Have Yourself An Aussie Kind of Christmas

Christmas Salad

Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating in their part of the world today. I hope you are having a wonderful day with your family and friends.

To celebrate I thought I’d post another one of my Aussie Christmas songs. Last year I wrote Deck the Ute, an Aussie version of Deck the Halls, and this year I settled on Have Yourself An Aussie Kind of Christmas, an Aussie version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

I’ve written five of these Aussie Christmas songs now and this was by far the hardest one. It took me a long time to choose a song and I think I’m starting to run out of well-known songs as most of the best known ones don’t really suit an Australian translation (Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! for instance), so I’ll have to think carefully about which one to do next year. In the end I chose Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas because it’s one of my favourite Christmas songs and also because I wanted to do something a little different this year and try to show what it feels like for Australians spending Christmas overseas, longing to be home with their families and friends. Given the number of Australians who have to leave home for work every year and also our soldiers currently deployed overseas, I thought it suited the rather melancholic feel of the original song.

The two best-known versions are probably by Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra; Garland’s is personally my favourite as it’s more serious and sombre in tone (although nowhere near as depressing as the original lyrics written for the song in Meet Me in St. Louis, which Garland had changed), which often reflects my mood at Christmas, but I like Sinatra’s version as well and so decided to combine the two to reflect both versions and make it a bit longer as well.

I hope you enjoy it. And Merry Christmas. 😉

Aussie Santa Xmas Train

Have Yourself An Aussie Kind of Christmas

Summer sunshine is far away
This cold winter has set in to last
I’m dreaming of a place I loved but could not stay
And warm Christmases of the past…

Have yourself an Aussie kind of Christmas
May your winter days be bright
Some day soon this longing will be set right
And you’ll be home

Have yourself an Aussie kind of Christmas
Tell Santa Claus g’day
One day you’ll see him fly over Sydney in his sleigh
Once again

Here we are in this new century
These happy years of promise and awe
I long to see my loved ones once again
And to hold them close once more

In my heart I know they won’t forget me
And one day I’ll be home if funds allow
Until then I’ll just have to save up somehow
And try to have myself an Aussie kind of Christmas now

So have yourself an Aussie kind of Christmas
Throw a shrimp on the barbeque
One day soon you won’t feel so blue
Anymore

Have yourself an Aussie kind of Christmas
Grab a beer and watch the kids play
They’ll be all grown up one day
As life moves on

Here we are in happier times
These memories we cherish and adore
I find myself thinking of old friends
And wishing I was near them once more

Over the years good mates always stick together
So even when distance won’t allow
We’ll still find a way to celebrate somehow
And try to have ourselves an Aussie kind of Christmas now

Deck the Ute (an Aussie Christmas song)

Christmas Roast

Christmas Dinner

Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating today. I hope you’re having a wonderful day with family and friends, wherever you are in the world.

I had a quiet day with my parents today; it was just us as most of our family live overseas and we don’t see our Australian relatives that often. We had a lovely roast for dinner, then opened a few gifts afterwards. It was actually the first time we’ve had a roast in about ten years as we normally have a salad instead; it was delicious but typically we picked the hottest Christmas day in years to have it on. Must be Murphy’s law.

In any case we had a nice day and I thought I’d post another of my Aussie Christmas songs to celebrate. This is the fourth song I’ve written now after The Aussie 12 Days of Christmas, Aussie Jingle Bells and We Wish You an Aussie Christmas, so I guess it’s becoming something of an annual tradition!

This year I did an Aussie version of Deck the Halls. Originally I wanted to do Frosty the Snowman or Silver Bells but they were hard to translate to Australia. I think Deck the Halls works better and it’s also easy to sing along to as everyone knows the tune.

I hope you enjoy it. And Merry Christmas. 😉

Deck the Ute

Deck the ute with lights and wattle
Fa la la la la la la la la
We’ll take it for a drive and go full throttle
Fa la la la la la la la la
Kids are singing in the back seat
Fa la la la la la la la la
Spreading Christmas cheer to all we meet
Fa la la la la la la la la

Soon we’re pulling up at the rellies
Fa la la la la la la la la
And getting ready to open the pressies
Fa la la la la la la la la
Hope it’s not more socks from Aunt May
Fa la la la la la la la la
Oh well guess I can sell them on eBay
Fa la la la la la la la la

Come one o’clock and we’re by the pool
Fa la la la la la la la la
Drinking beer and trying to stay cool
Fa la la la la la la la la
Jamie’s pulling on Susie’s hair
Fa la la la la la la la la
While Dad’s nodding off in his chair
Fa la la la la la la la la

We say g’day to the neighbours
Fa la la la la la la la la
Hear all about their yearly labours
Fa la la la la la la la la
Tom and Amy are getting married
Fa la la la la la la la la
No wonder they all look so harried
Fa la la la la la la la la

Everyone gathers around the table
Fa la la la la la la la la
Eats as much as they are able
Fa la la la la la la la la
Aunt May’s brought a giant fruit cake
Fa la la la la la la la la
Tastes just like Grandma used to make
Fa la la la la la la la la

Soon it’s time for everyone to go
Fa la la la la la la la la
We say our goodbyes and Ho Ho Hos
Fa la la la la la la la la
Pull out of the drive and speed away
Fa la la la la la la la la
Waving behind us to Aunt May
Fa la la la la la la la la

Back home and the kids are fast asleep
Fa la la la la la la la la
Carry them to their beds without a peep
Fa la la la la la la la la
Quietly we turn off all the lights
Fa la la la la la la la la
And sleep away another Aussie Christmas night
Fa la la la la la la la la

10 Things I’ve Learnt This Month

Favourite Pen

Image: A Writer’s Best Friend ~ © CJ Levinson 2011

Been busy writing the last few weeks, so haven’t had much time for an update until now. The novel’s coming along quite well; I’ve had to rethink how to approach it a bit as some of it wasn’t working but on the whole I’m happy with how it’s progressing. Looking at having the first draft finished around late-June with a little luck.

The main development is that I’ve settled on a working title at last. At the moment I’m calling it The Forgotten Kingdom. Not sure if that will be the final title yet but it suits the story quite well. I’ll be posting a new video about the novel in a few days – the title will probably make more sense then.

Unfortunately I’ve been struggling with writer’s block and staying focused as well, so that’s made the writing go a bit more slowly than I had wanted. I was expecting to run into a few problems though as I haven’t written anything this long before, so I’m not too worried about it overall. Actually one of the good things is that it’s let me try out a new writing exercise that’s helped a lot and I’m very happy with.

The idea’s quite simple really: every time I find myself stuck, I stop and try to think of something new I’ve learnt that day. It can be anything – an interesting fact, a funny or personal observation, a joke, a unique thought – as long as it’s something I learnt or realised that day. Then I write about it; sometimes just a short description, other times a short story or a poem inspired by it. The length isn’t really important; it’s that it distracts me but still allows me to keep writing so I don’t lose the flow and when I come back, I feel much more focused and the writing seems easier.

I’m not sure how well it would work for other people but it’s worked very well for me so far. And as a bonus it’s given me a list of all the new things I’ve learnt each day as well, everything I’d normally just end up forgetting.

So as I haven’t posted in a while I thought it’d be fun to share some of them. I won’t post any of the writing samples as they’re too long but these are are some of the more random things I’ve learnt and thought about during the past month. Some are obvious, some are just fun or silly observations, some are things I’ve learnt about myself, and others are just interesting facts I’d never heard before.

I hope you enjoy the list. I might even turn this into a monthly feature. So what have you learnt this month? 😉

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The Aussie 12 Days of Christmas

This is my first post in a while. I’ve had a lot on my mind recently but I wanted to do a Christmas post. I enjoy the time of year and I have a lot of fond memories of past Christmases with my family; hot and summery and typically Australian.

I’ve always found it funny that we celebrate Christmas with wintery songs in Australia, so I thought I’d try to come up with a more Aussie take on a Christmas classic.

Hope you enjoy it; it was a lot of fun to write. 😉

Surfing Santa

On the first day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
A kookaburra in a gum tree

On the second day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree

On the third day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Three black swans
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree

On the fourth day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Four cockatoos
Three black swans
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree

On the fifth day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Five Russell Crowes
Four cockatoos
Three black swans
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree

On the sixth day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Six kangaroos a-hopping
Five Russell Crowes
Four cockatoos
Three black swans
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree

On the seventh day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Seven koalas a-sleeping
Six kangaroos a-hopping
Five Russell Crowes
Four cockatoos
Three black swans
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree

On the eighth day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Eight emus a-running
Seven koalas a-sleeping
Six kangaroos a-hopping
Five Russell Crowes
Four cockatoos
Three black swans
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree

On the ninth day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Nine sharks a-biting
Eight emus a-running
Seven koalas a-sleeping
Six kangaroos a-hopping
Five Russell Crowes
Four cockatoos
Three black swans
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree

On the tenth day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Ten echidnas a-digging
Nine sharks a-biting
Eight emus a-running
Seven koalas a-sleeping
Six kangaroos a-hopping
Five Russell Crowes
Four cockatoos
Three black swans
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Eleven possums a-playing
Ten echidnas a-digging
Nine sharks a-biting
Eight emus a-running
Seven koalas a-sleeping
Six kangaroos a-hopping
Five Russell Crowes
Four cockatoos
Three black swans
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My good mate sent to me
Twelve wombats a-wambling
Eleven possums a-playing
Ten echidnas a-digging
Nine sharks a-biting
Eight emus a-running
Seven koalas a-sleeping
Six kangaroos a-hopping
Five Russell Crowes
Four cockatoos
Three black swans
Two platypuses
And a kookaburra in a gum tree!

Update: It’s December 25th now so I just wanted to add that I hope everyone has a joyous Christmas and my sincerest wishes for a peaceful and safe New Year. I’ll see you all in a couple of days. 😉

Turn off your damn phone

No iPhones!

Dear Mr. Inconsiderate,

Remember me? I’m the young man who had the misfortune of sitting next to you on the bus the other day. Yes, the bearded guy with the big nose. So you do remember me. I’m glad because I definitely remember you.

Could you do me a favour? The next time someone sits next to you, do you think you could turn off your phone and spare them and the rest of the bus the details of your love life? I mean, seriously, when you weren’t deafening me and swearing like a maniac, you were busy reading your texts aloud. Can’t you be out of touch for 10 minutes? Will the world implode?

Don’t get offended. I’m sure you’re a lovely guy when you stop shouting. I just don’t see why, when I’ve been out for hours and had a rotten day, that I should have to listen to your conversation. It’s got nothing to do with me. And I don’t want to have to listen to you having phone sex with your partner either.

The truth is I like to keep to myself. I don’t mind it if people talk around me but can’t you give me a little privacy? Perhaps talk more quietly and turn towards the window? It was bad enough when everyone’s mobiles rang at once and sounded like an opera (Wagner’s Ride of the iPhones) but with you talking near my ear the whole time, I felt like I was eavesdropping and didn’t know what to do.

I just don’t see why it’s so hard to be out of contact for a few minutes. Is something so urgent that you have to speak to someone at that moment? Cnt ur txt w8? A long time ago we didn’t even have mobile phones; I know, I’m shocked too! I think it was back in the 18th century, just before Al Gore invented the Internet. What would you have done then? Read a book?

I’m saying this because I think it’s something you should know. Maybe you’re a loud talker; maybe you’re half-deaf. Maybe you’re just a pervert who enjoys having phone sex in public. Whatever. If you show a little courtesy, it’ll come back to you. So next time you’re on the bus, could you turn off your damn phone, or at least be more discrete? I know I’ll thank you and I’m sure the other passengers will too.

One last thing. You might want to lay off the aftershave. Just saying.

Insincerely yours,
CJ Writer.


* * * * *
*

So I might have gone a bit overboard. 🙂 Do mobile phones bother anyone else, though? I hate it when people use them on buses and trains; they always start shouting and seem oblivious. Can’t I have a little peace on the way home?

And then there are those sex moan ringtones. I heard one on the bus the other day; I guess it was a joke but there were kids on the bus. I wasn’t laughing. 😕

Is happiness a state of mind?

You know, one of these days I’m actually going to finish a post when I mean to. Recently I’ve got into the habit of starting posts and not finishing them… I’m not sure why, there’s nothing particularly wrong with them. I just don’t feel like posting them and they get put aside.

I started doing it again with this post; I started writing it on Boxing Day and only got back to it today. I needed a couple of days to clear my mind anyway, so it wasn’t a bad thing… it’s just annoying and feels too much like writer’s block to me. I have enough of that in my life already, thanks.

Anyway, I’ve found myself thinking about happiness a lot lately. What started it was when I had dinner with my parents on Christmas day. A funny thing happened. It was just the three of us as we’re never that fussed about having a big Christmas. A couple of hours before we were going to eat, my mother decided to use the good china and we spent about ten minutes trying to find the good glasses to go with them. I think they must have vanished into the Twilight Zone because we couldn’t find them, so we settled for some champagne glasses instead.

I don’t drink much, so it was just ginger ale and it probably would have been easier to have drunk it out of the bottle. But it seemed like a nice idea, so I went along with it. My mistake. I’m halfway through the meal – a nice salad; we can’t imagine a roast on a hot day – and start to take a sip. Except I can’t. The glass won’t go past my nose.

I’ve never thought of myself as having a particularly large nose, but I must have as I just couldn’t get the glass past it. Maybe my nose was broken when that sandbag hit me ten years ago; maybe I’ve been telling too many lies like Pinocchio. Either way, it wasn’t working and tipping my head back didn’t help. I had a decision to make; either admit defeat (ha!) and get a different glass, or work out some other way.

So very slowly I started to slide down in my chair. I was able to angle the glass more and eventually the drink started to tip out. Of course by this time my parents were in absolute hysterics and I’m busy studying them, trying to work out which was to blame for my humongous nose. Strangely they’re both quite normal. I guess the gene must have skipped a generation. 😕

Later on I thought about it and I realised that, in a strange way, it was a nice experience. I mean, yes, I was being stubborn, but I didn’t feel embarrassed or stupid; I was with family and it’s been a while since we’d laughed like that. Even now when I think about it, it still gives me a happy feeling and that’s something I’ll remember for a long time.

Happiness is a strange thing, isn’t it? It’s something that can feel so different; contentment and peace can give us one kind of happiness, intense joy another. The way we each experience happiness is different, as is what makes us happy. Something I find funny – a show like Seinfeld or Friends – might be annoying to someone else; likewise some of us might go through our lives without showing much emotion, but might still feel peaceful and content. Happiness is so hard to define, but plays such an important part in our lives.

What I’ve been wondering recently is, do I feel happy in my life? Am I a happy person? If I’m being honest then I’d have to say I’m not sure. Most of the time I’m probably not; I like to laugh (and make people laugh) and try not to take things too seriously, but I consider things carefully and that’s my natural response. At the same time I’m not unhappy or sad either. I actually think I’m at peace most of the time. Happiness or sadness is an emotional response for me; I’m neither all the time, I’m just going about my day.

I think a lot of people confuse being “positive” with being “happy”. Being positive is a way of looking at life; being happy is an emotional response which comes from your mindset. You can choose to be positive, but usually something happens that makes you happy. I’ve heard people say they’re positive and so they’re happy, but I’m not so sure. For a lot of people having a positive mindset is a great thing; it lets you look to the future and it’s helped sportspeople and people in everyday life. But I’ve met several people who I’ve thought are so positive that they’re miserable. They work so hard at creating their outlook that they bring everyone down, including themselves; their relations with their families and friends are strained and though they’re positive, they never seem particularly happy… they always want more.

I think having a positive outlook in life is more likely to make us happy, but doesn’t mean we will be happy. And I suppose that’s why I’ve been thinking about this. I’ve been reading some articles recently that indicate if you’re happier, you’ll be healthier too. One study found that “happy” subjects were one-third less likely to develop a cold, while another found that people who thought in happier and more positive ways were more likely to increase their longevity by an average of 10 years.

If that’s right then there’s a definite reason to want to be happier. And so maybe I should make more of an effort to be happier and not let things bother me… although again I don’t feel like I’m unhappy or particularly negative. I’m content with who I am and think I’m a fairly realistic person. Plus isn’t the whole idea of what makes us happy all relative? I’m writing a new poem at the moment and like a lot of my poetry, it’s quite melancholic… some people might find it depressing but even though it’s sad, it makes me happy because it’s something I want to write. I think the key to happiness is respecting yourself, and in that way I’m at peace.

I wonder what you think? Does being happy make us healthy? Is happiness a state of mind? I’d be interested to find out, and I wish you all peace and happiness in the new year. 🙂

Have you heard the Wilhelm Scream?

I found this video through Net@Nite, one of my favourite podcasts, though I had heard about the scream before. If you don’t know what the Wilhelm Scream is, it’s a distinctive scream that’s been used in Hollywood movies for over 50 years. For studios it’s easier (and cheaper) to recycle the stock scream than to pay voice extras to record new sound effects; it’s become something of an in-joke among sound designers and lots of movie fans try to keep track of where it’s been used. The current count is at over 130 films!

The list in the video only goes up to about 1999 and I know a few more since then; the Wilhelm Scream features in both LOTR: The Two Towers and The Return of the King, as well as King Kong, Sin City, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Hellboy. It’s been used prodigiously by Ben Burtt and Skywalker Sound as well, so it’s also in the other Star Wars prequels. Whether it will be in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or not will be interesting – Burtt has said he’s not going to use it as much now it’s so recognised, but it’s in the other Indy movies so he might go out with one last bang… or scream.

It’s just a fun piece of trivia, but I like it because it shows not so much a lack of originality as a respect for Hollywood’s past; it’s keeping some of the history alive 50 years later and in this digital age, that’s a nice touch. So have a listen the next time you play a DVD; chances are you might be listening to a little piece of movie history. 😉

Podcast of the Week: WebbAlert

WebbAlert Logo

Podcast of the Week: (8/10/07)
WebbAlert
Rating:
5star.jpg

WebbAlert with Morgan Webb takes an informative look at the latest in online, tech, gadgetry and gaming news. Morgan Webb is the host of X-Play on G4 in the US and a former web developer, so she’s well-suited to analysing the latest in digital trends and culture.

Webb is a confident host and one interesting aspect is that WebbAlert tends not to source content from traditional news outlets, instead focusing more on blogs that break news stories. It creates a different dynamic and Webb often shows snippets of the posts and articles she’s talking about as well, so you don’t have to go to the shownotes to get more detail.

Something people might consider a drawback is the advertising, usually plugs at the start of the show and halfway through. The ads don’t bother me that much; podcasts require significant bandwidth and I don’t find the ads that intrusive anyway, but what’s really interesting is that Webb has already received notable sponsorship (HP has been one sponsor), which is unusual for such a recent podcast. Perhaps sponsors anticipated Webb bringing some of her G4 audience with her.

WebbAlert presents a fun look at the online world and is probaly a podcast people will either love or hate based on Webb’s style, but one that’s definitely worth checking out. You can subscribe via iTunes or watch episodes at WebbAlert.Com.

Mac or PC?

You are a PC

You’re practical, thrifty, and able to do almost anything.Appearances and trends aren’t important to you. You just like to get the job done.

Are You a Mac or a PC?

Damn it! It’s done it to me again. I know I’m not a PC; sure, I have a beard and like Star Wars, but I’m a big supporter of open source software, despise Vista, won’t touch IE or Outlook, use Open Office and listen to Leo Laporte. I am so a Mac at heart, I just can’t afford one yet! But these damn quizzes never agree. Seriously, the last one I took was for PC or Mac and I got Linux! It wasn’t even mentioned as an option! It’s a conspiracy, I know it is… 😛