Wednesday, April 25, 2007


don't know why, but i've been obsessing about arm warmers.

i put it down to melbourne's in-between weather.
it's not cold enough to wear a long sleeve top but still too cold to wear only a tee.
an arm warmer seemed an ideal, logical solution.

"what are you talking about?" the disbelievers ask. "why don't you just wear a long sleeve top?"

imagine my excitement when i discovered another kindred soul had thought up and acted upon this idea, brilliant!

hippy or bogan?

my friend lisa reckons there are two types of people in the world: hippies and bogans. lis proudly aligns herself to the latter (she is, after all, from trentham) and when she acquired a second hand ex-police car, it seemed a no-duh idea to get her some fluffy dice for her birthday to formalise her bogan status.

now i'm no bogan, as my sis would concur, i'm apparently a hippy. and having never visited a car bits shop before, walking into autobarn was like stepping into a whole new world. it was all engine oils, Big Tools, manly colours and hyper masculine font. i hightailed it outta there before the handlebar moustached dude could approach.
can you imagine: 'er, do you sell fluffy dice? and what colours do you have?'

since i'm infinitely more comfortable at spotlight, i grabbed some felt, stripey trim, polyfiller (thanks dr kath!) and set to work to make some felt dice. they took a bit longer to complete than anticipated. who knew that you can't glue felt to felt? who knew!! tried pva, acid-free craft glue and even superglue.

no dice. so to speak.
they turned out ok and lis reckons they're 'the bestest present ever!'

that's high praise from a bogan ;)

Sunday, April 22, 2007


it's been a long and tiring week. ups and downs and too much going on generally.

to regain a bit of sanity, i dusted off the sewing machine. found this gorgeous partridge/duck fabric at amitie textiles in bentleigh and whipped up this simple bag. it's held together with some cute ribbon (thanks cammers!) to hold some bits and bods for my new compooter machine.

feel quite chuffed with it!
don't worry, i have been reminded that just because you buy a compooter to write a thesis doesn't mean that it will write itself ...i'm onto it elmo!

too old for band teeshirts? :: Wilco (again) at the Palais Theatre

sometimes i get carried away with anticipation.

wilco's melbourne gigs are a case in point. i marked any calendar i could get my hands on in an effort to disperse the excitement. some might argue that that only makes it worse!

for wilco's first show at the palais theatre last wednesday night, there was a palpable sense of excitement amongst the crowd milling outside the palais theatre. though this may also have been amplified by our indulgent muso spotting (look! the dudes from The Audreys! the drummer from Gersey! that guy that we always see at gigs!).

so much so was our excitement that we rushed over to join the queue to the merchandise stand - should we get a hoodie or a poster or a tee? oooh is their new album for sale here? i love checking out the merch but i must confess that i have been remarkably resistant.
snout socks? nuh.
dallas crane beach ball? nuh.
rebecca's empire tea towel? nuh.

the grates' screen printed tote bags? nuh.
you am i footy scarf? nuh.

yeah yeah yeahs rack of clothes for the karen o wannabees? NUH!

dan kelly and the alpha males sticker?, OK!
see. _remarkably_ resistant.

while cass and elmo went to check out the luxurious seating in the bar upstairs, my good friend dr b and i convened to the queue where i thought out loud:

you know, i think i might be too old for band teeshirts.

she immediately pooh-poohed this idea "noooo. [waves hand. shakes head. looks generally shocked] you're never too old. I'm going to get the hoodie. i've been looking for one, it's fate"

let me provide some context about this 'too old' statement. another good friend is losing the 2 in front of her age this month - HAPPY
BIRTHDAY EKY! - and this event is looooming for yours truly as well - eek. and you think of those middle aged dudes from the 'burbs on RockWiz (cass excluded of course ;p) in their Motorhead teeshirts...and i wonder if i'm seeing the future. i'll be a crusty jaded 60 year old holding onto Radiohead, Dirty Three, Teenage Fanclub, Even and Never Letting Go. Those were the days when music was music, i'll say to my grandkids. when we had analogue. none of this newfangled stuff, what do you call that anyway? and what machine do you play it on? and how do you turn it down? what makes someone choose to wear an emblazoned tee? announcing that you're such a fan that you advertise proudly on your person - i guess it's no different to those who wear their polo collars up to display their brand of choice? then again, these days it seems that you can purchase a ramones, stones or velvets tee from an alternative chain store as a fashion statement or maybe even a means to get some rock'n'roll cred (god knows, that seems a difficult commodity these days). i got a wilco tee-shirt anyway ;D

Wilco, Palais Theatre, 18 and 19th April, 2007

the second gig was awesome! wilco played a different set to that of the night before, a good sign that a band appreciates their audience.

kicking off with "misunderstood" and "via chicago", we were also treated to "passenger side" from AM and tracks from A Ghost is Born and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot such as "'kamera" that weren't aired the previous night. within the context their new album Sky Blue Sky, older songs like "jesus, etc" appeared to take on some of the new 70s west-coast styling or perhaps this was already implicit. seeing them live really made me appreciate the complexity of their music, i sat there thinking i could hear something new if i saw them every night. i love the song "hummingbird": it's so light and airy in the opening verse only to swell and swoon upon the chorus, 'she appears/in his dreams' , it is one of my favourite songs. i particularly loved the military-like drumming during 'i am trying to break your heart". it sounded so amazing, as if i were hearing it for the first time. this song also serves as a great example of how wilco play as if deconstructing each song by the distinct sound contributed by individuals in the band. they layer instrument over instruments, melody over melodies, riff over riffs to create a warm, buzzing sound that isn't exactly absent in their albums but somehow more present in the flesh.

not to say that were all bluster, they also know how to be quiet and elegant allowing singer/songwriter jeff tweedy's melancholic voice more prominence.
the second night audience missed out on the gorgeous outtake from mermaid avenue and the acoustic, un-miked uncle tupelo song tweedy performed the night before. tweedy again engaged at length with the crowd, apologising for comments from the previous night, asking dancing folks to turn to their neighbours for permission 'to stare at their [dancing] butt all night' and stating 'we all want to live here [in australia]. this is what america used to be like, don't f**k it up!' it was such an enormous pleasure to see how much the band themselves were enjoying their music. really looking forward to the new record, sounds like it will make a great driving tape!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

heavy metal drummer

I'm doing my happy dances again because Chicago alt-country sweethearts WIlco are touring Melbourne this week!

Wilco haven't visited Australia since the Big Day Out bandwagon in the early 2000s. Since this time, singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy has tried his darndest to break up the band, most notably documented in I Am Trying To Break Your Heart about the making of their glorious album "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and the breaking of Wilco's core duo, Tweedy and Jay Bennett.

A brilliant, sonically fractured album later in "A Ghost Is Born" plus a wonderful live double ceedee "Kicking Television" and they're finally back for two shows this week, woohoo! Here's hoping the new (stable) lineup have learnt 'Hummingbird' or 'California Stars' or 'Ashes of An American Flag' or 'Outta Mind Outta Sight' or 'Jesus, etc' or ...anything from Summerteeth...maybe some material from their new album?

I'll be pretty happy with whatever they play :D Yeah, I'm ignoring my student budget and splurging out on the two shows (so don't be surprised if I invite myself over to dinner- ha!). The last time I doubled up was for two sweltering Radiohead gigs at Festival Hall for their OK Computer tour and that was a truly amazing experience.

Ooooh, can't wait!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Oot and Aboot

…in which jfox ventures forth outside to festivals of food and wine, the fina cultural weekend and the best of the v fest.

:: food and wine festival
the wind is beginning to bite and snap, its chilly fingers reaching in and icily poking in between layers of clothes. We headed out to enjoy the last of the twilight warmth before the cold truly settles in. Melbourne shrugged off the remains of summer with some free festivals for the last weekend of March, held in and around the hubs of Federation Square and Birrarung Marr.

Food and Wine Festival, Riverside Terrace and Federation Square

I don’t recall the Food and Wine Festival ever being this accessible. The Yarra River terrace was transformed with free-entry celebrations of Flour - think gozlemes, cakes, pides, breads, pastries and er….icecream; followed by Wicked Sunday featuring all things coffee, chocolate, more coffee and er…icecream. Three sites at Fed Square provided the opportunity to see chefs from fancy-pants restaurants such as Fenix, Maribyrnong Boathouse, Jacques Reymond, the Grand and chef-of-the moment, George Calombaris from the Press Club cooking up for appreciative foodies. Some chefs had more flair than others, we definitely want to visit the Boathouse based on the chef’s cheeky humour and portly belly!

As a devotee to food-porn, it was a fascinating insight into how dishes are created. One striking aspect was how a dish could be transformed from a basic foundation of ingredients simply by manipulating contrasting tastes and presenting with creative elegance. It really makes you appreciate the art of balance within a dish and reminded me how rough and ready my own concoctions are. The chefs really encouraged the audiences to think about how flavours and textures are put together and to try some techniques at home. And not surprisingly, they were equally passionate about fresh, quality produce.

:: fina festival weekend

Following on from the rip roaring success of the Commonwealth Games Cultural festival last year, this years big sporting event, the FINA World Championships, was also accompanied by a free arts program to complement the splishing and a splashing at Rod Laver (what drought? what water shortage? let’s build a pool on a tennis court! this is another rant in itself).

I love that the curation of this festival was a bit left of centre, the acts we saw were wide ranging and packed a lot of spunk. Yayoi Kusama’s bright red mushrooms on the dried, yellowing grass of Birrarung Marr were an amazing sight. There were random life-savers, sea creatures (?) and sharks(?) literally running around striking random poses or creating random mischief. Adding to the carnivalesque atmosphere, the obligatory circus act with a twist: Queensland trio Circa performed 46 different acts in 45 minutes.
The most interesting act we saw was the European group, Ulik and Le Snob, an amazing gliding orchestra of brass and percussion. The trumpet, trombone and tuba were particularly striking - all bent up and wound up and down in odd ways. With flames on their metal hats/spires and floating around in matching black funnel costumes - the sight and sound was ominous and compelling.

Ulik and Le Snob
The most fun were Strange Fruit as the under 9’s B synchronised swimming team from Wangaratta. Wearing bright pink leotards and noseclips, this team presented their synchronised routine from bendy poles four metres in the air. They managed to be both graceful and playful and the humour of their show was infectious. They were a crazy sight sitting on the hill overlooking the Yarra River. It was a shame that the swimming championships themselves didn’t capture crowds as much as the acts on the river, perhaps this Festival Weekend will be able to stand alone without being tethered to a big sporting event next year!

Strange Fruit :: Synchro Swing, Birrarung Marr

:: best of the v festival

April 4th 2007, Sidney Myer Music Bowl

all work = no play = dull gal, it’s true! but I haven’t been locked that closely to the desk of late.

Courtesy of a certain Mr Branson and his V Festival, the reformed Pixies toured Australia for the first time. Very excitement! And although I was originally miffed at missing out on Gnarls Barkley and The Rapture due to us Southerner’s getting a split V Festival, the line up also featuring Jarvis Cocker, French band Phoenix and New York Dolls was something of a music nerdo’s dream – something for each of the last four decades.

We grabbed some goodies from the stupormarket, found a nice patch of lawn and settled in.

The NY Dolls have been variously credited with being spearheads for the punk and glam movements during the early 70s, way before The Ramones in the US and Sex Pistols in the UK. They opened with Personality Crisis and blistered through their set. Although their music sounded of their time, there was something about these old dudes rocking it out in front of young fans a third of their age. It really was fantastic to see!

Next up, Phoenix. OK. Hands up. Does anyone know of any French bands? I don’t mean ya electro/beatsy stuff - I’m talking guitars, drums, shoegazing or kick out the jam type bands. Anyway after a while, we stopped wracking our brains to enjoy the 80s dance/ hard beats of Phoenix. Other than the Merci beaucoups in between, you’d never know they were French as the singer adopted the international language of rock screaming. All in all, I reckon they’d be a great band to see in a smaller venue but perhaps not so challenging to listen to over and over. One thing was clear, they had their lighting cues down pat with their rhythmic tracks, it really added to their presence. And of course, we must thank Phoenix for leaking the news of the V Festival on their myspace calendar!

Jarvis Cocker was as big a drawcard for me as the Pixies. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Pulp (sadly, no Pulp songs in the set) so seeing the man himself seemed the next best thing. Drawing mostly from his latest album, Jarvis strutted, conducted/danced angularly and karate chopped his way across the stage. He was a fantastic showman, not so much chatting as thinking out loud to the audience in between songs such as Fat Children, Heavy Weather, Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time, I Will Kill Again and ending with C***s Still Rule The World (and hilarious commentary about the apparent ridiculousness of the taboo of c*** over words such as “frisbee. They’re just words”). It was somewhat disappointing not to hear any Pulp tracks, though I would say his solo work stands up well next to Pulp. Hopefully the charismatic Jarvis and the band will return soon.

And so to the Pixies. The V Festival had an area cordoned off with a long queue into this bar area: we wondered why you’d pay 100 bucks to drink in a small corner of the venue. As the time drew nearer, the bar area emptied out and filled up the Music Bowl showing that most people were there for the Pixies. They opened with Bone Machine (Freddy’s favourite) and their set included Wave of Mutilation, Here Comes Your Man (my favourite), Caribou, Planet of Sound, Where Is My Mind? and closed with Gigantic. They came back and played Debaser in the encore (their alias for a secret show at the Northcote Social Club). As you can imagine, it was an incredible playlist with their songs remaining fresh and diverse – melodic and cutesy to screeching and RAAAAWWWWK. Although there was some small banter from Kim Deal, there wasn’t a lot of chatting to the audience; it really was about the music. We were quite far away so we could barely make out Frank Black’s ever increasing chins, but it truly was exciting to hear these amazing songs played live. We all left with big grins on our faces and humming along to songs from the setlist (pics to be posted later...maybe?)

Enough festing/festering for the moment – back to the books!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Excuse my blog-o-world absence, hope you're all doing well!
These last few months, all I do the whole day through is stare at images like these: on the confocal microscope...
as they are being scanned and recorded...
on the computer...
in my results folders...
then on a poster...
but not yet in dreams, now that would really make me batty!

Anyway, thought I’d post one up since they form my current internal/external wallpaper. Research stuff aside, these tissues are actually quite beautiful to look at. Every now and then when I’m scanning my slides for an unmashed, unmooshed, cleanly dissected tissue, I stop and think how amazing nature/ biology/ the whole doo-dah is.
Don’t get me started on Attenborough’s Planet Earth, I love that show!