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:

 

YOU DON’T NEED MASKS UNLESS YOU’VE GOT IT, PEOPLE

The days are long, the school is empty, and there I am, stuck in the office at recess with nothing to do but keep up with Covid-19 announcements and post after post where people lose their shit about a lack of face masks when it’s been made more than clear that you don’t need one unless you are working in a trade that already or requires them, or you actually have the damned thing already. If you’re a normal, healthy person, you don’t need one. Stop wearing them around the shops. You just look like a panicky git.

Anyway, I made a meme.

 

Bane and Bats

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: D IS FOR THE DEAD

Every day for 26 days, I’m picking a band from my playlist to help you cope with being locked up in your living room with only your family, pets, 86000 TV channels, your DVD and CD collections, books, magazines, porn, the internet, your liquor cabinet, and your fridge for company.

Today is the fourth day of your existential nightmare, so what better band to accompany thoughts of death and the destruction of all you thought society stood for than the apotheosis of alternative punk social commentary thoughtmongering, the Dead Kennedys? My choice for today: a song as relevant today as it was when it appeared on my favourite DK album, Frankenchrist way back in 1985. This is Stars and Stripes of Corruption.

Consider the landscape created by the Orange Humgruffin, and the Australia you’ve let Scum the Crime Minister build for himself and his mining company friends, and try to enjoy.

 

If you’ve missed the party so far, here’s what you can catch up on:

A is for the Angels

B is for the Butthole Surfers

C is for The Cat Empire

 

 

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: C IS FOR CATS

For 26 days, I’m posting 26 bands to help you pass the dull necessity of spending time with your loved ones.

Today, we arrive at ‘C’. Given you’ve been in lockdown for at least three days, it’s appropriate to highlight a band almost designed for getting drunk to.

The Cat Empire are part party band, part 80s slacker band, and part party band. They’re infectious, raucous, hilarious, and just bloody well fun. The Wine Song is best listened to live, drunk, and joining the hell in. It’s 7.45 in the morning, you’ve got nothing better to do.

Let’s get pissed.

Get the kids smashed, line them up in front of the TV, and join in.

 

 

 

If you’re late to the party, here’s the rest of the playlist so far:

A is for The Angels.

B is for The Butthole Surfers.

 

 

 

MIXED MOVIE QUOTES: AMERICAN PSYCHO

Last night I introduced Luscious to one of my favourite black comedies, and all-round criminally underrated movie, American Psycho.

As per the rules, whereso it is watched, thereso must a quote be mixed.

It’s a challenge to find an innocent quote in a movie like America Psycho, let alone find one and turn it into something smutty and unbecoming.

I am that man.

 

American Psycho

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID, THE ALBUM: B IS FOR BUTTHOLE.

It’s time for the second musical entry in our own private Covidapalooza.

Each day for 26 days, I’m pulling a band out of my playlist to help you escape the tedium of being stuck inside the house with only the people, animals, or battery-powered implements you love to talk to.

Today it’s the second entry in the series. If you hadn’t guessed from their name, The Butthole Surfers are hardly a band who gives a shit about commercial success. And if the name didn’t twig you, one look at a catalogue that includes the likes of I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas, Chewin’ George Lucas’ Chocolate, and Golden Showers should really get the message across. They’re independent rock gods, with a legendary live show that has caused as many injuries as award ceremonies.

I first encountered them when their most not-as-radio-unfriendly-as-everything-else-on-the-album track Pepper, from arguably their most commercial album Electriclarryland (The one with a kid-friendly cover that depicted depicting a blood-stained pencil being shoved deeeeep into an anonymous cartoon guy’s ear. That commercial-friendly album.) captured some limited airtime on JJJ. It was love at first chuckle, and I’ve been sliding down their aural rabbit holes ever since.

Today’s song is the titular track from, perhaps, my favourite Surfers album: The Weird Revolution. It’s utterly unlike almost all of the rest of their output, but then, so is almost all of the rest of their output.

 

 

If you’re late to the party, here’s the rest of the playlist so far:

A is for the Angels.

 

 

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID: 26 BANDS FOR 26 DAYS

In an effort to pass the time between marking, setting up communications networks that will fail the first time 30 kids actually try to log in all at once, and wondering why I ever left the womb in the first place, I’ve decided to fall face-first into the 17,000-odd songs on my iTunes playlist and pick out a band a day to help you all add some musical variety to your slow-cooker bread cooking and general staring out the windows while forgetting that you used to hate everyone on your street.

Because that’s just the kind of guy I am: bored and pointless.

Some bands you may have heard of. Some may be new to you (I hope so). Some may be on the list because I’ve got precious few bands that actually begin with that letter (Waves ‘Hi’ to Queen…). But each day, for the next 26 days, I’ll shuffle a letter further down the list and post a favourite song for no other reason than because.

So, today: ‘A’ and I’m going to start off nice and easy with one of my favourite bands of all time, but one that may not be terribly familiar to denizens of plague pits outside of Australia. The Angels were Australian gods from the mid-70s through to the late 80s or so, with a string of buzzsaw-thrashing rock songs that were infinitely better live than they were on vinyl. Known overseas as Angel City due to clashing band names, they remain one of Australia’s most iconic bands, thanks in large part to lead guitarist Rick Baker’s unnatural stillness, singer Doc Neeson’s general insanity, lyrics that often verged on the abstract, and a chik-chik-chik guitar riff that remains utterly distinctive.

Here’s one of my absolute favourite tracks, performed live (as all Angels tracks should be listened to) in 1979 on didn’t-know-what-hit-them teenybop pop show ‘Countdown’: Mr Damage contains everything I’ve listed above, and is, basically, just hard as fuck.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

LOVE IN THE TIME OF COVID: FUN WITH FOURS

So, COVID-19 has happened. Are you having fun yet?

One of the reasons I’ve been so unsighted here recently is because, as even a part-time not-much-of-a teacher, I’m considered “essential” (if only they knew). I’ve been in the classroom teaching an increasingly small population of distracted, disinterested, and frightened children as their world behaves in ways they’ve never seen before. In addition, I’m following Education Department orders to transition everything I’m doing to a purely online environment, and plan for delivering the next term’s content across both in-person and online platforms.

In short, every teacher you know is currently pulling double duty as well as having to learn how to operate in a completely new environment that none of them have been trained for. Weeeeeee……..

The yippee point for me, of course, is that, having pulled off a million billion different types of workshops over the course of my writing career, I’m actually kind of used to delivering content in an online environment: I’ve done it for the Australian Writers Marketplace and the Brisbane Writers Festival among many others. So, I’m about thaaaaaaaat far ahead of some of my colleagues. It’s only the actually being some sort of teacher bit that I have to catch up on.

That said, I’ll be posting some longer diatribes about Karratha in COVID-time over the next couple of weeks. And I’ll also, as I’m going to do today, throw up a few of the silly things people are doing to keep themselves occupied while we deal with the impending (or, for many of my friends, already-arrived) periods of isolation and containment.

To whit, a little something started by my pal Toni Koller, back down in my old haunt of Rockingham. Enjoy. Copy. Play along.

 

Fun with Fours

Four names I go by:

1. Lee

2. Battboy

3. Tatterdemalion

4. Mister

 

Four Places I’ve lived:

1. Nottingham

2. Kambalda

3. Narrogin

4. Rockingham

 

Four things I love to watch on TV:

1. The Prisoner

2. The Good Place

3. Murder documentaries

4. Battlestar Galactica (the reboot)

 

Four places I have visited:

1. Bali

2. Singapore

3. Brisbane

4. Phuket

 

Four things I love to eat:

1. Lasagne

2. Licorice bullets

3. Chicken Caesar salad

4. Pea and ham soup

 

Four of my favorite beverages:

1. Pepsi Max

2. Vanilla malt thickshakes

3. Mango beer

4. Lemon, lime, and bitters

 

How about you?

FIVE GRAPHIC NOVEL MINI-REVIEWS: VAMPIRES AND GODS AND CONSPIRACIES, OH MY.

So, suddenly you turn around, and it’s been nearly two weeks since you’ve posted anything: that’s life in a family requiring as much self-care as we have since Blake’s death. And it’s been a self-care-heavy kind of fortnight, coupled with reports and marking for school. Little time for Lego, even less time for writing about it, buuuuut I did manage to get a couple of graphic novels read, so let’s talk about them.

 

Continue reading “FIVE GRAPHIC NOVEL MINI-REVIEWS: VAMPIRES AND GODS AND CONSPIRACIES, OH MY.”

LEGO 250 REVIEW: 60092 DEEP SEA SUBMARINE

Sometimes you buy a set because you love the theme. Sometimes you buy it because it looks cool. Sometimes it’s a particular colour palette, or a new part that catches your eye, or a pre-existing part is released in a new colour that excites you.

Sometimes its all of those things. To whit: Lego 250 visits the underwater realm of 60092 Deep Sea Submarine.

Continue reading “LEGO 250 REVIEW: 60092 DEEP SEA SUBMARINE”