BIG DAY OUT 2011

It’s still feeling peculiar writing ’11 for the year. I guess that tends to linger until the end of the summer. Which is creeping alarmingly close, actually. January’s really disappeared rather quickly.

But this blog is not to whine about my perception of time. Nay, this entry is about something far more exciting. For last Friday was the Auckland stop off the Big Day Out. And, unsurprisingly, I was there. It’s become my rule of thumb that if I’m in the country, I go to BDO, because there will always be some bands I love, even if I don’t know it yet. This year’s major drawcard for me was Ms Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, AKA the supergoddess M.I.A.

But that’s getting ahead of myself, really, if I want to describe the day in any kind of chronological fashion. I didn’t go for the queuing for the gates to open approach that I’ve taken a couple of times in the past, since the first band that came under the Need To See heading was The Greenhornes, who weren’t on until after midday. So I turned up around eleven, and caught a little bit of the Kids of ’88 (latest Big Thing in NZ techno-pop), enough to hear a song that I knew, anyway, and the second part of Luger Boa‘s set (although I thought I was listening to Die! Die! Die! – oops) – and then it was time for The Greenhornes. I managed to get a pretty decent front-and-centre type position, and they killed. I haven’t listened to much of them later, but circa ’07 I was pretty into them, what with their Jack White affiliations and the fact that they featured heavily on the soundtrack for Broken Flowers, and I was in my I WANNA BE INDIE SO BAD phase. I was suitably impressed, and intend to reintroduce myself to them.

The day progressed. CSS were adorable, and I’m madly in love with Lovefoxxx. The Silent Disco was fun, for ten minutes or so. What I heard of the Deftones was pretty decent, likewise Wolfmother. The Black Keys regrettably didn’t make it to BDO in the end, so they were off the menu, but Shihad‘s playing through of The General Electric was badASS. Pacifier is an amazing crowd song, it has to be said, and Jon Toogood has some serious flair.

Thennnn a little bit of Iggy and the Stooges was experienced, but we had migrated further up into the stands by this point as the heavens had decided to open. I’m not entirely devastated by this, as I saw them a few years back. C’est la vie. So instead of kind of experiencing them from a vague vantage point, I decided to bail and went to check out The Naked and Famous. I’d seen them open for Florence + The Machine back in August, at the time only knowing one song, and since then they’ve released an album and revealed themselves to be Thoroughly Excellent. Their cover of The Mint Chicks’ Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! was a little overlong, but cool nonetheless.

Post TNAF was Sia. Sia’s one of those musicians I know I should listen to and like, but to be honest, I haven’t really done so yet. I stayed for the first couple of songs, and she was adorable, but I had been informed by all and sundry that Rammstein was a set not to be missed. Pyrotechnics are always a good drawcard. So upon my return to the main stadium stages, I joined the crowd, and was blown away. They were beyond epic, even pyrotechnics aside. I’m currently doing some serious Rammstein investigation, and since many of my uni friends are of somewhat metal-oriented music taste, I’m in good company to learn more. Du Hast was the only song of theirs that I knew in advance, and when they played it the crowd at large went a little cray cray. It was awesome.

Tool were next, and I saw quite a bit of their set, both from ground level and up by the Summit Bar. And although big fans have said their performance this year wasn’t as good as concerts past, I was still impressed, and am also in the process of investigating them. New musics FTW! BUT. Viewing of Tool was cut short because starting at the same time they finished, but over in the Boiler Room, was the aforementioned M.I.A., and crowd permeation was all too necessary.

I had seen M.I.A. once before, at Coachella ’09, and she was spectacular, but I didn’t really know her music beyond Paper Planes, and since she was on the Coachella main stage, the experience was mostly had on the big screens from afar. This time around, with The Boyfriend’s skills and company, we were about two metres from the stage. Can I get a ‘HELL YEAH’?

She looked smoking hot – unfortunately I brought my new little Samsung camera with me which has proven absolutely shocking at managing unblurred concert photos, so I don’t have any of my own to share, and the internet is proving less than fruitful at this point in time. Alas alack. But she did. Let me tell you. She has a fine pair of legs, does Ms Maya. Aesthetics aside, she was in fine form, and the setlist was varied and awesome. She opened with The Message, appropriately, and it was excellent. Bamboo Banga was amazing, Galang filled me with glee and dancey dancey funtimes, Born Free was full-tilt  awesome, and Paper Planes was, of course, hugely crowd-pleasing. It would have been enhanced if she’d played Bucky Done Gun, Jimmy & XXXO, but still.

For the entirety of her set, I think, it was pouring down outside the tent – which kind of made me retract every feeling of malaise I’d had towards her being put in the Boiler Room. We were still damp from sweaty Boiler Roomness and the water spray, but not freezing like the rain had brought upon us all earlier in the day.

I’m not sure if it managed to top BDO ’08, because, I mean, Bjork. And Arcade Fire. But between Rammstein and M.I.A, and others too, there was some seriously amaaaaaze musical action occurring at Mt Smart this year. I’m still debating whether I’ll go to the Laneway festival on Monday – probably not – but either way, it’s been a stellar start to 2011’s musical offerings. Woo!

still alive, still alive

Life descends into horrible vapidness when the December retail season hits. Working too much, and hating every moment of it save for the occasional hair-related compliment and/or intelligent literary discussion that comes along once in a blue moon.

This is why I could never ever work full time in that place.

Anyway. Desire to read things that are deep and meaningful and new has somewhat abated over the past few weeks, but once the first week of January is over, I’ll hopefully get back to form and back to (semi) regular bloggity action.

What I HAVE been reading lately, and what will eventually get a proper write up, is all six volumes of the Scott Pilgrim Graphic Novels. And they are amazing. I’m not a frequent graphic novel connoisseur, but Bryan Lee O’Malley is amaaaaazing.

I’m also currently getting through the first Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead Until Dark. I got a free copy from the Hachette Livre roadshow, and it seemed a suitably easy read to keep me occupied. One needs to have the occasionally trashy title to turn to, right?

So, back with a vengeance soon, I hope.

iNaNoWriMo

It sounds like an Apple product of some kind, with the ‘i’ at the front, but that’s just me attempting to include myself in the phenomenon that is NaNoWriMo. Since it stands for ‘National Novel-Writing Month’, I feel obliged to switch it up for my unAmerican purposes. InterNational Novel-Writing Month. iNaNoWriMo. Catchy, n’est-ce pas?

Perhaps pas.

Anyway, I’m going to strive towards doing it, although November is, naturally, a terrible month for them to pick, given that it’s a month that involves final exams and then ideally as much work as possible. Nobody ever thinks about us poor Southern-Hemisphere-dwellers. My story is currently called The Poetic Life Of Ruby Palmer, Lost Cause – and while this is subject to change, I am rather attached to it, as I tend to be with titles I let hang around my brain for a while. It has elements of real-life influence, obviously – it’s about a somewhat offbeat writerly girl in her last year of high school, which sounds a little like me a few years ago – but I’m pretty sure Ruby’s going to wind up more badass than me, or at least more badass than I was at sixteen-going-on-seventeen, for the most part.

I’ve (barely) survived  my first exam, which involved much prattling about Ovid, and only have two more before supposed ‘freedom’. Colour me stoked.

In the watching/listening/reading realm of things, I have offish finished reading all the Tortallan books (save for Terrier and Bloodhound), having finished reading Trickster’s Queen. And now, in addition to my reading of The Hobbit, I’m lazily getting through the first Circle of Magic book. My Hobbit-y reading has been paired with watching Fellowship of the Ring at this exact moment. They’re about to go into the Mines of Moria. I just had a ‘No, Frodo, what are you saying?! Y’all should try to finish taking the Caradhras pass!’ moment. Poor Gandalf. /nerd.

And musically, I’ve been listening to Voltaire’s Ooky Spooky record, which is excellent indeed, and The Passenger by Iggy Pop has been on repeat (just the one song, because… why not?).

I’ll keep you updated on how iNaNoWriMo gets along, my friendos.

‘vampire weekend are full of it.’ or ‘a tale of oxford commas!’

Warning – the entry uses the word ‘fuck’ a lot. Primarily because Vampire Weekend use it in their song Oxford Comma.

Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?
I’ve seen those English dramas too
They’re cruel.

Dear Vampire Weekend,

I give a fuck about an Oxford comma. Or the fucking around of an Oxford comma, at least.

No love*,

Briar.

*Not to mention that with their accents they sound like they’re saying karma. At least, they sound like a citizen of various Commonwealth locales saying karma. And saying ‘fuck you’ to karma is a Bad Plan, I’m pretty sure. This furthers the feeling of ‘no love’.

Onnnn to the point. Oxford commas, or serial commas, as they are apparently also known (Wikipedia research FTW!) are a little something I’d like to not give a fuck about. In my day to day life, I don’t use them, unless, like Wikipedia suggests, usage makes sense in order to avoid ambiguity in intent. They don’t bother me, I don’t bother them.

UNTIL NOW.

So, back story, I’m queen of ‘creative clutter’ AKA I have a very messy bedroom. And I decided that this morning would be the perfect moment to do a little fixing-up of this situation. Me being me, this resulted in retrieving the haphazardly thrown/draped clothing and sticking it in a pile in front of my wardrobe, prior to sorting between washing basket and hypothetical putting-away, and then deciding it was time to sort out my books. Because tidy books are really my main concern. This, in turn, inevitably resulted in my looking through shelves I don’t normally pick things out from – on this occasion, my bottom shelf, which houses books too big for other shelves. So this includes a few textbooks, picture books that I love, art books, a book on the history of riot grrrl leant to me by Katrina-my-American-BFF, a graphic novel or two aaaand this journal called Through a Gap in the Fence which is a collection of art and words by secondary students the whole country over. In which a poem I wrote in my last year of school, called Petra, found itself published. Yay!

Yay?

Truth is, I hadn’t actually read my poem in these shiny pages. My old English teacher actually submitted it the year after I’d left school, so this is a 2008 publication, even though I graduated at the end of 2007. And the actual printing/sending me a copy took a while too – to the point where it came in the mail while I was on my student exchange in Montreal. So upon my arrival from North American shores, the appreciation of this old-ish poem in a collection of school students’ writing wasn’t paramount in my mind. And I’d kind of forgotten that it had existed, truth be told. So I flipped through, right to the back of the collection where my poem resides (being very last in a collection is kind of a good thing, I think – you don’t get lost in the middle of everything) and read through, admiring some of my work and cringing slightly at my sixteen/seventeen year old attempts at ethereal poetry. It’s still pretty decent, I feel.

Then I got to the last two lines. Read them once, then read them again, then realised what had caused my confusion.

THEY HAD PUT A GODDAMN OXFORD COMMA IN MY POEM.

Let me tell you right now, there was never any such extraneous comma in my original poem.

I wrote ‘she is Byzantine, Lenten and loveless‘ – my intended idea being that she encompassed some sort of Byzantine nature of being both Lenten and loveless. The ‘Lenten and loveless’ was in apposition to the ‘Byzantine’.

When they typed it up for publication, they wrote ‘she is Byzantine, Lenten, and loveless‘.

Which is not what I was going to at all. Which is why my face went all angry-like and I wrote an equally angry-like tweet or three about it. Punctuation in poetry is a different kettle of fish to punctuation in prose. Everything is picked for a reason, Sir/Madam Editor, and even if you’re a cheerleader for the Liberation of the Oxford Comma, don’t take it out on my poem. Please. You made me sad.

In reality, I know that editorial slip-ups occur and the like, but it still fired me up enough to warrant typing – wow – 800 or so words about it. Also in reality, I really do like the Vampire Weekend song. So, the moral of the story is – poetic punctuation is important and editors should realise this, that song isn’t REALLY about punctuation, and any publication is worth celebrating.

In case you wanted to actually read the poem in question, here ’tis.

Petra

She came in the summer.
The one when Christina turned
Sixteen, and we thought
We had grown up.
When we ate strawberries
Behind the boatshed, listening
To Siouxsie Sioux.
We called it ‘old wave’.

The sky is a petulant blue
cloudless, unforgiving
like us, and clarity
like silver tongues
and Lennon/McCartney songs
seems to exist
for a moment.

Petra, she says, without
the Hellenic splendour
we were accustomed to.
She sits beneath
an Andy Warhol print, Campbell’s Soup
but instead of pop art
she is Byzantine, Lenten and loveless
with eyes flat as unlevened bread.

(The editors in the collection also neglected to italicise ‘Campbell’s Soup‘. Jeez.)

middle earth = new zealand. duh.

I love my homeland an extraordinary amount. We have the best accents (universally loved, it seems, perhaps apart from our Austrahhhhlian neighbours), the best awkward birds (the kiwi and beyond), sauce dispensers shaped like their vegetable originators (tomato shaped tomato sauce/ketchup bottles) and scenery that will kick your country’s scenery (again, maybe looking at our friendly surf-obsessed venomous-animal-attached neighbours who have naught but desert) back to sunrise. Which isn’t hard, since we see the sun rise before anywhere else in the world. OH SNAP!

And the world got to see our shiny pretty (not to mention BAD-ASS) scenery on three little movies called The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers & The Return of the King. Under the collaborative awesomeness that is THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Yeah, I’m a bit of a fan. Not as drastically obsessed as I used to be (my first year of high school was the same year that RotK came out. I may have taught myself how to read and write the Elvish script. I may have obsessively played all the pieces in the piano music FotR book even though I hadn’t actually played piano properly for several years.) but I still appreciate the books and movies alike.

Confession – I haven’t actually read The Hobbit. I’ve read all three volumes of the main trilogy, and churned through a decent part of The Silmarillion, but haven’t, for whatever reason, read the book that started it all. However, I intend to rectify this. Since the movie is finally underway. Or sort of. Which brings me to the ultimate purpose of this entry – The Hobbit film and the fact that it obviously has to be filmed in New Zealand.

It’s possible that before I even finish typing this up they will do the old BREAKING NEWS extravaganza to let the Kiwi populace know whether or not we can still call ourselves Middle Earth. It was the first story of the main 6pm news hour, and they stated that any developments would be brought to light immediately. Our prime minister – the Less Than Honourable John Key, king of Remuera, “Helensville” (since he spends SO much time there) and the centre-right affront to our Parliament that is the National Party – is in discussions with the Warner Brothers execs regarding the future of the film here. That’s right, folks, our nation’s leader gets in on it when our Peter Jackson movie-making gets threatened. Secretly I think this is kind of awesome. I can’t really imagine Obamz getting cozy with Spielberg over location disputes.

There are reasons why the WB suits are concerned, yes – the whole actors’ union boycott didn’t paint the prettiest picture of our local thespians, but now that the whole thing has been put in the past (I’ll personally still be pretty miffed at the actorly public if we get screwed over, though), it’d be nice if they could come to a happy agreement that nowhere can possibly recreate the world conjured for the original films as NZ. Seriously. That little farm out of Matamata IS Hobbiton. I refuse to believe that anywhere else will have quite the same charm as did our Waikato-y friends and their hobbit-holed hills.

The moral of the story is that the movie should stay here, otherwise the entire population of my country will turn into depressed 13 year olds who sit around wearing black mourning gowns whilst rocking slowly humming Lament for Gandalf. Why would you do that to us, WB? WHY? I know we’re sort of know (probably just by us) for our ‘dark’ aesthetic  – cue Sam Neill’s Cinema of Unease documentary, which you should all watch, and readings of every NZ short story anthology ever – but that doesn’t mean you need to further our emo. Let us have our hobbits. We’re so damn far away from everything else.

In other news, I’ve now read the entire Song of the Lioness, The Immortals & Protector of the Small quartets. And I’m switching up between The Magic In The Weaving (apparently also known as Sandry’s Book in some editions – who knew?) and the complete bind-up Trickster (encompassing Trickster’s Choice & Trickster’s Queen). The changing around is mostly due to the fact that I have the former in e-book form on Proserpina Regina Pomi Granatis the Macbook Pro, and I have a copy of Trickster loaned to me by Lola Mulot. This whole Piercian kick has been awesome, and most satisfactory for procrastination purposes.

Also, this weekend is Hallowe’en, obviously, and I’m dressing up as Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Obviously. Since I have work on both Friday evening and Saturday, I may mix it up and go for my usual Tonks look. The outfits will probably be very similar, anyway. Easy peasey!

EDITED TO ADD: It also seems relevant to this entry that I mention the fact that every time I’ve been Tamora Pierce e-bookin’ it, my music of choice has been shuffling through the LotR soundtracks. Because moderately epic fantasy is heightened in its epicness by crazy-epic Howard Shore composed tune-age. Seriously. The music of those films is glorious.

the republic of love(ly bones?)

The Lovely Bones is currently trending on Twitter, for what reason, I don’t know, but it’s interesting to see peoples comments about it. Most of them saying that they loved the book but disliked/hated the movie. Now, as an obvious Voracious Reader I’m frequently in the The Book Didn’t Live Up To The Movie camp, but this is an exception. I was not a fan of the book whatsoever. It’s like Jodi Picoult smoked some supernatural flavoured crack. It was the novel my class studied in Year 12 English (my favourite English year at school by far – but this was the low point), and I got through it pretty quickly, but was unimpressed. The end, in particular – the last quarter of the book, really – was terrible.

The movie, on the other hand, I enjoyed. I knew Peter Jackson would create something brilliant, being a fan of Heavenly Creatures, and while TLB wasn’t my favourite PJ film, it was still worth checking out. And Saoirse Ronan was brilliant, as she always is.

That’s all I really have to say about that. Since this is a place of putting opinions out there.

In other news, The Republic of Love by Carol Shields is a good read. I haven’t quite finished it, and might not actually get around to doing so any time soon, as the reason for my reading it (an English test) has passed by. But eventually, I’m sure I will. ‘Literary’ chick-lit, of a sort.

And that’s all folks. Except for the fact that Lola Mulot has also been swept up in the Tamora Pierce obsession of late, and we are collaboratively obsessing over Tortall, and Numair Salmalín in particular. Now, to find my copy of In The Hand Of The Goddess

mission margaret/the atwood adventure.

Though I’m still somewhat engulfed in Tamora Pierce (even if I should be reading ‘The Republic Of Love’ by Carol Shields for an English test…) I’m beginning to think ahead, since this semester is almost gone, and summer stretches out ahead. Said summer is going to be the first since I started university that I won’t be getting myself educated over the January/February months (since this year I did summer school and the year before that I was on exchange and the semester started way earlier than it would have in Auckland-town). I will, unfortunately, be caught up in the painful student trial that is summer work, but money is money, and my particular job will entail not quite full-time hours, so some freedom will be had, plus it will finish up at 3pm most days (though after a 7am start, yikes). So evenings/afternoons will be FREE!

Free to practise driving. Free to teach myself to roller skate. Free to write a Booker winning novel. Free to READ LOTS OF BOOKS.

I think it’s going to be my goal to read every Margaret Atwood novel before semester 1 2011 begins. I’ve got a fairly solid foundation having already read…

  • The Edible Woman (fun fact – I bought my copy of this book at the Clevedon Farmers’ Market for $2, opened it when I got home, and it was SIGNED. SIGNED BY MARGARET ATWOOD. I nearly had a heart attack.)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Cat’s Eye
  • The Blind Assassin
  • Oryx and Crake
  • The Penelopiad
  • Year of The Flood

Plus I have in my possession (thank you, second hand bookshop perusing!) Alias Grace, and I believe my sister owns Surfacing. So that leaves Lady Oracle, Life Before Man, Bodily Harm and The Robber Bride. Six books over the next four/five months? Easy. Especially since I only need to track down four of them. I also own Moral Disorder, a short story collection, so obviously I should finish reading that one, too.

I should mention, perhaps, that Margaret Atwood is generally held to be my favourite author. This does fluctuate, I went through a period of time when I was 17/18 where Emily Perkins was the only author I would consider putting the ‘favourite’ label on. Atwood was there, just somewhere slightly below the surface. Maybe it was because I’d only read The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake at that point, and was loathe to put an author who could be misconstrued as ‘sci-fi’ as my numero uno. Then I read The Blind Assassin and The Penelopiad (Classics geek, in the house!).

I still love the prosey goodness of Ms Emily Perkins, but that can wait for another blog entry. For now, let us conclude that Mission Margaret/The Atwood Adventure is both possible and necessary.