Mortigi Tempo

Mortigi Tempo

An All Consuming Day


I consumed the papers. Found myself remarkably unconcerned about the appointment of Michael Jeffery. Probably the reaction Mr Howard was hoping for.

Go into town. Consume a chai latte. Watch the fools around me consuming regular lattes. Fools. As I look out across the ‘beach’, I wonder how and why so many blonde haired tourists had gathered in the one place at the one time.

Head to a nice little record store I’ve been meaning to check out. Consider consuming the Doves', Lost Souls. Decide against it. Consider consuming some Brian Wilson. Decide against it, but the record reminds me of some reviews I've seen about his latest concert tour. Apparently he is slightly senile and the performances have been less than average. What a shame. I wonder if the tour was his idea or someone has been pushing him to do it. It would be an even greater shame if it is the latter. Still, even if he staggered onto the stage and did nothing but scratch himself, it would still be a brilliant experience.

I end up consuming Bright Eyes', Lifted, instead...

Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes is basically Conor Oberst, and to be honest I hadn’t heard of him a few months ago. At 23 Oberst has already released 10 records. Much to my surprise, I see that he has been compared to Dylan, Morrissey and even a young Springsteen. This NY Times article from last year is also quite flattering:
He wrote his first songs at age 12, began soloing in clubs at 13. Now, at 22, he has played in so many bands and been involved in so many side projects that you need a flow chart to keep track of them. He has confessed crushes into microphones; he has shaken and shivered; he has built a following as the bard of teenage angst. Until this year. Suddenly, Oberst has swerved in an entirely different direction. On a recent CD he made with Desaparecidos, one of the bands he leads, he lambasted American consumerism with a level of sophistication you rarely hear in three-minute songs.

And in Bright Eyes -- the band that's clearly closest to Oberst's heart -- his writing shows a sudden leap toward maturity. ''Onto the stage I was pushed with my sorrow well rehearsed,'' he sings on the band's latest CD. ''I hear the ice start to melt and watch the rooftops weep for the sunlight./And I know what must change.'' With these two literate albums out this year and a knockout performance at the recent C.M.J. festival in New York, he has critics buzzing that he might be the next Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan? Whoa! Who is this guy and why haven’t I heard of him until recently? Whether justified or not, it looks like Oberst has become somewhat of a pin-up boy for ‘emo’, a branch of hardcore punk (although ‘emo’ sounds nothing like traditional punk). Having listened to a few Bright Eyes songs, I have no doubt he is not the “next Dylan.” Sure, Oberst is sometimes folky and has a dirty voice, but that’s about where the comparison should end sound wise.

Still, there is a strong current of political and social commentary in much of Oberst’s more recent music, which may be where some of the comparisons are coming from. To me though, his angsty turmoil sounds more like a combination of Tom Waits and Kurt Cobain. Similar to Cobain in that his concerns are more introspective, but dissimilar in that Oberst is far more poetic.

I guess comparisons to Dylan and Morrissey sound like a great plug, but from the comments I’ve heard about Oberst, it seems he’s suffered as a result. ‘Over-hyped’ and ‘over-rated’ seem to be common reactions to Obsest. This is a shame because he is an amazing talent, and his songs demand attention.

Try The Trees Get Wheeled Away for an example of what he's on about.

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/24/2003 12:24:00 PM |

This Just In

I've discovered the secret, or secrets as it is, to blogging! Avoid visiting certain highly intelligent bloggers until after you have posted for the day. This avoids any worries about quality of posts. I wouldn't, of course, say who I avoid until after posting. But I am more than happy to say I make an effort to visit Tim Blair before I do any posting.

This leads me to my second secret of blogging. Take at least one cheap shot at Tim Blair per week. Having accomplished this aim for the week, I can now sit back.

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/20/2003 09:34:00 PM |


Everyone seems to do this when they have nothing else to blog about, so I'm taking the opportunity to do it now. Highlights from around the blogs:

Angela Bell: My blogging has been sparce of late because I've had less time by myself to do it. Also, I've been feeling a bit down since something happened to me that shook my self-image. After work, last Saturday around 12.40am, I was waiting for a taxi near a popular city pub when another taxi stopped to disgorge four young drunks. One of them looked at me and asked, "Do you want a lift, grandma?" This hurt.

Bright Cold Matt: "Blogging makes me a better person. It forces me to try to be more interesting. I read more, I get out more, I pay more attention, I give a shit where I might not have.

Whether any of this is reflected on bright cold day is purely accidental.

Rob Corr: The Union Black is a stupid idea. Everyone knows the only thing flags are good for is burning.

Tim Dunlop: Faith is for religions and you are welcome to follow that path of belief if you wish. But this is about politics, not religion, and the appropriate word is trust, not faith. We are right to trust our governments, not to have faith in them.

Gianna: blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah. blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah. blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah. blah blah blah blah

Stewart Kelly: So when someone gets shitty with me for jokingly saying his little flag is about the right size for wiping my arse with, my natural reaction is to take the damn thing and stick it in the dunny brush holder. And when I hear that flag burning is considered legal I can't help but laugh, cos I know that my former flatmate, and thousands of National Pride Nazis just like him, are chucking tanty's nation-wide.

Ken Miles: Tim Blair sounds pretty pissed that Crikey have claimed that he was sacked. Personally I'm not too concerned. It's a bit disappointing to see the significant numbers of commenters at his site baying for lawsuits. Hopefully they would support Pat O'Shane getting a huge payment from Janet Albrechtsen... I suspect that most of them are that consistent.

Gareth Parker: Lefty: beware of government power!

James Russell: Yes, telling people they're going to hell for being a man/woman who likes to fuck other men/women (delete as applicable) isn't really the best way to get them on side, is it.

Rob Schaap: Ergo, the state should pay us for having sex.

Adam Woolcock: Taking the piss out of wacky foreign people on SBS - welcome to 1991. Jokes about Greg Matthews hair? That's a bit more contemporary, say 1995 at the best. And some pissweak comedy stuntman that couldn't be more ripped off from Shitscared and All Aussie Adventures if it tried.

Tony The Teacher: I just turned round to look at the telly. The telly I'd left on with the sound off and there, on the S'Siddey Footy Show, staring back at me from under an evenly smeared veneer of brown face paint was the fat fuckin' phiz of Greg Ritchie. Amazingly the Fat Cat was dressed in a sheet and doing his Mahatma Coat shtick.

Gummo Trotsky: I finished Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem over the weekend. Regular readers will be pleased to hear that it made it through the reading without being hurled across the room even once. Nor did any more pages get torn off for the purpose of lighting cigarettes from the gas heater. I don't have a gas heater.

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/20/2003 09:19:00 PM |

Sutton and Aurukun

The Australian's Paul Toohey deserves credit. He writes fairly balanced articles, and he’s one of the few journalists to write about Aboriginal violence. However, some of the people he quotes, and seems to support, are a little questionable. Toohey, in his article in the Australian last Friday, talks about anthropologist Peter Sutton (who is described by Paul Sheehan as a Windschuttle-type "dissenter") and his views on Aboriginal violence: “Sutton believes the policy of separatism must end - that it is time for Aborigines to be treated as all other Australians”.

This certainly sounds completely reasonable, and I would agree in principle, but I wonder what Sutton actually means by this. Sutton’s argument seems odd when you consider the biggest news this year regarding actual policy initiatives to combat violence and drug abuse - the Aurukun community’s alcohol plan. A World Today story from earlier this year:

“Aurukun, on Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland, imposed liquor bans only a month ago, but already alcohol-related health problems have fallen by 80%. At the same time, children are returning to school and more of the community's money is being spent on food [...]

A report by former Justice Tony Fitzgerald in 2001 detailed the severity of the alcohol problem in indigenous communities in Queensland, and said drastic measures were needed. Now, some of those drastic measures are in place in the remote Cape York community of Aurukun, the first indigenous community to take them on.

The community tavern is open for shorter hours during the day, it doesn't sell take-away alcohol, and only provides medium and low-strength beer. Anyone who doesn't send their children to school is banned from the tavern.”

Queensland Families Minister Judy Spence: “It's early days, but we've seen the first month of this new plan, and I'm pleased to say that it has led to a significant reduction in alcohol-related violence during the first few weeks of its implementation.”

In Queensland at least, this plan was a big development, and was welcomed by almost everyone. I would also dare say Sutton would support it. However, quite clearly, the plan does not treat Aboriginal people and their problems the same as problems in non-indigenous areas. The policy does not treat the Aurukun community the same. For example, the policy prohibits pregnant women drinking in the community's bar, and drinking at home is prohibited (this issue deserves another post by itself). To me, this does not line-up with Paul Sutton’s point quoted above. There is a gap between where his rhetoric ends and where policy solutions begin.

I know, of course, when Sutton says “it is time for Aborigines to be treated as all other Australians” he is referring to some (perceived?) double standard of accepted behaviour. But he then asks this question: “Why are these communities treated differently and separated now?” I won’t comment on the “separated” aspect of the question, but surely, in light of the Aurukun community’s alcohol plan, the “differently” aspect of the question is clear. Why then are the type of comments made by Sutton so common? (Ken Parish said something very similar in a post called 'Eternal Childhood', but his archives are buggered so I can't quote from it.)

Is it because the kind of one-liners and arguments used by Sutton are comfy and don't challenge his views on violence in Aboriginal communities? The 'romantic left' and the 'black armband' historians are often criticised (sometimes rightly) for having views that are suited only for soothing their conscience and not for dealing with the very real problem of violence. For example, Ken Parish asked the other day why not many bloggers had posted on Aboriginal violence: “Is it because musing about historical white guilt is more comfortable for the finely-tuned politically correct conscience than wrestling with present day problems of violence by indigenous people against each other and their own children?”

Ken's probably right, it is easier to talk about history for some. But the criticism of using comfortable arguments is also valid for those, like Sutton, who are content to use comfy one-liners and rhetoric despite that fact that it contradicts - somewhat - the kind of plans and policies that seem to be making progress on Aboriginal violence. Perhaps the kind of arguments Sutton makes are more comforting, to him, than accepting that the problem is much more complex.

And thus concludes my half-arsed, semi-informed rant. Non-serious blogging will resume at once.

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/19/2003 10:50:00 PM |

What I'm Listening To

Those hoping Radiohead would put away the laptop and pick up their guitars will be disappointed with Hail To The Thief. This is good. Thom Yorke had been saying Hail To The Thief would be The Bends 2, but unsurprisingly, it’s not. It’s just as “experimental” as Kid A and Amnesiac, if not more so. Those wanting another Bends or OK Computer should look elsewhere, because it’s highly doubtful Radiohead will ever go back to that guitar dominated sound.

OK Computer was a satire on modern life; mocking our lifestyle: “fitter, happier, more productive.” Thom Yorke has had a son since then, and I suspect he doesn’t care so much anymore. Still, social commentary lurks beneath the surface of Hail To The Thief. This time it’s a deep sense of all-enveloping darkness slowly taking over: “sit down, stand up”, “don’t question my authority or put me in a box” The alternative title for the album, The Gloaming, would seem most appropriate.

Still, like with most of Radiohead’s music, the gloom and darkness of the music is only part of the story. It’s quite uplifting in an odd way. I wouldn’t say Hail To The Thief is happy music, but the usual comment that it’s “music to slit your wrists to” is missing something.

Highlights include ‘The Gloaming’, a song developed by Jonny and Colin; ‘Wolf At The Door’, which has a distinctly Thom rant; and ‘Where I End And You Begin’, which has a wonderfully liquid bassline.

Reviews: Pitchfork comes to the opposite conclusion about the songs as me, the NME has it’s usual wankery, and Tiny Mix Tapes thinks it’s just another Amnesiac.

So, can they claim to have produced the best music in the past 15-odd years now? Who else has produced anything better? I can’t think of anyone, but then I'm horribly biased...

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/13/2003 09:41:00 PM |


BRUCE Hogan, Cloisters Square, WA:
We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they buy citizenship.

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/09/2003 12:43:00 PM |

Mullets Galore

THE always informative Modern Age points us to By looking at the links section, I see there’s not just one, but a number of sites dedicated to the mullet hairstyle. Who wudda thunk it?

Rob Schaap pointed out the lack of bearded men in the usual course of Australian life. Even rarer is the mullet. Unlike the beard though, this mulletlessness* is not at all a bad thing. The exception to this scarcity of mullets is the post-fashion 'ironic mullet', which seems to popular with some still. The ironic mullet is the most troubling hairstyle of all.

(* I really just wanted an excuse to use the word mulletlessness in a post.)

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/09/2003 12:40:00 PM |

Online Uni

THIS article in the Age reports on Universitas 21 Global:
Universitas 21 Global, a partnership between 16 universities worldwide and US-based publisher Thomson Learning, has begun taking enrolments for its Master of Business Administration course, which begins on July 28.

Initially 800 students, mostly from Asian countries, are expected to enrol, with numbers rising to 5000 by next year. A Universitas 21 Global spokesman said the figures were based on 13,000 expressions of interest received during the promotion of the MBA in Asia.

Melbourne University vice-chancellor Alan Gilbert, who chairs the e-university board, said he expected the e-university to expand rapidly.

Just from a student satisfaction perspective I'd be interested to know how this works out. I found non-face-to-face subjects to be lacking in many ways. The opportunity to discuss ideas, and exchange viewpoints without face-to-face contact was limited. Even video conferenced subjects lacked a certain dynamic, and the result was usually a lecturer standing and delivering information. This reaction to be expected, they say:
Monash University academic Professor Simon Marginson, who has researched online universities, said there was likely to be resistance to e-universities from students and employers for "at least the first half generation". To be successful, he said, online universities would need to show they could do some things better than face-to-face teaching.

How exactly will it be better? Still, if blogging can work, perhaps there is some potential.

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/09/2003 12:36:00 PM |

Leadership issues... again

DESPITE a six point narrowing of the two party preferred gap, it only took until Thursday for the spotlight to be firmly back on the Labor leadership. Wake me when it's sorted, please.

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/05/2003 11:40:00 PM |

Angry not-so-young men

I HAVE no particular interest in Metallica, but I thought I would have a listen to some of the new songs off St. Anger. I like it. I really do. It's just that I like it a little less than I like sitting down with my legs out straight, taking a large mallet and hammering a nail through my knee-cap into the cold, hard wooden floor.

If perhaps they were young twenty-something men I could understand the anger. But they're not. They're angry middle-age men who want to be angry young men. They have clearly found a formula that generates sales and they're sticking to it. Good for them. Unfortunately the music has to suffer as a result.

So, it's off with the angry-middle-age-men, and on with the very non-angry Trash Box of late 60s psych and garage. What can I say? I'm a young fogie born too late

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/05/2003 11:03:00 PM |

GUMMO is right ("More ABC Bias Revealed"), the ABC is hopelessly biased.

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/02/2003 10:39:00 PM |

WHENEVER I go for a wonder through certain shady parts of the blogosphere, there seems to be another link to a site dedicated to the thankless task of exposing the awful Truth on Michael Moore. There is this, this and this just to start with. I'm sure there are plenty more of these sad pointless clever sites around, so feel free to mention any more. After all, there's nothing I'd rather be doing with my time than visiting these tireless folks on their noble cause.

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/02/2003 10:28:00 PM |

HAVING just mentioned the Great Barrier Reef, I should say something about the re-zoning plan released today. Bob Brown thinks it doesn't go far enough:
"It's great to hear that the federal government and the Queensland government are moving now to make a third of the Barrier Reef no-take zones for fishing," Dr Brown told reporters in Hobart.

"But it's not enough.

"This means 70 per cent of the reef remains vulnerable to commercial fishing exploitation."

Perhaps Bob is not aware of the depth of opposition - even to moderate plans, like outlined today - in Queensland. Lawrence Springborg, for example, is likely to raise more concerns about the plan. And even the pale-green Beattie isn't likely to support plans that will see more than one third of the reef zoned as 'Green Zones'. Take it as a win Bob, it's a pretty good outcome.

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/02/2003 09:49:00 PM |

IF diving is your thing, or even if it's not, I encourage you to visit the Yongala wreck off Townsville. Lack of blogage lately has been due to me visiting the Yongala (that and I've been lazy). The coral and fish life is not like anything I've seen anywhere else on the GBR. Photos don't really do it justice...

posted by Tim Stevens | 6/02/2003 08:31:00 PM |
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