-93 and beloved BotBot doing what she loved to do.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Got home, read the paper, had a glass of wine, made some honey mustard chicken on kumara mash. Watched some telly, was about to go to bed, looked for my iPod. Aaaaah. I had left it on my desk.
I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep, so John drove me to work in his 'Nipple' (so-named by the neighbour, it is a new red Suzuki Swift Sport that uses about half the fuel of my Airtrek). The University campus is in Glen Innes, opposite side of town, a 40km round trip. It was weird arriving there at 11pm, going through the security barriers that are normally open, the offices deserted and in darkness. I never realised the corridor lights are on sensors that light up as you approach. Safely retrieved my beloved iPod and home to bed.
Congratulations to Jaz who has a new job starting early August. Go girl :-)
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Starting with "Stranded: I've come from the plane that crashed in the mountains" which is the the reconstruction and re-telling of the 1972 Andes plane crash. It is the detailed story of how 16 Uruguayans survived more than 70 days stranded in the snow despite hearing on the radio that the search had been stopped after 10 days. Some of the survivors tell their stories and revisit the high mountain pass known as the Valley of Tears. Not for those with a fear of flying, or snow, or unusual food.
There followed a more lighthearted tale, but also one of bravery. "A Complete History of My Sexual Failures" follows Chris Waitt, a young (ish) British filmmaker as he tries to track down his many ex girlfriends to find out why they had all dumped him. Turns out he was a total jerk and was still in love with one ex, Vicky. The scenarios along the way are quite funny. At times I missed parts of the dialogue as the audience were laughing loudly.
Home to some cheese on toast and a dip in the now functioning spa pool. A cloudless night with many stars and the moon moving in and out of the palm tree branches.
Been to the gym this morning.
Discovered the spa pool half empty again - John found a leak in a rubber valve type device (too technical for me) and has gone to seek a replacement. Two films booked for later today.... more later.
These lovely fellows we photographed in the Monkey forest, Ubud, Bali a couple of years ago. It's one of our photos up at the Alamy photo library.
Friday, July 11, 2008
First up: Anger and disbelief. Mo & I went to see 'No end in sight' the detailing of the political arrogance and stupidity that caused the current chaos in Iraq. Many of the accounts were told by the frustrated witnesses who were once on the Bush team, were in Iraq and whose planning and efforts to stabilise the country were thwarted by remote commands from Rumsfeld and others with no understanding of what was going down. Grrrrrr!!
In between movies we had some rejuvenating mushroom soup and then drove down to the SPCA to consider the canines, as Mo is thinking of getting a dog. I very nearly came home with a sweet little fluffy tortoise shell kitten who clung to me purring like something demented and nuzzled under my chin.
Then this evening I went back into town to the Lido with John & Mo to see 'Young@Heart' - a film about a choir of that name that tackles music by Coldplay, The Clash, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, Prince, and James Brown. With the average age of 82, and one of the star performers (pictured below) clocking in at 92, this was a revelation.
They put in performances with such energy and life despite having to deal with cancer, chronic heart failure, incontinence and the death of 2 of their group while rehearsing for their tour. An inspiring film. Official site. Note: the clips on the site are just the music videos, the film gets behind the scenes to who these people are as well as the music they make.
Maybe I'll start a Dylan choir when I am 80. We can travel the country performing from our wheelchairs. I'll want 'Desolation Row' and 'Its Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)' on the setlist
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I'm feeling out of words. So a picture of "Peter the Piano Eater" will suffice. This is a framed print by Jamie Hayes that I have on my wall. I bought it in New Orleans when I was there in 2004 presenting at a clinical trials conference.
I enjoyed reading Alan's Hmmm about the difference between "meat wrapped in metal" and "metal wrapped in meat". Keep blogging Alan - you are a natural!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Besides, I had a mission to accomplish today. I decided to pull out of the depths of a dark cupboard a box of old tapes from my video camera and try to transfer them to digital (Hard disk then DVD). I went through a phase of videoing which lasted approx. 1991-1995 and took virtually no photos in that time. I am saddened at not having pictures of my 1992 travels in Russia with Mari amongst other things. The first stumbling block is the camera refuses to play back the Hi8 tapes, but I think that is the camera playing up and not an indication that the tapes are bung (camera has been in a hall cupboard unused for over 10 years). I may get a cheap camera on TradeMe to play them back. My 2nd line of attack was the VHS tapes I'd made from the master Hi8 copies. These play back ok and I spent a good couple of hours watching some of them this afternoon. Next step is to try and record them digitally. Watch this space.
Val - I love the bit I filmed of you at Coro St where you throw your hands up in front and scream "Oh no, I don't have my eyebrows on" !
Apart from this, I had some serious pampering today. Again using the birthday spa voucher I succumbed to a 1 hour facial which included a shoulder, neck and arm massage as well as many types of delicious unguents massaged into my skin. I never thought having my eye sockets massaged could be so good.
After another hour or two in front of the nostalgia tapes I felt really cold (its been clear and sunny but hovering between 5-10C today) and in need of an instant warm-up. So I spent the next hour wallowing in our 38C bubbling spa pool underneath tall palm and ponga fern trees with a cup of tea and watched a grey-blue winter sky slowly turn grey-pink then charcoal. As the steam rose into the trees and various birds fluttered overhead my thoughts were with the city-bods starting their journey home over the harbour bridge - from the spa pool you can hear the traffic hum of the bridge when the wind blows from the south. Life is not so hard here. I could live being me, I think.
Monday, July 7, 2008
No throat problems today - my faith in non scientific based healing is increasing.
Try feeding my pet fish - click to drop some food, or watch them chase your cursor ...
SORRY - the pet fish had to go as my page-loading speed was too slow.
For those with some knowledge/interest in Dylan, here's a fun read. The discography at the end is also quite amusing. If you don't know much about his Bobness then this may just sound like nonsense - so best skip it.
I have been sleeping much better since my throat stopped hurting, am feeling so much healthier. All geared up to go to the gym and swimming tomorrow. Getting myself in shape for the marathon film festival that kicks off Friday. We've booked for 14 films and I may sneak the odd extra one in during the daytime on my non-work days. If a film stays in my memory bank long enough I will blog about it here and the forgettable ones will be left unmentioned.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
It was July 15th 1978. I was 17. The show featured Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker and the Rumour amongst others, and was headlined by Dylan - my hero (he hadn’t yet turned to God - that happened in ’79).
I was so happy I managed to get the tickets. The fact that he had not toured in the UK since 1966 apart from a one off at the Isle of Wight in 1969 meant that there was huge interest. I had tried to go to the Earl’s Court gig the month before but they sold out within hours -the queues seemed to stretch across London.
The enormous crowd made it difficult to see the stage, the wind was blowing the sound around, (there were no large video screens in those days), finding your way to the loo and back was a dangerous mission and it took several hours to get out of the site due to lack of organisation. Still it was an amazing experience, my first large music festival and the camaraderie in the audience was fantastic.
Blackbushe remains the largest crowd Dylan has ever played to, at around 200,000+ and he performed a huge set that went throughout the evening comprising 34 songs. This was to be, although we didn’t know it, one of the last appearances of “Dylan-as-we-knew-him” as later that year in the USA he picked up a cross thrown onstage and therein began another chapter in his musical direction.
Many of the posters at ‘Expecting Rain’ must be younger Bobfans as they sometimes say things like “I’ve heard about Blackbushe, cos my uncle was there and he said it was magic” etc
I still have the ticket and programme. Recently, due to the wonders of the net, I managed to find a reasonable sounding bootleg recording of the Dylan set and downloaded it to my ipod. Reliving my 17th summer - in NZ 30 years on.
Here’s another view of the day.
This link has more info about the gig, and a photo gallery with quite a few pics of Bob in his top hat
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Those in NZ may have read the review in the Listener Jul 5 edition “Endless Audacity – Carl Shuker’s online novellas are a thrilling ride”. Well, I read “The Depleted Forest” today and can recommend it. Set in a (slightly) futuristic yet believable Japan where all the concrete buildings have a cancer that turns them to dust. The plot twists and turns through its edgy 55 pages, and left me keen to read parts two and three. Grab these while they available as free pdf downloads for a short time (this month only). The first two parts of the trilogy are currently available from this site.
My throat has been amazingly good today - no pains or burning sensations. Fingers crossed the hocus pocus pills may be doing something :-)
Friday, July 4, 2008
This morning I went for my appointment with a local homeopath. She spent over an hour asking me all sorts of questions about my health and also what sort of dreams I had as a child (I told her the recurring dream of my mum walking into the sea until her hat was floating) and if I craved certain foods (of course, the usual suspects, crisps, cheese & chocolate). After the talking, she rummaged around in another room for a few minutes, came back with some books which she hummed and haaa’ed over while asking several more questions and eventually gave me 2 very small pills to dissolve under my tongue. I’m to call her next Tuesday to tell her if there has been any effect. The logical rational part of me says it cannot work due to the extreme dilution, whereas a part of me hopes it will work, not just to feel better but to be able to say “ha – its not medicine as we know it but it works!”
Still quite cold & damp here. But I spent the afternoon having a full body massage at a spa in town. I had been given the voucher for my birthday way back in February. Very relaxing, and my back and neck feel especially loose and mobile now.
Came back from the spa thinking about a bacon hock and some hearty soup. So now, there is a large pot of 'pea and ham' bubbling on the stove.
If you can’t stand Dylan, blog stops here today. Bye.
The first Dylan video is from 1980 – the religious tour. Many people were put off Bob in the late 70’s due to his god bothering, (me included). It is only recently I’ve come to appreciate his gospel music from that era. ”What Can I do For You” is one of those.
You can leave God out of it or not, its up to you - it’s a great song anyway.
Next, here is THE best ever (Dylan) song – the words are mesmerising...
It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) ....
While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer's pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death's honesty
Won't fall upon them naturally
Must get lonely.
And finally, another favourite, Tombstone Blues...
Now the medicine man comes and he shuffles inside
He walks with a swagger and he says to the bride
"Stop all this weeping, swallow your pride
You will not die, it's not poison"
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I decided to top up the spa pool which looked rather low when I went out to add the weekly dose of chlorine. Then I watched TV and sat at the computer and forgot I had left the hosepipe running, I found it again 3 hours later overflowing. Now I need to get in there and splash about a bit to get the water back to its proper level.
I managed to get Mari on the phone at last (after confirming her number by email). She thought it was very funny that I had sung to a stranger. The old number was for her brother Albert's office where she stayed when she arrived in Poland. It was also funny hearing her English translation of the Polish birthday message I had created using Google translator the other day. Apparently I had "appreciated her day of giving birth" and "wished her cakes filling all her descriptions"! Mari is excited about the upcoming start of her house being built and is thinking of starting a blog to record progress. Go for it Mari!
"Does the body rule the mind Or does the mind rule the body ?"
Well today the body wins. I'm staying home. The antibiotics must have not fully kicked in yet.
Called round to see Mo yesterday late afternoon, we spent a couple of hours sipping rooibos tea with honey, sampling Mo's homemade bread with Boursin and chatting about everything from Cuban healthcare to the state of the economy. Upon leaving my car got stuck in the muddy grass on the verge and I managed spin the wheeels a few times before I moved off. In the light of morning I realised my car is splattered from front to back with dried mud, even on the windscreen. It looks like I've been hooning around on some 4WD adventure instead of having a sedate cup of tea and sit down with a friend in the neighbourhood.
Tried to call Mari now she's back home in Lublin. I started singing "Happy Birthday" with a croaky throat as soon as the phone was answered, only to find, after 2 full verses, that it was not Mari at all but another very confused Polish lady. I apologised and hung up.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
As I was sitting at the table listening to music and enveloping, I sniffed a burning smell that defintely wasn't toast and then I noticed puffs of white smoke coming from the back of the electric heater. Jumped up and knocked the switch off before it burst into flames. Lucky I was in the room at the time it happened. So I've just been out and bought a new convection heater, but I think it will be cold enough for a log fire tonight. Feet up, roast chicken and a night of telly is on the cards.