Saturday, April 30, 2011

That all sounds very grand....

Yesterday afternoon I "launched" my book. That sounds all very grand doesn't it. It wasn't really. I was determined it wouldn't be. I don't really like being the centre of attention and didn't want any of my kind friends and colleagues who attended to feel obliged to buy a copy. Instead, I decided to chat about the process of publication (very briefly!) and then chat about TV comedy. So that is what we did and it was lots of fun. We also had cheese, crackers, wine, tea, coffee and little cakes. In a slightly unfortunate turn of events someone (NOT ME) had tipped off the local paper so my photo may well appear in the auspicious pages of the News Mail at some point. Until, then you will have to make do with these photos of my book.

Afterwards, I raced home because I was late for a accompanying rehearsal with a double bass student who is playing in the Eisteddfod tomorrow. Then I ordered Thai takeaway, drank some of the wine that I had commandeered from the leftovers at the "launch" and settled in to watch an actual grand event on the telly. I finished the evening with a massive headache and went to bed. I certainly know how to party.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Here we go eisteddfodding

It's been a delightful Easter break, filled with slothfulness, rocky road, and some writing and assignmenting. Mainly however there has been slothfulness of varying types including watching televsion, watching films, reading and sleeping. This morning is a special day because I was out of bed before 8:30. Needless to say I am not particularly looking forward to the return of the work routine tomorrow morning. That is in the future though so I will ignore it for now. The only busy day was Friday which was filled with Eisteddfodding in Maryborough. Choir went down to compete in two sections - the Sacred Choral contest and the Open Madrigal Section. We are small in comparison to most of the other choirs who take at least 5 minutes to all get on the stage and seem to number almost 100 singers. That's more than double our size. And no matter how much talk there is of, "doing your best" "winning isn't important" etc etc everyone secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) wants to win. Some of the conductors take it VERY seriously, particularly in their choreographed conducting style which is sometimes quite amusing. The accompanists also appear very self-important appearing on the stage during the madrigal section simply to dong out the starting notes for the singers. We don't do that as our conductor uses a tuning fork and quietly and unobtrusively gives the notes for each part. This is much more classy in my opinion. I caught up with some Maryborough/Hervey Bay friends who I hadn't seen in years which was lovely and we were all home and tucked up in bed by midnight.
Oh yes, and we were Highly Commended in both our sections. I nearly forgot!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


On Sunday afternoon I had the absolute joy of watching a documentary about the Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould. To my shame, despite actually studying classical piano at university some years ago, I had not engaged with Gould's recordings much before. I was aware of his star power, the legends of his Bach recordings, but apart from that he had not been among the big, famous pianists that we were exposed in our piano classes or musicology sessions. Those were the pianists from a generation before - Ashkenzy, Horowitz, Richter, Rubinstein, Arrau, etc (you get the picture). Modern men like Gould, with his idiosyncratic interpretations of Bach and others were off the agenda. Now, some twenty years later I am disappointed it has taken me so long to hear the beauty of his playing. His articulation of Bach in particular is quite unusual but once you hear it you can't imagine why anyone would play it any other way. His personal life was a difficult one, perhaps, the documentary implied, because of autistic tendencies. He certainly was obsessive about his health, as the pages of hourly records of his blood pressure and notations about many other ailments demonstrate. He also made the unusual move of leaving the concert platform behind at a very young age (31) and focussed instead on recording, radio documentaries and exploring his philosophy of music and art. His commitment to these things was inspiring. The fact that he died of a stroke at the age of 50 in 1982 seems cruel. The music he made lives on. Here's a little taste:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rant complete

Here's my rant for Monday morning.

With every good intention of turning over a new leaf of exercise and well being I got up half an hour earlier in order to fit in both meditation and exercise. Tick. Yay for me.

Then I stupidly returned to my usual routine of breakfast accompanied by the internet. The following delightful emails were waiting for me. 1. An explicable email from the university's promotions person saying that had not received anything from me re promoting our program AFTER I HAD SENT A LONG EMAIL LAST THURSDAY. 2. An email from a student who, due to his religious beliefs he will be absent for approximately ten days and you know, "we'll still be able to contact him while he's away" etc etc. Like heck we will. 3. Rejection of abstract. Very nicely worded and encouraging but nonetheless they don't want it. Am I setting my sights to high? Am I kidding myself that I have any time to give the mental energy to research? Should I chuck the whole thing in? You know, the usual thoughts. 4. My grandmother is in the hospital (note: this was a telephone call not an email). There is nothing visibly or physically wrong with her. This is a recurring event. 5. The email about the flyer for my book launch is still sitting there. If I wait for it to "go through marketing" there is every chance that the launch will be over before the "approved flyer" returns. Given the fact that the university contributed nothing towards the publication of the book I don't see why I should I have to rely on their marketing approval. So I won't be. I shall make and print my own flyer and hand/email to anyone I like. 6. Email from music shop. "We've run out of Music Eisteddfod Programs". Yes, lovely. Because just what I feel like doing today at work, in between preparing and teaching a class on annotated bibliographies, dealing with staff and student problems, finalising my marking, liaising with the library regarding our information literacy sessions and other unexpected delights, is to stand at the photocopier and make some more booklets.

Rant complete.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

tonight at Wendy's

Did I tell you how much I enjoyed Tony Martin's A Quiet Word with Alan Davies last Saturday night? Probably not. Well, anyway, I really did. Mr Martin's interviewing skills were lovely, in an easy-going chit chat kind of way, without the slight smuggishness that so characterised Andrew Denton's more recent work. He was always my favourite on The Late Show. What I mean is, (unlike Mr Denton) it didn't sound like he was showing off when he asked his questions, even though he had clearly done some research. I thought he set a delightful mood. Tonight, he interviews one of my heroes, Rhys Darby (aka Murray Hewitt) from New Zealand. That's right....Band Meeting...Present. If you didn't watch it last week, then watch it tonight. Of course, I am slightly conflicted because Rockwiz is on at the same time, but my dear people that is what a dvd recorder that can record two channels at once is for. I save Rockwiz as a special treat for later on.

Last night I fell asleep during New Tricks. I'm sure it wasn't the quality of the program. I was tired. I managed to stay awake through Miranda - which has grown on me upon second viewing. Sadly, last night was the final episode. And please don't judge me, but tonight I am recording "He Just not that into you" or whatever the heck that film is called. Because, there was no way I was paying money at the cinema or video shop to watch, but now that it is free I feel I can give some of hard drive space to it and fast forward through the bad, boring parts. We all need to watch some ordinariness now and then, otherwise how would we tell what we really enjoy?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

sadly, no chorus or jazz hands

So yesterday was Monday and what a Monday it was. Firstly, it was long. I was at work from 8:30 until 8pm. Then I went to choir and got home at 10. My tasks at work included some mild procrastinating, emails,marking, making a powerpoint slide, fixing a presentation for yesterday evening, giving a presentation yesterday evening at the "Research Showcase" (sadly, no chorus line or jazz hands, although I did crack some jokes which some people smiled kindly at), mingling and "engaging with members of the community" - mostly sciencey, agriculture people - you can only imagine how interested they were in a television studies research person who talked to them about critically reflecting on one's own practice as an educator to identify the assumptions which frames one's work. Safe to say, no-one came and asked questions of me at the end. The upside of this was that I could enjoy the food which for once was not the usual dire buffet of finger food one finds at such events. There was also wine although I did not partake of it because I had to speak, and then I had to go and sing and play the piano. When I got to choir late they were singing Streets of London. It really is a very pretty song. And then we practised our music for the Eisteddfod. We have a pre-Eisteddfod concert on Sunday. I am now singing first alto in the unaccompanied Sacred piece, and tenor in the madrigals. The tenor line goes just a little bit low in some places for my "range" (posh musical term for the highest and lowest notes I can sing with ease). For instance the F and E below Middle C are a little bit of a stretch. Still, madrigals are so much fun to sing and the tenor often has a great part. Then we finished with our accompanied Sacred piece, a short bouncy chorus from Judas Maccabeus by Handel. So I played the piano for that. My happy music mood was soured slightly by an officious email from an Eisteddfod committee member. I hate getting those kind of emails any time, but late at night is even more frustrating as it interrupts my sleep. Still, I have replied in professional manner this morning and there it lies.
Welcome Tuesday!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dear iPhone

Dear iPhone
Firstly, I would like to thank you for your many months of trusty morning alarm/wake-up service. I rely on you to disturb me from my slumber, and keep disturbing me as I lazily press snooze, until I actually manage to get out of bed and put my feet on the floor. Without you I would be late more often than not. However, this morning I think can both agree that there was a repeat of an unpleasant incident regarding the end of daylight saving where somehow you took it upon yourself to wake me an hour earlier than usual. I thought we had solved this problem but upon checking your settings you seemed to have strayed off Brisbane time. So as "Piano Riff" blared into my shadowy bedroom, I stirred from a dream thinking..."goodness the mornings are closing in"...but no! It was only 5:40am, even though your time said it was 6:40am. So in the nearly dark I pressed a few buttons and reset you back to Queensland time. And then I lay awake for an hour, trying to go back to sleep. It didn't work.
Don't do it again
Kind regards

Saturday, April 2, 2011

the dreaded double u-turn

I caught up on last week's Amazing Race just in time for the next episode tomorrow night. I was not particularly sad to cheerleaders Jamie and Cara eliminated. However, it was the shocking behaviour at the double u-turn that was most delightful. My favourite dating goths, Kent and Vyxsin u-turned Jamie and Cara right in front of them! Awesome moment until Jamie and Cara then u-turned the Harlem Globetrotters who are somewhat inexplicably called Flight Time and Big Easy. I am guessing these are not the names on their birth certificates. Father and daughter Ron and Christina continued to bicker through the challenges. And the other father and daughter team of Gary and Mallory (who is like an excitable, squealing small animal) were so full of good cheer and humour they were unbelievable. Sisters Jen and Kisha, mother and son, Margie and Luke just got on with business. They are all impressive competitors. The Cowboys Jet and Cord (again with the names!) managed to keep their hats on and not run last for a change. And Zev and Justin only just scraped through. Meanwhile, the dinosaur challenge sorted the wheat from the chaff. And that chaff was the cheerleaders. Finally I'd like to shout out a special mention to Channel Seven for showing a promo for tomorrow night's episode that gave away who was about to be eliminated. Good work indeed.

barely pausing for procrastination

It's been an uneventful Saturday. Beginning with the weekend ritual of breakfast at Indulge, I dragged myself out of bed, showered and wandered out the front door by 7:30. It was worth the scrambled eggs and bacon which are the yummiest ever. Breakfast was accompanied by perusal of the local paper, mainly to check the birth and death notices and other such cheery reading. Next stop, Woolworths for the groceries. Here's a tip for young players. If you get there between 8 and 8:30 the shop is nearly empty. That's right, grocery shopping is almost an enjoyable experience. I ran into a lady from work and we both talked about the bad news of a colleague who this week was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Very sad indeed. Then it was time to race groceries home, dump them all over the kitchen and after throwing the cold things into the fridge and freezer, next stop meditation. Peaceful and clearly somewhat motivating, as I came home and barely paused for procrastination before finishing all the washing and cleaning the house. I rewarded myself for this mighty feat with a cheese sandwich, some giant purple grapes and a cup of French Early Grey Tea (leaves not a bag). It's tremendously refreshing and strange that I like it given that I don't like the English Earl Grey at all. After all that racing about and vacuuming and such I decided twas time for a little rest. I had barely sat on the lounge before my eyes were drooping shut. So I let them. I woke up and looked blearily at the clock on the kitchen wall and thought "Oh My Goodness I have slept until 5:15". So I got up and got busy again washing up the dishes and other bits and pieces until I noticed it was only 4:15. I'd had my own little daylight saving moment of confusion. I could have had more of the sleeping. So I sat down again and read for an hour which was most pleasant. It was the first time since my Kindle arrived on Thursday that I had a proper chance to play with it. I decided I will not allow myself to ever have more than two unread books on it. We shall see how long that lasts. I started The Happiest Refugee by Ahn Do. And there is a Jasper Fforde in the queue. This does not count magazines and newspapers of course. Of course!