12 February 2010
Valentine’s Day. Unless you’re in the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship it can be a fairly rough trot. Are you fed up with the chocolates and roses crowd and their sickening kissy-faces? Why wouldn’t you be?
It’s especially hard if you’ve just had your heart drop-kicked for goal by a callous cad or stroppy siren. There are books that can help you through the rough times and I’ve mentioned those in Valentines posts past but when it comes to heartbreak nothing is more succinct, more visceral, more pointedly true than the lyrics of popular songs.
Yes, you’ll find it hard to listen to the lovey-lovey stuff and don’t even go near “your song” for at least a year but songs are great for a bit of wallowing or even better a bit of “you suck and I don’t even care that you’re going out with my best friend now” catharsis. The following list has been cribbed from “On & off songs for the dumped” from The Advertiser but I’ve padded it with a few suggestions of my own to make it a nice round twenty.
- End of the road – Boyz II Men
- Ain’t no sunshine – Bill Withers
- Just don’t know what to do with myself – Dusty Springfield/The White Stripes
- Tainted love – Soft Cell
- Good riddance (Time of your life) – Green Day
- I will survive – Gloria Gaynor
- Everything about you – Ugly Kid Joe
- Hit the road Jack – Ray Charles
- Song for the dumped – Ben Folds Five
- You oughta know – Alanis Morissette
- You keep me hangin’ on – Diana Ross & the Supremes/Kim Wilde
- Irreplaceable – Beyoncé
- Crazy – Patsy Cline
- I hope I never – Split Enz
- Please don’t leave me – Pink
- Gives you hell – All American Rejects
- Since u been gone – Kelly Clarkson
- Crying – Roy Orbison
- Love is a battlefield – Pat Benatar
- Since I don’t have you – Skyliners/Guns n Roses
So what do you think of this list? Anyone got suggestions of their own for a lovelorn playlist for one?
1 December 2009
All they want for Christmas is some decent music...
Ah the magic, the wonder, the teeth-grating annoyance of Christmas, specifically the kind of sentimental musical fare that verily drips with peppermint flavoured sugar syrup. Usually I like a bit of tackiness but by the time Christmas Eve rolls around I’m generally fed up to the eye teeth with insipid covers of Christmas “classics”. Why the very mention of Cliff Richard or Mariah Carey is enough to make me tense up.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The only way to go is to pick some Chrissie tunes of your own that don’t turn your stomach. Here are my suggestions for a Merry (but not too merry) Christmas.
- Christmas with Soul - This album is 80% gold. My pick would have to be Chuck Berry’s “Merry Christmas Baby” and The Moonglows with “Hey Santa Claus” but there are a couple of tracks on this that veer a little too far from soul into schmaltz…but that’s what the skip button’s for isn’t it? Don’t be tricked into trying out Gospel Christmas with Soul (like I did), as it has only one gospel track and very little in the way of soul either.
- Christmas puddin’ - Kiwi laidback jazz arrangements of a few select tunes make up this fruity treat by Twinset. My favourite track? “Oh little town of Bethlehem” with a touch of a bossanova beat. This might be the most chilled out part of your Christmas day.
- Silent Nightclub – Prefer your Christmas albums to feature lounged-up covers of nineties rap hits like “Ice, ice baby”? Sure the Christmas connection is tenuous, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere but there are more “traditional” tunes on this lounge album to keep you in a festive frame of mind along with those of the “Like a virgin” variety.
- New Orleans Christmas – You really can’t go too wrong with a Putumayo Christmas album and this Big Easy offering is no exception. If there’s any kind of music in the world that says “party” it’s this. Top-tapping good times.
- DVD it - Don’t go past the music DVDs this festive season. Earlier this year we got the Johnny Cash Christmas specials 1976 to 1979 providing retro nostalgia aplently. Choose one of these or perhaps Chris Isaak’s 2008 yuletide offering to keep you safe from whatever ickness they decide to put on TV on Christmas day.
Any suggestions for audiovisual delights to help you keep your sanity this Christmas?
31 July 2009
The works in Shag: The art of Josh Agle have a well-defined aesthetic. It’s wood panelled interiors and martini glasses. It’s the tiki lounge. It’s poodles. It’s mods on scooters. The worlds that Agle creates are at once retro-kitschy whilst entirely modern and 21st century. And he is full of mischief and surprises. Just when you think you’re in for another party scene interior peopled with heavily eyelinered women and jauntily quiffed men…in comes a pink elephant with a bottle of Seagram’s and a cocktail shaker…wearing a fez.
It’s the presence of mythical creatures, man sized grasshoppers, yetis and even the rubella virus that keeps the lounge singers, beatniks, and spies in check. A cosmic balance of sorts.
Agle had every intention of being an illustrator, and you can see how “advertising friendly” his work is, but then his original works started to be snapped up by galleries and collectors. Known as Shag (from joSH AGle) he’s now an industry, with fans able to purchase everything from prints to lunchboxes, calendars to zippos and everything in between.
Agle’s subject matter is very much of the same era as the television series Mad men and one can imagine those angst-laden advertising execs rubbing shoulders with Agle’s boldly coloured bouffant beauties. A new internet toy that lets you Mad Men Yourself has a little bit of the look of Agle’s look but sadly, no pink elephants bearing liquor. Enjoy!
29 July 2009
Okay, so I’ve always wanted to be a rockstar. I know, I know, not a very original aspiration to have and librarian-rockstars are few and far between but that’s why they’re called “dreams”. So naturally my eye was taken by the following recent acquisitions to the library collection. For what hath a librarian-rockstar if not the urge (and skill) to research her dream profession?
Battle of the band names : the best and worst band names ever and all the brilliant, colorful, stupid ones in between – This is required reading because there’s no way I’m going to be able to coast to rockstar supremacy on the back of my own mediocre talent. I will need a band and getting the name right is trés important. To be fair this is a bit of a one joke book and the sort of thing that you can just dip in and out of but having said that there are plenty of noteworthy additions. My personal favourite? John Cougar Concentration Camp. Oh, and Kiwi bands like The Formyula are included (for bad spelling probably, tsk).
Crap lyrics : a celebration of all the very worst pop lyrics of all time– ever! – Once I have my imaginary band we will necessarily have to write some songs (though we won’t be so much “pop” as synth-dub-barbecue reggae-neopunk). It might be nice to know what to avoid in terms of lyricism. When you think about it most pop lyrics seem to be a bit crap, don’t they? I mean even the hallowed Beatles were fairly banal in their day.
Love love me do, you know I love you, I’ll always be true. So ple-ee-ee-ease, love me do.
Now that I think about it, even the syntax is a bit skewiff in that one. So even the rock greats can pen some howlers from time to time and this book is just the one to point at the naked rock ‘n’ roll emperor and tell him to get his kit on.
The complete idiot’s guide to starting a band – ‘Nuff said?
So, any nominations for worst band name or crappest ever lyrics?
14 July 2009
It’s a well-known fact that fashionistas love winter – more layers than a Sara Lee pastry mean more scope with exciting texture and colour combinations and luckily this month’s a) freezing and b) sees two gloriously fashionable books model-strutting to a bookshelf near you.
Forties fashion: from siren suits to the new look is one such and flicking through there are some terrific examples of that oh-so-retro-chic period. True, it was probably not that much fun to live through (at the height of rationing New Zealand women were allowed a measley two pairs of stockings per annum- gah!). At the rate I go through mine I’d be bare legged by February.
Fantastically illustrated there are pictures of Betty Grable-esque bikini pin-up posers, the military influence, V for Victory, buttons and aprons and Hawaiian prints. For those interested in seeing something similar in the flesh (or should that be cloth?) The Airforce Museum has a free exhibition entitled Fashion at War: New Zealand style in World War 2. For a taste of what’s on offer check out their gallery.
Like I give a frock : fashion forecasts and meaningless misguidance might have been designed specifically to appeal to moi. Implied bad language, punning and pointed fashion-based bon mots. Upon sighting this book on the shelf I was irresistably drawn to it like a moth to a flame. The imaginary author “Michi” is sardonic, scathing and oh-so-sane (when did it become okay to wear a tracksuit to the supermarket? Answer – it didn’t). Very sharp and very funny with whimsical, painted illustrations that are a delight to behold. For those who can’t stand the tyranny of the reserve list some relief can be got from the website (which has fast become my new favourite thing) but do try and get your hands on the book which, with its pink fabric cover and little ribbon bookmark is a lovely thing in and of itself.
24 June 2009
Posted by Lady Deco under Books
, Matariki at the marae
, Our Neighbourhood
| Tags: Matariki
, Nga Hau e wha marae
, Pacific underground
, Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra
| 1 Comment
There's a uke to suit everyone
If cupcakes are the hot trend in culinary circles then surely the ukulele is its musical equivalent. A diminutive version of the standard item and somehow cuter and more gleeful. If you can listen to the upbeat tinkle of a jauntily strummed ukulele and not feel happier, or possibly even slightly warmer at the prospect of warm island summers then you may well be made of stone or something similarly cold and unfeeling.
Christchurch City Council’s Matariki programme which has been ongoing throughout June saw me attending a two day ukulele workshop at Ngā Hau e Wha Marae last week. Led by local legend Pos Mavaega of Pacific Underground we newbies (several of whom had bought their ukes the day before) miraculously found some chords and strums and managed to cobble them together into some songs.
We did so well that somehow Pos has managed to talk our small band of uke-wannabes into performing during Pacific Underground’s set at Matariki at the Marae on Thursday night. There will be other exciting things on offer at the marae as well including star-gazing with telescopes (I saw Saturn last night!), star-weaving, guest speakers and possibly the best pumpkin soup ever (do take them up on having a squirt of sour cream in it, it’s really good).
If you really can’t bear to leave the cosy warmth of your living room on Thursday to see our triumphant ukelele debut you can still get yourself uked-up. Perhaps you prefer to go to a performance where the musicians have been playing their instruments for more than a week? If so you might be interested to know that the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra will be performing as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival in August (but be quick, one of three performances is already sold out!). And of course the library has a ton of ukulele inspiration to get you strumming -
18 June 2009
Too much reading can also have this effect
It’s either a famine or a flood, innit? At the moment I am verily drowning in highly readable books. Worse than the fact that I have too much good, good reading to get done is the guilt. Oh, the terrible, terrible guilt. Every day I see Carrie Fisher’s latest, probably incredibly witty volume sitting there on the bookshelf dying to be picked up and read and every day I have to say “No Carrie. Not today. I’m not done with Remy yet”.
The Remy in question would be one Remy Stern who has written a rather good book about a rather annoying thing, namely infomercials. Everyone is familiar with the patter, the “how much would you expect to pay…” lines of cheese, the wondrous demonstrations of magic bullets and ab-flexes and miracle make-up, so you probably think you know infomercials pretty well. So did I. You don’t.
In But wait…there’s more! tighten your abs, make millions, and learn how the $100 billion infomercial industry sood us everything but the kitchen sink (phew, long title!) Stern fills us in on the history of how infomercials came to be (starting with boardwalk sales pitches in Atlantic City) and the tactics and psychology at work to get you to “Call now!”. Why is it always ”four easy payments of $19.99″? Why is that 30 day money-back guarantee such a good selling point? And why are there always so many “free” bonus extras with your toaster oven? All this and many other strategies are at work in the land of late night direct marketing.
It’s a terrifically interesting book that I’m really enjoying (I do like to know exactly in what manner I’m being manipulated) but it is keeping me from Fool by Christopher Moore which I am sort of saving because he’s one of my favourite authors, not to mention Sex with the queen : nine hundred years of vile kings, virile lovers, and passionate politics which I think you’ll agree, sounds pretty titillating (and educational, of course).
And then of course, there’s the book that I “lost” and then had to pay for but found and which I still haven’t read (yes, it happens to librarians too, though it really shouldn’t). So much book gluttony and guilt! How will I get all these read? How do you manage with all those attractive books vying for your attention?
17 June 2009
Some time ago I suffered a sports injury that rendered me incapable of one the most basic of human activities…walking. So it was with no small degree of irony that I put a reserve on a book titled The lost art of walking: the history, science, philosophy and literature of pedestrianism. I had no particular expectations as to what the book might be like, I just saw it as an opportunity to blow a raspberry at the universe. I’m funny like that.
Anyway, in due course my injury healed and some way through that process Geoff Nicholson‘s tome on the art of perambulation turned up for me on the holds shelf. There really is nothing like losing the ability to confidently stride about on two fully functioning pins to make you appreciate the wonders and joys of walking so I suppose I was a very receptive audience to this book. I’m delighted to say that I really enjoyed it.
Transplanted Englishman Nicholson is a walker who lives in Los Angeles, world-renowned as a city of non-walking drivers. In this book he investigates everything from the spiritual benefits of walking (religious/meditative walking is more common than you might imagine) to the creative (street photographers get their own chapter and the author feels that walking is a good cure for writer’s block) to the “competitive walkers” of the Victorian period.
It’s a highly personal book in which he discusses everything from the family dynamics of holidays at Blackpool (including interminable walks along the “Prom”) to the steep hill walk that may or may not have led to his mother’s heart failure. In every chapter an anecdote or part of Nicholson’s walking history is revealed. Some chapters interested me more than others but all of them unveiled some previously unknown (by me) fact about that most mundane and ordinary of activities. I’d never really thought of a “walker” as being a particular “kind” of person but then I am one.
Read this and you’ll never think of ”going for a walk” in quite the same way again.
5 June 2009
The latest in the Terminator “franchise” (I hate that term, makes the movies sound like a Nandos Chicken outlet) blasted it’s way on to movie screens in New Zealand this week. As an unabashed fan of Terminator and Terminator 2, and not much fussed on the third, I didn’t have very high expectations for this film despite the presence of Hollywood heavyweight and sometime drama queen Christian Bale.
As it turns out the film is a non-stop barrage of gunfire, explosions and death-defying stunts…and I love that kind of thing so I was happy. Unfortunately David Mamet doesn’t tend to write dialogue for blockbuster action movies so it’s no great shakes in that department but that’s not what you expect from this kind of movie is it?
When you throw a lot of money at a film this big you do get some pretty spectacular stunts, high-tech design and scary looking futuristic robots though. Which is why I’m considering checking out The art of Terminator Salvation…not in the hopes of catching a picture of Christian Bale with his shirt off…at all.
5 June 2009
At the risk of sounding callous, it’s been a bad week for Davids. Fantasy writer David Eddings passed away earlier this week and this morning brought news of the death of veteran actor David Carradine.
Carradine is probably known for three things; being a Carradine, a family that could out-Baldwin the Baldwins in terms of actors per square foot, as the titular character of Quentin Tarantino’s ambitious but genius Kill Bill films, and as Caine, the forever wandering Kung Fu student in the television series of the same name.
I have to admit that Kung Fu never grabbed me. All that dour wandering about in the Wild West didn’t really interest me as a child. I thought he brought just the right mix of menace and gentility to the role of Bill in the aforementioned Tarantino films though and this was an experience that he wrote about in his 2006 book The Kill Bill diary : the making of a Tarantino classic as seen through the eyes of a screen legend.
For more information on the life and death of David Carradine go to -