Tuesday, 30 September 2008

It's time we had a talk about your future

The first announcement around the Big Day Out '09 presents a number of acts that don't really do a lot for me.

Neil Young, My Morning Jacket, The Arctic Monkeys, The Prodigy, Elemeno P, The Ting Tings, The Living End, Bullet For My Valentine, The Datsuns, Cobra Khan, Luger Boa, TV On The Radio, The Black Seeds, Neision Mystik, Sneaky Sound System, Tiki Taane, Ladi 6, Simian Mobile Disco, Pendulum, The Naked and Famous, Headless Chickens

Simian Mobile Disco are probably the clear highlight with TV On The Radio as a very welcome added extra, but that's about it. I really liked the Headless Chickens' album Greedy, but not sure they'd be the same nowadays.

If anything, I'd probably head across the pond to an Australian BDO given Cut Copy is appearing and would compare well against SMD.

So yeah, fingers crossed the next announcement is enough of a draw to actually go to one of these.

That and the ability to actually go.

Abbes was rumoured to have in his employ a dwarf who would crush prisoners' testicles between his teeth

Ok, so I'm reading Junot Diaz's debut novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and it has been an entertaining if sometimes frustrating read. His turn of phrase and the perspective he's adopted in narrating the various strands of the Cabral family are what keep me reading. What makes the reading more of a struggle than I'd normally suffer is his use of Dominicana slang (sans translation), his extensive use of footnotes to explain the relevance of various references in the novel (although highly entertaining it is difficult to follow the narrative when forced to read sometimes page-long footnotes around the use of a person's name).

I'm not far enough through the book to recommend you buy your own copy, but I am far enough through to see up 'til now that the book hasn't disappointed enough to leave me throwing it at the nearest breakable object / blemish-free wall / pleasant flatmate / etc. which is good.

To a large extent, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Waois about a New York family that originally emigrated from the Dominican Republic under Trujillo (you can google the name to discover his significance to the DR - homey don't do footnotes for no-one, not even you).

The book opens with an elaboration on the fuku or curse that plagues so many Dominicans and how they perceive their lives, and does it so well that it very helpfully colours the rest of the book in way that wouldn't otherwise make any sense or be in the least engaging. The omnipresence of fatalism and image of a people being held hostage to the whim of unseen forces (whether political, cultural, religious or spiritual) is developed in a way that is palpable and real.

We then move to look at the life of the eponymous character Oscar as he develops from childhood Lothario to the most un-Dominican Dominican there ever was. A hard-out fanboy nerd into D&D, Star Trek, fantasy and sci-fi writing. So much so that he becomes the biggest loser ever conceived by the human imagination. So much so that a lot of the descriptions throughout the book reference Tolkien, Star Trek and myriad other genres. I find this occasionally jarring especially where an historical figure is described as a nazgul sent to New York to retrieve a dissident for interrogation back in DR.

His sister's story comes out more horrific than his and only goes to raise yet more questions about the family we're left reading about.

His mother's story is where things get really interesting. Like, really interesting. The book is easily worth the purchase for this chapter alone, but that's just my incomplete opinion of the book (I'm only just over halfway through the book). I've just finished the bit about her story and it has returned to Oscar at College.

Expect a more fulsome review if it improves. If it doesn't improve I'm sure you'll understand why I never mention this book ever again.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Well well well

Ok, so I'm in Melbourne and have been for the last few days of a two week sojourn.

As per usual I'm having an incredible time, with special thanks owing to Piers, Josh and Bonni for very kindly hosting me out here in leafy Yarraville.

The first few days saw me basically pottering around Yarraville and enjoying not having to do anything. It was nice. Really late sleep-ins, Project Runway's fifth season (too excellent for words), the Strangers With Candy movie (a huge disappointment against the excellent TV series), as well as good and plenty of Monteiths (I don't trust these aussie beers), South Gin (the only gin you'll ever need) and rambling discussions about feijoa of all things (blame 42 Below and their particularly popular feijoa vodka).

Saturday night we went to a club night organised by a good friend of the flat, where one of the current flatmates had an hour to drop some tunes. It was in a club upstairs in a really straight (and dare I day almost blue-collar) bar called the Exford. The tunes were great and all the Melbourne crew were there so there was plenty to catch up with various people. I hit the wall about one in the morning and kinda reached that point where if I kept drinking I could have got REALLY messy, but thankfully didn't and wasn't.

Sunday was spent recovering from the night before, before heading into the city for Parklife. 10 hours of music across four stages. I really don't know how many people there were but there was a lot. Thankfully not so many that one was left crushed out of earshot of any of the stages, although it was awkward winding one's way to the middle of the middle for a decent view and great positioning with the sound system. Oh and the lights. Oh. The. Lights. We loved the lights and we'll just leave it to your own imagination as to why that might be.

Parklife remains a bit of a blur as far as the day's proceedings are concerned but I can safely say that Soulwax were worth the trip alone (the motherfuckers even covered Daft Punk's Robot Rock with Stephen on vocorder - brilliant!), Peaches impressed somewhat moreso than Soulwax but in intimately different ways (read from that what you will), 2manyDJs was just too good to keep enjoying just 90 minutes into their two hour set, Familjen absolutely killed at one of the outdoor stages, DOIYY played really well under the rain, Yuksek was a bit disappointing but then he did seem to have sound problems with his set-up, Damn Arms didn't disappoint in their DJ set (although I would have preferred to see them as a band), Boy 8-Bit was just insane and soon had the crowd in a frenzy that none of us could escape, Goldfrapp had a motherfucking maypole on stage (which meant we probably weren't going to see much of a neon unicorn routine a la Strict Machine), Ajax was ok, and I've no doubt missed a few acts because my memory isn't what it was back when I was young and reckless.

We've got Ladytron this coming weekend, ably supported by Familjen. We're also going to Ladytron's DJ set on another night (something else that has escapes me).

Until then however, if anyone wants me I'll be in the backyard drinking beer under the sun with a book somewhere nearby and hot electro just pumping out the stereo. Well that or doing the weeding down the side of the flat. They get out of hand when I'm not here.

Fuck I've needed this break like you would not believe.

In other news, Kraftwerk are confirmed for Auckland in the November 20-somethings, I've got to sort out getting to Auckland for Kylie in early December, agitate over whether or not go to Rhythm & Vines now that Cut Copy and Santogold have been announced in the impressive line-up, clear the decks for Sohomo's triumphal return to Wellington sometime in November (November 1 comes to mind but then I'm not entirely sure why), gather a posse for the Bang Gang's appearance in Wellington on the 18th (of October), and avoid the temptation to come back here for the yet-to-be-announced Nevereverland (I don't know how they could possibly top last year's headliners Daft Punk, but then I would never in a million years have expected Modular to bring the electro pyramid downunder).

So much to do, so little time.

Oh and to those who've received achingly sentimental, annoyingly inquisitive, pathetically ignorant or really poorly-timed phone calls and txts, I do apologise. For those who haven't suffered such afflictions being visited on your cellphones, give it time. I'm here for another 10 days.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Hiatus : explained

A lot has happened this last week, and by "a lot" I mean "a great deal". As such it is taking a while to sort through the noise.

When we get there, rest assured that the posts will be back to their semi-regular frequency and thematic obscurity.

... and by "we" I mean "me".