Wow, the year went fast.  My first full year living in another country.  It’s not been a bad one all told.  Before we move on too far I want to recap the last year.  Favourites of the year…

Movies:

  • Star Trek
  • Moon
  • Coraline (3D)
  • District 9
  • Inglorious Basterds
  • Avatar

Albums:

  • Bat for Lashes – Two Suns
  • Beirut – Realpeople Holland
  • Bill Callahan – Sometimes I wish I were an eagle
  • Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport
  • Mono – Hymn to the Immortal Wind
  • Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!

Songs:

  • My Delirium – Ladyhawke
  • My Night With The Prostitute From Marseille – Beirut
  • Black Hearted Love – PJ Harvey & John Parish
  • Eid Ma Clack Shaw – Bill Callahan
  • I’m Sorry, Baby, But You Can’t Stand In My Light Any More – Bob Mould
  • Stillness Is the Move – Dirty Projectors
  • High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In – Tortoise
  • Carry Me – Malcolm Middleton
  • Soft Shock, Hysteric – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Overall it’s not been that great a year for music, a few good albums, none really classic.  Some good songs though and out of the above I can’t choose a top one musically.  Film wise it would be Moon which was just a wonderful experience (though Star Trek was pretty damn awesome, coming from a non-Trekkie).  And if I had to choose some favourites of the decade..?  Seeing as real thought would have me still choosing come 2020 I’m going to take these off the top of my head (and a quick scan of iTunes)

Movies:

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Donnie Darko
  • Wall-E
  • Amelie

Albums:

  • Johnny Cash – American III: Solitary Man
  • PJ Harvey – Stories from the city, stories from the sea
  • Elbow – Asleep in the back
  • Ed Harcourt – Here be monsters
  • The Divine Comedy – Regeneration
  • Idlewild – The remote part
  • Spoon – Kill the Moonlight
  • Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • Broken Social Scene – You Forgot it in People
  • Explosions in the Sky – The Earth is not a cold dead place
  • Mogwai – Happy songs for happy people
  • Rachel’s – Systems/Layers
  • m83 – Before the dawn heals us
  • Marianne Faithful – Before the poison
  • Mono – Walking Cloud And Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered And The Sun Shined
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Abattoir Blues / Lyre of Orpheus
  • TV on the Radio – Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
  • Gorillaz – Demon Days
  • Gemma Hayes – Night on our side
  • Eluvium – Talk amongst the Trees
  • Kanye West – Late Registration
  • NIN – [With_Teeth]
  • Sufjan Stevens – Come on feel the Illinoise
  • Clint Mansell – The Fountain (OST)
  • Jarvis – Jarvis
  • My Latest Novel – Wolves
  • Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
  • Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
  • Bat for Lashes – Fur and Gold
  • Battles – Mirrored
  • Dan Deacon – Spiderman of the Rings
  • Feist – The Reminder
  • Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog
  • Low – Drums and Guns
  • Malcolm Middleton – A brighter beat
  • Radiohead – In rainbows
  • Rob Crow – Living well
  • Star of the Lid – And Their Refinement Of The Decline
  • Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
  • Elbow – The seldom seen kid
  • Foals – Antidotes
  • Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing
  • Los Campesinos! – Hold on now youngster
  • Metronomy – Nights out
  • Mogwai – The Hawk is Howling
  • Remember Remember – Remember Remember
  • Santogold – Santogold

Song (if I could just choose one):

  • 2 rights make 1 wrong

That’s it folks.

Sometimes all you need is a glass of wine, some nice cheese and a few crackers, a good book and soft music in the background. Whimsical. Mute. Entrenched.

There have been many great things about moving to NZ but one of the biggest things that I miss is the music scene.  Or the lack of it.  Ok, so I’m going to say it: the music scene in NZ sucks.  What the fuck is up with the adoration of dub/reggae and piss poor European house?  Seriously.  Ok, it’s said.

So the other big issue is that not only do very few bands come and play here but if they do they invariably skip Christchurch (apparently crossing the Tasman is ridiculously expensive).  Then even if they do come here the chance of finding out about the gig is pretty small as promotion is often non-existent (when I found out I’d missed Dan Deacon last year I was not a happy bunny).

As time has passed I’ve realised it’s not quite as bad as I first thought (I really was spoiled living in Brighton before all this).  In months to come we have Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, The Pixies, Yo La Tengo, Camera Obscura, Pavement, Neko Case, Mono, Wilco.

And now they’ve announced Joanna Newsom with Jens Lekman no less.  In Christchurch.  While I’m on nights.  The same nights that cover my birthday none the less.

See, to go to any of these (as none of them bar the lovely Ms Newsom are playing CHCH) I have to try and book 2 days off work a few months in advance (a process which can take up to a month to confirm sometimes), get flights and accommodation in Wellington or Auckland and all the other little expenses that go along with it.  It makes it very difficult and expensive plus it’s eating into my annual leave.  I miss the day I could lean out of K’s window and listen to Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan playing across the road in St George’s church.

So I make my choices.  I chose Pavement over Pixies.  I’m losing the rest of the week to be in Auckland for Dirty Projectors 2 days later.  Mono I’ve seen before.  Neko Case I’m still deciding.  Wilco I will make happen.  I will also see JN even if I have to miss the end of her set (or be late for work which is more likely).  Tomorrow I’m off to see Jarvis Cocker in Wellington all by my lonesome.

A plea: if you are coming to New Zealand to play, please extend the tour to CHCH.  You’ve already spent all that money and time flying here in the first place so what’s a little bit more to come a bit further south.  I’ll come pick you up myself if it will help.

Now I just need to figure out how I’m ever going to see Mogwai ever again.  Fuji Rock 2010 anyone..?

You said “send me stationary to make me horny”
So I always write you letters in multicolours
Decorating envelopes for foreplay
Damn extended metaphors, I get carried away

On the back of a natural disaster, fixed with parcel tape and with kids sticking plasters
Nothing says “I miss you” quite like war poetry you carved in your door with a Stanley knife

I know this was from a few years ago now but I was listening to it yesterday and the geeky lyrics still get me every time.  It’s built to appeal.

It’s bad enough you ever use the word as an adjective
But to suggest we do it in heels is really quite crass
And frankly, we’re reasonably practical
And we know the benefits of always doing these things in flats

Who can argue with the sense of that?  Plus my all time favourite:

If you catch me with my hands in the till
I promise, sugar, I wasn’t trying to steal
I’m just swimming in copper
to smell and pretend like a robot

Will I won’t I shall I shan’t I?  Write?  Well.  I’m unwell.  A long felt awareness of continually running at sub-par always seems to manifest whenever I take some time off.  Maybe the energy and stresses of work allowing my immune system to keep trucking on, keeping a low profile from the distracted awareness of my brain, crash and burn when I stop.  When the long weekend and relaxation kicked in it translated into rapid sinus congestion, sore throat and muzzy head.

Reasons to write?  One being the fun weekend we all had in Akaroa.  Got monumentally drunk Friday night with good friends and to my immense sense of self satisfaction I managed to play the entirety of Tarot Sport to a room full of people in a party type situation.  And only 2 people asked me to turn it off (cunningly by this point of the evening attention spans had been tequilaed down to bare seconds so I just ignored their pleas for musical leniency).  I actually played Street Horrrsing too but there was only one other left drinking and awake by that point so not sure I can claim that one.

Our sortie on Saturday for a bit of a ramble was scuppered when we arrived on the desolate beach to find a freaked out surfer who pointed us out to his 2 mates who were being swept out by the rip.  Our mate jumped in his kayak and went out to help the swept away guy (the other one made it to the rocks) while we went to call the coast guard.

One helicopter later, lots of standing around for us (plus a fuck load of paddling our mate) and all 3 were safe.  Good result and they were sheepishly nonplussed once it was all over.  Surfers are stupid.  We on the other hand went sea kayaking the following day and didn’t need helicopter rescue.  We did need burgers though.

Then we all got to see this:

And finally, perhaps the most joyous thing of all is that someone has posted the boot of the Royal Albert Hall gig by Mogwai from 2006.  In the 7 times I’ve seen them this was and still is the best they’ve ever been and I’ve been hoping for a copy ever since.  Everything about that night was perfect.  The venue was immense; the crowd were real fans, committed and politely quiet; the sound was enormous, it filled and decimated everything else in the hall, you could feel it through every inch of your body (I thought the bass on 2 rights was going to rupture my sternum); the version of 2 rights was the best I’ve ever heard live, the welcome return of Tracy and the second surprise encore (which I almost missed thinking they had gone) of a monumental and righteous MFMK was perfect.  I was there with a sweet Jewish San Franciscan girl I was sort of dating at the time at the end of a brief summer of letting go; she jumped a mile out of her seat at the noise mid way through fear satan and half way through MFMK said, ‘wait, this is…’

Yes it is; with a smile.  It felt better sharing it with someone and I was elated for days.  The recording’s pretty good so please download, listen and share it with me.

In my absence my blog seems to have been slowly ticking over and I’ve had over 5000 visits.  I don’t have much need for this any more though so not sure where to go.  I crave the anonymity and selective exposure of my earlier blog.  The ability to write absolutely anything and not worry about people you know reading it.  Writing to strangers.  There is something in the desire to publish and put out those intimate thoughts and events to be read by random unknowns, to be followed and supported, yet to be kept hidden.  A paper journal holds not the same appeal, the outrage of finding someone you know has peered within the sacred confines of a personal diary does not translate to the internet.  It also highlights the reality of what you’re doing when you sit, pen in hand and detail those troublesome thoughts to the page.  I am tempted to just hit that delete button for this and my past outlet.  Or perhaps reappear somewhere new with no fanfare.

Common joy seems to have lapsed into something sweeter.  This has been a fortnight characterised by a heap of new people and the discovery and rapture of a new muse (most fitting to Aoide); the associated back-tumble to the stages of my life that fling themselves into stark contrast with how things have been and how they can be no longer; and a god awful hangover that eventually lapsed into vague sickness.

There is (despite the runny nose and generally foggy head of the last few days) a smile on my face, a whimsy of the body and a desire to create.

On a somewhat related note I recently bought a new fountain pen.  Haven’t owned one for many a year but decided writing for me had become a chore, an act of work.  I wanted to take back the enjoyment.  Currently it’s been sent to Australia to fit a finer nib but once it returns I shall use it.  If anyone would like a letter drop me a line and address.

We got back a few hours ago from out weekend away with the gang to Hanmer.  Fun weekend with nice people.  Pretty tired now.  A big event – I had my first beer in a pub.  I drank the whole thing and liked it.  Kind of.  I liked the first third, went of the middle third then enjoyed the final bit.  And I didn’t throw up afterwards!  One step closer to being accepted as a Kiwi.

Drinking, sledging, BBQ, hot tubs, mini golf, adventure maze and amusing games.  I’ll try to get photos up later in the week.

We all start a new rotation tomorrow.  I’m on night cover again (through choice), this time covering the other medical specialties apart from Cardiology and Respiratory.  Basically I do the day job of the doc who’s on nights so I change team to team every week.  I’m also on call tomorrow as well which is annoying but hey ho.