Thursday, 22 May 2014

Gigs For Dummies

In rock and roll, it’s expected that the musicians behave as offensively as possible, but the same leeway isn’t extended to the punters.  In fact, I reckon we need a special version of the Ten Commandments just for gigs.

Now, before I go on, I should clarify that I’m not a religious person, I like the idea of existence coming with a detailed set of instructions.  If you think about it, the Commandments are like God’s version of “Life for Dummies”.  My only gripe with them is that they’re not detailed enough.  

As life gets increasingly complex, surely it’s time for the Big Fella Upstairs to upsize the list.

Here’s a case in point. Recently I went to a concert and the guy in front of me hoisted his girlfriend onto his shoulders thereby completely obscuring my view of the band I’d shelled out mega bucks to see.  I wished I’d had a Ten Commandments of Appropriate Behavior at Gigs.  If anything, I could have thrown it at inconsiderate idiots to get them out of my way.

But perhaps I’m being a little demanding of God, expecting him to come up with gig commandments. After all, it seems these days, the Big Fella has his hands full helping sportspeople winning football matches or pretend chefs winning Masterchef.

I asked my friends for their views, and here, in the name of making this crazy thing called life just a little simpler, are my Ten Commandments for concerts :-

Commandment One – If you want to have a conversation with someone, do it at the bar, or better still, at home.

Seriously folk, what are these people thinking? “Wow, I really need to spend some quality time with Pete, in deep and meaningful conversation. Better get some tickets to 1Direction.

Commandment Two – If you’re going to the mosh pit, finish your beverage first.  Remember, if you drink and mosh, you are a wet, sticky idiot.

Commandment Three – If you are going to sit on your boyfriend’s shoulders, improving your view of the stage but obscuring it for half the audience, you could take off your top so at least the male part of the crowd has something interesting to look at.

Commandment Four – Apart from the aforementioned shoulders commandment, shirts should remain on at all times.

The obvious exception is if you are the band’s drummer, in which case being topless at all times during the gig is compulsory.

Commandment Five – If you are going to follow the lead singer’s exhortation to ‘put your hands in the air’ and then ‘wave them like you just don’t care’, please make sure you have first applied a liberal amount of deodorant.

Commandment Six – If you must take photos, try to avoid pointing the flash in the band member’s eyes.

Nobody wants to hear “It was an awesome concert last night … I managed to give Justin Beiber a seizure”! OK, OK, maybe a few people would be happy to hear that one.

Commandment Seven – You must be 100% sure of the lyrics before committing to singing along.

The worst example, when I was young, my mum and dad took me to see Billy Thorpe (don’t ask), and I ended up sitting next to a lady who was singing along to ‘Boys On My Bed’ instead of ‘Poison Ivy’.  If you plan to sing along, the rule of volume is simple: you should never sing so loud that the person next to you hears you more than the artist they’ve shelled out a hundred bucks to see. The only exception to this rule is when the lead singer invites you to “All together now” or “Come on, you know the words”!!!

Commandment Eight – When attending a gig, you must not, and I stress, must not, wear a t-shirt featuring the band you are actually seeing. Not cool.

Commandment Nine – If you don’t have fluorescent green hair in your everyday life, don’t dye it fluorescent green for a concert.

Chances are sometime in the middle of a show the dye will start to mix with your perspiration and run down your face. You’ll end up looking like the Hulk’s love child.

And …

Commandment Ten – Earplugs should not be worn at any time.  If it’s too loud, you’re too old – go home.

The only exception is if you find yourself at a Justin Beiber concert, in which case feel free to use earplugs, earmuffs or chop off your ears if need be.  Yes, I have high standards and can’t tolerate listening to or watching anything that is boring, unimaginative or dumb.

Talk about boring, this is what some people have labelled Baz Luhrmann’s film ‘Australia’, (remember it?) but I have to say, I didn’t mind it. (Although I can’t help thinking, if it were truly a movie about Australia, it would have been made by a bloke called Bazza Lurhmann and called ‘Straya’.

I love real ‘trashy’ movies. You know the sort. If I wanted a movie to move me, challenge me or provoke my thoughts, I would go down to the local art house cinema and watch a movie about a Uzbekistani farmer and his existential relationship with a goat.

When I go to the movies, I want some escapism and to eat a bucket of overpriced popcorn, not to have to read subtitles.  I want to watch some stuff blow up and then see the heroes go home and live happily ever after.

I remember watching teen films as a teenager and thinking how amazing it would be if you transform from the ugliest girl in school to the prettiest, simply by shaking out the ponytail and dumping the glasses.  Think of all the body-image issues and eating disorders you could immediately resolve by throwing away the specs and banning the bun.  OK four-eyes, take off the glasses and shake out the scrunchie …. And we’re done!”

Movies, however, can be dangerous and misleading.  When I was a teenager, I certainly wished fights resembled those in the movies. Believe me, so did my brother. In any action film, no matter how many villains attack the hero, they always join the fight one at a time – kind of like they’ve taken a ticket at the deli and are waiting their turn.  In our playground, the other kids obviously hadn’t read their movie fight rules of engagement, because they’d all punch and kick David (brother) at the same time.

And while I’m on the subject of high school, what about the prom? In all the movies about high school I grew up watching, all dilemmas, problems and major plotlines are resolved at the prom.

Watching American teen movies, one could be mistaken for thinking that they held a prom every second week, yet I didn’t experience a single prom in all my six years of high school.  

Sure we had blue-light discos run by the local police, but you can’t really resolve a problem at such occasions.

Movies are misleading on more than just the big issues.  The small stuff seems easier too.  For instance, phone calls seem much simpler.  No time for g’days, hellos or random small chat, it’s always straight to the point and then you just hang-up.  No need for goodbyes or I’ll-text-you-in-the-mornings.

I would have been hopeless in a movie “Well there you are. There’s all the important stuff you need to save the world, so I guess I should go then ………. No, you hang up ……….. No, you hang up ……………. No … you … hang … up.  OK, on the count of three we’ll hang up together.  One, two, three …. you didn’t hang up.

The same applies to catching taxis.  In a movie, the hero can be in the middle of an intense chase scene, jump in a cab, shout “Follow that car” and not only travel the whole journey without once saying “So, have you been busy tonight?”, but at the end always have the exact change for the trip.

If it was me, I’d be chasing the baddie and when the cab pulled up, I’d say “sorry mate, can you change a fifty?”

And in the movies, if you can’t catch a cab, don’t worry. Because any movie hero (or villain for that matter) worth their salt, can hotwire a car and have it started within 3 seconds.  I am constantly amazed by this, because I can’t start my car in less than a minute, and I have the keys.  Add extra time for the time I spend adjusting the seat, mirrors and radio station.

Don’t even get me started on movie musicals.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve started singing and dancing at the local 7- Eleven, and, instead of joining in, everyone has just started staring at me as though I am the crazy one.

Errrrr ,,,, maybe I am. 

Till next time, friends.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Bits and Pieces Number ????

Thanks for reading this friends.  If you enjoy it, it puts a smile on my face. xxx

Sometimes I suspect that when I was a kid, my parents dropped me on my head and something broke inside my brain.

That thought occurred to me while celebrating Easter this year when a ridiculous question formed inside my head: before Jesus rose again, did he push the snooze button and say “Ah screw it. Ten more minutes, who will know?”

You might think this isn’t such a big deal, but this is the crap that preoccupies me.

Over the years, I have lost count of the ridiculous rubbish that runs rampant through my brain – when librarians die, do they get buried according to the Dewey decimal system?  Is there an easier job in the world than a professional wrestling referee? (Step one, learn rules. Step two, ignore rules).

If you had a mental condition that stopped you from using any form of electricity, would you be known as the Amish Army?  If farmer John is outside SOWing his crops and farmer's wife, Muriel is inside SEWing his shirts. what are they both doing. No matter what colour soap you are washing your hands with, why are suds always white?

It takes only the smallest thing to set my brain off on a flight of fancy, and I can lose half the day.

Recently, for example, I was listening to the radio when the announcer commentated that Bruce Springsteen tickets were selling like ‘hot cakes’.
Really? I thought. Like hotcakes?  Is there someone in this country who is selling 100,000 hotcakes in this country for $150 each?  I’m clearly in the wrong game.

And my brain isn’t served very well by the TV.  I just couldn’t watch Ladette to Lady without thinking that it would be much more entertaining the other way around:  if they’d got a bunch of posh, frigid chicks and sluttied them up a bit.

Speaking of reality TV, according to The Biggest Loser, all you have to do is ‘replace two meals a day’. OK that seems fine, but what about the other seven?

Recently I was in a pie shop that claimed it sold ’award winning pies’.  Clearly I should have busied myself sampling these famous pies, but instead I was paralysed, wondering how it can be that every pie shop I go into seems to sell ‘award winning pies’?

You might dismiss all of this as inconsequential.  After all, what’s wrong with looking at the world in a slightly askew manner?  And I agree, to a point.  I quite liked it when I left a small amount of money in the ATM recently. I didn’t get upset at losing the cash, but decided it was my version of the stimulus package and I was helping to end the recession.

I love it when I see the moon out during the day.  My initial thought is that it pulled an all-nighter and decided to go straight through.

I remember, recently, during an election here, wondering why Shane Warne wasn't running, because at least with him, you know at some stage during his term, he's going to try to screw you.

On the other hand, I do sometimes wonder how much I could achieve if my brain worked like a normal person’s and I didn’t waste my time wishing there’d been a Carry On movie called Carry On Baggage!

Imagine the diseases I might have cured if I’d spent my time studying science instead of doing things like emailing the Australian Football League, suggesting that if they truly wanted to honour Anzac Day, they’d get the British to send Collingwood and Essendon to the wrong ground, and then get them to play uphill in the mud.

Who knows? I could have been the next Stephen Hawkins if my brain was as fascinated by physics as it is by who will get eliminated next in “My Kitchen Rules”.  Wouldn’t it be so much better is my waking thoughts were dedicated to unlocking the key to world hunger rather than what specials KFC have this week, and would they swap the potato and gravy for coleslaw.

Sadly, however, I seem stuck with this slightly offbeat view of the world, and no matter how hard I try, the nonsense continues to spill out.  Just this morning, I walked past a couple of dog owners who were trying to pull their pets apart. A tiny Shiatsu had tried to attack a golden retriever. The owners looked at me in despair, their eyes pleading for help, but all I could think to mutter was “Typical tall puppy syndrome”.

I rest my case.

So I have nothing but admiration for those people who have disciplined minds and engage in meaningful and worthwhile endeavours.

Clearly my brain and mouth – which used to work reasonably well together – have had irreconcilable differences and decided to part company.

The final straw came during a recent blackout when I popped next door to find out if my neighbours’ gas was working.  Well, that was my intention.  But when they opened the door, the first words I said were “Hey, do you have gas?”

I’m not just getting more stupid, I’m getting more emotional too.  After a recent tough patch, I found myself crying at least once a day for almost 2 months.  Put it this way, you know something’s gone a bit pear-shaped when even the dog starts staring at you like ‘Crap, we’re going to have to start building an ark!!  It got to the point where every time a pizza delivery boy arrived at the house I had to pretend I’d just been peeling onions or watching the end of The English Patient.

I couldn’t sleep last night because I was worrying about how much money it’s appropriate to contribute towards a gift for someone you don’t know.  You see, at my work someone is leaving and a card and collection are doing the rounds.  Now I’m all for chipping in, but I don’t know this person.  Plus he’s leaving so I never will get to know him.  More importantly, he’ll never get to know me and contribute to a pressie when I get the arse!  

But the thing that made me feel really old – aside from having to finally admit to myself that I’ll never win Australia’s Next Top Model – was when some of my well-meaning (read ‘idiot’) friends decided to take me night-clubbing.

Now the first thing I need to point out is I’ve never really enjoyed going to nightclubs, even when I was younger.  I’m more of a pub person.
The second thing to note is that these days, going clubbing is not as simple as rocking up to a bar for a couple of drinks. Oh nooooooo – it’s more like an off-your-face amazing race where, by the end of the night, I had so many nightclub stamps down my arm, it looked like I had been sharing a cell with the late Chopper Read.

Although, on the upside, it is really handy the next day when you have a hangover  and a trying to piece together just exactly what you did the night before (and trust me, you will have a hangover. These days kids don’t just sip drinks, they scull them as if alcohol is being banned at midnight.)

And there’s nothing more guaranteed to make you feel old than someone trying to pretend they’re up-to-date with music when they’re clearly not. I remember someone asking me if this was “strong steel” music. Heavy metal dear, heavy metal!!!

But forget the smoke, lights and music, the thing that made me feel like I should be at home waiting for my telegram from the Queen, were the other punters.  Put it this way, you know you don’t quite belong when everyone in the club is staring at you because they think you’re either an undercover cop or have just popped in to pick up your kids.

All the girls seem to be forgetful, too. First they had forgotten that they were not yet eighteen, but had gone out to a nightclub anyway. Then most of them had forgotten to wear pants or a skirt. I honestly felt like telling them to put something on or they’ll catch a cold.

And let’s not forget the boys, who are skilfully able to dance and drink at the same time while keeping the waist of their jeans at the perfect point – halfway between their waist and their knees.

When I looked at these kids, I realized that no matter how hard I pretend, we came from different worlds.  When I was their age, Michael Jackson was black, George Michael was straight and Dannii was the most famous of the Minogues.
In my time, Australians were actually proud to say that Mel Gibson was our countryman.  (Although, let’s face it, he’s drunk and racist: what could be more Australian than that?) I came from a time when the only ice available at a nightclub was sitting at the bottom of a glass of Pimms and lemonade, and an age when the only Hilton a teenage boy dreamed about spending a night in was a hotel.

Ohhhh ... what am I talking about??