Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tributes Flow

Written while watching 'Beverly Hills Cop' on a rainy Sunday night. I know we only ever saw redubbed and edited versions of this film on TV in the 80's, but I don't remember it having so much swearing....

When I heard about Michael Jacksons death on Friday morning, I wondered to myself how often the above phrase would be used by the media when discussing it.
I won't say I was a big fan. There are no Michael Jackson albums in my collection. I had no great love for his output, especially in the 90's. I respected his talent though, and I do like some of his stuff, mostly from the Thriller and Bad era *. I remember one hungover morning in the 90's listening to all of his albums back to back in a post party haze while we played cards (it seemed reasonable enough at the time).
It was impossible to grow up in the 80's and not notice him. My sisters and I just about wore out our copy of 'Thriller' (on tape) by playing it over and over on weekends. Being the first person in your group to see the complete 'Thriller' video made you cool for at least a week. I drummed badly as part of a band lip synching to 'Beat it' as part of a class project making music videos at intermediate. Its weird to think the song was only five years old then.
Watching all the videos on C4 yesterday brought back a lot of memories. There is a great moment at the end of the 'Jam' video, where the cameras kept rolling at the end of the take and caught Jackson trying to teach Michael Jordan some of his dance moves. It showed a playful and patient side of the man not often seen in the media.
As I grew older I appreciated his work more, but also started to see him more and more as a tragic figure, trapped by his own idiosyncrasies. I never formed an opinion on his guilt or innocence of the various things he was accused of. He was acquitted and that was good enough for me, but in this age of guilty until proven innocent, he would be forever tainted by it. His oddity made him an easy target for such accusations, and for all the crude humour associated with it. I never found the jokes all that amusing, and find them even less tasteful now. The guy was certainly weird, but also harmless, and very good at what he did, even if his artistic peak was well behind him.
The forthcoming world tour would have made an interesting spectacle, if only to see if he still had the immense ability to entertain he once possessed. C4 was running a competition to take people to one of the concerts; I thought it would be better to have seen him in his 80's prime.
That's the Michael Jackson I most want to remember. Selfishly, the resonant thing with his death for me is that it marks another piece of my childhood gone forever.

* For the record, those favourite Jackson tracks of mine are, in no particular order, 'Thriller', 'Beat it', 'Dirty Diana', 'Smooth Criminal', 'Give in to me', 'They don't care about us', 'Scream', and purely for sentimental reasons, 'Man in the Mirror'. 'Dirty Diana' would be my favourite of all if asked. Its a bit darker and more intense than the rest of his singles and has a great quiet/loud verse/chorus combination.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


My life on teh interwebz has been on hiatus for the past week or so due to a certain baby daughter needing a holiday of the hospital kind. That has now been resolved succesfully and normal service of the more than two posts in a fortnight kind will be resuming soon, as well as normal service of the cherubic bebe kind.

In the meantime, here is my current new favourite song, courtesy of well put together montage promo for C4:

We Walk In Circles by Computers Want Me Dead (link)


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

So anyway, 377 posts later

Listening to: So - Peter Gabriel

Amongst all the business lately, the three year blogiversary of this humble portal passed almost unnoticed. Actually, it was unnoticed, hence this is a belated marking of the anniversary.

Here is the first post, linked for posterity linklinklink

Its not an understatement to say the past three years have seen a lot of changes in my life, most of which have been remarked upon here at some point, some of which haven't. When I started this thing Fi and I had been married for 18 months, and were living in a rented house in Waiwhetu. Now we have been married for four and a half years, and live in our own house in Kelson, with a nearly nine month old daughter. I've changed jobs twice, seen a lot of new things, and enjoyed the old familiar things. There have been good and great experiences, as well as ones I'd rather not have had.
Trying to translate everything into sensible text has been a difficult task at times, but always an enjoyable challenge. Having so many inspirations to draw from in the form of friends (some of them fellow bloggers) and experiences helps.

So anyway, to all the regular readers, the new ones, the occasional ones, and even the random ones who will arrive here after googling Peter Gabriel albums, thanks for reading and making this thing worthwhile.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Manly is as manly does

Listening to: Billy Idol - Greatest Hits. Nuff said.

This caught my eye last week. A stuff columnist listing his top five manliest moments. Quite why it caught my eye I have no idea, I was likely checking some news in between my daily facebook and forum visits. Frankly, the columnists look a bit like dweebs, but the concept did get me thinking.

Were I to compile a manliest moments list what ould be on it? To be completely honest, the traditional NZ male manly archteype completely alienates me.

I don't hunt, I don't fish, I don't ski, board, or surf, while not completely unfamiliar with the outdoors I don't spend much time there, I don't play rugby, don't really care who is in the All Blacks as long as they play well, while not unfamiliar with boats haven't messed about in them too much either, I don't drink just for the sake of it, I don't care about Ford vs Holden, don't fix my own car beyond the simple stuff, wear earplugs at concerts, haven't knowingly rescued a damsel in distress etc etc.

A few of my male relatives exemplify some of these traits, and at times it is a little wearying in a I feel I have to somehow compete sort of way, which I can't, since my stories and pastimes are nowhere as interesting as theirs.

At one of my old jobs I often used to sit at the lunch table with the site engineers. After a while I came to refer to it as the 'Bullshit and Bravado' table. No story could be told without a 'better' one following, often prefaced by "Well when I was in (insert exotic sounding foreign locale)...." etc. Since I was there long enough, I heard several of the stories more than once, and can attest they got better each time. It was very Alpha Male-ish, which while I understood, didn't find at all interesting or engaging.

Even posting about this can be fodder for discussion in being both a response to a perceived challenge and not a particularly manly thing to be considering.

So having pondered and established that I am not exactly the embodiment of macho manliness, what could I put on it?

-I have used firearms to kill (rabbits if you are wondering), although my wife was right beside me doing the same thing so that might not count as manly.

-I have destroyed a car while I was driving it, although I think for it to count I would have to be proud of that, which I am not.

-I have used my size and stature to intimidate people into doing things that needed to be done on occasion. Not particulary proud of that either, but it was necessary.

-I have been a witness for the prosecution in a criminal case. That could be considered manly.

-I cut one of my fingertips off with a bandsaw, patched it up and then worked the next five hours of my shift. Definitely manly behaviour. Or daft. A job needed doing though, and there was no-one else to do it.

Thats a start anyway. I think I am a bit confused about what constitutes a manly act. Those of you who have known me for a while are welcome to chip in with suggestions, either with definitions or acts.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

I'm a Hustler Baby

Listening to: Against Me! - New Wave. I know almost nothing about this band. I was fossicking around in Real Groovy one day and it was playing in the store, and I liked what I heard so I picked it up. Against Me! is american I think, and sound like a slightly punkier and thrashier version of The Living End, and australian punk/rockabilly band that apart from a couple of singles I have never had much time for. Its nice uncomplicated guitar rock, no samples or overdubs, lyrics you can understand that aren't complicated riddles or metaphors, and nice and noisy. Its not without melody and intelligence, although sometimes there is an evident strain to get a point across at the expense of some pretty clunky lyrical combinations. Most of the time though it is good yell along music that doesn't demand to be taken too deeply or seriously. This band sounds like it would be good live. I listened to it and a bit of AC/DC's 'Back in Black' on the way to and from netball last night and found it nice to get pscyhed up to.

I'm not sure when the 'Listening to' device became a sort of regular mini record review feature, but I like giving some context to the music I enjoy, in case any readers (vague and nebulous concept that readers are) are interested. For those newer readers, I almost always listen to music while I blog, and record what I was listening to at the time of writing at the top of the post. Sometimes its fleshed out like this, and almost serves as a vignette short before getting into the post proper (and is occasionally longer than the post itself). Other times it is simply a listing of album and artist. Almost never does the named music have any direct significance to the post itself. I started 'Listening to' not long after I started blogging, and there are now at least a couple of hundred entries.

This modelling thing

Those paying particular attention to writings here and on facebook over the summer just gone may remember cryptic refererences to such things as 'The Hustler Project', or 'The shiny metal monster'.

Sorry to disappoint, but it is plastic rather than metal, and is a model. I've posted about my hobby of model making before here, there and everywhere. Suffice to say I have been engaging in it on and off since the early 80's. I don't have as much time as I used to to devote to it, and it is now more of an acivity where much is accomplished in bursts of intense activity followed by lulls where nothing happens at all. A lull is just ending at the moment, mostly prompted by a competition I intend to participate in in September. The last project I finished was in February, and here it is. Its a Hustler (wiki history of the real thing here), which in 1:72 measures out at about 40cm long.

Here is the project at about half way, spray painted aluminium to provide a base for the finish that makes the plastic look like metal, which is easier said than done.
After a few days of adding different tints and shades of metallics, you arrive at something looking like this. Since the real things were made of varying kinds of metals, and weren't painted, there is a trick to getting the right look.
Once happy with the metals, decals provided the colouring in.
before final assembly involving all the delicate bits that would get knocked off if you added them earlier.
until finally you arrive at something looking like this, which in terms of how the final finish looks is one of the best looking of all my models.
Its seen as a childish hobby, and is much derided and ridiculed, but I think it can be a bit of an art form when it is done right. I think I am only in the last few years starting to get reasonably competent at it. There are much, much more skilled practitioners of the hobby than me out there.