Saturday, November 28, 2009

Culture of Politics, Politics of Culture.

The kiddy koncert yesterday went off more or less okay. Our two budding maestros were involved in the wee string orchestra, which played three (mercifully) short numbers in reasonably good order. Actually, they sounded surprisingly musical, and in their matching white shirts with red satin bowties and cummerbunds, the whole collection of kids are horribly cute.

However, the concert was also the yearly opportunity for a set of music teachers to permit their students a performance showcase. And I do understand that it's very helpful for the kids to get a chance to perform in front of an audience, yes. But oh, my. Oh, my. I do believe that aside from the three little orchestra pieces, there were something like forty other performance pieces, from students of various ages.

And then there was a break of ten or fifteen minutes, in which certificates were presented to all the students for their gradings etc. And a couple of awards were handed out. And then there were three more performance pieces.

All up, it ran from 1900 to a bit past 2100. I had to take off about half an hour before it ended, because the Mau-Mau was getting increasingly restive, and in the small theatre it was hard to keep her under control. To be brutally honest, I was glad of the excuse. The seats were low, and my knees were bent sharply. After more than an hour, I was in a certain amount of pain there.

Anyway. Tasmania's a small place in some ways, and the music/culture scene is one of them. To wit: there were two federal politicians there in the audience, both of whom (I believe) had family amongst the performers. And I found their concert-attendance behaviours really interesting.

One of 'em is a Liberal senator. As I walked out with the Mau-Mau, I passed him in a deserted corridor, mobile phone attached to his ear, deep in an earnest, highly political chat. (No, I didn't stay to listen. And even if I had, I wouldn't write about it. I have a strong belief in the privacy of others, including even politicians, Senator. Keep that in mind the next time the government wants to crush the Internet, eh?)

Now, fair enough: the Libs have their problems at the moment. It's nice he took the time to be at the concert at all. But he did, in fact, duck out halfway.

On the other end of the scale we had a female MHR in-house, and she made it through the entire show. Mind you, the moment she stepped out the mobile was glued to her ear like some kind of bizarre cyberpunk jewellery -- but she did get through the concert, sure. Of course, she's from the opposite side of Parliament, too.

It's interesting to wonder about their concert-attendance techniques because of the dichotomies between them. Long-time fed versus first-termer. Male versus female. Labor versus Liberal. Stable, government party situation versus wildly unstable leadership-struggle situation. You get the picture: so many variables in play that there's no way to draw any conclusions at all as to how they really felt about the concert, and what kind of roles they saw for themselves there, and why one would duck out halfway while the other would endure the entire thing.

One thing does puzzle me, though: WTF did politicians do before the advent of the mobile phone?


And in other news: in keeping with the minor disaster theme of the day, I was helping the orchestra director place a very large, very heavy vase of flowers. I put the vase on the floor in the indicated site, using a very proper deep knee-bend technique to ensure my back didn't go ker-spung... and so my rather aged and worn trousers went ka-zortch instead. The seam down the arse literally shredded itself in one go, from just below the waistband to halfway down the inner thigh.

It was not a particularly enjoyable moment, but I can't say I was really bothered by it either. I really should have turfed those trousers a while back, but I quite liked them, so I ignored the fact that they were getting very thin in the arse region. You get what you deserve sometimes, eh?

I ducked up the road to K-mart, knowing it would still be open, and found a couple pairs of trews to purchase in replacement. The lass at the changing rooms thought my explanation as to why I'd be wearing one of the new trousers on the way out was rather funny...


Final notes: the orchestra rehearsal was at 1430. The concert didn't kick off until 1900. That left us with some time to fill, and we didn't particularly want to drive home and then turn around and drive back again. So I managed to find a showing of Cloudy, With A Chance Of Meatballs that fit our schedule, and I'm very happy to say it was a lot of fun. The animation is the usual Pixar excellence. The writing was very good: fast, often very funny, frequently clever. There were plenty of jokes for the adults to pick up, including a lot of pop-culture film references tucked neatly into the script for you to enjoy if you spot them. Voice characterisations were excellent: particular kudos to Bruce Campbell as the sleazy mayor (fantastic combination of scripting, voicing and visualisation there), Neil Patrick Harris as Steve the Monkey (wearing a Monkey Thought Translator invented by the main character... frequently hilarious) and a really wonderful effort from Mr T as the township's manic black cop.

The slapstick stuff is plentiful, the visual gags are just fine, the story works, and I had a damned good time. Go and see it, with kids or without.


  1. "omething like forty other performance pieces....


    I am sorry I kinda blanked out on the rest of that post due to that clause.

    FRAK'n hell

  2. To be fair, many of them were only a minute or so long, at least in the first half. Lots of small kids in the grade 1-2 music level. But... yeah. It does wear.

    It's hard. I know the value of performance skills for the kids. And you don't get those without an audience. But oh... it's damned hard to be that audience for two solid hours.

  3. I'm going to see that movie with Jennicki

  4. Sounds like a creul andn unusual punishment to me. maybe the Lib pollie was there to test it out ready for the Libs next 'tough on crime' policy run.

    " are hereby sentanced to three school concerts, and one amateur dramatics production..of the Mikado, and may god have mercy on your soul"

    I bet bruce campbell would make an excellent pollie

  5. Now I know how my parents used to feel. My sister would just fall asleep, especially if it was a Mahler Symphony. I had to do a solo in Britten's War Requiem once and I remember hearing my sister (in the second row) yawn loudly during this very quiet moment. Not as funny as farting.

  6. I feel like I'm in living in your mirror universe FH.

    I went to MY student concert on Sunday and, well, same same, except that I was in it, and you know what? Becasue I was in a massed cello choir of 40 instruments sitting behind the 9 yr old bass section (and realising that they were actualy MUCH better than I at playing the bloody thing), the weirdest thing happened - I was bloody well 9 yrs old again, doing something I didn't know how to do and getting off on the sheer adrenalyn rush of performance.

    And, my family was there in the audeince watching, and I'm that delighted and grateful that they love me THAT much that they could be bloody well bothered.

    Your boys will never forget it - even if they manage to repress it themselves.


  7. Thank you for the encouragement, Hughesy... and I'm glad to hear you were enjoying your fifteen minutes, there.

    Like I said: I know the value of these things, and of having an audience. I just don't know why it has to be two hours at a time!

  8. The brat has offered to take me to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. He figures the title alone makes it worth seeing.