The Dunedin Sound

I’m currently living in the university town of Dunedin in the south island of New Zealand. Population: 126,000. This population fluctuates dramatically during the year attributing a transient nature to the place. The port-city thrives on tourism from incoming cruise ships and students  injecting much needed cash over the notoriously long, cold winter semester.

It’s surprising in such a transient city that arguably some of the best bands in New Zealand form and thrive in Dunedin.

The Dunedin Sound is a scholarly term ( no really, they offer varsity courses on this thing) for an indie-pop music movement that occurred in Dunedin during the 1980s. The words “lo-fi”, “jingly-jangly” and “college rock” get thrown around in association with Dunedin Sound bands such as The Clean, The Chills and The Verlaines.



Even today, amazing Dunedin musicians can be seen rolling durries outside cafes, in op shops or talking by the Leith – a river that runs through Otago University. The same southern-New Zealand vocals, the familiar jingly-jangly guitar and clever lyrics full of Dunedin inside jokes are notable in such current bands as Brown, Males and Julian Temple Band (who are currently touring the States).

 Keep an eye on the Dunedin Sound bands. They’re not going anywhere.


Cry Baby

Yesterday the pressures of trawling through job sites to no avail, having an argument with my partner, and missing my best friend who has moved to another city got a little to much.

I locked my bedroom door, I drew the curtains, and I cried. Pity party for one, please.

There are moments in life where there is no obvious solution, where there nothing else you can do but have a long, loud, ugly cry. Afterwards you get yourself together, you online shop for a little bit and then you head off in to the world feeling lifted.



Being a firm believer in “having a good cry” therapy I wondered if there was any scientific backing. Apparently, emotional tears draw and remove toxins (as well as half your mascara) that build up in times of stress. Additionally, biochemist William Frey claims that tears expel manganese from the body which have been known to cause anxiety in high quantities.

So have a ‘wah’-fest. Treat yourself to some tears. Bawl from your inner-baby. If you need a good movie to get you going I personally recommend:


1. The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disney’s Fox and the Hound has everything from abandonment issues to cute dying animals.

2. 50/50 (2011)

50/50 depicts a bromance between Kyle, played by Seth Rogan and cancer-victim Adam, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A surprisingly overlooked film upon its release, this film combines the sad realities of living (and dying) with a horrible disease with tear-jerking moments of love and kindness.

3. The Outsiders (1983)

“Stay gold Ponyboy.” Nuff. Said.

4. Fluke (1995)

Alright this movie will never win any awards -with a budget of $15 million, if raked in just under 4 in the box office.  I believe I first saw this movie during a stint of unemployment on daytime television. However, it is a guaranteed recipe for midday waterworks. A puppy called Fluke grows up to realise he has been reincarnated from a workaholic who dies in a car crash. Unable to reunite with his past family and he accepts his life as a dog  Bonus: Samuel L. Jackson is the voice of his best dog friend. What’s not to love?

5. Bambi (1942)

Another Disney classic. The Bambi-dying-mother scene is possibly the first memory of bawling my eyes out over a movie scene.

“We made it Mother! …Mother?” Damn you Disney.

Deep Politics

I had an argument today with someone over religion.

I would call myself an atheist, yet spiritual, in that I am open to concepts of religion. This person was an Anglican Christian. Suffice to say – our beliefs became a topic of conversation and it went downhill from there. I have always believed that deep politics: religion, political leaning, deep-rooted cultural ideologies, have always been a taboo topic – not only on a first date but in life. What is there to gain by challenging someone’s core beliefs as they challenge your own?

While completing my political science minor at university I changed this view.

Jürgen Habermas, a German sociologist, discusses deep politics in his early 1990s paper on the “public sphere”. In a nutshell, there are three spheres in society: a public sphere, a private sphere and a sphere of the state. Each sphere shares different amounts of information between them and arguably contributes to participatory democracy via public discussion. 


Look, a kitten!


Habermas argues that in order to continue as a society we must continue to communicate, regardless of deep-rooted, unchangeable beliefs. Though we may argue, we are at least communicating. Right on Hab!

Ten Great Opening Lines of Novels

As an avid reader and writer, the ability to hook an audience from the start of a novel has always fascinated me.

Some great novels start with the introduction of an anonymous voice that you know will be your guide: “what’s it going to be then, eh?”, A Clockwork Orange. Some novels start with a blunt fact: “we rode to war in a taxi-cab”, The Bridge. Regardless, you are trapped for the next few hundred pages until you are finally relinquished, gratefully, by the author.

Here are ten of my favourite opening lines:

  1. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
  2. There are only two kinds of people in our town. The stupid and the stuck.Kami Garcia, Beautiful Creatures

  3. All this happened, more or less. – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

  4. Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

  5. Marley was dead, to begin with. – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol




    6. I wake to the drone of an airplane engine and something warm dripping down my chin. – James Frey, A Million Little Pieces

7. The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel. – William Gibson, Neuromancer

8. In the beginning the universe was created. – Douglas Adams, The Hitch hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

9. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. – Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

10. He found it almost physically painful to lie, which was unfortunate for someone who had spent most of his life as a spy. – Kurt Andersen, Human Intelligence

Bring back the Pixie

I have a twin brother. When we were young, my mother gave us the same boyish hair cut: razor-short on the sides with a little fringe, à la 90’s skater chic. Whether this was because her mother (my Oma) never let her cut her hip-length plaits, or because I refused to have my hair brushed as a child I’m not sure.

Regardless, we were constantly mistaken for twin brothers, and thus – traumatized by this constant  gender confusion – I never cut my hair short ever again.

Now that I’m older and living in a warm, moist country of New Zealand, I look at short-haired, pixie cut girls with envy. I would trade my mermaid hair for an Audrey crop any day. It appears that everyone else is following suit.

Here’s a little inspiration for all those pining for the crop.

retro hair    jane fonda    retro hair 2