Cupcakes

When I was five my teacher organised a thing where we went to various parent’s houses and did activities one afternoon. My mother did cupcake baking so me and some classmates got to bake cupcakes.

Then the next day we wrote and drew about our experiences.

cupcake1

“Robin baked cupcakes”
The title, written by Mrs Boyd with an illustration of some golden brown cupcakes by me. Note the smiley face stamp in the bottom middle.

cupcake2

“Here are the things we used” “Salt, Butter, Eggs Spoon, Baking Tray, Milk” and accompanying illustrations. Note the glass bottle of milk.

cupcake3

“This is very good Robin” “I liked putting the lollies on the icing”. Side-on illustration of me sitting at the table with the cupcakes. Note the second smiley face stamp.

Stereophonic

golfThe days when svelte black-clad women and elegant men met at a cocktail party to exchange notes on the poetry of T. S. Eliot or deprecate the passing of Third Avenue El seem to be over. For now when the gentleman sidles over to the female sophisticate, his opening gambit will like as not be an inquiry into the condition of her pre-amp.

This change in conversational material is not limited to chatter over the canapes. Among the blue-jeaned youngsters, hi-fi publications have superseded Popular Mechanics and the Girl Scout Handbook and we hear they are thinking of revising McGuftey’s Reader so that the very youngest set will not be ill-prepared to meet the challenge of stereo living.

A new language of words has arisen for the conversationalist and a new language of sounds for the listener. These new sounds are inside this album.

In fact, no double-woofer household can be complete without this disc. Maybe that’s immodest, but where else can you hear a human clock swinging in three dimensions? Or stereophonic bagpipes, doors or cats, for that matter?

Thanks to Dr. Ahkbar (Bob and Ray’s non-existent research scientist), the stereo medium is subjected to mad delvings and probings far beyond the wildest dreams of the early copywriters. Stereo experiments never before attempted are brilliantly executed by the crazed genius in his tower. Never before attempted . . . and let’s hope, never again.

And if you’re the kind that resists all this technical stuff, there’s always Abbe Lane in three dimensions!

Here are ten top performances by top RCA artists at their stereophonic best. All selections are complete and unexpurgated.

– From the LP back cover of Bob and Ray Throw a Stereo Spectacular by Bob and Ray. 1958, RCA records.

Fragments

Think of this as a hippy commune for the various social drop-outs of my web page.

If it weren’t for this page they wouldn’t have a home.

Sonic

I got back in my car after returning a video and a really horrible song was on bFM. It was a folk song sung by a woman and the lyrics were like “Oh holy earth, born from the womb of the sacred earth mother, see the wilderness suckle from her breast” The song was making me sick so grabbed the nearest tape, which was one jammed under the accelerator, and shoved it in the stereo. It was “Firestarter” by the Prodigy and that was one of the most beautiful sonic moments I have ever experienced.

Holding Hands

I was walking in a mall type thing in Newmarket. Along came two rather styley looking young men holding hands. Admittedly that’s not a common site in Newmarket, but it was hardly bizarre. We passed and I continued walking along. Ahead of me was a man and a woman in their late 40s. They had stopped and were taking a good hard look at the couple, looking astonished and bemused. I felt rather superior.

Beastmaster

My
brother’s
BEASTMASTER
computer
is
r u n n i n g
~Linux~

What The Hell?

I got an email from some guy about one of my web pages. He asked me:

“What the hell are you talking about? And why would you write a page dedicated to something so small? I don’t want to make you mad or anything but I’m not sure what your trying to say on your page.”

Then gave me the URL of his and ended with a cheery “enjoy”. I could do a ranty rant about how dumb this email is, but I think it really speaks for itself.

He might not know what I’m trying to say. But I do.

Homework

When I was at tech one tutor gave us homework consisting of going around all the supermarkets in Hamilton and getting as much free stuff as possible.

At university homework consists of reading chapters of really boring books.

Falling Over

One of the few pleasures in life is falling over when there is no one around to see you.

Or not so much as no one to see you stumble over that tree root, loose cobblestone or maybe just a misjudged step and go hurtling towards the ground, rather there not being someone who sees you fall and comments.

“Whoops!”

“Ouch! That much have hurt!”

“Oh dear!”

“Oh my God! Are you all right?!”

“Ha ha!”

Etc.

If you fall over in the presence of anyone, whether they are a friend or a complete stranger, they will probably make little comment, like the situation would somehow be incomplete without comment.

But to fall over when you are on your own, is a truly wonderful feeling.

Late one night I got home, parked my car a bit close to the edge than usual, got out took a few steps, tripped on the brick edging and fell over.

My elbows got scraped, my hands stung, my legs ached and my jeans got a bit gritty, but apart from that, after the initial shock, I was fine.

And I was all alone.

No one was around to make a little remark. No one to pretend to comment on my pain. No one to try and make me feel better, which of course is suggesting that falling over makes you feel bad. No one to have a conversation like, “Are you ok?” “Yes” “Are you sure?” “Yes” with.

I was alone, and damn, it felt good.

I suggest you all find a quiet, spot and fall over and just enjoy the moment.

(Don’t) Dance

I was at the Box, a club type thing that plays that plays techno. Dancing away merrily, I looked around at other people dancing. The thing that struck me is how while people were dancing in couples or groups they were more or less keeping to themselves.

Then I thought back, how when the waltz was first around it was very scandalous because the man and woman were touching and dancing quite closely! Contrast this to people at the Box who stand about one metre apart.

So I phoned my mother and got her to fill me in on the history of dancing. When she was my age she was in London and went to dances where they all did the twist (that’s so cool!) but, she said, between doing the twist people danced more traditional ballroom like the quick step and fox trot.

She also remembered going to a social evening at the Blue Moon Ballroom. Everyone was doing the traditional ballroom steps, except for a small group in the corner who were do the new rock ‘n’ roll steps. However the manager asked those troublemakers to leave.

What’s it like now? You just get out there and dance. 1 2 3 4. I guess back in the days of ballroom dancing, holding gloved hands and resting the other hand on the shoulder or waist was significant because it was about the limits of physical contact. Now there’s no need to dance closely with someone if you know you’re going to be seeing them naked in a few hours.

Now that sounds really cynical. Like my generation are a bunch of promiscuous techno sluts or something. Which of course is not true, but it does happen.

The only solution is to not dance. Do cool things instead.

Girl

When I was little, my mother made me have short hair. Her theory was that it easier to look after, which makes hair seem less like part of the body, and more like a part of a car. Forget fashion, forget what I wanted, maintenance came first.

So anyway, I was this little girl with short hair called Robin. One day my we went and visited my mother’s insane aunt on a farm. Me and my brother were both dressed in shorts and t-shirts. I think I was probably 5 and he was three. Anyway, my great-aunt said “Oh look, two little boys”. Yes, she thought I was a boy.

I went over to mum and told her that her aunt thought I was a boy. I would like to think, that if I had a daughter who was mistaken for a son, I would correct the person as soon as possible. But my mother didn’t. In fact, it seemed to me that she didn’t really care what gender my great-aunt thought I was. So I was left to go over to insane auntie and say “I’m not a boy!”

Anyway, my mother dressed me and oh my god, there were some hideous garments. I remember a matching shirt and blouse that would be more suited to some old lady working hidden away in a library than a 7 year old girl. I was helplessly unhip.

Not only that, but I wasn’t allowed to wear sneakers because unlike ugly leather shoes, they didn’t let my feet breathe. Like that matters to an 8 year old.

So I was this little girl being make to dress like a 65 year old woman. Then my class was going to visit a farm. My mother made me a tracksuit and told me I had to wear it to the farm. I didn’t want to, but I eventually did and it was revelation. It was comfortable, and it didn’t suck too much.

After that day, I decided I didn’t want to wear a skirt ever again. This did not please my mother. For some reason, it was wrong, oh so very very wrong for me to not want to wear a skirt. Like it would turn me into a lesbian or something?

I remember by mother being like “Oh why won’t you wear skirts, Robin?”. I don’t know if there were rumours about me, or whether it make her look like bad mother, but I got hassled by my own mother for not wearing skirts.

I remember giving in and going to school wearing some hideous outfit consisting of a pink floral skirt, a pink t-shirt and a pink cardigan. Fortunately that didn’t last for long and the tracksuits won out. Whilst not exactly very cool, they were better than the flowered skirts.

Now that I look back on it, I was getting really mixed signals from my mother. First of all she doesn’t care that her aunt thinks I’m a boy, then she’s yelling at me to dress like a girl.

I always felt that I’d been given a boy’s name. There was a guy in kindergarten called Robin, so from a very early age I felt like I had a boy’s name. All the Robins I knew of were men, Robin Hood, Batman and Robin, Robin Gibb. I knew no female Robins.

However, sometimes I would tell someone my name and they spelled it with an y and it seemed somehow liberating. Like Robyn didn’t just say “a person called Robyn”, but “a female called Robyn”. Then at the age of 8 I started to call myself Robyn. It was great moment.

I knew I was a girl, no matter what my mother said, or didn’t say. Fortunately I’ve gotten over it all. No damage done, just having to grow up with a retarded sense of fashion, really bad hair and the mistaken belief that complete strangers care about me.

Berocca

“If you have a busy lifestyle and sometimes work too hard, do not get enough sleep, drink or smoke more than you should, you may not be eating an adequate diet to provide all the Vitamin B and C your body may need.”

Berocca, pink tablets that when mixed with water form a bright orangey red effervescent drink, rich in vitamins B and C, is the beverage of choice for recovering from hard nights.

After reading the little description on my tube of Berocca (as quoted above), it occurred to me that it was almost a check-list for a good time.

So, there’s this person who has a “busy lifestyle” and who “work[s] too hard”. They go to work and work their arse off. One of those jobs that almost drives people insane like working at McDonald’s or a help-desk boy. At the end of the week it is time to let go of all the crap that happened at work and have a good time.

Off to a liquor outlet to get some booze then off to a friend’s place where everyone there “drink[s] or smoke[s] more than [they] should”. Lots of beer and spirits and don’t bogart that joint, my friend (ok, so the smoking the Berocca tube refers to is more likely to be tobacco).

Then it’s about 3.27 am and everyone gets hungry so they do a KFC mission. That takes care of “not be eating an adequate diet”.

The next morning or even afternoon, after getting about 5 hours sleep, the night before has caught up and it’s recovery time. So little pink tablets get plopped in glasses of water.

So the Berocca tube basically describes the lifestyle that happens to many young people every weekend. The only thing missing is something about having sex with someone whose name you can’t remember. They should add that to the description “…drink or smoke than you should, sleep with people whose names you can’t remember, you may not be eating an adequate diet…”

So come and rejoice in the Berocca lifestyle.

Nuke It All

One fond memory I have of being a child of the eighties is the Whitney Houston song “Greatest Love of All” which starts with “I believe the children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way, show them all the beauty they possess inside”. (I’m quoting purely from memory, I’m ashamed to say).

I remember thinking at the time “What a load of crap”, but last night I was thinking back about what the world offered me as a child and I remembered a very disturbing thought.

The cold war was this stupid thing that hung over life in the eighties. Like a false sword of Damocles. It was like if we didn’t all behave the Russians and the Americans would nuke each other and the whole world would die. Yay!

The nuclear thing invaded popular culture and media. There was the sad film “The Day After” about a nuclear bomb going off in an American city. I even remember an episode of “Benson” where they did a mock civil defence nuclear attack situation.

Then my local newspaper, The Waikato Times did an article about what would happen if a nuclear bomb was detonated in the middle of Hamilton.

From the article I worked out that from where I lived I would get really bad radiation sickness and my hair would fall out and eventually me, my family and my cat would die. I remember thinking that I wished I lived in the middle of Hamilton so I would die instantly instead of suffering.

How fucked up is that?

What kind of world did I live in where nuclear paranoia made me, an 8 year old girl, wish I lived in a certain place so I would die instantly?

As it turned out the Cold War was really just something to keep the American arms industry afloat. The was no major nuclear threat, especially not to Hamilton, New Zealand.

So what has this made me? Cynical and skeptical and with an intense dislike of Whitney Houston.

It’s Showtime

The Final Days of the Fairfield Valley Community Players

In his will, composer George Gershwin stipulated that his folk opera “Porgy and Bess” always be performed in English language productions by an African-American cast. This was decreed in order to prevent bad characatures of the black cast by white performers.

This piece of information had apparently not reached as far as the Fairfield Valley Baptist Church hall. It was there, on the final night of a successful three-night run, that John McNichol had just launched into “I got plenty o’ nuttin'” from “Porgy and Bess”, respledent in a sponged-on layer of dark brown foundation, carefully applied by his wife, Fran, in order to make him look less like a 47-year-old science teacher and more like a poor, crippled black man.

What ever effect the brown make-up had on de-whitifying him, it was sadly undone as soon as he opened his mouth to sing. John and Fran were English and had moved to New Zealand over twenty years ago. He still had a clipped English accent, which resulted in in the line “Oh, I got plenty o’ nuttin’, an’ nuttin’s plenty fo’ me” sounding like “Oh, I got plenty oh nut in, Ann nut in’s plenty foh me.” Standing tall in a pair of crisply ironed black trousers, a black skivvie, John was about as far from Porgy as was possible.

John’s performance, however, was only one of the many highlights of the Fairfield Valley Community Players 1992 end-of-year revue, titled “It’s Showtime: Greatest Broadway Hits!” The revue was the creative masterpiece of Margaret Ballinger, who, as she often reminded people, audiences might remember from the Waikato Operatic Society’s 1978 production of “Music Man.”

After breaking her ankle and the subsequent weight gain in the mid-’80s, Margaret changed from performing to directing. “It’s Showtime” was the third show she’d produced and directed for the Fairfield Valley Community Players since she formed the Players along with choreographer Martin Bellevue in 1988.

Next on the programme was “I’m an Indian Too” from “Annie Get Your Gun”. This was sung by the youngest and prettiest member of the lady Players, 32-year-old Helena Anderson. She cavorted on stage with Hamish Stevenson, the 19-year-old former rugby player who had been cast as Big Chief Son-of-a-Bear thanks to the sharp casting eye of Martin Bellevue.

All the songs in the show were accompanied by the two dancers, Trudie Kimble and Natasha O’Connell. Former students of the Bellevue School of Jazz Ballet, the pair had been called in from their university studies to add a little glitz and glamour to the show. For “I’m an Indian too”, Martin had them do a stylised version of the old cowboys and Indians war call where the hand is waved over the mouth while making a shrill sound. Obviously having a couple of mousey, flat-chested dancing girls in black leotards doing a war call would have interrupted Helena’s singing, so Martin had them do it not only with no sound, but also paced to the rhythm of the song, which slowed it down so much it looked like they were yawning to the beat.

The show-stopper was the moving version of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel.” Fran McNichol started singing the song, but when she got to “hold your head up high,” suddenly, for no apparent reason her voice caught and she broke down in tears. From the chorus behind her, Margaret Ballinger stepped out, walked over and put her arm around Fran, and signalled for the pianist to start playing again. The two then belted out the song with confidence, and the entire company behind them joined in for a stirring final chorus. This was executed to perfection every night, always earning the Players a standing ovation, and always moving at least a few audience members to tears.

Being the final show, Saturday night’s performance was a special one. The show ended with an extra encore of “Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little” from “Music Man”, and a surprise original number written and performed by Martin Bellevue called “I’m Gonna be a Star on Broadway.” Bouquets of flowers were handed out, speeches made and after-show nibbles enjoyed.

Everyone agreed the show had been wonderful and that they would come back for next year’s show. However a few months later a letter from the lawyers of the estate of a dead composer sent to the administrator of the church hall resulted in the Players being banned from using the hall. Without a local venue to rehearse and perform the Players soon disbanded.

The last anyone had heard, Martin Bellevue was working on a full-length musical based around “I’m Gonna be a Star on Broadway.” Margaret Ballinger started the Margaret Ballinger School of Stars, offering singing, acting and dancing classes for children aged 12 and under. But the Fairfield Valley amateur dramatic scene just wasn’t the same.