Wed. May 22nd, 2024

List Challenges delivered another newsletter to my email. It featured the usual lists of best movies, books, etc, and there was also yet another in a series of bucket lists. I like reading these just to see what is on other people’s bucket lists, and also because they often tell us something about that person. The latest one was 100 Bucket List Worthy Accomplishments. The list creator, HungryInTheHat, seemed to be a bit of a fan of Capitalism, and maybe into authority, and not the most environmentally-conscious person. One item was ‘Meet a Billionaire’ with a picture of Bill Gates. Another was ‘Go on a police ride-along’. Another was ‘Cut down a tree with a chainsaw’ (wtf?). But then there was ‘See the Redwoods’ with a picture of said Redwood trees, maybe from Muir Woods, which I’ve visited. Beautiful. More: ‘Ride in a monster truck’ (redneck?). And the clincher: ‘Tour a mint’ (money, money money). It got me thinking I haven’t really done a proper bucket list, so that’s what I did. Check it out here under Favourite Things.

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I finished digitising my Carl Wilson solo album. The songs are sounding better every time. The song the Grammy is real catchy. I like the girly backing singers’ fade out of ‘We thought you wanted to be a star/Who the hell do you think you are?’ So, once I digitised it, I burned a cd and added it to the LP package, then converted the files to mp3, normalised them and put them in my digital music collection. Then I grabbed my favourites – The Grammy and Hurry Love – and put them in the digital jukebox (I use a program called Media Monkey). It’s never a simple process, but it’s a satisfying one.

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Since I was digitising albums, I decided to do one I hadn’t done yet. It was my cd of Peculiar Hole in the Sky, an amazing collection of ‘Pop Psych From Down Under’ on the BigBeat label. It’s part of a series of four albums of 60s garage rock from Australia. The title track is performed by The Valentines (featuring a young Bon Scott), and written by Vanda and Young of The Easybeats, and it’s great psych and freakbeat. Not at all like their signature crappy bubblegum sound (Knick Knack Paddywack, anyone?). So many gems, so many weird bands (1863 Establishment, Hugo, hmmm?). I love it. It’s the sound of Love meet the Dukes of Stratosphere. I’ve got three of the four albums, and I’m hoping one day to get that fourth one.

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I then chilled out with a very relaxing read in my rocking chair of the manga Shuna’s Journey, by Hayao Miyazaki. This was one of the items I bought on my recent shopping spree in Melbourne and it was very satisfying. Just a short one volume book, the translator, Alex Dudok De Wit, calls it more of an emonogatari, or illustrated story, than a manga. Shuna, a young prince from a poor village, rides an animal that’s a cross between an elk and a horse, on a journey to the west to find the Golden Grain that will save his people. Along the way he encounters astonishing things, plus a young girl called Thea and her little sister, who he rescues from slavery. Fans of Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli film Princess Mononoke will recognise Shuna and his trusty steed, called a Yakul, as an early version of the characters from that film. But he published the story in 1983, and this is the first English translation. In the excellent Translators Notes at the end, De Wit detects the work of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea stories as a possible influence on Miyazaki’s story. He had apparently wanted to adapt them, but was refused permission at the time. When permission was granted later, his son, Goro, directed A Tale of Earthsea, somewhat unsuccessfully. I loved this story, especially for its powerful symbolism and mythology, and the artwork was beautiful. I will read it many times.

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