“Sense of security, like pockets jingling…”

Growing up, my knowledge of a midlife crisis resembled the following:

1. Old guys driving fast cars
2. One of my favourite songs, “Midlife Crisis” by Faith No More
3. A state of mind for the meek

Well, I was a presumptuous young hoon when it came to point number 3 – because the concept of mid-life crisis seems to be a thing. And it scares the living shmoozies out of some people my age or thereabouts. According to Wikipedia, mid-life crises are a thing or aren’t a thing depending on the research. Whatever it is, people can engage in deep life reassessment as they near or reach middle age – something of a place marker for review, reflection and planning. Some initial questions:

1. Am I content with what I’ve done?
2. Am I content with where I’m going?
3. I really need to start thinking about retirement. WTF, retirement?!
4. Did I do enough stupid things in my pre-midlife days to feel like I’ve ‘lived’?
5. Could I have done better?
6. Will I ever stop creating lists?

I feel as though I have done plenty – so I’m okay with Q1. I reckon there was a bit of stupidity in that plenty, so Q4 is sorted. Q2 is tricky – though it’s difficult not to back the decisions made up until now. That said, Q5 is a doozy – I passed up at least 3 great career opportunities in my time so far due to indecision, misplaced loyalty and sheer naivety. A bunch of business opportunities were either ill-timed or exited too quickly – a web design business in 1996; an online accounting business in 2002; a growing consultancy business in 2006… quite a list now that I look back – so a firm ‘no’ to Q6.

Which leaves Q3. This is the one that irks. As a younger tacker I always thought people preparing for their retirement in their early 20s were boring sods living too far in the future – sacrificing the present unnecessarily and valuing thrift over experiences. That’s probably partly the case. For example, by not investing in property early (when every person and their 5 year old around me seemed to be buying up property left, right and centre, in many cases burdening themselves with heavy mortgages) I felt unencumbered and able to travel, start businesses, experiment with creative pursuits, just living for the sake of it…

Then sometime last year, this concept of ‘midlife’ became apparent. And I freaked out.

Not getting any younger. Kids will need their schooling funded. Need a house somewhere. Body is going to start doing strange things. Will the savings be enough… Need to beef up the retirement account… the words of the Faith No More song (and title of this post) ringing in my head…

So instead of buying music, gadgets, pants, or a really fast car – I started buying shares again (for the record, I actually did buy a car as well – a Volvo – very un-midlife crisissy). Week in, week out, I tracked the market and loaded up on as many shares as I could afford. I started longer-term savings plans, padded investment banker coffers through managed funds, discovered ETFs… and found this all quite interesting – even fascinating – for the first time in my life.

I remember having a so-called “Dollarmite” account when I was about 6 years old. This was the bank savings account marketed to 6 year old school kids in an attempt to teach long-term savings skills while building that bank’s brand awareness from a young age… It obviously left no lasting impression on me as far as early savings go, and as it turned out I have not banked with that bank since becoming an adult.

I needed a pesky, very real midlife crisis/stressor/place marker to ram the point home. I needed a midlife crisis to realise that midlife crises really exist in some way, shape or form. Thankfully, courtesy of this flexion point I am in a far more comfortable state of mind than I was 12 months ago.

Interestingly, the most unexpected of middle-aged people around me tend to be buying fast cars – so I can only assume that’s really a thing too. So, with the benefit of experience, I can now sum up a midlife crisis as:

1. Old guys driving fast cars
2. One of my favourite songs, “Midlife Crisis” by Faith No More
3. A complete, shock to the core wake-up call

Good night.

TL;DR: Lived and did a bit, thought the concept of a midlife crisis was BS as a youngster, then had something of a midlife crisis, made a bunch of investments and lived happily ever after.


Typhoon Usagi whirling its way to Hong Kong

Typhoon Usagi is headed straight for Hong Kong, putting to rest any well-laid plans for a cruisey Sunday evening by the harbour.

The Hong Kong Observatory this evening downgraded Usagi from an all-conquering ‘Super Typhoon’ down to a supposedly meeker ‘Severe Typhoon’, meaning winds will reach only a breezy 150 km/h.

With typhoons on the mind, have a listen to one of my favourite tracks of the year – “Hurricane” by MS MR:

It’ll blow you away… Okay, perhaps that’s stretching the theme a step too far.

2012 Music Highlights

It dawned on me tonight that I hadn’t heard much new music this year, aside from a dash of Triple J streaming every few months. Besides perennial favourite Triple J, I usually turn to Pitchfork Magazine for trustworthy introductions to good new music. Fast forward three hours and below are my highlights of Pitchfork’s highlights for Aug-Nov 2012.

  • Autre Ne Veut: “Counting” [melodic electro hiphop]
  • S-Type: “Billboard” [instrumental hiphop somethingorother]
  • Angel Haze: “Werkin’ Girls” [rap] Note, the link will download an mp3. Profanity warning.
  • Philip Glass: “73 – 78 (Beck Remix)” [instrumental lo-fi/experimental]
  • Tame Impala: “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” [synth alt/psych rock]
  • Crystal Castles: “Wrath of God” [electro/goth/synth rock/trance/what? whatever it is, it is good]
  • Still Corners: “Fireflies” [alt synth pop] Note, the link will download an mp3.
  • Susanne Sundfør: “White Foxes” [alt dark electro]
  • Bat For Lashes: “Marilyn” [ethereal synth]
  • Jay-Z / Kanye West / Big Sean: “Clique” [rap/hiphop] Note, scroll down the page to find the play button…
  • Sky Ferreira: “Everything Is Embarrassing” [alt pop] Note, the link will download an mp3.
  • AlunaGeorge: “Your Drums, Your Love” [moody electro pop]
  • Swans’ “Mother of the World” felt interesting at the time but I am unlikely to listen to it again, ever. But go listen to it once if for nothing else but to appreciate the subtlety amidst the monotony.

    Top 5 Tracks for Week Ending 2010-07-09

    I love lists. So here’s one that I might – just might – continue to share over time: The top 5 tracks that are hugging my ears in a particular week. Last.fm does a stellar job of tracking raw plays over time, but what follows is not necessarily a list of the most played tracks in a given week. No, these are the tracks that run through my head as I try to fall asleep, and which remain there when I wake up:

    The National – “Conversation 16

    This track meanders around for a bit, lulling you into a false sense of peace until it notches up and sends you hurtling into an unfortunate corner of self-reflection. Powerful music makes you think, even if the lyrics bear scant resemblance to those thoughts. And with lyrics like, “I was afraid… I’d eat your brains… ’cause I’m evil”, it’s just as well.

    Pendulum – “Propane Nightmares

    I heard this for the first time on a recent flight and it rocked my world. It’s continued to rock it ever since. An absolute pumping killer of a track, it was released on Pendulum’s 2008 album “In Silico”, and it simply takes you places. Best track off the album, no less. Plus the band hails from Australia, and therefore deserve your love and attention.

    Faithless – “Not Going Home

    The opening track of Faithless’s recent’n’decent 2010 LP, “The Dance”. Vocalist Maxi Jazz is just the master of cool, with a voice that continues to demand respect. He’s the type of guy you want MCing just about everything. The fact that he’s now aged in his 50s makes him all the more brilliant.

    This track will be a dancefloor annihilator (if it isn’t already) with its addictive rhythm, regulation constant bass beat, subtle troughs and lofty peaks. It has shades of Faithless doing dance at their best: it’s one part “God is a DJ”, a smidge “Salva Mea,” with a pinch of “Insomnia”.  And the oft repeated, “It’s not over, I’m not goin’ home till I can take you with me, I’m not goin’ home…” just bloody well works. For me. And many others, I suspect.

    Beach House – “Walk In The Park

    Some tracks just have it. This is one of them. Moody, airy, sweet, and unwaveringly right. Easily one of my favourite tracks of the year, and if it doesn’t make my 2010 best-of, give me now whatever it is that I would have to smoke to delude myself into omitting it later.

    Hybrid – “Formula of Fear

    One of the best tracks off what might end up my favourite album of the year: “Disappear Here“, the latest release by one of the most influential electronic acts of the last decade – Hybrid. This is a sugary yet pounding track that serves as the crescendo for the first half of the album. Check out the live video!

    Most phenomenally of all, my wife approved of all these tracks. That is a rare and momentous occurrence, so enjoy it while it lasts. Animal Collective’s “What Would I Want? Sky.” and The National’s “England” should probably have made this list. But I decreed that it must contain a maximum of five tracks. So there.

    Eclectica 2008

    Here’s the track sequence of my best-of-2008 mix, “Eclectica 2008”. I thought it would be ready for CD cutting tonight, but alas, there’s still some audio editing to go. I’ll get there before 2010. Really. When it’s ready I’ll update this post with more info…

    [Update 1: It’s done. Fertig. Finito. If you’d like a copy, contact me using the form on the front page of this site, or @ me via Twitter

    [Update 2: I’ll post a spiel about the Eclectica concept and the rationale behind this specific track sequence ‘soon’]

    1. Juno Reactor – Inca Steppa
    2. Ashes Divide – Enemies
    3. M83 – Kim and Jessie
    4. Coldplay – Lost!
    5. Puscifer – Momma Sed
    6. Kings of Leon – Closer
    7. Oasis – Falling Down
    8. M83 – Skin of the Night
    9. Death Cab for Cutie – Graveyard Fires
    10. Moby – Live for Tomorrow
    11. Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts i/9
    12. Tricky – Past Mistake
    13. Cut Copy – We Fight for Diamonds/Voices in Quartz/Hearts on Fire
    14. Ashes Divide – The Ritual
    15. Juno Reactor – Pretty Crime
    16. Keane – Playing Along