Monday, June 14, 2010

6th Thingie - Favourite Song

My God!  I had enough trouble coming up with a single artist who I rated above all others.  It's not like Enya really is my absolute favourite artist, it's that that I was forced to pick one  from them all.  Now I have to choose one song from thousands?  Can I say every song is my favourite?
I'll just give you the one I listen to the most at the moment.  It's a sad little number which makes me cry.

Like Me - Chely Wright

Without your glasses, you just plain can't see,
your favourite colour - for the most part-  is green,
you're close to your Gandma on your mother's side,
you can count up on one hand the times you have lied.

You won't eat a tomato on a double-dog dare,
you don't think you're a beauty, but you do like your hair,
you're complex and tricky, yet some ways you're not,
you're up some, you're down some, you're cold and your hot.

Who's gonna end up / holding your hand? /
A beautiful woman / or a tall handsome man
and there's no doubt / they'll love you /
but it's yet to be seen...
will any / one ever / know you like me?

Will anyone ever know you like me?

You like planting flowers, that's heaven to you,
crack open a beer when your planting is through,
you'll paint all your toenails if you had the time
while listen to Willie, Dylan and Pride.

Who's gonna end up holding your hand?
A beautiful woman or a tall handsome man?
and there's no doubt they'll love you
but it's yet to be seen...
Will anyone ever know you like me?

Will anyone ever know you like me? 

You'd rather make out than make love all night,
you like if your bath is too hot,
your closet is cluttered with dress-pants and levis
that you wish you'd never bought.

Who's gonna end up holding your hand?
A beautiful woman or a tall handsome man?
and there's no doubt they will love you
but it's yet to be seen...
Will anyone ever know you like me?
Will anyone ever know you like me?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Number 5 - Favourite Food

Chicken, Italian, pasta, mushrooms, cheese.
Mum's roast mutton, Mum's roast chops, Mum's Yorkshire pudding, Mum's chicken casserole.


Homemade chocolate sauce.  Real vanilla ice cream.  Hokey-pokey ice cream. Cookie dough ice cream.

Cups of tea.  Brie. Tim-tams. Girlguide biscuits (with cheese).


All of these are my favourite when I'm eating them.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

4th Thingie - Favourite Book

It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a big Fantasy geek. You know the kind - swords and dragons and the like. On occasion I will try out a sci-fi, and in those I mostly enjoy the Young Adult works of New Zealand author Ken Catran.

There are two main Fantasy authors who I admire and whose books I simply love to read.  The first I found was Mercedes Lackey who sometimes co-writes with her husband Larry Dixon.  She has two main 'worlds' in which she writes - the 'Valdamar' books and the 'Bard' books.  I prefer the first.  Her books are an easy read without being too light and have enough of both depth and length to keep me satisfied.  She tends to write in trilogies which nicely splits up what would otherwise be an epic for each character's story.  Her sets of trilogies require a timeline in the beginning of her books in order for the reader to appreciate the book's place in the time line, but each set can pretty much be read on its own.  Lackey apparently pumps out about four or five books a year so it's pretty surprising that she achieves a decent read.  She's well written and I enjoy her tales.  I am trying to collect the entire Valdemar chronicles.

The other fantasy author I'm enraptured with is Robin Hobb.  My flatmate first lent me the Liveship Traders trilogy and I am so very glad he did.  For years I have seen her books in the Sci-fi & Fantasy sections of the bookshops and have never been interested in giving her a go.  Talk about judging a book by its cover!  Hobb's tales are masterful tales which use the plot not so much as a driving force as a backdrop to intricate and competently written character development.  People I started of hating - wanting to shake them, slap them, smack them - turned out to be some of my favourites; and people whose side I took themselves take steps which were logical and believable according to their characters, but which I did not see coming.  Hobb is also a talented writer, and I have to admit that in many areas she outshines Lackey with little to no competition.  I began to read to my sister from the middle of the third book in the Farseer Trilogy and I actually had to hide the book from her so that she would not read the end before she had read the beginning.  That's how good Robin Hobb is.

In the area of non-fiction, well... I don't really read non-fiction.  But I do enjoy reading the travel novels by Bill Bryson and love my copy of A Short History of Nearly Everything.  I also love my Reverse Dictionary, does that count?

I also read a lot of rubbish.  I read trashy novellas and stories on the internet.  I pick up $2 fantasy novels from the second hand book store and put up with poor language skills and un-artistic writing for the sake of the gripping plot.  I think my writing is similar to this b-grade stuff but I'll keep working on it.  The more I read the more I should be able to see what won't work.

I like Mills & Boon (etc).  Forgive me if you feel you have to but they are also an easy read and I like the tension, the expulsion of the tension, the character interplay and, yes, the sex scenes.  (Why deny it?)  But I wouldn't say that anything from Mills & Boon is worth reading twice.  And that's what it comes back to isn't it?  Is that the real definition of 'favourite' ?  Something which is enjoyed over and over again without tiring of it?  I suppose it is... I just never thought about it.  I do really enjoy Ken Catran's novels, but I can't say I really read them more than twice at the maximum.  Some of Mercedes Lackey's works are worth reading many times - but not all of them.  To be fair though that's probably true of most authors.  Hobb I will definitely read again but since I am still going through her work for the first time I cannot yet include her in the running.  As an author she will definitely be included in my list of favourites.  Non-fiction... sorry, it just doesn't cut it for me at the moment.  Maybe one day when I'm older.

I included the Mills & Boon 'romantic fiction' up there because it follows the same basic framework of what is my favourite book.  This book (which hopefully both my Loyal Followers will have guessed at already) is a very typical story which follows the standard romantic fiction structure.  There is a girl and a boy.  The girl hates the boy with a passion and the boy is slowly but surely falling in love with the girl.  The boy expresses his love but she rejects him cruelly, (and the reader would be forgiven for thinking that she has really burned her bridges there).  But they are thrown together again by fate and circumstance (mostly circumstance), and the girl begins to realise the boy is really quite dashing and wonderful and perhaps she could like him.. just a little bit.
Then fate sideswipes them this time and something prevents them from ever being together.  This is the point at which the girl realises the boy is really the only one she could ever love.
Fate is left out of it at this point, although the girl doesn't know it at this stage.  The boy does everything in his considerable power to overcome the obstacle between them - not knowing for sure if it will even bring them together.  When she discovers what he has done she starts the conversation which brings them together forever.  Hurrah!
Have you guessed it yet?
What sets this romantic novel aside from trashy fiction is not just the depth and character development of both the main characters, but the side plots and stories, the rest of their families and acquaintances, the interaction between main and supporting cast I mean characters and the free-flowing and natural seeming dialogue of an intelligent and witty young woman and a man who won't be goaded.  I read it again and again.  Every time I am gripped by the tension.. each time I pretend I am she.  I pretend other characters are able to listen into conversations and wonder what their reactions would be if they had.  I wonder who I would be and how I would know them if I were in the book too.  And my heart never fails to ache and break when that ultimate moment comes.

This book is possibly only surpassed by this one:

(which has all of that and zombies)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

3 - Favourite Musician ... Part Two

I dropped in to Marbecks today with the intention of buying some Chely Wright.  The country music section is small and mostly filled with the Big Names, and none of her albums were there.  As I was browsing I recognised the voice in the song being played by the store.  Holy Shit, I thought, that's The National!

The National are a band I would never have heard of had I not embarked on The Chuck Bartowski Project in which I attempted to collect every song from every episode of every series.  It was a fun project, and The National was the best thing to come out of it.  Two of their songs have featured on Chuck, Fake Empire and Slow Show, both from the album Boxer.  I acquired Boxer soon after and it has been an album I cannot get enough of.  Their songs are sad and draw me in to them.  When listening to The National I hear nothing else.  Bryan Devendorf's drumming is magnificent, he sets a primal beat to which the rest of the music is tied but not enslaved.  Matt Berninger's lyrics and husky baritone bring the melancholy depth and soul-rending heartache to the music, but the drums are the heartbeat and create a power to the music which is undeniable and is gracefully supported by the rest of the music.

When I went up to the counter and asked the girl (already knowing the answer) "Is this The National?" I was rewarded with a pleased and impressed smile from her as she discovered there was another who knew good music (har har har).  She explained that she was playing their new album, and that she's already listened to it twice today.  Also, she felt it was a little more upbeat than their previous albums.  I exclaimed and made sure not to let on that I'd only been exposed to one of their albums.  As she handed over the cellophane wrapped cardboard CD case of High Violet she asked what I thought of The Editors.  I hadn't heard of The Editors and told her so.  She offered to put them on the listening station for me.  As much as I wanted to hear them I turned her down - I had to get to Newmarket.  But she put their name on a recommendation card for me and I left the store with High Violet and Norah Jones' The Fall.  Still no Chely Wright.

Anyway, I'm listening to The National's new album High Violet as I right this post about who I will finally label as My Favourite Musician.

I've noticed that the kind of music we love is heavily influenced by the kind of music we grow up with.  That's not an exclusive list by the way - we all branch out.  But I grew up with Suzanne Prentice, Patsy Riggor, Dean Martin, Cliff Richard & The Shadows, The Seekers, Foster and Allen, Simon & Garfunkel, Elaine Paige, Burl Ives, Jim Reeves, Credence Clearwater Revival, Roger Miller, Buddy Holly, The Beatles et al.  I still enjoy a great deal of their music and the genres they emerged from.  I prefer Radio Hauraki to The Rock because the rock music they play tends towards those older styles.  Over both those stations I prefer Coast 105.4 because I like their music better still.  (and the DJ doesn't love himself)
During recruit course and primary trade training, my best friend was one Emma Boughtwood.  Emma was also a big music fan, and there was a lot of music we both loved to listen to.  But there was no denying her mother's love of rock and metal was what steered her towards the same.

During my life, my love affair with the above names and the musicians I have come across since has waxed and waned. For example I've rediscovered Roger Miller very recently as I sang and played a great deal of his songs for my new niece.  But throughout my life as other genres and other musicians have come and gone from the prominent place in my soul, there is one 'musician' who has remained in place.  Unlike movies, music is easy to listen to over and over again.  Sometimes we suffer overkill, and sometimes we just grow bored or grow away from artists as we mature and become more complex creatures ourselves.  Sometimes phases in our lives fade away and the music with them.  There is one who has remained a steady influence in my life - inspiring day dreams and stories, making me want to dance, want to cry, want to be lonely, want to be a heroine, want to embrace the strength and bravery and loyalty which is being presented.  Each album is unique and brings with it an individual atmosphere and yet each album is undeniably by the same genius.  Some pieces I like more than others, but the only song of Enya's I've heard which has not moved me is May It Be.  Of all her albums, I believe the only ones I do not own are A Box of Dreams and her latest The Very Best Of Enya.

Did you know Enya is actually made up of three people?  Nicky Ryan, Roma Ryan and Eithne Ní Bhraonáin (sometimes Anglicised to Enya Brennen).  Eithne composes the music, and plays all the instruments herself.  She and Nicky arrange the songs and then they are passed to Roma.  Roma Ryan writes the lyrics, and she was so inspired by JRR Tolkien's invention of a language she created Loxian for the lyrics in Amarantine.

When Roma is done writing lyrics (and the names of the instrumentals are often taken from failed lyrics for those pieces) Eithne returns to the studio and sings them.

I can't really describe the way I feel about the music of Enya.  Only that she is always there when I need her, and I always need her to some degree.

Friday, June 4, 2010

3 - Favourite Musician ... Part One

I have something of a reputation amongst the leadership at work for being a girl who will step up to a challenge and out-perform my own expectations.  To be fair, it's not difficult to exceed my expectations of myself, because they're never very high in the first place.  I constantly feel as though one day someone will realise I'm bluffing and my work-world will come tumbling down around me.  On the other hand, there's a level of conceit in that isn't there?  To think that someone would pay that much attention to the inner causes behind my success and that the ruination of that success would domino into the work-lives of the people around me.
Anyway, I'm rambling.  My point was going to be that I have this reputation for accepting challenges yet for all that I despise challenges.  I somehow manage to revel in the brain gym they provide while shying from the responsibility and requirement to perform.  Without extrinsic motivation I not only shy away from challenges, I show an indolent indifference to fulfilling them.  So... what started out as a 30-day challenge taken from Calvin's Cave of Canadian Coolness, turned very quickly into an I-can't-be-bothered-putting-in-all-that-work.  I didn't even think anyone was reading it - that it was just me being a bit narcissistic (well I have to do it somewhere now that I've left Facebook) and ranting on to the metaphorical sound of my own voice.
So I'm sorry Nick and Rachie - my two loyal followers - for not giving daily answers to the 30-day challenge.  I shall instead do the 30-thingies challenge which affords me a lot more time to accomplish the same task.  Laziness be mine.

I therefore present thingie number 3, my favourite musician.


I currently legally own approximately 150 or so albums on CD, forty four second hand albums on LP (plus one brand new) and thousands of songs which I have obtained by other means.  I don't listen to them all, but I have listened almost all of them.  Except some of the music in the folder named From Jonesy. And some stuff Casey put on my computer.
What kind of music do I like?  Better to ask what music I don't like.  I don't like much in the way of metal (heavy or not) although some mainstream Metallica is okay.  I used to announce I don't like hip hop, but as the lines of D&B, R&B, hip hop, rap and other genres merge, intertwine and compete with each other, I find myself admitting that I like a fair amount of individual songs from those areas too.  I'm deeply affected by music.  I can - and do - use it to deliberately alter my mood, and I am most profoundly affected by melancholy songs, and songs in the minor key.  Music with a strong and lively beat makes me want to dance - I have trouble listening to it if I cannot dance.  Sunday Hangover Music (you know the stuff I mean) helps me to relax.  When I am angry I listen to The Cranberries' Zombie then immediately follow it with No need to argue.

New albums I listen to over and over until I know all the words, then I discard them for (up to) years, and listen to them again with fresh ears.  Now knowing the words I can focus on the instruments, and my ears listen to different parts not only each time, but throughout each listening.  Sometimes the beat, sometimes the strings, the brass, the chorus and back-up singers... It's not really possible to listen to the whole of the song at once, but I strive to have heard every contribution at some point in the music.  And for the whole of the music.
I hate the radio.  They ruin music with advertisements and talking.  Radio DJs should be banned.

How can I nominate one musician from so many and say This One.  This Musician is better than all others.  Nick made me listen to what Lily Allen was singing, and I have discovered a great respect and, yes, love for her lyrics.  Lady Gaga is growing on me, but mostly because she makes me want to dance.  My sister gave me an album by Paolo Nutini (makes me think of a jawa) which I love because he is so varied; fast, slow, happy, melancholy... I am listening to him a lot.

Fleetwood Mac are also infinitely varied and wonderfully complex.  There is a depth and vivacity to their music which constantly challenges me as a listener and provides healing to the soul.  There is another, one who isn't classed as a musician but deserves an honourable mention - Mantovani.
A. P. Mantovani is more of an arranger... he would take popular music of his time and arrange it to be played by an orchestra.  Some of his works include: Speak softly, love; The Candy Man; Cabaret, Love Theme; Upstairs, Downstairs; Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps; and Catari, catari.  He has made wonderful adaptations of music I might well have never listened to otherwise.

I'm not going to continue rattling off names of musicians I love.. I am going to nominate a favourite, but you'll have to wait for part two because I have to get to work.

PS, please do comment.  Indulge my ego...