Lately...

I remember a song a guy I went to boarding school with had a cassette single with four versions of a song called Lately. The lyrics were something like:

Lately I’ve seen that look on your face, And you don’t cry anymore. And I just don’t know what to do, anymore. Oh Baby, Oh Baby, I want you here, with me.

Anyway, I’ve never heard the song since, nor been able to find it on the web. But lately I’ve been rather busy with Touch, and haven’t done much coding, other than entries for the New Scientist enigma, and since those ones haven’t been drawn yet, I’m not going to share the answers. I have played around with some new apps, and I’ll list them here:

  • The new version of Ecto, a blogging program is out
  • NewsFire, an RSS Aggregator
  • OmniWeb 5.0, a Web Browser
  • VLC, a movie viewer
  • ManOpen, a man page viewer.

Review: Self-saucing Tripod.

For the uninitiated, Tripod are an Australian 3-piece band who compose and perform ‘comedy’ songs. Probably their biggest claim to fame is the Tripod Song In An Hour segment they used to do on Breakfast with Adam & Wil on Triple J. The hosts used to come up with a series of (unrelated) topics that the boys from Tripod then had to make a song about in one hour, and perform it at the end. The always managed to pull through and usually the songs were quite amusing. Jaq and I received some free tickets to see their live act Self Saucing Tripod, part of the Adelaide Cabaret _(Cabarette) _Festival., and went and saw them on their last performance, last Thursday night. Our seats were either excellent or woeful, we thought as we went into the Dunstan Playhouse: right up the front on Table 4. We managed to get there early, were first into the place, just to make sure we had the seats facing the stage, not with out backs to it. Lucky we did so, as the people in second place were the others on our table… Being right up the front was actually great! You could see the boys in great detail, and we didn’t get picked on at all. The only qualm I would say I had was that it wasn’t really possible to see more than one of the trio at a time - we were so close we needed to turn our heads (slightly) to see the others. Apparently Tripod have quite a following - lots of the girls audience were wearing t-shirts, and I’m sure they sold a lot more in the foyer afterwards.

We like your aura.  We hope you’ll see us outside afterwards and by a T-Shirt.   Or a CD.    Or a T-Shirt and a CD.     Or a…

Having only heard them on the radio (and only a few times, to be honest. I listen to Classic FM, not the Youth Network…), and seen one song on Video Hits - which they played incidentally - I sort-of knew what to expect, but I didn’t realise just how talented they were. Ignoring the fact they are comedians, they are fine musicians. Three part harmony, better ‘beat-box’ than Joel Turner and the Modern Day Poets, a talented guitar player (and another one who is alright…), and a trumpeter. Many of their songs start with lovely guitar playing, layered vocal harmonies, and kicker jokes. Which brings me to the biggest beef I had. I understand that many of the songs are designed to be interrupted, but it seemed to me that they only had two songs of any reasonable length. I wonder if writing biting social and political satire into songs is just so damn hard that they cannot do it for more than a couple of measures at a time. Do they run out of material, or is it a conscious decision to fit more songs into the show? Don’t get me wrong, I was not unhappy at all as I left the theatre, but it left me wondering: what would real songs from them sound like? They made a joke that the only reason they were still around today was:

Scod: Because of a rich aunt. Who used to pump money into the act, and asked for nothing in return. Yon: Except that I had to go around there every weekend and smear vegemite on her … Scod & Gatesy: Aaargh! Yon: …toast. Yon: And then I fucked her.

I wonder if that was true. Not necessarily about fucking the aunt, but if they would have made it as a real _band. Their two songs that went on for a longer time were both pure genius. One of them you may have heard: Make You Happy (The Xbox Song) is a sweet, balladic song about a guy and how much he loves his girl, and he’ll come to bed as soon as he finishes the next level. I think lots of people know how both characters in this song feel. The other one was, I thought, even better. The Hotdog Man is a happy (Frente-like?) song about aHotdog man, and how he loves his job, his customers and his family, but leads onto his darker side. I’ll not go into any more detail, like many comedy songs, listening to it the first time is the best. Which leads me onto another thing. Hearing many of these songs the first time is great, but they tend to have a short shelf-life. I can still listen to older music, over and over again. I don’t know that I’ll ever tire of Beethoven’s _Moonlight Sonata, or Paul Kelly’s From St. Kilda To Kings Cross, but shorter comedic works are a bit less lasting. (Pardon the pun). It will be interesting to see where Tripod are in ten years, and if anyone listens to their music. Regards, f you get the chance, run, don’t walk to see them. As comedic bands go, they are without peer. Except for maybe Kevin Bloody Wilson.

Sing-along Music

Note to self: Classical Music is good public transport music. Why? Because you are less likely to sing along. People look strangely at you when you sing on the train, for some reason.

Daisy Duke

Daisy Duke Dances For You. Best. Thing. Ever. (Thanks to Ash Green for the link!)

Review: Robe Village Fair

I spent the last three days (or a fair chunk of them, at any rate), down in the lovely seaside town of Robe, located about 3½ hours drive south of Adelaide. Around this time every year, and instigated originally by my good friend Hugh Koch, Robe hosts the annual Village Fair: a showcase of local food and wine, with internationally reknowned musical entertainment.

This year saw the inclusion of Jimmy Barnes, the former front man of 80s Rock Band Cold Chisel, as the lead act, with (Johnny) Diesel (formerly of Johnny Diesel and the Injectors), supporting him on Saturday night. (Which reminds me, he didn’t do the song Saturday Night!) Vanessa Amorosi played on Friday evening, and Kate Ceberano was the Sunday afternoon act.

I arrived in Robe early in the evening, and had some dinner with my family before we headed off into town for the first concert. I’ll start by stating publicly that I hated Vanessa Amorosi’s songs, especially Absoloutely Everybody, and, Oh, that’s right, she didn’t have any other songs! So I went into Friday’s gig with not too high expectations. And saw them stripped by her talent. Amorosi was really quite a reasonable singer, performing a whole lot of cover versions: I actually commented (very much tongue-in-cheek) that I didn’t realise I knew so many of her songs.

Anyway, I was quite enjoying her performance, until the encore. She persisted with the flawed concept that has riddled the Australian version of Pop Idol, that dancing around the final note a composer had planned as the finish of their song shows everyone just how talented you are. Like Guy Sebastian did when he butchered just about every song he performed. It just annoys the hell out of me that singers continue to think that this rubbish sounds good. Sure, interpret the song in your own way, but don’t kill the end of the song by over-singing the f•ck out of it. Still, to her credit, Amorosi really only did this with her second last song. Unfortunately, her final song was the annoying song that Mark Holden wrote (is that the right word. Was this really written?) for her all of those years ago. And the f•cking thing stayed in my head all night long!

Saturday looked like it might be a downpour - it actually did rain rather heavily at around 6 am: I don’t normally wake up when the weather’s bad that early, but I did for some reason. Still, it had fined up by the time we made it back into the main street, and we got some lunch (dry old baked potato), and some drinks. Plenty of the new Coopers Lager - it’s really quite nice - and several bottles of varying wines, both red and white.

Diesel came on at about 5, and didn’t really do much for me. Don’t get me wrong, he was great as background music, but I didn’t really know that many of his songs. It did give me some time to really load up on the lagers, at least until they ran out. Then it was onto Doctor Tim’s… which someone tells me is just like Pale Ale, but in a can. I didn’t notice the taste.

Barnesy came on sometime around 7:30 - I’d pretty much lost track of time by then. Actually, I recall that it was still light, just. I’d promised Jason I’d get a photo of me and him together, and there were several (rude) text messages about money changing hands. The proof will be in the (faked) pudding, I’ll just leave it at that.

I always say I’m not a big Barnesy fan, but having someone like him, who plays a heap of songs that you knew the words to right throughout your youth means you can really get into it. It always helps when there’s a thing you can relate to in a song (happy hour at one of the two Hotels: the same number that are in Robe…), and when you are surrounded by a throng of people all screaming along at the top of their voices. I loved it. In a different way than I love listening to Beethoven or Mozart, but it was great nonetheless.

The ringing in my ears had subsided by Sunday morning: we had 17 people (including one baby, my gorgeous nephew Jack!) staying in the house, and I made French Toast for all; and by midday we headed back into Robe proper to hear Kate Ceberano. I really dig her as a performer, and was really looking forward to hearing her live.

And I felt she was the most disappointing of the lot. Nothing wrong with her singing (although, I don’t think she did Young Boys Are My Weakness), but she certainly crapped on a lot between songs. And whilst sometimes that it part of the act, with her it really felt like she was just talking to try and push the length of the set out a bit. Yeah, I suppose it was cute having those six kids get up on stage for Pash Me, but it took about three times the length of the song to set it up. And they couldn’t sing to save themselves!

When Ben Folds talks between songs, or sets up the audience to join in, it’s worth the wait. And that reminds me, the big difference is that, a couple of times, Ceberano basically berated the audience for not giving her ‘enough respect’, but I think crowd interaction and ‘love’ is something a performer needs to build up each time they perform. Not just expect it because they can command $25,000 for a performance.

I didn’t dislike Ceberano because she is a Scientologist, but I don’t respec’ her nearly as much as I did before I’d seen her live. And with Barnesy (and to a certain extend, Amorosi), it’s a bit the other way.

The wines on show seemed pretty good - I really only had about 6 or 7 glasses worth over the three days, and only about three different types, but it was the first time for a while I’d really drunk any red, so that was nice. And the coolest thing was that they were a) local wines and b) cheaper there than back up here in Adelaide from bulk liquor stores. Speaking of price, I didn’t eat any lobster - but I wish I had. It was $15/half, which doesn’t sound like much, when you compare it to $4 for a (very) small serve of chips, or $8 for even less chips with one piece of fish.

Just about everyone there was eating lobster, they must have sold shitloads of them. Oh well, live and learn. Overall, I hope it didn’t sound like I didn’t have a good time. I had a great time. Mostly this was (for me) being able to catch up with lots of people from my past: including an ex-girlfriend who has two (very cute) daughters. Hi Libby. Your kids are gorgeous.

Schickel

One of my students today told me she had seen a poster for a band named after me. I did a little research (they played at Flinders Uni last Friday), and came up with this poster:

As you can see, it’s pretty close. You can read about this band over on Music SA’s Schickel page, or the Official Schickel Website, and even listen to a track. It’s not too bad, actually.

Scabby Nannas Reform

A bit over ten years ago, some mates of mine formed a band, and they had one performance: at Viv’s 21st. Their whirlwind tour of Robe over, the Scabby Nannas split up, moved on to other projects, and so on. They are back. I never thought I’d link to a myspace page, but here we go: The Scabby Nannas. You can hear their one original track “Always Go For Goals!”, and if you look hard enough you’ll also find videos of their performance earlier this year at the Walkerville RSL. Not sure if this was a paying gig, or just Viv’s 31st, but videos don’t lie. Since then, they’ve apparently been hard at work, recording this track (and possibly some more, under a secret alias I can’t remember anymore). (I’ve put this under Popular Music, although I’m not sure they are exactly “Popular”, per se. Maybe one day). Oh, and happy birth, Mitchell Vickery.

Always Go For GoalsSuper VillianScabby Nannas ★★★

90s Flowchart

xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language - By Randall Munroe

Nova: 91-point-crap

We’ve had Nova 91.9 playing while we’ve been painting the last couple of nights. Some of the music is okay, but last night I noticed they are playing exactly the same songs as the night before. That’s okay - the young folk today are so whacked out on drugs (prescription, as well as recreational) so they probably don’t remember that these songs were on last night too. After about three hours, I realised they were playing a whole heap of songs for the second time that night! I mean, come on. You needs to smoke shit-loads of drugs to forget the songs that played in the last three hours. And it wasn’t just one or two, but more like all of them. Are the programmers so lazy they only program half a night worth of music, and just play it all twice? I want that job!

Song Lyrics and their Meanings

With no radio in the car at the moment (I broke the automatic aerial again, and it’s too expensive to justify buying a new one just yet), we tend to put 6 CDs in the stacker, and listen away. At the moment, we have:

  • Diesel • Short Cool Ones
  • Sheryl Crow • Tuesday Night Music Club
  • Coldplay • Parachutes
  • Diesel • Solid State Rhyme
  • Frank Bennett • Five O’Clock Shadow
  • Dido • No Angel

I know, I know, it’s a pretty Early 90s set of discs, but, hey… Now, the interesting thing is that we are sick of Frank Bennett already - he did a couple of albums that are covers of modern songs, in a Lounge/Swing style. We must have listened to them too much when we first bought the CDs! The big surprise for me was just how much I love Sheryl Crow.

I remember her being big with Tuesday Night Music Club back when I first started Uni (1993), and I still knew most of the words to most of the songs upon first listen. I tend to over-analyse song lyrics, after listening to too much Paul Kelly and Ben Folds, and people of that ilk, who really pack a lot of meaning into their songs, so this may be a bit over the top, but there’s one aspect of one of Sheryl Crow’s songs that made me look at the whole song a different way.

No One Said It Would Be Easy by Sheryl Crow, from the album Tuesday Night Music Club (1993):

It’s obvious the trouble we’re in,
When your father pulls up in a Mercedes Benz.
He says he just happened to be in the neighbourhood.
But before he leaves he slips the Landlord the rent.
You say, “It’s just a question of eliminating obstacles.”
As you throw your dinner out the kitchen door,
You say, “I know how you try,”
“But honey, let’s eat out tonight.”

[Chorus]: No one said it would be easy,
But no one said it’d be this hard.
No one said it would be easy,
No one thought we’d come this far.

You can’t seem to ever fold up a shirt.
I bring it up and you think I’m a jerk.
But I think we’re here to stay,
I can’t imagine it any other way.

[Chorus]

Sometimes I wonder who he’s picturing,
When he looks at me and smiles.

[Chorus]

Oh, and look we’ve come this far.

Without being too anal and looking at the whole song, I’m just going to talk about the chorus. Pretty straightforward:

No one said it would be easy, But no one said it’d be this hard. No one said it would be easy, No one thought we’d come this far.

I originally (probably correctly) thought that the last line had the meaning of:

No one thought we would come this far.

But think about the song, and how the meaning changes if you instead think about it as:

No one thought we had come this far.

Suddenly, the song changes meaning. In some ways, it makes more sense. Instead of it being a statement that “We’ve done better than anyone thought we would,” it becomes “We’ve come too far to quit: no one else thought we were as deep into this relationship as we are. It’s too late to get out now, not without losing too much.” And the final line:

Oh, and look we’ve come this far.