shake that cola drag

The office-block persecution affinity.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Our Amazon Canada shipment arrived on Friday. (Fellow Kiwis, I will let you in on a secret: at the moment the Canadian dollar is very similar in value to the New Zealand dollar - yet Canadian DVDs are *much* cheaper, sometimes even half the price. The first series of The Office is $60NZ, but only about $30 Canadian. Well worth the shipping.) We watched some of Curb Your Enthusiasm, including my favourite Bob-Odenkirk-as-a-retired-porn-star episode, and noted what a deeply uncomfortable comedic experience the whole thing is. But the first episode of The Office knocks it sideways on the uncomfortable scale. The sheer horror of it drains me. Why do I love it so?

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Estelle Axton died, and I am very sad.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Something that totally slipped my mind until this morning on the bus: David Bowie's 'filing out of the stadium' song was 'Sleepwalk' by Santo and Johnny - which, as some of you may or may not recall, was the song to which Brent and I walked down the aisle. Awwww. :)

Friday, February 20, 2004

Last night, all of us

drank a lot

and played with

my new camera-phone

and ate Spanish vending-machine jellybeans in a can.

(By the way, they are the best jellybeans I've ever had.)

Thursday, February 19, 2004

I post this photo for two reasons. The first is that several friends have gone apeshit over it, and if it is, indeed, the best photo ever taken of me, I want it to be placed here for posterity so that I can look at it whenever I feel crap; and secondly, I want to remember what I looked like when I was blonde-ish, since I have well and truly brunetted myself now.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

You know, Jay-Z rapping about his roots over a loop of 'Mother Nature's Son' is oddly affecting. And it's amazing how appropriate 'I got ninety-nine problems and a bitch ain't one' sounds over some elements of 'Helter Skelter'. The Grey Album! It's weird and wonderful!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Weekend in Windy Wellington

As it turned out, Wellington was even windier than usual due to a freak summer storm which closed two international airports and left several small towns underwater. Good timing, David Bowie! We arrived on Friday when things were still relatively pleasant, and made it to the commuter suburb of Petone without incident. Our taxi driver was Ethiopian and he and Brent had a long discussion about various African countries. I felt like a big ignoramus, as is my wont. Petone reminded me a lot of Kingsland, with the added bonus of being close to the water. Lots of rapidly gentrifying villas and bungalows

and art deco blocks of shops. The beach is rather average, as New Zealand beaches go. Our motel was just across the road from the water, but we chose the worst weekend ever to stay beachfront!

On Saturday morning the sun was out and we caught the train to Wellington city - only a fifteen minute trip along the harbourside, which was very pleasant. Wellington knows how to treat their commuters. The trains and buses are so much more frequent and convenient than their Auckland counterparts! Of course, Auckland has so much more sprawl to deal with... anyway, we arrived at the big neoclassical train station and caught the city circuit bus to Cuba Street, where we split up and shopping was done by all. I bought a bomber jacket made of red Chinese-print silk which I feel may have been a giant fashion folly... but it was so cute!

Brent bought me a groovy Valentine's present (a handbag made out of a Saturday Night Fever OST album cover!) and wrote a very sweet card to go with it. Whoops. I was shown up for the selfish wife I truly am there, I think... I love you dearly, Brent. Really. I just forgot about Valentine's Day in all the excitement. I also got a three cream bakelite deco canisters with red lids. I love them deeply, and they are of the same design as a small one I found in Henderson a few months ago. Complete set! :) We met Lauren-wedding-guest Beatle-hater-but-pleasant Lawrence for coffee and musical babbling at Cafe Midnight Espresso, where he shared the mindboggling news that he spent $800 on an espresso machine - and it was marked down from $1200! I loves my coffee, but not *quite* that much. We returned, replete with hummus, to the motel to prepare for the reason we went to Wellington in the first place - Bowie!

It started raining in the afternoon and rained. And rained. And rained. The weather could not have been worse. To top things off, there was no word from Uncle Chris, who was meant to be arriving in Wellington for the concert by car. Naturally, in typical fashion, I assumed that he was dead and that our birthday gift to him - the David Bowie ticket - would be a source of neverending guilt to me as a result. I killed my uncle! Doom! (Yes, I am turning into my mother.) We got on the train filled with aging Bowie fans, still anxious about Chris. He rang my mobile phone on the train and I answered with 'oh my god! Are you dead?' to great hilarity from all on the carriage. He had been held up in terrible traffic and was at the motel, ready to catch the next train, to my relief. We also overheard - well, couldn't help overhearing - a loud conversation from a tipsy middle-aged bloke next to us. His crucial-to-the-evening's-entertainment statement was: 'my whole philosophy is I don't want to crash my car!' Cue many many MANY dorky historical-philosophical jokes for hours from Brent and I. 'As Hegel once theorised...' 'In the words of Heidegger...' 'To quote the neo-Platonists...' Ah, how we amuse ourselves.

Our arrival at the stadium was marred by, well, more rain. And wind. It was like winter instead of February! We walked quickly across the windswept unsheltered walkway into the stadium, bitching all the way, and I bought an obligatory Aladdin Sane sleeveless tshirt from the rape-me merchandise stand. Our seats were *great*, particularly for cheap ones. Of course, since we were in the roofless 'cake tin', the weather wasn't too accommodating, but some kind men in front of us lent us an umbrella. Naturally, we weren't prepared. Support was Brooke Fraser. Yawn, yawn. She may be the daughter of a legendary All Black, but she's dull beyond description. Someone clearly signed her in the hopes that she would be another Bic Runga. But she isn't any good. Charming, pretty, but naff songs. Typically, this was the last patch of semi-clear weather we would see for the evening.

The Bowie show was really terrific despite being wet to the bone and freezing to death. I actually managed to lose myself in the music most of the time, rather than thinking about my own hypothermia. I often find that when it's raining at an outdoor show, there's a kind of camaraderie between the band and the audience - everyone's getting wet but still trying to have fun - which tends to push enjoyment levels up, oddly enough. I think this happened here. In the interests of full disclosure, I really love Bowie and have more than a passing familiarity with his work, but I'm not as obsessive (yet) as I am about a few other artists. So Brent told me what a few of the more left-field choices were ('New Career in a New Town' from Low being one of them), usually within a few notes of the intro. He's good, that boy. The graphics behind the stage were really cool - a lot of blocks of vivid colour and repeated images. It's always best to be stylised, I think. There was also some really good dancing cartoon animation, used to great effect in 'I'm Afraid of Americans' (which I was so pleased he played, I *love* that song! Love it! And it rocked!). The entire setlist is here, for those of you who care. 'Life on Mars' and 'New Killer Star' were particularly good - in fact I've been singing 'New Killer Star' for days. Apparently Geeling Ng was in the front row, which must have been why he broke out 'China Girl'. (She's a New Zealander, you know.) His wondrous bassist sang Freddie Mercury's part in 'Under Pressure' *incredibly*. She's so terrific. David himself hit every note, was dressed fantastically, and still had the best hair in the world *after* getting drenched by the storm. How does he do that? Some people are just blessed with coolness, the Never Let Me Down era notwithstanding. (Oh, and the Labyrinth hairstyle. And the 'Dancing in the Street' duet with Jagger. Well, let's just forget that two-year period, shall we?) Songs I would have liked to hear: 'Young Americans' and 'Sorrow' and 'Station to Station'. Oh, how dearly I love 'Station to Station'. Swoon. Cute moment walking out of the stadium: a very drunken young man playing a completely incomprehensible 12 bar blues on a mouth organ. 'So I gargle gargle gargle... and I shamaleelee... and I SHABBALOO!...' Hee.

Sunday was bound to be anticlimactic, but as it turned out after a nice morning it was a *real* let-down. We went to the sweet little Lighthouse Cinema in Petone, which is equipped with big two-seater couches, to see Whale Rider. What a lovely, meditative film. I'm really glad that I didn't see it while I was in America, because I would have cried all the way through it like a big homesick dork just looking at the plants and the ocean and the white wooden houses. And Castle-Hughes really *was* excellent in the role. While we're in the midst of a race-baiting flare-up about the Treaty (why thank you, Don Brash, you *dickhead*), this should be compulsory viewing. But as soon as we got out into the horrible weather things went rapidly downhill. Couldn't find a decent meal (in Wellington? I know! I know! The city has more restaurants per capita than New York!), couldn't find a decent activity that didn't involve being buffeted by gale-force winds, couldn't really appreciate Te Papa because we were too tired... and then once our (delayed and terrifying!) flight took off from Wellington we were diverted to Christchurch, of all places, when Auckland airport was closed by the severe weather. We eventually got home at 4am! Still, it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good - the gates had blown off the airport's long-term parking lot, so we just drove right out and got our weekend's parking for free. Woo.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I'm so ambivalent about Yoko Ono. (That sounds like it should be the title of a Ramones song.) I was just listening to her freak out with Yo La Tengo on a cover of 'Hedwig's Lament/Exquisite Corpse', and when she does that stuff she's totally the coolest person on earth. She's nearly seventy years old and she rocks! But then you hear her talk and oh GOD she's annoying. SO annoying. I really wish she wasn't, because so much of her work rules. Artist/art, yeah, yeah, I know.

(Hey, Ira from Yo La Tengo once told me I sang well. Does this mean I'm two degrees of separation away from Yoko Ono? Cool!)

Update: Alex asks for more detail about the Ira compliment. I can't believe I never told you this story before. Who else have I failed to discuss this with? Anyway, here's the tale, such as it is. When we were living in Houston, Chris Knox came to town supporting Yo La Tengo. (Chris Knox is a legendary lofi DIY singer-songwriter on Flying Nun records in NZ. I'm trying to think of an appropriately analogous figure in the States, but it's difficult. He's been around for nearly thirty years, and not only regularly tours and releases records solo and with the Tall Dwarfs, but is also a cartoonist and media figure and sometime film and record reviewer and everyone knows him and he's basically the Godfather of our small but important indie scene.) Anyway, obviously we have to go and see this show, because it's Chris Knox! In Houston! Of all places! So we bowl on up there and at that point, a bit of Chris' schtick was to get two people up on stage for a song of his called 'The Joy of Sex', one to play the guitar and one to sing, while he runs around the audience freaking out. And I'm the only person in the audience who even knows the song, let alone the words, so I'm the person he hoists manfully up on stage to sing, and a lucky punter who knows three chords gets to play Chris' guitar. As the song is winding down, Chris leaps back up on stage, thanks us both very much (cue wild applause from the crowd at Fitzgeralds), and asks if anyone has a spare bed for him and his partner Barbara. Muggins, on her way off stage, says 'I have a futon!' and Chris exhorts the crowd to cheer for 'Danielle and her futon!', which they do, and off I go stage right and down the stairs back into the audience. Now, Ira comes into this because as we were waiting for Chris to finish signing albums and talking to his newly won-over fanbase so we could drive him home to Montrose and install he and Barbara on said futon, Ira came to talk to Chris and said 'hey, that was nice singing!' to me. So there you have it, Alex: how I was complimented on my singing by Ira from Yo La Tengo.

Postscript: Chris and Barbara hugged Brent goodbye as he went to work, and bought me breakfast at the House of Pies the next morning. Plus he drew me a 'to Danielle and her futon!' cartoon. Post-postscript: the next time we saw Chris and Barbara was at a Lambchop show last year and not only did they remember us even though I was too scared to say hello, I discovered I was on cheek-kissing terms with them both. They're really very sweet. :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

I'm so in love with my new phone.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

I have just spent half an hour folding laundry, and I have made a discovery. Brent has entirely too many pairs of socks.

Friday, February 06, 2004

One of the best things ever: Brent is teaching at a school which is mostly Maori and Pacific Island students. Yesterday he was walking along and one of them said 'sir, are you American?' Brent said yes. Follow-up question: 'are you a p-i-m-p?' What else could you say in reply but 'I sure am!' I wonder if Fifty and Snoop know how far their message has spread...

Chris Wright from costello-l, you have my eternal gratitude for finding this Russian website devoted to Charles in Charge. I never knew the dialogue could be so poignant when translated from English to Russian and back to English again. Take this philosophical moment from Adam: 'World is the dirty ditch, where the cigarettes' ends of humanity swim in the toxical departures of the life!' How true, my preteen friend. How true.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

I feel slightly less dorky as I find out that 350,000 people come to Prince Edward Island every year to see the house that inspired Green Gables! Good lord!

Although it is extremely nerdy on my part to want to read all of the academic works about L. M. Montgomery found here.

This is going to be a particularly dorky girlie entry, and I apologise in advance. If you didn't know, I have a wee collection of early twentieth century children's literature. Some of them belonged to my grandmother and great-aunts, but I've supplemented my volumes occasionally. Siobhan and I were always keen on going to Prince Edward Island to see the setting for Anne of Green Gables - or as the Japanese tourists call her, Anne of Red Hair! I have been re-reading the books, as I am wont to do with my girlie-stories collection every now and then. Even though some parts of them are hopelessly idealistic and deluded, and even though L. M. Montgomery's casual racism towards the French is often jarring, they're mostly very comforting and sweet and funny. They make me wish Anne was a real person! But I get progressively sadder and sadder as I read. By Anne's House of Dreams, I get sad for Marilla because she loses Anne to Glen St. Mary... why couldn't Anne stay in Avonlea and raise her family? I get sad in Anne of Ingleside because I know it's the last book devoted almost entirely to Anne herself; and I get sadder still reading Rilla of Ingleside, not only because Anne is just Rilla's mother 'Mrs Blythe', and I miss her being Anne; but because World War I is the book's most important plot device, and Montgomery is so completely idiotic about that war and what it meant. She was writing in the 1920s, of course, so she wasn't to know that her rhetoric about the Great War 'saving the world' and 'stopping all future wars' was totally meaningless. But it still makes that book basically unsatisfying on a lot of levels - and it's the last time we see Anne! It's a depressing farewell. I shouldn't really grumble, though. The run from Anne of Green Gables to Anne of Windy Willows is all joy... and how many other well-loved heroines do we stay with for the best part of forty years?

Hip-hoppin' hobbits. It was only a matter of time.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Since work is not the best place to download music or video, it's taken me a while to listen to all the Howard Dean remixes. But I want to say this. Bless the internet. Bless it. Bless its little cotton socks, and all the little cotton socks belonging to its denizens, no matter how stanky they are, for I have been laughing helplessly for the last hour and a half. I think the most unlikely work of genius was the almost seamless integration of Dean's Big List o' States with the place names in the godawful 'Kokomo'. 'Key Largo...' 'and MICHIGAN!' 'Montego...' 'and TEXAS!' Yes! Or should that be 'yeaaaagggghhhh'?

Props to Sean for being part of it all. I knew the name The Tom Bosley Experience looked awfully familiar...

I am well on my way to being depressed for two straight days. I have absolutely no reason to be depressed other than our house being a mess. I think it must be the morning after pill wreaking havoc with my hormones. Oh, and I was rained on solidly for half an hour on my way to work. I'm still not dry.

We saw Lost in Translation this weekend. Japan looks like the coolest place in the world! I really want to go there! My conclusions about the film were... not mixed, exactly, because I thought it was really touching and funny and beautifully shot and wonderfully performed and generally really good and I'd like to watch it again several times... but I found a few pieces of it slightly problematic. Like, is Bill Murray's wife *really* that bad? Bad enough for him to be filled with such angst? Sure, she's a little over-zealous on the decorating and a little distracted on the phone, but how is she supposed to have deep conversations with him in his dead-of-night Japanese hotel at 7am with several kids running around her screaming for breakfast? The 'wife doesn't understand him' thing seemed awfully pat. And the autobiographical parts of the film were *very* obvious, in a somewhat embarrassing way. Did she need to be *quite* that mean to Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake and Spike Jonze? Wouldn't it have been a little more gracious to disguise them, just a bit? It made Charlotte less a character than a symbol of the director herself. Obviously Sofia has a fine eye for the shitty and mediocre, yes (the jazz band called 'Sausalito' was absolutely perfect), but the fake angst about Charlotte being 'so mean' in her writing was just disingenuous. Clearly she *enjoys* being mean. Probably the truest-to-character moment was Bill Murray, trying to hurt her, saying to Charlotte: 'couldn't you find someone else to lavish you with attention?' Ouch. That made me respect Coppola a little more - she was willing to say something hard about herself.

But, really, minor quibbles. I loved the way the film captured the connection you can make with someone - not merely because you're alone together in a foreign place, but because you see the same things and find them funny. It was perfect in that respect. And tender, and sweet.

PS: I want a karaoke machine that has 'God Save the Queen' and '(What's So Funny About) Peace Love and Understanding' on it!