My month in unsolicited advertising material

Rosa Pascoe has a gallery/workshop in Leura and I think this creation of hers is brilliant.

Wishing you a happy festive season

Last Christmas by bassling

On the remote chance that you haven't heard my cover version of George Micheal's Last Christmas, here it is.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2012.

Waipukurau Park

Previously I posted a video of the bowing on a slippery slide and here's how it sounds in the track I produced from sounds recorded at Waipukurau Park.

You can see and hear more of my Leeton park remixes on my bassling blog.

Chemical Brothers movie?

There's a bit of speculation around the internet that this is the trailer for a film from The Chemical Brothers. This excites me a lot.

Arnott's Shapes

Maybe it's a coincidence but I've noticed Arnott's Shapes biscuits being sold at heavily reduced prices lately, down from around $2.70 to around $1.50, and also notice they're shrinking the weight of these products.

Slide and glide

I've mentioned the Leeton park remix project I'm developing for the centenary of the town in 2012.

The short video above shows me playing a slippery slide with a bow, a technique first shown to me by Alan Lamb when we worked together as part of the 2006 Unsound Festival.

Bowing the slide sounds very much like bowing 'the wires' -- except for the length of the decaying note. The video linked in the preceding sentence reminds me that my partner Jo is much better at bowing than me.

Aside from adapting Alan's technique for a slippery slide, I've been experimenting with changing the pitch while playing by adjusting the tension on the line. The other source of variation in the sound comes from the friction of the bow, which can squeal like a harmonic.

Sons of Anarchy

I've been catching up on the TV show Sons of Anarchy recently and, while it pales next to the best stuff from HBO like Deadwood and The Wire, the show has given me a bit to think about.

The pitch for the show must've been something like Hamlet on a Harley, as the lead character Jackson Teller discovers a book written by his late father outlining his philosophies and where the motorcycle club he founded went wrong getting into gun-running and other criminal activity. Jackson's mother Gemma Teller has married Clay Morrow, the current president of the club called the Sons of Anarchy. This drama between the son and the father figure forms a backdrop while each season establishes new threats to the club (government departments, rival gangs, etc.) and each episode works in a few relationship dramas and fight scenes.

I suspect producers Art Linson and his son John were influenced by Hunter S Thompson's book on the Hells Angels, particularly since the elder Linson made his directorial debut with Where the Buffalo Roam, a 1980 comedy based loosely on Thompson's writings.

One thing that fascinates me about the show is its warped sense of morality. The setting is a little town called Charming and the Sons of Anarchy are portrayed as crusaders for justice, since their rivals are drug-running neo-Nazis and an Hispanic motorcycle gang. With such competition and their joie de vivre, the Sons look like liberals and often the show seems to vindicate their criminality because the gang are following their own moral code.

Anyway, I know I'm reading too far into this escapist entertainment but if I were at uni I'd be thinking about making it the subject of an essay.

Parenting tip

Currently I'm reading a fascinating book called Influence by Robert B Cialdini, Ph.D that outlines the psychology behind many effective sales technique.

There's an interesting passage offering advice for parents on how to best ensure a child follows instruction that draws on research by Jonathan Freedman. This recommends that threats of punishment for not following orders are less effective than engaging the child in a process of assuming a sense of personal responsibility.

Suppose a couple wants to impress upon their daughter that lying is wrong. A strong, clear threat ("It's bad to lie, honey; so if I catch you at it, I'll cut your tongue out") might well be effective when the parents are present or when the girl thinks she can be discovered. But it will not achieve the larger goal of convincing her that she does not want to lie because she thinks it's wrong. To do that, a much subtler approach is required.

A reason must be given that is just strong enough to get her to be truthful most of the time but is not so strong that she sees it as the obvious reason for her truthfulness. It's a tricky business, because exactly what this barely sufficient reason will be changes from child to child.

For one little girl, a simple appeal may be enough ("It's bad to lie, honey; so I hope you won't do it"), for another child, it may be necessary to add a somewhat stronger reason ("...because if you do, I'll be disappointed in you"); for a third child, a mild form of warning me be required as well ("...and I'll probably have to do something I don't want to do").

Wise parents will know which kind of reason will work on their own children. The important thing is to use a reason that will initially produce the desired behaviour and will, at the same time, allow a child to take personal responsibility for that behaviour.

Thus, the less detectable outside pressure such a reason contains, the better. Selecting just the right reason is not an easy task for parents. But the effort should pay off. It is likely to mean the difference between short-lived compliance and long-term commitment.

Strange way to go

It's a bit morbid but I thought this was an unusual way for a sparrow to die.

Uh! Yeah!

Mad percussion, love it!

Leeton parks remix project

With the centenary of Leeton to be celebrated next year, I came up with an idea to remix parks around town for an album. I've also been making videos to better explain the concept.

This one shows the sounds I collected at Wandoo Playground and how they were arranged to create a track.

You can see all the parks so far at the Bassling blog.

Gendered cheese

This cheese reminded me of Germaine Greer, who wrote in The Female Eunuch that:

"…every girl whose upbringing is 'normal'. She is a female faggot."

While Greer writes provocatively and this has been criticised for being homophobic, I think you can see her point. This tells girls from an early age that an interest in robotics and technology is the realm of males.

Kraft must've done their market research and found that boys are impressed by the robots; while girls will eat cheese for coloured hair?

Good quote

H G Wells wrote in The History of Mr Polly:

"…When a man has once broken through the paper walls of everyday circumstances, those unsubstantial walls that hold so many of us securely prisoned from the cradle to the grave, he has made a discovery. If the world does not please you, you can change it. Determine to alter it at any price, and you can change it altogether."

This makes me think I did the right thing when I quit my job recently.

Wish I was an ant

Watched this ant dragging a spider carcass today and thought how amazing they are.

Aside from being able to lift things much greater than their own weight, I'm kind of envious that they have such a clear sense of purpose because I'm having a bit of an existential crisis at present.

Got pox

My kids are suffering chicken pox and it's been interesting how we've learned how their friends also had this infection recently after we got it.

Anyway, their suffering has been eased by adding half a cup of baking soda to their bath. It's cheaper than calamine lotion and a bit of soluble paracetamol has also helped.


The new Twitter interface seems so much more buggy and bandwidth intensive than the previous one. Weirdness like having to log-out to post a tweet sometimes.

I've also noticed this weird bug when someone you follow favourites and retweets, it shows that I've favourited it. Hope they fix it up soon.

Did you know?

The Daily Telegraph seem to be amazed there are women lawyers in Indonesia, judging by this story on their website today.

Ride To Work Day next week

It's Ride To Work Day on Wednesday 12 October.

I ride to work most days and reckon it's a great way to start the day. It raises my pulse rate and clears my head.

Another amazing speech

It's been great revisiting this today, made all the more poignant with the news of Jobs' death.

Jobs' life really is the stuff of legend: the loss of his company and then the triumphant return. Amazing.

How dumb are Australians?

Hope it isn't true that around half the country don't understand that using a dryer will use electricity.

Over-accessorised Apple

One of the cables above doesn't fit any computer I own.

The most maddening thing about owning an Apple computer is navigating the accessories, particularly the display cables.

They've successfully challenged the concept of built-in obsolescence with an ever-changing port for an external display and then there's a myriad of options for different monitors.

It's a waste and a disgrace and I suspect it goes some way toward paying for their expensive retail stores.

Would you believe these cables won't connect?

Crazy carp

Had a visit out to Fivebough Swamp yesterday. Dunno what the carp were doing but it was fascinating to watch the flurry of their activity.

Nice gift

Experiencing Nirvana

Nevermind was the first CD I owned and was a birthday gift from my girlfriend at the time. I'd seen the film clip for Smells Like Teen Spirit on MTV and asked for the album when it came out that week. Like everyone else I was crazy about it.

I managed the meet Nirvana briefly during their Australian tour, which coincided with Nevermind charging up the charts. They caused a riot at the ANU Bar in Canberra with fans smashing in the windows to see the show. I was watching from outside the stage door and introduced myself to Dave and Kris, who gave me a plectrum. Kurt was in his own world, detached.

The anniversary of the album will see a remastered version of Nevermind released and it's great to see a record given the director's cut-style treatment as I've been hoping for this for a while now.

However, I'm less enthused by these comments from Charles Sturt University academic Catherine Strong.

“Kurt was a contradictory figure, on one hand he had the reputation of being really pure, of being only about the music,” Dr Strong said.

“But he also enabled Nirvana to be marketed to a mass audience, with his choice of producers, record labels and so on.

“Grunge had anti-commercial and anti-capitalist messages, yet those things ended up getting lost along the way.

“Grunge also had a strong message of equality, supporting gay rights and women’s rights, yet this political aspect isn’t discussed much these days.”

It's a mistake to attribute so much to Kurt Cobain IMO and the remastered version of the album is supposed to be closer to his vision for Nevermind than what was released.

And grunge was a very successful label commercially for a bunch of bands from Seattle and some were closer to metal than pop-punk but it made them easier to market if they were lumped in with Nirvana. Everyone was surprised at the success they found, I remember reading a Rolling Stone article on grunge and the Seattle scene that was published about a year ahead of Nevermind and the author predicted Mudhoney as the band most likely to find a 'mainstream' audience.

It's also a mistake to lump a bunch of issues like gay rights with grunge, given the diversity of the genre. I suggest these were part of a much larger dynamic in the early 1990s that included trends like 'lipstick lesbianism'.

Super destroyer AMBUSH!

Last night my son and I agreed to create a comic today, we were inspired by this video we'd watched.

Here's what we created after discussing ideas and sifting through our Lego:


This video will seem incredibly mundane to many but has fascinated me because (a) it's about a block away from where I live, and (b) I'm amazed at the coverage this random event attracted -- just look for the second mobile phone recording video near the end.

It's full of the quaint charm of living in regional Australia. I love the amazement and excitement these blokes display at the sight of a car in a car lot with lights on.

You are what you eat

At uni I made a friend who seemed to spew heaps. Many social events ended with a quiet, or sometimes a not so quiet, vomit.

In the years following our graduation he figured out he was lactose intolerant and found some pills which allowed him to continue to consume cheese.

Last year I had a similar experience when I realised that eating sandwiches for lunch was the reason I found myself falling asleep mid-afternoon. Once I started eating rice for lunch, I was surprised to find the desire for a siesta disappeared.

Tonight I was thinking about this relationship between food and behaviour and realised I'd eaten sandwiches for lunch for more than 30 years before I realised it was taking a toll. All those years of not paying attention in afternoon classes and then the lost productivity in the workplace and the grumpy moments too.

Wish I'd discovered kimchi and rice earlier because it seems you really are what you eat.

Crispy Caesar salad

Here's my lazy Caesar salad made with leaves, vinaigrette and cheese and bacon flavoured snacks. It tasted pretty good but would be much improved with a boiled egg and some parsley.

Art Deco-era RoboCop!

I found this at Dangerous Minds.

Sometimes I think Modernism was the peak of western civilisation. There's a vision of humanity overcoming all obstacles with modern technology that seems to ooze out of all the wonderful Art Deco style. It's such a shock when you compare it to the sense that 'everything has already been done' that permeates postmodernism.

Yet the radio-controlled police robot above doesn't seem that far removed from RoboCop.

Still an amazing speech

Many remember Charlie Chaplin for his silent movies but there's a speech of his that is foremost in my mind. It's from The Great Dictator, the Hitler pistake comedy made around the start of World War II to encourage the US to join the fight against fascism -- muchlike Casablanca did in 1942.

I was thinking about this speech earlier in the year when I was working on the soundtrack mixed for Metropolis. These two films seem like bookends with Nazi Germany in the middle.

Both films say that compassion is needed to stop people becoming like machines. It seems to pre-empt the 'Nuremberg defence' and remains a powerful plea for humanity.

Heaven The Axe debut

Many of the loud noises emanating from my home over the weekend came from this CD, the debut from my friends Phoebe and Steve. These guys have been playing gigs as Heaven The Axe for a little while now and under other names for much longer (like when they kindly supported my Bassling CD launch as Sweethard in 2004).

The album shows their versatility, from the opening flurry of riffs and drums through to the ballad that closes the EP (before the hidden tune that reminded me of Kyuss). I hope the CD will open more doors for the band to perform widely because the combination of metal energy and mellifluous vocals is a ripper.

Hear more Heaven The Axe at their website.

Listen closely

Listen closely and you can hear the eructation which passed from my throat after I consumed the contents of this can.

Nice bokeh

This photo of a corrugated fence shows the shallow depth of focus of a 50mm lens with an aperture open to f1.4.

Bokeh is a Japanese term for this blur effect in photography.

Backyard bubbles

A short video I made while trying out my new Nikon D5100. You can hear a new disco bassling track in it.

Kimchi is best

Kimchi is such cheap and satisfying food.

The pictured dish was rice, kimchi, capsicum and a little sesame oil and it was sensational.

And the icing on the cake was finding wombok on special at the supermarket this week. This kimchi recipe is great.

Crossing tracks

Out riding with my kids and we had to give way for a train.


Here's the OM NOM NOM NOM I put in my presentation for the Local Government Web Network today. Should get a laugh.

Here's my earlier blog post on how your desk may be killing you or you can read the Powerpoint below:

P.S. I see Boycetrus has given me a mention in his overview of the 2011 Local Government Webnetwork Conference.

Magnum Temptation

Magnum ice-creams have been a favourite ice-cream since the 1990s and there have been a number of new flavours and other products but I still like they're almond one best but there was a caramel one recently that was amazing.

The Magnum Temptation Chocolate pictured was a rich experience, from the purchase to the packaging to the flavour and the finish. I was disappointed to find these were smaller than the standard size and the packaging seemed excessive.

The Beligian chocolate was a bit wasted, frozen solid rather than ready to melt in one's mouth. Dunno where the brownies were but the chocolate sauce and ice-cream and shell were all lovely as usual, thanks.

These sorts of product extensions are an interesting development in the supermarket. I reckon Magnum could do a range of those treats you often find at a school fete. I'd like to see chocolate rice crackle, honey joy, coconut ice and toffee interpretated as Magnum ice-creams.