Crayons – Donna Summer – 2008

“Now you know your queen is back” is just one line of the lyrics from the song “The Queen is Back” from Donna Summer‘s new album Crayons not due for local Australian release until the 7th June. And I tell you now, never a truer word was spoken. Donna, the Queen, is back with an album that will have you outta your seat.

It’s been a while between albums and in the intervening years there have been way too many Donna Summer “Best of”, “Collections” and “Anthologies”. There have also been a couple of “Enough is Enough” duets rolled out. One with Westlife and another with Australia’s own Tina Arena. Both valid as good music, but it has been a long time waiting for something new from Ms Summer.

2008 is the year and Donna Summer has delivered.

“Stamp Your Feet” is the first official single from the album, though it appears that track 8 “I’m a Fire” was released in early March as a digital only release and made it all the way to number 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. “Stamp Your Feet” is a great lead song, though until today I realise I have some miss-heard lyrics. It seems that where I heard “Make a big-arse sound” she was actually singing “Make the biggest sound”. I prefer my lyrics.

To be honest though I would have loved for Donna to relaunch with the afore mentioned “The Queen is Back”, perhaps she and her management felt it would be a little conceited to come back with a song proclaiming

She’s back
People screaming that you want your diva
She’s back
I always told you that I’d never leave you

I’m your friend, I’m your lover
I’m your sister, my dear brother
I’m your dear fairy Godmother
Now you know your queen is back

Personally I think the words and the sentiment behind them are apt. She is a true Diva, no other female artist has had number one hits for the past four decades and, if marketed right, Crayons should deliver her a few more.

Track List

  1. Stamp Your Feet
    Big-arse sound – awesome track
  2. Mr Music
    A homage to music
  3. Crayons – Featuring Ziggy Marley
    A ditty about how we are all the same
  4. The Queen is Back
    She speaks the truth
  5. Fame (The Game)
    “Makes a fool of everyone” think this one is to the young kids in the industry
  6. Sand on My Feet
    Closest the album comes to a ballad
  7. Driving Down Brazil
    Kind of reminds me of Copacabana
  8. I’m A Fire
    Already a dance floor smash hit
  9. Slide Over Backwards
    Has a bit of a Nutbush vibe
  10. Science of Love
    Nice beat again reminds be a bit of another song
  11. Be Myself Again
    Another ballad song about love lost
  12. Bringing Down the Reign
    A bit of a tribal theme
  13. It’s Only Love
    Available on the international version, I’ll have to wait for local release for this one.

Amelie and Elliot; Welcome to the World

On Wednesday May 21, 2008 at around 9:45 am Nikki Waterfall and Ben Thomas gave birth to twins; Elliot Walter Waterfall Thomas and Amelie Waterfall Thomas.

Amelie Waterfall Thomas Elliot Walter Waterfall Thomas
Elliot Walter Waterfall Thomas                                    Amalie Waterfall Thomas

As twins are want to do, Elliot and Amelie decided to poke their heads into the world early and because of this are currently spending a few days in the neonatal ward where sick and premature babies are cared for. In fact they may spend up to two weeks there.

Today we were able to make a trek to Heidelberg to meet the two new humans, only four days old. We had to wash our hands entering the ward and then had to apply a watery disinfectant before we could touch the babies.

Walking in Ben was changing Elliot’s nappy, which looked like a tricky job with Elliot in a humidicrib. But from seeing Ben do it you can tell he’s going to be a great hands on Dad and isn’t going to shy away from the icky bits of having a baby.

Being born a little jaundiced Amelie is currently undergoing some UV treatment, and I gotta say it must be working as I didn’t notice a hint of yellow on her. Her little eyes are covered to protect them from the light.

Ben the new Dad takes care of Baby Amelie
Ben holding Amelie

What was really amazing is holding Elliot and thinking “he’s just like a normal little baby, I don’t know what all the fuss is about”, then turning around and seeing another baby in the ward that was full size and realising that Elliot and his little sister (she’s 15 minutes younger) were about a third of the other baby’s size.

David, Nikki, Ben and Elliot
David, Nikki and Ben with Elliot

I can’t wait to get to know these two little human beings, and seeing on how they come from such wonderful breeding stock I’m certain they will be fine little fellows indeed.

To say I left the hospital feeling a little clucky would be an understatement. I love babies and little kids, I love the way they see the world and the way they approach life. I will enjoy watching them grow.

And if you visit my Flickr, you’ll see a lot more photos of the babies, there are more of Amelie because, well, Nikki as feeding Elliot for a while and I had to do something with the time, plus she’s a gorgeous little bundle of joy.

Iron Man – 2008

Finally last night we got to get over to Crown for the cheap Tuesday to see Iron Man.

It was amazing, by far the best comic-based movie I’ve seen.

The graphics were amazing, the storyline was fairly solid, there was no awkward moment where you thought, what were the hell were they thinking, which is a feeling I’ve had in practically every other comic-book-high-effects movie of late.

It seems that these days it’s all about the CG and less about the story, Iron Man was not like this at all. Iron Man is a welcome relief to some of the crap that Hollywood has produced of late.

I obviously don’t want to say too much about the movie because you just have to see it. I can’t wait for the high Blu-Ray.

Props big time to Robert Downey Jr., he did an excellent job bringing Tony Stark and Iron Man to life.

Baked Lemon Cheesecake

Baked Cheesecake

On Sunday David and I thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at our friend Sandy’s house, along with her partner Rob and friends Sue and Pam. On the Thursday prior I offered to bake something sweet for desert. Baking is something I rarely do and rarely succeed at. Thankfully this occasion was an exception.

The Ingredients

750 g cream cheese
250 g packet of sweet biscuit
1/2 cup caster sugar
125 g melted butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind

Blend or process the biscuits until fine, but not dust.The blender is all we had but I’m sure a food processor would be a better option. With the blender it seemed that the crushed biscuit became quite compact below the blades. Oh and I didn’t do all the biscuits at once, just showed it here for the photo.

I used Marie biscuits, they are nice and sweet and taste like McDonalds Cookies.

Melt the butter and combine with the biscuit.

I looked at the piddly amount of melted butter and though, how the heck is that going to combine all that biscuit… but it did.

In a foiled 22 cm spring-form cake pan press the biscuit base along the bottom and around the sides.

Refrigerate for one hour.

At this point I thought there was way too much biscuit and thoroughly believed I had to wrong size pan. But after a couple of minutes of pressing and compressing the biscuit I became concerned that I wouldn’t have enough to make the walls thick enough to support the cake. But I guess that is where one should trust the recipe.

Mix the eggs and caster sugar until it appears creamy
Add in the cream cheese, lemon, lemon rind and beat until it is smooth.

Chop the cream cheese into small pieces to make it easier to blend and make sure you’ve left it out of the fridge to soften up first.

Pour the mixture into the chilled base. Place in a preheated oven (set to 180 c) for one hour.
After cooking allow the cake to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar.

Refrigerate for at least three hours (only after cooling) to allow the cake to set.

I wish I had a photo of the final product, once it was out of the container, but alas I was so worried that it would fall apart as soon as it was released from the spring-form pan that I didn’t dare open it at home. Instead I took it like that do lunch and thankfully it was enjoyed by all.

I enjoyed making it, but there was a level of anxiety that I didn’t like, I guess that would go away if I did more baking, but my waistline wouldn’t. All the fun things to make and eat are bad for you!

The recipe came from the Women’s Weekly cookbook titled “Cook”.

The Door

I stood fast before the door, pondering it’s ability to exist, I looked for flagstone and foundations believing it to a remnant of a home now gone. But none were there, just a door in the middle of a field. And me standing before the door.

Reaching out, I placed my hand on its roughened surface, the door, once white, now tattooed with cracks showing a faded greying wood below. Rubbing a panel tiny flecks of paint darted here and there.

I pushed on the door in an attempt to push it over and be done with the lie that a door could simply exist, standing free. Rather than fall I heard the distinct click of a latch and the groan of hinges that hadn’t moved for many years, and I saw the door begin to swing open.

My eyes widened taking in the horror of the place beyond the door. A rush of heat littered with grit warmed my face, an acrid stench filled my nose as terror gripped my heart.

I stepped beyond the threshold, gravel scraping below my feet pushing into the flesh. I stepped further in, drawn by an unknown desire to be within this place.

Behind me the door closed, I heard the groan of the hinges, the click of the latch and turned to see the door was no more. I was enveloped by the the scene, I felt alone.

Then I felt I was being watched, the sensation was unmistakable. Eyes were on me from the darkness. A ragged call from the void hurt my ears and set my heart racing faster.

First one, then many misshapen figures were making their way through the darkness, I felt the heat rising as the crowd drew near.

And then there was a beam of light, it descended from the cavern, moving its way through the black until it surrounded me. There was a flood of fear beyond the light. A scream of agony and the smell of burning flesh.

Bathed in the light I turned my face upward and smiled. My feet left the ground, I was ascending, accompanied by a chorus of guttural groans from those left below. And I heard a voice. She called to me from above and said unto me

“Welcome home.”

House Hunting

We rent at the moment, our house is a lovely three-bedroom two-storey home in Signature Estate in the suburb of Sanctuary Lakes, a western suburb of Melbourne. The house we live in is now for sale and it makes us a little sad, but also a little nervous. It’s time we finally buy a place of our own, so we decided to look for property management services online to start house hunting.

It means we’re really making the decision that we’ll be staying in Melbourne, which I suppose was never really a question. Melbourne is a great place and after three years here we’re happy to stay.

But there is a conundrum. Our house is for sale for $365,000 we’re now pre-approved for $300,000 because that is all we have asked for. We already have a home loan for a house in Sydney and don’t want to stretch ourselves too far. But I’m starting to wonder if $300,000 is going to get us a descent house.

Today we saw four houses via open house. Two were alright, but would need some work. Two were not nice at all, one of the two smelt really bad, the other looked to be missing whole parts of a wall and had a bathroom with floors that were probably in serious need of repair. One of the ok houses was too small, but the property looked good and the house was only $260,000. But it had a small lounge room and no dining room, we have a lot furniture.

So we’re not certain what to do. Borrow more, buy the house and stay where we are or keep looking around.

We saw one house, only from the outside, which looks promising. It’s at the end of road, right near the freeway. It’s also at the end of a schoolyard which is great cause when we’re at work the kids are at school and when we’re at home, school is out. It is also the ONLY house in that part of the street. It is the best placement even if there is some traffic noise you’d get used to it. We haven’t seen inside it so it could be a bust.

The other thing that is frustrating me at the moment is the way homes are priced. You can look at a home and love it and then see the price $280,000 to $330,000 a range of $50,000 which is pretty freaking huge and no home owner is going to take $280,000 for their home.

Why don’t home prices get listed like car prices, present it as, this is the house and this is the price for the house. I’m not into haggling and the fact that there is a possible movement of 50K is just madness. I just like to know how much a vendor wants, decided if I can or am willing to pay it and then pay or walk away. Surely it would be so much easier.

One house that we though was quite interesting, the one mentioned above all by itself, was taken off the market because of, as the sales person told us, a couple of thousand dollars. The owner knows what they want and no one has yet come to the party with the payment. But if you think the sales person is going to be honest with you and tell you what the owner wants you’d be sadly mistaken. When questioned he said “if you come in with a price of $290,000 the owner will take it”. He then when on to say “and offer of about $293,000 would secure the home”.

I’m thinking that after saying it was taken off the market over “a couple of thousand dollars” he should be better at providing an honest price. We know what our budget is, we don’t want to dance around. We just want to know how much it costs. It’s really not so hard.

Hard Candy – Madonna – 2008

Madonna\'s Hard Candy I’ve been listening to Madonna’s Hard Candy on and off over the past few weeks, trying to get into it and I think it’s finally starting to sound good to me, but then music shouldn’t be this hard to like.

Don’t get me wrong, I love “4 Minutes”, “Candy Shop” and many of the other songs on the album but I feel that the album is less Madonna and more about her collaborators.

For instance the afore mentioned “Candy Shop” is written by and probably produced by Pharrell Williams, I don’t need the sleeve notes to tell me that, the song sounds very N.E.R.D. the phrasing is Pharrell all the way.

Then there is the hit single “4 Minutes” featuring Justin Timberlake and Timberland, a song that wouldn’t sound alien on a Justin Timberlake album.

I guess my feeling is, I’m not hearing a lot of “Madonna” in Hard Candy. But then maybe the thing is that people like Timberland have changed the face of music.

In the past a Producer would sit in the background, a single credit in the sleeve of the album, but these days they are laying down their own vocals and infiltrating the song of the artist. Perhaps without these infiltrations I would have more readily accepted this album as another Madonna reinvention.

It’s growing on me… I guess the other thing impacting my music of late is that I now travel to and from work with David and after 11 years together the one thing remains the same, our music tastes are very different with only the occasional overlap. So my ability to listen to new tunes has become somewhat limited.

I also had to find this album as it is not yet available on the Australian iTunes Store even though it was released on April 28.

And the final word, I’m glad “Beat Goes On” was reworked from the previously *leaked* version that surfaced last year.