Monday, June 26, 2006

1am, Saturday Morning

Sponky: What's that?
Husband-person: It's probably just one of the computers, go back to sleep
1 minute later: 'BEEP'.
Sponky: Are you sure?
Husband-person: Go back to sleep
1 minute later: 'BEEP'
Sponky and Husband-Person in concert : The fire alarm is out of battery!

And, as Murphy always seems to have it, the one battery we need is the one battery we don't have. Husband-person bravely volunteers to go to the 24x7 petrol station to acquire the necessary battery.

Battery is replaced.
Husband-person: WTF?

The manual is dragged out (yes, the fire alarm has a manual), we follow ALL the instructions to quiet a beeping alarm (clean the unit, turn off at mains, new battery, turn on mains, test unit). Testing the unit proves to be the most fun part, with Husband-person up on the stool with a pillow over the alarm in an attempt not to wake the entire neighbourhood. And yet, the beeping continues. It's now 1:45.

Husband-person: Right, this thing is not keeping me awake

At this point, fuse is turned off, fire alarm is pulled out the ceiling and Husband-person disconnects it from the mains. Battery is also removed, so technically the unit should HAVE NO POWER, yet the beeping continues. However, the unit is now detached and we can put it somewhere to shut it up. In a cupboard, covered with phone books, with the door shut - and the 'BEEP' is just as loud as if it was out in the open!

Sponky: Right, I am putting it in the fridge!

We have a beer-brewing fridge for summer brewing in the garage which is currently OFF and clean, so I climb around the Disco, over the lawn mower and put the cursed device in there and close the door. We stand there is silence, and we here another 'BEEP'.... coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE! It's like those horror movies...

At this point, we return to the house and inspect the OTHER thing on the ceiling, which we had believed to be a motion detector for the alarm system. It's not. In fact, it is ALSO a fire alarm and it's actually THIS UNIT that is out of battery and has been beeping for the last hour.

Yes, that's right folks, we spent an hour in the middle of the night changing the WRONG FREAKING BATTERY.

We finally retired at 2:15, Husband-person being incredibly unimpressed, and me laughing hysterically. That second smoke detector will NOT be getting new batteries...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Prairie Home Companion

As Husband-person will attest, I will try most things once if you can convince me it's worth while (except theme parks, you will never convince me of the value of these. Also Steve Irwin.) but am a woman of reasonably specific passions: food, massages, swimming and snorkeling, music, things I can make with my sewing machine, the internet, Joss Whedon productions, all my muji friends and family...

I have to recognize that I have added a new enthusiasm of late - listening to the back catalog of A Prairie Home Companion while pottering around in my sewing room. For the uninitiated, this is a weekly variety radio program presented by Garrison Keilor, a notable American author/humorist (This is not the greatest description but finding it hard to describe him in a more accurate way). Thanks to the internet and my wireless card in my laptop, I can plug in my speakers and stream old episodes to entertain me while I sew, quilt, unpick... My mother actually got me onto this - she has been providing me the 'Lake Wobegon' monologues for years now (my parents used to listen to the original show when we lived in the US), and recently gave me a couple of full episodes... and I have been addicted ever since. Thanks, Big J!

They are about 2 hours long and feature amusing radio plays, fake ads (for catchsup, powdermilk biscuits, rhubarb pie), lots of folk, bluegrass, old-time, gospel and (occasionally) country music, interesting local guests, and of course, the weekly update from Lake Wobegon. It's generally enough variety to interest me and not so much country music that it will completely ruin my street cred (although singing the Powdermilk biscuit theme song in the shower has got me some funny looks from Husband-person). I have to admit, though, I probably am enjoying all that banjo work on the bluegrass tracks a bit much.

They have been excellent for my textile-y output, as they give my brain something to do while I am working, and I am enjoying them enough they motivate me to get off the internet and actually start doing something (which is usually my sticking point with crafty stuff).

So, if you need about 2 hours of entertainment and people aren't going to talk over the top of it so you don't miss the funny bits, I would thoroughly recommend trying an episode or two. The back catalog goes back to 1996, plus some shows from 1985, so there is plenty to choose from. I only have to listen to 1996 to March this year and then I will be up to date!

How to review music without really trying

While chatting to DJ Bebe last week, I was distracting myself from my otherwise non-exciting work life by providing extremely short music reviews of new albums I have gotten recently. e.g.

Sponky - new gomez album is good
DJ Bebe - goodo
Sponky -
new snow patrol is patchy
DJ Bebe - you are my personal music reviewer

So I thought, hey I can write some music reviews and force people to read them (if I can make you read about my dreams, music reviews won't be hard to force upon you), but honestly, I haven't got the stamina to write long winded analyses of albums with artistic influences clearly delineated and lists of what strange instruments were used. So, I give you the intuitive’s music review:

  • Placebo: Meds - good music to kill vampires to
  • Augie March: Moo, you bloody choir: Excellent lush music to put on when you don't really need to listen too hard to it. Actually a little annoying (too repetitive) if you are listening to it on purpose.
  • Clare Bowditch and the Feeding set: What Was left – somewhat patchy, but when she gets it right, she really gets it right - see 'I thought you were God' and 'The Thing about Grief'. Still also love 'Divorcee at 23' despite the multitude of times it has been played on JJJ.
  • The Mountain Goats: Bablyon Springs EP & Palmcoder Yajna EP - Slow tracks are quite depressing (as usual with the Mountain Goats) but the perky tracks are defiant, aggressive and happy. Some of my favourite lyrics:"we were Norwegians, come down from the north, attacking the walls of the fortress, i was permanently at the point of exhaustion, you were gorgeous" (butter teeth) and "carpenter ants in the dresser, flies in the screen, it will be too late by the time we learn what these cryptic symbols mean" (Palmcorder Yajna)
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Show your bones - music to strut to
  • Gomez: How we operate - Definitely the best Gomez album in a while. Title track is excellent, I expect to see it leveraged as a movie montage sometime soon. "Cry on demand" is memorable for the lines "now I realise, I realise they were wrong, because what happens in Vegas, don't take very long, to travel cross continents and onwards overseas onto our little island, our city, our home..."
  • Snow Patrol: Eyes Open - Pretty sure the guy playing guitar in this band can only do one thing. If you like an album that sounds the same for the entire album and is all about love - lost love, pining for love, i love you more than anything else, won't you please love me - this is for you. Don't listen too hard, it's not that meaningful.
  • The Dresden Dolls: Yes, Virgina - very good at what they do but definitely not for everyone. I have heard it described as a new form of jazz or punk cabaret and I can't come up with a better description, so for those that don't know about them, this band sings in the very discordant, angry piano kinda vein, with a strong line in weird song topics (e.g. Coin operated Boy, Sex Change). Don't listen to this if you are feeling fractured already - I got through 2 tracks on Thursday night after a hard day at work and decided to stop as it was making me even more angry than I already was (which I didn’t even think this was possible).