a little east of reality

Monday, October 30, 2006

idol top 5

Theme: Australian songs (Ricky leaves)

Not much to say about the actual show this week, as I didn't see the performances (I was at the ARIA awards and the Smarmy Toothpick forget to record it as arranged...wretched boy). Here are the video snippets for Damien, Ricky, Chris, Jessica and Dean. I'm okay with the verdict. I like all five that were still in it this week, so I'm not looking for anyone in particular to leave, but I do think that Ricky was justifiably in line for voting out. I actually would have picked Jessica to go before him ~ she sings beautifully, but there's nothing original about her ~ however the rest of the public didn't agree. I'm not sure who should be next. Dean was upping the ante every week, but he's lost momentum the last few performances. If he's same next week then I wouldn't be surprised to see him go.

Kyle suggested that Ricky and Dean have similar fans and that whoever stayed (they were the bottom two this week) was going to get the votes that usually went to the other. That prompted several threads on the forums about how people vote once their favourite contestant is gone. I'm kind of surprised that no-one's done a PhD on voting culture in reality TV shows yet...mark my words, it'll happen, if indeed it hasn't already. There's always someone out there willing to take an inordinate amount of time to research something completely meaningless to the good of humankind.

A topic floating around that did interest me regarded a comment made at the ARIAs scorning 'get famous quick' TV shows - interesting given that everyone knew it was a direct snub to the Australian Idol contestants (past and present) sitting in the (music industry section of the) audience. The topic turned personal for me when someone labelled Peter Garrett a hypocrite for clapping when the comment was made, on the basis that he (in their opinion) had used his celebrity to get a seat in politics. I had to spend answering that one, because Garrett is pretty much the textbook opposite of the person they're describing, and the ignorance of all he and Midnight Oil have achieved made my blood boil.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

oil and vinegar ~ the aria awards 2006

The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) held their 20th awards night tonight with 10,000 onlookers, including Scorsese and me! I was particularly excited to go this year (for the first time) as a friend of mine's band was nominated for 5 awards (he's the guy on the left of this photo, aka DJ Debris). He's kind of a cousin ~ his mum and my mum have known each other a long time and he and his sister grew up with me and my cousins after we all moved to Australia. While I'm not close to the band in any sense, I'm really excited to see him have this much success. In the end they (the Hilltop Hoods) won two ARIAs for Best Urban Music Album and Best Independent Release. They also performed their song 'The Hard Road" with a few members of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in tow.

Cool moments:

The red carpet frenzy.
If you have never done this, I highly recommend being at the screaming fan girl section of the red carpet for an event where you have no interest in whose on the red carpet and can just stand back and observe. It is quite hilarious to watch, I assure you. The big irony for me was watching hundreds of fans go nuts for the Australian Idol contestants, at an event where not one of whom (naturally, as none of them have released music yet) was up for a single award.

The moment when I realised that cameras were allowed in.
Always a joyous thing to find out. I always sneak a camera in, just in case this happens, because it is so frustrating watching other people get shots you could have gotten, had you only known and brought a camera.

The live performances. (I'm aware some of these links aren't working...will fix them tomorrow.)
Apart from the Hoods, we were treated to live songs by Wolfmother, Eskimo Joe, Pete Murray (with John Mayer) and Bernard Fanning (with Kasey Chambers and Claire Bowditch) and The Veronicas. We also had to suffer through a Motown tribute by the weird uncles of Soul, Human Nature and Youth Group (the song, meh, but the film clip is great). These bands divied up the major awards pretty evenly amongst themselves. If you watch only two of these, make it Wolfmother and the fantastic tribute song Silverchair did in honour of Midnight Oil's induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame. (Please forgive the gratuitous pic of Daniel John's fine self, but I couldn't resist...he really is so beautiful (and ironically married to the woman I most wish I looked like *sigh*)

The Midnight Oil induction.
I have so much respect for this band, their music and everything they stand for, that this was a great moment for me. They were never weary in well-doing and I'm glad I was there to see them get some richly deserved kudos for their activism and awesome music. U2's Bono narrated the video summary of the band and their achievements. I liked his description of their music as "red earth rhythms under urban rhymes". Silverchair's version of Midnight Oil's song 'Don't Want to be the One' came next. To finish the song, Daniel Johns spray-painted "PG (Peter Garrett) 4 PM" on the stage wall. Very cool. =)

The chosha awards:
Best acceptance speech of the night:
Bernard Fanning's very earnest thanks to his band, the awesome Powderfinger, for letting him go off and do his own solo thing this year "while they were all off making babies". He won album of the year for Tea and Sympathy, an album very different in style to Powderfinger's rock sound. His later comments about how he feels about making music and about how the music industry should use music to say important things, was also very moving.

Best news delivered: Powderfinger will be back working/writing/recording together again next year (hopefully with a tour to follow!!)

Best joke: One of the Wolfmother guys thanked his mother, "who is in the mosh pit for every Wolfmother show she can get to". Shortly after, one of the Hilltop Hoods guys took a moment in his acceptance speech to thank his own mother "because she's in the mosh pit for every Wolfmother show she can get to". Delivered perfectly with just the right amount of "heartfelt emotion", it was very funny.

Good time.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

work it, baby!

Cue: Rocky theme

I am now the owner of this elliptical cross-trainer with touch screen computer, 10 training programs, inlying magnetic brake system, adjustable resistance and a bunch of other stuff I could have copied and pasted from the description.

The real workout was getting this 59kg item home (ALDI don't deliver) and put together, especially with the assistance of two guys who refuse to read instructions and kept adding pieces out of order that then had to be removed to allow something else to be fitted. Eventually we got it all done except for the very last bolt, which refused to be tightened more than a few turns. I sprayed some WD-40 into the internal thread (threaded hole) and then spent about two hours alternately tightening and loosening the bolt, over and over, each time tightening it a tiny bit more as whatever was blocking the bolt was slowly worn away. Finally one of those times it kept turning slowly as I tightened instead of stopping and I was able to get the bolt completely inserted. I was exhausted, and I hadn't even tried the trainer out yet!

you know what sucks mightily?

Friends who decide not to be honest about something because they've made a judgement that it would hurt your feelings, but who fail to take into account that the thing in question is something that cannot come to a natural conclusion unless you find out how they (or someone else that they're covering for) really feels. Now I find myself in the situation that I have acted for months on what I thought was the true information, and am now embarrassed at not understanding the real situation and hurt at not being trusted to deal with the truth. Fabulous.

Sorry I'm being vague ~ the situation isn't worth going into in detail. These particular two friends just have a long history of not saying how they really feel, in spite of the fact that whatever they bottle up never fails to eventually come to a head in some awkward and hurtful way. It tires me out ~ not only the crap to deal with but also their paternalistic decisions on my behalf.

Edit: I decided to grab the bull by the horns and just phone the people in question. Explained that I had been told the truth of the situation, apologised for any misconceptions I had acted upon and said straightforwardly what I thought the new solution should be. This was well-received (and rightly so, give that it is now based on accurate information) and it seems the whole thing is mostly sorted. Yah for pro-activity!

Monday, October 23, 2006

idol top 6

Theme: Big band/Swing (Lisa leaves)

Finally the most over-rated idol contestant of the year is gone, gone, gone. Yes, we know, you're a dear sweet little girl with a guitar who will delight us no doubt in years in come with chirpy little melodies of your own styling, but tonight, don't let the door hit you on the way out. Buh bye now.

This week, rather than do big band hits of the past, the contestants took modern hits and sang them with a big band arrangement. Some of them chose more wisely than others. Jessica's song 'Crazy Right Now' had her struggling with difficult phrasing. Ricky sang 'I saw her standing there' well, but it was kind of a boring choice of song for this theme. Dean's amazing climb to stardom took a step back. Not only was his performance of 'Mustang Sally' a notch down, but it also ended him up in the bottom two when the votes came in. By far the standout performances came from Chris, who performed ACDC's 'You Shook Me All Night Long', and Damien, who sang Radiohead's 'High and Dry'. Both were perfect song choices and both guys performed well. Kyle told Damien's mother and sister, just arrived from Ireland, that they should extend their hotel bookings (implying Damien will be staying in the competition). Nice praise for a guy he's given such a hard time to in the past. Lisa sang the Veronica's hit 'Revolution'. The song worked perfectly as a big band song and yet she, true to form, completely downplayed it in the most lacklustre way. But this time, unlike during disco week, the voting reflected the result.

Friday, October 20, 2006

jimmy & the boys

When I was about fourteen I went through a stage where I was checking out pretty much any punk band whose cassettes I could get my hands on. Enter my brief dalliance with a shock pop punk band called Jimmy and the Boys. Singer Ignatius Jones went on to various musical theatre projects and even planned the opening ceremony for the Sydney Olympics, but for a few dark years he and keyboard-playing trannie Joylene Hairmouth (Billy O'Riordan) scared the crap out of the Australian public. I really only knew their music and had little idea of the stuff they got up to at live shows, but for about three months I was a devoted fan. Hey, you can only go so long on two albums, all right?

The thing is, in later years I have asked at least twenty people if they remember a punk pop band from the late 70s/early 80s called Jimmy and the Boys that had one member who was a transvestite with long red hair (often in a very tall beehive). And no-one ever did. I started to think that I must have dreamed it until one night I saw an interview with Jones, who I think was wishing it was all a dream when the interviewer brought up the subject of the band. Still, I had no tapes or even pictures from back then to show anyone who I was talking about.

Well, last night's trawling on Youtube has borne fruit. Here, NOT in all their glory thank goodness (because you couldn't show things like that on TV in the 80s) are Jimmy and the Boys with their biggest hit, 'They Won't Let My Girlfriend Talk to Me'. And if that doesn't scare you off, here are another two songs, 'Products of Your Mind' and 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else'. No kidding you aren't.

It's amazing what turns up on Youtube. I'm beginning to realise that the fact that I hadn't been to church (I went back at 14) since I was a little kid really shows up in my musical tastes around that time. Anyone else remember this band's other song? Me, too. Every word, scarily. =)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

scary music flashbacks

With all my recent blogging on Oz Idol, I was delighted to find these two old Countdown music clips. Countdown was once the most popular music show in Australia. It was the first to feature live performances (well, barring those lip-sync rumours) and focus primarily on Australian music. Countdown changed the Australian music industry by giving new Aussie bands excellent public exposure. And truly, if you hadn't watched Countdown on Sunday night, there was just no point being at school on Monday, because you'd have nothing to talk about.

But tonight I love Countdown because it was aired just around the time when Marcia Hines and Mark Holden ~ two of the Australian Idol judges ~ were in the charts. So here for your viewing pleasure are Marcia Hines singing 'You' and Mark Holden singing 'Hey My Love'. (You'll need to register if you want to see the whole of that second clip, but it's free and all.) Please note the signature carnation on his lapel. He also used to hand out carnations to the girls in the audience. No, really, he did.

Other now scary bands whose posters covered the walls of my pre-teen bedroom include: the Bay City Rollers. Woody (rythym guitar), who later made a short but awesome comeback (pre-visual visual, for those who understand that reference) as the lead singer of Dr and the Medics, was my favourite. (Yes, I wore his tartan...each band member had their own.)

Sherbet. (Not their best song.)Though she loathed most of our music, my mother had a huge crush on Darryl Braithwaite, Sherbet's lead singer. She was overjoyed when he went on as a solo artist after the band broke up.

Dragon. (Still like this song.) Marc Hunter, the lead singer, took a very different musical direction after Dragon, later releasing a bluesy jazz album.

Australian bands from the Countdown era that I have no trouble admitting I still like include Cold Chisel (they had so many good songs), Skyhooks (they look weird (they WERE weird) but their songs were awesome), INXS (quintessential), and Mental As Anything (this song contains my favourite bass line ever! Oh how I wish I had gotten to see this band live just once.)

Oh my golly gosh, I am now watching Countdown clip after Countdown clip, and I still know every word. I swear, I could memorise the complete works of Shakespeare, if it was just set to catchy enough music.

blog quote of the week

...goes to nemesis:
Also, Happy Late Birthday to my mother. She looks about 15 years younger than her actual age, which I must either attribute to great genetics or to the bathing in the blood of virgins by moonlight.

I'm not judging.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

the brain question

Okay I think I've answered my own question. It seems that much of the brain's development occurs before we're born and just after. By the age of 2 years old, the brain is about 80% of adult brain size. However, a two year old's head is nowhere near the size of the head of a fully grown adult, hence the folding of the brain to fit.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

idol top 7 - up close & personal

The best thing about the Up Close & Personal show is that it was judge-free and vote-free. This made it a good forum for showcasing some of the contestants original work. Only five of the seven are songwriters - Jess and Ricky worked more on an original arrangement of a cover. I found some merit in all the original songs. I liked Chris' and Damien's the best. Ricky's arrangement of Michael Jackson's 'Off the Wall' was good, but Jess turned 'What the World Needs Now' into a slowed down vocal gymnastic exercise, which was pretty but boring. Here is a link to the video snippets.

Monday, October 16, 2006

idol top 7

Theme: singer/songwriter (Bobby leaves)
(Links are to 30sec video snippets.)

Damien's rendition of 'Wicked Game' was hauntingly beautiful. Chris went for a slow song, which had the judges whining. Jess sang 'Have You Ever?' and yes it was lovely, but I'm kind of bored with her song choices. Ricky sang 'Feel'. I love that song and I think he was fine, but the judges slammed him, not at all taking into account that he'd been sick most of the week and losing his voice.

Lisa was under a lot of pressure to perform this week, given how adamant she's been that this is the week people will see her in her element. She certainly was good, but didn't blow me away. By far the best performance as a whole was Dean's 'On The Way Down'. He lifts the bar every week and I'm starting to feel like he's pulling ahead of the pack.

Tonight Bobby was voted off. Though I think he's added something special to this year's competition, based on last night's performances I think the decision was fair. The judges tendancy to give him nothing but praise was really obvious, as their comments were the same as every week even though he had clearly been off pitch a couple of times at the start of the song. Also, the key he'd chosen was a tad high for him and he had to drop an octave suddenly in the middle of the first verse.

Though only the top six were scheduled to perform in tomorrow night's "Up Close & Personal" show (no judges, no voting, just performing), the judges and the other contestants lobbied for Bobby to be included, mostly because this year they are using this show to showcase the Idol contestants' own original songs. The crowd seemed to love the idea, but there were some bitter threads going on at the forums. I figure his inclusion can have no effect on the voting, so who cares?

Of course that means my first prediction was wrong! Ricky survived another week. I think he or Lisa will be the next out, but we'll see what happens.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

me & flipper

Today I patted dolphins, gave them little fish, swam with them and generally had one of my coolest animal adventures to date. Their skin is slick and taut on top, but their underbelly is soft. They close their eyes like a cat when they're tickled under their chin.

Cute facts I learned about dolphins:

1. They are promiscuous. Although they do pair up and become definite couples, this seldom lasts more than a season. In fact, usually the male is out of there and onto the next conquest the moment his current girlfriend gets pregnant. I guess there are a lot of single mothers in the dolphin world, or maybe the whole pod just joins in the parenting. This phenomenon caused us some delays today, as one of the pregnant female dophins refused to come to her usual 'spot', because she was miffed that her ex was smooching up with a new girl and she was avoiding them. As sands at the bottom of the ocean, so are the Days of Our Dolphins...

2. They are very curious and will eat pretty much anything just to check out what it is. That's why the trainers reward them for bringing rubbish that they find in the pool - otherwise they'll eat it and get sick. During our program Speedy retrieved a big leaf and still got rewarded. The trainer told us that she probably thought it was rubbish, but personally I think Speedy just wanted the fish.

3. They have a belly button.

I'm not too excited about sharks, but I did enjoy the polar bears. I'm hoping I got a good picture of one of them amusing himself by pushing off the viewing room window and backflipping into the water. I also went on one scary ride in a boat down a huge waterslidey thing. Well, okay, little kids were on it, but it was scary to me.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

where there's a wil, there's a way

Lunch and heavy Japan-related nostalgia with Kasarin today, then off to see Wil Anderson's stand up show. I'm not going to do a blow-by-blow of it, but I do have some accurate review quotes:

"Wound up tighter than a spring, barely pausing for breath…. Wil Anderson is manic, likeable, passionate…" (The Age)

"If you ever have the chance, see Wil Anderson live. I could've sat there all night if laughing so hard didn't hurt so much..." (City News)

I'd definitely see him again given the chance. I had an interesting time finding my way there. You really can't drive and navigate on Brisbane's windy, hilly streets. I found myself going around in circles. In the end I found the bridge by accident and also managed to blindly stumble right onto the very road on which the exhibition centre was located. Yah! Clear I was meant to laugh my ass off that night.

things I realised at the amazing human body exhibition

We are really compacted.
I always had a mental picture of the internal organs of the body being isolated from each other, but actually there really isn’t any space that isn’t crammed full of body parts all around and on top of each other.

The uterus is really small.
The uterus in a non-pregnant woman is about the size of a really small apple. The heart was also smaller than I imagined. The spinal cord was bigger (in diameter) than I thought it would be.

‘Ball and socket’ joints are fantastic.
Shoulders, knees – the range of mobility and the kinds of activities it allows us to do are actually pretty amazing. Right up there with opposable thumbs, seriously.

Skin is creepy.
I walked around the whole exhibit. I saw 18 whole bodies that had been dissected in various ways, and a number of other bodies or body parts that had been cross-sectioned in 1 or 2-inch slices. It was interesting but not creepy – not even the six year old with us found it disturbing. In fact, the specimens were so altered that they didn’t seem like real people anyway. The only thing that truly gave me the shivers was a display consisting only of a sheet of skin.

Finger tips really are tips.
The rounded ends of our fingers are all about what is over the skeleton. The bones themselves taper down to a small tip.

One thing I still don't understand has to do with the brain. The reason the brain has the walnut-like shape it does is because it folds as it grows to fit into our heads. My question is, why does the brain grow so big that it needs to be folded up to fit, if we are only using less than 10% of it anyway?

And does this mean a walnut looks like it does because it's too big for its shell?

Friday, October 13, 2006

old mates and mexican food

Flew into Brisbane around lunchtime today and then drove to the hotel in my zippy little red rental Getz. As always when I see Brisbane in Spring I was struck by the beautiful purple jacaranda trees everywhere ~ so pretty.

I wanted to get a few supplies so I took a little wander around Fortitude Valley half the afternoon. I had just been thinking that 'the valley' didn't really live up to its skeazy reputation when I finally found the local shopping mall...right across the street from seven XXX establishments in a row - everything from an adult bookstore to a peep show to a strip club. O_O

In the evening I headed to Pepe's Mexican restaurant to meet up with Deg and her husband, AG, and Nomes, who drove down from the Sunshine Coast. She only moved to Queensland a few months ago ~ Deg has lived in Brissy for several years now ~ so they were catching up with each other as well as with me. It's amazing how normal it feels to be with some people. It seemed like a week or two had gone by since I last saw them, not three years. Such a great night! Good food, good conversation, a lot of laughs ~ I could so hang with these people every week. I barely know AG, but he is just like Deg in all the important senses (clever, witty, fun, pure-hearted) and it was great to have him along.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

oz idol - final 12

This is to replace the (better) post that Blogger ate. Basically it's just the 12 Australian Idol finalists, two hosts and three judges, with a few comments added. Photo will go in later when Blogger starts behaving itself. For the finalists, I've put them in the order in which they were voted off the show, so as only Joseph, Reigan, Klancie, Mutto and Lavina have gone, you can consider the rest of the order a prediction. ^_^ In each case I've linked their best performance so far (or just my favourite).

Joseph Gatehau was talented and earnest, but his inexperience showed. I'm hoping he comes back in a year or two for another try at it.

Reigan Derry (two vids there, couldn't choose) was excellent. I liked the fact that she sang songs she valued, even if they were not well known. Sadly this worked against her in the voting, as the fickle public wants songs they know and can sing along with. I wish she'd had more time on the show. I think she would have just gotten better and better.

Klancie Keough sings country rock. To be honest I found her annoying. She always seemed more caught up in looking sexy on stage and trying to project a certain image than in singing the song. It's not to say she's not talented ~ her voice is sound and her songs choices right for her ~ I just found the rest of her performance contrived and boring.

Guy "Mutto" Mutton seemed like a nice bloke. I don't have much to say about him except that he didn't strike me much as a solo performer. I'd like to see him heading up a rock band one day. I think he's a people person who would feed off the energy of the group and perform better as a result.

Lavina Williams easily has the strongest voice of the 12, but her connection with the audience only started to happen as her confidence grew onstage. I’m disappointed that she didn’t get more time on the show. I agreed completely with Kyle when he told her, after her performance of the Evanescence song Bring Me To Life, that this was the night she stopped being back-up singer material and became a lead singer.

Ricky Muscat used to bug me because there was little light and shade in his performance ~ just loud and forceful all the way through, every time. He's improved over the weeks and I quite like him now. He is, however, my pick for next to go.

Lisa Mitchell is a hard singer to explain. her offbeat style reminds me a little of Merrill Bainbridge, except that her music is more folky than Merrill's pop sound. She's definitely a singer songwriter who struggled to be comfortable on the stage without her guitar. To be honest I find her a little whiny in this regard. On theme nights she consistently excuses any flaws in her performance with the now tired explanation that this "isn't what she does" and that she "is used to having her guitar". In that sense I don't really think she's gotten into the spirit of the show or made a real effort to step outside her comfort zone. I quite like Lisa's style when she does her own music, but I don't think she'll win this contest.

Bobby Flynn is a funky songwriter with an offbeat, almost croaky, voice. Idol viewers are sharply divided when it comes to Bobby ~ they either love or hate him, and for exactly the same reasons. Every week he takes a hit song and completely changes the arrangement. Personally I think his arrangements are interesting and beautiful. He not only makes a song different, but the new version is great in its own right. I'd probably buy a CD if he puts one out, but perhaps not bother to see him live. I prefer something heavier for live shows. I don't think Bobby will win Idol, but I do think the show will give him the exposure and fan base he needs to be offered a chance to make his own music.

Jessica Mauboy is the cutest thing. Her voice is wonderful ~ she's done a Brandy song and a Christina Aguilera song and handled both brilliantly. There are only two things I don't like about her. One is that she doesn't move well on the stage (though she does connect with the audience). The second is that while she is a huge talent, the talent all lies in her voice. She doesn't write her own songs and she never seems to make any significant changes to the arrangements of the songs she chooses. Now she doesn't need to do that to win Idol, but it does make me skeptical about her future as an artist. Is she just going to be one of those over-produced girls who sing what they are given? And if so, do we really need another one of those?

Damien Leith is an Irish lad with a voice that is just beautiful, including a gorgeous falsetto that highlights his songs nicely. He performs well and I would love to see him go far in the show. Sadly the judges have been pretty hard on him at times. I find him consistently good.

Chris Murphy is an experienced performer who holds the crowd and owns the stage. I like his voice and his song choices and I'm really hoping he does well. I also think he's cute, but that's neither here nor there.

Dean Geyer is not my favourite idol, but he is my pick to win it. At first I didn't like him at all. He sounded a bit mediocre and most of his popularity came from the legions of fan girls who scream every time his name is uttered (gosh I hate those girls). Dean has something important going for him though ~ his modesty. He commented early that he knew that his vocals were not up to the standard of some of the other idols. Not only has he worked to improve his vocal performance, but he has also taken every other aspect of his performance to a new level each week. He has a brilliant connection with both the camera and the live audience, he uses the whole stage and has such joy in being there that it transfers into the electricity he creates. I used to scowl that they guy even made the top 12 and now he has completely won me over.

The judges:

Mark Holden was very popular, for a short time, a long time ago (I was a huge fan of his when I was about ten years old). He is the dorkiest of the judges and his comments drive me mad because he will totally slam a performance, but often without being able to articulate exactly why, which is useless from the contestant's point of view. He also plays favourites. His corny "touchdown!!" routine (to mark a particularly great performance) has actually become a Idol mainstay, with the audience chanting for a touchdown when a performer really nails a song. Who'da thunk it? Certainly not me. One thing I just learned from the second link in this paragraph is that he is actually quite a successful songwriter. Interesting.

Marcia Hines has had a long career as a singer. As a judge she tends to be always supportive and nice, but I think that is an attempt to balance the comments from the other two (much more blunt and critical) judges. I actually find her a little annoying in that sometimes I think she could offer useful criticism in a positive way, but instead she avoids criticism altogether.

Kyle Sandilands is a sharp-tongued radio DJ. His comments are good in the sense that they are often valid criticisms (or specific praise) and that they tend to cover the whole performance and image of a contestant rather than just their singing. They are bad in the sense that he can be completely tactless and even offensive, especially when you take into account the age range of Idol's key demographic. He caused a furore over youth body image when he told Jessica (a 16-year-old) to "lose the jelly belly" and offended a lot of people (particularly parents of handicapped children) by telling Bobby that some people think he's "a full mong" ('mong' originated from 'mongoloid', referring to people with Downs' Syndrome). A lot of viewers hate Kyle, but when he's being at least a little tactful I usually find him the best judge of the three.

The hosts:

Andrew G is gorgeous and easy-going, and his wit is sharp and ready. He also does a radio show apparently (not in my state, so I've never heard it). I saw him appear for the first time recently on an improv comedy show called "Thank God You're Here" and he was great.

James is a little more odd (in the cute, quirky sense) and nervy than Andy G. He makes the funniest unexpected comments with a totally straight face. The two of them are a well-matched pair and one of my favourite things about Idol in general. They tend to be sharply on the side of the contestants and side with them against the judges, much to the audience's delight.

Monday, October 09, 2006

idol top 8

Top 8 - Theme: Disco (Lavina leaves)

Weird and upsetting week. Chris opened the show brilliantly with 'Play that Funky Music' - perfect song choice for him and the theme - and everyone, including the judges, loved it, yet he still ended up in the bottom 3. I think it was one of those cases where someone is so good that their fans assume they're safe and don't bother to vote. Bobby completely rearranged 'Super Freak' (love that song!) so that it was no longer anything remotely like disco (bossa nova beat, actually). The surprise for me was Dean who finally convinced me that he is more than a pretty face - he had the whole place in the palm of his hand.

Damien tried really hard to get into the disco night theme. He sang 'Celebration' and was jumping and dancing all over the place. Personally I think he did a good job, and the audience was totally into it, but Kyle and Mark tore strips off him. I think they expected him to reshape a disco track to his own style and were really panning him for conforming to the theme instead. But talk about going overboard! Kyle said it was the worst thing he'd ever seen on television and Mark told him it was the most bizarre thing he'd ever seen and that he really hoped Damien didn't get voted off on Monday because it would mean sitting through his performance again. No way was it that bad! In fact, I don't think it was bad at all.

Lisa ruined Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' (which she was under the impression was disco...) In a rare intelligent comment from him, Mark told her that she hadn't taken Marcia's advice on board, had extended every line (which sounded awful) and had sung the song at one level, with one tone all the way through. She also gave the song none of Blondie's mesmerising attitude. Kyle told her that she looked like she'd been forced to be there. I think that Lisa's fans, desperate for her to make it through to the singer/songwriter week, voted up a storm. Unbelieveably, given Lisa's crap performance, we lost Lavina, who had done an excellent job. Lisa wasn't even in the bottom three, and she SO deserved to be.

Here's a link to the various top 8 video clips so you can see if you agree with me!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

stuff that happened while I wasn't blogging #4

I totally got into Australian Idol.

And I just wrote a REALLY long post about it, which Blogger ate. Grrrrrr!!!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

stuff that happened while I wasn't blogging #3

My workplace ended up being lame again.

I'm in the middle of a job selection process for a level APS5 position. So far it's taken about two months. There are lots of positions throughout the branch...or there were. They interviewed for the EL1 positions, then for the APS6 positions. The APS5s should be next. Now they are mumbling about our tight budget and suddenly there's no guarantee that the 4 or 5 level jobs will even be interviewed for. It's not for sure yet, but there's enough doubt to make me wonder.

I'm still getting paid at level 5 for now, so I'm choosing not to worry about it too much. I'll give it till Christmas and then start applying for jobs in other departments. I like the organisation, I really like the section I work in, but in the end you can't ignore it when people start getting between you and your income. I'm doing level 5 work and I should have the chance to have a substantive level 5 job.

Friday, October 06, 2006

stuff that happened while I wasn't blogging #2

I finished planning the most desperately needed four-day weekend ever.

Here's the thing: I live with two guys who NEVER GO OUT. Oh sure, they go to uni, during the workday, when I'm not home anyway. But once I'm out of work and ready to relax at home...there they are! Silent Bob studies a lot and I can pretend I'm alone when he's holed up in his room. But the Smarmy Toothpick spends all his time at home curled up in the corner of my couch watching TV for hours on end. This endless doing of nothing is punctuated only by his frequent trips to the kitchen for yet another glass of warm boiled water out of the kettle. He drinks the stuff like a camel stocking up for a desert trek. Perhaps he's heard we often experience drought in Canberra.

So anyway, I could do with some fun away from the ever-present boarder boys and where better to plan an escape weekend than sunny Queensland!


Fly to Brisbane, book into hotel, drive to home of fabulous friend #1, catch up with her 3 young girls, then out for dinner with her and her hubby.

See the Amazing Human Body Exhibition, meet fab friend #2 for lunch, while away afternoon possibly shopping with FF#2, dinner at Wagamama (opening in Canberra in December ~ Merry Christmas to me!!), then off to Wil Anderson's stand up comedy show.

Up super-early to check out and drive straight to Seaworld on the Gold Coast, deep water dolphin adventure, check out Seaworld, more dolphin fun with a helmet dive, check into hotel and then hightail it up to the Sunshine Coast to meet up with FF#3 and have dinner at some place with a view of the sun setting over the ocean. Back to the hotel for an early-ish night.

Up early to catch a last hour of ocean time (Canberra is land-locked), check out and drive to Indooroopilly to see a movie in the Gold Class cinema (including lunch served to my luxury seat halfway through the movie), off to the airport to fly home.

stuff that happened while I wasn't blogging #1

The new boarder started driving me insane.

This guy has slowly gotten pickier and pickier about food. He started off telling me anything was fine, progressed to casually suggesting I cook food that is really common "in my country" (they eat fish, rice, soup and fresh chillies every single day), then started dousing all potato dishes in soy sauce (because potato apparently "has no taste") and finally started spitting things out and throwing them in the bin if he doesn't like the taste - which is pretty rude when you're still in the middle of dinner. He really hasn't come to terms at all with the fact that he is in another country with very different food. Instead he justs wants more and more for the food I make to become more Cambodian. I've had several boarders now and no-one has ever complained about my food - quite the opposite in most cases.

The more picky he gets, the less I feel like cooking. I want to tell him that if he doesn't like it he can cook for himself, but that won't work, because he doesn't know how to cook. The guy can barely make a sandwich. Silent Bob learned to cook from me by helping with meals and can now make a pretty decent dinner. This guy will only help prepare dinner if I ask him to, and has learned nothing about cooking as a result. This is a simple result of him not wanting to ever have to contribute.

How do I know this? Because when he wanted to buy a computer, he was able to research all the information himself, and was totally on the ball as to how to modify the order and upgrade the various components online. When he wanted to get somewhere, he had no trouble accessing maps and timetables and working it all out. But because he does not want to cook, he gives me an irritating blank shrug of a smile every time I encourage him to try cooking. This smile is basically the silent equivalent of "gee, I don't have any idea what that means, but if I smile at you long enough will you take pity on me and stop trying to explain it and just do everything yourself?" It is a completely helpless puppy-dog look, and it's fakeness makes me want to slap him upside the head. I can't stand it when people choose to be useless so that other people will feel obligated to pick up their slack.

In addition to all this picky, lazy crap, he also laughs (with derision, not delight) at anything I do that is out of his ordinary. Let me give you an example. The other day we watched a DVD with a great soundtrack. Right from the opening credits I couldn't help kind of bopping along in my seat. He looked at me with a 'what, are you twelve?' expression and then gave this snorty little half-laugh that was the chuckling equivalent of rolling his eyes. Everything amuses him, but it never feels like he's laughing with you...only at you.

I nicknamed him Cam in the blog previously because I didn't know him and he was from Cambodia. Henceforth he shall be known as the Smarmy Toothpick.

Seven weeks and counting till he goes home.