Aw yeah

I do a bit of crocheting. I’m not one of those crazy creative types who make whole pieces of furniture out of wool or anything, but I make the odd scarf or rug or bag or what have you. And I’ve found (via my mother, who just knows these things) that the best place to pick up crochet patterns is op shops. Old becomes new again and alla that.

A long, long time ago I picked up the book ‘A Chartwell Guide to Crochet – Super Designs for Babies, Women & Home’. It was first published in 1974. I pulled it down from the shelf tonight and was flicking through it looking for a shawl pattern and honestly, some of this stuff is GOLD. I can’t decide what one is my favourite…

The simple cover-up snood –


The gay gypsy scarf –


Or the glamorous glitter cap for sophisticated parties –


It’s not all that bad. There are some really useful patterns for scarves and bags and stuff, which is probably why I bought the thing in the first place.

SO – who wants me to make them a snood??!

That boy needs therapy

Umm… I was watching the baseball. Well, the World Series. And then it finished, and the Red Sox won (hooray!) and then something called the BNP Paribas Masters started. It’s tennis, in case you’re wondering. And the two players on centre court are warming up. What do you think they’re playing in the stadium, in the background while the players warm up?

Frontier Psychiatrist by the Avalanches.

Those crazy, awesome French.

Her mix tape’s a masterpiece

To make a great mix tape is an art, I think. To make the perfect mix tape is almost impossible and it’s something I’ve tortured myself with fairly regularly in the past. And wait – do people still call them mix tapes? Mix CDs. Regardless of the technology holding it all together I think the basic premise remains the same. Mix tapes are hard, man.

This is particularly true if you’re making it for someone you’re trying to impress. Factor in a recipient with some music savvy and really, it’s one of the hardest things you can do. And it’s not just about what tracks you put on there. You’ve got to get the overall feel of the CD right, and, MOST importantly, the track order. This is so so important. There are usually 2 or 3 songs on there you REALLY want the recipient to listen to, and without putting great big red flags on the track listing at the back, you have to resort to making sure the tracks are stacked so that each of these super important songs gets their big moment. It’s a delicate balance.

I think the first mix tape I made was a compilation of stuff I pieced together from listening to and recording the top 40 broadcast from our local AM station in Wagga, 2WG. On Sunday afternoons they’d feed in to this national top 40 chart, and I’d hit record for every song I liked the sound of. I remember getting probably too exasperated when the tape ran out half way through a particularly awesome song (like, for instance, I Want You Back by Bananarama), or the DJ had the audacity to speak over the intro or outro of a song. I made me nuts.

Then there was the radio shows my friend Skye and I used to make – taped music from the radio interspersed with our running commentary about the music and/or our snappy 11 year old repartee. Part of me is a little sad those tapes are lost forever. Part of me, though, is more than a bit relieved. I have a feeling listening to any of that stuff would result in instant mortification.

The first mix tape I made for someone else was actually FOR Skye. I remember at the time she was completely in love with Feargal Sharkey (which included making up dance moves to all his happening tracks), and this was something I was utterly mortified by. So I made her a mix tape because I of course assumed my taste was so much better than hers and she needed hard and fast education before her brain rotted away. I wish I could remember exactly what was on it, but I’m certain it included some Bananarama, and I’m almost sure it had some Def Leppard too. Yikes.

Of course all this top 40 nonsense changed when A) I started seriously listening to the vinyl lying around the house and B) Triple J came to town. Because that right there was a revelation.

I’m making a Mountain Goats mix CD right now. I’m sure to the whole wide world this is not at all surprising. I have one person in mind with it, but I reckon it will end up going to more than one person. It will definitely go to Tara, because I’m trying to encourage her new found obsession with The Sunset Tree. Persistence pays off, kids. Choosing the tracks was hard, but now I have to find a way to balance the lofi and the studio stuff. To result in the best overall listening experience I mean. It’s a little tricky.

I’ve received a lot of mix tapes and what not in the past, but recently they’ve taken a new face. I’ve found myself a boy that makes them for me on a regular basis, and I gotta say, it’s all kinds of wonderful. Mix CDs have become not only a way for me to get to know someone, and to feel like they’re thinking about me, but also a way of finding new music. And honestly for a person like me, the gift of new music is one of the best ones you can give. I just love it. Making something for him though was a particularly intimidating experience. Still, I managed.

I’m also thinking about a mix CD for the sister moving to another city. Her big step out into the world. Master of her own destiny and alla that. I have a lot of songs that will fit a feeling like that, and I can think of no one else I’d rather share them with.

I also love to hand make the cover art. But that’s just nerdy arty me.

I was struggling a bit with the idea that the mix tape or mix CD thing was being lost in amongst all the technology. But then talk today of making iPod play lists that run about an hour long to play on road trips to both Canberra and Melbourne have me excited again. I guess it’s the way of the future.

Tonight I’m on my way

So, you could say I know a little bit about music. Also, I tend to be across some of the more obscure local stuff. But they just announced the nominees for the breakthrough single ARIA, and who the hell are Small Mercies?? Anyway. I always tell myself I won’t watch the ARIAs, but then I always invariably do.

And I do NOT understand this Sneaky Soundsystem thing. I would think if you’re looking for dance type stuffs to listen to you could manage a whole lot better than that. I think this might be a good segue for my recent (and slightly disturbing) newfound love of Muscles. But I think I’ll spare you all that tonight.

Anyway, I’m still alive. I’ve come head first out of the conference abyss and I’m feeling more than a bit chipper. This is for a few reasons –

1. It’s like this massive, 12 month weight has come off my shoulders. This conference has honestly been dragging the life blood out of me Monday to Friday for that long. But now it’s done.
2. I did a good job. I can say that now with some amount of confidence.
3. I go back to work tomorrow with a lot of work to do, but there are one or two things I feel very good about. In a couple of ways it feels like a new start, and I actually feel, for the first time in a little while, I have something to build on.
4. I’ve had a wonderful, relaxing weekend. I haven’t had that much sleep in a very long time. It’s so wonderful when a place away from home becomes so comfortable that it feels like home. But that’s a whole other post for a whole other day.
5. There is something very nice about knowing that, no matter where you are and who you’re surrounded by, there is understanding and wonderful company close by if ever you need it.

I live, seemingly, in three different universes right now. I would say parallel universes, but I don’t know enough about time travel etc. to know if this is an accurate representation of my current state of affairs. See, I have this job that completely owns part of my life. It’s a lot better than it was, but when calling a spade a spade (yes, let’s), it takes up a fair chunk of the brain space. Then there’s the little life I’ve carved out for myself in the 3 bedroom cottage in Windsor. Me and my cat and my CD collection. And Antiques Roadshow and Adam Spencer and Tony Jones and Tony Delroy. I’ve worked pretty hard for this little piece of space – it was a long time coming, and now I have it I really feel like I’ve found and cemented a piece of myself.

And then, there’re the weekends. I leave the job and the house and I make my way into a little corner of the city, to a little corner of a building, where I hide away from most everything in that rosy coloured haze. And it’s wonderful. But it’s separate from these other lives that I lead. At least, it has been. Maybe it’s a time thing, because these worlds are now occasionally overlapping. Like Thursday night. And perhaps with some time there’ll be some merging of things and the division won’t feel so severe. Because right now it feels as different as moving from hot to cold water. Not necessarily bad. Just different. And it takes a decent amount of juggling and organization and what not. And rushing from one place to the other. And packing. I feel like I’m forever making sure I have everything I need on me. But I’m actually allowing myself to look and I can see into the future where things might change and/or come together.

There has been a decent amount of thought this evening about all of this. For so long I was intent on simplifying – on paring things down to just ME and what I wanted and what I needed and listening to my internal voice and internal music because god damn, I was so bad at that for a really long time. And I managed to do that – so well that I isolated myself pretty effectively from most everything. But gradually I’ve worked myself back to a pretty full little existence – all I can be is a busy sea of spinning wheels etc. I have a life full of people (+ boy) and the job and the house and the cat and what not. And you know what? I’m still hearing my internal voice. Clear as day, actually. And I think that’s called some sort of progress. I mean, this is no end point, but it’s a step to something, and I think that something might be some kind of wonderful.

I have always felt like I come at things back to front, but I’ve seemingly figured that shit out.

In other, less self-absorbed news I have a lot of new music to listen to. I picked up some Ben Kweller (On My Way) on the weekend, along with both The Flying Club Cup and Gulag Orkestar by Beirut. I can say with some certainty I am falling in love with Beirut. Also, I got the awesomely awesome gift of the new Two Gallants self titled album. I just can’t wait to listen to that. What the Toll Tells is one of my favourite finds of this year (even though it was probably released last year), and the recent EP The Scenery of Farewell has some of the most heartfelt ballads you’ll ever hear. And he has one of the most authentic and expressive voices I’ve heard in a really long time – it’s completely infectious and in a crazy, screamo way, pretty endearing. I’d give a limb to see them live.

Ben Kweller Friday night was so much fun. I’d write a review, but Wayne has already done an awesome one (including a set list) so he saved me the trouble.

The plan this week is to post a lot more. Now all the conference shenanigans are out of the way I might make it to the end of each day without some form of brain atrophy. And besides, I have some shit to say. For the first time in a long time the words really feel like they’re there, waiting to make it to the page. It’s a nice feeling.

God damn it. Stupid daylight savings. I mean, the extra hour of daylight is great and all, but it’s past midnight and I’m not even sleepy. I might go to bed and read some.

Karen, I’m not taking sides

It’s a sorry state of affairs when you become sick to death of hearing your own name. I feel like the second my ass hits my chair at work, the phone goes, or the intercom goes, or my boss (because this is the way she rolls) screams across the hallway. KAAAREN! This would all be well and good if I didn’t have an actual job to do.

And this job, currently, is wholey and solely taken up with organizing an international conference.

A) I am not a conference coordinator. I have never once organised a conference, let alone a conference for 50 delegates from 13 different countries. I am flying by the seat of my proverbial pants.

B) My specially printed conference satchels are currently somewhere between Sydney and Melbourne. This is because they were sent to Clarendon, VICTORIA. Yes. This has cause me some slight anxiety (cough).

C) I did not bid for this conference. In fact, I remember saying waaaaay back in October 2005, don’t think I am going to get stuck organizing this thing. Because it ain’t gonna be me. HEAR ME? NO! Yeah.

D) If the snake guy doesn’t show up on Wednesday lunch time with his various reptiles and ‘mobile snake pit’ I am going to have to find something else to fit into the category of ‘demonstration of Australian culture and wildlife’ as this is what is firmly in the conference agenda. I might have to get one of the girls to dress in a kangaroo suit and sing Waltzing Matilda or something.

E) Just in case anyone ever needs to know, I now know the answer to the questions ‘how much room does a didgeridoo player need?’ and ‘how much vodka can 5 Ukrainians drink in one night anyway?’.

F) The answer to the latter question above is a veritable fuck load, apparently. Hooray for open bars!

G) I am never organizing a conference again. I’m announcing my retirement on Friday October 26, 2007. Thereafter, that evening I will go on to see Ben Kweller at the Gaelic Club and spend the weekend with preferred company #1. Then after that I’ll go back to being a migration agent/general go to girl. And the world will rejoice.

This week is one of those weeks when music has saved me from throwing blunt implements at passers by. In the evenings I’ve been listening to the album Nebraska, and honestly, it’s the most perfect way to shed the shit of a day. I also played some Jeff Buckley today for the first time in a very, very long time. I was saying to the boy last week (I think last week) that Lover, You Should Have Come Over is one of the greatest love songs ever written. FACT.


Dear the National and Arcade Fire,

Please, announce Sydney dates, okay? Pretty please. Please don’t make me pay a million dollars to a fucking scalper on eBay for a Big Day Out ticket and the pure joy of witnessing you live.

Not that I wouldn’t, mind. But I’d moan about it a whole lot.

Yours with impatient devotion,


What’s new pussy cat

So recently I’ve been worrying I’m a little overprotective when it comes to the cat. He’s growing up, and pretty big now, and to be honest has a little too much attitude. When he was little there was no way I was letting him outside – I was worried some sort of massive bird of prey was going to swoop down from the skies and pluck his little body from the earth. In the last few weeks though I’ve been thinking I should possibly let him outside during the days, while I’m at work. Gradually for a couple of hours at a time, but then ultimately all day. I live on a quiet street. There’s a park and stuff. I have a nice big yard. There’s no reason why not.

I was just starting to get used to the idea. I was just beginning to reason with myself that he holds his own with Crackers and Briscoe (Al and Debbie’s tank-sized cats) so really he’d have no trouble with anything on the street. He’s tough like Tonka. But then something happened today to make me rethink the whooooole idea.

I met the neighbourhood bully.

I hadn’t been home long. The sun was starting to get low in the sky, but it was still seriously warm outside so I had the front door open but the screen door shut. Bowie wasn’t on the couch with me, but most of the time he’s not to be honest – he has his own little routines that don’t involve me, like dragging anything smaller than a basketball that’s not fixed down from the bedroom to the lounge room with his teeth, and then dragging them all back again. To each their own for entertainment I guess. Anyway, all of a sudden I hear this WHUMP on the front screen door, and then I hear Bowie hissing with all his might. I jump up and head to the door, and there is a cat the size of a small bear on my doorstep.

This is no normal cat. He is the weirdest colour I’ve ever seen, and has these wild crazy eyes about him. He’s one mean mutha fucker. My presence at the door didn’t seem to bother him. Bowie hunched down in front of the door, without backing down, but I’m sure his bravado was more than aided by the security door between him and the feline behemoth on the other side. This cat kept walking to the end of the verandah, turning around, and then catapulting himself at Bowie through the screen door. He was all spit and hiss and to be honest it was a little unnerving. I managed to shoo him away in the end, but I could tell he wasn’t really scared of my shooing – he probably just got sick of the game.

So, I’m gonna have to find a way around this. Tonight I’m thinking to myself I’ll feed Bowie up a bit more, let him get some body weight behind him, and then I’ll send him out into the fray. They should run self-defense lessons for cats. God forbid I ever have children. How on earth parents find a way to send their kids out into the world, without some form of heavy duty body protection, is really beyond me.