Don't you hate it when a telemarketer rings you first thing in the morning, like nine o'clock, and wakes you up? That happened to me this morning – it was some lady who only wanted to talk to home-owners in the workforce. "Do you own your own home?" she asked.
I answered, "No."
"Are you renting, are you?" she said.
So she didn't want to talk to me. I tried to get back to sleep for about an hour but I couldn't. So I got up and had breakfast. I thought to myself, "Today I have no pressing plans. Maybe I should do a wash. Or do some painting. Or write a letter to my friend Cat. I suppose I should spend at least a few hours fiddling about with that keyboard that Vincent lent me."
You see, the singer in my band had lent me a kind of old-fashioned analog keyboard with sliders and knobs – I'd never used a keyboard like that before. It could be useful for playing Pink Floyd songs, but only if I figure out how to use it. It has no instruction manual. Last time I played it at band practice and it made sounds like "bleep" and "bloop". But then I checked the mail-box and found a very important letter.
It was from the Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre – they wanted me to send them some certified copies of my course results in the mail. The letter said I should send these results as soon as possible. It was unexpected, but I had to do what they asked because otherwise I might not get into the courses that I applied for. It was all rather time-consuming – I had to go to the local library and photocopy eight pages of documentation from years gone by, then I had to get the photocopies "certified" at the local pharmacy.
To "certify" a photocopy means to look at it and compare it with the original to make sure they're the same, and then to add an official stamp of approval and a signature. It has to be done by a pharmacist or someone equally as trustworthy. While she was certifying my photocopies, the pharmacist asked me, "Are you applying for another course next year?"
I said, "Yes."
She asked, "What course?"
I said, "Sound Production."
The accurate answer would have been that I'm applying for "Music Industry (Technical Production)" at North Melbourne Institute of TAFE, and in second preference I'm applying for "Music Performance and/or Composition". That means I have to go to the TAFE college for an audition on December the 3rd.
They (the TAFE college) sent me some information about the audition. It said, "Two contrasting pieces should be presented within the Jazz and Contemporary idiom. Demonstrate your current musical skills on your instrument. Arrange your pieces to be no more than four minutes each. Prospective students must audition on their principle instrument..." They also test stuff like scales, chord recognition and standards of musical notation. I had a think about it and decided that one of my performance pieces should be "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel, because that's a good song to play just with piano. I once played it in a semi-public place, and some guy came up to me and said that I'm a really good piano player. And that was eight years ago – I bet I could play it even better now.
Flash animation – drag the flower right and left to make it change.
So lately I've been concentrating on practising that piece on my keyboard, without any sort of backing-track. I wonder if I can get away with auditioning just on piano, without bothering to bring my electronic keyboard – they have pianos at the TAFE college, and if I get into the course I don't want to have to bring my heavy keyboard to class every day on the tram. But it must be pretty hard to play jazz on a solo piano – I don't know what my second audition-piece is going to be. Maybe I could use a pre-recorded backing track for that. Anyway, whenever I have a moment to spare at band practices lately, I start playing that song "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel quietly and I'm getting pretty good at it now. I bet the selection people at the TAFE college will be really impressed.
For the "Music Industry (Technical Production)" course I also have to write a two page essay about why I want to do the course, what I'm planning to do with my life, what I know about the music industry, and any other information that would be useful to my application. I put it off for a long time, but finally last Tuesday I wrote the essay and sent it to the TAFE college in the mail along with my supplementary application form. I hope I don't screw this up, like I did last year – it's important to have a chance at a good education. You know what the best thing about being a student is? Getting big discounts on computer software. It's also nice to have a sense of identity.
Later on this afternoon I went to Federation Square in the city where a great crowd was gathered – they were all there to have a free dance lesson. The style this time was "Lindy Hop", a kind of old fashioned swing dance, and the teachers were from the performance group known as the Swing Patrol. Very early in the tutorial, they told everyone to find a partner. But I didn't want to find a partner so I just danced on my own. With this style of dancing, you're not supposed to do it on your own, but I didn't care.
They played the swinging jazz music and taught us a routine. They were very good teachers and they went through the dance moves slowly so that we could all keep up. Couples all around me were doing the moves. Some of them were good at it, others were not so good. I was one of the not-so-good ones. It might have been fun, anyway, but at least two people asked if they could be my partner, and that kind of ruined it for me. I don't know if it was the social interaction aspect, or the fact that I kept leading with the wrong foot during the charleston, but I just sort of left with a feeling of deflation.
I arrived home to find that my hot water system was non-functional, again. But rather than call the plumber, I decided it's about time I figure out how to re-light the pilot light myself. So I did.
On Wednesday night I went not to the karaoke but to a band practice in Cheltenham. Things with the Pink Floyd Tribute band are really coming together now – we're getting a vision of what the whole show is going to be like with its mixture of songs from different eras of Pink Floyd. Have you heard that song they did called "Bike"? It's a funny one and it sticks in my head. Listen to this little mp3 (I don't usually infringe copyright, but it's only a little snippet of a song, 25 seconds, 293k)
This week I worked on my painting for a couple of hours, primarily focussing on the intricate details of the lunar module in the picture.
One show that I always like to watch is Dead Ringers, which is a sketch-comedy series from Britain. It has people doing impressions of public figures, like politicians and entertainers. They do it so much better than Australian sketch-comedy serieses. Even though I don't recognise a lot of the people they satirize (because they're only famous in the United Kingdom), it still makes me laugh. It must be even more funny for British people who have knowledge of current events. And sometimes, they have their comedians go out into the public in their disguises and do their impressions, and we see people's reactions through the hidden cameras – hehe – it always leaves me wanting more.
Last Saturday I went to the Rob Roy and saw this lady singer who called herself Petronella – she was brilliant – I couldn't believe how good she was, playing her piano and singing in a mellow introspective style, she was just like Tori Amos. And then, these two guitarists took to the stage – they were Tyrone and Paulie from the band george. They did some cover songs and a few songs they had written for the george band – I really liked the way they did it, and Tyrone sings better than any man. The headline act was Monique Brumby, a woman who is almost famous all around Australia for being a good songwriter with a strong gutsy voice. She had a whole band playing with her so I stood up and danced sometimes, especially during that song "Stay As Sweet As You Are", which is my favourite of hers. I've seen her lots of times before, because she often plays at the same sort of gigs as artists that I'm really interested in.