The List

Top 50

Clearly I have too much time on my hands.

At least for another week or so anyway.

What’s also clear is that I must have rocks in my head to even consider undertaking  a whale of a task such as this.

Rocks undeniably, but as I think you’ll agree, once you’ve scrolled the list, by no means have I overlooked the pop, hip-hop, dance, electro, funk and a little bit of country if you please as well.

How to reduce four decades of fervent music listening down to a list of just 50 of my all-time favourite songs?

Wasn’t easy, but here we go –

Start reading

Each entry has a link underneath it if you want to listen. The list can also be found on SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK under the tab ‘Best Of’.

Got a comment?

This is the place.

Don’t be an invisible bundle of your own ideas.

Your thoughts will be welcomed, as always, but most especially on this subject, like bread-crumbs handed to a starving lag.

Any of these tunes appeal?

If not, what’s a song on your desert island playlist?

desert island

 

 

 

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Case of the mystery letter

Sherlock

A letter arrived in my post-box the other day.

A handwritten letter.

Allow me to say from the outset how unusual that is.

The only things I normally get to pull from this brick-encased substitute trash receptacle, besides bills, are fast food discount vouchers I never use, real estate company invitations for free house market evaluations I have no intention of taking up and overly enthusiastic solicitations to have my roof inspected, which, without exception, are always the first to be propelled into the actual trash bin.

On the outside of the envelope was written my street address in small, neat, adult cursive script. A blue pen was used  but there was no name included for who the letter was addressed to. My curiosity began to build like a cat fixated upon its prey. Once inside my house, I placed my bag and belongings on the kitchen bench and launched straight into eagerly tearing open the white envelope.

Within a few lines of reading, I realised that I was not the intended recipient of this letter.

The opening sentence read – “Thank you for visiting this weekend!”Letter 2

After a few more sentences, I began to awake to the fact that what I held in my hands was a letter written by a prisoner to a friend or relative on the ‘outside’. Somehow, this very personal correspondence had, by some means, landed in my letterbox. On closer inspection, I realised the front address label included the correct number of our house but an incorrect street name (but one that began with the same first letter as our street).

I should make known at this point that my family and I live exactly 8.6 km’s (I know ’cause I googled it) from not one, not two, but three prisons – two Government-run and one privately managed; so make that a cluster of prisons… sorry, ‘correctional institutions’. Our adjoining suburb (the one next to ours) called Inala, is also home to the state’s largest ex-prisoner population.

My point in making known this information is to help explain why a mail mistake like this in a locality such as ours probably had a higher likelihood of happening.

The letter included the following paragraph (transcribed as written) –

“I did some checking and the only thing I’m able to receive through the mail are letters and photos (no alcohol, jp’d and signed for minors), and in March and September, underwear to the value of $150 with receipts. Anything we may want (ie. books. movies etc.) has to be purchased through the centre. Movies sent through the post is taken and deposited by the officers. So letters it is!

How precious and prized the written word must  become under such captive circumstances. As good karma would decree, the letter has since been forwarded to the correct address.

Letter

 

The Great Wrinkle Machine

Capture

I just couldn’t help myself.

I’ve been informed numerous times by my wife that one of these days my (on-line) mouth would land me in hot water.

And while the story I’m about to tell hasn’t produced any sparks so far, it so easily could have.

A few days back, I was sitting at home in front of my computer when a peek-a-boo message alert popped up on the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

This was a notification that someone had just posted an item for sale on a closed on-line group I am subscribed to called FOREST LAKE ONLINE GARAGE SALES. I’ve never bought anything from this local 2nd-hand sellers site before nor have I ever offered anything for sale. I don’t even fully recall why or when I signed up to the group but still I allow the alerts to come.

Why? Because as a study of human behaviour and an anonymous look into the goldfish bowl of people’s lives, nothing tops garage sales.  I don’t roam the hedge-trimmer shaped streetmeadows of the Twistiverse that is suburbia with the same abandon I once used to so these days on-line it is. 

Offered for sale on this site are the usual collection of no longer needed prams, treadmills, tents, ornamental vases bearing the internationally identifiable KITSCH label and kids playsets with the missing pieces, but every now and then something more unusual appears that catches the eye.

And so it was when I came upon the following picture –

Wrinkle removal

accompanied by these lines of description –

TOBI Wrinkle Removal Machine.Comes with instruction manual and attachments. Upright and portable.      

I was fairly certain this was a device intended for either clothes or carpets but I couldn’t resist sending the following query to the seller –   

Mine

I expected to receive back as good as I gave in the sarcasm department but instead I snagged this rather to the point, matter-of-fact response –

Narelle

I’m guessing at this point the seller still believed there was some chance of a sale and so thought it best to hold back from any punchy-type replies.

All joking aside, I still say in the right enterprising hands, this TOBI WRINKLE REMOVAL MACHINE could apply its doubtless vast sucking power to a person’s facial features and deliver that artificially pinched look folk pay plastic surgeons huge sums for.

I know. I know. Keep up this type of charmless derision and biting flight-risk banter and someone’s gonna really drop me in it. In the meantime, there’s a lot of fun to be had with on-line garage sale queries. I could claim it’s all in the name of consumer right-to-know advocacy, but who’d believe that?

Old

 

The Great Re-read

capture

Nostalgia can be such a seductive liar.

As the wise amongst us know, revisiting stuff from one’s past, stuff that at one time we may have held dear and close to our hearts, is hit and miss at the best of times. Some things hold up over the passage of time better than others. Sadly, the late 70’s/early eighties hit show DIFF’RENT STROKESwhich I used to hold in the ultimate high regard as a kid, what with its laughter-track assisted antics of Willis, Arnold  and Park Avenue Mr Drummond, no longer hits quite the same high notes of hilarity it once did 40 years ago. Funny that.

I recently revisited a book I first read some twenty-five years ago:

CHOPPER : FROM THE INSIDE

Mark Brandon Read was a Melbourne-based career criminal who at one point in the early 2000’s was listed as Australia’s best-selling author. ‘Chopper’ as he was known to friend and foe alike, ended up writing more than a dozen tell-all type books, all of them documenting with characteristic lashings of dry wit, an undertaker’s sense of black humour and near unparalleled word flair his real life adventures as a Headhunter: a bare-knuckled and weaponized stand-over man who terrorized and extorted money and favours from other criminals for profit and pleasure, back before the term became widely adopted by the Human Resources Recruitment Industry. Preying exclusively on the no-good types of the underworld, a case exists for such a person to be regarded as the criminal version of pest control.

In spite of what your personal view may be regarding criminals profiting  from their crimes via publishing deals, films, paid television interviews etc, the fact is Chopper always stuck to the story that he never bashed, belted, iron-barred, axed, shot, stabbed, knee-capped or set on fire a single law-abiding, tax-paying civilian amongst his sizeable tally of victims. To his mind, at least, these were acts of community service that resulted in society being rid of several dozen killers and violent crims.

I’m a little reluctant to admit now that the twenty-five years younger version of myself became somewhat fascinated  (I’ll stop short of using the word ‘enamoured’ for fear of the wrong impression that word might likely create) by these books back in the early nineties. A quarter of a century later had I matured and outgrown the blood-splattered  vigilante aura of this type of true crime confessional?

Well, it appears, sadly no.

Rereading the first book in the series all these years later ended up only reinforcing my view that this was a person who lived one hell of an extraordinary life on their own terms and survived against all odds and countless attempts on their life (Read died of natural causes in 2013) to eventually earn an honest living as a highly entertaining author and paid public speaker.

By this point there may be people who’ve stopped reading because I’ve declared my liking for written accounts of a person and subject manner they find distasteful. For everyone else here’s a little taste of Chopper’s writing smarts. In this excerpt taken from page 33 of CHOPPER : FROM THE INSIDE he’s talking about his dear old dad Keith –

“Once, when he was young, Dad got the idea that the next-door neighbours were mistreating their family pet. Every time he looked over the fence the animal seemed to be getting thinner and thinner.

He complained to the neighbours and said he hated cruelty to animals. Every time he asked them if they were feeding the dog, they swore they were.

But it seemed skinnier than ever, and one day Dad could take no more. He jumped the fence, threatened the neighbour with a beating, then took the dog and drowned it to put it out of its misery.

It was the first time he had ever seen a greyhound.”

Not everyone’s cup of Earl Grey, but after twenty-five years and withstanding the ultimate test of time, I’m gonna have to finally admit, it is mine.

time

 

 

 

 

One star review for a classic album

Beatles

This time last week, sections of the music media were commemorating the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That made me think of a discussion earlier in the year on English author Bridget Whelan’s blog (5000 + followers) that raised the question – “Is it ever appropriate to give one star reviews on Amazon?”

The companion question to this might read – “Are one star reviews really nothing more than an expression of mean-spiritedness that says more about the writer and their prejudices than it does the work being considered?” Mentioned was an article that appeared some time back in THE NEW YORKER that awarded one star reviews to a number of ‘classic’ creations, including the movie THE GODFATHER (1972) and Mark Twain’s celebrated novel HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1884).

Also mentioned was the WHITE ALBUM (1968) by the Beatles. Boasting some 30 songs (it was a double album), it is seen by many as an iconic cultural artefact of its era and a work of inspired genius. It still regularly makes it into respected music industry critic’s all-time Top Ten albums list and has been referred to many times as one of the greatest albums of all time. The White Album reached # 1 on music charts in England and the U.S.

I bought a CD copy (complete with commemorative booklet) about six years ago. In that time I have played the album a total of four times. That should tell you what I think of the ‘genius’ on display amongst its tracks. Having been told to expect the ocean, what I got instead was agitated water in a saucer. Admittedly there are good tracks, even a couple of classics amongst those good tracks –

Back in the U.S.S.R   –  Dear Prudence   –  While my Guitar Gently Weeps  –  Birthday  Helter Skelter 

but for the most part, those good songs are buried amongst ceiling-high piles of self-indulgent filler material sung in flat, slightly depressing tones with plodding, uninspired musicianship that, had the record execs at Apple (this is 10 years before the birth of the computer technology company) not opted for a double album, would surely, under ordinary circumstances, never have made it off the cutting room floor. Many of the ‘songs’ bear more resemblance to music hall ditties and the private jokes contained in a lot of the lyrics fall completely flat decades on.  Tracks such as –

I’m so TiredMusic

Blackbird

(In a recent issue of MAD Magazine, under an article entitled “Kanye West’s Most Moronic Tweets” was this little gem # Now playing – Blackbird by The Beatles / Greatest song ever! This underwhelming, wafting little tune also features in the equally underwhelming and wafting BOSS BABY movie.)

Piggies

Rocky Raccoon

Don’t Pass Me By

Why Don’t We Do It on the Road

I Will

Julia

Yer Blues

Mother Nature’s Son

Sexy Sadie

Long, Long, Long

Honey Pie

Cry Baby Cry

contribute to the reason why The New York Times considered the album “boring beyond belief” and labelled over half the songs “profound mediocrities”. A number of other critics, writing in more modern times and therefore less inclined to be under the sway of the cultural frenzy that surrounded the Beatles at the time, have called the White Album ‘at times unlistenable’.

Double meh

When I read that most of the songs were written while the Beatles were attending a three-month Transcendental Meditation course in Rishikesh – India, well.. that explained a lot. The variable quality of musicianship and song writing on the album can also be explained by the fact that, even though the band broke up less than 18 months after the release of this album, at the time, the fab four were still at the height of their popularity and, as was popularly observed at the time – ‘could have sung the phonebook and people would still have listened.’

Wrapped forever as it is in mythology – Charles Manson had the album on endless rotation at his hippie commune in 1969, preaching to his followers that The Beatles were instructing them via messages contained within song lyrics to initiate the ultimate race war known as Helter Skelter which would be the precursor to the end of the world – minus the pot smoking that would have been the standard accompaniment to this music back at the time of its release – this album, to my ears, is overrated in the extreme.

Then again, what do I know?

Opinioning back in the day for a University student newspaper, I wrote of GUNS ‘N ROSES debut album Appetite For Destruction – “I’d rather go clubbing with my nan that have to listen to this putrid earwax again. Destined for the $2 bin within the week.”

Yeah, good one Nostradamus.

Cartoon