Sunday, April 14, 2013


I thought February was busy, well it would appear March was super busy! I packed a lot into my month and it was loads of fun.
Let's see how I am going with the 42 things first!
6. More live music
Yes, knocked this out of the ball park, seeing Tim Rogers, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and Rufus Wainwright.
I've been a huge fan of Tim Rogers for a long time, but never seen him live! So I hit my old stomping ground, The Cambridge, early in the month with my friends A & L to see him. He was touring with his new bad, The Bamboos, a soul/funk outfit. We managed spots up the front, stage right, which is pretty awesome. The band were fantastic, with an excellent brass section, great rhythm team, boogie woogie pianist and soulful backing singers. They played a few songs before Tim came on, which I thought a little odd, but very generous of him. As the night progressed, I realised it was very generous of them! Finally Tim came on, looking tall, and lean in a cream three piece suit. He sounded great, but as the set continued it appeared things were not so great. He kept clutching at his stomach. 
He was a physical performer, so at first we thought it was part of his 'shtick' but it became obvious something was really wrong, when he dashed off the stage in the middle of a song, albeit an instrumental section. This continued on and off until he left the stage completely and the back up singers took over. Someone said he'd had 'shit food' in Sydney the night before. It all seemed very weird. It was like watching a car crash in very slow motion. By the time he came back after the little break, he was singing from almost fetal position on the floor of the stage. By then it was awful to watch. He left the stage again for a few songs and then I saw him off stage to the right, banging his head against a wall and pumping his fists in the air, he came back for one final song, gave it his all and it was like none of the other had happened. Very strange indeed, I'm not going to cast any aspersions about why he was behaving as he was, maybe he really did have food poisoning! Luckily it was a relatively cheap gig and it is certainly a story! Rock 'n' Roll!!!!!
Here are the links to my experiences at Bruce Springsteen:

And Paul Simon/Rufus Wainwright:

9. Go on a picnic
L and I had our final picnic for the Lighthouse Cinema. It was a lovely evening, no rain this time until we were safely home. What a great experience though, to have picnic up there, I hope they do it again. I highly recommend the experience.

13. Write more, post on my blog more regularly
I have been continuing with my writing, can't say I am blogging that regularly, but they are extensive posts when I do! I also had ABC radio host a writing workshop at work of which I participated. Part of their 500 word Online project is to connect Hunter people with each other over a theme each month. I wrote a piece for A Scary Moment, you can read it here:
15. Spend more time outdoors and less indoors
I've been out and about at events and continuing to go for walks. I'm certainly spending less time on the couch, as the piles of books and DVDs in my lounge room are turning into walls and furniture, but winter will be here soon and plenty of time for indoors.
19. Eat and drink out more
Had some lovely meals over Easter with the family, some lunches out with friends. 
26 Go to farmers markets more regularly
Managing once a month, which is regular enough at this point
33. Go to lots of fun social events
Oh yes!!! One of note was the inaugural Bibliotweeps Book Club. A group of us from twitter met at a local cafe to discuss The Other Hand by Chris Cleave and books in general. Some of us knew each other, some of us didn't. We had a lovely time over coffee and food, discussing our love of books and debating the selected title for that month. Next month Anna Karenina!
34. Make sure those that mean the most to me know that they do
I have been very busy this month, spending time with my nearest and dearest. I hope they know what they mean to me. My shoulder is always there for their head to rest.
36 Take time to daydream and do nothing more regularly
Despite being super busy, I have had some moments of lovely quiet and contemplation. I do enjoy it, and highly recommend. In the middle of the month I arrived early at the Civic for a play, it was a sunning sunny day, so I sat in Wheeler Place, watched the passing parade and took some photo. It was just the pick me up I needed. 
41. Have more fun
Yes! This month is a perfect example of having fun!!!
42. Surprise myself
I continue to do this in small ways. This month my juggling skills have come into play, not only has it been a busy social month but a busy month at work. I have managed to keep all my balls in the air without dropping any, and mostly with a smile. A fluke, or careful planning, or a combination of both, who can know, but I find it exhilarating and surprising!
So what else have I been doing to make me so super busy!?!
DVDs watched
  • Lola versus - Starring Greta Gerwig (who is just lovely) as Lola, who has a perfect life and is engaged but her fiance calls the wedding off at the last minute. She goes into a spiral and the film is about her versus her reality. A really lovely take on the romantic comedy.
  • Ruby Sparks - I LOVED this film, a successful young writer is stuck, he needs to write a follow up but is struggling. He has a dream about a red headed girl and begins to write about her. By doing so he brings her to life and she appears for real. His family think he is going crazy, until they meet her. This is funny, sad and very clever. Paul Dano is the writer and he captures the pathos so well.
  • Wish you were here - Australian film about the aftermath of a family after an Asian holiday goes home and they return with one member of their party missing. Joel Edgerton is particularly good, as the man with all the clues as to what may have happened. the story slowly unravels as you watch stunned. I wasn't sure I would like the film, but was totally mesmerised.
  • Darling Companion - To be honest, this is a bit of a sookie film about a dog that changes the life of a family. However is starred Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline, so I watched it. They were excellent, the film so so. I think I'd watch them in anything.
  • Mad Dogs - this was an interesting British mini series with John Simm, Philip Glenister and Ben Chaplin. Four mates go to visit an old friend on his island. The friend appears to be doing very well for himself, the other 4 have issues. But things aren't as they seem, and the 4 suddenly find themselves caught in a trap with serious consequences. It did linger, but was a good watch.
  • Jayne Mansfield's Car - this was a mess, but it shouldn't have been. Directed by Billy Bob Thornton, about 2 families, one from the US and the other from the UK connecting after the death of their mother. She was married twice and each family represented the marriages. The cast was amazing and it was an interesting story, but the characters never really worked. Shame as it had potential.
  • Goodbye First Love - a lovely French film about a young girl. She falls in love with an older boy, 19, but he is a free spirit and moves away to work. She is bereft, and can barely manage, but takes studies in architecture and falls in love with her professor. As she is finally settling with him, her first love returns. Her world falls apart, as she has never gotten over him, what to do?
Television watched
  • Final Season of Gossip Girl - I do love my GG, but found the final series a bit disappointing, a bit of a rehash of old storylines, and some annoying turns for some characters. However the fashion, as always, was stunning and NYC perfection as a backdrop. And then there was Chuck, there was always Chuck. Goddamn, I am Chuck Bass, has to be one the all time cool lines! The ending tied things up and of course I sobbed. I will miss their antics, most especially Blair's peonies and fabulous outfits, her Audrey fantasies and her schemes. And of course, the man, Chuck Bass, how he smoldered his way through the entire series, with cravats and purple suits...sigh. For the record I truly thought GG was Deroda, which when you think about it was crazy, as if she would ever do anything against her beloved Blair. The revealed GG makes perfect sense, he was always the Nick Carraway to the groups collective Gatsby.
  • Agony of Life - I was not a big fan of Agony Uncles, I thought it came across a bit misogynistic. I only caught a few episodes, so I will revisit. I loved Agony Aunts, some of their stories just killed me, especially one episode with Julia Zemiro, it still haunts me. But Agony of Life, took it up a notch. For those who haven't seen it, it's worth a look. Adam Zwar (Wilfred, Lowdown) interviews Australian actors, singers, presenters, comedians about the stages of life, from birth to death. It is funny, poignant, clever and entertaining. I miss it still and eagerly await the next one, of which I believe is coming soon.
  • Please like me - another Australian gem, loosely based around the life of Josh Thomas. I sometimes find Josh a bit affected in his mannerisms, and this does heighten that. But as the series went on they grew on me. I still don't get his 'accent' though!?! The cast were brilliant, with stand out performances from Debra Lawrence as his Mum (wow, that was something else!) and the amazing Judi Farr as Aunty Peg. There were some truly remarkable scenes, in particular the church scene, that stood out for me. And whilst things tied up nicely at the end, I would love to see a second series.
Books read
I'm still not getting a lot of reading done, hard to find the time with everything I am doing, so thank goodness for talking books!

  • The Other Hand by Chris Cleaves - I did re-read this for book club. An interesting story with a twist, the promotion says you can't talk about what it is about, so I won't, but the subject matter will make you think.
  • The Great Gatsby - I do love this book, and having re-read it recently, I decided to listen to Tim Robbins reading it instead. He was quite excellent, doing great voices for each character, including Daisy!! We were doing this at our work Movie Book Club. I was disappointed when no one really loved it. It's rough when that happens. They did appreciate the writing though. And what fine writing it is!!
  • Continuing with Bill Bryson reading his own books, I devoured A Walk in the Woods, about his trek through The Appalachian Trail. This was a great read/listen, entertaining, funny and informational! Then the wonderful Neither Here nor There, about his travels in Europe. This was great as I could picture in my mind some of the places he visited as I had been there recently.
Cinema Experiences
  • Argo - loved this, it got a late re-screen just after the Oscars, and you can see why it won best film. A great story and cast. It was filmed with love and extreme attention to detail. Despite being a drama with a horrific back drop, there was ample humour, mostly delivered by the brilliant pairing of John Goodman and Alan Arkin. The casting was spot on, the end of the film shows real life still photos of players and scenes against shots from the film. Remarkable imitation, right down to the gritty opening credits, this film would stand up alongside the great films of the 70s. I've enjoyed all of the films Affleck has directed, but this is a masterpiece.
  • Oz - this was much better than expected. Franco was so so and it was a little long, but the witches were excellent and the set design magnificent. I loved the little links back to the original Wizard of Oz. Didn't see it in 3D, which was possibly a mistake.
  • Amour - this was a bit of a rough film to watch. But that is Michael Haneke. Friends had seen it the night prior and were devastated by it. I was not as much, possibly as I am used to Haneke's detached style of film making and I had steeled myself up for extreme upset...and it just didn't happen. It is about an elderly couple trying to cope with the wife's stroke. It was upsetting for sure and very confronting and I wept on and off throughout. I do keep thinking about the ending and the beginning of the film and wonder if they are linked. It is worth seeing, great performances and outstanding soundtrack, but a hard slog. Oh, and I sooo want their Parisian apartment!!!
  • Hyde Park on Hudson - this was ok, I will see Bill Murray and Laura Linney in anything. Bill is continuing with his melancholy period of acting which I love. He was very good as Roosevelt. But Linney was disappointing in yet another 'put upon woman' role. It is a style we are accustomed with, but it is growing weary. The story of how his cousin Daisy was his 'companion' was weak and at times scenes didn't ring true. It wasn't hugely funny, and not that dramatic either. It was a nice film to take your granny to.
  • Doctor Who on the Big Screen - what a fabulous evening, the first 2 episodes of Season 6, up there on the big screen with an audience of devotees, most of whom were dressed up in some way! The episodes were The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon, both lending themselves perfectly to the big screen. What I loved the most was seeing the glorious River Song light up the big screen. Everyone looked great, but she shone. Alex Kingston does the finest job with River Song, and seeing her 'enlarged' as we did, made it all the more brilliant! I do love the Day of the Moon episode, where do they get these ideas from?? Makes me really wonder, could such things really happen...
  • A Simple Life - this was our final Lighthouse film, a beautiful film from Hong Kong, about a young man caring for his elderly maid/nanny after she suffers her stoke. Like, Amour, rough in parts, but more heart and tenderness here. A simple, quiet film that potters along at a lovely pace, giving you time to know these characters and their lives.
CDS listened to
I have had no time to listen to anything, I have bought HEAPS of discs, but they are sitting unopened in a pile on the stereo...the shame!!!

I did have a quick listen to the new Bonnie Raitt, and I enjoyed hearing her husky rock voice again. As always a solid piece.

And then I listened to a lot of Spingsteen, Paul Simon and Rufus.

Hopefully more next month! 

  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare was at The Playhouse and a play everyone should try and see at least once. I have seen it before a few years back, but this was better. Every work from Shakespeare with a comic, modern twist, enhancing The Bard's classic language. A side splitting delight, that will leave you smiling.
  • Animal Farm, was a young, modern take on the classic tale, with 5 actors acting out each part wonderfully. It is a depressing tale of course, and this came through, but also high energy and poignancy.
Other things in March
The month began with a whirlwind trip to Tweed Heads (via Brisbane airport) to farewell my beloved Great Aunt. At 93, Marie had led an amazing life, and had been well up until her stroke 2 weeks earlier. Whilst life is certainly sadder without her around, it is absolutely richer for the privilege of knowing her.
March was the start of the F1 season, so a weekend of couch surfing, soaking up Melbourne was very enjoyable. A race I have attended in the flesh many times, you do get to see a lot more via tele. Added bonus my favourite drive Kimi winning.
I went to the optometrist and walked out without glasses, not bad for 42! 

And finally had a wonderful time with family over Easter. Good Friday saw me reuniting with some of the family and friends we travelled with at the beginning of our European Vacation last year, including seeing my cousin and her husband for the first time since their amazing Italian wedding. We had a lovely meal of seafood, chocolate and wine and reminisced travel stories afterwards...bliss. Easter Sunday was a family BBQ with my entire immediate family and was joyous and fun. 

I thought I was exhausted after February, but March was way busier. April is not letting up either. I am not complaining, life is rich and exciting, it's important to grab it and join in! Stay tuned for the entertainment and education of the inaugural Newcastle Writers Festival.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Paul Simon and Rufus Wainwright

When I heard Paul Simon was touring - with Rufus Wainwright no less - I got very excited. A huge fan of both, I was ready for action, but the dates available made it impossible for me to go, and one was at the vineyards, a location I am not fond of for concerts. But when the vineyard concert changed to the Newcastle Entertainment Centre (again, not a great venue) it made my attendance easier! I couldn't believe, for once in my life, luck was on my side.

Rufus Wainwright, fabulous son from a talented family, is a prodigious talent. His sister, definitely has the better voice, but how can you not love this gorgeous man who did a whole concert paying homage to Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall! Our seats were good and we were thrilled when he arrived on stage looking Rufusy! Just him and a grand piano, he sounded good, though appeared nervous at times. He toggled between guitar and piano with no band whatsoever. That is brave and he pulled it off easily. His piano playing was superb and he was physically dramatic, swaying along with his playing. Such intensity, as you would expect!

I can't find a setlist anywhere online for this, so can only remember some songs from his 30min set. He sung The Maker Makes from Brokeback Mountain, which I love. Montauk and Out of the Game from his latest album, both excellent tunes. Memphis Skyline, his tribute to Jeff Buckley followed by Hallelujah. He spoke before starting to sing this double about Jeff Buckley. He had been asked to sing Hallelujah for the Shrek soundtrack and had never heard the Buckley version. I find this odd, but there you go, he heard it afterwards and said had he heard it prior he would never have recorded the song. I love Rufus's version, but Buckley's is definitive for sure (after Cohen of course). Both songs were stunning, and I was very moved by hearing his Hallelujah. 

He ended with Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk, which is a personal favourite and we were sad to have it end. Next time we shall see him as a main act.

Prior to attending I has been thinking about why Rufus was touring with Paul Simon and vice verse, pleased, but it seemed not quite right. Different styles, different eras and presumably different audiences. I thought Simon may have been friends with his parents, and this may be so, but it was something quite different. They live near each other in Montauk, and are friends...simple and sweet...and come to think of it, probably have a lot in common, given their pasts!

After a short break, out came Paul Simon, the crowd cheered. He had a large band with him, very tight, very funky and assisted him brilliantly in presenting all these classic songs. I have attached the setlist below, and you can see it was a fabulous mix of classics, new and some Simon and Garfunkel classics.

I grew up with Paul Simon, as my Dad was a fan, and came to know Simon and Garfunkel through music lessons. I adore both, I love the funky grooves of Simon, and Graceland is one of my all time favourite albums. Bridge Over Troubled Water is my second favourite song of all time (after Hey Jude), I am not good at picking a favourite and staying with it, but this will never change. I actually went into the concert hoping he would not attempt this, he did not...phew. It is beautifully written, with the most comforting and uplifting lyrics, perfected by Art Garfunkel's angelic voice...but I digress, I am pretty sure there is a whole post to be written on the beauty of this song!

Paul Simon knows his place in music history, not in a cocky way, just an assured and confidant stance, as one should be when they are a musical icon in their 70s. He commanded the audience and enjoyed their interaction. He is also a very still performer, he does not move much when playing and performing. He certainly got down and funky in instrumental sections when not singing, but mostly it was perfect delivery and stillness. A complete contrast to seeing Bruce Springsteen a few weeks earlier, yet equally as impressive.

He started with Gumboots, the jaunty African tune from Graceland and you felt that immediate joy of a well known song touching your heart. Graceland is just one of those albums, still relatively 'new' compared to his older tracks...yet over 25 years old, yikes! And after a song from his new album, which I really like, he went straight into the cannon with 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, a great song and we were entranced. By the time he got to an incredibly cool cover of the classic Junior Parker blues number, Mystery Train, we knew we were in for an interesting ride that was covering every track and turn of his musical career.

And so it continued until the diversity of the last three songs. All you need to know about Paul Simon, post Simon and Garfunkel was there! The great title track from So Beautiful or So What (the new album), followed by the exquisiteness of Graceland's Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes (a personal favourite), to the rockin' groove of Late in the Evening. Of course, by this stage almost everyone were on their feet!

After a short break he came back, just Paul and a guitar, and simply sung Sound of Silence, you could hear a pin drop. It was beautiful, stunning and emotional. Then the band joined him for Kodachrome, then he soloed on a lovely version of Here Comes the Sun, such a surprise and a gift really. Only to be topped by a rousing rendition of You Can Call Me Al. This is one of those catchy pop songs, but on a closer listen, it is so much more. Great lyrics and great beats, hence the easy transition to pop, but a very funky bass line, soaring horns and a flute bit. 

And that's the thing about Simon's music, it is authentic, yet borrows from everywhere. I read he writes the music first and then the lyrics. This explains the intricate words, they need to fit the rhythm. I love his rhythms, but his words have always fascinated me. Some of his lyrics are better than poetry. The twist and wind and fit into the music so intrinsically, you would think they appeared simultaneously by divine intervention. Not many do it well, but he is one of the best. 

So, was all that enough...of course not, another encore, this time Graceland, and then a Bo Diddley cover. He says Graceland is the song he is most proud of and I believe it is a masterpiece. Of course, I bastardised his opening line over a decade ago when I saw the Mississippi for the first time. He begins, "The Mississippi Delta is shining like a national guitar", I was like yeah, nuh, more like a slimy, muddy bathtub! It was not a clean river! But seriously, the lyrics in this are stunning. I love "I see losing love is like a window in your heart. And everybody sees you're blown apart" He gets it, for sure!

Then he walks back off the stage, but that can't be it. Some people start to walk out, obviously not seasoned concert goers. Everyone knows you wait until the houselights come on! And of course, he comes back out for the final encore, dragging a reluctant Rufus with him and they attempt The Boxer. I do love The Boxer and whilst I really enjoyed hearing it, it was obvious Rufus has not really rehearsed it and was very nervous. He didn't wreck it, but he shouldn't have attempted it. Nonetheless, it is a powerful song and we all joined in the chorus of lie la lie...

I walked back to the car, the night sky lit by a full moon, still air and songs going round in the head. Lucky and blessed I am to have been able to bear witness to history. And a huge thanks to A and D for letting me tag along, especially to D, who had to put up with A and I getting a little cranky with some rude people behind us! 


1. Gumboots (Graceland)

2. Dazzling Blue (So Beautiful or So What)

3. 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (Still Crazy After All These Years)

4. Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard (Paul Simon)

5. That Was Your mother (Graceland)

6. Hearts and Bones (Hearts and Bones)

7. Mystery Train/Wheels (Junior Park/Chet Atkins cover)

8. Slip Slidin' Away (Greatest Hits, etc)

9. My Little Town (Simon and Garfunkel non-album track, Still Crazy After All These Years)

10. The Obvious Child (Rhythm of the Saints)

11. The Only Living Boy in New York (Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water)

12. Crazy Love, Vol II (Graceland)

13. So Beautiful or So What (So Beautiful or So What)

14. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (Graceland)

15. Late in the Evening (One Trick Pony)


16. The Sound of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel, Sounds of Silence)

17. Kodachrome/Gone at Last (There Goes Rhymin' Simon/Still Crazy After All These Years)

18. Here Come the Sun (Beatles/Harrison cover)

19. You Can Call Me Al (Graceland)


20. Graceland (Graceland)

21. Pretty Thing (Bo Diddley cover)

22. The Boxer (with Rufus) (Bridge Over Troubled Water)

Here is a link to the breathtaking version of The Boxer that Paul Simon sang on Saturday Night Live on their first show back after 9/11...