Sunday, December 25, 2011


Merry Christmas to all from Blandwagon, Angry Johnny, the Evil Monkeys, Ursula Andress, Roger Corman, and everyone else here at Get On The Blandwagon!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Last Saturday I went to The Ellington to hear some jazz. If you haven't been to The Ellington... imagine a cool Melbourne jazz club, then run it through the "Perth" filter in Photoshop. It's still kinda cool, but only in relation to what's around it (most specifically the big "designer" McDonalds they just opened across the street).

The assiduous reader of this blog will already know my opinion of Perth jazz musicians: they're highly talented, but overindulged. The uncultivated audiences of this city are supposed to be pathetically grateful to be allowed to come into their presence, and to expect them to provide a well-planned, carefully arranged or, heaven forfend, entertaining show is the height of presumption. I only went to this particular show because I hadn't heard of the performers, so there was a chance that some of them might still be humble enough to care what the audience would enjoy hearing.

What I actually got was a mixed bag. Half of the time the performance was exactly what I wanted: a mixture of classics and original numbers, with the standards given fresh new treatments that reflected both the potency of the original and the elan of the musicians. The other half of the time, it was more of the usual Perth jazz crap - long, complicated, tedious, interchangeable solos of great technical merit but no beauty, each one utterly unrelated to the (much shorter) song that bookended it. Jazz pianist Benny Green can hammer out a version of 'Down By The Riverside' that stamps and swings in his signature style and showcases his vast talent... and never, for one second, stops being 'Down By The Riverside'. Give Tal Cohen the 74 year old standard 'Caravan', on the other hand, and within thirty seconds Juan Tizol's masterwork is but a distant memory, one to which you will only return several subjective hours later when the song concludes.

If only they could have seen the looks on the faces of the audience. When Saffron Sharp sang unexpected but well-designed harmonies with her backing singers, or her double bass player flicked out a complicated rhythm that was echoed back by the other instruments, we were captivated. By contrast, around the third or fourth minute of the seventh or eighth very long, freeform Carl Mackey sax solo, we were swirling ice around empty glasses, showing each other photos on our iPhones, fiddling with our jewellry, or just gazing blankly off into space.

Philistines, obviously, unworthy of the greatness before us.

Monday, December 19, 2011


In modern Australia most sensible people have chosen one of two options when it comes to Christmas presents. Either they do a Secret Santa thing and buy one present for one family member each, or over the years they estrange all difficult family members until they're left with just two or three who are happy with a jar of festive peanuts.

Being estranged from the sensible community myself, I still do things the old-fashioned way. Between family, friends and the girls in the office, I had twenty three presents to buy, steal, make or regift this year. Further complicating the issue is the fact that I'm by nature a careful and considerate gift giver. Even for people I don't particularly like, I can't just wander into Kmart and get the first thing that falls into my price range. I have to trek all over the city, visiting many stores, until I find something I think they'd appreciate.

One byproduct of this extensive and intensive shopping is that I tend to come across things I never would have seen otherwise, and yet realise I can't live without. I end up buying a present for myself half as often as I buy one for someone else.

So far this year I've acquired the following:

iPod transmitter, $55, JB HiFi - "While I'm getting a DVD for my nephew, I really should check out their iPod accessories since my old transmitter broke. Ooh, shiny!"

Coconut shell necklace, $10, Fremantle street vendor - "I need a coffee after buying a book for those frien... ooh, interesting!"

Hoodie, $66, online T-shirt market - "My friend will love this T-shirt. Hey, they do the same design in a hoodie! Awesome!"

Cufflinks, $30, hipster boutique - "Would my sister like this pendant? I don't kno... wait a second, those cufflinks are cool!"

Shirts, $4, Good Samaritan thrift shop - "I've finally got the perfect gift for Junior. What's next? Hey, this street has a Good Sammys!"

Ceramic cargo containers, $45, William Topp - "Should I get these for my friends? They might not "get" them. Still, they're very cool. In fact they're TOO cool for the likes of them. And they'd look great in my kitchen..."

Pop art melamine tray, $25, William Topp - "Well I'm back to look at those earings I noticed on my last visit, maybe for my other sister. Hmmm... on second thoughts they're a bit meh. And expensive. But hey, this tray is REALLY cool..."

My expenditure for those twenty three presents comes to just under $400. Stuff for me comes to $235. I'm doing well.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Nearly a week ago was the 7th blogiversary of Get on the Blandwagon!, and let's be honest, it hasn't been a good year for blogging. After I got back from Copenhagen in May, the wheels seem to have come off the Blandwagon... then rolled down the hill, gone over a cliff, and exploded into flames at the bottom, as Hollywood has taught us is customary in these matters.

Still, even when marriages have reached the stage of silent resentment and vindictive sniping, anniversaries are still observed. And so it is with blogs.

According to The Get On The Blandwagon! Modern Blogiversary Gifts List, the correct gift for the 7th Blogiversary is rare earth magnets. Perhaps to remind recalcitrant bloggers of the value of sticktoitiveness.

Friday, December 09, 2011


I've been over at my friend Junior's house this evening, admiring his new Godzilla poster...

... and making it more Christmassy...

Monday, December 05, 2011


With the arrival of December my thoughts have turned to Christmas... well, not so much "turned" as "been forced off the road by the mad careening Christmas juggernaut". I put out my usual nativity, hung garlands of tinsel around my exploitation movie posters and my backlit picture of Johnny Cash flipping the bird, and put Sufjan Stevens' loopy Christmas carols on high rotation.

But when it came to the Christmas Tree, I decided I needed to go in a new direction. My minimalist, post-modern "tree" has over the years become stretched and tired, evolving from a funky spiral into an overgrown pencil shaving.

So I left it in the back of the cupboard, went down to The Reject Shop, and bought myself a new tree for $30. It's wretched, as you'd expect from a $30 tree. But I managed to make it a bit more interesting.

I've seen a couple of inverted trees in magazines, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's not as easy as it looks - you wouldn't believe how reliant the standard fake Christmas Tree is on gravity to hold itself together.

First I had to drill holes in the sections of the trunk and screw them together. Then I had to screw cuphooks into the base and hang the tree using rubber tap washers from the hook in the ceiling.

Still, the final result is fun and inexpensive and a little bit transgressive. Plus Santa can fit a lot of presents under it.


The final Serendipity Dinner attracted nine diners. I was at a work seminar all day, but as it finished at 3pm I actually had more preparation time than ever before. And, serendipitously, I needed it. The main course took THREE HOURS to prepare, although I had time to clean the kitchen and set the table while things were simmering. But it was still tight. As it was I had to make the entree, from scratch, in between building negronis and passing around blini for the assembled guests.

Fortunately the entree was an easy and surprisingly excellent white bean soup with garlic crostini. Main course was a gourmet red wine and chorizo Shepherd's Pie, topped with colcannon and served with a green salad. Dessert was two new homemade icecreams: creamy pistachio and cranberry, and basil with marscapone. The pistachio and cranberry was probably nicer, but the basil won praise simply for being unexpected. True, it had so much sugar that we all have diabetes now, but at least we weren't bored.