LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: O IS FOR ORBITAL

Surely, by now, at least one of you has danced around the house in your underwear. Doesn’t even have to be your underwear. Doesn’t even have to be your house. Or inside. Or in underwear. Or clothes.

Look, just send me videos of naked people dancing, okay?

Dance music is some Marmite stuff. Either you love it or you don’t. But while we’re all tucked up in our living rooms, and the gym’s closed, and they’ve changed the locks to the gate at the pool so my your key is useless, you’ve got to do something to maintain that clean, high-energy lifestyle you’ve been telling yourself you’re just about ready to commit to any time soon, right? (The prosecution would like it noted that the defendant is literally eating a plate of cheese, pickled onions, and crackers while typing this unwarranted slur on everybody else’s reputations….)

Orbital are great. High energy, high octane beats with a ridiculously large slice of satirical side-eye and a self-awareness about the popular culture that surrounds them which borders on the perverse. They played a huge part in bringing dance culture into the mainstream, headlining Glastonbury in 1994 and delivering one of the all-time great gigs before becoming movie soundtrack staples throughout the 90s. They’ve been a staple of my playlist for years: songs like Satan, The Sinner, Belfast, and Chime are mood-lifting staples for when I really need them.

And then there’s this: the song that first brought them into my… uh… orbit. The song that brought Lord 15 into dance music. A song that should remind us that everything changes, everything evolves, everything continues, even if the surface details may alter from time to time.

I can think of no more resonant and symbolic cultural figure to hold onto in these times than The Doctor, and so here we are: Orbital, and my favourite of their tracks, Doctor?, performed live at the scene of their greatest triumph, with a special appearance by… well, let’s just say it’s perfect.

So, no matter what happens over the next few weeks and months, no matter what we suffer through, and endure, remember: One day, we shall come back. Yes, we shall come back. Until then…..

 

 

If you’re late to the party, you can still get timey-wimey and listen to everything that has come before:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: N IS FOR NINA

The school term is officially finished. All the little darlings are officially at home for two weeks, arse-glue liberally applied to the couch and TV-eyes firmly fixed in place. And Luscious and I have the joy of officially trudging into work every day to sit in empty classrooms, setting up and creating content for the next ten weeks of disinterest and objections that this is stupid and why do we even need to learn this crap anyway?

Of course, the truth is that we’ve been in this position for the last two weeks. But as of today, it’s at least official, and that makes all the difference.

So in the spirit of not even really trying and not giving a damn about the end result, I’m not even trying to link today’s musical choice to Covid-19, the political landscape, or the toxic, semi-liquid filth currently gagging Boris the Rock Spider’s brain lungs. And I don’t care about the result. So there.

I love a bit of Nina Simone, and have done ever since I discovered her via the medium of a short Aardman animation film, back in the days when they experimented with stuff instead of squeezing out a bland, never-ending package of twee homages to a Little England that resembles nothing more than being trapped inside the Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society album and never once realising it’s supposed to be satirical.

So here it is. Settle back, mix the third breakfast margarita of the day, and enjoy the serenity. See you tomorrow.

 

 

If you’re late to the party, this is your perfect opportunity to catch up before the numbness reaches your fingertips:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: TIME FOR MADNESS

Oh, let’s be honest. Given that I’m sitting here in my Madness tee-shirt, and my Madness tattoo on my arm, writing on my website that uses a Madness quote in the sidebar to try to sum me and my lifetime’s effort up, with my lifelong conviction that Madness is the greatest pop band in the history of absolutely everything… it wasn’t likely to be Melodious Mikey and the Mangled Meltheads, was it?

Besides which, what better band name to sum up everything that’s happening throughout the world right now?

Lucky for you, Madness is one of those rare bands that actually get better as they get older. Idiot Child comes from their 2009 masterpiece The Liberty of Norton Folgate. It’s a perfect anthem for any of the Trimvirate of Evil Morons– apply it to Scum the Crime Minister, the Orange Humgruffin, or Boris the Bastard as you will.

 

 

If you’re late to the party, this is what the rest of us have been fiddling to while our respective corners of Rome burn:

EXIT, WITHOUT SO MUCH AS KNOCKING

Sad news this week, with the passing of Australian poet Bruce Dawe.

Like many Australians of my generation, Dawe was my first taste of contemporary poetry. His collection Sometime Gladness was a school staple in the 1980s. Unlike many of my peers, for whom using two forms of cutlery in the same meal was considered forensic proof of poofterdom (1980s. Rockingham. Because homosexuality was something to be feared and beaten, often with cricket stumps or boots, based on nothing more than a certain level of intelligence and perhaps not liking AC/DC that much. At least in my case.*), I fell in love with both Dawe’s work and poetry in general. It’s a love that has never left me: in my day I’ve been reader, writer, and performer of poetry, with a handful of sales here and there to salve my somewhat notions of credibility.

Continue reading “EXIT, WITHOUT SO MUCH AS KNOCKING”

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: L IS FOR LISA

Deep into the second week of isolation, and apart from the dildoes up the road deciding that 2am is the perfect time to have themselves an Aussie-Standards-and-Shouting-at-the-Top-of-Their-Moronic-FIFO-lungs party last night, life is just frigging peachy.

Luscious is isolated more by (ill) luck than design, having taken a fall at work on the last day of term that we really shouldn’t have been here for anyway, which seems to have ripped half of her muscles away from her ankle bone. For those who have been playing along, no, the other ankle. Chance is a fine thing. It does, however, mean that she and Webex are working from home this week, while I sit in an empty classroom wondering just what the hell I’m doing here, anyway?

Weird that it takes a lack of students to realise what a second-rate teacher of students you are, but there it is.

Anyway, today’s listening is Britstralian songwriter Lisa Mitchell, who somehow managed to finish sixth in the 2006 season of Australian Idol behind the vacuous talent-free black holes of Damien Leith, Jessica Mauboy, and three blokes whose names I forget the moment I read them. Her first album, Wonder, was released when she was 18: it’s a delightful confection of whimsy, lilting tunefulness, and the sort of musical arrangements that must exist inside Stevie Nicks’ head when she’s in full elf-dancer mode. Since then Mitchell has moved further and further into a template of bog-standard female in her 20s Australian Music Industry plastic electric stylings, but for a moment she was the most original thing to hit Australian music in decades.

Oh, Hark! is a witty rumination on the fear of death, and particularly the things that lurk in the shadows between death and resurrection. It’s a fitting conversation starter for these times, when we sit between — hopefully –the death of right wing capitalism and wholesale destruction of the planet to fill the pockets of old, white, happy clapping zealots as the predominant thoughtform, and the potential for birthing something more fitting for the times to come.

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, here’s all the ways you could have self-harmed with the rest of us:

LEGO 250 REVIEW: 11910 MICROSCALE SPACE CRUISER AND ‘GREAT LEGO SETS’ BOOK

Every now and again, Lego-preferred publisher DK Books  puts out a tome specifically designed to part a fool and my money. Often, that book includes a special minifigure, or tiny build that you wouldn’t, for a moment, think of purchasing separately, but now that it’s attached to the front of a $50 book you’ll flick through once or twice and leave on the shelf to gather dust and give the cat asthma, weeellllll, all of a sudden, there it is, on your shelf, and the cat’s sneezing its box off…..

Anyway, this is one of those ‘tiny build’ examples.

Thing is: DK put out pretty good books. And the tiny build in question is one that, you know, has some resonance. Which is all well and fine and stuff, but is it any good?

Continue reading “LEGO 250 REVIEW: 11910 MICROSCALE SPACE CRUISER AND ‘GREAT LEGO SETS’ BOOK”

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID: K MEANS GETTING KINKY

Eleven days into self-isolation. By now, you’re beginning to see faces in the bowl of custard that’s been sitting in the fridge since January, and you know they’re starting to look pretty suggestive.

And let’s be honest, you’d be getting on with it, if it wasn’t for those damn neighbours spying on you via 5G radio waves, and the French trying to poison us all by blowing ill humours across the channel with giant bellows, and I don’t like the way that squirrel is looking at me, and being followed by a giant hedgehog named Spiny Norman….

It’s at times like these that a hero will rise and teach us all to lead the way. A Texan hero. A Texan Jewish hero, with spangly hat and a suitcase full of detective novels. A Texan Jewish hero with a fine line in tasteless, controversial, and unbelievably hilarious songs… provided you’re of a certain state of mind.

After eleven days of erotic thoughts about hatefucking expired custard, you’re probably in just about the certainest state of mind you’ve been in since Scum stole the election, and ready for some advice on what to do next. Kinky style…

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, here’s all the things we’ve listened to:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: J IS FOR JAMES

The second week of our Covid playlist arrives, and for some of you it’s been a lifetime since you’ve seen a human face that you remember you used to love but can’t quite remember why. Toast supplies are running low. Some bastard has put the Nutella back in the cupboard with less that a scrape in the bottom. The bottle shop knows you so well they have your daily three bottles under the counter waiting for you. Even floating photos of Scum the Crime Minister in the toilet bowl so you can play games of Stuka Dive Bomber has lost its allure.

Chin up, guv’. Worse fings ‘appen at sea. Spirit of the Blitz ‘n all that.

It’s probably no surprise that I’d pick James for this entry. Luscious and I have been mainlining the band for several months now. Laid and Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) were playlist staples for several years, but we’d never really thought beyond that until we let Google Home keep playing beyond those two once, and realised how many brilliant songs were following on from each other while we listened, agog.

There’s something about the band’s sound, and both the voice and look of lead singer Tim Booth, that remind us inextricably of Blake. They help keep him with us, and the pain is both bittersweet and bearable.

Crash is the opening track from their 1999 album Millionaires: arguably their finest, and one I will be taking with me any time I fly just in case I’m marooned on a desert island. The title might describe the way many of us are feeling right now. The lyrics certainly do.

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, because you’re not allowed out unless you’re somebody society is willing to sacrifice or this is a potential booty call, here’s what you could have been listening to instead of saving lives or bonking in the name of exercise:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: I’S NAME… IS IAN

It’s Sunday. Why are you even up?

If you haven’t heard of Ian Dury by now, you’ve managed to get to today years old without experiencing one of the most unique, magnetic, and brilliant wordsmiths to ever rise from the world of popular music.

I envy you. Oh, the things you’re going to discover as you lie about today, flicking from youtube video to youtube video, exclaiming “How the fuck did I not know about this?”.

Yes, the world is gloom. Yes, it’s doom. Yes, we still have to look at the smug, Dunning-Kruger, punch-here arsefaces of Scum, the Orange Humgruffin, and Boris the Bastard.

But it’s Sunday. Time to relax, just for a day. Time to think of reasons to be cheerful.

Why don’t you get back into bed?

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, because you’re not allowed out unless you’re somebody society is willing to sacrifice or this is a potential booty call, here’s what you could have been listening to instead of saving lives or bonking in the name of exercise:

MIXED MOVIE QUOTES: THE FLY

If there’s one thing Covid-19 is good for, it’s good for us no longer quite giving the shit we used to give about Lord 15 and movie ratings. So last night was The Fly, the 1986 R-rated remake version. Even after almost 35 years, Jeff Goldblum is amazing and Geena Davis…. has…… legs…… anyway: The Fly, mixed movie quote style.

 

The Fly

FIVE GRAPHIC NOVEL MINI-REVIEWS: XJLA OF THE UNCANNY GALAXY!

Well, at least if I don’t have to do any important grown-up things over the next couple of weeks, like herd the next generation of community leaders towards understanding why new dialogue should always start on a new line, at least I can do important grown-up things like read comic books and catch up on my Lego reviews.

Being grown up. Because they won’t let me be a kid anymore.

So let’s talk Justice League, X-Men, independent titles from decades ago that you’ve never heard of, and why you can’t go 80+ years without creating some absolute dud characters along the way…

 

Continue reading “FIVE GRAPHIC NOVEL MINI-REVIEWS: XJLA OF THE UNCANNY GALAXY!”

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: H IS FOR THE HILLTOP

And so we reach the end of the teaching term. Such as it was.

For Luscious and myself, (and, you know, the 1600-odd other people who come to the school on a daily-or-less basis), it’s been a term interrupted by cyclone, injury, and family drama as well as Covid.

There aren’t many terms where you get to experience natural disaster and plague. I’m vaguely disappointed war hasn’t broken out. We’d have a hell of a bingo card filled out…

But now, thanks to the State Government eveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeentuaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllly realising that we’re not ancient Aztecs, and that perhaps teachers are actual people and not sacrificial subjects, the school term is officially over a week early. The few remaining students are officially kicked out, and the rest of us will be isolated in our various classrooms from Monday morning, desperately trying to work just just what the frigging frig “prepare for alternative teaching environments” is supposed to mean.

So, what better way to celebrate the response to this pandemic by all levels of Government, as well as the policies and general mindset of Scum the Crime Minister and his Lieberal colleagues, than to indulge in my favourite hip-hop band: a collection of exactly the type of people they’d love to marginalise, with an anthem to the year they wish we were living in.

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, because you’re not allowed out unless you’re somebody society is willing to sacrifice or this is a potential booty call, here’s what you could have been listening to instead of saving lives or bonking in the name of exercise:

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: G IS FOR THE WHOLE GANG

Here we are at the seventh day of our isolation watch. And it’s time to bring to the attention of the world– or at least the three of you reading this who haven’t witnessed a single Australian fireworks show since 1984 — one of my favourite underrated Aussie bands, GANGgajang.

Most famed for a nationalistic slice of 1980s pop perfection everyone thinks is called This is Australia, but which is actually called Sounds of Then, because Australians don’t actually listen to lyrics if the hear the world Austrayyyaaaa and they’re outside during a National Holiday (TLDR: pissed), their self-titled debut album inspired such lust in me that I begged my poor, long suffering mother for it for several months. Subsequently, she bought me a receipt…… and The Best of RamJam, because that was as close as she could remember when she hit the shop.

That receipt brought me a lot of joy over the years, as well as the album it enabled me to finally get my hands on.

Keen-eyed readers will have noted that I’m basically using these posts to comment on the world around me as the Days of Covid-19 (c) (IT’S MY MOVIE, DAMN IT! MINE!) continue.

So I leaned very strongly towards the classic House of Cards as an obvious metaphor for the way simple things are turning to shit around us. Seriously: today was food shopping day, and despite visiting both major supermarkets this town has, there was literally not one bar of soap or bag of flour of any type between them. Not even the ones made out of things soap and flour shouldn’t be made from, like toddler’s toenails, or charcoal, remained.

Instead, I’ve gone with the song that made me first fall in love with Buzz Bidstrup’s answer to getting shafted from some decent The Angels wages. Gimme Some Lovin’ might not be the obvious choice of title for our Apocalypsalooza, but given there’s some confusion as to whether you can Level 3 travel restrictions as long as you’re on a booty call, (I mean, I’m good, but even I might draw the line at classifying it as ‘exercise’) and with lyrics like

Well it’s happening again, like I always thought it would.

Mad men dancing in the streets and fire drains.

And it’s a strange infatuation, taking off across the nation.

Crazy darling combination. Since it’s one last move and it’s all over

perhaps it’s not so out of left field as all that.

 

So: thanks for helping to facilitate a lifelong love, Mum, and for the rest of you, enjoy.

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, because you’re not allowed out unless you’re somebody society is willing to sacrifice or this is a potential booty call, here’s what you could have been listening to instead of saving lives or bonking in the name of exercise:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: F IS FOR FAITH

As we slide towards the end of the first week of our album in isolation, thoughts turn towards our own mortality. The death toll worldwide continues to rise as the incompetent criminals such as Drumpf and our own Scum openly put their own interests above the safety of their countrymen. For all the jokes and sarcasm I throw about on this website, times are genuinely scary: nobody has any experience of this, and the more inaction and overt greed are the open directions taken by our leaders, the more the general populace is forced to act for itself.

No bad thing, perhaps: when faced with a Crime Minister whose policy seems to be to shut down Parliament, award himself oligarchical powers, and turn the actual administration of the country over to a select crew of mining cronies while he holes himself up and proselytises his inane happy handclapper zealotry like some sort of inbred bush league Adam Susan.

So, while Nero fiddles with himself and commits the country to his lunatic faith, it’s time to send a message of our own. You have your faith, Scum? We have Faith No More. And a song that may be in poor taste, but sadly, is timely as all buggery.

 

 

If you’re late to the party, here’s where we’ve ben so far:

 

 

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: E IS FOREVER

We reach the fifth day of our album today, and as we approach the end of the first week alone with only our thoughts, Pornhub, and that quarter bottle of Kahlua with an expiry date in the late 90s we discovered at the back of the cupboard on a nibblies expedition for company, our imagination turn towards the problem of what sort of world will be left after the plaguepocalypse. Will we still have the same political structures? Will we turn our backs on the toxic stench of capitalism and replace it with something warmer, fuzzier, market gardenier? Will we finally legalise the hunting of Kardashians?

Today’s musical choice has been a staple of my playlist from the moment the first bars of Heroin Girl elbowed the shit hiphop off the Triple J airwaves for a few blessed minutes. Snarling, sneering, commercialised safety punk pop they may be, but Everclear are fucking good snarling, sneering, commercialised safety punk pop. A string of wry, bittersweet slices of Generation Angst have kept me firmly in the fanbase ever since, from So Much for the Afterglow, through Local God, to the always brilliant Santa Monica and more.

Today’s offering is a little glimmer of hope as we look towards our future of S&M leatherware and spiky cars foever ploughing through desert sands in pursuit of one-armed women and water. If Scum the Crime Minister continues his magic trick of simultaneously sitting on his hands, twiddling his fingers, and shoving his thumbs up his arse, more than a few of us will come to know the joy of a welfare Christmas.

 

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, this is where our musical wanderings have led us: