Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tinpan Orange do it again!

There's a band out there called Tinpan Orange and if you haven't heard their music you are seriously missing out! (You can hear a sample on their website. link above)
I knew the band was coming to Darwin for the Festival well in advance and at no time did I ever doubt that I'd go to their show...

Did I see them? Neoooooooooooooow!
I'm still scratching my head and wondering why I never figured that the combination of their growing popularity, only one official performance in Darwin and time slipping by like a 5 year old on a waterslide in January... Would lead to tickets being SOLD OUT!

On Sunday 23rd August my favorite band played at the Darwin Festival and I had to sit outside on the lawn to Listen. (actually the acoustics were pretty good out there, but darn it! It's just not the same thing!)

None the less it was a great show and the new songs were absolutely beautiful, instrumentals were great! I love the sound of the various stringed instruments, the mandolin sounded wonderful and the guitar solo was pretty awesome too. Emily Lubiiz voice and lyrics are just the most irresistibly beautiful and dangerously enticing combination that I've ever heard!

Tinpan Orange's new album 'The Bottom of the Lake' Most of the songs on this album could be hits! The only one I've skipped a couple of times was song 4 Chinese Whispers, it felt a bit too repetitive after about the 10th time I listened to it. I've listened the album at least 20 times now and I'm only falling more in love with it!
I don't suppose it would do any justice to describe my reaction to each of the songs but most of them made a pretty big impression on me. Romeo don't come was a great song to hook the listener, song 2. the title song is weighty melencholy and beautiful. La La La is so romantic painful love but so much fun too. These are hits! I love them. Yes I've come close to losing myself in Fitzroy St too. Lovely... Is. The song for Frida Kahlo is eqaul to Don McLean's Stary Night but is no imitation! It's original and beautiful. The final track Saudadeds besides introducing me to a wonderful new word also manages to capture the very essence of Saudadeds with the sweet notes of the violin, guitar and the slow languish tones and lyrics of Emily's beatiful voice!

Anyway I am just a fan, I have no real technical understanding of music. I am Mystified by the spell they have cast on me... Others may know better. I suggest you get out there and buy a copy of this CD before stock runs out! Take it home and when it's quiet at night and you're on your own just put it on and listen. If not completely satisfied repeat this process until you realize that this will be one of the best albums produced in this country in 2009!
I bet you'll love it!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


A little while ago on the Daily Headspa blog I caught this great video about baking bread and it inspired me to just get in there and have a go at baking some myself!
I love the smell of yeast doing it's thing and the whole chemistry and living dynamic stuff about bread really turns me on!
So as part as my mission to 'Become Free' I decided a 'Free Man' bakes his own bread... and being a pizza lover this principal should equally apply to that delightful food also!

I am not seeking perfection with this and freedom will come gradually I know so before I show you my results I'll answer a few of the questions I would ask of someone who I might suspect of claiming righteousness by publicizing his one useful act!

  • No I did not grow the wheat, harvest it or mill it myself
  • Yes I did buy my ingredients from the dreaded (No free advertising here you multinational destroyer of communities and thieves of farmers profit) Supermarket.
  • No I did not use a wood fired oven
  • Yes I did use plain flower, yeast, water, sugar, salt, and olive oil.... No I did not squeeze the olives personally.
  • Yes I did kneed the dough with my own two hands.

So now that we've got that over with here are my results using mostly white flour (It's what we had in the cupboard) and a little wholemeal.

white loaf 2
(White bread - my second attempt at bread)

white loaf 1
(White bread - great tasting bread, delicious crust no yeasty smell)

(Vegetable and feta Pizza)

If you think the white bread looks a bit boring, unhealthy and doughy I agree! I'll try to make my future efforts a little more interesting. One step at a time.
I would like to add, for those of you who are contemplating quitting video games and dumping your telly... Just Do It! All I've done is bake a bit of bread and already I'm feeling liberated!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Let freedom reign!

More on Hodgkinson, Tom, How to be free (London. Hamish and Hamilton. 2006)

"...absolutely everything - these days appears to be made of plastic. It's just as Woody Guthrie predicted in his song 'Talking Columbia', trains, clothes, furniture. White plastic is the triumph of quantity over quality, of factory over handwork. Plastic is cold, sterile, humourless, poisonous, ugly, wasteful, unrottable, unburnable; it is a stinking nothing made of oil and money. Plastic drips greed..."
(Tom Hodgkinson, How to be Free, p.287)

Right on Tom!

Hail the spade, the horse and the quill! Let's make music and quit moaning! Thrift is freedom, play is natural, compost is sweet nourishment for our gardens of fruit. I will gladly shovel my own shit. Supermarkets will fall and ugliness vanish as quickly as we can realize the fact, and the enlightened ones would agree. "Life is Absurd, We are Free".

Friday, August 07, 2009

Was my life influenced much by TV?

As I loose all contact with the world of TV my mind becomes a bit clearer and I have started to reflect more on some of the major influences that formed whoever it is that I am now.

At the moment I'm recalling TV programs that I watched and some of the culprits or conspirators of my formation! Who were the male role models that TV produced for me in the 70s and 80s?

Yes Sesame Street was always on in our house and, due to having younger brother and sisters, I watched it for at least 13 years! Gordon (Human actor), Ernie and Bert (Muppets) and Oscar the Grouch (Muppet) each had their influences on me.

Dr WHO has always been a roll model which might explain my occasional shifts in personality however one character that I think had a profound affect on the way I think was Catweazle! The 11th Century Wizard who accidentally traveled through time to the 1970s. Not that I am particularly interested in Wizardry, well actually I doubt I've ever really even thought about it, however something in me has always identified with Catweazle's bafflement and bemusement at the world he found himself plonked into! He was rather mad but his confusion and befuddlement were, I believe, reasonable reactions to the the contradictions he found in the 20th Century Western lifestyle.
The program focused on the relationship between the eccentric Wizard from the Middle Ages and a young boy caught in the confusing years of early adolescence. A perfect match for mentor and apprentice.

He called electricity 'elec-trickery' and the telephone is a 'telling bone' he carried a frog around in his pocket for council and he was not easily convinced that the modern world had much to offer him. Sometimes he was a grouch but he was also nice character! Do the kids have characters like that anymore? What kind of characters are our kids following, modeling and in turn becoming? Does TV provide them with reasonable role models? Are they being trained into some kind of "Bootielicious" "Bad Ass" mass of consumer marketing fodder?
Should I be worried?
Hey we don't even watch the TV any more what am I worried about. Let's just celebrate the world of Catweazle!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Basil seeds

I received some correspondence from the University last week... something about my academic profile and results and stuff like that...
I can't say I read the stuff with much enthusiasm since my family life had been taking priority for the past several years and an "Academic Record" has little to do with why I've been enrolling in study anyway! I suppose I can understand their concern and need to have high performance rates from their enrolled students. After all it helps them keep or build a reputation as a good "Education Provider"... But seriously I couldn't give a stuff about all that and frankly I'm more concerned about the pile of mail that has been building up on my desk!
Then, while tending my basil plants and wondering how long it would take me to collect all the materials I would need to sheet mulch the garden... The answer came! I went back inside and ripped up all those threatening letters full of warning, and I ripped them up including the invitation to comment on the quality of education provided by the Institution. Turn it into mulch! I also realized that they'd done me a favor! The envelopes were just what I needed for the basil seeds I wanted to collect.
Wham! Problems solved! I think I'll write the Uni a letter and ask them to send all further correspondence on recycled unbleached paper! I reckon that would be better for the garden. Oh yeh and if I can figure out how much carbon I will be storing in my soil as a result of mulching their guff I will be able to claim carbon credits and charge them for the service!
And to think I wanted them to stop sending me that crap.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

On The Home Front

All the extra travel we've done this year was a deliberate attempt to break free of a Rut. Taking our holiday to Bali and down the Centre was basically an attempt to break free of the rut, of stress, pressure, disharmony and monotony that our family had fallen into over the past few years.

Things were actually getting pretty grim at home and a fair measure of intolerance and aggravation at each other's idiosyncrasies was leading us down a path of despair! We thought, it's time to hit the road! We'll try it together before circumstances lead us into taking completely different paths... (Which would be a disastrous prospect for our little family). So we planned and booked a trip to Bali, Sam booked tickets for her and the kids to visit her mother for a period when I would be busy at work and we planned our Christmas break. Then there was the recent drive down through the Red Centre which just had to happen, (even though our credit card was already overloaded with debt and the bank account was empty) because neither of us could imagine life at home during school holidays with a couple of hyperactive kids! Thus to prevent the family imploding we resolved to get out of Dodge (Darwin/or at least our flat) at every opportunity to prevent a domestic Apocalypse!

The problems that besieged us appeared to be the result of what happens when two people, who have been living together for more than 10 years, move in two philosophically opposed directions. Or at least when their ideals appear to become incompatible.
My focus had been to reduce my impact on the Earth and live in the most sustainable manner I possibly can. My wife's approach had been totally focused on providing for our kids. (Not a bad objective in itself) Unfortunately though, contrary to what the TV adds tell us, consumer desires can never be satisfied by any quantity of junk purchased from Big W or Kmart! Happiness can not be found inside the plastic wrapper of a McDonald's Happy Meal treat! (Sorry but that stuff really peeves me!). Although we usually only watched ABC and SBS the amount of TV hours in our house was far too high!

We decided that allowing child no. 1 to watch videos on her own TV at night was counteractive to her sleep, play, reading, socialization needs. So we got rid of one TV, introduced a bed time routine and read stories at night and stopped watching Teley between the hours of 6pm and 8:30pm ourselves.

Not long after this we made our trip to Bali, and found the experience kind of stressful, especially at meal times and in restaurants, but the family was together and we managed to have some pretty special experiences.

Some time not long after returning from Bali our 10 year old family TV fizzed out and ceased to work... I drew a sigh of relief and asked Sam what she wanted to do. Knowing that we were already overdrawn on the credit card she looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. Taking the prompt I immediately said, "I don't if we have no TV!" She agreed and we have now gone about two months or so without at TV. Our only regret is that SBS have been screening the second series of Flight of the Conchords!
The benefits of living without a TV have been too numerous to count but basically we now read more, and argue less, the kids get more attention and our power bill has dropped... stuff like that.

We learned somewhere along the way that our youngest has an unusual bone condition and will require specialized surgery later this month! He is likely to be off his feet for at least 3 months and will require a great deal of attention. This made the holiday to Alice Springs an absolute must! We had to get the kids out and have a good time together before the pressures of immobility and full time care take their toll on us all.

The getaway was great. Our little fella ran around everywhere with the kids we met along the way, the place we stayed at in Alice had these enormous jumping pillows that he bounced on every day. On the way home we stopped in Mataranka and watched a local singer perform at the Homestead. Our little bloke danced and danced all night and had the crowd in stitches of laughter and joy!
As we traveled along the Stuart Highway we all had a wonderful time, camping, walking, playing. The desert can be a restorative place and I think we all came back to Darwin with a certain feeling of calm and contentedness. Along the way Sam and I got right into reading a book called How to Be Free. The book is written by an Anarchist who believes life would be so much better if we took on values more like they had in the Middle Ages! Somehow he struck a chord with me and I found the first half of the book absolutely inspirational! It was an affirmation of so much of how I've been trying to change my own life. What was more miraculous was that Sam and I found we shared a lot of the same ideas! Although we'd been struggling to agree on anything previously the simple act of reading the book out loud as we drove brought us closer together. Amazing. The Author Tom Hodgkinson often runs of on flights of fancy and makes some pretty hefty judgements, generalizations and occasionally, omits important facts when accusing others, however he is enormously entertaining and often hits the nail right on the "... F-cking Head." (Damien Hirst).
I don't care if he gets his facts slightly distorted. Just because I don't agree with him advocating smoking in community halls where there are children, or I can't stand the way he raves incessantly about the joys of drinking Ale doesn't alter my acceptance of his basic argument. Even though he makes a few misinformed and obviously antagonistic attacks on Alcoholics Anonymous, the first half of the book has been great! (I'm only now growing weary as I attempt to finish reading it on my own). If you want to make a leap out of the consumer trap give it a go. Along the way I also read Henry Reynolds book 'Why Weren't we told'.
A great read and once again reminding me of the need to live an authentic life, not accept the status quo and always question anything presented to me as "The Truth".

Youtube review here

Our trip down the center has prompted us to make positive changes in our lives. Since returning two weeks ago I have collected 4 bags of horse manure on my Xtracycle, prepared some of the garden for sheet mulching and have been watering our little herb garden every morning and in the evenings with the kids!

Yesterday while at the tip shop I discovered a copy of "Introduction to Permaculture" by Bill Mollison. This book is: ***GOLD***

Life is taking a turn for the better things are looking better every day! Who cares that we spent all our cash and available credit? Soon our second car will burn it's clutch out and we will go back to being a one car family! Who knows what opportunities that will bring with it? Maybe we'll travel by horse??? Or at least give more incentive for cycling?

So all that travel used up quite a bit of carbon, I know! However it may have saved us all our sanity and brought us one step closer to a more satisfying future with less.
Freedom is just around the corner!