Search: label/train

The Sticks.

by Lori Dwyer on April 29, 2013 · 8 comments

I find myself occasionally feeling as though I have to defend my decision to live contentedly here in TinyTrainTown– in the sticks. Semi–rural. Bush. ‘All the way out here’.

Each and every courier, tradesman or journo who’s ever come to the TinyTrainHouse comments on how far away it is from anywhere. How very small the town is. How they’ve never even heard of TinyTrainTown before. The tradies who get lost on the way here are always the most disparaging, their good humor eaten up by un-curbed roads that seem to stretch forever and all kind of look the same.

“How did you come to live out here…?” People are generally mystified as to why anyone would want to live where I do. I stare back at them, equally bemused, amazed that they’re unable to see what I see.

I guess it’s true, it might seem slightly isolated. TinyTrainTown is at least an hour and half drive from Sydney. We’re fifteen minutes from the nearest service station or major supermarket, probably forty minutes from any larger stores or services.

The road into town is eight kilometers of scrub and barely used train tracks. The population tops about 700 people (and that seems an over-estimate, really). As I’ve heard said, TinyTrainTown is so small it ‘doesn’t even have a pub!’

The town is not particularly quaint or pretty. It’s so nondescript that you could literally drive through it and not realise you’d been here. The mobile reception is nonexistent, and even the land-line home phone and ADSL internet crackles and drops out terribly if it happens to be raining. Or windy. Or, you know, Wednesday. Whenever.

But that’s the worst of it. The tarnished view of the penny, the dark side of the moon. There’s always more to things than that. And if nothing else, I tend to be an optimist.

TTT

It’s quiet here, peaceful. There is no din of constant traffic, no continual thrum of people. I like that. When I was little, growing up in Paradise, it was so quiet at night you could hear the rumbling boom of thunderstorms far out at sea. I remember, as a child, staying at a relative’s house in the middle of the city suburbs and being unable to sleep for the never ending noise coming from the streets outside. The cars. The horns. Music. People. It’s never quiet, not really. You get used to it, I know that. But I’ve grown accustomed to the silence again. The only thing that desecrates it is the occasional passing car.

While the town itself is nothing much to look at, the scrubby eucalyptus bushland of the national parks that surround it are soul-soothingly pleasant. A thousand different shades of green. There are parrots and cockatoos, possums and sugar gliders. Sandstone caves and tiny creeks. Snakes and spiders, too, of course; but I don’t think any kid is really that much worse off for having a basic knowledge of them (‘basic’ rather than ‘intimate’ being the key wording here).

People know people, in TinyTrainTown. While I’m never really been a rah-rah-community-spirit kind of person and I tend to keep to myself, I know my neighbors by first name and the local shopkeepers by sight.

We actually do have shops here, though they’re as easy as anything else in the town to miss. Three of them, in fact- a fish and chip shop; a small supermarket; and post office/newsagent/grocery/DVD hire. All the shops are overpriced and sell short-dated stock at the tills, but you can still get all the basics you need. 

We walk to the shops, most days, when we’re not in a hurry and the weather’s favorable. Some days we walk home from daycare and school. The round trip never takes longer than half an hour by foot, no more than four minutes by car. If it takes longer than two minutes to drive there… it’s probably not in TinyTrainTown.

It’s safe here. It feel secure. It feels like a wholesome place to bring up small children. And most of the time, it’s just a nice place to be.

None of this seems to sway anyone’s opinion. “Yeah but, love… it’s just so far away!”

I find the only answer anyone gets is in the language everyone seems to understand.

“Uhhhh… The house prices are cheap. Three bedroom house, big backyard…”

And that makes logical sense to most incredulous tradesman who’ve made the hour trek to TinyTrainTown. It’s easier to see the appeal in that; in choosing between a tiny flat or a huge mortgage an hour closer to the city, or having a house of my own and dealing with the occasional inconvenience of living ‘all the way out here’.

I made the right choice– I rarely ever doubt that. It’s just other people, I find, that take some convincing.

{ 8 comments }

Tastes Like Teen Spirit.

by Lori Dwyer on April 3, 2013 · 0 comments

When I said I was only doing cool giveaways from now on… this is one of those. Because, as we know- I love music. Music-ness brings happiness. Or something. And concerts are good for everything that ails you.

And sometimes awesome stuff shows up on my doorstep. Like this…

image

 

Why yes, those are bottles of juice that have been grown to the strains of different types of music. Check it out. We’ve got…

Blue Suede Juice– made with Elvis, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and all those groovers.

Baby I Was Grown This Way– serenaded by Lady Gaga, Madonna, Katy Perry and various other popettes.

And, my personal favoriteTastes Like Teen Spirit. Influenced by the Seattle sounds– Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Pixies and so on.

Why, you ask…? Well. They’re all Made By MOG, Telstra’s new music streaming service. There’s this theory that plants who are played music make better, tastier fruit, and therefore better, tastier juice.

I’m a big believer in all that hippy stuff, as we know. Music and moods make the world go round. Little thoughts can have big effects. There’s a whole school of thought and experimentation called ‘ecosonics’- music for your plants. Which ties in beautifully with the concept of ‘Noetics’ based on research that suggests that the collective thoughts of people actually produce enough physical energy to cause identifiable effects on their environment. They have online experiments you can participate in– its one of those things on my “I’m gonna do this, eventually” list.

The jury’s still out as to whether or not playing MOG music has had any effect on the taste of the juice itself. And I’ve even got control samples for this experiment– Cedar Creek Orchard, where the apples were serenaded, is an institution in TinyTrainTown. It’s just up the road. So close, in fact, I even got you a photo to prove it.

 

CedarCreekOrchard

 

Anyway. Taste aside, the juice certainly looks happy. And that’s what counts. Although, having said that, free juice– and a $100 admin fee to write this post– certainly contributes to both musicality and happiness. Or… something.

In honour of music being awesome, I’ve got the following stuff to be won, just for you, my jellybeans…

Ten x 1 month MOG subscriptions.

One x $100 TicketMaster voucher.

To win, I want to know– if you could flavour a beverage with music, what music would you choose? What song, do you think, would taste good?

Go in the draw to win by filling in the form below- if you can’t see the form, click here. Answers that particularly tickle my pickle at the time of drawing the prizes win. Entries close midnight AEST on the 10th April, 2013. Winners will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before their prize is redrawn. My decision is final and no bitching, whinging or circle-jerking shall be entered into.

{ 0 comments }

A fortnight or so ago, I was invited to a real actual red–carpet movie premiere. With free popcorn and introduction speeches from the director and famous people and everything. It was one of those cases of “I’m almost sure these people don’t know who I am, but I’m taking full advantage of that and going anyway”. (Just to disclaimerise– this was before I took my stance against Pointless Corporate Whoring. And I would have gone anyway. C’mon, jellybeans… it’s a move premiere. With a ’feel good’ dress code. That sounds like fun, yes?)

The worst movie I've ever seen.

The worst movie I’ve ever seen.

 

Anyway. Despite rude and surly cinema staff, it was fun. My mate Kristabelle was my date for the evening. We dressed up. There were goodie bags. And we sat next to famous–type–people, like a movie critic and some Olympic swimmer. We saw Magda in the flesh and she was just as cool as you’d think.

It’s just a pity that the movie sucked so very, very hard.

I wanted to like this movie, I really did. I was prepared to like it, cheering it on. The story of a stay at home mum of two who starts web casting to break the monotony and ease the boredom, and ends up being ’discovered’ and running away to the big city and having to decide between fame and Ronan Keating as her husband doing the washing up in nothing but a pink apron– what’s not to like, really?

It started well– soaring cinematography over green hills, a fresh–faced actress named Laura Michelle Kelly in drab olive clothes, spinning headily in a glorious Sound of Music parody. Which was interrupted by a shot of her twin toddlers eating cow-poo. I know, it should have been hysterical. Unfortunately, at the same time, I think most of the crowd realized that Laura Michelle Kelly– let’s just call her LMK– couldn’t actually act. At all.

The point you realise she can't act.

The point you realise she can’t act.

To give her props where they’re due, when LMK was singing, dancing, performing the musical numbers (did I mention this was a musical? No? Well. There you go), it was impossible to take your eyes off her. In song, LMK was awesome.

But again, acting probably isn’t her strong point.

Surprisingly, Ronan Keating could act; and did a rather good job with a slightly ridiculous role as a whale researcher who helicopters himself out to Antarctica on an annoyingly regular basis, leaving his wife and kids stuck in rural Tasmania while he listens to the songs of humpbacks. (Yes, really).

Magda, as we already know, can also really actually act. It’s just that the script was so cheesy and so unintentionally sexist it came close to being downright offensive.

On one hand you have LMK, main character, singing her heart out at every opportunity. All the other women in the movie (including a cute, pregnant Pia Miranda and a funny–as–herself Corrinne Grant) hate her. But every single guy she meets– from seventeen year old nerd to tanned, corny pony-tailed busker– fall instantly in love with her. In fact, the pony–tailed, singing busker LMK meets in Sydney seemed to serve no plot purpose whatsoever. Except possibly to perform a song that demonstrated perfectly how not transfer that stage musical feeling to the big screen.

On the other end of the scale, Magda’s character was the ’corporate bitch’, a woman who left her husband in order to shatter the glass ceiling and holds LMK’s devotion to her family and her husband in disdain. Or so we are led to believe. But, evidently, Magda can’t be entirely happy about that decision. Because every time something goes wrong with her somewhat lame evil plan, we see her locked in a bathroom stall eating cookies from her handbag.

Why? I don’t know. No reason was given, nor even alluded to. Maybe it was just because its clearly impossible to have a larger woman on screen without alluding, in some way, to her eating habits.

For pity’s sake.

That was compounded by Magda’s declaration, in the movie’s final scenes, that her husband had, in fact, left her because she couldn’t have children. And that was why she pursued her career as viciously as she did and, apparently, was why she was such a cold hard bitch. She also declared that she was ’Fabulous!’… but not in any way that suggested she really thought she was.

Because, of course, her character couldn’t possibly have been a woman who chose to remain childless, chose not to get married. She couldn’t have genuinely been so passionate about her career that she was happy with the decisions she had made. She couldn’t have even been a lesbian. Not in this movie. Not in a movie where the lead character makes the decision to abandon her career completely, and return to an existence she finds unfulfilling, so that her husband will come back to her and her children won’t be scarred for life. Oh, and, bonus!– the formerly bitchy clique of local women seemingly embrace her. Enough to don multi– coloured rubber gloves and participate in a sing–along. Because, of course, she is one of them now.

Ronan's bum- the best bit of the movie. Now you don't need to see the movie at all. Ever.

Ronan’s bum- the best bit of the movie. Now you don’t need to see the movie at all. Ever.

By this stage, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d cut to a shot of Magda, alone and crying, surrounded by empty biscuit packets and chocolate wrappers. They didn’t. They did provide an unintentionally hilarious comic ending. Which wasn’t helped at all by the fact that it was filmed in an area very close to TinyTrainTown (where I live), and all Kristabelle and I could say was “Holy crap!! That’s Corbett’s Hardware!!”

Anyway. After a long winded duet with lots of cheesy footage of Ronan Keating standing, boy-band style, on the deck of a whale research ship with badly green-screened footage of the Antarctic rolling blandly behind him; he somehow commandeers a helicopter which he has to set down in the grassy courtyard of a small ‘Tasmanian’ town. It’s playing humpback whale songs from speakers. (Again… really). Ronan, with real actual tears in his eyes, proceeds to compare himself to a humpback whale and declare his love to LMK using some strange synonym that I’m not entirely sure I understood (possibly because Kristabelle and I were laughing so hard by this point that we had actual real tears in our own eyes).

Cue musical number, and they all (except, presumably, Magda) live happily ever after.

***

And this is what’s wrong with the Aussie film industry. For every awesome movie by the Edgerton brothers… there’s also a Goddess.

{ 12 comments }