Something that makes me happy.

174107_1_fI have a signed copy of this album on vinyl, that I bought really cheaply at a second-hand music store in Camberwell.  I have absolutely no idea whether or not the signatures are authentic. [image via maniadb]

All I’ve got here is books and music,
I used to have exercise, but I outgrew it.
- Eskimo Joe, “Smoke”

Back in 2004, I used the above lyrics as my screen-name on MSN Messenger.  I “analysed” them in my LiveJournal, and wrote them out (amongst others) in my school diary.  At the time of its release, Eskimo Joe’s A Song is a City was one of my absolute favourite albums – and judging by its ARIA chart performance (it reached #2 on the album chart!), I wasn’t alone.  The first single, “From the Sea”, plagued radio airwaves; it even made it into the top three in that year’s Triple J Hottest 100.  After ripping it to my iPod (which was quite the investment at the time!), I played A Song is a City on repeat for months.  The record accompanied me on trams and trains and planes – it even came with me on exchange to France.  So many memories I have from that year are set to the soundtrack of Eskimo Joe.

There has been evidence of a strong link between music and emotion for a very long time.  In fact, one of the first mentions of the use of music therapy was in a paper written sometime between the years 872 and 950 (according to Wikipedia, that is).  So when I saw the themes that Alex had set out for this month’s blog carnival, I was immediately able to identify my “answer” for week one: something that makes me happy.  If I had to immediately think of one thing to make me happy – one thing that I couldn’t possibly survive without – that thing would be music.

This semester at uni, I’m taking a class where almost two hours a week are spent singing.  You don’t need to be able to sing well; there are no auditions.  We’re encouraged to make “glorious mistakes”.  And I bloody well love it.  For those two hours, I’m in a room full of (let’s face it, slightly nerdy) people who just want to sing songs from musical theatre.  As someone who hasn’t really done much choral performance (0r any other ensemble work) since high school, this class is quite a novelty.  To some it may seem like a waste of time, but for me it’s therapeutic.

On Friday night I underwent another form of musical therapy: I travelled back in time.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of A Song is a City‘s release, Kav Temperley performed the album in full, acoustically, at the Northcote Social Club.  Through stories of jam rooms, songwriting sessions, and plagiarisms, Kav took the audience on a journey through the record’s conception and creation.  Meanwhile, I traversed through my own memories, singing along with the crowd.  It was late and I was tired, but I was happy.  Because music – whether I’m making it, listening to it, singing along, or dancing – is what makes me happy…

…and that is the slightly rushed ending to what could have been a much better-written blog post.  I guess I’ll try harder next week.

This post was written as a part of the Adventures in TV-Land Blog Carnival, where a whole heap of blogs publish vaguely themed posts throughout the month of August.  If you’d like to learn more, and maybe take part, you can read all about it right here

Alex’s post for week one can be found here.  At the bottom, she’s linked to everybody else’s carnival posts for this week.

If, for whatever reason, you’re interested in reading more about my weird love/hate relationship with the band Eskimo Joe, I once covered it in quite some detail on this very blog.

Posted in music | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Masterchef Australia: Why the Power Apron Needs to Burn.

mca6-2014-top-24-contestantsThe Masterchef Australia 2014 top 24 [Network Ten via Corner Café].  Tracy is in red, because she’s the enemy.

Ding dong the witch is dead.  Last Monday, the whole of Australia [or at least, the Masterchef-viewing population] breathed a collective sigh of relief; Tracy had finally been eliminated.  This is not to say that Tracy was a horrible person, or that she deserved to lose – I don’t know the woman personally, but she’s probably inoffensive, maybe even nice – but this year the magical television-making people behind the world of Masterchef decided to do things a little differently.  They created a seemingly harmless gimmick called the Power Apron, and in doing so not only antagonised a perfectly boring contestant, but also changed the friendly and encouraging dynamic that sets Masterchef Australia apart from other format adaptations around the world.

I’ve been enjoying the current seasons of both the US and Australian Masterchef formats – but they’re both so varied that they could almost be completely different shows.  While the US adaptation is about fostering conflict and drama between contestants, the Australian series has been all about following each individual on their own food journey – about cheering people on, rather than hoping for their failures.  That is, until they brought in the Power Apron (also known as the Hate Tracy Apron).

Masterchef Australia has a lot more screen time than its American counterpart.  While we get five episodes a week, the US series only has one.  But they make it count.  Each episode of US Masterchef contains two challenges: either a Mystery Box or Team Challenge, followed by an Elimination Test.  That’s right: somebody has to go home in every single episode.  In contrast, the Australian series eliminates contestants twice a week.  This may seem like a lot in comparison, but you must bear in mind that we only send people home in two of the five weekly episodes.  If you’re not familiar with the Masterchef Australia format, Wikipedia does a pretty decent job at summarising how each week generally proceeds (see “episodes”).

MC5-22The top 22 of US Masterchef series 5 [FOX via Niagara Frontier Publications].  Not pictured: ALL THE DRAMA.

Each challenge in US Masterchef is designed to cause conflict.  Contestants are encouraged to criticise and confront each other, for the sake of our entertainment.  The winners of the first challenge in each episode (either the Team Challenge or the Mystery Box) are generally exempt from the Pressure Test, but often have the opportunity to make strategic choices that affect their fellow contestants.  Sometimes a successful contestant will blatantly announce who he/she would like to see go home, and will make their decisions accordingly.

I imagine that it was the US format’s idea of giving successful contestants the power to affect how others perform in the next challenge that inspired the Australian producers to come up with the Power Apron.  On paper, it looks like a great idea – inciting a new kind of drama, and adding a twist to tired/unoriginal challenges, if only for a week.  What they didn’t realise however, was that they were in effect ruining the public’s perception of poor, innocent Tracy.

Prior to Power Apron week, I couldn’t have cared less about Tracy.   She came across as an unremarkable contestant; one who slipped below the radar – never earning the high levels of praise enjoyed by Emilia and Sarah, but avoiding disaster as best she could.  I was neither rooting for her success nor hoping for her failure.  But once she won that goddamn apron, things changed rather quickly.

Tracy wasn’t shy in announcing her allegiances.  She wanted to make sure Colin and Laura made it through the week.  While she may not have been quite so obvious about her enemies, there were certain choices made that seemed to unfairly target some other contestants – asking Sarah to cook tripe in 15 minutes (when she’d given Laura carrots, and Colin chicken) comes to mind.

Throughout just one week of television, Tracy became the enemy.  It would have been one thing to give her an advantage or strategic say in challenges that she was competing in, but the biggest flaw of Power Apron week was that Tracy was given a say even when the challenge had nothing to do with her.  The croquembouche elimination challenge essentially gave Tracy the opportunity to choose which contestant went home.  She had three sections of the recipe, and was able to decide which section was allocated to each contestant.  There was no chance, no luck, and with Tracy playing God she was able to decide Kira’s fate.  It didn’t seem fair.

Since its inception, Masterchef Australia has been an aspirational series, but the addition of the Power Apron changed that.  Although it may not have been intended, the Power Apron antagonised Tracy, and if she’d been in tonight’s grand final, I – like any other viewer – would have wanted her to lose.  This year we’ve seen both Laura and Brent grow and develop as chefs. At no point has either of them shown contempt or malice towards a fellow contestant, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be – warm and fuzzy television.  I don’t know who is going to win tonight, but I can’t wait to find out!

[Also, wasn't it a shock to see Emilia leave last night?!  I was glad George offered her a job - she seems like a talented chef, and I hope she goes far.  And yes, I'll admit it.  Masterchef completely sucked me in and once again made me care a lot about a whole bunch of strangers who enjoy cooking things.  Such is the power of reality television].

Posted in television | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Hello from Hobart

20140720-204803-74883186.jpg

Last night I drank a cocktail from a salsa jar. Hobart tries to be hipster, but can’t quite get it right.

Have you ever been to Hobart airport on a Sunday night? A half-empty terminal, with only two flights left to depart, the bar is closed and the only available foods are overpriced chocolate bars or gift boxes of macadamia nuts from “Tasmania & Beyond”.

I’m writing this blog post on my phone, sitting near the window. To my left, passengers are departing a Jetstar plane, which I will soon be boarding. I’ve been in Hobart for less than 48 hours, but it’s already time to return home to the real world. I’ve got work in the morning, and music trivia tomorrow night. I’ve also got an episode of Masterchef to catch up on.

I’ll be back in Tassie later in the week, so this isn’t quite goodbye but EVERY TIME I TRY TO FINISH THIS GODDAMN POST, THE WORDPRESS APP EATS IT. DAMN IT, WORDPRESS FOR IOS, WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH?! I give up…

Posted in travel | Leave a comment

That’s me in the corner.

Stressful days call for copious amounts of alcohol – or tea, if that’s your kind of thing. I started with alcohol [and a healthy dose of Greg Sestero/The Room], but have since moved on to tea, accompanied by a playlist of 90s alternative music. I don’t know what it is about these songs that I find so comforting; maybe it’s that they provided the soundtrack to a decent portion of my life. Or maybe I just like my music with a heavy dose of angst.

I’ve been re-watching The X Files. Fun fact: Eve 6 took their name from the season one episode “Eve”.  Also, The X Files is awesome, and now I feel like watching more episodes.

Posted in other | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yes, I downloaded them. No, I haven’t read them. — A spoiler-free discussion of the leaked Doctor Who scripts.

Beware the Doctor Who spoilers! The scripts for the first five episodes of season 8 have somehow made their way in to the big bad world also known as “the internet”.

Peter-Capaldi-and-Jenna-ColemanCapaldi & Coleman [x]

 On Monday, a statement was released by BBC Worldwide. It reads as follows:

“BBC Worldwide is currently investigating a security issue around Doctor Who Series 8 where unfinished material has inadvertently been made public. We deeply regret this and apologise to all the show’s fans, the BBC and the cast and crew who have worked tirelessly making the series.

“We would like to make a plea to anyone who might have any of this material and spoilers associated with it not to share it with a wider audience so that everyone can enjoy the show as it should be seen when it launches. We know only too well that Doctor Who fans are the best in the world and we thank them for their help with this and their continued loyalty.”

Yes, I downloaded them. No, I haven’t read them.

These are post-production scripts. Every scene is time-stamped. Theoretically, there should be no difference between these scripts and the completed episodes. And that’s one of the reasons why I won’t read them. Not yet, anyway.

Television is a visual medium. As a writer, I love reading scripts to see how other screenwriters express things, but reading even the best script is not the same as watching an episode.

When I watch a Doctor Who episode for the first time, I want the element of the surprise. I don’t want to know what will happen next. Although I am of the belief that spoilers should not necessarily ruin one’s enjoyment of a film, book, or television show, Doctor Who is one of the few television shows where I make a point not to read articles deemed spoilery, and to avoid the internet on the day of airing, for fear of finding out too much. [Other shows for which I have done this include Life On Mars, Ashes to Ashes and Orphan Black].

Even if these scripts were an earlier draft, and not an exact record of the edited episodes, I still probably wouldn’t read them – although I would certainly be a lot more tempted to. One of the best things a writer can do is read a script and then watch the finished product, making note of any differences between what was written and what was shot. It’s a good way to think about why things may have been changed, and to work out whether similar changes may need to take place in order to make your own work better. I’ve read early scripts for television pilots and films that I hadn’t seen, and later watched them, still getting a high level of enjoyment, because what I’d read wasn’t exactly what had been made. It’s kind of like reading the book before seeing the film – you still get something out of it, because things have to inevitably change. You’re seeing an interpretation of something that you’ve read.

But there is no point reading a post-production script instead of waiting for the episode to air. As far as I can tell (and I don’t intend on looking into this further), these scripts are the same as the finished episodes. So it’s like reading a novelisation of a film (where the film has been made first) – when you finally watch the thing, there won’t be any surprises left.

This season of Doctor Who is set to be full of new and exciting things – aside from the fact that he’ll apparently be “darker”, I know very little about Capaldi’s Doctor. And I don’t want to know any more. I want to wait and see it the way it’s supposed to be seen: on a television screen (or, let’s be realistic here, a computer screen) when it finally airs for the first time.

Posted in television | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Demise of Big Day Out – or – How Not To (Not) Announce Things To The Media

Narrow, cramped spaces in front of the main stage.  Too much concrete, not enough shelter.  Uninspired line-ups that don’t seem geared for any particular audience.  Awful sound quality.  Too many drunk people…

The list of typical complaints about Big Day Out in recent years is a long one.  The festival has been struggling for a while now, and the news that it will not be running next year should not have come as a big surprise to many.  The way this news was uncovered, however, leaves much to be desired.  But I’ll get to that in a moment.

bdo2007Li’l 17 year-old me at Big Day Out in 2007.  I recovered these images from my long-abandoned MySpace page.

First, I’d like to reminisce about the good times.  I know people who would argue that I’m too young to have experienced Big Day Out in its heyday, and they may be right.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own fond memories of the festival.  My first BDO (2004) was headlined by Metallica.  That year, I saw Muse and The Strokes (and for some reason, The Black Eyed Peas) for the first time.  It was my first festival; the first time I’d spent an entire day watching band after band play music, and it ignited something within me.  Had I never attended that first BDO, I may have never ended up working backstage at Falls.

My positive BDO experiences continued for a few more years.  In 2007 I saw (amongst others) Eskimo Joe, The Killers, and Muse – again (I’ve seen Muse play many times, but only ever at Big Day Out).  The 2009 festival was fairly mediocre, but I did mosh to Arctic Monkeys for the first time.  That was the first (and only) year that I went in the Silent Disco, and my friend was punched in the face in the moshpit for Dropkick Murphys.  Fun times.

As I’ve grown older, and attended more and more festivals, I’ve become a fussier punter.  Did I stop enjoying Big Day Out because it kept getting progressively worse, or because I’d outgrown it?  I’d guess that it’s probably a combination of the two.  In recent years, the line-ups have been good enough to justify attending, but they’ve been far from brilliant – especially compared to the likes of Soundwave and Harvest (RIP).  And after the Blur fiasco, it’s pretty obvious that there have been some major logistical issues with the festival as a whole.

1927794_63281141927_7434_nHalfway to being very sunburnt at BDO 2009.  The shape of that toadstool necklace was clearly visible on my chest for months afterwards.

The biggest problem I have with the Big Day Out 2015 cancellation is the way that it was announced (or not properly announced) to the media.  Thanks to social media, speculation spreads like wildfire.  After it was reported that AJ Maddah had sold his BDO shares to C3, it didn’t take much digging for people to uncover that the venue bookings were looking shaky.  News travels fast, people.

The reports prompted C3 to release a statement confirming that the festival will not go ahead next year, and that Maddah was no longer involved with the running of Big Day Out.  But on Triple J’s Hack, Maddah started making contradictory statements.  He says that while BDO won’t happen in 2015, he’s still got some stakes in its return the following year.

With Maddah vague-tweeting responses to people’s questions, it’s tricky to know what exactly is going on.  Is he still a part of Big Day Out, or will the festival be an exclusively US-owned and run operation in the future?  Until somebody sets the record straight, people are going to keep digging and speculating.

When Maddah agreed to sell his shares to C3, there should have been a statement released about the future of Big Day Out.  This can’t have been a decision made on a whim – it would have been discussed for quite some time.  With a better media strategy, we wouldn’t have this unnecessary speculation, which makes BDO look like an even bigger shambles.  Want people to take your festival seriously in the future?  Present the facts to the media before they piece together a story based on anonymous sources and vague tweets.

When Homebake decided to take a year off in 2010, they released a statement to the media – and that was the first anybody knew of it (aside from those immediately involved with the festival).  In comparison, this barrel of Big Day Out bullshit appears unprofessional and disorganised.

I really hope that if and when Big Day Out returns in the future, things are handled with more grace.

Posted in music | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Angry thoughts on a rainy day.

rain[x]

As water drips from my hair onto my clothes, I feel a crunch beneath my feet.  A woman glares.

I look down.  “Sorry.”

Her umbrella has become a casualty of the crowded train.  Maybe I’m supposed to feel bad about stepping on it, but it’s cold and I’m sopping wet and I don’t give a damn.

*

On the tram, I press the button to signal the driver that my stop is next.  The rain is heavier than before.  I wrap my scarf around my head in the hope that it will offer me a little protection during the three block dash to the post office.

A man taps me on the shoulder.  “Excuse me,” he says.

I give a polite smile.  Inside I begin ranting about how much I hate being touched by strangers for no reason.  Outside, I try not to look scary.  Apparently my default look is a glare.

“You shouldn’t wear your scarf like that.  It’s offensive.”

Now it’s my turn to say “excuse me”.

“Them lot won’t like it if you make fun of their religion.  Especially with skulls and that.”

I immediately think two things:  1. Surely summarising an entire cultural group with the phrase “them lot” is offensive in itself; 2. So this means I don’t look like Thelma and/or Louise with a fashionable scarf covering my hair?  Damn.  I thought I was being both clever and stylish.

The tram stops.  I pull the scarf off my head as I exit.  Despite the fact that I’ve done exactly what this man asked of me, he feels the need to call out:  “Bitch.”

*

I hang my coat in front of the heater, and my scarf over a chair.  Water is dripping down my face.  She watches me, sympathetically.

“You need an umbrella!”

It’s a polite suggestion, made with the best of intentions.  She honestly believes she’s being helpful.

I’ve spent an hour and a half in the pouring rain.  Of course I need a fucking umbrella.  I’m not standing there thinking, why didn’t I come up with that – an umbrella, of all things?!  No, I’m standing there, with a fucking puddle beneath my feet, fully aware of the existence – and usefulness – of umbrellas.  Knowing that my own umbrellas – yes, plural – are sitting at home, right by my front door.  But it wasn’t raining when I left home, was it?  No.  And I didn’t see the point in carrying an umbrella, only to sit in an office all day and then take the train home again.  Maybe my reasoning differs from yours, but I don’t usually see the need for an umbrella when 98% of my day is spent indoors.  Yes, today was different, because today I had to check the PO Box before work, but I didn’t really think of that when getting ready this morning.  My fault, I didn’t think.  You’re right, I need an umbrella.  Silly me.  Silly old me.  I am so fucking cold and wet.  Why are we still going on about umbrellas?!

I shiver, and force another smile – the second one for the day.  “Yes, an umbrella would have been nice.”

I may love to sing along to “Only Happy When It Rains”, but damn this wet weather can make me really fucking angry for no reason sometimes.  Calm the fuck down, woman.  Calm the fuck down.

Posted in other | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Weekend Update*

Live from New York my lounge room it’s SATURDAY Monday NIGHT!

*I opened up WordPress to write this post on Saturday, during which both SNL references would have vaguely made sense.  I was tired, however, and after writing such a witty title and opening sentence, I chose to watch Episodes and go to sleep.

tumblr_n7cbp8CrAy1tv3001o1_500I’ve been sick.  Leslie Knope in “Flu Season” sick. [NBC/Pinterest]

Between end-of-semester assignments, a horrible respiratory infection/flu-type thing that left me bedridden for over a week, a quick trip to see Glenn in Hobart, a lot of craziness at work, and this bloody mould that keeps coming back in my bathroom, I’ve been a bit busy lately.

Amongst the insanity, I signed up for Instagram.  As you can tell, I’m the kind of person who really keeps on top of trends, and jumps onto them a good five or so years after they first become a thing.  I still don’t quite see the point of Instagram, when there are plenty of other platforms for me to post pretty pictures, but I need to understand it better in order to help with the social media side of things at work.  If you’d like, you can follow me at @snapoutofbritt.

Yesterday’s Orphan Black finale was brilliant, but like the season one finale, it’s left me desperately wanting more.  It’s going to be a long wait, but there’s plenty of other television to keep me going in the meantime.  Like Masterchef, a series in which I am way too invested at the moment.  I’m also considering re-watching The X-Files for no other reason than that I can.

It’s time for me to start writing regularly again.  The madness isn’t over, but it has lessened slightly, and I should be able to schedule time to tap out some words every day.  It’s really obvious (to me, anyway) when I haven’t been writing enough; sentences don’t flow as readily, and my words seem forced.  It’s annoying that I somehow managed to miss the entire Emerging Writers’ Festival (due to assignments and ill health), as I know that attending some of those events would have given me both inspiration and motivation to write more.  Thankfully there are plenty of other writer-y events for me to attend in the coming months, so I shouldn’t have missed out on too much.

Last week was the kind of week where an after work drink turned into five hours at a bar, and this week is looking to be quite similar.  If anybody would like to sponsor my after work drinking habits, all donations will be gratefully accepted.  (That said, I’m not drinking tonight – tonight I’m eating leftovers in front of Masterchef.  My soggy pasta just doesn’t compare to the beautiful-looking chicken roulades on screen.  Donations of nice food will also be appreciated).

 

 

 

 

Posted in other | Tagged | 2 Comments