Those Wacky Finns!

You know, I’m amazed at how much Kullervo resembles the soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings.

For those unfamilar with Kullervo (and that’s just about everyone outside of Finland) it’s the first major work by the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). It’s based on a section of the Kalevala, Finland’s national epic, and tells the story of Kullervo son of Kalervo, who’s travelling home after paying his taxes (any other nation in Europe would have had him coming back from a war or something, but hey, this is Finland we’re talking about*Sorry, that was unecessesarily mean-spirited 🙂). On the way he notices a fairly attractive maiden, and suggests she might like to join him in the back of his cart for a while. She quite effectively tells him to bugger off, so he goes on his way. Further on he meets her again, and makes the same offer. She is even more emphatic and he carries onwards. Then he runs into her a third time, and makes one last try. When she refuses he apparently decides that enough is enough, and hauls her into the cart (did I mention by the way that this Kullervo guy is a complete bastard?).

Naturally enough she’s not very happy about this, but changes her tune when Kullervo shows her all the silver and fine fabrics he has (even after paying his taxes) and lets him have his way with her (because you know, it’s perfectly OK to assault women if you’re rich*Need I actually point out that this is sarcasm?). She then decides that introductions are in order and asks him who the heck he is. So he explains that he’s Kullervo son of Kalervo. This turns out to be rather unfortunate as the maiden is in fact his long lost sister*This kind of thing goes on all the time in ancient epics.. So they both lament a bit and go on their respective ways*Actually I think she kills herself out of horror, but you wouldn’t really know it from reading the lyrics..

So, some years later Kullervo is travelling home from war (probably something to do with taxes) and happens over the spot where the awful deed was perpetrated. He gets a long overdue attack of remorse, has a conversation with his sword, then kills himself. End of story.

Anyway the music for all of this is intensely dark and brooding (as you’d expect given the subject matter) and what with the massed choir singing and chanting in Finnish and all the drums and horns and things, it really sounds like Howard Shore’s score for The Fellowship of the Ring*Particularly The Prophecy, parts of The Bridge of Khazad D

Just when you think there’s no point…

Possible Pixies Reunion?

A report from MTV.com reveals that seminal US band “The Pixies” are set to reunite for a possible tour and album early next year. The news has not yet been confirmed by any member of the band, however in July, singer Frank Black revealed to XFM that the band had been jamming “but not for public consumption”.

Black was scheduled for some solo Australian shows in August this year, however cancelled due to “circumstances beyond his control”…

Most fans are taking the current rumours with a grain of salt until some more credible sources are revealed.

-source: mtv

Grain of salt be damned!

BOO-YA!!

Maybe 🙂

Doctor WHOOOO!! Yeah! Doctor WHOOO!!!

Damn it’s good to see Doctor Who again!

As a result of recent budget cuts the ABC has been wildly scrambling through it’s archives for the last few months or so looking for things to take the place of dozens of suddenly axed shows. Someone obviously remembered that they had almost 30 years worth of Doctor Who episodes stored away, and now they’re screening them again (starting tonight), from scratch! Woo-hoo!

You see (and we’re plunging into the murky depths of my disreputable past here), long before I was into Stargate, I was a massive fan of the Doctor. It was my absolutely favourite TV show, and naturally enough all these years later I still have a soft spot for it (despite the often dodgy sets, premises and acting :). So the re-screening of the original episodes is fantastic.

The question that must (well, ok not really, but I’m going to ask it anyway, so there!) be asked at this point is of course who was my favourite Doctor? For my money it has to be Sylvester McCoy, Doctor number seven (I will spare everyone a long fannish monologue on why and just list the rest in descending order :). Probably Tom Baker is next, then Jon Pertwee, then William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Peter Davison and Colin Baker (I haven’t seen much of Davison or Troughton’s episodes, thus explaining their low ranking, Colin Baker though was awful)* 😉

Anyway I’m extremely happy to see it back on the screen, and am particularly looking forward to the debut of the Daleks (next week in The Dead Planet if my once encyclopedic knowledge of the series still serves) and – if they keep it running long enough – the Jon Pertwee era (I didn’t get to watch them first time round because my parents banned us from watching it when my brother got nightmares about the giant maggots in The Green Death).

So, yes, enough blathering about Doctor Who 🙂

It occurred to me today that I haven’t got around to providing more detail on our data entry person who may or may not be Buster Stiggs of the Models and Swingers. Well, he is. He initially tried to fool us by himself Mark (the fact that that’s his real name is a poor excuse at best), but his email address and business card gave him away. So, yeah, I’ve spent the last week or so sitting next to the guy who co-wrote Counting the Beat (and until recently was making a nice little income from K-Mart adds). How weird is that? Well, at least I now have a better “brush with fame” story than “my cousin dated the sister of the girl who got thrown out of Bardot” 🙂

Right, going now.

PS: Blonde?? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Swamp in the City

It’s been a while since I’ve done a decent update hasn’t it? I suppose I’d better set that right.

OK, I’ve had an insanely busy month. Not only was there the big-ass project at work, but my aunt from the UK was in town, my other aunts were heading off on a round the world trip, and Mars made it’s closest approach to Earth in a good 60,000 years or so. All of these factors made various and differing demands upon my time, meaning that I haven’t had more than a few minutes to myself, most of which were spent playing Civ III as a form of stress relief. But things have calmed down now (I hope) so I suppose I should write about what I’ve been up to in detail.

Let’s see. Well a few weeks back I took the folks out on our yearly excursion to the Witch’s Cauldron to celebrate Mum’s birthday and father’s day. I had the garlic prawns for my main course (naturally) but decided to try the pate for an entree. Frankly I think this was a big mistake.

When the pate arrived it was in the form of a foot high mountain, surrounded by about three-thousand triangles of toast. You could have served it as a main course and no one would have complained! I managed to finish most of it, but was hampered by the fact that it was ice cold. I don’t know, maybe that’s how pate is meant to be served, but it didn’t exactly make for pleasant eating. Overall I suspect that the pate is some kind of joke dish, and the kitchen staff have hidden cameras that they use to laugh at people who order it.

On the subject of gigantic servings I should mention that in recent months Rebecca, Dom and I have been out to La Porcetta in Morley twice. This is an Italian chain restaurant with fantastic food, but (from both of our experiences) rather dodgy service. For instance, the first time we sat around for at least 15 minutes before anyone turned up to take our orders. Then, once we’d finished our entree (a sun dried tomato pizza), one of the waitresses tried to settle our account and kick us out, at which juncture we had to point out that we hadn’t actually had our main courses yet. The second time round we were served a lot faster initially, but then had to wait twenty minutes for our deserts, which only turned up when we collared one of the serving staff and asked them what the heck was going on (my theory was that there was a serial killer hiding in the freezer room, killing the staff one by one as they went in to get our gelatos). But we did get one of them for free, which was nice.

So, the service may be a bit hit and miss, but the food is excellent. I had the mushroom gnocchi both times, and it was fantastic. The servings are huge too. I ordered the main course the first time round, and couldn’t finish it, so the second time ordered the entree serving, which I only just managed. The twenty minute gap was probably an advantage really, I might not have been able to get my desert down if I hadn’t had some extra digestion time.

Finally, in addition to the great food and gigantic servings, one of the waitresses is really cute* *g*. So I heartily recommend La Porcetta, so long as you don’t need to eat in a hurry or anything :)(Oh yeah, almost forgot. They don’t accept EFTPOS or Credit Cards for some reason, so bring cash. But they do serve ‘Dude Deserts’ 😉

OK, so that’s covered dining out over the last two months or so. I could talk about Mars, but everything I tried to do associated with it ended in disaster, so I won’t. Instead I’ll talk about what I did yesterday.

I decided during the week that I could do with some new clothes, and that I needed a haircut. I was also wanting to buy some CDs, so I decided to make a major expedition over to the Galleria, and into the city. The most sensible way to go would be by bus, so I waded through the absolutely interminable Transperth website* and eventually managed to download a PDF of the appropriate timetable and plan my day accordingly. Everything pretty much went to plan, and by 11:00 I was getting off the bus in William Street in the city, with my ridiculously short new haircut (it does look ridiculous, but it looked equally ridiculous long, and this way I won’t have to get it cut again well into next year 🙂

I was actually trying to track down a copy of Sibelius’s Kullervo, since I caught a documentary on him a few months ago, and I really liked what they played of it. I managed to find a copy (performed by the Stockholm Symphony Orchestra and National Male Choir of Estonia no less) at Wesley Classics, which was convenient. I then went over to JB’s Hi Fi intending to buy the New Pornographers’ Electric Version. I’m not quite sure what happened but I found myself back on the street fifteen minutes later clutching a copy of Spencer Tracey’s Ocean, b(if)tek’s Frequencies Will Move Together and a Stargate SG-1 DVD. I think they must be putting subliminals through the music down there or something 😉

I then realised that I’d just missed the bus home, and the next one wasn’t due for an hour. So I went for a ramble along St George’s Terrace down to the Concert Hall, then down onto the foreshore and across the Esplanade. I was aiming for the Bus Station which I’d last visited about five years before while playing the role of psychopath stalker in one of my brother’s various film projects (The final scenes were shot at Jacob’s Ladder in King’s Park, resulting in the heroine shooting to death a very out of breath and sweaty villain 😉

OK, here’s the thing about the Perth Bus Station. It’s a nightmare. I don’t know what they were thinking when they designed it, but imagine the departure lounge of an eastern European airport at three in the morning stuck on top of a World War Two submarine pen, and you’ve got some idea. The main concourse is a grimy hall filled with uncomfortable chairs (most leaking stuffing) and decorated with a variety of departure and arrival boards, about half of which will actually be functioning at any given time. A variety of small shopfronts poke out to the side, offering questionable magazines and even more questionable pies and sausages preserved pharaoh-like in a thin patina of grease. Staircases and escalators lead down to the various platforms – follow one down and you’ll find yourself in a strange subterranean world of pre-stressed concrete and orange fog lights. There are seats down there, but I strongly suspect they’re provided for the use of sewer dwelling mole-men who may occasionally stumble up through the storm drain system and like what they see enough to hang around.

As if all this isn’t bad enough, they’re currently constructing the Perth Convention Centre around the bus station, so add in all the noise, dust and inconvenience of a building site. For instance, access to the station is via three pedestrian walkways from the buildings opposite. Thanks to the construction work, only one of these is actually open (and you can’t tell which one until you’ve climbed the stairs up to them all). The only halfway pleasant area of the station, the roof garden, has now been fenced off and taken over by demountables and shipping containers – making my brother’s film a notable historical record of what the place originally looked like.

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The Roof Garden -Click to Enlarge

Anyway, so I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to find my way into the bus station. During my endeavors I did however make a fantastic discovery. Or fantastic at least for someone with as great an appreciation of decaying post-industrial landscapes as myself.

Directly opposite the bus station there’s a swamp. Right there, smack bang between the two blue glass skyscrapers that support the pedestrian walkways. It’s deep pit, obviously dug to provide the foundations for a new skyscraper – in fact there are stained blocks of concrete and rusted metal girders poking out all over the place suggesting construction actually began – but it seems to have been abandoned for years, and has been reclaimed by nature. A ruptured water pipe, still bubbling away in one corner has filled the bottom with water, and weeds, water plants and great banks of rushes have taken over. It’s amazing! A full on swamp right in the heart of the city!

Click to enlarge
Click to Enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to Enlarge

I presume that it was the intended site of the old Westralia Place tower, which was launched in a blaze of glory about twelve years back, but never got built. I also presume that sooner or later someone will come along and redevelop the site, which personally I think would be a great shame. Secure any loose concrete, remove any dangerous waste, make sure the foundations of the surrounding buildings are secure, and let it be! Not only would it provide a haven for birds and other aquatic animals in the heart of the city, it would be a daily reminder of the fragility of human accomplishment and civilisation. Or something like that 🙂

Anyway I eventually found my way into the station, and spent about fifteen minutes sitting in a darkened bus down in the subterranean realm of the Mole People before being delivered to the bus stop right outside the building. Excellent.

OK, I’m going to stop writing now. Got a rent inspection next Friday, so I’d better get theplace cleaned up.

Over and out.

Counting the Beat…

Man this is surreal. We need someone to do poorly paid data-entry for a big project, so we contacted an employment agency. They’ve sent us back the resume of a likely candidate, who we’re probably going to go with. And the candidate? Well I can’t say for certain (because I can’t remember the name on it) but it looks like Buster Stiggs. “Who?” you say? Buster Stiggs! Of seminal Australian/New Zealand eighties new wave acts The Models and The Swingers. Like, one of the guys responsible for Counting the Beat! And we’re hiring him for data entry!!

Hold my calls people, I’m in the Twilight Zone here!

Trogdor!!!

TROGDOR!!!!

I thought I’d better make an entry this morning, since Helen is getting annoyed at no-one updating, and Ryan is sending me emails asking me if I’m still alive. I would promise to make a longer entry tonight, but I need to make a shopping trip after work since I’m not only out of food, but even the basic elements of food (no salt, no margerine, no tomato sauce – it’s a wonder I haven’t starved!)

Anyway, in the meantime everyone sing along! Burninating the countryside! Burninating the peasants… 🙂