Sunday, January 30, 2005

old fashioned morphine/jolie holland

Jolie Holland is a singer/songwriter I discovered driving home from the city after seeing Sonic Youth play in June last year. I was listening to the 'Roots and All' program on Triple J and the presenter, Jordie Kilby, was very excited that she had just released a new album; 'Escondida'. He then proceeded to play the song 'Old Fashioned Morphine' and I was immediately hooked. I went out the next day and bought the album. Jolie has a fantastically old vocal style that is soothing and surprisingly fresh (yes, I've just used 'old' and 'fresh' in the same sentence).

Over the last few months I have developed an almost unhealthy obsession with comedy. In particular British comedy and more specifically the wonderfully silly and eccentric French & Saunders. I've always been a massive fan of The Vicar of Dibley and Absolutely Fabulous and I've always known of French & Saunders peripherally. It wasn't until this year that I fully realised the connection between the three - the fantastic Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders themselves. My awesome parents recorded a tape for me from the UKTV channel on cable that consisted of three very silly and hilarious French & Saunders Christmas Specials. I mean, two old ladies traipsing around the Tate Modern Art Gallery consulting their programs and wandering around looking quite bewildered by the strange concept art when in fact they are lost and frantic to find the cafe. Fantastic.

Having finished reading Joanna Lumley's 'No Room For Secrets' I've picked up where I left off with 'The Clinton Wars - An Insider's Account of the White House Years' by Sidney Blumenthal. I started reading it last year after I finished reading Hillary Rodham Clinton's 'Living History' and just found that it would be better for my brain to read something a little lighter. Picking up Hermione Lee's biography of Virginia Woolf was not necessarily a lighter route. So, I've started again on 'The Clinton Wars' and I am finding that I need to keep my Macquarie Dictionary close at hand to look up a word here and there. I've decided I'd list down the words I don't know. Here are the ones from my latest foray into the book:

patrician - of high social rank or noble family
protean - readily assuming different forms or characters; exceedingly variable
meritocrat - a person who has reached a position of authority by reason of real or supposed merit
cipher - a person of no influence; a nonentity
loquacious - talking or disposed to talk much or freely; talkative
reliquaries - repositories or receptacles for a relic or relics
quixotic - extravagantly chivalrous or romantic; visionary; impracticable

I love learning new words!

On a more serious note, the Iraqi elections are being held today and we can only hope and pray that they are a relatively peaceful affair. I've read that there have been attacks on polling stations including schools. It appears a lot of Iraqi's are coming out to vote regardless. I can't imagine what it must be like. I take it for granted that, come election day, I just walk to the nearest school and vote with no fear of any kind of violence at all. The only thing we have to worry about is those party faithfuls forcing flyers and how-to-vote cards in our faces as we approach the polling place.

A bit of perspective is always good.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

mighty sword/the frames

I've noticed lately that The Frames' album 'For the Birds' is creeping into my player at quite regular intervals. It is a very beautiful album and 'Mighty Sword' just happens to be the soothing sweet song playing as I type. It is the sort of song that I wish I could crawl into. Melancholic and hopeful.

Today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. 1.5 million human beings gassed and cremated for being jews, gypsies, homosexuals and communists in an attempt to fulfil Hitler's 'Final Solution'. There is speculation that the allies did not do all that they could to stop what was happening, having known since July 1944 what atrocious acts were being carried out. Apparently the bombing of Auschwitz-Birkenau was ordered numerous times, but the military wouldn't carry out the bombings for practical reasons. They weren't guaranteed, with the limited technology they had, that they would hit the crematoriums and gas chambers. They didn't want to hit the camps and kill innocent people. Mind boggles as to why in this case it mattered that they couldn't guarantee hitting targets. How many other bombs were dropped? Though to me it is more a humane than practical reason. Part of the speculation is that they, the military and the leaders at the time, didn't recognise the moral responsibility and the message that would have been sent if they had attempted the bombing. It sounds awful but during a documentary I saw, survivors of Birkenau said that they would have been willing to die by the allied bombs rather than go through another moment of the torture of mind and body they endured. I could go on forever. I'm sure I'm not the only person who finds the evil inhumanity of it unfathomable and surreal.

I like to believe that this world is full of hope and goodness and compassion and that if all our energies and the leaders energies were focussed on doing what is good for humankind that we could solve a lot of problems easily.

Though, that is probably just me being naive.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

who knows who/clare bowditch

photo by flutterby charlie

I'm listening to Clare Bowditch and the Feeding Set's album 'Autumn Bone' as I write. Clare Bowditch has a rare and fabulous voice and the best thing is that she sings with an Australian accent and no pretense. The music is fantastic. Magical.

Today is Australia Day. I love the celebrations that occur on such a day. Sausage sizzles. Picnics with the family in the local park, play a bit of football, a bit of cricket. Lazy day in the sun (usually - it's rained a lot today). Well, I used to do those things when I lived in the same state as the rest of my family.

I was thinking about the fact that I'm Australian today and for some reason I don't feel it. I know I am essentially Australian. I was born here. I've spent most of my life here. I really don't know what else I'd be if I decided I wasn't Australian. Not that there is such a decision to be made. I really like the idea, as was so cleverly put in an interview with Bernard Fanning when Powderfinger released their album 'Internationalist', that we are all citizens of the World. That we need to take a broader view. That we are all a part of this world. We are all 'internationalists' (and that was all paraphrasing as I don't have the article anymore). So maybe that's how I feel. Even though I haven't been overseas since 1987. I'm not sure where I'm going with this. Maybe it's the Aussie 'culture' I don't understand. Beer. Football. Or maybe it's just that I rarely think 'I'm an Australian' until Australia Day comes along. Silly.

I read today that the fantastic comedienne Margaret Cho will possibly be touring Australia in July this year. This means I am very excited. Last year I witnessed by fluke on SBS TV her live performance 'The Notorious C.H.O' and she is so raw, merciless, hilarious, touching, silly and just really original. With any luck the rumours are true.

Time for Bedfordshire.