Shirley and Juliet

I saw Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of Romeo and Juliet and goodness me, I really liked it. It was full of fun, excitement, action and good old fashioned mad, passionate love.

But there was one thing that I didn’t like. It was the song by Garbage on the soundtrack. What sticks in my mind is Shirley Manson sultrily singing “I would die for you”. I guess the connection is “Romeo and Juliet died for each other, the song says ‘I would die for you’, so that’s the connection”.

However, I don’t like the connection. Manson’s musings of “I would die for you” remind me not of the love of Romeo and Juliet’s love, but some rock chicks in a Bon Jovi video holding up a banner that says “We’d die for you Jon”.

That inspires the following scene in my mind. In a darkened room a Mr-Blond-from-Reservoir-Dogs type gangster person paces back and forth. In one corner of the room is Jon Bon Jovi, rock star, circa 1987, complete with mascara and permed hair. He is gagged, bound and tied to a chair. In the other corner is the rock chick, complete with mascara and permed hair. She is also gagged and bound. Mr Blond has already been torturing the two. He walks over to the chick and says, “So little missy, who’s it gonna be. You…or the rock star?” He removes her gag for her to answer and she screams out “Kill the fucking rock star!”.

But I digress. I get the feeling that Shirley Manson would not die for her man. She’d probably be screaming the same as the rock chick. But Juliet did die for her man. She took a weapon (gun or knife, depending on how modern you want to be) and killer herself.

Shirley talked the talk, but Juliet walked the walk.

Smurf 90210

smurfdylan

“La la la-la la la
Come and Smurf with me
La la la-la la la
I love you, Bren”

smurfbrenda

“La la la-la la la
Smurf along with me
La la la-la la la
Dylan, I’m just not ready for sex”

smurfbranden

“La la la-la la la
Smurfing all day long
La la la-la la la
I love you, man”

smurftori

“La la la-la la la
Smurf along with me
La la la-la la la
Hi-e!”

Med-i-cool

I woke up one Friday recently and I was really bored. I thought to myself “What would spice up today? I know! A minor surgical operation!”

So I got the bus into town and went to the very happy and friendly accident and medical centre. I saw a doctor and told him that I had a thing on my leg (he described at as ‘mainly fat and fibre’ – cool) and asked if I could have it removed. He said it would be no problem and so we went into an operating room thing.

He got a trolley full of goodies and then got out a big-ass needle and proceeded to injected some anaesthetic into the surrounding area. I’m not scared of needles (which doesn’t quite explain why I haven’t had my tetanus shot which I was supposed to have when I was about 15) so I just sat back and let him squirt the stuff in.

Unfortunately the actual anaesthetic stung, like getting salt in a cut, only it was under the skin. But soon enough the anaesthetic took effect and he was able to prod my leg with a needle and I couldn’t feel anything.

The good doctor them swabbed around the area with iodine. Then he got a scalpel and started to chop. I was going to look at it, but it was too uncomfortable sitting up so I just lay back and relaxed. I could feel the skin feeling pulled around and there was the noise of chunks of flesh being cut. The doc said it was quite tough to cut through.

Eventually he got the thing cut off and he stuck it in a little jar to be sent away to a lab to get analysed. He had cut the thing off, but cut around it in an oval shape so the skin could be pushed together. It was at that stage that I felt some blood trickling down my leg. The doctor had said that it was quite vascular so there would be a lot of blood.

Next he pushed the skin together and put some stitches in. I wasn’t watching, so I don’t know how many stitches were put in, but I’d guess that it was 3 or 4. I could feel the skin being pulled over. It was a really strange sensation.

After I was stitches up I took at look at my leg. My skin was really white – possibly due to the blood loss. The stitches pulled the skin firmly together and it was sort of bulging. It looked really ugly, it slightly reminded me of something in Seven.

The doctor cleaned it and put a few sticky plastic strips across which aided in bringing the sides together. He had to put some glue type stuff on to help it stick. He then put a small pad over the area, then a bigger sticky one. Finally he put a smooth thin plastic sticky thing over to keep it water proof.

So I walked around with the dressing on my leg for a week, unable to do Kung Fu kicks. I was so paranoid about ripping that stitches that I started walking funny. A week later the stitches came off and it was fine. It had nicely bonded and was healing. The lab report said that the thing was just fibre – nothing to worry about. Cool.

And that was it. It was fun and it only cost $40 plus $5 to get the stitches out

1994. Marina Del Ray, Los Angeles, California, USA.

It was my birthday. It was supposed to be really cool. Like “Yeee! It’s my birthday and I’m in LA!!!”. Ha ha ha.

I’d been feeling pretty bad the few days before. But on my birthday it was really really sick. I was unable to digest any food. I woke up and I was feeling so bad. My parents were like “So! What do you want to do for your birthday!!!”. I told them I damn well didn’t want to do anything because I was feeling so sick. I think they thought I was just saying it because I was being anti-social. Sure.

The day went on and I wasn’t getting any better. I demanded that I be taken to a doctor. I didn’t want to move from where I was, but I didn’t want to feel like that for any longer. My father and brother and disappeared in the rental car, so my mother and I had to take the hotel courtesy van.

I distinctly remember sitting in the back of the van huddled in a little ball feeling like shit. There were two American women in the seats in front who wanted to talk to be. They complied with every stupid stereotype of loud Americans: “OH, YOU’RE SICK. I WAS SICK LAST WEEK. I SPENT THE ENTIRE DAY IN THE BATHROOM THROWING UP.” “OH, YOU’RE FROM NEW ZEALAND. I WENT THERE LAST CHRISTMAS. YOU HAVE A VERY BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY”. Blah blah blah.

We got to the hospital, and I was wished well by the women. The hospital has since been made vaguely famous as where Kurt Cobain escaped from in rehab about a week before he died. So I went in and an old woman who wasn’t a doctor or a nurse but some happy greeting person happily greeted me and took my name.

I had to go and give them my name and stuff. A problem happened when the computer had no space for my country, so they tried to put “NZ” as the state, but it wouldn’t accept it. And my 4 – digit postcode wasn’t long enough for them. I should have said “90210”.

Then they asked me if I had medical insurance. I did, but my mother had left the papers at the hotel. They wouldn’t see me without them or something like that. Mum asked me if I really needed to see a doctor and I gave her the most evil look I could muster. So mum had to go back to the hotel and get them. That took about 15 minutes. I was left sitting in the waiting room with the Time magazine “grunge” issue.

Just as I was reading about Babes in Toyland being described as “punkettes” (is that like Smurfette?) my mother got back with the insurance forms and I could finally see a doctor.

There was someone else who was walking through behind me. A nurse person went screaming at her “You can’t go through there with her!!! No one is allowed to be with the patient!!!” It turned out the woman was a patient herself, but it sounded like a law-suit prevention thing. Like if someone went in with me I could sue the hospital because I was sick and didn’t know what I was thinking and they should have stopped it or some bollocks like that.

I had to change into a paper gown thing and got given a plastic wrist band, which seemed really over the top.

All the times I’ve been to the doctor in New Zealand I’ve been seen in what ever I was wearing at the time. I even had the thing cut out my my leg with only having to take my jeans off.

So I waited around and a doctor turned up and her name was Robin. She checked my name tag and made sure that I was who it said I was. She asked me a few questions and did stuff like take my temperature and listen to my chest and all the time I was thinking why couldn’t I at least have my jeans on. Eventually she told me that I was sick (hey!) and prescribed me some penicillin.

The bill came to US$150 and the penicillin was about $15. This totally freaked me out because I am used to paying $20 for going to the doctor and about $5 for the drugs.

Fortunately the next day I was feeling better so I went to Tower Records and bought lots of good music.

Loser

I was in the car with my brother, driving to KFC. I was, as I usually do, playing with the car stereo, skipping from station to station trying to find some reasonably good music. I hit a button and the familiar slide guitar at the beginning of “Loser” came through the speaker. And I thought to myself what the hell was that?

When loser was a hit, in 1994, it seemed like a such an incredibly cool song. It was the definition of cool. There was the dorky slide guitar, the underlying hip-hop beat, the lyrics that didn’t really mean anything and the glorious chorus peaking with “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me!”

For the nations of fashionably cynical teens, it was an anthem. I remember driving around with my friend singing along. Man, we were losers! Who cares about job, education, responsibility, we were losers so we didn’t have to care about that sort of “bullshit”.

How wrong can you be?

I think the turning point for me came when I saw Beck perform live. Surrounding me was a sea of alternative conformity. Doc Martens boots. Piercings. Goatees. It was everywhere and most of the audience was there for one man and one song.

A few much cooler people were there solely for the support band, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, who really confused the audience who wanted to like them, but couldn’t yell and scream because the JSBX played continuously, with no breaks between songs.

Beck joined the JSBX for a song, which massively excited the audience, but it wasn’t Loser so it didn’t really matter.

When Beck finally got on everyone wanted him to play Loser, Loser Loser and for an encore, Loser. Unfortunately he played other songs, but the B-sides from the Loser single were recognised and screamed joyfully at.

Then Beck did something that really confused the alterna-gang. He sang a capella. At one part of the song, he paused and from the audience a guy yelled out “But you’re a loser!”. Beck stared straight ahead and sang “Have you seen the shit? It’s all here tonight”.

I just stood there wondering if anyone else was as amazed at what he’d just sung than I was.

He eventually played Loser and the crowd jumped along. But when it came to the chorus, he sang what sounded like “I’m a milky baby, so why don’t you kill me”. The crowd was pleased.

So back in the car with my brother, I was trying to work out what the song was all about. The lyrics didn’t mean anything: “Dog food skulls with the beefcake pantyhose”. At best it’s some sort of 1980’s reminisce, but in actuality it was meaning to its listeners.

The chorus starts with (according to a magazine article of the time) “Soy un perdidor”, Spanish for “I’m a loser”. Of course a lot of people had no idea what he was singing and various interpretations such as “So, I walked in the door” were sung by the alternoids.

The song has various samples. My favourite was “I’m a driver, I’m a winner, things are going to change, I can feel it”. It seemed like a message of hope, like all this cynical bullshit was going to end, but I realised otherwise when it was revealed that it was from a George Bush speech.

Then the song ended and I was left wondering just what the hell was going on in 1994 that made Loser such a hit. Fortunately whatever it was has gone away, taking with it the slacker attitude that went with it. Because if all the cool people are losers, then wouldn’t that make all the people who suck winners?

Bryan Adams – Reckless

What is rock? It is perhaps a term that holds different meanings for different people. But if someone were to ask me what rock is, I would reply “Reckless, by Bryan Adams.” To me, Reckless represents all that is good with rock. All that is pure, and all that is strong. Reckless is about love and fun, two central themes of anyone’s life. It’s dirty, yet clean. Old, but new. Sexy, yet ugly. There are a lot of things that can be said about Reckless, but the one thing I’d like to be said about it, is that it rocks.

1 – One Night Love Affair

The story of a one night stand starts the album. He meets a girl, two strangers and thinks that it’ll just be a case of spending the night together in passion, then parting their ways. But there is an attraction between them. He tries, as she does, to pretend that there’s no attraction, that saying goodbye the next morning will be easy, but when it comes to doing it, it’s hard. They both wanted a little company and got it, but could never continue. He says goodbye and knows that he will never see her again and wonders what it could have been like. A driving bass hold the song together, while light keyboards plays on the top, but Bryan’s rough voice portrays the raw emotion of a man who scored, but lost.

2 – She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin’

A song about a girl. She has a mundane 9 to 5 job and doesn’t have a particularly interesting week, but when Friday comes along, she has a great time. She goes to her favourite bar, ironically called “The Ball and Chain” and dances the night away. The guitar solo gives her a chance to shake her booty. In the chorus the whole gang joins in singing and adding hand claps, they too are feeling the joy that she is when she’s dancing. There’s a guy – possibly Bryan – watching her from across the dance floor, but she’s not about to let him have his way. If he wants her, he will have to earn her. But there is the feeling that she doesn’t really care about men. When she’s out on the dance floor she just lets her worries melt away. Ahhh…

3 – Run To You

The song has a dark feeling to it, which perfectly reflects the fact that in this song Bryan has been bad. A synth lurks during the verses, then erupts into the chorus. For a moment the song pauses and goes into a moody bridge, before the guitars kick back in. He has a girlfriend, but he’s getting sick of her. She’s faithful, and says she loves him, but he’s found another woman, who gives him the pleasure he desires. He has been torn between the two women, but he’s got the stage where he really wants a good time so he’s going to the other woman. If it’s good then instead of going home after the deed is done, he might stay all night. Lucky Bry.

4 – Heaven

“Honey, they’re playing our song”. Heaven is an “our song”. Unlike the infidelities of Run to you Bryan has decided that there is a woman for him, and she is all he wants. He has found love with her and she is the one for him. He’s been waiting for true love, dreamed of heavenly perfection and has finally found it. He pledges that he will be there for her, forever. The song is perfect for slow dancing.

The video to Heaven is worth noting. Bryan performs the song on a stage in a hall, as he must have done on many occasions. The thing that is interesting, is that the audience he is performing to consists of television sets with teenage girls on the screens. A flipside of the world of these girls seeing him playing on their TVs. An interesting comment on the life of a big rock star.

5 – Somebody

Sometimes life is tough. Bryan knows this and he knows that life can be a lot easier when there’s someone there to go with you, to help you along your way. There are a lot of contradictions and confusing situations in life but having a companion makes it clearer. Then one day he sees someone – someone who looks like Madonna. He realises that he needs someone like her, or maybe even her in his life. This could be interpreted as Madonna, mother of God, giving him divine guidance, or Madonna, mother of Lourdes, being his chick (back in ’84 Madonna wasn’t a mother and she used to dance around with her belly button thing happening – she was so cool). Being alone can really suck.

6 – Summer of ’69

Who doesn’t love this song? It’s the ultimate reminisce about the pleasures of being a teen. The first band fuelled on rock ‘n’ roll dreams. Then comes the first band. The feeling that she was going to be Bry’s girl forever. Hanging out with his friends, going out, being wild boys. But nothing lasts forever. All the reminiscing makes him ask “what went wrong”. How did all those dreams disappear? He might he older, but is he any wiser? Can he recapture the essence of his youth (Bryan’s latest album ’18 Till I Die’ suggests he’s trying). And then there’s the whole ’69 thing – just what went on down at the drive in?

7 – Kids Wanna Rock

This songs sums up the albums feeling of rock: “Turned on the radio, sounded like a disco”. Dance music might have appeal to some, but Bryan knows what the youth of the world want. Forget about programming those synthesisers, the only pure comes from a pure guitar, plugged in and turned out up. Hear the voice of youth screaming out! Rock ‘n’ roll will never die as long as Bry’s around.

8 – It’s Only Love

And he continues to rock. This time enlisting the help of the powerful voice of Tina Turner. This song is a song for survivors. People who have been there and been walked over, kicked in the head and been shattered – all in the name of love. They both passionately tell the trouble person, don’t worry, it’s only love. Don’t make things so bad because there’s no need for them to be. The searing guitar solo kicks in and provides more relief for a broken heart. The message is, take those feelings and turn them around.

9 – Long Gone

D-i-v-o-r-c-e. Sometimes the perfect relationship turns sour. The woman of his dreams turns into an evil devil woman and she don’t want him no more. She’s taken all the good stuff, leaving him with the clothes he’s wearing. He wants her to know that even though she didn’t like him, he still had strong, true feelings for her. But he knows that she might have all his possessions, but she doesn’t have him.

10 – Ain’t Gonna Cry

Those devil women – he just can’t get rid of ’em. This woman comes along and she’s just no good for him. She said she’d wait forever, but she’s turned out to be bad news. He wants to get away from her so badly that he’s even changed his phone number. She might want him, but he’s strong enough to tell her to get lost, even threatening to rearrange her face if she tries to get close. The song abruptly ends then a voice “A one, a two, a one, two, three”, like the voice of god, can be heard before the song restarts and ends in an eruption of noise. The final sound is a scream.

But above all, I recommend going out, getting the album and listening to it at a loud volume and feeling the power of Bryan Adams rockin’ real hard.

Why I Don’t Drink Coffee

“People that don’t drink coffee are weird.”

– From “The Perfect Cup of Cofee” by Alexis Massie.

When I go to someone’s house and they say to me “Would you like a cup of coffee?” I say “No, thanks” (although sometimes I don’t even say thanks. It’s like if someone offered to bash me over the head I wouldn’t say “No, thanks”.) Then the person has a little trouble comprehending that I don’t want a drink and has to ask “Are you sure?” like maybe I’m playing mind games with them. I then have to make the statement “No, I don’t drink coffee”.

My parents always drank coffee, and I assumed that when I grew up that I would too. But now than I’m an adult, I don’t. It’s not like I never drink it at all. The Planet Espresso thing at the Bongo Bar at Waikato Uni makes a very lovely hazelnut latte and I love it and if it were a person I would be its love slave forever.

What I don’t do is consume coffee on a daily basis. When I wake up I don’t think “coffee!!!”. I usually head for the shower.

I’ve been asking around to find out why people are so fanatical about coffee. The answer I got from a lot of people is “caffeine!!!”. This is what caffeine does to me. Because I don’t drink a lot of coffee, one cup of coffee makes me freak out. I get really restless and need constant stimulation. Then I can’t get to sleep and end up lying in bed at 7.00am still trying to sleep, hating myself for having for not being able to get to sleep.

The other reason people have given for liking coffee is the taste. I’ll agree to that, but there are lots of things I like the flavour of and I don’t eat/drink them every day.

I think a lot of people who drink coffee are like psychologically addicted to it. Ok, I don’t know much about psychological addiction, but it sounds good. My parents have several cups of decaffeinated a day. My mother says it’s not coffee, rather than a “hot drink” that keeps her doing it. Well how come I can get by in life without several “hot drinks” a day?

Do I have some gene missing that makes me not have to head off to the kitchen every few hours to make a cup of coffee?

It’s not like I don’t drink caffeinated beverages at all. I enjoy Mountain Dew, but when I drink a can of Mountain Dew I don’t exclaim “CAFFEINE!” before drinking it. I don’t understand the need for caffeine either. Like it would help me stay awake longer so I can sitting around doing nothing for longer? When you feel tired it is your body telling you that it needs sleep, not that you should stay awake longer.

So I don’t drink coffee. I do not own any form of coffee. If you come over to see me, I will not make you a cup of coffee. If you ask me for a cup of coffee you will not get one. And I’m happy like that.

My Parents’ Record Collection

My first purchase of a recorded piece of music was a compilation tape called “The Hit Zone”. I was 10 years old and I only bought it because it has “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News on it. Sadly the tape broke a few months later due to it being left unprotected and getting dust and stuff inside it. This has since taught me that tapes, records and CDs come in protective cases for a reason.

But before I started buying my own music. I got my musical thrills partly from my parents record collection. The record collection was definitely part of my childhood and has shaped me and made me the person I am today. A bit.

Before my parents got married they both had their own record collections. My father had a variety of records including classical and those James Last records that people are getting into at the moment. He had a method of cataloguing them with little labels that were numbered. My mother had no cataloguing system. When they got married and combined their records the one record that was doubled was the soundtrack to the film “Dr Zhivago”.

My parents belonged the World Record Club, which, in the late seventies, sent out complimentary records. This is supposedly the origin of musical masterpieces by such respected artists as Rolf Harris, Nana Mouskouri and a personal favourite “Non-stop Party Hits”. It is also the origin of the album that everyone’s parents has, “Hot August Night”, by Neil Diamond.

Here’s a list of the best and the most distinctive albums in my parents record collection.

Victor Borge – Caught in the Act
Nimble-fingered Vic goes off.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Soundtrack
It’s a cool movie and Henry Mancini’s score is good.

Neil Diamond – Hot August Night
Everyone’s parents has this. A classic.

Dick Hyman – Moog
Scary moog music, best song title “The Legend of Johnny Pot”. Also, this guy has a very scary name.

Hair – Soundtrack
I got into this when I was about 13. It is a very cool musical.

High Society – Soundtrack
“Well Did You Evah!” I haven’t actually listened to it, but the cover, with Bing, Grace and Frank, haunts me…

The Geisha – Feilding Community Players
This is a record of a musical my mother was in in 1960. She was one of the four Tea Girls.

Gilbert and Sullivan – The Mikado
I haven’t heard it but the cover is cool.

Golden Hour of Best Loved Fairy Stories – Famous people
Like Laurence Olivier and Roger Moore. I used to get so frightened when I heard Roger’s reading of Snow White.

Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant
I used to laugh at the cover photo, but one day I listened to it and yeah, it’s good!

Rolf Harris – All Together Now
I just don’t dig this.

Francis Lai – A Man and a Woman
Un Homme et un Femme. I haven’t listened to it, but it has a cool cover.

James Last – Trumpet A Go Go
Very cool. Impresses some people.

Nana Mouskouri – The Magic of
“Ypomoni” rocks the house

Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells
This is a bit of a classic Parents Record Collection album. Warning on the back “This stereo record can not be played on old tin boxes no matter what they are fitted with. If you are in possession of such equipment please hand it into the nearest police station”.

Music for the Millions – I don’t know…
Cute cats on the cover, and Bach’s classic “Happy Am I, That I Possess Jesus”.

Bobby Richards Orchestra – Great Film Themes III
There’s a cool Manhattan skyline at sunset on the cover.

The Seekers – Seen in Green
Psychedelic squares.

Simon and Garfunkel – The Graduate
An excellent movie with a great soundtrack.

Tchaikovsky – 1812 Overture
The one with the big bangs in it. I haven’t listened to this.