Lazy Luddite Log

23.2.06

Musical Genres 1955-2005

I find that I tend to be better at writing non-fiction than fiction. I have recently completed a non-fiction text on the history of popular music over the last half-century. It is something that I have been studying as a layperson for something like a decade now and I eventually decided it would be fun to try and encapsulate all that into one document. It took moreorless 12 months to do very slowly. Once completed I made it into a nicely formatted printed document with a circulation of one. Then it dawned on me that I can 'publish' it on the Internet and then give it a circulation of dozens!

So here it is: Musical Genres 1955-2005

I put it there with some trepidation. It has its flaws. Some of its assertions can be contested. Some of its terminology is unusual. And some of its phrasing is a tad mechanical. Still I think it's worth putting there and it may be interesting or informative to some.

Update

A decade following this entry I have written a reflection on it and what has changed since. See it here. Also I want to reverse my comment aboe that I find I'm better at writing non-fiction than fiction. The new post tooks weeks to prepare on-and-off while in parallel to it I was producing fictional content for my role-players at a rapid rate. Putting into writing even something you think you understand can be difficult. What makes sense in your own 'Thinkese' can be tricky to translate. I think I did okay.

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Orientation Week

The Monash University O-Week (itself just a few days rather than a whole week) fell on days off for me so naturally I visited this iconic event in uni life. I think there were as many student-run groups with stalls present as I have ever seen (how many of them will be active in coming weeks and months is another matter). Groups I had never seen included Ultimate Disk (a sport involving frisbees) and Juggling.

I visited friends at stalls and also took a look at all the other things on offer. One thing that has changed since I was at Monash is the number of promotional stalls from organisations external to campus (e.g. Commonwealth Bank). The Commonwealth Bank had one of the more interesting attention-getting ploys I have seen - they had a snake handler with live snakes there. I had a biggish constrictor round my neck that decided to arrange itself in such a way that it looked like I had a tie on.

Student groups seemed a bit more pushy in seeking memberships than I remember. There was a lot more in the way of active offering of handbills and the enticing of students over to stalls. I even had someone from a sporting group recommending it to me on the basis of its excellent gender-ratio!

The extra pushiness may be attributed to the entry into force of Federal VSU in mid 2006. Groups want to get as many members as they can now so they have a decent bank balance with which to survive the cutting of public funds that may result. I have a feeling that some groups will do just fine because they have strong memberships or because they can be run for barely any cost (e.g. FOME). The groups that may suffer are those that necessarily have big costs (e.g. Waterskiing) or have difficulty attracting members (e.g. Chess).

There are so many different groups in society dedicated to particular interests but it can be difficult to access them or even know they exist. I look at O-Week as a kind of 'sampler' of those many interests. In one time and place one can go for a walk and see all these different groups, many of which are integrated into wider networks in society as a whole.

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20.2.06

70s Live Action Kids TV

I am fully tripping! Forget designer drugs - all it takes is to look at images from TV shows you last saw over 25 years ago! Bits of your brain that have lay dormant for most of your life suddenly spark into life and it feels... well if anyone remembers these shows they may get the same kind of experience by looking at this site.

It took me a while to come across it. It all started last night - I decided to see what the Internet had on a show I remembered called 'Ark 2000' but there was nothing at all. So I went looking for shows from the same era in the hope that there may be some associations between them (e.g. shared producers). I looked for info on both 'Isis' ("faster than a gazelle... more powerful than the Sahara sun... able to leap the Great Pyramids..." oh never mind) and 'Space Academy' (I made Lego ships inspired by that show) and one way or another did find the common links needed to take me to 'Ark II'...

Seems that my memory of the show has severely distorted over time. As well as changing the name I also remembered aspects of the story differently. So I remember that the cause of its post-apocalyptic setting was solar flares but apparently it was something more human-induced like pollution. I also remember the crew of the shiny futuristic motor home to be a family but they were in fact three non-related 'scientists'. And I remember them having a robot companion but it was in fact a talking chimpanzee!

In 'Ark II' they were looking for a city called Sanctuary that was free from the devastation of the rest of the world. They only ever found a fake Sanctuary but even it was cool - it must have been filmed at some university campus coz it had that look: The first time I ever visited La Trobe Uni Bundoora Campus I suddenly felt like I was in some 70s SF show...

Anyway the link I have provided gives info and images (evocative stuff) on dozens of live-action kids shows from the 70s, most of which were produced by Filmation (who also did animations like 'He Man' and 'She-Ra') and the Kroffts ('Land of the Lost'). And this is just the American shows from our childhood. Does anyone other than me get blown away by this stuff?

A sequel of sorts has since been written for this entry...

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19.2.06

Bubonic Plague Filk

Back in the comments on the 'Bohehian Rhapsody versus the Evie Trilogy' someone provided a link to a filk (take an existing song and change the words to humorous intent). I have only ever done one filk in my life and till now only shared it with a singing group I was in (we sung it in rehearsals a few times just for fun). Now due to the wonders of modern technology I can share it with the whole world! It is to the tune of 'Top of the World' as performed by the Carpenters but it has a new name and subject matter...

Bubonic Plague

Such a feelings coming over me
There are maggots in most everything I see
Not a cat to be found
That's because they've been drowned
And the rats are taking over now it seems

We folks have no concept of hygiene
It's been more than six months since I had a clean
And this scratching is clear
Got a flea in my ear
And I won't be surprised if it's diseased

I've got the Bubonic Plague
And I'm not feeling so good
And my family have thrown me on a cart
They said "Bring out yer dead"
Must be loosing my head
Rats have put me on the back of a cart

Something in the wind is smelling foul
And it's telling me that there's a burial mound
There's a hole in the ground
That they're throwing us down
There's a sickly sense of undeath here for me

There is only one wish on my mind
When this age is through I hope that we will find
That tomorrow will be
Plague and pestilence free
And that cats will not be killed for witchery

I've got the Bubonic Plague
And I'm not feeling so good
And my family have thrown me on a cart
They said "Bring out yer dead"
Must be loosing my head
Rats have put me on the back of a cart

I've got the Bubonic Plague
And I'm not feeling so good
And my family have thrown me on a cart
They said "Bring out yer dead"
Must be loosing my head
Rats have put me on the back of a cart
Rats have put me on the back of a cart

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A City Adventure

On a spare day last week I went into the City. I had just one purpose for my visit which was to deliver some handbills promoting an NFA benefit (see 'Things I am involved in' on sidebar) to stalls at the Sustainable Living Festival in Federation Square. That task was done in a jiffy but since I was in the City I decided to go do other stuff at whim.

At the intersection of Swanston and Bourke I stopped to be entertained by a busker. This dude was from Japan but he played the blues like he was born in the Mississippi Delta. Sat and took it all in and even dropped him some coin.


After that popped into Comics R Us which buys and sells second-hand collector toys. I go there once in a while to look at classic Transformers and this time also saw some newly acquired Legoland Space stuff circa 1980 - talk about flashbacks.

I then decided to get some new jeans at Target and on a whim abandoned my standard blue for some black jeans. This was something I regretted on getting home and remembering that we live with two white cats. I think I may need to invest in one of those clothes brush things.

Then I wanted to get to the Bendigo Bank on Elizabeth Street and decided to take a backstreets way. Part of my route took me through Melbourne-on-Collins (shopping arcade) and there I came upon the Three Minute Angels - basically two masseurs, two chairs and one banner (announcing 'Three Minute Angels: Five Minute Neck & Shoulder Massages'). I decided a massage was just what I needed and it was good. Apparently they started giving just three minute massages (hence the name) but decided that more time was needed to do a proper routine. The other interesting thing is that they let the customer decide price at the end of the massage (with $10 to $20 as the average given) which is nice but also tricky as you may be torn between showing your appreciation and saving a buck. Also had a smothie in the food court there.

Finally got to the bank and then went back to Flinders Street Station. Naturally I have had many such 'city adventures' in my time but this one is the freshest in my mind so - what the heck - this one can stand here recorded as a representation of all other such days.

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13.2.06

Four Day Week

Have been looking at a discussion which friend Bowie started on the topic of a staggered four day week (staggered so that the norm is for everyone to work four days but for those days to be distributed over all days of the week). It is an interesting notion that has been expressed in reverse by the likes of the Three Day Weekend Party (they exist and are only semi-joking). It is potentially attractive to those for whom rest and recreation as an important part of a civilised life. It may also be supported by those wanting more flexibility and productivity in the workforce. It is worth noting that these sort of changes may just happen over time rather than be imposed by government.

I am happy to steer away from any technical discussion of the economics of this issue (something best left to others). But I will say that such a thing may have interesting implications for cultural life. Society is segregated into 'shifts' with the majority in the Monday-to-Friday daytime shift and with a minority in other working patterns. Those with funny hours find themselves deprived of chances to participate fully in society because they are working while the rest of us are partying. The staggered four day week (any staggered week in fact) could change this by replacing the majority shift with many more different but overlapping shifts. This may then also have ecomomic impacts in terms of distribution of customers over the course of a week for the hospitality industry. What do others reckon?

On a personal note...

The rest of this post is unusually personal and introspective for me. It may be helpful for those who never seem to know what I do despite me telling them on numerous occasions.

What would the implications of a four-day week be for me? It would be attractive if it was secure. Four days worth of work would provide a sufficient income while three days off would provide sufficient time for all the other things in life. One day for recreation... one day for rest... one day for personal self-development or contribution to the community.

At present I have much more spare time than that in the average week. My clerical work only gives me a few days work a week (it is effectively a job-share scenario - something that I think is becoming more common). The spare time is nice and I honestly have no difficulty at all in filling it with whatever (it can be difficult sometimes however to account to others what I have done). The job is nice (the company are scarily nice) but more hours would be better simply for the sake of a better income. Some may suggest that I get a second job to take care of that. But then I consider the added complications of two jobs (different commutes and different work practices and different paper work to fill in) and get scared off. I am far too attached to continuity for my own good. Changes will occasionally be acted upon me and I quickly assimilate them into an otherwise same continuity.

"But what ever happened to the teaching Daniel?" I have recently completed (successfully) the part-time course to add primary teaching to my secondary teaching qualification. Bully for me. But the last teaching round I undertook left me reeling. Put it this way - how can I possibly make a group of twenty or so autonomous persons (of whatever age) do what I want them to do rather than what they want to do? Sure there are refinements in method that can be useful but I also feel there is a knack and it is a knack that I lack. I have always had that problem but have always dismissed it with reference to the circumstances (e.g. a bunch of mid-teens at an under-funded state school in a disadvantaged area will naturally give the emergency teacher an awful time). But what if it also happens with a nice bunch of sweet preps in the relatively controlled conditions of a supervised teaching round? For a long time now I had been assuming or hoping that my issues with teaching were particular rather than universal. I now think differently.

There is more to this than just one problematic teaching round. As I say it seems to have drawn attention to an issue that was always there. Then there have also been the stresses associated with a correspondence course. And the content of some of the course work which can be a tad wanky. And the fact that the teaching profession seems to be the biggest political football with parents and pressure groups and governments all wanting it to compensate for wider societal issues. And the holidays may be long but then your work follows you home every day. And then there is the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) that seems to exist only to charge fees and impose an additional layer of assessment onto new teachers. I think I want a simpler life than all that. And even if I do decide to go back into it I will be very selective in what I apply for.

None of this matters particularly. I have never been obsessed with any particular profession. As a child I never even had an answer to the question of what I want to be as an adult. Teaching was just something that seemed consonant with my skill-set and something I regarded as important. Now I think that answering customer phone calls and processing purchase orders (interspersed with playing with the Internet during the slack times) is just fine thanks. It's just a pity I spent such a long time to come to this conclusion. Take me back to the intersection marked 1996!

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7.2.06

British Eccentric Test

You know how there are all these silly little quizzes on the Internet? Stuff like 'What Age Will You Live To' or 'What Hogwarts House Do You Belong To'. Well I have developed one of my own with some help from my friend Sean (who is an actor and therefore understands eccentrics...). I have put it onto the web in automated form at OK Cupid. You can also take it in non-automated form here if you prefer.

There are ten questions each with three options. To self-score total the following values: a = 0; b = 1; c = 2. This gives you a score of between zero and twenty which you can convert to a percentage if you like. It purports to tell you how much of a 'British Eccentric' you are even if (like me) you have never even been to the UK! Feel free to respond with what score you got and any comments.

Take the Test!

1. If the name on your birth certificate were
“James Rupert Lindon” you would ask your friends to call you:

a. Jim
b. Rupert
c. The Marquess of the Lost Mire

2. Which clothes are you most likely to wear?
a. Jeans and a shirt with some trendy print on it
b. Trousers held by bracers and a t-shirt with the statement "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" screen printed on it
c. I dress like Dr Who as played by Tom Baker!

3. If you could not read without assistance
which of these would you use?

a. Prescription glasses with the latest 'barely there' frames
b. Some bifocals once worn by my grandparents
c. A monocle

4. The collection you most want to complete is:
a. The whole ten-season DVD set of ‘Friends’
b. The full collection of postage stamps from the
Principality of Andorra
c. All the original wax-cylinder recordings made by
Alexander Graham Bell

5. Which music do you most like listening to?
a. Whatever is in the charts today
b. Something a bit indie and retro like the Cure
c. The album of carols and madrigals by Jethro Tull is superb

6.You are voting in the British General Elections.
Who do you vote for?

a. Someone who can win - I will pick Labour or Conservative depending on what they are offering me
b. Someone like the Liberal-Democrats who can provide a bit of an alternative
c. Someone irreverent like the Monster Raving Loony Party

7. Somebody has made a statement to which you object.
You say:

a. Bollocks!
b. Pishtosh and poppycock!
c. That is a festering pile of stinky ferret poo!

8. You are more likely to have met your partner:
a. At a bar or nightclub
b. At a peace-rally
c. While accidentally shooting them with an arrow during a re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings

9. You and your family decide to play an impromptu game after Christmas lunch. It will most likely be:
a. A casual game of backyard cricket
b. A spot of croquet
c. Chess on a life-sized board with family members as pieces

10. Explaining your favourite past-time to a stranger requires:
a. A three-word sentence
b. A lengthy discussion (possibly with diagrams)
c. Taking them along to the initiation ceremony

Results of Test

0-20% Eccentricity - 'Boringly Normal'

"BORING! Why did you even take this test? Go back and fade into the crowd just like you always do... Hold on... I cannot see you anymore... was I talking to someone just now..."

21-40% Eccentricity - 'Almost Normal'

"You are pretty normal. Just occasionally you do or say something a bit out of the ordinary. But by-and-large you are an average person."

41-60% Eccentricity - 'A Bit Odd'

"You are passingly normal but those who get close to you notice that there are some things that are rather odd about you. These differences make you a more interesting person but still allow you to get on as an average member of society."

61-80% Eccentricity - 'Peculiar'

"You are well on the way to becoming a fully fledged eccentric. You are unusual in many respects and your friends and even passing acquaintances know you are distinctly different. Some bigots may be standoffish as a result but your skin is too thick for it to worry you."

81-100% Eccentricity - 'Eccentric'

"You are a true eccentric in all aspects of your life. You are known to all as a most singular character and your reputation precedes you. You are oblivious to any adverse reactions you may get as a result. A small village in Shropshire has recently lost its resident eccentric to a ballooning accident and they want YOU to fill the role!"

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