Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 Years- We Remember

It hardly seems like 10 years since the hijacking of four planes and the attack of the World Trade Centres and the Pentagon. Yet 10 years later we remember 9/11.

There are many things that have occurred in the past 10 years; War in Afghanistan, war in Iraq, attacks in London, bombs in Bali, and the death of Osama Bin Laden which was a moment that many had been waiting for since the attacks. But the biggest change is the sense that none of us are safe. The attacks shook the world and the sense that we in western nations are safe is one that will probably never be regained fully.

I guess the one thing that really comes to mind at the moment when talking about that sense is a quote from Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden

"But I've learnt something now. Corrie, we were still innocent. Right up to yesterday. We didn't believe in Santa Claus but we believed in other fantasies. You said it. You said the big one. We believed we were safe. That was the big fantasy. Now we know we're not, and like you said, we'll never feel safe again, and so it's bye-bye innocence. It's been nice knowing you, but you're gone now."   (pg.107.)

It's definitely a changed world we live in now. I can't imagine what it is like for those who were born after the attacks on this day. They will forever share a joyous occasion with one of the most heinous acts. I can only hope that they will come to understand the whole story behind the date.

May all those who died in the attacks both directly and as a result of actions to help those in the attacked buildings be remembered. May the family's of those once again come to know joy and move on from this tragedy.

May we around the world remember and work towards a better and more peaceful world.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eurotastic, Eurotrashed, Eurovision!

So once again just a week and a half ago we came face to face with the splendiferous wonder that is Eurovision. It was the 50th anniversary this year and it came to us from Dusseldorf, Germany. It wasn't a bad show. I thought they did alright with the hosts as well. Usually I find the hosts rather annoying but Germany seems to have got that right.

Being in Australia I was forced to wait until Friday night to see the first of the Semi finals. Saturday was Semi-Final 2 and Sunday night was the Final. Delayed telecast can be annoying when you already know who has won but it doesn't take the fun out of watching the show.

Portugal definitely won the prize for the most bizarre performance with their entry being something of a protest song. I'm not sure what exactly it was a protest of however, I was too distracted by the placards/signs they were holding up and waving around. Not to mention the outfits. Portugal seems to be running with the bizarre, strange entries in recent years.

The most retro vote must without a doubt go to Serbia, who with their quirky performance remniscent of Austin Powers crossed with a bit of Scooby Doo style wise. I couldn't understand the words to the song but it was fun and I enjoyed it.

Moldova put on a fantastic performance with a bit of quirk themselves. It felt like they were channeling Beastie Boys crossed with The Cat Empire. The unicyclist just added a bit more entertainment to the whole thing which was already fantastically entertaining. I guess the best description I can come up with for this performance is a circus sideshow of fun!

Personally I thought Finland's entry by Paradise Oskar was fantastic, but maybe as one person put it in a comment on Facebook- too good for Eurovision. I listen to the song now and get goosebumps... and they aren't because it is cold. His voice and just the song as a whole remind me of the Bee Gees.

Hungary only amused me because it seemed the singer- Kati Wolf- is a cross between Rhonda Burchmore and Celine Dion.

Ireland's Jedward produced a fun and enjoyable act that seemed to me to be a cross between Lady Gaga and the Scissor Sisters but so much more fun.

Iceland had a fantastic song with Sjonni's Friends. To have come together after the guy who was going to sing the song passed away and his wife got together several of his musician friends and they performed the song in his memory. It was fantastic. There was talent and feeling and knowing the story behind how they came to be performing added more to the whole performance for me.

Both Russia and Estonia seemed to face issues in the performance of backflips. In both of these performances in the semi finals it looked like faceplants were imminent as they backflipped off platforms. Not exactly a sign of the most polished performance. Though I guess performing in something that will be televised and seen by over 120 million people might put the nerves in you. As it was neither the Russian nor the Estonian performances left me too impressed overall. The greatest thing that Estonia had going for them were the bright costumes, break dancing and an annoyingly catchy tune that had me singing along despite my less than favourable opinion of the performance itself.

Belgium did a fantastic performance with what was basically an acapella group and a beat boxer. I love performances like this where we can see truly what is possible with the human voice. Sure I love my drums, guitars and hard rock but there is something so awesome about hearing the music created through the use of vocals alone. Unfortunately they didn't make it through to the finals despite their obvious talent.

Britain had a boy band. Blue. Better known for their song All Rise in the early 2000's. They came complete with the requisite boy band dancing. I am however unsure what was more disturbing, the actual boy band dancing or the dancing boy band images on the screens behind them.

Germany welcomed back Lena Meyer-Landrut to defend the Eurovision title that she won last year with the song Satellite with a new song Taken By A Stranger. I first heard this on YouTube a few weeks ago and wasn't sure what I thought but watching it from the live performance I found it quite catchy and enjoyable. Not quite enough to win the title for a second year however.

Ukraine had a pretty amazing song and the sand artistry they had to go along with it made it even more awesome. My only issue with the performance on a whole was the fact that having the sand artistry on the big screen behind the singer kept distracting me.

Overall I felt the performances were of a higher calibre to previous years through the semi-finals, but unfortunately not all those who made it through to the final should have and some that should have missed out like Belgium and Turkey.

And for those who are wondering. The winner was Azerbaijan. Good on them I say despite the fact that they aren't really a European country and I didn't particularly like the entry. There's always next year!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge- Days One and Two

Ok so I just started the 30 Day Book Challenge on Facebook yesterday. I had considered doing one of the other 30 day challenges you can find such as those for music and movies but I decided books were more appropriate to me so went and found the book challenge. While on Facebook I only need to put up an image of the book and the name. I decided I would post on here as I go through the challenge giving reasons behind the choices.

So here are Day 1 and Day 2.

Day 1: Favourite Book

It won't come as a suprise to those who know me well that my favourite book is Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden. The reason I love this book is that it has made me and many other people reconsider the capabilities of teenagers and myself. It treats teenagers as something more than slaves to technology(though for some that is entirely true). John Marsden's writing speaks at the same level as the age group he wrote it for. He doesn't write down to his readers and treat them with the condescension that many people treat today's teenagers with. He lets the reader decide for themselves what they will take from the story. He focuses on the characterisation and doesn't try to encompass an entire epic plot. This is one of my favourite things about it. It lets me imagine what I want with the settings by not confining the story to a specific place or city.This book has been translated into multiple languages and although it is undoubtedly set in Australia(exact location to be decided by the discerning reader) it has become popular in many of those countries. Fans stretch from Australia, Japan, Sweden, USA, South America right around the globe. I definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone whether they be adults or teens.

Day 2: Least Favourite Book


My least favourite book by far(and I do have a few books I dislike) would have to be Emma by Jane Austen. I had to read this for year 12 English and before I started reading it I was actually looking forward to it. That didn't last. To me this book dragged quite a bit. Before I even finished the first page I fell asleep. That has never happened before or since for anything other than maybe a text book and even then I can't actually think of any occasion when I fell asleep on a text book. To sum it up simply this book to me was a book written for whom the modern day equivalent would be blonde bimbo's. I am neither blonde nor a bimbo. I told my teacher as much; she wasn't very impressed. Also the fact that we had to compare this novel to the film Clueless didn't work in its favour. I had to force myself to sit and watch that and still only made it half an hour in at most. I think I eventually forced myself to Chapter 12 of this and watched the film instead but I don't remember even from that what happens. I don't know what happened to my copy as soon as the HSC was over. I think I gave it away. I don't recommend this book to anyone.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stop: Artist at Work

Stop! Here is an artist at work with simple raw talent and she works it well.

I first heard Priscilla Ahn one day probably about five months ago searching through YouTube or possible just video surfing recommended videos and such. It was either that or my brother sent me the link to one of her songs. However I found it really doesn't matter. What does is that I discovered and added to my list of music I love, another amazing voice.

Her voice has something of an etheral quality to me. Pure but with something of a raw edge that brings it back down to earth just a touch. I love it. And her lyrics are also beautiful. But the best part of it is she is a true musician. She isn't relying on flashy backing bands to make the music and make her song stand out she is doing it all herself. She plays the guitar and I barely notice it there because her voice is the instrument that carries the song.

She is not alone in these talents. Other artists for me hold the same talent; Laura Marling, Clare Bowditch, Lenka, Ben Harper, Emiliana Torrini, Jack Johnson, Missy Higgins, and George(Katie Noonan and Tyrone Noonan being the vocalists of this band are both stunning) just to name a few.

With all these artists I can sit there and listen to their albums on repeat and just zone out to a place where nothing can bother me and the lyrics speak to my soul(okay maybe that is a little cheesy sounding but it really is true!).

This is not to disparage other artists either who do have backing bands and such to help make the music because I love those bands and artists as well in no shortage but I have to say my favourite music is always that which goes back to the acoustic where you can just turn on and zone out to another place- if you haven't yet you should try it. Nothing is more relaxing than just listening for the nuances in the voice and the music itself and how they work together to create what can only be described as beautiful music.

So sit back and relax to the pure tones of Priscilla Ahn or whoever else it is that takes you away to amazing musical happy zone and just feel.

~~Random Logic~~

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Country- A Land of Sweeping Plains.

I wrote this one a few days ago on new years day... with pen and paper. Just got around to posting it.

If there is one poem I adore unreservedly it would be My Country by Dorothea Mackellar. It is a poem that epitomises Australia at its best and worst and my love for it. Many people only know one verse of this poem but it has become probably the best known piece of Australian poetry apart from The Man From Snowy River by A.B.Patterson also known as Banjo Patterson.

And as I travel on this train from Sydney to Wagga Wagga on the first day of 2011 I am reminded about what makes Australia what it is.

The fields flash past rolling over the hills. They are green and golden all at once. Scrubby brush and grasses cover some whilst trees dot others. Bales of hay are rolled and spread over fields- waiting to be covered perhaps and taken to a shed. Sheep and cows graze in the fields. The sheep run awat from the train line across the field as the train passes. A foreign entity in their existance.

Some trees are little more than skeletons of a former life. Bare branches and trunks. Perhaps they were victim to fire or simply ceased as they were with their bare branches reaching out and up like gnarled fingers.

I look a bit closer out the window and I see the wire fence which withstands nature though with the help of the farmer and marks the edge of a field. Closer still and yellow wildflowers, small and bright grow across the ground and along edges of tracks in bunches.

The bank rises away from the tracks the earth a bright shade of something akin to the colour yellow or orange made so by the sandstone and clay whilst other areas are bright ochre.

A stand of trees all vibrant shades of green gives way to more fields. Dams created by those who farm the land stand full of water given by recent rains.

Telegraph poles with wires swooping between them mark the path of the railway.

A rail crossing barrier, arm down and bells sounding flashes by in the blink of an eye; and as this passes me by I see what makes Australia. And I feel insignificant.

 ~~Random Logic~~