Pretty Little Things…. A Tribute to Hayden James’ EP Artwork

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I am really  a sucker for great artwork – mostly on album covers and wine bottles. Now if you think that says a lot about me personally maybe you should think again. Hey c’mon I just really like pretty things and I’m more willing to part with the hard earned when it looks real nice as well as serves some sort of function. You must admit that music and wine do kind of go hand in hand!

 

This cover art on electronic musician, Hayden James self-entitled EP is simply amazing and I do have to say it really influenced my decision to buy the album. I’m not joking. I listened to the tracks but it was the artwork that pulled me in initially.

 

I didn’t own other persuasive knowledge at the time like that, James is on the Future Classic label, a label that also features the artist Flume – whose music has just about rocked everyone’s world who has come in touch with him. Call it intuitive, call it crazy, call it down right stupid if you will. I pick things cos their pretty.

Why are we so attracted to pretty things even when have been beaten down with the old adage;

it’s really what is inside that counts’?

 

Can you just love art for art’s sake? I think you can. We could have a long discussion about Andy Warhol and the commodification of art in the Postmodern Era. But we won’t. I’m just going to own it. Hayden James, the artwork on your album rocks and it looks real pretty next to the Parallel Paradise EP by Hermitude cover in my iTunes. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Would my life be more fulfilling if I watched Aussie Rules Football? (A Fiona Apple fan speaks….)

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PHOTO OF FIONA APPLE COURTESY OF PITCHFORK MAGAZINE – ARTIST Kareena Zerefos

I love Fiona Apple. You can listen to her music over and over and over and never get sick of it. I must have listened to Tidal hundreds of times yet it still blows me away upon every listen.  How cannot you not love someone whose song lyrics include:

 When all I do is beg to be loved”.

I think Pitchfork magazine summed up the how, the why and the what of Fiona Apple is in this interview with Carrie Battan.

And, at 34, the singer’s energy is coiled as tightly around a core of human emotion as it was during her Tidal days in the 1990s. She still seems so tethered to pure feeling that she has nothing left to expend on the practical and logistical concerns of the world around her…”

Battan captures for me how I would, if I could describe what Fiona Apple’s album’s are like and the emotional well (if you like) of whence they came. I’m talking like I know Fiona Apple! The scary thing about her is that she puts everything into her music, her heart, her sweat, her life, her energy, her soul and you think you that you do get to know a piece of Fiona Apple. I’m even assuming that I know that much! The truth is probably that the more you think you know of Apple the more she would be there to confound you with a clever contradiction. Yep I really like her a lot. I think she is fascinating. And I guess the reason I like her so much is that she just is who she is. She is this great artist, who you can’t really say you know despite the fact she puts it all out to bare in her albums.

I was at work today. Sometimes I work. I try to work. I do bits and pieces of this and that. This job though was quite a serious one. Temping in an administration role for an accountancy firm. I really enjoyed all the people that worked there. My interview consisted of the Office Manager driving 100 kilometres to meet me for five minutes.  She said:

I don’t believe in interviews

So that was it! I got the job…

Anyways I was at work and my boss gave me his business credit card to buy nespresso pods for the office. I was trying to make light conversation as it was awkward him standing there whilst I went through the many various screens of the Nespresso website. It was his last day before he went on annual leave.

I said: ‘You must be getting excited’.

He then stated in a tone: ‘What? -about the Grand Final?’.

I said: ‘No about going away for annual leave and then I added for good measure ‘that I didn’t like football and didn’t watch it ( so no I didn’t mean the Grand Final).

He then said ( in a very serious way) : ‘Your life would be much better if you followed football’.

I told him: to ‘get over himself – (in a joking kinda non-disrespectful way)’.

To which he stated again: ‘that my life would be a lot better if I followed a team.’ ( he didn’t say that in a joking way at all by the way…)”

So then I came home. Actually I really started to think about what he said the instant he said it. I started thinking would my life be better if watched football and had a team. Went to games and supported my side. Wore a scarf and screamed and shouted when the team got a goal. Was the fact that I didn’t have a team make me an incomplete person? I don’t know, maybe I’m weird. Give me Fiona over football any day. I’m just that kind of gal.

 

Keep Calm and Write Poetry…

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Many of us went through the bad poetry phase during our teenage years.  Most of it was pretty awful. Dark, morbid, badly written. Luckily this expression of angsty  melancholy dissipated with age ( well for most of us anyway). At some point the majority figure out that sitting around and arguing about the colour of curtains – are they peach or pink? Just doesn’t really get you anywhere. Goon and smokes, parents garages, rock classics, the philosophising, the pontificating, the witticisms were a period or at the very least a phase that one grew out of, moved on from.

This has been a really hard post to write. What started out as a kind of review of Coldplay’s song Clocks turned into an adventure into the history of modern literature and poetry. Now how does what I have just written about relate to what I am now writing about? Let me explain. Coldplay? Why? Well I’ve always like Chris Martin’s lyrics. But once I started digging into why one writes what they write in the time in which they write it. I had to embrace the fact that Chris Martin’s lyrics – although they ‘work’ with the music and can be quite cleverly rhymed are really in the context of writing and literature abstract poetry. I call lyrics poetry simply because in Latin the verb ‘poieo’ mean to create.  Lyrics are created and I believe can be some of the most powerful poetry to listen to.

Abstract Poetry was a term popularised by Dame Edith Sitwell in the early 1920’s.  It was actually the Futurists and Dadaists who were the pioneers of sound poetry. Abstract poetry or sound poetry  ‘is verse that makes little sense grammatically and syntactically but relies on auditory patterns to create its meaning and poetic effects.’  That is it sounds good but it doesn’t really mean a hell of a lot.

If you analyse Coldplay’s Clocks it does say something but in a very abstract way. It points to ideas but doesn’t specifically create a narrative. For example:

 Confusion never stops

Closing walls and ticking clocks

Gonna come back and take you home

I could not stop that you now know, singing…..

What does it mean? It could mean a number of things and that is beauty or the downfall of sound/abstract poetry.

Okay so what does that all mean in terms of Clock’s by Coldplay? Does the the abstract nature of their lyrics make them  ( the lyrics)  more versatile and relevant to a broad audience. Maybe that is part of Coldplay’s success. They don’t say much, or what they do say can be interpreted in so many different ways that it has a relevance to a wide group of listeners. Just thinking that that really bad poetry that one used to write may have a place somewhere! Now that I know that it has a proper name and is a real genre of writing there  may be hope for angsty wordsmiths with a penchant for wordplay after all.

 

Respect Yourself – the expression of sexuality in popular culture

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In the mid 1990’s when the grunge movement was in full flight a lot of girls (and boys) embraced their androgynous side wearing the requisite uniform of Doc Martens or converse as well as checkered shirts. Heroin chic, was also popular during this period. Waif-like models such as Kate Moss walked the fashion runways, Calvin Klein bought out CK One (a fragrance for both men and women). Marilyn Manson graced the cover of his band’s album Mechanical Animals with feminine features, his head on a decidedly androgynous body.

Madonna who was extremely influential throughout the 1990’s released the album Like a Prayer in 1989. The second single of this album was Express Yourself which urged women not to ‘accept second best’ and to not put material concerns ahead of ‘respecting yourself’. Madonna’s Jean Paul Gaultier suit, was considered gender-bending and the song was lauded for its Feminist themes and it’s…

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Respect Yourself – the expression of sexuality in popular culture

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In the mid 1990’s when the grunge movement was in full flight a lot of girls (and boys) embraced their androgynous side wearing the requisite uniform of Doc Martens or converse as well as checkered shirts. Heroin chic, was also popular during this period. Waif-like models such as Kate Moss walked the fashion runways, Calvin Klein bought out CK One (a fragrance for both men and women). Marilyn Manson graced the cover of his band’s album Mechanical Animals with feminine features, his head on a decidedly androgynous body.

Madonna who was extremely influential throughout the 1990’s released the album Like a Prayer in 1989. The second single of this album was Express Yourself which urged women not to ‘accept second best’ and to not put material concerns ahead of ‘respecting yourself’. Madonna’s Jean Paul Gaultier suit, was considered gender-bending and the song was lauded for its Feminist themes and it’s sub-theme of gender equality.

In 1990 Madonna released Vogue from the I’m Breathless album. Channelling iconic old school movie stars in the this video her dancers male and female (and in some scenes Madonna) wore masculine suits. Madonna for every the queen of reinvention, also had the ability to start trends, introducing not only the previously underground dancing style of Voguing to the mainstream but also foreshadowing and defining the decades androgynous flavour by her styling choices.

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Fast forward to 2013. The grunge movement is now retro and Gen Y instead of Gen X are the new ‘youth’. Fashion styles may reference the Grunge movement in their collections, but the spirit of the decade, the slacker lifestyle has faded. The new icons of the now may play with androgyny i.e Lady Gaga but somehow it appears that to be truly groundbreaking means to be overtly sexual.

For example take Miley Cyrus at the recent MTV Video Music Awards where she performed with Robin Thicke. This performance was slammed by the media. Cyrus twerked, strutted on stage sticking out her tongue, touching herself in a skin coloured barely there outfit. This kind of overt use of sexuality is pronounced in the music videos of today. Thicke who has just recently had a hit with Blurred Lines used ‘model’ types in his video. Clad in white outfits and clear plastic they pose and writhe around Thicke like mechanised robots. Even Jessie J has cut her hair, going totally against image in her video Wild.

Mean Girls (2004), written by Tina Fey was based on the non-fiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes is a comedy which seeks to empower women by demonstrating that young women don’t have to be ‘mean’ to one another. The film starring Lindsay Lohan captured the affects of overtly sexual videos have on young children. Lohan (Cady) visits the home of Regina George (Rachel McAdams) head of the Plastics – a clique of girls who rule the school. Regina’s mother has just had her boobs done and as Cady enters the house Regina’s younger sister is dancing provocatively in front of the television to the Kelis hit Milkshake. This was a funny scene but also a telling one.

Listening to the radio today, I heard the lyrics to Dizzee Rascals’s new song from his album The Fifth, ‘I Don’t Need a Reason’.

All I do is flex
I don’t need a reason
All I want is sex
I don’t need a reason
Fly out on a jet
I don’t need a reason
Every day is a never ending Summer season
All eyes on me

Narcissistic? Completely.  Should artists have a responsibility to send positive  messages to their audiences? Taylor Swift embraces her femininity and is a role model to many young women. She is able to ‘express herself’ using her sexuality in a positive way managing to make millions in the process. Call me old fashioned but give me Taylor over Cyrus any day…and dare I say it bring back the 1990’s while you are at it!

Quinoa Salad (Recipe) and Friday Night Pizza!

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Emma’s Art – Inspired be local flora and fauna. A Print on Emma’s (not the artist) wall.

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Friday night pizza with the girls!

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What is a Friday night girl’s night without the drinks!

Friday night! Quinoa salad (made by me, see recipe below) and Pizza made by Em and Liz. Yum! Prosciutto, soft cheese, hard cheese, pear and a bit of parmesan on a pizza base. My quinoa salad which was inspired by one of my brother’s recipes, is a winner. It is a little bit time consuming, but it is well worth the effort. Zingy, fresh and summery it’s great with not only Liz and Em’s famous pear and prosciutto pizza but also fish, a nice steak or seafood.

I have been doing a little bit of research into Quinoa. Having always been a cous cous fan as it literally cooks in 2 minutes in boiled water – Quinoa may take a little longer to cook but it’s packed full of nutrients and it’s nutty flavour and grainy texture is hard to beat.

For all you Quinoa nerds out there 2013 is actually International Year of Quinoa as declared by the United Nations. Quinoa is a seed (vegetable) not a grain but it is usually eaten as a grain. It has been cultivated for over several thousand years. Mainly grown in the Andean countries, quinoa is a staple food of ancient civilisations of the Andes of Southern America.

Quinoa is in fashion at the moment for a reason. It actually has many fantastic qualities which make it invaluable emerging crop. High in protein, low in cholesterol and sodium it is gluten-free, contains essential amino acids and is rich in minerals. Aside from it’s amazing nutritional qualities quinoa is adaptable to a large range of climatic conditions, it is hardy, drought tolerant and resistant to salinity. It also has very low production costs. Super environmentally friendly, quinoa crops have a low environmental impact, contributes to biodiversity and protecting the ecosystem.

In the Andes production remains family based and mostly organic. Production has increased the income of lower income farmers in the semi-arid Andes Highlands. Especially in the last three years as the popularity of Quinoa has soared.

Not only do producers in the Andes win from this surge in popularity but quinoa crops have the potential to aid in the world’s food shortage as it can be grown in difficult conditions. This combined with low production cost make quinoa a crop of the future.

Quinoa, Bean, Corn and Lemon Salad Recipe

Quinoa

2 cups of red quinoa

4 cups of water

2 chicken stock cubes

Salad

3 corn on the cobs, boiled and cut from cob (should produce three handfuls of corn)

1 large bunch of spring onions finely chopped

1 red onion finely chopped

1 large bunch of continental parsley, chopped roughly

Handful of green beans cut into 3-4cm lengths

Dressing

2 large lemons

3 Tbl of extra virgin olive oil

Salt & Pepper to taste

There is a bit on an art to cooking quinoa. The first tip is to wash it thoroughly under cold water several times. This washes some of the bitterness out of the seeds. When cooking red quinoa, you cook one part quinoa to two cups of water as a general rule. For this recipe you will need two cups of quinoa. After washing the quinoa thoroughly place four cups of water in a pot with the intention of bringing the water and 2 cups of red quinoa to the boil. At this point add the two chicken stock cubes (this really adds punch to the quinoa seeds). Once the quinoa and water mixture boils turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and cover for around 15 minutes. Any excess water is drained.

Once the quinoa is cooked or if you like to multitask whilst the quinoa is cooking chop the spring onions, red onion,  continental parsley and the green beans into lengths. Next bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the corn on the cob (cut into halves) for 2-3 minutes. Using the same pot of water cook the handful of beans next for 1-3 minutes.

Let all cooked ingredients cool before combining and tossing ingredients in a large open dish or salad bowl.

The dressing is really simple. Add the oil and juice of two lemons in a glass jar with a lid. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Put the lid on the jar and shake thoroughly. Drizzle over salad. Voila! Salad is ready!

Red Quinoa cooked and ready to go !

Red Quinoa cooked and ready for the salad…

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Green Beans

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Fresh corn on the cob for the quinoa salad

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The finished product!