Monday, October 23, 2006

More Music…

The photo above of is of Robyn Hitchcock & Venus 3 who played a marvellous set of tasty rock n roll at Basement Discs on Friday at lunchtime

I was standing in my usual position, as close to the stage as possible, so the sound of three electric guitars – very well played – caused me an exquisite inner delight. There’s something about good rock n roll that is very uplifting and, I believe, good for the soul.

Robyn Hitchcock’s outfit is great, particularly the purple trousers which co-ordinate with the stage curtains. Purple is my favourite colour and when I see clothes in that shade I generally feel tempted to buy them.

The weekend was busy, which is one reason I haven’t got around to writing about Robyn Hitchcock before, with a 50th birthday party to go to on Saturday and an assignment from Basement Discs keeping me at the computer all day Sunday. Friday night was taken up with more web maintenance stuff. At least my computer gets used in a practical way, though I do find it a great time waster as well.

Back to the band…

Robyn Hitchcock is from Britain & Venus 3 are from the UK and USA, They have collaborated on a CD called “Ole Tarantula” a jaunty rock pop recording, which we were given a taste of on Friday. Robyn Hitchcock sounds like a cross between John Lennon and David Bowie and the style is sort of 1980s Brit pop.

I had never heard of this artist before so I was pleasantly surprised and impressed when witnessing his performance.

It was the icing on the cake of a week of excellent musical delights.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Super Stable Update

It appears I was very fortunate in my substitutions last round. My hunch about Tawqeet paid off in spades. He won the Caulfield Cup and he could very well go on and win the Melbourne Cup.

The Caulfield Cup was run yesterday and I had a dead cert intuition that Tawqeet would win. I didn't have a bet but did tip him in the Groupies competition on Racing & Sports. He came in at the very good odds of 17/1.

Other horses in my stable who have won over the past week have been Wonderful World who won the colts Thousand Guineas and Miss Finland who won the fillies equivalent.

So my stable is looking very healthy.

It's the Cox Plate next Saturday and my stable contains a few contenders. Cross fingers, and hope one of them will win.

Photo above is of Tawqeet winning the Caulfield Cup

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Chicks Rock Melbourne

Last night I went to a Dixie Chicks concert. It was a sensational, high quality performance and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It was staged at the Rod Laver Arena usually a tennis centre, but also used for large concerts. I would not normally go to concerts at arenas, preferring initmate venues, but I made an exception for the Dixie Chicks. I booked through some mob called Preferred Seating in the expectation of getting good seats. By good seats I mean one or two rows from the front. Even though we paid extra for the privilege of getting tickets from this source, we were disappointed in the seats we were allocated. I will never use Preferred Seating again. They’re a rip off.

Anyway, the concert was worth the money and at least we could see the stage, albeit from rather a greater distance than we would have preferred.

For the Dixie Chicks it was full house, the audience being a mixed bunch but all very appreciative of the show. They were polite and respectful as most Melbourne audiences are.

Unless you’ve been off the planet for the past few years, you would be aware of the troubles the Chicks have been facing after lead singer Natalie Maines made an unwise comment about President Bush stating she was “ashamed the President of the United States was from Texas”.

As a prelude to their show, they played a trailer of a new documentary “Shut Up & Sing” which follows the aftermath of Natalie’s comment. It really is extraordinary, this reaction to the band. It is out of proportion to the mildness of the statement. They received death threats, their CDs were trashed, and mainstream radio banned them from the airwaves.

George Saunders ( a very fine and funny writer) has an amusing satire about this reaction on his website. You can read it here.

Anyway, back to the show.

Australian audiences have no qualms about welcoming the Dixie Chicks with open arms and the Chicks gave it back in spades.

They played all their best-loved songs, like "Goodbye Earl", "Wide Open Spaces", "Travelling Soldier", "Top of the World", the sassy "Sin Wagon" as well as songs from their latest CD Taking the Long Way such as "Lubbock or Leave It", "Not Ready to Make Nice" and the title song, among others.

They are a great live act and even if I was sitting rather further from the stage than I like, I still felt involved and captivated. It was impossible from where I was to take good pictures of the stage, so I cheated and took photos from the big screen.

Above is Natalie Maines, who is the major star of the band and holds it all together, and besides has a truly remarkable voice. This photo is of Emily Robison (I like the backward composition of this shot).

This was my second time seeing the Chicks perform live. I first saw them in 1999 at a much smaller venue. They were just taking off for stardom at that time, touring to promote the aptly named CD Fly.

The support act last night was another American singer, Pete Yorn, who was pretty good too.

Monday, October 16, 2006

More on feminism with a bit of history

The 1970s feminist movement in Australia was very much brought about by the American movement at the same time. Of course we all read Germaine’s book, even the blokes did, and it confirmed what we already knew.

The permissiveness of the sixties and the ready availability of the birth control pill also went some way to free us from the shackles of the past. I remember my mother making comments along the lines of “Unmarried mothers have a terrible life…” but the pill freed us from the worry of unwanted pregnancies and it was well before AIDS hit the scene. We did have to worry about other sexually transmitted diseases, but generally free love was the go.

I was not all that involved in the women’s movement. I did go along once or twice to consciousness raising meetings with female friends, but I also enjoyed the company of men. I still do and my best and oldest friends are all male.

My childhood was unconventional, due in part to growing up in a single parent family. My father died when I was 2 years old. My older brother was 3 and my younger brother was a baby at the time. My mother was a nurse and moved around a lot for her work. Throughout my school years I attended nine different schools, some good, some bad. It’s a wonder I got an education at all.

As my mother was a workingwoman she could not be there for everything, and I learnt early to be independent. When starting at a new school, we often had to front up by ourselves. I remember turning up and having to introduce my younger brother and myself. We were quite young at that time - I was about 8 or 9 years old.

It seemed to be a habit in our family, that if you couldn’t take the kids with you, you would dump them with someone else. We were left at a convent and cared for by the nuns, while my mother went off somewhere on a holiday. We were there at the convent when a letter came that she had remarried. We got to meet the stepfather after the fact, flying by ourselves from the north of New South Wales to Sydney. From there we were driven to Melbourne to the stepfather’s house. The second marriage was not successful and my mother, with us in tow, fled to a remote gold mining town in North East Victoria where we lived in the hospital.

By this time I had 5 schools under my belt. I was a tough kid. I sat through the film “Old Yeller” and refused to cry when all the other kids were bawling their eyes out. Our dog was run over in front of us three children and we watched him die, me with detachment – I still vividly recall the light dying in his eyes as he expired - my brothers in tears. Yes, I was a tough kid.

Anyway, back to feminism.

I remember the days before equal opportunity and equal pay for equal work. When I was first working, women were paid at a lower salary to men. Women were not allowed in bars, but had to hang out in the ladies lounge. Girls were trussed into horrible underwear like step-ins and weighty bras. Pants were regarded as unsuitable working clothing; women were expected to wear frocks. We wore suspender belts to keep our stockings up. The women’s movement freed us from all that. I threw away my bra back then and haven’t worn one since. I never wear stockings either, though when pantyhose came in we girls rejoiced and flaunted our legs in mini skirts.

At the same time as the resurgence of feminism, the anti Vietnam War movement was in full swing . I was more involved with that than with the women’s movement. My male comrades thought I was a liberated woman and treated me as a mate.

I have never been an espouser of causes. I am uncomfortable being part of a group thing preferring to distance myself lone wolfish. I dislike conflict and confrontations and am an introvert rather than an extrovert, being hopeless at small talk, and dislike talking on the phone.

This all makes me sound terrifying, but really I’m very easy to get along with, good tempered and friendly, a tad eccentric.

Meanwhile, the tough kid stands in the wings and lends me strength when I need it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

5 things feminism has done for me

I’ve been terribly lax in blogging so far this month, but will try and make up for it over the remainder of October.

First up, I was tagged for this meme by Clare at Keeper of the Snails.

I think I emerged from the womb as a feminist. It never occurred to me from my earliest childhood that I was in any way inferior to my brothers.

Like Clare, I was fortunate to have strong women in my mother and grandmother. They both lived extraordinarily hard lives, but were independent and hard working. Both lost their husbands when their children were mere babes. They had to make their own way in the world, both working in the nursing profession while raising three children apiece.

I’ve had it lucky compared to them. I grew up in a time of abundance and peace in the golden age of the 1950s and 1960s. I am one of the fortunate baby boomers.

So what has feminism done for me?

1. It taught me to be independent and not rely too much on other people. I hate to be indebted to anyone, though sometimes it is necessary.

2. I was encouraged get an education in order to rise above the common expectation of marriage and children, so I am very well educated in a classical sense. My education has not been much use in my professional life, but it allows me to appreciate the arts, without which I would be bored to death.

3. It has made me fearless. I don’t mind being alone and I am not intimidated by being thrust into strange social situations, or travelling by myself.

4. It has given me a casual approach to clothing and personal appearance. I dress for comfort rather than fashion and I don’t wear makeup, having decided long ago that people could take me or leave me on face value. As you can see in the photo above I was a bit of a hippy chick then. Still am.

5. It has made it perfectly respectable to be childless and live in sin. I just couldn’t come at marriage nor do I regret having no children.

As I am not all that involved in the blogging community, I can only think of one other person to tag with this meme. So, Chief Biscuit you’re tagged.

Other stuff

Update on my super stable.

It has been an interesting exercise, this super stable competition. My horses have experienced all sorts of vicissitudes and setbacks.

Haradasun, who promised so much earlier in the season, was withdrawn from the spring racing program due to injury. The injury was fairly minor, but rather than risk the horse his connections decided to give him a substantial spell and try again in autumn. They are to be commended for this, though it was disappointing from a keen racing fan’s point of view.

I have been through the two substitutions allowed and my final stable is:

Apache Cat
El Segundo
Gold Edition
Miss Finland
Wonderful World

El Segundo and Wonderful World are racing tomorrow. Miss Finland has been performing very well as has Gold Edition. Apache Cat was disappointing last start and I have no idea what has become of Paratroopers. Tawqueet is my staying pick for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups. A horse with a similar name won in 1989, which could be an omen for good or bad, whatever.

I very much doubt that I have any hope of winning the competition, but it has been interesting and fun.

The Spring racing season continues until mid November, then it’s Christmas and end of year lists.

I hope to post my best of 2006 lists for music and books in late November early December.