The Tremendous Injustices of Living in a Cultural Backwater

Consuming movies, television and music has changed a great deal since I was a teenager. We were late adopters, and I don’t think we had a VCR until I was eighteen. If you wanted to listen to the Top 40 songs, of course, you could pop down to the local Brash’s and buy a record or, as time went by, a cassette. And if you wanted something slightly obscure, like the Beatles, I kid you not, then you went and looked in a paper catalogue with very fine print until you found the name of the album, you filled in an order form, and then you waited for months. You couldn’t see the album cover. You couldn’t see a track listing. From what I remember, it was just the name of the album, the artist, and the catalogue number. And if you wanted something that was genuinely off the beaten track, then you had to catch the train into the city and then order from Central Station or Gaslight records.

And listening to music was quite a production, especially in the day and age of actual records. Children were born with the innate knowledge that a record stylus with a delicate and expensive object. So you were super-careful putting on a record, and you sat still while it was playing, lest you scratch this precious object.
And while these things were true pretty much across the western world, Australia was very much a cultural backwater. Songs that had been hits overseas were rerecorded by local artists, presumably to make them more palatable. Albums, movies, and TV shows were all released here months, if not years after their release in America and Europe. And I’d like to tell you that this form of parochialism is from the distant past, when people listen to 8-track players while riding their dinosaurs. But the last vestiges of this are still in place, although they are being eroded by things like iTunes and the Google Play store.

All of which is to say that I understand that people get frustrated by living in a cultural backwater. And I understand why some people have taken to downloading programs, frustrated that they have to wait so long. But I call bullshit on the notion that we have suffered greatly, and that we need to inflict financial vengeance on our lackadaisical media providers. Sure, they waited until the price dropped before they bought things and showed them here. Yes, the prints of movies that we saw had been shown in every cinema from California to Indiana before they got here. And this was annoying. And it is much more convenient now that we have services like Netflix, Google play, and iTunes and can entertain ourselves in what feels like a timely manner. But to hear some people complaining, you’d swear that we were the victims of some large-scale human rights violation, rather than a bunch of people who are impatient to see a TV show. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, or think that I’m exaggerating, check out the comments below any story in a newspaper about Netflix.

And having said that, I’m off to illegally download the new episodes of Game of Thrones. I just can’t wait to see what Tyrion does next.

Netflix and Kimmy Schmidt

Like many other tech-obsessed households in Australia, we signed up for Netflix the day that it was available here. I can’t say that I had particularly high hopes, but it was a free trial, and I like to actually try things before I make up my mind about them.

The library on this service isn’t huge, but then we don’t need access to everything ever made, just enough to entertain us for an hour or so most evenings. And, for now at least, it seems like Netflix is more than able to do this.

We have started with a show that is been getting quite a lot of attention recently: the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. This is the most recent show from the people who made 30 Rock and, although I really liked 30 Rock, I think that this is even better. It’s thick with jokes, and most of them land pretty well.

So, if you’ve got a decent Internet connection and perhaps a hunger for some half-decent telly, then I think this service is certainly worth a try.

Update: One Step at a Time

I can’t remember if I shared this with you, dear and gentle readers, but I heard recently that I will be working for at least the first four weeks of next term at my wonderful interim school.

I have also picked up an extra English class, which is terrific news. I only have four classes, rather than six, which leaves me a bit underutilised, so I asked for another class. I was thrilled to find out that I have been given another class, and was even more pleased when I realised that it is a class that I already teach and work well with.

So that, for those of you following the almost farcical story of my life, is where things are at the moment.

Naming and Comprehension

Sometimes it can seem pointless and perhaps even counter-productive to think over the things that damage us or slow us down. But one of the benefits is when you come across an explanation or even expression of a situation that actually describes you experience so well that you can truly understand it.

Similarly, one of the things I love about discovering interesting words is that you will come across a word that captures something that you had been previously unable to describe properly. Until you know that there is the word nuance, for example, it was be difficult to understand that something things are simply too complex to be described in a binary manner.

In this vein, I had been feeling out of sorts in the last part of this week, but it was only when my brained happen across the word melancholy that I felt like I understood how I felt. This melancholy is not devastating or dramatic, and I am sure that it will pass, but it is easier to keep it at something of a distance when I can give a name.

The Non-Mental Gymnast

I really enjoyed the swimming sports earlier this term, so I have been approaching the athletics competition with some enthusiasm. But I am very hard to please. I don’t want to be given some job where I have to pay close attention to details and keep a lot of balls in the air, because that’s not really how I roll. Or, at least, how I roll best of all.

So I was pretty pleased when I found out that I’m basically on data entry duty for the day. It will keep me busy, but is relatively simple work. However, it will mean that I’m not out in the world, mixing it up with the students, which is a shame because this is the part of my job that I love most of all. Still, I’m sure that it will be a great day.