Music Monday: Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke

Continuing the ‘guilty pleasures’ theme…

There was a big uproar when this song came out because it was ‘demeaning to women’.

I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me

Apparently Pharrell Williams, who wrote it, said it was meant to empower women, but I can’t see how that was possible. I mean, really?

When you got them jeans on
What do we need steam for
You the hottest bitch in this place

I kind of looked at all the controversy and said “Whatever”. That song is freaking catchy. It just makes you wanna tap your fingers and toes… Doesn’t it? Aw come on, doesn’t it?

But just for balance, I’m going to share this parody made by a bunch of Auckland law students. *Smirk*

Music Monday: Gin Wigmore

It’s Music Monday again, and I wanted to share a post I wrote for Writing.com’s Soundtrackers activity in early February.

As I write this, I’m sitting on a blanket on a grassy hill north west of Auckland listening to Tami Neilson. I hadn’t heard her music before today, and I’m really enjoying it. Quite catchy and with good rhythm. Makes you want to wiggle your ass.

I’m glad the music is good, because I haven’t been impressed with the wine and food here at the North West Wine and Food Festival. We’re at the Hunting Lodge, where Steve took me for our wedding anniversary last month. We had a beautiful Hunting Lodge pinot noir and I’d looked forward to having it again. But although there are four or five wineries represented today, each only has two wines available, and both the Hunting Lodge ones are white. There’s no one to talk to about the wines, the only way to try one is to buy a glass at $10. And the food isn’t anything to write home about. Somehow the Hunting Lodge, who charge $38 a main, are selling fries, hot dogs and pizza. What the actual fuck?

But in less than an hour, Gin Wigmore is taking the stage. I’ve been wanting to see her live for ages, but last time she did a tour, I couldn’t afford tickets.

I have three Gin Wigmore songs on my playlist, and I’m hoping I’ll have more after tonight. I’m definitely going to be adding some Tami Neilson!

So here’s some kiwi music for you. I know she’s been living in the US for a while, but she’s a Kiwi.

Music Monday: Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden

As I mentioned in my last Music Monday post (this is where I was going with that one, but I got distracted talking about music apps), I have several playlists.

Christmas music – this is because I have music I like to listen to at Christmas, but I don’t want to be hearing it all year!

Classical music – This is what I listen to if I’m tired or need to zone out, or maybe I just wanna concentrate on my book. It’s also what I listen to when I write fiction. It’s mostly heavier classical music – Tchaikovsky’s 1812, Edgar’s Pomp & Circumstance, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, etc. Robust classical music, not quiet elevator music. There are some film scores in there too – Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, Die Hard… And a few choral pieces I like, mostly by Pavarotti.

Housework – This is upbeat music designed to impart energy. *Laugh* When it comes to housework, I need all the help I can get! We play this one loud.

Party music – This is a playlist designed to be played loud when we’re drinking, preferably with guests over. It devolves into Steve’s old clubbing music at the end, for some reason. *Rolleyes*

Soundtrack of my life – Yeah, this is a playlist I put together after the first time I did Writing.com’s Soundtrackers activity. It’s super weird to listen to, because it goes from the songs I remember from my childhood (mostly older music that my parents listened to), then music from the 90s when I was a teenager and some Christian stuff, then songs influenced by my husband which are much heavier and cruder than anything I listened to, then random songs my kids liked when they were little, including such things as Thomas the Tank Engine which I used to play for them in the car, and then finally, more recent stuff. It makes for an interesting playlist. *Crazy*

I made a general playlist which is imaginatively titled Elle’s playlist but YouTube also automatically puts all my ‘liked’ music into a playlist, so there’s a lot of double-up there. When I was listening to YouTube Music, I just used to like the new songs I liked, rather than adding them to a playlist, mostly because I was often driving, so the automatically generated ‘liked’ playlist is more comprehensive than Elle’s playlist.

I was going somewhere with this ramble.  *Facepalm*

Okay, no, I was definitely going somewhere with this. So, I recently got a hankering just to listen to some good old classic rock without listening to all the other ones. So I made a Classic rock playlist. It was inspired by mine and Steve’s recent wedding anniversary. Here’s what happened.

So, it was our wedding anniversary on 18 January. 16 years. Which means that this month we’ve been together 19 years. And I was 19 when we started dating. So we’ve literally been together half my life. *Crazy* Woah.

Steve sent me a gorgeous bouquet of roses to the office. The roses were all in different colours, including some gorgeous pink and yellow variegated ones. I gave his dad one of them to see if he could propagate it for me. So pretty.

Then he picked me up from work at 5pm and said he was taking me out to dinner. We went home and called an Uber so that we could both drink. Steve wouldn’t tell me where we going and that it was a surprise, but the moment we got in the Uber, the GPS said ‘Directions to the Hunting Lodge’. *Laugh* Fail.

I hadn’t been to the Hunting Lodge before, but I’d heard a lot about it. Steve’s dad used to be the head chef there in the ‘80s. It had been known as a very expensive, exclusive restaurant. It’s way out in the middle of nowhere (although as Auckland continues sprawling, it doesn’t seem so way out anymore) and people would helicopter from Auckland to the Hunting Lodge for dinner. When Steve’s parents got married, they were able to use the Hunting Lodge grounds for free, which was a massive coup at the time. A decade or so later, long after Steve’s dad had moved on to other jobs, the Hunting Lodge closed. It remained closed for about 15 years, during which time I heard about it over and over again from Steve’s family. It re-opened in 2016 and Steve’s parents went there for their wedding anniversary. And now we were going there.

I don’t know why, but somehow I expected a restaurant called ‘The Hunting Lodge’ to be…well, a lodge. A longish building. And maybe to have dark wood panelling and some semblance of a rustic theme. Steve told me that when he was a kid, it had animal heads on the walls. I’m okay without the animal heads, especially while I’m eating, but it had nothing of the hunting OR the lodge about it. It was instead a small house (that’s the impression I got from the rooms I went in), that made me think the word ‘homestead’ rather than ‘lodge’. The interior walls were painted in pastel shades that made me think ‘cottage’. It was quite open, as if they’d knocked down some walls to turn three small rooms into one large dining area with three sort of areas within it. For a fine dining restaurant, I felt that the whole set up was very ordinary. The tables and chairs, the place settings, all very ordinary. The glasses were all engraved with the Hunting Lodge name and symbol.

I started with the heirloom tomato salad ($16). It was delicious. Beautifully seasoned with herbs and what I assume was balsamic vinegar. Very nice. Steve had the buttermilk fried chicken ($20), which he said was delicious.

I tried the rosé, but it wasn’t for me. I am starting to wonder if that one rosé I liked was just a fluke, or maybe I was extra thirsty and it was a hot day or something. Anyway, we went for the Hunting Lodge pinot noir 2017 from Central Otago. It was superb. Absolutely delicious. We want to buy a couple of bottles for home, but of course it was too late for their cellar door purchases that evening. We’d come back. It’d be worth it! It’s only $39 a bottle in the shop whereas it’s $85 in the restaurant. Which is ludicrous actually, because the shop is literally next door to the restaurant, you could walk between them in about 30 seconds. *Rolleyes*

As we were sitting there, in this supposedly fancy restaurant, eating delicious food and drinking fabulous wine, Steve said “Oh my god. They’re playing Iron Maiden.”

Firstly, it’s astonishing that Steve could even hear what music was playing. He has noise-induced hearing loss, and struggles to isolate sounds in a noisy environment. It makes it incredibly difficult for him to follow conversations in noisy restaurants or pubs. And this music was playing so quietly in the background that few people would even be aware of it.

But sure enough, as we concentrated, we heard Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills playing. *Rolling* So funny. We joked that you’d only get that in a fine dining restaurant in West Auckland (West Auckland being known as the place where people wear black jeans and Metallica t shirts and drive Holden station wagons listening to Deep Purple). Technically we were in Waimauku, which is north west of Auckland, but clearly still Westie enough to play Iron Maiden in a fine dining restaurant. So funny.

After that, we also heard Guns N Roses, AC/DC, Aerosmith and others. There was a guy at the table next to us who was humming along too. And then there were some nattily dressed older people who didn’t even seem to notice that they were being serenaded with classic rock. *Laugh*

For mains, I had the beef sirloin with pinot noir butter, shoestring fries, shallots and parsley salad ($36). It was okay, but I’ve definitely had better. Hell, I’ve cooked better. It desperately needed seasoning, even if it was just with some cracked pepper. The fries were delicious though. Steve had caramelised duck breast with boudin noir, beetroot, anise and cherries ($38). It was beautifully presented, and he quite enjoyed it, especially the beetroot.

For dessert we shared the stracciatella and chocolate ice cream bar ($17) which was nice, but not really $17 nice, if you know what I mean. It was a bit like an ice cream bar you might buy at the dairy or supermarket. And also the vanilla creme brulee which came with strawberry sorbet and freeze dried strawberries ($16). Steve thought the creme brulee was amazing, and kept raving about the texture of it. I particularly enjoyed the sorbet.

I had a wee port to finish, only it came in a dessert wine glass and so ended up being a massive port. *Laugh* It was nice, but I couldn’t finish it after having had wine as well.

Overall, the food was good albeit a bit hi and miss. The wine was excellent. Service was good, decor was disappointing and the music was hilarious. I leave you with Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills which has since made it on to my playlist. *Pthb*

School strike for climate (New Zealand)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today, while I sat in my air conditioned office, a chant slowly grew in volume outside the window.  I’d been hearing it off and on all day, but now it was really noticeable.  I go to the window and see a procession of young protesters walking down Queen Street (the main street in Auckland).  They hold up their signs (some clever, some not-so-much) and chant “Hey hey, ho ho, climate change has got to go!”  They’re loud and they’re passionate.  For the first time today I realise that these kids are serious.

They spill over from the footpath and halt traffic, determined to be heard.  These are not kids who just want a cruisy day off school.  This is old-school type protesting, the kind we used to see.  You’ve got teens waving their arms and shouting in the faces of policemen, and you’ve got teens thrusting their signs at truck drivers, insisting they stop and take notice.  These kids are passionate.  They are sincere.  They are determined to make a difference.

At my last job, I was the second-oldest person in the office, and I had a number of co-workers who were in their very early twenties.  They were very passionate about climate change among other things.  They’d nag the rest of us about coming back from the supermarket with single-use plastic bags, or for not using reusable drink bottles at our desks.  It wasn’t inspired by anything other than a passion to save the planet.

I’ve never been passionate about recycling or any of the other myriad things I could be doing to help the planet.  I only started separating my recycling out recently.  By which I mean, in the last three years.  And I could still do better on that front.  I have only just stopped using single-use plastic bags , and it’s mostly because the supermarkets have stopped offering them.  I only started using public transport in December.  Yeah, it wasn’t an option for me the last two years, but it was for the seven years before that and I chose to use my car instead which was more expensive so there were no wins there.  I love nature (I’m a country girl who was brought up on a farm) and I love how beautiful our country is, but I’ve never put any effort into helping to maintain it.  I suck.

My friend Kat said it so eloquently in Sour Grapes and Humble Pie when she wrote ‘Maybe just maybe they are fighting for their life today. The life you got to enjoy already. With clean air, oceans to swim in and gardens to watch your kids play in.’  My kids are city kids, and sometimes I wonder at the difference between the childhood I had on the farm and the childhood they had in the city.  And it’s remarks like that which make me stop and think.  I’m going camping in April, and it’ll be fresh air, peace and quiet, hopefully enjoying nature.  I need to do my part to ensure that others have a chance to enjoy what I have already enjoyed and will continue to enjoy.

It’s easy to say that these kids just want a day off school, but the truth is, the generation after mine, the post-millenials, they ARE passionate about the environment.  They really are.  And they’ve got so many people today talking about climate change, the environment, and our personal responsibilities, so the truth is, they have achieved what they wanted to achieve.  They have been heard and they are making a difference.  That’s bloody inspiring.

Thoughts of Grace

I walked down Queen Street, in central Auckland, today and heard a busker singing this song as I walked past people lighting candles to go with the tributes left for Grace Millane.

I don’t often blog about current events.  In the 18 years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve probably blogged about national or global events ten or so times where the news has not directly impacted me.  It’s not something that I do.  I’m not interested in current affairs or politics.  But every now and then, I am touched, saddened, heartened or angered by such things.  I am emotionally affected, and therefore it seems appropriate to share that.

What makes Grace’s story so different from others?  Others have died.  Others have been murdered.  People as young or younger.  People with as much potential or more.  The truth is, I don’t know what makes Grace’s story different.  Only that it is.

My colleagues at work have discussed Grace.  Perhaps that’s because we work literally next door to the hotel in which she was murdered.  Perhaps it is because she is being discussed in offices around the country.  I have overheard people talking about her on the train.  And she has been discussed at home.

Every day as I walk past the hotel on my way to work, I see the tributes that people have left for Grace.  Flowers, gifts, etc.  From people who didn’t know Grace.  From people who never met Grace and never will.  People are grieving for someone they have never met.

I haven’t been following anything on social media, but I did notice there were a few people climbing on their soap boxes.  Saying that those who condemned Grace for travelling alone were perpetuating the cycle of violence against women. That any woman should be able to travel alone and be safe.  I agree.  I agree that any woman travelling alone should be safe.  But it is not the way it is.  I am reminded of the John Lennon song, Imagine.  There are so many dreams and wishes we might have for society, that every person should live in peace and never go without food, clean water, shelter and love.  But that’s not the way it is either.  Does that mean we don’t want it?  No, we do want it.  Does that mean we do nothing for those who are suffering?  Turn a blind eye?  No, it does not.  But it also does not mean that we turn a blind eye to the risks that are out there in the world.

I have been saddened by Grace’s death, and she has been much on my thoughts this week.  I don’t think she is a lesson to be learned.  But it is a tragedy.  As a mother of a daughter, I am very saddened by Grace’s death.  And I felt compelled to write something, to commemorate her.

Armageddon New Zealand 2018

I had a good weekend, all things considered.  My husband was meeting up with a bunch of his imaginary friends streamer mates on Saturday night.  One friend came to stay at our house on Friday night and we made vodka lemon lime and bitters (it’s a Kiwi/Aussie thing, Google it) and got to know each other.  Then Saturday they went to Armageddon and I worked on my family recipe book.  Saturday night we went out to meet up with the rest of their imaginary friends streamer mates. It was a bit daunting, because I didn’t know anyone, but everyone was really nice.  I played an atrocious game of pool with my husband, ate some cake that was waaaay too sweet, and met some new people who might become new friends.  We’re going to try and catch up with some for drinks and stuff one weekend.

My daughter was very kindly given two double passes to Armageddon (thanks Aero!), so on Sunday I took her and two of her friends to get their geek on.

Some of the costumes were insane! I did myself proud and asked a bunch of people to let me photograph them. It’s easier than regular street photography, because they’ve put so much effort into their outfits they’re happy to pose for photos, but I still felt proud of myself for going up to strangers and saying ‘Can I take your photo?’

IMG_1730IMG_1731IMG_1733IMG_1734IMG_1738IMG_1743

There was an author selling signed copies of his books and it was a fantasy series, so I bought the first one for my son and had it signed for him. Another Christmas present sorted. *Bigsmile*

My daughter and her friends really wanted to see the cast from RWBY, an anime series she loves. I say ‘cast’, but it’s animated, so really they’re the voice actors. She knew them all by name though. The line was insane, all the way down the corridor. We joined the queue, but it was moving ridiculously slowly. Instead of quickly signing things for each person, they were having full on conversations with each person. I think we moved up the queue at the rate of about one person per five minutes. Seriously. It was beyond ridiculous. About an hour later we were about 20 people from the front of the queue when a staff member came around and said ‘In ten minutes they’re going to take a break and come back at 3:30pm.’ Wait, that’s an hour an a half away! We’ve been waiting in line for ages and we’re so close! The line moved a little bit quicker then, just enough to give us some hope, then with about 10 people in front of us, when we were close enough to see them, the actors went for their break. Gutted. They were replaced by another group, but only one of the second group was from RWYBY and it wasn’t one that my daughter was especially interested in. Some people left and the others just went up and got autographs from the second group. We told the staff that we were waiting for the other RWBY cast to come back, but didn’t want to start all the way back at the end of the line when they came back, so after much humming and haa-ing, they found a spot for us to wait off to the side. For an HOUR and a HALF. Ugh. My back was killing me. There was a lull in the line and my daughter snuck in and got an autograph from the one RWBY guy in that group. We’d been told that autographs and photos cost money, but thankfully they were giving away small 4×6 prints with free autographs. Then, finally, the other lot came back, and we were first in line for them. All three girls got autographs, and I got some for one of their friends who hadn’t been able to come with us, so the girls were all pretty happy. But tired. So we headed home then.

When I got home, and finally sat down and rested, I remembered about the Pokemon event I was supposed to be doing. Ugh. I ended up driving just up the road to a pokestop and putting a lure on. A lure normally lasts 30 minutes but for the event it lasted 3 hours, so that was sweet. Then I put incense on and just caught shitloads of pokemon. lol

Then tonight, we went to the neighbours for a BBQ. We ended up playing a game called ‘Five Second Rule’ where you have to name 3 things in five seconds. It was hilarious. I think the most ridiculous one was when I had to ‘name three words that end in at’ and all I could name was ‘proletariat’. *Laugh* The neighbour was like ‘What about cat, that, hat?’ No, I had to name proletariat. *Rolling* It was so ridiculous, it had us all in hysterics. There were other funny ones too. ‘Name three reasons you’d call in sick.’ One of their boys said ‘You chopped your arm off, you killed someone’ and something else. And there were hilariously rude ones too. And a whole conversation about wanking that was quite illuminating. *Laugh* The conversation always ends up in the gutter when we’re with those neighbours. It’s always hilarious. So much fun. A good night.