Sunday, October 28, 2007

Neon Night Tinnitus

You don’t have a choice, really.

Even if you don’t care, you’re going to have to listen to every single little sordid detail. Because you’re here. If you’re not interested, you’re free to leave right this instant, I’ll try not to hold it against you.

But if you’re still reading past this point, sit down, shut up and strap in, because it’s one hell of a ride.

We started waiting outside the gates at four which turned out to be lucky because we were something like the seventh ones in line and when they finally opened the gates at seven, we were right up in front, pressed against the heavy-duty metal barrier that protected the amplifiers and security guards.
People were already getting drunk and smoking wildly, leaning and shoving slightly, jostling to get a better view. The seven of us just held the barrier tightly, and we basically had an unobstructed view of the entire stage all night.
When the concert actually started, it was magnificent. Magnificent like – there are no words to describe how fucking awesome this experience is and yet how completely surreal so that I can’t actually believe I’m standing here, 10 metres from Black Sabbath – magnificent. I could see every line on Dio's forehead, each lock of Vinny's hair as it whipped backward in the wind from his fan.

Ronnie James Dio was perfect. He was an absolute gentleman, charming, polite, sincere and that voice. I could go on about that voice all night. Vibrato so perfect at times we couldn't tell it apart from the guitar. Pitch so accurate it was better than the studio recording. A scream like a fender on heavy distort. And of course, the trademark Maloike.

And Tony Iommi? My god, he’s SUCH a fox. He strode out on stage in his trademark black leather trenchcoat and his golden cross and it was love at first sight. He refused to look at me through those tinted glasses of his, mostly because he closes his eyes through all his solos and feels his way through the music. And you know me, that sensitive, cheeky, intuitive musicianship just gets me, every single time.

I started head banging the moment they appeared on the stage, tossing off the riffs to Children of the Sea like it was nothing. The seven of us were standing in a sort of semi-circle at the barrier, surrounding this little, Australian, 12-year-old kid and protecting him from the crush. Halfway through the concert, the audience started pushing and shoving, and I found myself crotch-to-ass with a couple of other girls constantly.

When they screamed into Die Young, all hell broke loose and at some points, I couldn’t actually feel if my feet were connected to my body, but we were all head banging so frantically that it didn’t seem to matter. Their rendition of Heaven and Hell just killed me… I literally just died on the spot with joy, nevermind that some idiot was body surfing in the crowd above my head and someone else was throwing beer on all of us.

By the time they encored with Neon Knights, I was plastered to the barrier by a surging human wave and I couldn’t feel my toes. The whole barricade smelt like hot metal from our grips and I could feel the damp warmth rolling off the bodies surrounding me. To be fair though, my brothers did a great job of keeping the crowd off the girls near them. They really protected us and prevented us from being smashed around too much.

The best part of the night was when Geezer Butler and Iommi threw guitar picks out at the audience. There was a mad scrabble and somehow, my brother managed to get one, Han got two, and even the little kid with us stole one off the security personnel. I was just feeling sad at not having caught one when I kicked a crumpled beer can with my foot and unearthed a purple Geezer Butler pick that had fallen to the floor!
(Left to right with all our picks: Wei, Cha Siew, Fendi, Lai, Han, Shen, and behind the camera, yours truly)

So basically more than half of us left with an amazing memento, actually cradled in the hands of the fathers of metal… and even more than that, I am now accompanied everywhere by the sound of a dozen birds chirping loudly in my ears.
Considering that I was standing in front of two highly amped speakers that sent reverb right into the base of my chest, I got off pretty lightly with a little tinnitus and slight, temporary hearing defects.
Yeah, maybe I went home with ringing in my ears and beer-stained clothes… maybe I was pushed around an awful lot and made to stand uncomfortably on tiptoe to avoid stepping on others’ feet.
But I had my hand in the air with the rest of them the whole time, because, really, numb toes, tingling ears and sweaty clothes just to be front and centre at a lifechanging event with people who altered the face of music forever and have Dio look, actually LOOK at me?

Completely, totally, heaven-and-helliciously worth it.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Sweetest Thing

My brother brought this video to my attention today and I just wanted to share it with everyone. James Stewart was a wonderful actor and one of the loveliest men of his era, to me anyway, and this is something really special to me.

The poetry's not fantastic, but if you've ever had a dog before, you'll understand it perfectly with your heart. I was reduced to helpless tears after listening to it, mostly because it is so real to me.

I can never completely express my feelings about Chip (not least to people who don't understand what it is to love an animal), but Jimmy captures the sentiment perfectly.

Only, in my case, I am the one who shoots suddenly awake in the dark, reaching for the furry little hill beside me, feeling for the familiar rise and fall of his ribs in the night, fearing in a deep recess of my heart for the day that it will stop.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Not The World's Greatest

Och, laddie!

So my week’s going okay! But do you want to hear about my weekend? The weekend of doom?? Because this is the weekend when I think I finally lost all the little dignity I’d managed to muster… and now that that’s gone, I can just admit defeat and go around telling everybody about it.

So a while ago, I wrote something in my diary about how Ikea is a really dangerous place to be. We’ve all been there right, that moment between hovering indecision and buying up just about the whole store. You go there thinking, “I’ll just look at all the pretty colours!” and then you come home with bookshelf, a rug, a clock, a painting and some brightly-coloured plastic thing that looks like it’s been ergonomically designed to crush garlic. Oh, and a couch.

I mean, these people really know what they’re doing!

Now though, it’s become deadly for a whole ‘nother reason.

As always, my family was weaving madly in and out of Ikea like in Supermarket Sweep.

(Have you ever seen that game show? It was just amazing… it was actually held in a supermarket and the participants spent about fifteen minutes playing price and product related games against each other. The last five minutes of the show was my favourite though – they took turns to run through the WHOLE supermarket just grabbing stuff and throwing it into a trolley and at the end, the one with the stuff in the trolley worth the most amount of money won and got to keep the cash! It was absolutely insane how they would go apeshit and clear stuff off the shelves with their arms… and the aisles were interspersed with big air-filled balloons shaped like product mascots that were worth hidden amounts to be revealed at the end of the run – the Jolly Green Giant was worth $500!

I used to get really excited during the Sweep segment when I was about ten or so, mainly because I was convinced that I would beat the shit out of every other competitor because I knew which things were worth the most. I mean obviously, meat, gourmet food and beauty products, right? And I had my strategy down pat, I would run straight to the gourmet stuff and shove the whole shelf into the trolley instead of daintily picking out items like most of the wimpy contestants did. The most frustrating thing would be when some idiot woman who’d obviously never shopped for anything for her family in her life would run straight to the canned aisle and throw tin after tin of peas into her cart while I would be jumping up and down and shouting, “Go for the turkey! GO FOR THE GODDAMN TURKEYARRRGGAARGHAAAARGGHHH!” Some months later, I tried to simulate my own version of the Sweep at my local Cold Storage… but that’s another tale for another time…)

ANYWAY. So we were running through Ikea right, and some dimbulb comes up with the brilliant idea to eat in the Ikea café. Okay, I’ll admit, I love that place as much as the next consumerist moron. The gravad lax is excellent and the mousse is well worth the money. But it was Saturday, and it was crowded and I should have known that something was going to happen to me.

Still, I queued up like a champion until I reached the gravlax section and found that they had run out on the left side of the shelves. My brother and I pretty much live off the stuff when we go there so he held on to the trolley while I ran over to the other side to find a plate, dodging and weaving as I went.

Turns out it was the last plate left on that end and I had snatched it out of the grasp of a dozen reaching hands and was running back triumphantly with my booty when I suddenly stepped on a potato.

Yes, that’s right. A potato.

Some kid had left a teeny piece of potato on the floor from when it had fallen off her meatball platter and in my quest for the smoked salmon, I’d neglected to see it. And so, I stepped on that little corner of over-boiled starch and I slipped. A thousand other feet missed the potato, but me, it made contact with.

I mean, come on. I couldn’t even step on a macho piece of food like a “Sveedish meatbaaal” named Jamsunda or something, it was a fucking potato. And not even a big, fat, Harley Davidson-like Idaho potato but a small piece of spud from a company who’s idea of creativity is to name the kid’s play corner “Smaland”. Really.

So by now you already think what a loser I am and the rest of the story is pretty much inconsequential blah blah blah. But here’s the kicker. And I mean that literally. My left foot, slid on the potato and, get this, into my right heel where the corner of the toenail promptly split and turned a shade of purple to rival this here font. Blood spilled out and pooled in a brown mess underneath the skin. It hurt so much that all I could do was whine between my teeth while clinging tightly to my trembling plate of gravad lax and limping away with my tail between my legs

Did anyone gasp in horror? Did anyone stop to help?

Of course not. Instead, consumers stared at me, laughing inwardly at the classic memory I had given them by gliding forward on one foot while the parents pulled their kids closer to them and looked me over reproachfully as if to suggest that I might have pelted into and kicked one of their precious, runnning-around children in the process.

I wish to god I had.

It would have made that last plate of salmon taste so much sweeter.