Category Archives: Useless Stuff

Endings

I think maybe I am getting a bit too old for blogging now. I’ve been doing this since probably 2000-2001 on various blogging services and am really starting to think that I do waste some time sitting in front of my computer and putting my thoughts out here on the interweb.

So maybe I will take myself up on the thought of shutting this blog down (as I considered earlier this year). It’s not as if anyone actually reads the near-worthless posts I put up. Besides, I need to get back into the habit of journalling again. With the fountain pens that have been a bit neglected over the last few months. Writing on paper, a tactile experience, is something that I’ve nearly forgotten how to do.

2041hrs

Electoral apathy – Indecision 2010 (Australian Edition)

Disclaimer: This is my own personal opinion as a private citizen and is not binding in any way, shape or form on my employer, a Federal Government agency.

So this is the third Federal Government election that I am eligible to vote in. And here in Australia, voting in Federal and State elections is compulsory (though as Mark Latham did so helpfully point out to the nation last Sunday night on 60 Minutes, a donkey vote, technically called an “informal vote”, can be done *facepalm about said former Federal Labor leader*). Though I am very happy that this year, I did discover the joys of “pre-poll voting” (i.e. early voting).

And for the first time since I have been eligible to vote, I am utterly and completely apathetic. To borrow a phrase, if I can, from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, it’s INDECISION 2010 – Australian edition.

Continue reading Electoral apathy – Indecision 2010 (Australian Edition)

So I walk into a Christian bookstore…

So I’ve walked into a Christian bookstore lately. One of the two big chains in Australia, Koorong. Which is far superior than Word Bookstore, IMHO.

A long time ago, I would have been attracted straight to the tables which contain piles of the latest book by some-megachurch-pastor-i’ve-never-heard-of-but-i’m-sure-it’s-gonna-be-good-because-look-at-the-promotions-and-that-snazzy-front-cover. Not any more.

Now I head straight to the markdowns section. Apart from being a cheap-ass Asian (we damn near always look for bargains), these days I find the best value and quality books there at maybe 30-40% of the regular retail price. Because everyone else is buying the books by said megachurch pastor or some televangelist that happens to be on at 4-something am on commercial television here in Australia. But the good stuff, by say N.T. Wright, or even John Piper (even though I don’t necessarily agree with his views all the time) is there in the markdown/remainders bin/table from A$26 to A$7. What others don’t buy works out well for me.

And at the time of said trip to Christian bookstore, I was there because my mom and I had to pick up a gift for a housewarming party. A plaque of some kind that is inscribed with some Bible verse or a cheesy like heck slogan on a piece of wood about 25cm x 10cm in size. For forty-something bucks. And I couldn’t help but notice how cheesy and ridiculously overpriced the gifts were. I didn’t bat an eyelid at the rest of the trinkets on sale there (including those famous “Testa-Mints” which will make your breath minty-fresh the Christian way instead of the way those heathen Eclipse mints will).

Jeff Dunn’s beaten me to the punch in terms of recent posts on the amount of “Christian crap” there is in Christian stores now.

His essay “Selling Jesus By The Pound” on Internet Monk is compelling reading for anyone who has entered into a Christian store and thought to themselves “If I buy one of these plaques for a housewarming, it will be much better than spending less money on a similar plaque, without the Christian sentiment, that looks better and is designed better at the department store.”

Or who has lamented at seeing yet another book by Joel Osteen on sale on how I can have my better life now. Or something like that. *stifles the urge to puke*

Or who has seriously thought that listening to a Christian band or watching a Christian movie is much better than listening to or watching a “secular one”.

He is doing a series that continues on from this first piece and the next article up is “Surprise! God Does Art”.

I’m looking forward to more of Jeff’s analysis.

+ 0018hrs

HMV Queen St Mall

Trinity 3/Pentecost 4/Ordinary Time 12 – Wednesday

Oh how, I will miss you HMV Queen St Mall. In the basement like nether regions of the Mathers Centre. One by one, my lunchtime or post-work haunts are dying off one by one. First Dance Arena and Central Station Records died ages ago, leaving essentially Butter Beats and Rockinghorse Records as the only two places in the CBD to pick up house/techno/”insert name of dance music genre here” on vinyl (oh yes, I still listen to vinyl records even though I am a relatively young whippersnapper).

Then The Music Shop had to move to the Valley leaving me with no place to walk to at lunch or after work to discuss the relative merits of certain recordings of jazz and classical works and artists with Marcus and the other staff there.

And now you HMV. Thou art leaving for good. =(

And we have thy corporate owners, Brazin, to thank for this. Probably so they no longer have to pay licensing fees to use the HMV name here in Australia anymore and also because it was planned under the HMV Australia Pty Ltd and Brazin Ltd merger that the ACCC didn’t oppose in 2005 that this would happen by 2010. And also because they have opened up a Sanity (“BOO!!! *HISS* BOO!!! *HISS*) store at Queens Plaza. While your “Specialties” section (for Blues, Jazz, Classical, Opera, Country, Roots and World Music) has in recent times, not been as extensive compared with the first time I walked in there sometime in 2001, you were still far better than other places which sold these genres. I could always count on you to get my special orders in as scheduled. But not any more.

Now in the CBD, there are really only three JB Hi-Fi stores, a Borders, Rockinghorse Records and well… Big W and Target to visit for music. Along with the pathetic selection of music at David Jones Queens Plaza and the “Virgin Music” concession in the CBD Myer.

And I will have one less place to find quality classical music that does not come from the Naxos or Eloquence budget series (not that there is anything wrong with those budget labels, but they don’t have newer stuff available that is just released). Now Borders on Elizabeth Street is going to be about the only place which will have a relatively extensive classical and jazz selection available for purchase. I may get lucky every now and again at JB Hi-Fi Macarthur Central and the original JB Hi-Fi Adelaide St store. But HMV Queen St Mall, you will always have a place in my heart.

When your shutters go down for good on Friday night, a part of Brisbane music retailing history will go and a little part of me will die. And I will loathe thee Brazin, for your Sanity chain (every Sanity store that I have been to and looked inside within Australia) offers the worst selection of jazz and classical music titles ever. You have taken away one of my music mistresses to be executed and I, as a music consumer and more importantly, a music lover, will probably never forgive you. Or it will be very difficult to.

Oh, I weep at the thought of you shutting down. 😥

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OK, maybe the above was a little bit too much hyperbole. But I will miss another place in the CBD which does sell music that may be considered too “hoity-toity” and “cultured” by the music listening masses. I was going to write “music listening Neanderthals” but heck, I love my rock, pop, dance, etc as well. So I am just as much of a “music listening Neanderthal” as the average music listener is.

If only a specialist music retailer for classical, opera, blues/roots and jazz were to open up in Brisbane CBD, it would make life a bit better. But the chances are slim, so I’ll take what I can get. I guess that’s just how life goes. C’est la vie and all that.

2222hrs

Meh

Trinity 3/Pentecost 4/Ordinary Time 12 – Monday

My mask is growing heavy, but I’ve forgotten who’s beneath…

Playing tonight?

  • Faithless – “God Is A DJ”
  • Faithless – “Insomnia”
  • Faithless – “Salva Mea”
  • HaDag Nahash – “Lo Mevater”
  • Olivier Messiaen – Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (played by Steven Osborne, piano)
  • The sound of my sneezing and blowing out of mucus from nasal cavities
  • Arvo Pärt – Summa (for strings; Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Neeme Järvi)
  • Arvo Pärt – Fratres (for string orchestra & percussion; Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Neeme Järvi)
  • Richard Wagner – Highlights from The Nibelung’s Ring (Der Ring des Nibelungen) (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Herbert von Karajan)

It’s only a Monday night but by gosh I wish it was Friday evening again. Dear God, I wish it’s Friday evening…

+ 2149hrs