Saturday, February 28, 2009

Watch, Listen and Singalong: Part 13: The Weight

I like this song. I did find the original version but decided to share this instead.

That's all really.

Except that I wish I could play the violin as a fiddle.

And what a great name "Old Crow Medicine Show".

There might be some kind of country music fan (note: not the kind that likes big cowboy hats a la Garth Brooks/ Lee Kernaghan) hiding around here somewhere. But I think I would definitely dislike more country music than I actually like, so maybe that doesn't qualify as a "fan" as such.

But there's a number of Wilco albums on my shelves. Oh and my uncle has his own bush band. He plays the banjo.

What a cool family I

This little fish had a brainwave

This little fish had a brainwave. She's now swimming both with and against the current. (I know technically that fish have very very tiny brains and almost no memory or attention span). Yet, in a sense that's very appropriate for writing a review of a book about television. Notes and drafting have been completed.

next stop flushsville

I'm currently having a debate with myself over how to write a book review that is due tomorrow. The book is about television and by a well recognised author in the field. My problem is I really don't like it, didn't get anything out of it, thought it was repeitious of previous work, and was at time too chock full of ideas to be coherent. There wasn't one or two arguments. There were hundreds (well maybe a slight exaggeration) but too many. It was more like an edited collection than a book on a single topic. Perhaps this was the point, but for me it made for frustrating, confusing reading where the point was elusive, always a page turn away.

So my question is, do I write what I really think? Or do I write what would be expected to be written about a book by a respected and well regarded author? Or should I damn with faint praise? Because I would suspect that these things are political. And one needs to be moderate with one's opinions when one is a very tiny fish in a huge pond of researchers, which is currently being drained in a direction in which the tiny fish is not really a big fan. That is, if the tiny fish wants to avoid being found floating belly up above the undersea castle and fake plastic fern, with next stop flushsville.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Of time and must be Friday

My two bargain t-shirts arrived today. I was very excited because it's been a long week of phone interviews, reading and marking repetitious entrance testing for our program starting on Monday, trying to get ready for teaching next week while also mentoring our new staff member who will be teaching with me. She is an absolute delight, but I found it so challenging to start from scratch in explaining the course and what we do. Still, I think we got there in the end which was pleasing.

But, back to the real point of the post, the shirts, which were like my end of week present for being such a good little worker/employee who arrived early and stayed for what seemed like forever, answering the phone with genuine enthusiasm, and keeping my cool when things were threatening to fall apart around my carefully laid plans. For instance, (and take this hypothetically if you like), would you not think that the Information Technology Department would communicate to staff the fact that six months ago they had made a decision to change the initial login process for new students? Because, when we send out our welcome pack to our preparatory students, some of them who have never even turned on a computer before and it contains carefully written, simply explained instructions for the aforementioned login, it can cause students to be a little freaked out when it doesn't work. Perhaps we could have been alerted to this change say in November, when we are sending our material to print, rather than say, two days ago, which meant a mailout to 300 students to explain the change. I'm just saying....

Anyway, the shirts. The purple one with the decaying clock reminded me of my new blog design so I just had to have it, because Trudy very wisely commented at the time of the new template's institution, "time is cool". (Well I can't remember if she actually used the word "cool" but it meant the same thing, and I agreed). And I managed to nab the "they're, their, there" monsters as well. I'm very excited about this one as it is relevant to our goals of improving our students' literacy know... it has monsters on it, so it's sort of irresistible.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What am I going to make sarcastic remarks to strangers?

The Chinese Restaurant is an absolute classic of Seinfeld's early seasons along with the carpark episode which we will get to in a little bit. I just adore the idea of an entire episode devoted to waiting. According to the background Inside Look on the DVD NBC were far less enamoured and held the episode back, broadcasting it out of sequence because they saw little value in it. Now I'm sure they're happy to claim as groundbreaking TV comedy. Because at first glance it does seem plotless, time passes, nothing happens, but at the same time there is so much going on. Let's see shall we?

Standup start: Again no tie for Jerry. This is a much better look and doesn't date the episodes quite as badly as those big wide ties. He's chatting about public phones which will become significant as the episode progresses.

The set is a Chinese restaurant. The three enter - George, Elaine and Jerry. Kramer doesn't appear in this episode. (Apparently Michael Richards was a little precious about this). They are chatting variously about crime and cleanliness in the city. George wants to see more garbagemen on the streets because we'll never stop crime, we might as well be clean. George, I couldn't agree more. Jerry's solution is a new job - cop combined with garbageman. They can sweep the beat. (my words, not Jerry's actually).

George is dating a certain Tatiana who never appears. They approach the maitre'd asking for a table for four. It's going to be "5- 10 minutes". Already Elaine doesn't want to wait. She's starving. George wanders off to call Tatiana, waiting at the public phone in the foyer to see if she's joining them. George's initial timidity at the phone is delightful. He is attempting to be polite but the caller simply ignores him.

The only driving force in the narrative is that they need to eat before going to see Plan 9 from Outer Space - the worst movie ever made. I actually can't believe how packed the dialogue is here. The conversations between the three jump around from the health biscuits Elaine refused to eat in Jerry's apartment, Jerry's refusal to check the menu before sitting at the table, the etiquette of public phones and people appearing to butt in, in the wait for a table.

Jerry and Elaine keep checking on their table as groups seem to arrive after them but get seated before them. The maitre-d has it covered: "they were here before". Elaine is getting cranky, as is George at the phone. He's now ready for a fight and looking for Jerry to be his backup. Jerry dryly refutes this ridiculous idea: "yeah I'm going to get into a rumble". Is this an obscure West Side Story reference?

Jerry thinks he sees someone he knows sitting in the restaurant. Elaine is complaining and starving. Jerry offers her 50 bucks if she walks in takes some food off someone's plate and eats it while standing there. She's so hungry she considers the deal. And she goes over to the table. She pikes out.

The phone's free...George races over but is beaten to the phone by a woman.
George: "I was here first"
Woman: "If you were here first you'd be holding the phone".

By now George is steaming, with bottled up rage. His little rant that follows is wonderful: "You know we're living in a society. We're supposed to act in a civilised way". This is announced at close to top note, through gritted teeth to everyone in the foyer.

Elaine goes off to check out the food, leaving George and Jerry to chat about George's Tatiana problems. Here I think we see Larry David's obsession with bathrooms again (as in the previous episode with the best public toilet in the city conversation). The problem is the bathroom in Tatiana's apartment. It's small with no "buffer zone". Many more cute euphemisms follow. George's "intestinal requirements" prevailed over his making out with Tatiana. And the bathroom was "insufficient" for his needs so he had to make an escape with no good excuse, thus offending Tatiana.

Nice line: The only excuse she might possibly have accepted is if I told her I am in reality Batman and I'm very sorry I just saw the Bat signal".

Elaine returns. "I hate this place".
The phone is free. George is off again vainly trying to make contact with Tatiana.

Jerry tries again to check on their table status with the maitre'd, but is interrupted by a regular customer,who after a good old joke and laugh, gets a table right away. The illogical seating policy is causing the ultimate frustration for Elaine. And alas, George has missed Tatiana and had to leave a message.

Jerry runs into a woman whose name he can't remember as she leaves the restaurant. They have an awkward conversation...the type you have when you can't remember someone's name. We've all done it. Elaine gets the name out of her by introducing herself. It's Lorraine who works in Jerry's uncle's office. This is the uncle he staved off seeing this evening by faking a stomach ache. Because with his priorities in order, he had to see the worst movie ever made.

They decide to try a bribe to get a table. George isn't keen. Elaine attempts to do the deed but stuffs it up totally. The maitre'd ends up with the money but still the next table is not "Seinfeld - 4".

So, Jerry tries to get the bribe back from the maitre-d and ends up discussing his past relationship with Elaine. Still, it's going to be '5-10 minutes'.
Elaine's desperation for food is getting the better of her..."Let's go to Skyburger and scarf it down". George isn't leaving. He's waiting for his call back from Tatiana. In the background we hear the maitre'd calling out "Cartwright". George discovers that the call came and the maitre'd yelled "Cartwright"
Jerry is confused: "You're not Cartwright". Rage follows.

The evening is unravelling. Elaine is off to Skyburger, George is off chasing Tatiana, and Jerry gives up on the movie: "I can't go to a bad movie by myself...What am I going to make sarcastic remarks to strangers?"

And as the door shuts behind them the call comes loud and clear from the maitre'd: "Seinfeld - 4?"

So this is an episode of Seinfeld that has all the hallmarks of its classic status (excepting perhaps the physical comedy of Michael Richards). It shows us the obsession with what Elaine names in a much later episode "the excruciating minutiae of everyday life". The test of its success is that the writing of the episode allows it to absolutely zip by. This is not boring, waiting around in real time. (Even though in another sense it is). Rather, it shows us that the everyday is chock full of vitally important, individual moments, conflicts, conversations, opinions and attitudes. It is this that produces richness in our lives. And as we watch this time pass on Seinfeld we can be reminded of the richness of the dailiness of our own everyday lives. Enjoy the waiting, revel in the moments of apparent boredom. For there is always something there, happening, bubbling underneath the surface, that may in fact lead us somewhere interesting. Or not. That's life...and I think that is what this episode of Seinfeld manages to capture and preserve as comedy. And when you come to think about it, that makes our own lives seem a little bit funny as well. And for me, if I can't find some comedy in the everyday, then life becomes a lot less interesting.

I've got that joy, joy, joy , joy, down in my heart...where?

I saw the loveliest thing at choir last night. Feeling a little bored, bashing out notes for whatever piece we were singing - I think the Morley madrigal "Sing we and chant it" - I then sat back as the choir sang it through unaccompanied. Most people had their heads intently buried in the music, unsure of the words and where their part goes to. But over in the third row is one of our stalwart members who has been singing with choir for thirty years or so (just think about that for a moment!) and she was singing away and beaming at the same time. It made my little heart glad to see someone so enjoying what they were doing. For is this not what singing and music is!

But then we got to the difficult one "O Jubilant Song" where the composer, Scott Farthing has kindly included a section which changes bar by bar from 7/8 to 3/8 to 5/8 to 2/4 in all manner of combinations. (He has also provided a syncopated piano accompaniment which is a treat). I did my best to enjoy the challenge of this as well. In a strange kind of way it's fun to have to concentrate so hard on the counting.

(Apologies for the random Simpsons' reference in the post seemed appropriate.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Watch, Listen and Singalong: Part 13: Monday, Monday

Because it's Monday.
I can't decide. Do they like Monday or not?
Doesn't matter really...bah dah bah dah dah dah....let's all pretend we're backing vocalists with knee high boots and shiny hair for the day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

you know those comedies that aren't actually funny...this isn't one of them

I haven't been to the actual movies, as in buy and ticket and go to the theatre for a long time. Months....since sometime in 2008 I would be guessing. And I can't remember the last movie I saw at the theatre so clearly it wasn't really that memorable. Actually now I come to think about it, it may have been Mamma Mia.

But my love of all things Ricky Gervais drew me out in the heat of a summer's day to Ghost Town. The Jinxster and I met up and squished ourselves into the smallest theatre with a group of about 20, late teenagers, a family of four, and one or two loners. Clearly, our Cinema 4 thinks that there is little audience for this ghostly comedy, having relegated it to the tiniest room in the building. Before the start, we wondered whether we were going to have to put on our teacher voices but once things got going all was well. Who knew young people went to the movies in the middle of the day on a Sunday? I thought it was all Friday/ Saturday nights, leaving the daytime sessions for parents with children, and us - the aged. HA!

If you have bad memories of the Righteous Brothers, Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze (sadly now very unwell) and a pottery wheel rest assured Ghost Town is nothing like that. Gervais is a misanthropic dentist, Greg Kinnear, the slightly dislikeable unfaithful husband haunting him, and Tea Leoni the woman they are both chasing for different reasons. And best of all, for all you Ferris Bueller fans, an Alan Ruck sighting...older and greyer now, but not all that different from when Matthew Broderick led him astray all those years ago. I'll say no more, except I haven't laughed out loud at a movie so much for quite some time. You know those comedies that aren't actually funny, where you've seen all the mildly amusing scenes in the trailer - this isn't one of them.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

the great office indoor plant experiment of 2009

See this wonderfully shiny and new plant.

I bought it this morning at K Mart and will taking it to work on Monday to beautify my office. I was considering getting a fighting fish in a bowl but decided that involved entirely too much maintenance. So instead we embark on the great office indoor plant experiment of 2009 in which we will ascertain the following two (not unrelated) things.
1. Can a plant actually survive in an office given sufficient water, sunlight and the occasional sprinkle of fertiliser?
2. Is Wendy capable of fulfilling the requirements of question 1?

Exciting times in the corridor of Building 1 are ahead both at work and on this blog, where the journey of Wendy and her new plant may be a topic of conversation. Rest assured if the plant does cark it due to Wendy's negligence or other factors outside her control it shall be faithfully recorded on this blog. Likewise if the plant blossoms in a riot of good health and greater shininess you'll be the first to read about it on Spiralling Shape.

PS. Can't believe I got that great pot for only 4 dollars and that it matches the blog colour scheme.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Watch, Listen and Singalong: Part 12: Be my echo

Don't ask me why but this suddenly came into my mind this evening. It's a favourite memory from growing up watching Sesame Street. I remember watching it and being totally amused by Grover's attempts to echo. This was still the case this evening but now, many years later, I was impressed with the quality of Madeleine Kahn's singing. And I still chuckled out loud.

Enjoy this delightful clip and if you're as old I as am, you may also be reminiscing about your TV watching childhood. And you can actually sing along with Grover as well if you like.

Wendy's Week of TV: Part 32

The Einstein Factor: Yay my favourite "Parko" was on the panel. Sadly, though the Factor (as it is known for short round these parts) engaged in some blatant ABC cross promotion with the Catalyst dinosaur expert man whose name escaped me. Still, Parko...he's my favourite (after Barry Jones of course). But who's next? Tony Jones? Kerry O'Brien (well alright he could be okay), the boring new Canberra correspondent who has failed to live up to his predecessor Jim Middleton? I know...the finance report man, Allan Kohler, with his mystifying financial speak and love of obscure graphs. It's bad enough when we have to endure Jennifer Byrne with her overly sparkly eyes and peals of laughter in her voice. Not everything is so delightful surely, Jennifer?

Then the second half The Biggest Loser (or The Loser as it known for short around these parts). This is the most interesting episode of the week.....the weigh in! I love it. The drama of walking up to the scales, the whirling of the numbers on the scales, the inappropriately placed ad breaks to keep us watching through the boring bits. I have now made my allegiances. Get rid of the yellow whingers Holly and Mel. I am going for mother and daughter in blue (and you'd think I'd know their names seeing as they're my favourite..but I don't). Loving the Commando's return...he is so lame in his black sunnies, and his tough-love. I did turn off during the revealing of the "dream outfits" last night though. Enough with the crying. Give me more scenes of torture and shouting in the the best gym in "Biggest Loser history" (a phrase, which incidentally is becoming as annoying to me as Channel Seven's "after the tennis"). What is this Biggest Loser History and where can I get an updated copy? Oh, right, every night it's being written on our TV screens. That's TV history for you, ephemeral, forgettable, ever-changing and told from a number of different perspectives. You know the kind of evil postmodern history that we don't want impressionable young minds subjected to in school. Because, goodness gracious me, we wouldn't want them to realise that there is more than one version of the events of the past, present and future. Stop that anarchist talk this instant Ms Spiralling Shape with your fancy-schmancy Foucault-influenced take on the world.

And then Episode 2 of Cranford (or The Ford as it is known for short around these parts). I'll just say this. I was absolutely devastated when Miss Matilda was prevented from living happily ever after due to some French pneumonia which caused the death of her one true love. But still, I can't wait for Episode 3.

Tuesday: Sadly, I did not get to watch Doctor Who (or Doctor Who as it is known for short around these parts)as I had a visitor. Am I terrible person because at some points I would rather have been watching the television? I think I might be. Luckily it has been recorded. Phew disaster averted.

Wednesday: Spicks and Specks (or The Specks as it known for short around these parts). Okay, I'll just come right and say it, Georgie Parker was just a leetle bit annoying. There's no need to be quite so enthusiastic my dear, just because you are (groan) releasing an album. It's all so cringe-inducing. And when she sang in the word-replacing game her voice was a little bit fingernails down a blackboard. Too harsh? Perhaps. Whatever. Hamish Blake is always good value. But the man who had played the piano with Frank Zappa made my evening with his Gershwin improvisation. Fabulous!

Thursday: Biggest Loser...see above..those comments apply for the whole week.
I also tried watching Chandon Pictures. Verdict: Boring (so it's not known as short for anything). Just because you label something a comedy and then shoot on locations, in documentary style doesn't actually mean it's funny.

Friday: Who knows what television excitement is ahead of me for the weekend? (or The End as it is known for short around these parts).

Actually, I think there is not much excitement at all going by the TV guide, so I might consider renting Burn After Reading, and also plan to go see Ricky Gervais in Ghost Town.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

ticket to ride Thursday

This is one of my (many, many, many )favourites from the Beatles earlyish years. And that's all I can think of to say about it because my brain is slowly turning to mush through the repetition of work at the moment.

But really, come on, it's the Beatles....nothing else needs to be said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wishing Wednesday away

I have just arrived home and looked at my date block to realise that it's February the 18th today.

That's probably no surprise to anyone reading this post, but now it has dawned on me that I have spent the whole day writing 19-02-09 on every student file, in every database and all other places where date noting is applicable at work.

Why was I wishing Wednesday away I wonder?

Monday, February 16, 2009

aircon not smart...yes I'm using electricity

I am being aircon stupid. It was so hot and humid at choir this evening. Usually my spot by the door gives me a nice breeze. But there was no breeze. There was just humidity, ever increasing through a short shower of rain, and lots of perspiration. And by the end of rehearsal (which crawled by, minute by minute...I blame the hot weather) I was a sticky blob stuck to the piano stool, mind wandering, missing key changes and just dreaming of getting home and blasting the aircon upon myself.

So dear ergon energy, I have it on 23 (not your recommended 25 which I might say is not even cool), and I have not shut all the windows because I am going to bed soon, at which time I will turn off the aircon, because I can't be bothered opening all the closed windows when I get up in the morning.

That's what you get for sending me a bill every quarter. I use electricity and I'm proud of it.

Maybe I'm a bit cranky because we didn't do Fields of Gold, instead I had to bash out notes for endless pieces (madrigals, sacreds, set pieces etc) which are eventually a capella, so all seemed a little less than fascinating.

Watch, Listen and Singalong: Part 11: Friday on my mind

No explanation required.

Put your stripey suit on and bop through Monday with the help of The Easybeats.

Going to work now. Might do some dancing if things get trying.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2 out of 3 ain't bad

Q: How many matches does it take Wendy to light tealight candles while the airconditioning is blowing about the room?
A: 8...and even then I only made 2 out of 3.

I always failed those tests in Girl Guides when you were given three matches only to light the fire (which you had carefully constructed of the proper amounts of various sized twigs and leaf litter.) I was far from the model Guide.

I'm such a social butterfly

I'm such a social butterfly (she types with mild sarcasm dripping on to her keyboard) that I actually had a choice last evening of what to do. Firstly, there was a bookclub group excursion to see Frost/Nixon which finally made it to little ole Bundaberg as the (dah dah!) Showcase Movie of the Week at the Moncrieff Theatre. This was to be followed by coffee and chat. Mmmmm...very tempting. But before that had been pencilled in on the calendar I had been invited to a Valentine's bbq/ 40th Wedding Anniversary party at Burnett Heads. So after much to'ing and fro'ing I decided on the bbq and am leaving it to the other bookclubbers to fill me in on Frost Nixon. Because I'm pretty sure I'll be able to see that movie again in the future, whereas Valentine's Day bbqs/ 40th wedding anniversaries are a little rarer. Sorry ladies, I'm sure you missed my opinionated and unsubstantiated conversational analysis over the coffee.

Our host, Laurel, whose anniversary it was, had gone to lots of decorating effort. And even though I'm a little bit bah humbug about Valentine's Day, my favourite was this:


Oh and ladies who went to the movie...I'm expecting great swathes of opinions on the movie here in the comments!. Or you can just tell me about it when I see you next. Or if anyone else who saw it, or chose not to see it wants to comment please do.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wendy's Week of TV: Part 31

Sunday: Cranford
Firstly, Judi Dench is an absolute legend. I will watch her in anything. Secondly, I will watch any costume drama. Thirdly, I haven't read the Elizabeth Gaskell novel on which this is based. As I think about the whole question of tv adaptations of books, I believe that this is a good thing. It allows us as viewers to enjoy (or not) the television program on its own terms, without the inevitable comparison to the book, which also nevitably, the tv fails to live up to. In my opinion it's better in these situations to arrive at the book second, meaning less disappointment while watching TV. This is the way I encountered Middlemarch (TV first, book second) as well as Wives and Daughters, Our Mutual Friend, and Great Expectations. It allowed me to enjoy the tv series, and then go to the book and see what had been cut out and also enjoy the further depth and nuance that the author originally intended.

All that being said, I so enjoyed Cranford (not being privy to pay TV this was the first time I had seen it). There was the new doctor in town, with his fancy town ways unable to save the poor young boy with croup, but doing a standup job on the broken arm of the labourer. And poor Julia Sawalha with her unrequited love for the Scottish officer. Imelda Staunton and Julia McKenzie were suitably ditzy and their scene with the cat and the lace was both grotesque and hilarious. Nice too that the lace made a later appearance at the posh garden party. I somehow doubt that the weakly Septimus will return from Italy to his mother's estate. And the poor family living in the woods have to improve somehow. Plus the cow in it's pyjamas was a sight to behold. See...don't you want to watch it now! And I haven't even recounted the half of it. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night already.

Tuesday: Well Doctor Who obviously. And episode I hadn't actually seen before. Queen Victoria plus werewolves equals a jolly good time had by all and sundry. The Doctor's glee on sighting the werewolf was delightful. As was the final insinuation that the Royal family may still be carrying the werewolf gene.

Wednesday: You know I was going to watch Spicks and Specks but they had boring people on the panel so I continued my 30 Rock Series 2 marathon instead.

Thursday: The Man inside Dame Edna - or whatever the documentary about Barry Humphries was called. Why, oh why oh why did I not write about him in my thesis. WHAT WAS I THINKING? or not thinking as the case may be. Because we would have fitted perfectly with what I am now thinking of as "The Australian Grotesque"...the title of something that came to me in the middle of the night. My next article? We shall see. Back to Barry. My favourite moment was when he was describing his childhood. He and his mother had been to a ladies afternoon tea. On the way back in the car, making conversation he said to his mother, "That was a lovely cake wasn't it?". To which she replied with one scathing word: "Bought!". His mother and my grandmother might be one and the same.

Friday: Cricket. Rain. Boring. (although on arriving home at 2 and turning on what I thought would be the cricket I was very surprised to find Days of our Lives, a soap I watched a lot during high school. I recognised it because apparently Patch is still hanging around. In a hospital bed with his patch on his eye. Where was Marlena. Had her multiple personalities fused into one yet, or perhaps she has risen from dead for the fourteenth time, or escaped the evil Roman's clutches yet again. I didn't see Bo. He probably had "some things he had to take care of". This always seemed to be the standard line for getting characters to finish up a scene. "I've got some things I've gotta take care of but I'll meet you back here on the foggy docks at 6 and we'll fight the evil Salem mafia again then". What were those things I always wondered...paying the electricty bill? Getting the groceries?)

Anyway, slightly off track there. So the cricket was boring (indeed non-existent) until they actually started playing. Could Australia have conjured up that rain with a rain making machine hidden in Brisbane's western suburbs somewhere? Because it really looked like New Zealand were going to win in the last few overs until it started pouring. Phooey!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday fish and chip feeding frenzy

The title of the post is self explanatory really.

1.It's Friday
2.I had fish and chips for dinner (with my parents and sister).
3.We all fought over the last of the chips.

Not physically fought you understand.

More of a "why should you get the last one?"/ You've had more than me"/"I've hardly had any"/"But I paid for them"/ "But I drove out in the rain to get them" etc and so on.

A verbal stoush.

(Dad won).

you say "to-may-to" I say "to-mah-to" aka view from a bridge

You say unsealed stormwater drain.

I say creek running through my back garden after a day of rain.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Pipe down chorus boy": Seinfeld Series 2: The Jacket

I've been rather slack on the Pretzels and Puffy shirts over the past few weeks but here we return with a classic "The Jacket" from Series 2.

Once again the stand up...this time Jerry's dislike of clothes, shopping, wearing them blah blah blah, setting up the storyline centred on his new and very expensive jacket. Thankfully wardrobe has dispensed with the hideous ties that were such a feature of earlier episodes, now just sportjacket with button up shirt.

Jerry and Elaine shopping for his new jacket. Elaine is holding a book...apparently written by her father, a highly regarded but not very famous author. This is a new background for Elaine which sadly is never followed up again (apparently due to the scariness of the actor playing her father during shooting).

Elaine needs Jerry and George to come to dinner with her father. Jerry isn't keen. The reason: it's too difficult to make conversation with intelligent people: "Frankly I prefer the company of nitwits". Does he have a point here?

Suddenly he alights on a suede jacket which is perfection....except for...disaster (and this will be important later so pay attention)...the candy stripe pink lining. And it's enormously expensive. A major decision....he gets it.

Nice scene back at the apartment with Jerry wearing the jacket over his pyjamas. Kramer (also in jammies) enters to admire the jacket...again noticing the pink lining (everyone still paying attention?). Kramer is desperate to know how much the jacket cost. Jerry refuses to tell him. But Kramer still manages to spy the price tag. He's schocked. And then in typical Kramer style he scams Jerry's old leather jacket. He's doing Jerry a big favour clearly, by taking it off his hands.

Next scene, and I love that George enters singing Les Mis's Master of the House. A whole conversation ensues about getting songs stuck in your head. Schumann went mad from that Jerry tells us. I'm not sure if this is right. Well I know that Schumann was institutionalised, but I'm not sure it was from a repeition of the note A)* but it plays nicely with George's already very visible insecurities.

They're off to dinner with Alton Benes and Elaine. This is George's first viewing of the Jacket. He's impressed. "This jacket has completely changed my life". Jerry is confidence epitomised in the jacket. George's verdict is "It's fabulous". And like Kramer he's desperate to know the price. In the face of Jerry's stoic silence George escalates into a nice blend of fury and indignation, imagining the ridiculously high price Jerry may have paid. This is interrupted, thankfully by Kramer, looking for someone to "do him a solid"...a term I am unfamiliar with, but it seems to be he needs someone to do him a favour. The favour is picking up some doves from his magician friend and he needs someone to sit in the car while he runs in and gets them. Only Kramer would have a friend who is a magician.

George and Jerry arrive at the hotel where they are meeting Elaine and her father. Typical hotel foyer...and then they spy Mr Benes reading a paper. Elaine, significantly, is not yet there. They sit. The conversation is terrifically awkward and goes from bad to worse, especially seeing as Elaine fails to arrive in good time. They talk about nothing...clearly perfect for the show about nothing. Mr Benes is not impressed. They chat about the weather, the drinks arrive, salvation for George and Jerry. And then suddenly a right turn and they're chatting about the Korean war, George and Jerry scull their drinks, discreetly looking for Elaine. Jerry fakes an exit to the bathroom, leaving George stranded. He tries his best, complimenting Mr Benes' writing. Oooh, George, subtly has to run away and make a fake phone call.

He and Jerry are now hiding out in the bathroom. They want to leave, but Jerry can't. He'll feel bad for Elaine. What excuse could they give? George has the perfect answer, "We'll say we're frightened and we have to go home". Refreshing honesty and perhaps one of my all time favourite lines and scenes. There should be more of it.

Some more standup...this time on fathers and how intimidating they are.

Back to the foyer with George and Jerry reinstalled on the couch. Elaine has sent a message. She's running late. Geez could it be anything to do with Kramer's solid? Surely not.

George's imitation of Alton is note perfect when Elaine arrives. "Where's Dad?" "He's in the bathroom" says gravelly voiced George. She's been stuck with the doves. Long monologue ensues here about Kramer and the doves from Elaine which, if I'm being really honest is a bit over the top.

George is still singing as they leave. He's neatly reprimanded by the scary Alton: "Pipe down chorus boy!"
And it's snowing. Suddenly, Jerry's beautiful and expensive suede jacket is in jeopardy. Turning it inside out is the solution, but he is thwarted by Mr Benes' objection to the candy stripes. What will Jerry do?

Back at the apartment, and Kramer comes in looking for mini ritzes to feed to the doves. The jacket is ruined from the snow. Kramer is amused "Don't you know what that does to suede?". Elaine arrives and now Kramer has his eye on the ruined jacket. "If you're just going to throw it out, I can take it". Elaine is horrified at the state of the jacket, "You should have turned it inside out". Huh!

And in a lovely final scene we watch Alton driving home singing Master of the House. Perhaps George and Jerry get their revenge after all.

* There is mention of Schumann's obession with A on wikipedia. But they attribute his symptoms and eventual decline to mercury poisoning (mercury being used as a medication for syphilis).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

big, scary, accusing, saucer eyes

I just stood on the cat.

Accidentally of course.
It was doing its usual "hiding under the kitchen mat in front of the sink like a great big tiger waiting for prey to walk past and then bat it with its paw"

I was innocently cooking dinner and needed a cup of water so walked to the front of the sink to use the tap.

This was followed by screeching from both of us, the disappearance of the cat faster than a speeding bullet, and me left (doing some mild swearing) and looking for a tissue to dab the blood off my ankle.

The cat is now hiding from me in the piano room, with big scary, accusing, saucer eyes, ready to pounce on anything that dares approach.

I think we'll give each other some space for a while.

boredom-induced coma or brain explosion: you decide

I finally finished all the APA punctuation twiddling, the quadruple checking of everything in sight, the last minute spell check, the constant reformatting of the table of contents and plucked up the courage to send the manuscript to the publisher. I am now convinced that I will have done something ridiculous, like spelled my name incorrectly or something else embarrassing on the frontpage. But I am resolved not to look at in any more until it comes back as proofs and/or with any more edits to do. For if I had to read it once more I would have either fallen into a boredom-induced coma or had a brain explosion. So it would have either been very quiet, or very messy.

I am now about to start looking at a paper that I am co-writing with two other colleagues here about a course we teach. I am responsible for a third - about 1000 words. That being said, I have never co-written anything before and don't know what I will make of the experience. I am used to being entirely responsible for every part of the paper. And I kind of like that responsibility I guess. So we'll see what happens next. Plus it's entirely removed from my usual research area of television. I am doing it to prove to the powers that be that there is some connection between my teaching and research so they will continue to allow space in my workload for the research I actually want to do (so this paper is in the field of educational, preparatory studies). Yes, it's ridiculous, because surely the generic skills of research, writing and academic practice in general connect explicitly to teaching a course in preparing mature age learners for entering tertiary education. Surely,if I am writing and researching I am modelling that behaviour for our students in a very practical sense. Well I think so, but others disagree.
So, sighing, I now make myself start. Perhaps I can knock my "bit" over before the end of the week.

Monday, February 9, 2009

facebook and "mood fruit"

So often you hear derogatory comments about Facebook and other so-called social media in reference to their time-wasting capacity. But, I ask you to witness the below facebook status update/comments conversation that occurred this afternoon and rethink your skepticism regarding the transitory,ephemeral uselessness of such Web 2.0 applications. For where else could the potentially earth-shattering concept of "mood fruit" come to bear. (yes pun intended people!)

Andy Vallance: would like to wish everyone a happy working week
Wendy Davis: Are you being sarcastic?
AV: LOL no I don't think I was - at the time was looking forward to the week and then 9:15 happened....
WD: and it all went pear-shaped! your good vibes must have travelled up the highway because I had a pretty good day
AV: Excellent - actually it only went pear-shaped for that half hour lesson then it went back to good :)
WD: Is that apple shape then? or some other fruit?
AV: Maybe just a plum
WD: okay...I think I'll choose a nectarine (because they're my favourite stone fruit) to describe good days and save pears for the bad everyone their own mood fruit! So when something goes well I can say "that went nectarine shaped" and you will say "that when plum shaped"
AV: LOL I will def put that on my vocab list
WD: me fact this whole conversation might be going on the blog if that's aok with you?
AV: yes that is fine - I might add that I find your blog to be a highly entertaining read - I tune in most days to see what is going on - in fact I am reading your choir one right now

And no....I didn't make up that last bit. Andy actually wrote it! Isn't he luverly.

But the bigger question you all need to ask yourselves is "which fruit is your good day mood fruit?". (Remembering that plums and nectarines are taken....).

Important Note: Names have not been changed to protect anyone. Any resemblance to real people in the above exchange is an accurate and realistic resemblance...because it's know...real.

Not shouting...emphasising

As Battle of the Choirs proved without a shadow of a doubt there are a great many of what might be termed popular songs that should NEVER EVER EVER BE ARRANGED FOR CHOIRS.(not shouting, emphasising).

However, yesterday's choir practice in preparation for the Queensland Eisteddfod at Easter clarified an important musical point for me which I shall preface by saying I am not, never have been, and most likely never will be a fan of Sting. (Although I haven't engaged with his recent turn to the lute and ye olde English songyes - yes I'm making up this ye olde spellyng as I go. Maybe I would lyke the loveliness of the lute)

That being said, Alison, our conductor, has chosen Fields of Gold in choral arrangement for the Modern Chorus section. And it is a beautiful song that sits perfectly for choir. I hummed it for the rest of the day and most of today as well. It is in traditional ballad style, simple, with lovely rich harmonies, and best of all, a pretty piano accompaniment for me to play.

If you don't believe it's a great song, or have a particular aversion to Sting, seek out the Eva Cassidy version. It's stunning and captures the balladesque, folk song quality wonderfully well.

Monday: thinking about the meaning of life

The terrible devastation and loss of life in the bushfires is dreadful to say the least. To comment on it in any meaningful way seems impossible while the event is still unfolding. And I think I'll leave that to others more knowledgeable than I. Reading the coverage in the paper this morning over breakfast was awful, and eventually I just had to stop reading. For us, the lucky ones, who are experiencing it second hand through media coverage, we can only count our blessings that it's not happening to us. My only action was to make a donation to The Red Cross, because surely every little bit must help.

Tragedy and disaster quickly puts our lives into perspective. I felt extremely fortunate to able to get up and go to work as normal this morning. Even the most boring and mundane tasks were attacked with enthusiasm, because I was thinking about all those people who weren't able to do so. I can't think of anything else to say, apart from the plain simple fact that it's all so sad. And almost incomprehensible, viewing it from the sidelines.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What do you mean Harvey Keitel is in a movie about singing nuns?

Well strictly speaking, this should be held over until Wendy's next week of TV, but it's my blog so, hey, I'll make the rules up as I go along.
Sister Act won out over Billy Elliot for last night's TV viewing. As I was watching I realised I had seen Sister Act 2 a number of times, but the original less. I had forgotten about Harvey Keitel as Whoopi's evil mob boyfriend. I had also forgotten about most of the songs. For while the plot is pure corniness, it's the music that makes this a great film. It's doubtful whether Whoopi Goldberg will ever get a better role I think. I started with the thought that I'd just get through first hour or so and then go to bed or put on a DVD, but it kept me hooked until the end (in spite of the increasing number of ad breaks!). And the final song gave me goosebumps.

If you've ever been in a choir you'll realise how difficult it is get the singers to sing and move (let alone clap) at the same time. So thumbs up to the nuns for that. But, here like Mamma Mia more recently, it's all about the joy of music. Enjoy the clip. And rest assured there's plenty more on youtube for you to look up yourself. And that old nun on the piano, I fear that's me in sixty years time, still plonking away at choir. Although not a nun, you understand.

(And a shout out to Andy who I still remember as the first person to tell me about this movie when were at uni! I thought it sounded stupid, but I was wrong!)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"does this boy dance?"

Out for breakfast with parents and sister this morning we were perusing what's on the telly tonight. "Look", I said, "There's a choice of "Sister Act" or "Billy Elliot". My mum and I both agreed that the best parts of both those movies are the finales, especially the final scene of Billy Elliot when adult Billy does the great big leap on to the stage.

And then we remembered the first time my father watched Billy Elliot. It was about half way through, and he had a few little dozes (Dad not Billy. Billy had been dancing up a storm for some time). Dozing off is my father's normal mode of watching anything on television. So there had been silence for some time and then a voice deep from the lounge asked, "Does this boy dance?"

We still laugh a lot about that.

The other Dad classic was during a viewing of the Brooke Shields sitcom Suddenly Susan. About 20 minutes had passed without much comment ( or laughing as I recall) and he asked the room with great wonderment, "Is her name Susan?"

Oh, and there was also the time he was trying to change the TV channels with his mobile phone and getting quite irate that it wasn't working. We remind him of that fairly often.

Don't worry though, we're laughing at him, not with him.

Wendy's Week of TV: Part 30

I think might have been in a post-tennis TV watching slump this week. All the promises of the fabulous programming amounted to nothing and I was left with the usual suspects: Father Ted, Doctor Who, the return of Spicks and Specks, and a one-day cricket match.

Tennis: Men's Final
Firstly, though you'd thought you'd heard the last of the tennis but you haven't. The mens' final on Sunday was heartbreaking and I couldn't make it to the end. All the way through I had a terrible feeling that Roger would not win. Even when he was playing brilliantly, Nadal always had a comeback. Finally at around 11 I went to bed with a sense of doom. Don't get me wrong I like Nadal as well, but for Federer time is running out if he's going to get the number of grand slams record from Pete Sampras. He's 27 now, which in tennis years (like animal years) is much older than it sounds. It was a little bit sad.

Tuesday: Father Ted
Was a repeat! Still better than the other options, although I did forget to watch the one "after the tennis" show I was going to try, RSPCA Animal Rescue. Maybe I need to put a note in my outlook calendar.

Doctor Who: Very good, although it's a bit confusing because I am currently watching some of the Martha episodes on DVD. I'm changing my mind about Martha, she is less annoying than Rose, but not as good as Donna. Anyway Catriona does a much better job of explaining it than me over at Circulating Library so go and read that. Let's just say Zoe Wanamaker was fabulous as a stretched out dehydrating piece of skin and the cat-nun-nurses were fun as well.

Wednesday: Spicks and Specks returns. It's always the same, relying on the quality of the panel guests for it's entertainment value. Guy Pearce - hooray! I know he's made a lot of movies, but why didn't they mention his seminal role as Mike on Neighbours. Maybe he told them not to. Anyway, there was a fair amount of bagging out of Craig MacLachlan which everyone enjoyed.

Thursday: Nothing. Continued my 30 Rock catching up marathon on DVD. I'm now up to Season 2 but think I shall post about that separately once I've sorted out what I think.

Friday: Managed to catch the end of the one day cricket after the Eisteddfod meeting. I absolutely love it when these games go down to the wire like this one did, and as I may have mentioned once or twice on this blog previously, it's very satisfying when Australia loses. Although, this summer even that's getting a bit old. Because they never win! I think New Zealand might be my favourite international team actually. Daniel Vettori was right, that Brad Haddin wicket in the previous game was suspect.

And, I kept forgetting to watch The Biggest Loser. I only managed one episode. I'm torn when it comes to the Biggest Loser. Is it exploitative of people with weight issues, or is it caring, sharing, changing people's lives in an Oprah-like confidence and self-esteem building way. I can't decide so I think that means it's both those things at once. But I do love the drama of the weekly weigh-in. Who will go below the yellow line? And the visual corniness when they have to vote and they reveal the names from under the room service tray thingies.

Although I think we all agree that "the walk" that was introduced last season is stupid and time wasting in an attempt to inject further "drama" into a program that already moves at a glacial pace. This time, they picked bracelets out of the gerbra urns. And it takes FOREVER. (Note to producers. I preferred the stone tablets from last season.) But I do like to imagine the director off-screen. "Everyone look sad now". "Everyone, Ajay's coming, line up and wait for her to deliver her lines, that are written in peculiarly short Hemingwayesque sentences". "Everyone, don't mention the welfare fraud charges". "Everyone, try not to look bored while we spend the entirety of tonight's episode, recapping what happened last night". It is perhaps the slowest show on TV (apart from Test cricket). Maybe that's why I like watching it. Because when something does actually finally happen, the excitement is magnified. As you might guess, there may be more on TBL in the weeks to come. Especially the trainers, Michelle and Shannon. I prefer the Americans Bob and Jillian. They are fierce. Although Michelle and Shannon have grown on me. It's interesting to surmise as to whether Shannon's arm tattoo is real or fake. So when nothing's happening you can study it for inconsistencies.

What do you mean I need to get a life?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Madam Vice-President and Music coordinator

I have an eisteddfod meeting this evening. It's now ten years since I returned to Bundaberg and started helping out with the local music eisteddfod. Growing up as a child here and learning music it was one of the highlights of the year (that combined with the annual AMEB exams). So I was more than happy to help out with some of the organisation, especially given that my original piano teacher was on the committee as a way of giving something back to the music community.

I think my old teacher's eyes lit up with joy when she saw that I seemed willing to help out. "Wendy", she said very casually at what was probably my second eisteddfod, "would you like to get a little more involved with the committee?". "Sure...I'd be happy to help". Famous last words. Within a matter of months and one annual general meeting later, I was the music coordinator, responsible for the smooth running of a seven day event each May that can have anything from 600-800 performances. I have to beg and plead with music professionals to leave their nice jobs in Brisbane and sit hunched over a desk, writing constructive comments on every single one of these performances. Everything from six year olds singing their first solos, to 18 year olds performing concertos. Writer's cramp is a distinct possibility for the adjudicator...that, and I imagine sometimes...boredom. They do get paid though.

And tonight we have our first meeting for the year. Several things have gone wrong since the last meeting in November. The dates have been advertised wrongly in the local paper, contracts have been sent to adjudicators without the correct information,and one of our regular venues has let us down with double bookings. This is combined with my brilliant idea to have two adjudicators this year and run some concurrent sessions to cut down the number of days. It took us four hours to timetable that already and it's going to have to change again.

It's going to be an interesting meeting.

Oh...and did I also mention I'm the vice-president. Luckily, as with other more high profile vice-presidents, that role doesn't require much in the way of work.

sorry Generation X

Okay I'm just going to have come right out and say it. I've tried hard to like Jeff Buckley's Last Goodbye but it doesn't do a thing for me. He just sounds whiny and boring. Most telling of all, I never get the urge to sing along.

Sorry Generation X, I feel I have failed you all.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

pointless business discourse strikes again

I try not to post too much about my job but here's something I just need to share. Apparently, rather than "prospective student inquiries" we have now have "sales requests". We also provide "customer service" to our "stakeholders" - "key" or "otherwise".

(The things you learn when you go to a meeting that you had a bad feeling about before you even got there.)

I shall however be continuing to "talk" to "people" with "inquiries" about our "courses" and giving them "the best information" I possibly can, in order that they might "enrol in our course" and become a "student".

I am not interested in "tracking their lifecycle". Nor do I want access to some big database that supposedly helps me to do that, but in reality would take up a huge chunk of my day entering the "data" of their "service requests".

I am interested in teaching though. Old fashioned I know, but there it is. I wonder if there's a place for that in our vision statements?

In the old gum tree

I have quite a lot of gum trees down the end of my backyard, past the billy goat's gruff bridge which runs over the creek (o.k. so it's a really a drain, but it's not all concreted so it looks like a creek and that's what I'm calling it).

In those gum trees live a pair of kookaburras. They do their big cackling call twice a day. Once when they're going to bed...usually at about 7:15 - 7:30pm once the sun has gone down. That's fine and dandy. I'm awake then and pleasant thoughts go through my head as I hear them like "Oh listen, there's those beautiful Australian native birds, enchanting me with their distinctive, laughing bird call". Sometimes I even say out loud, "There's Kooky kookaburra"...but only if there are other people around. I've given them a cute and unoriginal nickname. (I don't talk to myself you must understand. Well..rarely.)

However, the second time they feel the need to enchant the neighbourhood seems to be around 4am. Do they not realise that people are trying to sleep then? At that time of the morning, which is pitch black darkness, I hear them and think, "What is up with those blooming* kookaburras, waking me up with their annoyingly loud and long witch-like cackling. Can't they just shut up until at least 6am?"

* sometimes I use other words apart from "blooming". Other less lady-like words with which I will not disgrace the post

I'm clearly not at my most charitable towards native wildlife in the early hours of the morning.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Watch, Listen and Singalong: Part 9: Monsters having fun

I was actually looking for the original Shiny Happy People but when I found this instead I couldn't resist it. I defy you not to smile while you watch it. It certainly cheered me up after a less than wonderful day at work. If music can make the monsters happy, it can turn our frowns upside down.

Dancing now everyone!

Monday, February 2, 2009

("CY") Borg express

Imagine my surprise when reversing out of a carpark uptown (after getting a takeaway coffee) when I had to wait for a whopping great bus called "The Borg Express". It's a bus, with a huge friendly picture of Lawrence (Laurence?) Springborg on the side and covered in the LNP logo. I appreciate the effort in expressing it all the way to regional Queensland to meet with some local voters, but I am not really sure if "The Borg" is the best or most catchiest of nicknames for a political campaign. He's just begging for someone to graffiti "CY" in front of it. Perhaps they should try to concentrate on humanising, rather than (further?) robotising Springborg. (Not sure if "robotising" is a word). I also think they must have bought the bus at a discount as well because as I passed it in my little yaris, it was spewing out diesel fumes fit to choke a small town. Not a very good climate change look. And it wasn't exactly very "express" either. I was only going 63 and I left it far behind quite quickly.

Perhaps if he started wearing a hardhat at all public appearances and rarely travelling further north than Caboolture. Oh, no I forgot, that's the Labor strategy. all political there for a moment. Don't worry you haven't stumbled on to Larvatus Prodeo by mistake. :)

I'll just drink my coffee and settle down.

Update: A-HA!!! So this is what the visit was for. Because we just can't get enough political mileage out of the awful and unfortunate "Patel saga"

I've finished my coffee now.

Update 2: Could this be where the great big borg bus came from?

Just asking.