"All Wodened Out" (Restaurant Review: Woden Plaza Food Court)

Our special guest writer, Robyn, has been made permanent! To celebrate this exciting occasion, the talented photographer/journalist headed down to Woden Plaza to partake of the famed southern Canberra cuisine.

The first rays of spring-like sunshine penetrated the backyard last Saturday, and my hunger pangs were chiming with an intensity I had not known before. As it was such a beautiful day, we decided to DINE OUT at Woden plaza!

Less than twenty minutes later we descended into the valley, which seemed to be bathed in a ghostly shimmer, and I was immediately struck how the delicate winter hues of the Woden countryside shaded delicately into the village style architecture of the town centre – or ‘plaza.’

As the strains of piped music (a folk-song that I was unable to detect the origins of, except that it seemed to be inspired by the theme to EStreet) ushered us from the multi-level carpark and into the foreground of the dining area, I began to sense some trepidation from my dining companion. With interior design values reminiscent of the highly acclaimed VLine/Countrylink school of waiting room design, the entrance to the Food Court dazzled with its heady mix of fluorescent lighting and bustling ambience.

Narrowly dodging a three-tier toddler carriage device, my dining companion headed directly to the nearest branch of his favourite bank, while I surveyed the scene before me. Waiting to be seated took some time, so I allowed myself the indulgence of lingering by the bain marie at the curry corner, anxious to discover some of the chef’s spice-laden secrets.

Indeed, the culinary history of Woden valley is a finely chequered one, with regional styles expressing themselves in variations on traditional dishes, such as the ‘wrap’ and the ‘supersize.’ Modes of presentation also differ between postcodes, as my dining companion discovered after requesting the the ‘junior size’ lasagna, only to find the minimalist tableware (hastily selected at the beginning of the queue) unable to support the dish’s heavy meat content. Equally disappointing were the Bauhaus style cutlery dispensers, inappropriately placed next to ‘Sizzle Bento.’ A more suitable method of condiment display, I felt, could be found in many modern venues around Canberra:

Skipping the entrée sized chicken nuggets preferred by diners slavishly adhering to the a la carte menu at Kingsley’s, I pursued the main course first, opting for a mid-size Bento box with petals of shaved ginger and rosette of Wasabi. This dish was nicely complemented by the delicate ‘Wild Berry’ coloured Slush Puppy, which I selected after a lengthy decision making process, accompanied by some gentle prodding from the maître d'.

For dessert, we decided to sample the exquisite patisserie items from KFC’s exciting new range of Sara Lee cheesecakes and, while the dining experience was enhanced by a delightful al fresco setting with views across the car park, I still wonder whether the Chocolate Bavarian flavour coupled with no-name lemonade beverage was ultimately too subtle for the common palate.

As with all fine dining experiences, the hosts were able to infuse the Food Court with an ambience of relaxed sophistication. The presence of Irene from Home and Away, diligently filling orders at a nearby tobacconist, certainly impressed upon me (if I needed any further convincing) that it IS possible to marry Oriental chic with quaint Summer Bay charm – not least, in Woden valley. All things considered, I give the Woden Food Court minus two and a half Michelin stars. My dining companion quibbled with the half star rating on the way back to the car park – but, as I told him (quietly, once we were in the car), the assault on the collective senses occasioned by the experimental lighting display near the entrance warranted nothing less.

[Editor's note: Many more wonderful photographs were taken on this jaunt. Stay tuned for "The Secret Life of JB Hi-Fi" and "Woden Folk feat. Geri Halliwell and Lynne McGregor (Supre's Newsagency Mix)"]

Russian lesbians set to hit Canberra once more!

Fake Russian lesbians will rule the world once more. And, Canberra being a significant part of the world means that tATu will ("will" meaning highly unlikely that they will, but in an ideal world will) be hitting the Canberra Theatre on 1 December 2005. They will perform an epic showcase concert complete with miming and live sequences, Richard Carpenter will guest on guitar and Trevor Horn will be driving them around. Canberra teens will riot otside the Park Hyatt Canberra while Julia and Lena pretend to have sex and break stuff inside. It will be momentous.

The song itself is All About Us. I have obtained a 30 second clip that is supposedly what the Japanese management released as a mobile ring tone. It sounds amazing WITHOUT bass. What will it be like WITH bass? It sounds like All The Things She Said mixed with a touch of ABBA and a pinch of Sugababes.

ANALYSIS: Swedes very apologetic:

Is it possible that Swedish songwriters are over-apologetic? Do they apologise more than their fare share? Do they have reason to apologise so much?

Swedes make unquestionably the greatest pop music to grace the latter period of the 20th century and continue to do so today. What do they have to apologise for? Making the rest of the planet feel bad for not being as good at them at it?

Da Buzz and the A*Teens are a couple of the most apologetic groups to stem from Sweden. An analysis of their most lyrically regretful tracks follow:

Da Buzz Sorry Baby

This track was passed on to PopGoesCanberrra by the amazing Fop. It starts with a very sorry "ha-ah aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh." Definitely the kind of self-condemantory noise one makes when they are sorry. A truly shamefacedly brilliant into follows with a soft "sorry sorry" becoming a huge wall-of-sound style "SORRY BABY!", setting the theme for the rest of the track.
Da Buzz look even more sorry in black and white
The lovely blonde from Da Buzz, we learn, is "lying flat out on my bed" as she ponders how very heavyhearted she feels about the whole situation. She's "thinking about the things" she said. Apparently she went "this time too far." It's all about the usual Swedish misunderstandings, trying to rush things, etc, etc. The chorus arrives with a wollomph of a "SORRY BABY!" She's said some things she didn't mean and it seems that this guy's heart is broken. Snapped in two, perhaps! Oh dear.

It all continues like that right up until the very Da Buzz middle 8 where she asks the guy to forgive her, followed by the computerisedy voices of the Dz Buzz boys. When you hear them, you know things are very serious.

It all ends with a big "SORRY BABY!" How much can one really apologise! All this is a bit too direct, one could criticise, and doesn't really explain why she is sorry, where is she coming from. For that reason, Sorry Baby must come a close second to another track....

A-Teens For All That I Am

Pure guilt-ridden brilliance, but with crystal-clear shades of over-wrought "it's going to be OK" happiness. Add in what sounds like a Swedish Christmas Gay Gospel Choir, a key-change, Britney "Stronger"/"Lucky" style middle-8/chorus bit, and you have an amazingly apologetic pop track.

It all starts off with a few casual crisp "sorry, made you feel sorry"s. But then the story telling starts. You picture the evil A-Teens coming home late to the Swedish summer house. The grumptious mother is standing there in her dressing gown, wondering, do my South American pop scene conquering teenagers really love me? Should I really love them she says? Should I only love the money-making booty shaking bits, or the should I love ALL OF THEM? Even the coming home "bugged me" bits? So really, this song is coming from two points of view, not just the A-Teens' aspect, but the parents'!!!!!!
Dhani lying flat out on his bed, a position that emphaises sorry-ness, or the situation that can lead up to sorry-ness after teen pregnancy
It gets dramatic. It really does. I'm getting shivers just writing this. It has pretty "I know" and "that I love you" chiming in bits....but that's just the start! There are woooshy bits in the middle of the second verse. You can feel the frustration of the miscommunication that takes place in pubescent Sweden!!!! "What I'm trying to say!" She's trying to say it, but is it getting across? That is the question. Then the pretty, regretful, "deep down" bit, then then the "heat comes down" - this is getting serious. What kind of heat do they experience in Sweden? Climate-wise, nothing severe. This is emotional heat. The A-Teens' parents will be there for them. But these kids feel sooo bad about the way they've treated them, that they are willing to say sorry! And to ASK the parents to continue loving them! Isn't that WONDERFUL??? You won't hear that going on in Ricki-Lee's "Hell No." It's all hate. Hate hate hate.

It doesn't stop there. No. More cheesy sad guitar, some "oooooh-oooh--ooooh " and the choir comes in! A nerve-shimmering "Sorry! Made you feel sorry!" and a repeat of the chorus till the end. It's truly inspirational. The kids voices only just make it. This is desperation. And that's the end. We don't KNOW what happens! The kids grow up into well adjusted adults with their New Arrival, etc, so we can assume that their family lives managed to cope with this drama.

Anyway, the point is, these two "Sorry" tracks are great examples of Swedish apologeticness and there really is never too much apologising in this world.