Still a slave to computers

Baby HP is still being demanding. It runs Windows XP you know. Seems a long time since I last used that. Baby HP’s way of installing updates is very secretive compared with my eMachine on Windows 7. Yesterday Baby installed 60 updates from Microsoft, not to mention all the changes and updates I have been doing.

It came with an unexpected bonus. Baby HP was M’s until Christmas, but before that was G’s. There were around 35 gigabytes of music files on it, among other things. G’s library – and he is a man who knows his music having been in the radio industry at one time. Bonus!  But I had to offload them to a portable hard disk, but also loaded them on to here as well. And I have had a great time listening via XBMC (Frodo version).

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eMachine playing Frodo

Or Jaangle in shuffle mode.

Jaangle (formerly Teen Spirit) is an open source, free, music player and organizer software. It categorizes your mp3, ogg, wma, avi etc collection and displays it in easy to browse, user interface. It has a quality audio – video player and also an integrated tag editor.

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Re Yours and Owls

This venue is one of The Gong’s real highlights. Lovely afternoon in The Gong tells of my first visit there. And subsequently.  I haven’t been there so much in the past ten months as the opening hours tend not to coincide with my being in the vicinity.

The reason I mention all this is Angela Thomson’s story Bands rally round paralysed music promoter in The Illawarra Mercury.

With Christmas nearing, Ben Tillman found himself confined to the spinal injuries unit of Prince of Wales Hospital – only 70 kilometres from his Thirroul home but worlds away from his old life of music, friends and freedom.

Unable to move his legs, weak and easily exhausted, he and his two business partners agreed they couldn’t continue to operate Yours and Owls, the live music venue they started together in Wollongong 2½ years ago.

The venue was a labour of love, but the work could be all-consuming and difficult to spin into a profit.

Now Ben – the booker, the one who had built the relationships with the agencies and bands and kept the stage filled five nights a week – was in a wheelchair with an uncertain prognosis after a car accident.

The partners – Ben and long-time friends Balunn Jones and Adam Smith – resolved to sell the business.

But then Ben grew a bit stronger and more focused. He didn’t want to give up on Owls and realised he didn’t have to.

Like scores of Illawarra musicians who have found an audience at the little Kembla St venue, it did him good.

"I’ve started doing a bit of work from the hospital, behind the scenes stuff," he told the Mercury this week from his bed at Prince of Wales.

"It keeps my mind active and helps with the positivity as well. We might be getting another guy on board, we’re excited about that. We’re keen to step it up [this year] and keep doing what we’re doing."

Owls, and the nearby Wollongong Town Hall, will be the site of a large benefit concert next Saturday aimed at supporting Ben financially, and in morale, as he continues a gruelling schedule of physical rehabilitation and moves closer to the day he can go home

Jimmy Little — 1 March 1937 – 2 April 2012

In  NITV best option for Christmas Night–in my opinion I commended the Jimmy Little Celebration Concert, originally broadcast in May 2012. That link takes you to a video still on the Opera House site: “Highlights from the Celebration Concert which followed the State Memorial Service in honour of the late Jimmy Little. The story also includes interviews with Paul Kelly, Christine Anu, Dan Sultan, Col Hardy, Don Walker and many others.”  Fortunately NITV broadcast the entire concert commercial-free. Smile

Members of the public can attend the Jimmy Little Celebration Concert on Thursday 3 May commencing at 8pm in the Concert Hall. The concert will celebrate the life of the wonderful Jimmy Little. Family and friends will come together to honour in story and song the extraordinary contribution this Yorta Yorta elder has made to the cultural life of Australia. Artists including Col Joye, Judy Stone, Archie Roach, Lou Bennett, James Henry and Paul Kelly to name a few, will pay tribute to Jimmy’s amazing sixty year legacy as an artist, performer and champion for his people.

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On Boxing Day NITV followed up with a documentary I had not seen before – Jimmy Little’s Gentle Journey. You can see it also today on NITV Ch34 at noon. It was originally on ABC.

From poverty and personal tragedy to Australia’s first Aboriginal pop star – Jimmy Little’s Gentle Journey is an intimate look at the life of a pioneering artist who defied incredible odds.

This timely ABC TV program touchingly traces the trials and triumphs of a remarkable survivor celebrating 50 years in the business. Awarded an Order of Australia Medal and named as a Living National Treasure earlier this year, Jimmy’s life has just recently been reinvigorated when he became the recipient of a kidney transplant.

With another new album out in June, Australia’s first gentleman of song, whose voice melts ice, continues a trailblazing career that has gently been opening doors and minds throughout his life. At a time when Aborigines were not even recognised as citizens, Jimmy Little broke down white-dominated cultural barriers as he painted images – past, present and future – with his songs. Jimmy was the first Aboriginal person to feature regularly on television, and with his incredible talent and success, subtly swept aside ignorance and negative stereotypes.

Ironically perceived by some as a conformist, Jimmy has determinedly and consistently pursued his own independent, gentle path refusing to conform to a variety of ‘bandwagons’. It is a path that has brought trials and triumphs but he has stuck to his convictions and as an artist rather than activist he has changed attitudes and encouraged reconciliation with a simple and honest love of music and humanity. Over a career as a musician, actor and educator spanning 50 years, Jimmy Little has proven himself to be a survivor whose talent and determination remain solid.

Jimmy Little’s Gentle Journey provides an intimate and comprehensive biographical portrait of his life and times.

Launch of Illawarra Folk Festival 2013

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Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery speaking, and Cunningham MP Sharon Bird to the right, representing Julia Gillard.

NOVEMBER 16, 2012

The full list of artists were announced today at the Festival Launch in the Wollongong Mall. Wollongong Lord Mayor, Gordon Bradbery provided the official announcement of festivities. Federal MP Sharon Bird read out a special message to the festival from PM Julia Gillard. The full festival program is due for issue in early December.

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This video really ought to be deeply offensive

… to just about every believer in The Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or any other alleged holy book. But no-one ever notices. Perhaps it’s the tune.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

Last I heard God was not offended. In fact I believe He is a fan.

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…Over the course of human history blasphemy has been understood to be unacceptable in most human societies, and often entails extreme sanction. The American, and to a lesser extent Western, elevation of liberty of speech over the sacred values of the community is a peculiar counter-cultural trend which has become normative. But that doesn’t mean that it’s normal or natural. I stipulate here the term “sacred values of the community,” because though blasphemy connotes violations of religious norms, obviously outrage can be triggered by violations of sacred communal norms more generally. Imagine, for example, if someone violated Lenin’s Tomb during the 1950s in the Soviet Union. Jonathan Haidt has alluded to this issue. Someone who reacts calmly to “Piss Christ” might not react so calmly to “Piss Martin Luther King.”

This points to the second issue. Not only is there is a human universal of offense at violation of sacred norms, but those sacred norms vary from culture to culture. So, for example, I have pointed out to followers of the Abrahamic religions that the core documents of their own faiths and the dominant interpretations are often gravely offensive and hostile toward those of other religious traditions. There is a certain incommensurability of offense across cultures. What may be sacred to one culture may be offensive and blasphemous to another. To give an example, the institutions of sacred prostitution has cropped up repeatedly over human history. Many religious people would consider prostitution in the service of gods or God blasphemous, whereas others might consider it an exalted act. Similarly, blood sacrifice, whether of humans or animals, has been central to many religions, and taboo and blasphemy in the context of others. In contrast to this there are acts and violations which seem relatively universal in interpretation. This is clear when offended people make analogies to insulting one’s mother; this is generally communicable across societies, because emotional family ties are fundamental. And the collective paroxysms of rage, anger, and violence, due to violations of communal honor probably draw from the same cognitive reflexes as those which are triggered by violations of family honor….

Australia’s Amateur Hour/Got Talent 2012

There is no doubt that AGT didn’t attract the following it did last year, but even so last night’s Big Decider – the spectacular during which the winner is announced – was a very good show.

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And the winner:

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After illness forced him to leave chart-topping 90’s R&B group CDB in the 90’s, AGT was singer/songwriter Andrew’s last chance to try and resurrect his music dreams and the opportunity to share his catalogue of original songs with the nation. Tonight he proved victorious with a symbolic welcome back to the industry, topping the public vote and triumphing over Tasmanian country band, The Wolfe Brothers.

Andrew was overwhelmed by the result “It was just an amazing moment. This is all a dream… I feel amazing. It’s just such a beautiful way for it to come to an end and in a way it’s actually a new beginning.”

Andrew paid tribute to runners up The Wolfe Brothers saying, “I was so happy to be up there with those guys, I have much so respect for them. It’s real music as well, so for both of us to be up there together is incredible and such a positive achievement for original Australian music.”

UPDATE: On Andrew De Silva.

As a song writer, live performer and a session musician, Andrew De Silva is constantly busy. In the hard to penetrate local music industry De Silva’s vocal diversity is an in-demand asset that has seen him work with some of the biggest names of the Aus music landscape, across various genres and projects. This, along with his command of the guitar and bass guitar has served to cement De Silva’s reputation as an all-round musician. Whether it’s playing bass on stage for Guy Sebastian or providing vocals as part of the in-house band on Australia’s Got Talent, De Silva’s resume includes performance work across most areas of the entertainment industry. – 2011

See also his own website.

We have become bored with the talent shows, opines today’s Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian version of The Voice, having garnered almost constant publicity during its run, seems to have been the exception. Poor old AGT12 had hardly any publicity at all this year.

The talent show is in fact a venerable genre.

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That’s Terry Dear in 1956 on Channel 9 in the TV version of a long-running radio show, Australia’s Amateur Hour. Click on the image and you will see some remarkable footage of Channel 9 1956-7, with The Amateur Hour snippet at 4:35.

We liked our announcers posh and British-sounding in those days, even on commercial radio – though as the Channel Nine footage shows the late 50s represent a transition perhaps. What follows is a 1952 radio Amateur Hour featuring a guy who went on to become a legend in country music circles.

The program was very popular during the war years. During this time radio became an important form of communication and entertainment as people largely stayed at home and there were blackouts. Over time the show had three comperes: the last of these, George Alexander Dear (known as Terry) described the impact the show had during the war years:

When Sammy Dobbs, the great power-that-was at Lever Bros, started up Amateur Hour, he first got Harry Dearth to do it, and he was very good indeed. Then when he joined up, Dick Fair took over and carried it through the war years. That’s when the show got its tremendous popularity. People couldn’t go out; there were blackouts and no street lights and since everybody stayed at home, the radio was the best means of communication. Amateur Hour wasn’t just made in Sydney. It was broadcast from all over Australia. So if a listener heard Dick saying, ‘Good evening, this is Amateur Hour from Cairns in Queensland’, this was real glamour. It was also comforting: the show was still there and still going on, even when the Japs came into the war and people were afraid Australia might be invaded. Dick left he show in 1950, and that’s when I took over. When I did, we were at show number 423 or something like that, and when I finished ten years later we had done something like 930 shows. I was there the longest of the three of us.

The Amateur Hour audience was invited to ring in and vote on the best act. There was a switch board of 10-15 ‘girls’ supplied by Lever Brothers taking down votes. People could also write in. Sometimes people would phone in 50 or 60 votes from a pub for one act. The phone ‘girls’ judged by the background noise whether to accept the votes. Amateur Hour compere Terry Dear describes the tabulation system:

We had a switchboard of ten to fifteen girls supplied by Lever Brothers, taking down votes, or people could write in. There were many ways they could vote, and we sometimes had colossal totals. Sometimes people would ring with a huge number of votes for one act. We wouldn’t know how many people were putting them in, but if there was a lot of background noise, we could assume that they were in a pub. If they put in, say fifty-seven votes, we accepted them. The Amateur Hour organisation was very good, believe me.

The show kept a register as a theatre agent, and would provide performers from the show. Performers such as Bobby Limb, Donald Smith and Rolf Harris appeared on the show, and got work that way.

And Johnny O’Keefe, it appears.

This blog–fearless ground-breaking questions FOR YOU!

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That last one is amazing!

Finally, am I damned because I find myself agreeing with Paul Sheehan this morning?

Exhibit one: The Shire. I’m not close to being in the target demographic for this series, which does have high production values but also has a hole where its heart should be. The Shire is a new low in network corporate cynicism. Ten presents the series as being driven by ”real people, no actors”, about a real place, Cronulla, and the surrounding Sutherland Shire. This is nonsense. It is a kernel of authenticity wrapped in a package of artifice.

The genesis of this series is pure plastic: it is a copy of an American faux reality series, Laguna Beach, with a dash of the grotesquery of another American reality show, Jersey Shore, and the dramatic story line of yet another American show, The O.C.

This Australian knock-off draws its drama by fixating on several carefully chosen young women who represent the quintessence of puerile narcissism. They are the only people who don’t get the joke – that they are the joke – cast for their combination of vanity, vapidity and plastic surgery.

The real Shire must be getting sick of parodies…

Mind you compared with many current offerings Sylvania Waters actually looks rather good.