Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tres Bon Iver



For two hours on Monday night, I believe I was in suspended animation. I was still me (thought about tipping beer on a pusher-in/told a guy to be quiet and called him Corky) but I wasn't; it was like I took a break from myself for a while, and experienced something both as me and as a totally neutral being. That's what I think, anyway, and that was what Bon Iver did to me.

Three hours before, I was looking at Dita von Teese's wedding dress and getting diarrhoea (maybe my body freaking out about the tiny waists of women in the 1800s/Dita von Teese/Gwen Stefani). We'd had a busy day making up things we hadn't done on Sunday because I was bedridden due to Too Much Rum Not Enough Kapow, and then shifting from our beloved five star room to our barely tolerated "four star" room. After we left the exhibition, I sat in a funny bar drinking misspelt margaritas and trying to pretend I didn't feel sick and that I was truly excited about seeing the creator of one of the albums that has most influenced my life. It was a stressful time, and I felt like things could go either way. I needn't have worried.

I started crying almost as soon as the band took the stage. I don't remember what they opened with; when they played Blood Bank, one of my favourites and the song I most wanted to hear, I was so elated I couldn't even remember the words. But I clearly remember the feeling - it was the one I get when I listen to For Emma - like I was being carried. Every single song was so genuinely felt, and so seriously taken, that it was like the best kind of poetry; everything was necessary and also sufficient. The crowd, while it had its moments, was for the most part a completely united body - we were silent, and we were loud, and I didn't feel like I wanted to hug anybody because I felt as if we had experienced exactly the same thing.

I think my highlights were all of the For Emma songs, especially For Emma itself, and Creature Fear, but I can't be sure. I loved every bit of it; the set-up, the two drum-kits (which were - prepare yourself to throw up but it's the only way I can say it - a revelation), and the bit at the end when, instead of rushing off like they couldn't wait to get drunk or to bed, the band lined up and acknowledged the applause we wanted them to have. And then came back on (they had no choice; the call for an encore was immediate and deafening), and smiled while they played For Emma, and then asked us to sing along to The Wolves (Act I and II). I've never felt so appreciated by a band, and even though I always freak out when a band is playing more than one night that I'm missing the best night, I felt like I was supposed to be there, on the first night Bon Iver ever played NZ.

I don't think I've said anything I wanted to, and I don't know if I've made any sense. I just loved it. It couldn't have sounded better, or felt better. Vincent said he couldn't rank Bon Iver, Beirut, and Fleet Foxes (we like to rank things and people; it's fun and sometimes mean). But I think I can. I had so much riding on this gig, and it delivered, and I got to go through all of it with Vincent. Bon Iver is Number One.





Oh jeez, i just found this Bonnie Raitt cover. I have been planning to unleash this song at karaoke for a while, but now I don't think I can do that to it... Bloody hell, Justin.



By the way, the beanie he is wearing here is the very same he was wearing on Sunday night when me and Vincent hung out with him and the rest of the band (through the window, without talking). The Same. I actually took the same jumper I'd been wearing that night with me to the show to make it easier for the band, too, but Vincent and I weren't sure if that would be enough or if we needed pizza as well. Now I think we should have taken pizza; then they definitely would have recognised us and called us up on stage to sing something with them and be their best friends and name their children after us.

Wellington!

I've decided the way to tell how good a hotel is is by its towels. The towels at the Bolton were big and fluffy and soft, and they had robes. (The towels at the Kingsgate were not big, or fluffy, and there certainly weren't any robes.) Also, how they treat you is a good indicator. If they look at you like you just crawled out of a rat's ear, you're probably in a very nice establishment. (That's if you look like me and Vincent, which is a little bit suspicious, a lot like we're thinking things that may or not be flattering to you, and like we are actually Penny Less and Tony Broke. Who, if I remember rightly, were very nice.) Under normal circumstances, being looked at like I crawled out of a rat's ear would be very aggravating to me. But when my stay in your establishment is free, and you have five types of tea in my room and a pool and a spa and big fluffy robes, you can look at me like I just crawled out of a rat's ass. (For a few days, anyway.)

Anyway, I've been up since six-thirty so before I confuse us with my nonsense-making/non-sense making, I'll just give you the highlights and show you some pictures. And save you the suspense by telling you it was marvellous.


The train trip was great... at least what I was awake for. For some reason I thought the travel-fatigue I get on car, plane and boat trips wouldn't apply on a train. I was wrong.


This is the view from our first hotel room, and Vincent eating a banana sandwich. We could see the Bolton Street cemetery, which we explored together on Monday.






People think it's capitalists who get all of the dirty sex parties, but they are wrong. Otherwise, why does Harry Holland's grave have naked people all over it?





Afterward, we did the parliament tour. When I was eleven, my Uncle John, who worked in the beehive, took me and my Dad there, and let me sit on the speaker's chair in the debating chamber, and put my feet up on his desk. He was awesome. This time we went everywhere but weren't allowed to touch much. My favourite was the Victorian library building; the detail and light are beautiful. There was a bit of excitement when an old guy fainted after we came up from seeing the plate things that will stop everything from falling down in an earthquake. I don't think it was only the heat down there that caused the episode.

There's lots I didn't or couldn't photograph: Te Papa, including the wedding dress exhibition, getting drunk and watching Street Chant at Mighty Mighty, staying in our big flash hotel bed sick the whole of the next day, and then, highest of highlights, looking out the window at the restaurant we'd settled on after the movie that night,to see the whole of Bon Iver standing on the street. I positively glowed. Also, things I noticed about Wellington. The city streets don't have lights at night, and are a bit scary. The blackboard writing is very poor. And the policewoman who asked me to get rid of my beer (too drunk to get hide it) did not make me tip it get it out of a bin into which I had already put it and tip it out and then put the bottle in the bin again like the one in Auckland did that time. She was nice.

I'm too tired to say anymore about anything but the gig, which deserves its own post, so I'll just finish up with this song by First Aid Kit - who are playing at the festival and we wish wish wish we could see - and the conclusion that in spite of all of the cool stuff we did, the best thing about Wellington was Vincent, and I got to bring him back with me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Road To Damascus



Last week when I was catching up on my blog-reading, I was doing Sarah's web time-wasters on the always interesting yes and yes and came on this, which had been inspired by this. These ladies decided to lighten up their lives by getting rid of 100 things; clothes, books, magazines, anything. In the past I might have just skipped on to the next thing, but I've been a bit worried lately about just how much stuff I'm accumulating. Buying secondhand is awesome, except that I've been using it as an excuse to defer making the decision of whether or not I actually want or need something. I'm a hoarder anyway, but in the past the things I've kept have had some kind of sentimental value to me. Now, I have a pile of clothes I haven't worn because they don't fit and I haven't altered them, or I thought they might be okay when they really weren't, and I'm adding to it just about everytime I go to a secondhand shop. It's like my dirty secret, and it undermines the good feeling I get from finding awesome stuff that I love and wear all the time. Reading about recycling, upcycling, re-gifting and throwing away things knocked me off my donkey. I decided to do it.



Three days later, I'm up to number twenty on my list, and I feel like my life is changing. Because we do everything together, Vincent is doing it too; we're both becoming a bit obsessed with it, and it's great. Yesterday I rearranged one of our floor-to-ceiling wardrobes and filled a rubbish bag with shit. I was dripping with sweat because our apartment is currently the hottest place in Auckland, tired from a 6am start with our little guest, but I haven't felt that good in ages. It's almost as if I was carrying around those things; I actually feel lighter.



A while ago I read about Anna's decision to live more simply on and then she saved, and was a bit stricken when I read about her not checking out library books and returning them unread anymore (I currently have a thirty dollar fine for late returns, 80% of which I didn't even read). So as well as getting rid of 100 things, I've made a list of related things, like presents I've had sitting here but haven't given, things I've borrowed but not returned, broken jewellery I haven't fixed, clothes I need to alter, hand-washing that's been sitting in the bathroom for months, MAC containers I haven't swapped for lipstick, and lightbulbs that have needed replacing since October. These things aren't note-worthy for most people, but I grew up in a house where a broken window in my bedroom took about six months to repair; I'm very good at adapting, and not very good at fixing. I don't even go to the doctor until I'm so sick I think I might die, and it took tooth pain so bad I couldn't sleep or eat for two days before I went to a dentist last year (also I'm just Viet Cong tough). Little things like replacing lightbulbs are important for someone like me, and getting halfway through this list feels great, so getting rid of 100 things is going to be momentous. And I know that next time I buy something, it will be something worth replacing one those things with, not something to throw out next year. This is a life-style change; self-improvement that I can effect from the outside-in (much easier than the other way).

I realise this is a bit boring, but I wanted to tell you about it because it means a lot to me, and maybe it's what you need to hear too. And by way of apology for not being bothered writing it in a more interesting way, I'm going to leave you with this, a song by a band I just discovered, First Aid Kit, who are excellent. Back to clothes sorting!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Nudes



It turns out Valentines Day had a silver lining. I spent the next afternoon ironing and stewing, and I realised something. My reaction to what happened was, while completely sincere, maybe a bit more extreme than I would usually expect. I thought about why that might be, and how I've been feeling lately, and realised I haven't felt like myself since before Christmas; about three weeks before, when I felt emotionally spent. Usually my holiday is my time to recover and regenerate, but Christmas was so busy for me, I didn't get the chance, and was back at work before I even knew what was happening. Even on my trip up north - which was wonderful -  I didn't emotionally recover; I was tired, and the happiness I felt definitely wasn't as much as it would usually have been. I thought some more, and realised the last time I had felt truly, completely happy was at the Beirut gig. For some people that might not be so strange, but I'm one of the happies. I'm cynical, but I love life and I love to laugh, and yet for the past three months my setting has been negative-neutral, ready to switch down into sad or (more often) angry. I can't describe it as the blues, exactly, it's not the mean reds, and it's not that mood indigo; it's more like nude. I feel so empty and tired that I don't feel - the good things, anyway. I realise I've been on empty, but I didn't realise, so I kept trying to live normally, and wondered why I was so tired, and grouchy, and ready to be mad. I'm restless, and I'm not being as kind as I like to be; I'm impatient, and irritable. Life's not that much fun at present, and it's because I'm still emotionally exhausted.

It was a relief to finally know this, but another thing to figure out what to do. Next weekend, Vincent and I are taking a special trip down to Wellington, just the two of us, and I think that will help; there will be no-one we know but us, and I can finally get myself together again. And I'm going to give myself a break. Some people can do things with other people every night and never get tired; they seem to thrive on it. I, however - as most people who have lived with me can attest - need down-time, and lots of it; time to lie on the couch, nap, watch Gilmore Girls, and read. To some people it might seem like I'm doing nothing, and they might think it's unfair or selfish, and I've thought that too, but I know now it's not; it's what I need to be able to be me (for better or worse). I always read those articles called things like Women Who Can't Say No and think I'm not one of them, but I think a lot of us are without realising it; it's so ingrained in/expected of women to do things for other people at our own expense that we do it over and over. My threshold might be lower, but that's how it is, and if I'm not myself then I'm no good to anyone. I'm tired of being a little black cloud in a dress, and I want to have a good time again.

From the excellent man who wrote the brilliant line "And there's you, a little black cloud in a dress". Valentine's Day is over, and it's all uphill from here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bah, Okay

Because tomorrow won't be Valentine's Day anymore.

Valentines, Bah, Humbug

I've never really been sure how I feel about Valentine's Day. I went through the usual "it was made up by card companies" malarkey which was a) easily solved by not buying/allowing to be bought for me red roses, valentines specific cards, or chocolates, and b) not true anyway (at least according to something I read which isn't verified by wikipedia so probably isn't true either), and I'm beyond that now. But I do think the year it meant the most to me was the year I was single for it; every other year it's been relatively unimportant.

I wrote that yesterday. Today, after the twentieth sweet middle-aged office drone came in to buy something his valentine probably won't like that much, and my friend whose boyfriend is in Denmark found a rose outside and we pathetically brought it in and set it up on the counter like it belonged to us, I realised it's not unimportant. It's like Mother's day; it's kind of made-up, and a bit annoying, but it exists, and because it does, I want to mark it - I don't need it, but I want it. I don't want to be watching New Girl (which is not good, as predicted, but I will probably watch it week after week, as predicted), going to Food Alley to get dinner for one, eating an entire box of chocolates, and feeling sad and mad because Vincent's dj-ing and the screening of The Princess Bride at the park that I was going to watch with my lovely friends and not sit here feeling sad and mad, watching New Girl, getting dinner for one and eating an entire box of chocolates, was cancelled.

I had originally planned to post a playlist of my favourite love songs, but I don't feel like it. Tell me to shout myself a smile, but if I'm self-indulgent in my fantasies, I think it's only fair to be self-indulgent in my reality once in a while. But I do hope you're having a Happy Valentines Day; the world isn't big enough for too many Scrooges.









Whoppppidy doo! Okay, now I'm done.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's Never Over



I don't know what made me think of this song tonight. And I don't know why Jeff Buckley escapes being rude (mostly/just/occasionally not quite); he's asking for it, really, but like Ryan Adams he's mostly left alone by the Easy Listening flock (having said that, my Mum digs Hallelujah, but she also digs New Slang, so maybe that's okay?). I've been thinking about the line "Maybe I'm too young to keep good love from going wrong", and how many mistakes I made while growing up, and hoping beyond hope that I'm done being young. I don't know if being scared of losing something makes you more careful with it; it should, but maybe it doesn't.

I remember reading, years ago, that drowning is one of the nicest ways to die, but I don't know about that. I think the nicest way to die would be in your sleep, curled up in the person you love best in the world... Although I would also hope they would die too or else that could be a really nasty shock and horrible memory for them. Okay, I'm obviously rambling now and will probably start talking about other things that could be shocking like finding a hand in the washing machine, so I'll go.

But before I do, what do you think about Bon Iver winning a grammy for best new artist? I had a rant about it when I first read the nominees, and I'll rant again; not a new artist! Not a new artist! It's like saying nice to meet you; insulting, and dismissive, and just dumb. And now dumb people will start listening to them, and bad radio stations will start to play them, and I'll become the asshole who says "I prefer the first album" and detail where and when I bought it. Which I have done on this blog already, but that was different because you aren't a dumb person so if you weren't already listening to Bon Iver, I thought you deserved to. Oh man, I could be here forever. Good night!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Show-Off

I'm pretty sure the first thing I said after I splashed out of my mother's uterus was "Ta-da!". I just like sharing things, and if they're things I like, they're probably good things that happened to me; I'm not meaning to show off, just tell. Like when I went to the City Mission shop today, and bought a striped merino cardy, a thai silk tank, a shirt, a witchy looking top I can imagine Angelica Huston wearing, some NZ made trousers, and a tan leather belt, for just over thirty bucks. And that time (tomorrow) when I went (am going) camping with Vincent, the Jenga Queen, her mother, and my mother.

Anyway, it's late, and I have another load of washing to do, so I'm going to bounce but leave you with this awesome acoustic version of Space Oddity that I found on the iPod today. Sometimes our iPod is like an attic; I love rediscovering things I forgot about, and things I didn't know we had. As well as just being cool, it's very convenient being married to someone as into music as I am. Off I go - hope your weekend's good! And if you feel like having your heart ripped out, watch Dancer In the Dark... sheesh begeesh. South Park was a welcome relief after all of that intensity (which was worth it, by the way - Bjork is absolutely incredible).

Cartman: I wasn't trying to get you in trouble.
Cartman's mum: Then why did you go outside to a police officer and say "Help! Help! My mommy is trying to fuck me!"?

So wrong, and so right.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Frozen River



On Sunday, Vincent and I watched this, and it was excellent. It tells the story of two women, brought together by their desperate situations; Ray, a mother of two whose gambling husband has just taken off with the deposit for their kit-home, and Lila, a young widow whose baby has been taken from her by her mother-in-law. Both women are struggling to survive and to provide for their children in a climate that is cold in every sense, and the film could be incredibly bleak but for their amazing spirits. It is a woman's story; there is no way these characters could have been men. And it is a story I would never know, but for the film.

That's what I was trying to get at when I wrote my half-ass post about The Great Gatsby. I know how rich people live, because there have been countless books written and tv programmes and films made about them. They are privileged, not only in their material wealth, but in that their perspectives are always dominant, both in a capitalist sense and in the sense that their stories are told over and over. Rich people have problems; so do I. They are problems everyone faces (although I never ran over my husband's mistress); they are dealt with differently, but they are essentially the same. The stories in Frozen River, however, are forgotten or untold perspectives; these women control nothing and are thus silent, and yet they have so much more to tell about life, and the world, and what is real and important.

I just broke my train of thought by eating a plateful of quesadillas so I might as well end this and go and have a cupcake for dessert. But I really, really recommend Frozen River; aside from the story, the acting is brilliant (Melissa Leo was the second best thing next to Amy Adams in The Fighter) and a nice reminder that there are movies where the female leads don't have to be botoxed to the hilt to be cast, (incidentally, the wrinkles in the film are beautiful).

This is completely unrelated, but I am leaving you with this video. I've been a bit shitty all day but I forgot all about that when the disc got up to this bit. If only Kirk lived in Auckland. If only. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday



I don't know what it is about Sunday mornings that makes music sound a million times better than any other day of the week; it must be the same thing that makes bad tv on a Saturday afternoon so wonderful. I love to sleep in on a Sunday - every day, actually, but there's something about a Sunday morning that makes me want to be awake. Perhaps it's all the years I had to sit in church for two hours, struggling to stay awake through the sexist, racist sermon so I could stand in a carpark for ten minutes afterward; whatever it is, Sunday mornings are precious to me. My favourite thing used to be to wait for Mum and Dad to leave the house (no nagging about homework, or housework, or the state I was in when I stumbled in the night before) and then get up, make a cup of tea, put so much butter on a piece of fresh bread that the crusts started to get chest pains, and listen to Billie Holiday for an hour. Sunday and jazz seemed to be a perfect marriage, until I realised how good The Clash sounded at the same time, and Johnny Cash, and Marilyn Manson. This is a selection of songs I like to listen to on a Sunday (or have been listening to today):


Maybe I should be grateful for my church-going days; I think I love Sundays more than any other atheist I know. Nietzsche bless everyone, and may Etta James rest in peace.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Great Gatsby



All I remembered about the last time (also the first time) I read The Great Gatsby was a car accident, hedonism, racism, and that I didn't like it. I'm trying to remember what kind of person I was at the time; I know I was on holiday, struggling with hayfever and having put my back out jumping off the couch onto a towel being held at shoulder height by eight of my friends and then being flicked up into the air, that I was at a funny point in my life, and that I was twenty-five. This time around, I still don't like it much, but I do think it is beautifully (if very consciously) written. Here are some bits I liked:

while, trying to look pleasantly interested and a little bit deaf

He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her
perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God.

She thought I knew a lot because I knew different things from her.

I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the
inexhaustible variety of life.

Repelled is a good way to describe my feeling about the book. Even while I devoured it, I hated everyone in it; I hated their lives, and their persons, and I hated sympathising with them. I thought about the modern equivalents of the East Egg and West Egg sets, and how I despise what they stand for; excess, born privilege, carelessness. I wondered what kind of book Fitzgerald could have written about the working class; people who can't retreat "back into their money". I started to feel the prejudices of the East Eggers towards the crude West End set, and I felt for Tom Buchanan; sometimes I felt as if I might be able to like him if I was going to like anybody, simply because he was exactly what he was, and I wondered what was happening to me. While Fitzgerald has indeed "distilled the essences of glamour and illusion" (taken from the blurb) and has no defense or pretense about his characters or their lifestyles, the story cannot help but glorify those things. Is it just me? I know I can't read a book or listen to a song without inserting myself into it...

Anyway, in spite of all of this, I enjoyed the book, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the film at the end of the year; Tobey Maguire will probably make me want to hit Nick, but the costumes and the sets promise to be incredible, especially with Baz Luhrmann at the helm. And I'm not even going to try to pretend I won't be leaving the cinema to come home and start doing my hair exactly like Daisy's. I may hate the game, but I'm only human.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Extra, Extra!



I owe so much to Mojo; most recently, for making today's visit to facebook worthwhile by posting this video, and subsequently alerting me to the fact that Jack White is releasing a solo album in April of this year. Those sounds were rumblings, and we are all impatience.