31 August 2009

Rock epic of the month: "Gods of War" (Def Leppard) 1987

Rock epics of the month is a series of posts where I'll look back on classic examples of what I think is the greatest excess of rock and roll - the rock epic.

This month, I'm going cock rock again. Sorry.

Every now and then, music reaches a production high point that just makes you breathe out a sigh and go, "Damn!".

We saw it in the sixties with Sgt. Pepper's, in the seventies with The Dark Side of the Moon and in the nineties with Ministry's Psalm 69 and Massive Attack's Blue Lines.

In the eighties, these production high points happened in cock rock land with two acts and two producers - Bruce Fairbairn with Aerosmith on Permanent Vacation and Pump, and Robert John "Mutt" Lange with Def Leppard on Pyromania and Hysteria.

And it's with Def Leppard that we go to for this one.

They'd released their breakthrough release in the US with the well received Pyromania in 1983 and chose wisely when following this up to work with Lange again. Hysteria sold twice as many copies as Pyromania - being 20 million. That is positively enormous.

I was prompted to write about this one, when a friend of mine talked about the impact that Def Leppard had on her. I must admit to being somewhat ambivalent to the impact of cock rock, generally, but I thought I'd go online and have a listen to this album (and Pyromania) in full again to get an idea of what it was all about back then.

Hysteria is everything a cock rock lover loves. Big riffs. Big high screaming vocals. Guitar solos all over the shop. And enormous hair all round, usually mulleted.

Naturally, I'm still not convinced about the worth of this genre in the pantheon of rock and roll, but I can respect the place that Hysteria, and for that matter, Pyromania holds within the affront that cock rock presents to good taste and indeed, to rock and roll itself. After all, can we not also celebrate rock and roll's missteps as well as the high-points within those missteps?

Anyway, it's a wonder that Def Leppard were able to get this album out at all. Drummer Rick Allen was involved in a car crash prior to recording this and as a result, became rock's most celebrated one-armed drummer. Lange had to be talked into producing this after the band had flirted with the idea of Jim Steinman or producing it themselves.

It does speak some amazing volumes of the loyalty of the band members: Most bands would have parted ways with Allen, but they encouraged him to soldier on, developing a modified drumkit enabling him to play with a lot of foot pedals and one drumstick in hand.

On Pyromania, Phil Collen had been brought in on guitar to replace Pete Willis who had been fired for alcoholism. But things were not well with the other guitarist Steve Clark, who was slowly dying of the exact same thing. As a result of Clark's unreliability, Lange chose to get Collen to do quite a lot of the solo work. This supposedly caused a rift in the band, although I suspect that it was between Clark and the rest of the band.

So on to "Gods of War" which occupied six minutes and 37 seconds. This is actually surprisingly good, although the first and second refrains are somewhat iffy ("On a countdown to zero..." and "Here it comes...") because they require a key change which does, while I'll admit sets up the chorus quite nicely, appears slightly out of kilter with the rest of the song.

The song starts off with a fairly simple, yet iconic bassline from bassplayer, Rick Savage. Clark starts playing the intro riff for a couple of bars, then it's all on from there. The chorus is killer with some awesome cock rock screaming from vocalist Joe Elliott, but the tune really kicks into an open goal just before the end when the last minute kicks in, with some nice guitar riffing, subdued soloing and sound-bites of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher that indicate that, whatever else, they loved a good military dust-up.

The proper video features bits from Top Gun. Quite ironic when you consider that this is quite an anti-war song, and that Top Gun was such over-the-top, flag-waving, pro-American propaganda.

Anyway enjoy this live video. It should take you back to the days when rock concerts only happened in stadiums and realises that this tune was a fully worked live proposition. Enjoy:

30 August 2009

Feng shite. Oil of Snake.

FSM bless the Chaser boys. Here's a little snippet of what we won't be seeing again on our screens for a little while:

30 June 2009

Rock epic of the month: "Let There Be Rock" (AC/DC) 1977

Rock epics of the month is a series of posts where I'll look back on classic examples of what I think is the greatest excess of rock and roll - the rock epic.

I have tickets to see AC/DC next year. Yes folks, I will be one of those black-clad bogans seeing these guys live.

And I guarantee you this: I too will be perpetrating the following atrocities in the name of rock:

  • Punching my fist in the air;
  • Goat’s head salutes;
  • Air guitaring; and
  • Headbanging

And maybe some slamming as well, although AC/DC have never really been a band that you can slam to.

OK. So to celebrate, I’m doing ‘Let There Be Rock’ this month.

Acca Dacca were never really a band that did anything other than meat and potatoes rock and/or roll. I can find very few bona fide rock epics in their vast back catalogue so it’s either this or ‘Night Prowler’. So I thought I’d go for the screaming obvious and do this one.

Let There Be Rock’ clocks in at 6:06. And you know, the album that it’s off (Let There Be Rock, of course) correctly shows a band hitting some sort of creative stride. In the case of this tune, however, the tune just takes off like a racing car and keeps going like it’s completely out of control.

Phil Rudd’s drums sound like a gorilla is pounding on them and lead vocalist, the late Bon Scott just sounds like he’s totally mental as he tells the tale of how ROCK!! came into being. But while Angus Young might be the face of AC/DC, here the focus is on the rock solid riffing of Malcolm Young on rhythm guitar and bassist Mark Evans.

If there was any doubt (surely not) prior to this album that Malcolm Young is the engine room of this band, then this album, and this song in particular, put all speculation to rest.

The fact of the matter is this: AC/DC simply would not work without the riffs of Malcolm Young. You can remove Angus, because he’s essentially visual: The thing that everyone remembers about AC/DC songs if you're listening to them at home is the monolithic riffs of Malcolm. Even if some feel that they’re a bit samey.

Incidentally, have you ever seen people criticise AC/DC for this, and then it turns out that they’re fans of another “samey” act such as The Cure or The Church? I have. But this is their thing, their schtick. Their particular aural signature, if you like.

Malcolm Young’s riffs are iconic. End of story. They’re so iconic that The Cult had some sort of accident in the eighties and recorded an entire album where they thought they were AC/DC – Electric.

But don’t let me tell you. Check out
this video of the song in question. Bon Scott as the preacher man looks absolutely certifiable. Angus is dressed as a choirboy or something with a cardboard halo:

Let there be rock!

08 June 2009

Why The Chaser should not be called to account

It's amazing what gets the creative juices flowing again. I haven't really blogged seriously for quite some time. I haven't even looked closely at the blogs I like.

But this isn't about me. Well, maybe it is a little bit.

But you know, anger is an energy. And last week, I had it in spades.

Last week, Wednesday night on ABC1, the TV sketch comedy show The Chaser's War on Everything broadcast this little sketch:

I admit not to seeing it at the time. I'm not usually home on Wednesday nights, so I usually wait until Thursday night to watch the repeat on ABC2.

On Thursday, I suddenly noticed a flurry of Twitter posts calling for the heads of the Chaser boys. Investigating this further, talkback radio and the media were all over this sketch, calling it a variety of names, usually preceded by "sick".

I must admit, my curiosity was well and truly tweaked by the time that I got around to watching the repeat.

Once the episode had finished screening, I had one of those "Is that it?" moments, where I felt that I had missed something. And sure enough, I had.

The ABC and The Chaser had cut the frigging scene!!

That's right, folks. They had, not only cut it, but they had issued a statement on video apologising for it, and regretting any hurt that was caused. Not only that, I think that it was Julian Morrow who had indicated that they had called the real Make A Wish Foundation to apologise.

The ABC have since taken The Chaser's War on Everything off the air for two weeks.

But let's have a more critical view of this than what the mainstream media have done.

I'll just get this one out of the way quickly: Anyone who listens to talkback radio, NOVA or the Austereo networks deserve contempt. How is this related to this post? It's only related in passing, but I thought that I'd get this one out there. Indeed, I have given Ms Dikkii instructions that, should she catch me listening to talkback radio, she's to immediately have me taken out the back and shot.

Secondly, who made it this far who believes that the sketch was making fun of sick kids? If you answered "yes", you also deserve contempt. This sketch was actually making fun of frivolous charities like Make A Wish. I'll discuss them more in a few moments. Which begs the question: If The Chaser did call Make A Wish to apologise, precisely how insincere was the apology?

Thirdly, The Chaser's modus operandi (as suggested by the title of the TV show) is to make fun of everything and anything. This means that charities (I use that word only in its strictest legal sense) such as Make A Wish were ripe for targetting.

Fourthly, I have no evidence that talkback radio shock jocks actually looked at the sketch prior to going nuts about it. Just think about that for a while.

Fifthly, why the talkback radio shock jocks left Andrew Hansen's marvellous Billy Connolly impersonation untouched (from the same episode) is a mystery to me.

Finally, The Chaser have done far more controversial stuff than this in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. Which begs the question: Now that cutting stuff is an option with these guys, exactly what is going to be cut next?

The Chaser boys are certainly not stupid. The fact that they've swallowed any pride that they might have and apologised is understandable, in light of the controversy that this sketch created.

But here's the thing: They should not have apologised. Nor should they have caved into ABC management over this. I have lost a great deal of respect for them over this and whilst I'm not greatly convinced that the apologies were sincere, the record will show that this is an apology that has been made. And it will be harder in the future for Morrow, Hansen, Craig Reucassel, Chris Taylor, Chas Licciardello
and Dominic Knight (I'll leave Charles Firth out of this) to back down and claim that they were coerced into making this apology.

The sketch was squarely aimed at frivolous charities like Make A Wish. The Make A Wish Foundation are there to assist dying children by granting them a wish or two before they die. They make a big song and dance over flying terminal cancer patients to Disneyland or introducing them to Pink.

This might sound wonderful to you and some of you are probably asking, "Dikkii. Why not grant these dying kids a dying wish?"

I put it to you that the Make A Wish Foundation is diverting hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars away from legitimate medical research. Indeed, their 2008 annual report makes the astounding claim that they:

...met all of its Wish granting obligations for 2008...

Obviously, what constitutes a "Wish granting obligation" is a grey area, as they also say on their application form that granting a particular wish is entirely up to the Make A Wish Foundation.

In 2008, they raised AUD 1.75 million. And while this is small compared to some charities, the question should be asked, couldn't this money have been better spent funding legitimate medical research?

In the pages of the annual report, wish recipients talk of meeting the Mythbusters or going to see Liverpool play.

Liverpool. Flying economy class from Melbourne to London's Heathrow airport currently costs about AUD $1,680 through Thai which I used Webjet to find for me. Add in spending, transportation, accomodation, tickets to the game and similar for a minder (presumably a parent) and you are looking at about AUD $10,000 all up. Probably more.

Wouldn't it be better if this amount of money was spent on legitimate medical research?

This blogger is more interested in stuff that the charity is rejecting. While we know that someone in 2008 according to their annual report got to go to Seattle to see the Boeing factory, what about the kid whose wish for a blowjob from Cameron Diaz was knocked back? This may sound extreme, but exactly what gets knocked back? What wishes don't they grant, and what is their internal wish granting criteria?

I would, therefore like to issue a wish of my own in the middle of all this: The Make A Wish Foundation should come clean about the quanta of denied wishes. That is, we should get details about exactly what is being declined, how many, and what is their internal wish granting criteria.

Taylor's closing words from the sketch were, "They're only going to die anyway." Charities like Make A Wish make us feel good about spending on the terminally ill, and not on research that might have prevented these kids being terminally ill in the first place. They must, therefore, be called to account and not The Chaser.

30 April 2009

Rock epic of the month: "Dry The Rain" (The Beta Band) 1997

Rock epics of the month is a series of posts where I'll look back on classic examples of what I think is the greatest excess of rock and roll - the rock epic.

I wasn't about to let another month go by without doing one of these, but I thought I'd open with some correspondence that I got from a regular reader a little while back. In it, he complained that that I've never made it clear what a 'rock epic' is.

Actually, I did, way back in the first one in this series, however I will re-state it:

There are no hard and fast rules for what a rock epic actually is, but the general agreement is that it needs to go for more than 6 minutes and has long bits where there are no vocals.

Another complaint is that when I lead into the song itself, I seem to end abruptly. I can only attribute this to the fact that I normally try to embed a YouTube video of the tune in question at the end of each post.

Naturally, the YouTube vid doesn't make it into the RSS feed or my emails, if you get my posts in your inbox. So you'll have to click on the post heading if you want to hear the tune.

With that out of the way, please allow me to roll on to this month's rock epic, which is "Dry The Rain" by The Beta Band. A Scottish band from St Andrews who formed in 1996, they were the pioneers and to my knowledge the sole proponents of a genre known as "folk-hop". Obviously, that's a blend of folk and hip-hop.

I never understood the Beta Band until after they had broken up, but this tune, man it pushes all the right buttons. Six minutes and five seconds of blissful mellowness.

This was on their Champion Versions EP, which was the first recording that they released. Later on, it would be bundled in with the The Patty Patty Sound and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos EPs to form their The Three EPs compilation in 1998.

The thing that made this song is that scene from High Fidelity. Barry, played by Jack Black has been having a great time blasting "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves in a record store owned by Rob Gordon. Gordon (John Cusack) goes mental and takes it off. Not long after this, he says to Dick (Todd Louiso), "I will now sell 5 copies of The Three EPs by The Beta Band,"and rips into this tune at about the 3:40 mark.

But this ignores the build up. The intro and verses of this tune are reasonably mellow and jangly. After the second chorus the thing just builds and builds and builds until the certifiable money shot of the tune at 4:06 or thereabouts. The vocals come back in for the outro ("If there's something inside that you wanna say...") while a trumpet and a flugel horn wail away over the top.

Man I love that bit.

Anyway, here it is from YouTube. Enjoy the bejesus out of it folks, because it is quite frankly immensely powerful for what essentially a jangly little tune.

06 April 2009

Cracking the sads with the media, episode 426: The GFC and superannuation

Those who read this blog will know all about my thoughts on the media. Some of you will also be probably saying, “There’s been a GFC. Why have you been so silent?”

I admit to being busy with other stuff in meatspace, and I haven’t blogged in a little while, so shame on me. But finally, I’m going nuts again, and you can all shut up and read for all I care because there’s stuff that simply has to be said.

The media has been all over superannuation funds for quite some time. True, this is the biggest exposure Australians will ever have to volatile investment markets outside their own home. And yes, for those of you who like to read between the lines (you know who you are) there was a subtle dig buried in that sentence.

Part of the negative press aimed at super funds is simply unwarranted, and here’s the reason why: Chances are big that you need to shoulder what could potentially be the lion’s share of responsibility for that diminishing nest egg.

That’s right folks. You, or at least most of you who are reading, are almost fully culpable. Not your super fund. Possibly your financial adviser, if you have one, but this ain’t aimed at you if you have. That will be the subject of a different post, so if you have a financial adviser, you can consider yourself in the clear. At the moment.

For those of you who don’t use a financial adviser, I suspect that you are having a grand old time criticising your super fund for what is, for most of you, a year and a half of negative returns. Let’s face it; we love to have a go at stuff that shits us. As a nation, we love to stick it up the poms when they’re complaining, but to be frank; we’re a nation of whingers. Possibly even worse than the English.

We’re also a nation that hates to accept personal responsibility.

Put these two traits together, and you’re left with the kind of sensationalist reporting that sees the media (News in particular, but Fairfax is a close second) putting out tripe like this or this and Australians lapping it up like the sheep that that they are.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Australians are shithouse investors and it’s time that you were all told. As an investor, the chances are that if you’re reading this, you suck.

Permit me to now explain why you potentially suck.

Superannuation is not a type of investment. It’s a tax environment.

John Smith (not his real name) is 58 and recently retired. Naturally, he’s rather upset at his super fund’s return of -20% over the past year. And he’s only in the fund’s ‘balanced’ option.

He spots an ad for an online account in the newspaper paying 4.50% and thinks to himself, “At least this is positive.”

John empties his super fund and sticks the entire amount, lock, stock and barrel into this online account. John is, quite frankly, a goose.

On John’s current marginal rate of tax (30%), the rate of interest becomes less attractive at 3.15%, not including Medicare.

On top of this, John simply doesn’t want to know that he could have invested in a cash option in his super fund which is only taxed at a concessional rate of 15%. He’s that pissed off. In fact, the bank that offers this account also offers an identical account to self-managed super funds, thus yielding a superior return after tax of 3.825%.

And because John is not 60 yet, he’s going to be in for a fright at tax time when he finds himself hit with a tax bill in the tens of thousands of dollars on his lump sum super withdrawal.

Can it get any worse?

You bet. John also couldn’t care less that, had he switched to the pension phase of super, his assets aren’t even subject to tax on their earnings. Holding this online account within a self-managed super fund in the online phase would have yielded the full 4.50%.

Not only that, because John has withdrawn the amount from super he is going to have serious problems if he ever wants to start up a super pension, because he won’t be able to get the whole thing back into super if he tries. Amounts able to be contributed to super in a financial year are subject to contribution caps, which limits his flexibility in this regard.

John might be a retiree, but I have no sympathy for him.

Notice that I haven’t talked about John’s potential exit fees, John’s lost insurance coverage or the likelihood that he’ll miss a market upswing. Well I wasn’t going to, anyway.

You choose your investments (part 1)

Jo Phelps (not her real name) is 40 and a manager with an HR recruitment firm.

About a year and a half ago, she received her annual super statement from her fund. Jo was in the balanced option of her fund which had been performing quite respectably for the past four years posting regular returns of 15%.

Her balanced option is about 70% shares and property and 30% cash and fixed interest.

But when she saw the returns on the fund’s ‘high-growth’ option, her eyes lit up as it showed average returns of 25-30% regularly over the past 4 years. The high-growth option is predominantly shares with a smattering of property. There is about 3 or 4 % cash in the portfolio.

Jo rings up her fund and demands to have a switch form sent out. The staffer on the end of the line helpfully suggests to Jo that she speak to a financial adviser before going ahead with the switch.

Jo helpfully suggests to the staffer that she takes her offer of financial advice and sticks it where the sun doesn’t shine, because after all, all financial advisers only recommend stuff with kickbacks for them. “I don’t need a financial adviser,” she casually mentions, “please just post the form.”

The switch was processed and now Jo feels shell-shocked by negative returns of -35%.

Jo would like to know this:

  1. Aren’t fund managers meant to see this sort of stuff coming and take action to stop it?
  2. I mean, I know that there’s no such things as psychics, but couldn’t they have short-sold or something? and
  3. Given that employers have to contribute into superannuation, how come the government can’t guarantee it like bank accounts? I mean really, all Australians should be protected from the downside, shouldn’t they? They guarantee bank accounts; superannuation funds aren’t really that different…

Jo had no idea that a high-growth option could go down as well as up. Mind you, if you’d told her a year and a half ago, I don’t think she would have given a stuff.

You choose your investments (part 2)

Brad Dawes (not his real name) works in a blue-collar job. He’s twenty-something.

When he started with his current employer, he couldn’t be bothered filling out the super forms. He did ask at the time, “So let me get this straight: I don’t have to fill this in. You’ll sort it out for me with this ‘default’ thingy?”

To which the answer was, “Yes”. Natch.

About the only form that Brad filled in correctly was the bank account details for where he wanted to be paid.

The super from Brad’s current job now goes, by default, into the balanced option of the default super fund offered by his employer. Brad doesn’t know how these funds are invested, and really couldn’t care.

Brad’s super is all over the place. All default funds provided by previous employers and all different.

All the negative press about super has Brad looking at the one or two statements (out of the six or so funds he’s ever joined) that he regularly gets. Brad now has the following criticisms of super:

  1. I could invest my funds better than my super fund could;
  2. What’s with all these fees coming out? This is a scam;
  3. What do you mean, ‘Share prices have gone down?’ Isn’t super meant to be invested in property which never goes backwards? (This is Brad’s opinion, not mine)
  4. I didn’t choose to have my super here. I shouldn’t suffer as a result.

About the only good thing you can say about Brad is that he’s finally shown some interest (even if only passing) in his super as a result of this.

But he’s dead wrong about not choosing to have his super where it is: He chose alright. He’s also not worthy of sympathy.

Retirees are not always worthy of extra sympathy

Let’s go back to John Smith again. Sorry John, but you’re particularly worthy of some stick.

About three years, John decided he’d retire when he turned 58.

John’s super was in the balanced option, which his super fund recommends for periods of 4-5 years or longer. That’s right: 4 to 5 years minimum.

John consciously chose to leave his super in the balanced option, because, “It’s doing pretty well there.” Unlike Jo, he looked at the more aggressive options and thought that they seemed pretty aggressive for him. That’s OK.

He looked at the less aggressive investment options and was put off by the lesser returns. And I’m sure you can see why.

But, looking at the recommended minimum timeframe on his balanced option, he thought, “Well it’s only a recommendation.”

Fast forward to a year and a half ago. John looked at his super fund again, and he thought the exact same thing.

That’s right. With a year and a half to go until retirement, John completely disregarded the recommended minimum investment periods and consciously chose an investment option suited to 4-5 years or longer.

John is now shitted off with his super fund when really, John should be shitted off with himself.

It’s probably worth mentioning that you should plan your exit strategy from the outset. John didn’t even do this with three years to go.

So what can investors learn from this?

  1. You choose your investments. Read the sodding disclosure statements – they may look like slickly produced marketing paraphernalia (and to be honest, most are) – but they have to contain stuff you need to make an informed decision.
  2. The default option isn’t some kind of magical tool that posts excellent returns while protecting investors from market downturns.
  3. Read the bits about how your funds are invested. Also read the bits about recommended minimum timeframes. If you don’t understand how an investment option works, ask an adviser, ask the fund and if they can’t tell you, steer the fuck clear of it.
  4. No one is psychic. Especially not fund managers.
  5. Have you switched to cash? You may learn the hard way that markets can rise violently as well as fall. Chances are you’ll miss out and by gee, won’t it be costly?
  6. No one rings a bell to let you know that the market has bottomed out. Think of this if you’re attempting to time your way back in.
  7. Super investments are taxed at 15 %. Non-super investments are taxed at your marginal rate. This should be a no-brainer but you would be surprised at the number of people who couldn’t give a shit about this.
  8. When you next whinge about your super fund’s non-performance, compare it to something that vaguely resembles it. Comparing a balanced option with anything other than a balanced non-super managed fund is only going to make you look like a moron. Even that is pushing it. Do not compare a balanced super option with an online bank account – geez do I have to spell it out?
  9. Good, fee-for-service financial advisers are there to help out people who know bugger all about investing. There is a very good chance that you form a subset of the latter half of the previous sentence.
  10. I’ve heard people whinge about their super fund’s performance who are in defined benefit schemes. I’m not kidding. If you don’t know what investment option you’re in, or even the fund’s design, find out. Number 3 above should help you.

That’s it. I’ve had a gutful. You can all get stuffed.

Disclosure: This blogger works for a service company that services super funds. He also used to work as a financial planner. And he most likely posted bigger declines in his superannuation balance than the lot of you (if expressed in percentage terms).

Standard but necessary disclaimer: This is not advice. Only a complete idiot would think that any of this constituted advice. It's not even vaguely reasonable to consider this to be advice. If you are in any doubt as to the content of this, see a good, independent financial adviser immediately. They do exist.

01 April 2009

The return of sharpies

Yes folks, I'm calling it now. Sharpies are back.

We had the short-lived bogan revival, but now it's time for the real deal. We've already seen the return of the rat's tail at schools around the country, but now the clippers are coming out and it's business all round, except the tail. Or even the mullet-light.

And with the heat on bikies at the moment, it's time for those with rough as guts tendencies to find new digs.

I'm celebrating this by hucking up and spitting forcefully into the eye of good taste. Slipping into a pair of skin-tight acid-washed ankle-freezers and bunging on my cardie, it's time for me to ching! ching! ching! cash in on this ferocious era.

Yes, it appears that the [I was threatened to remove this, so I did] had it all over their rivals in Forest Hill, so this one's for them:

[Censored due to similar bullying]

And we all remember those pricks from Funkytown:

And for those of you who fondly remember the days when the inner suburbs were a place of bloodshed and pain - and not the oasis for yuppy wankers that they are now, here's a fond little reminder of when things were BAD:

And I wasn't talking bad in the Michael Jackson sense, oh no.

But wait folks. There's more.

The infamous Footscray Sharps are back with an almost exclusively female brethren (sistren? I give up). Here's one for you, sisters:

Trucker's caps are popular these days.

Here's a little something that I prepared earlier:

Speaking of hats, the little known Toorak Sharps are back too. I plan to cash in on that as well, assuming that Mummy let's them play:

Finally, here's my favourite. Just one for my homies:

Remember, kids: Order yours two sizes two small otherwise you won't look authentic enough.

Edit 16/09/2009: I was bullied into removing certain items from this webpage. If you're reading this, you know who you are, and I'm not amused. There's nothing artistic about threats of litigation.

10 February 2009

Dikkii re-enters the blogosphere?

I've been a bit quiet of late. A bit of work. And, for some reason, I've started studying again.

Plus I'm doing some more stuff on the music front - I recently joined another band, and apparently I'm going to get more work with another one that I haven't played with for a while.

The new band is relying on me to write arrangements which is quite a lot more time consuming than I remembered. Some might ask, "Well why don't you just do that the jazz way where you just write a 'head' and then let the music form around that?"

Sorry, my mind doesn't work like that.

Songs to me are little planets all of their own and need to be fleshed out with their own little microcosms before you let the natives trample all over them. I find it really unfulfilling when you leave a tune as a kinda 'Argo City' thing and expect it to add its own surrounds. Particularly when you have dreamed up a great intro or ending. Or even a good middle 8.

I don't even write my own stuff: Imagine how time consuming this would be if I did? All I do is arrange other tunes - although I think that I have a pretty good ear for what works and what doesn't.

Summer is hectic down here, and I'm finding that I simply don't have even the time to read the blogs I love reading. So sorry all you folks who write great stuff - you know who you are. Eventually, I will come back to the blogosphere with a passion.

We've had heatwave after heatwave here as well as particularly nasty bushfires, and I work with someone who lost their house to the fires. It's goddamned nasty that the fire authorities believe that most of them appear to have been deliberately lit.

I have a bit of travel for work lined up in the next few weeks, and I know that this will keep me from blogging as well.

But do stay tuned - I will be back out there, eventually. I just have to try to find some kinda space.

Party on, y'all.

09 January 2009

If I hear of another US industry being bailed out...

This from AAP:

Two porn moguls, including Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt, are seeking a $US5 billion ($A7 billion) bailout from Washington, arguing that the limp US economy has thrown cold water on the adult entertainment industry.

Flynt and Girls Gone Wild video series creator Joe Francis asked the newly convened 111th Congress "to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America" in a bailout move similar to the one set aside for US auto manufacturers.

"Congress seems willing to help shore up our nation's most important businesses, (and) we feel we deserve the same consideration," Francis said in a statement.

"In difficult economic times, Americans turn to entertainment for relief. More and more, the kind of entertainment they turn to is adult entertainment."

The pair were quick to admit that "the 13-billion dollar industry is in no fear of collapse, but why take chances?"

Francis, recently imprisoned for nearly a year on a prostitution-related charge after pleading no contest in a plea bargain, cited industry figures that show adult DVD sales and rentals decreasing 22 per cent in 2008, as people turn to the internet for adult entertainment.

"With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind," Flynt said.

"It's time for Congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America. The only way they can do this is by supporting the adult industry and doing it quickly."

Flynt said people were "too depressed to be sexually active."

"This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such, but they cannot do without sex."

The original article might be found here.