Monday, August 25, 2008

Diaries on the net

The diaries of Samuel Pepys and George Orwell are being posted day-for-day. You can also read more historic diaries at the Wisconsin Historical Society.
At night home, much contented with this day’s work, and being at home alone looking over my papers, comes a neighbour of ours hard by to speak with me about business of the office, one Mr. Fuller, a great merchant, but not my acquaintance, but he come drunk, and would have had me gone and drunk with him at home, or have let him send for wine hither, but I would do neither, nor offered him any, but after some sorry discourse parted, and I up to [my] chamber and to bed.
Samuel Pepys

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I can't beleive this guy has a PhD!

As part of one of my (too many) jobs, I was reading through some articles about marketing. One of them was written by one Jonathan U. Elimimian (MBA, PhD; DBA., College of Business, Albany State University, USA). I don't know which is worse - that he has a PhD or that this was published in an edited journal...

“Sigmund Freud made a great contribution to Psychoanalysis with his concept of the super ego which was referenced as primitive and unconscious aggregate of values and psychoanalysis in form by contemporary authors.”
. . .
“Therefore, psychoanalysis also questions traditional ideas of irrationality. It shows that human tastes, preferences and other apparently irrational psychological consumers marketing decisions have a meaning and it is rational. Even though, most theorists argue that there is continuity between rationality and irrationality. This remained controversial among scholars.”
. . .
“Of course, this is another issue of major research topic in marketing. Even the most apparently abnormal and irrational buying behaviors are meaningful, because they occur for a reason, and in that sense, they are rational.”
. . .
“Even though Damasio’s application is strictly scientific, but the conceptual adoption to consumer behaviour (attitudes, values, and actions) is practical.”
. . .
“Before now, the influence of emotions on consumers decision-making (buying decision) is largely ignored.”
. . .
“Since the term ‘emotion’ tends to mean different things to the man and woman on the street (layman), the psychologist, the physiologist and the marketer, have used the term ‘Somatic’ to refer to the collection of mentally related responses that hallmark an emotion (Consumer behaviour). Even though ‘Somatic’ refers to the Greek word ‘Soma’, i.e. body.”
. . .
“Sigmund Freud’s treatment of people’s desires, wishes and human feelings is extensively discussed in literature (Freud, 1954). These too, must be understood as rational in terms of buying behavior. No matter of the racial identity, all consumers suffer from degree of anxiety provoked by the buying decisions and massive product assortments.”

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Perth episode two: WE WON!

I've only got a short amount of time on the computer at Perth airport (our flight back to Melbourne has been delayed - boring!) so this is a short post about the overwhelming events of last night.

We came to Perth to perform in the Putting on an Act festival at PICA, seeing it as a good opportunity to showcase our work. After our performance on Friday night, we were told that we had been selected for the "best-of" program on Saturday night. It was amazing for us to have so many people enjoy and believe in our work, and we were stoked to have the opportunity to perform again. The only problem was, we had no harpsichord! I had organised the hire of a harpsichord from WAAPA, but received a phone call from them a few days ago telling me that there had been a double-booking, and the opera company was promised the instrument for Saturday night. I wasn't worried about that originally, as I didn't think that we'd be performing on the final night...

So there were many, many phone calls made yesterday to assorted members of the small early music fraternity in Perth, to no avail. At our 2:30pm sound-check we developed what we called the "plugged" version of the piece, with an electronic keyboard wired into the sound system and lots of reverb - very different from our restrained baroque-minimalism of the night before.

We were a bit anxious before the performance, having to deal with a different sound and completely different touch on my part. I normally listen a lot to the acoustics of my instrument as I play, and respond to the sound-waves coming from the strings. Not having any sound at all near me, and having to rely on what came from the overhead speakers had me a bit nervous.

Once I walked out on to the stage, though, and played the first few notes, I knew that it was going to be fine. The theatre was full, and the audience warm and enthusiastic. As soon as the last note died away we were greeted by a wall of clapping and cheering. I was overwhelmed by the response, and really moved that people loved our work so much.

Afterwards, it took us about 20 minutes to get to the bar to get a drink, we were continually stopped and congratulated by people who loved the combination of harpsichord and voice. Finally, red wine in hand, I relaxed for a moment, only to have us announced as the winners of the inaugural City of Perth Award for Most Innovative Act! The rest of the night was a bit of a blur of thank-yous, congratulations and posing for photographs...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Perth episode one: Icey Ice Snow Ice

Fernando and I (aka Beautiful Rubble) flew to Perth today to perform tomorrow at PICA. So far we haven't seen much of the city - we arrived at dusk and spent over an hour in a shuttle bus being shuttled around what seemed like every hotel in the city before finally arriving at our backpackers in Northbridge. After dumping our bags, we ran down the street in search of food. And it was during this hunger-filled dash that I made the discovery: The Icey Ice Snow Ice shop. I'm not exactly sure what snow ice is (well, I obviously know what snow ice is, but not what it means in this context). The description on the business card-sized take-away menu didn't enlighten me: " Snow Ice ... ice tastes like snow and melts in your mouth!" It may be a kind of frozen fairy floss. I decided not to experiment tonight, and settled for a grean teacino (itself a wondrous invention). Tomorrow will be the day to sample the snow ice. I'm particularly taken by the idea of Peanut Ice with chocolate sauce, although the Green Tea Ice (standard topping: wickedly taste good by itself) would be hard to pass up.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Open House photos...

...another view of the tower.

The view from the Chairman's Office

Inside the boardroom. The table is covered in a single piece of glass, which had to be craned in through the windows.

I got a little excited about this building, as you can see!

Open House Melbourne

Yesterday I stood in a queue for 2 hours to get a look inside the top floors of the iconic Manchester Unity Building as part of Melbourne Open House. This is the first year they've run this in Melbourne and I think they were quite surprised by the number of people who turned up - hence the l o n g wait.

Luckily we had cupcakes to occupy us while we waited...

The view from the rooftop terrace was spectacular and just about worth the wait - the windows were mirrored and had interesting reflections.

The tower - it used to be a penthouse, how great would it be to live here?!

More reflections...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday round-up #6

This week I've loved The Coveted's simple yet not-so-obvious transformation of holey socks into stirrup legwarmer-type thingies; On an Overgrown Path writing about music in Moorish Spain and classical music and the credit crunch; some crazy two-wheeled action over at The Scooter Scoop; and Gala's tips on how to be more assertive. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hypercolor is back!

This should not be happening. But apparently it wasn't bad enough the first time around. It's official, hypercolor is back. Another bad 80s trend rises from the grave to look just as terrible as it did in 1988 (year of the bicentenary, fellow antipodeans may remember - what a treat that was!). Yes, I know we live in a postmodern world where everything is recycled and nothing is really new, but there are some things that really should just be left to rot away peacefully.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Beautiful Rubble

Introducing... Beautiful Rubble! Drum roll please!

This is a duo I am one half of - together with the lovely Fernando. We've got a rudimentary myspace site here.

We've been invited to perform at Putting on an Act, at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, which is very exciting, and the first time we've presented our work as a stand-alone. We started working together a couple of years ago, and found that we fit together musically very well, and that it was easy for the two of us to come up with ideas and beginnings for songs.

I realised today that I am improvising all the time now, something that I could not do two years ago. All our songs have a basic structure, but the detail is improvised - there is a bass line or chord progression that is set, but everything else I am making up on the spot. I am very conscious of how far I still have to go in this area, but am proud of what I can do now, compared with a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I was not prepared for that

The wisdom teeth. How can four little teeth cause so much swelling and pain? Well, the removal of them, that is. I was barely able to talk before Monday, let alone think or conceptualise in any way. I blame that on the painkillers and aftereffects of the anaesthetic. My mouth would barely open for the first five days or so, and my cheeks were swollen so that I was looking distinctly peculiar. I have eaten what feels like half my body weight in jelly (but it was so good...), and watched four-and-a-half seasons of Sex and the City on dvd. I'm just glad I never have to go through that again!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

No Wisdom Left?

I had my wisdom teeth taken out yesterday, and now I look a little like this. On a steady diet of soup, porridge, jelly and ice-cream, I've been working my way through Vikram Seth's From Heaven Lake and dreaming of traveling to Tibet.

In between slugging back Mersyndol Forte (gotta love that codeine) I've been drooling over fabulous pictures by Sanna, Dotti, The Sartorialist and Ranna, and secretly getting jealous of it being summer in Europe, where I am not.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thesis Time #2

I am sitting in Carson's Lounge, a relatively new cafe in Yarraville, and conveniently 5-minutes walk from my house. I've just re-read the first chapter of Rose Rosengard Subotnik's book Developing Variations, discussing different ways musicologists approach ideology. I read it for the first time yesterday afternoon, under the neon lights of the VCA library, and found my eyes glossing over and my brain complaining of the effort required to understand and take it in.

Part of what I am going to discuss in my thesis is the debate that took place among academics of early music in the 1980s and 1990s about the ideal of "authenticity" - the attempt to perform renaissance and baroque music in a "historically correct" fashion, honouring the supposed intentions of the composer.

It struck me today as I read Subotnik, how similar her description of the "Anglo-American" school of musicological thought (she defines two schools of thought: Continental and Anglo-American) is to the early music movement, especially its manifestation in the 1980s and 1990s. The Anglo-Americans, in Subotnik's definition, are empiricists who view a piece of music as an autonomous artwork. They are concerned with the pursuit of provable truth and try to correct what they perceive as "ideological distortion" by focussing on physical and scientific details, and consciously avoiding anything that could be perceived as ideological or subjective.

The early music movement also held empirical evidence in the highest of esteem (and still does to a large extent). Proof gathered in historical sources of the "correct" way to perform has been the basis of the way we have played early music. Instruments have been painstakingly copied from original drawings, and the search for Bach's own tuning system provided some academic excitement a few years ago.

More and more I am discovering the connections between the manifestation of this empiricism in the early music movement and the wider intellectual and cultural context. At the moment I don't have any startling conclusions to make, but clearly the phenomenon that is the early music movement did not happen in isolation or come from nowhere.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's Thesis Time!

Humming the tune of Flight of the Conchords Business Time I settled down with my laptop and some not-so-light-reading this morning. Yes, this year I have to finish my masters thesis! I have been making it more stressful for myself than I really need to for the past few months, so I am trying a new tactic - spending time sitting with it and meandering through some reading, thinking some thoughts, writing those thoughts down... but not trying to make it perfect the first time.

So this morning it was a cup of coffee, writing down my thoughts about The Dowland Project's album Care-Charming Sleep, and reading over Richard Taruskin's The Limits of Authenticity.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday afternoon quote

"... Robert Hughes talking about artists: they're among the most resilient creatures on earth. If you had a nuclear war, out of the wreckage would stagger the artists, planning an exhibition."

Architect Jeremy Edmiston, in an article in the weekend paper.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday round-up #4

This week I've especially enjoyed...

Looking at photos of bubble-blowers in NYC, re-creations of iconic photos using lego, and a tattoo that pays homage to John Cage.

Being inspired by Anjali to look further into buying a scooter. I've booked in for my motorcycle learner's permit - very exciting!

Reminding myself that I am actually very fortunate and wealthy when compared with the entire world's population, thanks to the wonderful Global Rich List.

Reading J.D.'s brilliant critique of the scam that is The Secret, and Chris's observations about creativity and artistry.

That's all for now. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A bogan musical comedy?!

Coming soon to SBS... Bogan Pride. According to The Age, each episode of this Melbourne-based comedy series will end with a musical number, which I have to say, has a lot of comic potential!

With a lead character named Jenny Cragg, and set in the fictional suburb of Boonelg, I'm going to have to keep an eye out for this show when it screens in October. It could be absolute gold, or completely terrible...

For those interstate and foreign types who are confused by the word 'bogan', check out this and this. The bogan is a much-maligned stereotype of Melbourne suburbia, but secretly I think we all have a little bit of bogan in us. Come on, bogan bingo sounds like so much fun!!

Image courtesy of The Age

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday round-up #3

... and it's actually Friday! Wonders will never cease.

The lovely Brent has written an ode to procrastination, which I can certainly identify with!

My friend and collaborator Amanda has posted a couple of songs we're working on together at our fledgling myspace page.

Gretchen at the Happiness Project has thought up 8 ways to make you happier in the next hour.

Leonie dreamt about having a hole in the heart.

Sean pondered about life in a patch of mustard and wild turnips.

And JD reminds us that it doesn't always pay to keep up with information.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sisters and Art

My two sisters were in Melbourne over the long weekend, visiting from Launceston and Sydney. I spent Monday afternoon with them (G and I) and my mum, and V (I’s boyfriend). My mum loves a country drive so we all piled in her little green Citroen and drove out to Healesville to visit the TarraWarra Museum of Art. I always find it fascinating how three usually perfectly mature women in their twenties can revert to their childhood roles within seconds of being in each other’s company. I, being the eldest, am apparently bossy and decisive; G, the middle sister, is diplomatic and indecisive; while I, the youngest, is brazen and opinionated. I felt like I was 8 years old again, sitting in the back seat of a car with my two sisters, laughing at our parents and remembering the games we used to play together. (Just realised that reads slightly strangely – “I” referring both to me and my sister. I’m sure you’re smart enough to work it out.)

The art gallery at TarraWarra is really impressive. The building is made of sandstone-coloured concrete blocks and sits in the landscape like a castle – a monolith of simple lines and timeless proportions. There are no obvious entrances visible from the outside; the entrance is between two overlapping walls that create a corridor leading to the central courtyard between the café and the gallery. Walking through this corridor of concrete my footsteps were amplified by the hard surfaces so that my entrance seemed quite an occasion.

Greeted by three Brett Whiteley paintings inside the foyer of the gallery, I knew I was going to enjoy the experience. Since I first studied his work at high school I have loved Whiteley’s sinuous curves, simple lines and expressive compositions. The blue that he used in his Sydney harbour paintings has to be one of the most incredible colours in existence – standing in front of these paintings I want to dive into that blue.

In the main rooms of the gallery are paintings by Arthur Boyd, John Perceval (one of his Williamstown series), Rick Amor, Howard Arkley, Jeffrey Smart and others which I can’t remember just now.

The featured exhibition, an installation by Kate Rohde, was disappointing. Billed as “blending the lavishness of the Baroque and Rococo period with her interests in Natural History” with “curlicue designed hedges, elaborate dioramic vitrines and haunting paper mâché sculptures” to me it came across as kitsch, underdeveloped and not particularly engaging. I was expecting something more impressive, more finely crafted. The “curlicue designed hedges” were tall paper mache walls painted green, with flecks of white where the paint had come off, and the sculptures seemed unfinished. Maybe it’s just not my cup of tea.

I did really like John Neeson’s installation “Available Light”. He has set up mirrors which reflect the light and the views out the window, and then paints what he sees in the mirror – a kind of visual record of the changing light and sky over time. I like the idea of the process of making art being something that can be exhibited and enjoyed as art as much as the finished product.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Friday round-up #2

Some things I've enjoyed around the net this week... and yes, I know it's actually Saturday, but I'm less late than I was last week :P

My dear friend Sam has started blogging - go Sam!! Sam and I bonded when we performed together in a freezing cold church in Daylesford back in 2005, and have been friends ever since. He moved to London last year and sends me enticing emails with details of all the fabulous concerts he's attending - trying to convince me to move, too. Maybe next year...

Thanks to galadarling I have discovered Songza - this will prove to be very handy for me I think. Now I can share my music finds with the world! Current faves include L'Arpeggiata and Anouar Brahem.

There are some great photographs around - check out the Sartorialist's shoemaker and Stil in Berlin's fantastic tiled walls as backgrounds for Henri and Antje.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Late as usual - last week's links

So I wanted to start a regular "Friday round-up" post - but somehow didn't quite manage it last week. Lots of things I want to do, so little time!

Here's a couple of links I enjoyed last week... stay tuned to see if I can get it out on time this week...

Dutch bicycle action - I am loving Brent's photos.

Four Foolproof Ways to Create Unimaginable Wealth In This World - I came across Robert Bruce's poetry this week and it is definitely worth a read!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Music in Exile

Since I first heard it a year or so ago I have been fascinated by the music of Esteban Salas. Born in Cuba in 1725, he lived in Havana as a musician until 1762 when the English invaded. He was then transferred to a position as choir-master in the little cathedral in Santiago de Cuba, where he remained until his death in 1803.

From the CD liner notes:

"The image of Salas is one of angelic purity. The little troubles and tribulations which he experienced in his life enable us to envisage a simple, trusting soul, who since his youth had observed strict chastity, living like an ecclesiastic, in no way undeserving the tonsure. A true mystic, he had taken the vow of living in poverty, and he always dressed in black."
The compositions on this recording are carols for a small choir accompanied by a simple string orchestra. Heartfelt, simple, genuine and poignant, for me they summon up a sense of great distance and exile. The music seems less sophisticated, less polished, less worldly than European music of the time. There are no obvious "Cuban" influences, but elements of "that distant and isolated" country surrounded by sea have managed to creep in nonetheless.

There is something beautifully unpolished and genuine about the recording as well. Recorded in Cuba in the Dominican church of San Juan de Letran by a Cuban choir, there is a very particular quality about the voices - sometimes a little breathy, not quite together, but always honest and with conviction and integrity. Sometimes the sound of crickets can be heard in the background through the unglazed windows of the church.

In Praise of Boredom?

"There is a strong argument that boredom, so often parodied as a glassy-eyed drooling state of nothingness, is an essential human emotion that underlies art, literature, philosophy, science - and even love.

"If you think of boredom as the prelude to creativity and loneliness as the prelude to engagement of the imagination, then they are good things," says Edward Hallowell, psychiatrist and author of the book CrazyBusy. "They are doorways to something better, as opposed to something to be abhorred and eradicated immediately.""

In Praise of Silence -

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Tent

On Thursday night I went to see The Tent, as part of the Next Wave Festival. Stupidly I didn't have my camera with me, because the setting was absolutely incredible. Behind the Federation Square capark, between the high retaining wall of Birrarung Marr and the railway lines, there is a gravel-covered open space, a kind of no-man's land in the middle of the city. Looking down from Birrarung Marr, in this dark space between us and the glittering lights of Melbourne's skyline, we could see a canvas tent, looking a bit like a yurt on the steppes of outer Mongolia - completely at odds with it's surroundings.

Entering the tent, we were sat down and given blankets to keep our legs warm and hot beef stew to keep our stomachs warm, as we sat back and watched the show.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quite Possibly My Favourite Record Label

... currently is ECM, especially their New Series. Recently Readings had a sale on ECM albums and I indulged in

Anouar Brahem's Le Pas Du Chat Noir

Tord Gustavsen's Changing Places

and The Dowland Project's Care Charming Sleep.

Other albums that I love from this label include Rolf Lislevand's Nuove Musiche

... and of course Keith Jarrett's The Köln Concert.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Play Things

Last night I went to hear my mates Fernando and Duncan (aka Play Things) play at the Rooftop Bar. I couldn't stay for long as I had to scoot to have dinner with my mum (it was mothers day after all!), but I absolutely fell in love with the venue, as well as the music. Next time I'll definitely take the lift rather than the 6 flights of stairs, but the climb was worth it.

I felt almost a sense of vertigo standing up there amongst the skyscrapers, thinking "this is my city".

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I said breakdowns come
And breakdowns go
So what are you going to do about it
That's what I'd like to know
Paul Simon

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It's all about Bernard

I am made very happy that the ABC is screening Black Books on Wednesday nights. Love it. That's all I have to say today.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 - the year that was

I picked up my morning pages journal the other day, and noted that the last entry was back in February. Towards the end of December 2006 I also revived the morning pages for a while - from 27 December until the middle of January. The turning of the year inspires reflection and a burning desire to make ambitious resolutions, which seem to often get lost in late January when life gets in the way.

2007 was a strange year for me - fragmented and unflowing. Many amazing things happened, and nothing was really bad, but somehow I feel slightly unsatisfied by the whole thing. I'm hoping that it was a sort of chrysalis time and that soon it will form itself into a butterfly!

Highlights of 2007 include:
  • Travelling to Europe for the first time and participating in the Brugge harpsichord competition
  • Co-creating and performing my own show in the Melbourne Fringe Festival
  • Co-composing and performing a 15-minute work for Musicircus in the Melbourne International Arts Festival
  • Moving into a fabulous house in Yarraville
  • Having a big realisation about my career and what I want to focus on
  • Writing two papers for my Masters that I was really happy with and want to try to get published
  • Becoming more comfortable with myself as a person, and continuing to learn how to be more self-aware and confident
I have great hopes for 2008!