Corporate communications + Public Relations Adelaide


August 2009

Play it again, iPod. And again …

I love my iPod, but …

… it’s ruining music for me!

Well, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic. My gripe is this: now that I’ve got all my favourite songs on my iPod, and I can listen to them any time, anywhere, my songs are kinda losing their shine.

I remember the good old days. [Cue mistiness and violins]. As a 10 year old, my music conduit was a little white clock radio in my bedroom. [Not even a digital clock. It was the type with numbers that would click over to reveal the next number].

I’d stay by the radio for hours, waiting for my favourite song to come on. When the DJ announced it, it was soooo exciting. I couldn’t be interrupted by anyone else in the house. I’d sing and dance along. Every second of the song was to be cherished.

Later, as a teen when I graduated to a ‘boom box’ [hideous clunky stereo with a tape recorder that looked so modern at the time], I’d still wait by the radio. Only this time, I could tape the song and listen to it later. [Usually with the DJ talking over the end or beginning of the song. Curses].

And now?

My iPod has hundreds of songs – from all eras. Every song I’ve loved as a child, teen and adult. And I can play them again and again and again.

And I do. That’s the problem.

My favourite songs are on tap. One little movement of my thumb on the iPod pad, and my current-favourite-song is played back. Instantly.

Maybe I should exercise more self control. But I find myself playing a favourite song perhaps 10 times in a row .. and getting tired of them. I wear them to pieces.

I look at the long list of loved tunes in my iPod … and it’s like a millionaire choosing where to sail his yacht today. It’s lost its shine.

Am I the only one that feels like this?

What’s in a name?

A woman close to me is getting married soon.
And it occurred to me, she’ll have another big decision to make … Will she adopt her husband’s surname, after the big event?

When I married back in the dark ages (1998), I decided to keep my name. Taking my husband’s name never occured to me as a sensible option. What a silly idea!

After all, for the past 20-something years, people knew me as Michelle Prak. To the girls I’d been to school with: Michelle Prak. To the teachers who’d proudly watched my progress: Michelle Prak. My university lecturers, my employers: Michelle Prak. And also: I had been published under the name “Michelle Prak” countless times.

Why would I want to disconnect myself from that, and start all over again?

My husband David was fine with the decision. He always understood. But I was stunned to see my friends – same era as me – opt to take their husband’s surnames when they married. I couldn’t see the sense (and couldn’t abide the paperwork).

The reason often cited? It was “for the children”. They wanted to have the same surname. But having been raised in a step-family, with at least three different surnames in the house, I knew in the end that didn’t matter. Anyone important to you, soon sorts out the different names in your household.
I also had another compelling reason: there aren’t many Praks in the world. At least, not in my Dutch branch of the family. I had to keep the name going, if only for my lifetime …
It’s taken stamina. The name ‘Prak’ isn’t easy. I’ve been called ‘Pratt’, ‘Prik’ and even ‘Duck’. [Duck? What the?]
But it’s a nice and easy signature ….

What are your thoughts?

To stand, or not to stand?

What is music concert etiquette?

… last night I saw ‘The White Album’ concert. This seminal Beatles album was performed by a bunch [well, four] of talented Australian rockers, performing the entire album, with the backing of a killer band including strings and brass section.

It was Fab, just like the original Four. But [there’s always a but …] the concert was in a theatre, and the whole audience was seated.

Seats are nice. Seats are comfy. Yet they’re awfully constraining when you just feel like grooving to the music.

I wanted to stand. To me, it can be the only way to truly enjoy the tunes – especially when it’s Back in the USSR for example! The thing holding me back was: the other patrons.

Sure, there was clapping and tapping of feet. There was enthusiastic cheering between songs. But if everyone else is sitting (and has many feel they pay for the privilege), you need to be pretty darn brave to stretch your legs.

I wasn’t so shy during the Foo Fighters concert last year. Now, that was an out-n-out rock show and I had [sadly] only snaffled tickets for the seated area, not general admin, where I could have happily moshed along with the crowd. And when the Fooeys hit the stage, I stood up. I danced and had my arms in the air and yelled [and tried to get Dave Grohl’s attention, like any sane girl would do].

And you know what happened? The hip young things seated behind me, asked me to sit down! You’d have been proud of me though … I refused. I pointed out to them:

  • it’s an insult to the Foo Fighters to sit down
  • if they wanted to sit down the whole time, they should sit at home and watch their Fooeys DVD
  • I am a huge Fooeys fan and there was no way they were going to dictate my concert experience for me!

p.s. There’s a long list of people’s gripes about other concert goers in an MSNBC forum here. Hilarious.

Okay Kyle, I forgive you

Another Sunday night in August …

.. another season of Australian Idol.

This time around: the audition process didn’t appear so harsh. Did Channel 10 sanitise it, post the Kyle Sandilands debacle?

There were fewer weird contestants – those ones that make you cringe.

Sure, there were a few squeaky voices, horrendous dance moves and karaoke queens. [That guy playing Imagine on the guitar? He was from outer space, dude]. But overall, Idol showed us a solid group of singers who I’m looking forward to following.

The big thing for me? Kyle. It was actually, er, good to see him again.

I can’t stand the Kyle and Jackie O show. But Kyle is okay on Idol. He listens, he looks people in the eye, he has funny comments, he asks the questions we all want to ask [‘What’s in your pockets?’]

Sure, he stuffed up on radio the other week .. that lie detector test was sick. But the whole Austereo station is to blame.

Kyle and Idol? It’s a different product. And I’m willing to buy it.

There’s a ‘save Kyle’ petition starting up on the Idol forums. And check out the BringBackKyle on Twitter. I’m following .. because I want to see what happens!

FYI, the Adelaide teacher was singing a Radiohead song. Nice rendition.

And p.s. Is it just me, or is Kyle really hard to type? I keep typing ‘Kylie’.

Will Victoria Beckham smile?

So, Posh Spice has been officially named a new judge on American Idol.

Interesting choice. People will either 1) love her and tune in to American Idol 2) hate her and tune in to American Idol.

Mrs Beckham’s new job raises obvious questions:

  • will she smile?
  • what the heck does she sound like?
  • can she give any credible tips on singing and dancing, given .. The Spice Girls?

Back in February, Simon Cowell rubbished reports that Victoria Beckham would join the judging panel on the X Factor. Perhaps he did indeed offer it to her .. but it wasn’t quite the label that Posh was after?

I’ll be interested to see how it works: Posh is excited, but how will she show it?

F**k you too!

Status updates …

… they’re a touchy subject. Some people think status updates in social media are childish timewasters (the Twitter naysayers), others think they’re a valuable and fun way to keep our networks updated.

I like them.

But I don’t like swearing in status updates.

I’m getting a growing number of Facebook friends who feel the need to vent, using every expletive, on their Facebook status updates. And frankly, it’s leaving me feeling kind of soiled. I’m reading updates like:

    • f*#k sick of people f*#kn jerking me around. say what you mean!
    • i hate fat f#*k bitches throwing their weight around trying to tell me what the f#$k to do with my life. get outta my face!!
    • why is life always so F#$kn hard? i need a f#$kn holiday now

You get my drift … [and yes, I am as offended by double exclamation marks as I am by the cussing].

Now, many of you will begin wondering about my friends. I have to put it on record: the majority are fab, wholesome go-getters who – although occasionally drinking themselves into oblivion on a Friday night after a hard week at the office – wouldn’t swear on their status updates and are altogether ‘clean cut and law abiding’. They know the thin line between having a Facebook profile that your buddies see, and having a Facebook profile that’s visible to 1) your potential future employers and 2) your dear sweet old granny.

However, I’ve connected with a small amount of old, old friends … the ones I went to primary school and high school with for example. And some have gone in weird and wonderful directions, with divorces, mid life crises and so on. And they DO like to say f#$k the world.

I’m no prude. I say f##k it all the time. When something surprises me, I say f##k me! But I don’t feel a need to use the ol qwerty keyboard and share it with Facebook friends young and old.

There’s a Facebook forum on this topic. [Of course there is, I hear you say]. I think popular opinion swings my way …

Recently, I had to ditch an old acquaintance. I couldn’t take her angry, cursing status updates anymore. It was clear her life had turned sour and she was using Facebook as a forum for a continuing argument with people unknown … But for me, this friend was yelling at me. She was swearing at me. I couldn’t take it anymore. And I clicked on the ol’ ‘Remove Friend” button. Adios.

And f##k you, too.

Art guilt

Right now, I could walk out my front door …

… meander down a few blocks and hit a quaint little street in my neighbourhood that’s showcasing great local artists.

I could ponder some brilliant paintings, examine funky handcrafted jewellery, and rub shoulders with eager art types enthusing over local talent.

Instead, I’m sitting here at my PC. With a backache.

It’s South Australian Living Artists (SALA) time. For weeks, there’ll be hundreds of artists exhibiting over Adelaide. Their work will adorn the walls and shelves of local pubs, hairdressers, businesses and galleries big and small.

So I should be taking a look, right? I know it’s big. I know it’s wonderful. But I can’t do it …

I have art-guilt again. [Closely related to exercise-guilt. ]

I know art is ‘good for me’. It’s easily accessible, it’s free to look and I’d enjoy it – if only I could drag myself to the nearest exhibition. It’s just too darn easy to say ‘no, I’ll go next time’.

In the meantime, there are some fabulous artists out there, eagerly waiting for people to browse the work they’ve devoted so many hours to. [Right: I’m at an actual art exhibition, a few years back. Yep, that was one gigantic cube of STUFF. I was afraid it’d fall on me.]

There must be many people like me – who like the idea of art – but just can’t seem to weave it into their lives.

A few years back, Pam Gaulin wrote a great article with tips on visiting an art gallery. She had helpful advice like:

  • don’t feel the need to talk (sigh of relief ..)
  • don’t get too close (oh, feeling slightly chastised ..)

And WikiHow has a nifty article on How to Visit an Art Gallery, where you need to figure out pesky little details like determining what mediums you’re most interested in, grabbing a map and having a visitation plan. Mmm.

A few years back, my husband [David] and I were backpacking around Europe. The great galleries were on our to-do list, and we dutifully saw the Mona Lisa, Park Guell, Salvador Dali’s museum and more. It was wonderful .. and exhausting. We lined up for hours to see Michelangelos’ statue of David, whereas the replica out in the sunny square nearby would have done just the trick.

Our European art journeys were illuminating and tiring. And competitive. It’s hard to stand in front of a world famous piece of art, among crowds offering learned comments, without feeling some pressure to find something new to offer!

But maybe it’s time to get back on the horse. SALA is taking place around me. It ends soon. Perhaps I should put one foot in front of the other and venture outside … and long as I make sure not to touch.

New kid on the blog

They said childbirth was painful. And scary.

Starting a blog, after pondering one for years, is a scary new beginning too.

I’m considering this Blog my new baby. And, just like I did with my two sons when they were babes in arms, I’m concerned about doing this right. [Son #1 pictured, right!]

I know there’s a lot of experience out there. Thousands of women have done it. I’ve got a lot to learn.

So, I’ll do what I did when I embarked on motherhood:

  1. I won’t think I know it all
  2. I will read wise words from people who’ve been there before
  3. I won’t feel crushed if I make a mistake
  4. I’ll pay my Blog lots of attention!
  5. But won’t necessarily be getting out of bed every 2 hours to tend to it …

I read a Mom blog recently, which said “You hold your baby for the first time, and it’s beautiful, but when you look back at pictures from that day years later you will realize that your baby was puffy, wrinkled, and not quite the right color.”

Now, I know that’s how I’m going to look back on this first post, right? It will seem trite and ugly.

But right now, it’s fun.

Christina Aguilera said motherhood made her feel sexy. [Man alert: next phrase may embarrass]. The only thing that made me feel more womanly was during pregnancy, when I had breasts for the first time! Apart from that, the sexy factor didn’t receive a huge boost. [Son #2 pictured right]

And again, I’m not expecting that to happen with my Blog. I don’t see myself becoming more cool, more scintillating or intriguing. Just maybe, it will make me more interesting? If nothing else, it will keep my brain ticking over …

My young sons aren’t working out too badly. In fact, they’re quite happy, healthy and bobbing along just fine. So, provided I care for this Blog in the same way .. how hard can it be?

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