Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day

Today is Boxing Day here in Australia. No, it has nothing to do with fighting your relatives. There are many different theories as to the origin of Boxing Day and what it means, which you can read about here. For Australians, there are three big events that happen: the after Christmas sales at department stores, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and the Boxing Day Test cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG). About 72,000 people turned out for the first day of the test match against South Africa. As for myself, I went to see King Kong this evening. The movie is great and the special effects are incredible. I thought Naomi Watts did a really wonderful job acting and making you feel sympathy for King Kong. Definitely check it out on the big screen- you'll walk out amazed.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Chrismukkah!

I have survived my first Australian Christmas. The morning began with a phone call from my family. They were kind enough to FedEx me my Christmas gifts this week, as well as send a floral arrangement for my table since I didn't get a tree. Mom tortured me by reciting the menu for Christmas dinner and brunch the following day. I'm jealous I can't be there to eat all the yummy food! After getting off the phone I headed to mass at St. Ambrose's Church. I spent the afternoon relaxing at home, and then went out for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant with my friend Ben (he took pity on me). Weather wise, it wasn't a hot Christmas as today was partly cloudy and mild. That's ok though- I'll have enough hot days to deal with in the upcoming months.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Birthday Michelle!

Today is Michelle's 28th birthday, so she decided to celebrate with a barbecue at her place. We started with snacks in the backyard and then moved on to salads and a cornucopia of barbecued meats. Desert was a stack of Krispy Kreme donuts (with candles and sparklers) that Ruth and Danny brought back with them from Sydney airport.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas Crack Up

Last night I went to the HiFi Bar for an evening of comedy. During this time of the year, laughter is very important. The show featured a wide variety of comedians: straight stand-up, character driven pieces, and musical comedy acts. It was a top night of entertainment.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Kalorama Christmas

Today I went up to Peter and Mark's house for a Christmas party. Rosemaree was kind enough to let me ride up with her. The weather today was showers, so there was some debate as to whether we should eat outside or in. Peter decided on outside, but we ended up moving the tables under the overhang when raindrops started to fall. A minute later is was pouring rain and hailing! After the deluge the sun came out for a bit, and then we had more spots of rain. However, it didn't matter, because Peter and Mark had cooked a huge feast for all of us to eat. All the food was delicious and I was so full by the end of lunch! Presents were opened in the games room by the Christmas tree. I got the boys a lantern from Dusk (the Australian equivalent of Illuminations) that they can use outside. After relaxing and chatting for a bit it was time to head home. Thanks Peter and Mark for such a great afternoon.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Channel V Bus Show

This afternoon I headed down to Federation Square for the free Channel V Bus show. Channel V is a music station here in Australia (like MTV). Today's show featured Rogue Traders and my faves The Living End. There were about 5,000 people who turned up for the show in some very hot weather. I staked out a spot near the side of the sound board along a railing. It was a good spot because I avoided all the overexcited teens and had a view of the big screen above the stage. VJs Andrew G and Sumi did interviews and crowd segments between videos and the bands playing. They did their best to keep the crowd calm and safe.

Rogue Traders played four songs and had to deal with some boos from the crowd (not deserved at all). Once The Living End came out the place went nuts. Security was a bit slack because several people made it up onto the stage- guitar tech Matty was having to tackle some of them. It was a rocking 45 minute set, so if you have Channel V, check out the repeats over the next few days.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Driver's License

You would think that getting a driver's license here in Australia would be difficult. After all, in California you have to do the written test, and then a driving test. They check your eyes and make sure you have driving insurance. When you pass through all those hurdles (and pay your money), then the state sends you your license in the mail. Well, today I went to VicRoads and after about 20 minutes I walked out the door with a driver's license in my hand! Even though they drive on the other side of the road and have different road rules, I didn't have to take any tests. All VicRoads needed was $42, and proof that I live here and already have a valid license in the US. That's it! Who knows when I'll actually use this driver's license, but at least I have one now.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I flew into Sydney on Thursday, December 1st around midday and then hopped onto the Airport Link train for the 12 minute ride into the city (I wish Melbourne had public transport to and from the airport). I got off at Museum Station and walked up the street to the Y Hotel. The Y Hotel is great because it is centrally located and cheap. I stayed there way back in 1996 with the University of California group when I arrived in Australia for the first time. After checking in and unpacking some stuff, I headed out for a walk. First I went up Oxford Street, but they were doing sidewalk construction, so after a few blocks I turned back and headed toward Hyde Park. I walked past the ANZAC War Memorial, and down to the Queen Victoria Building. There are lots of great shops in the QVB, so I wandered around and got some Christmas shopping done. I also checked out the great architecture in this historic building. After a couple of hours it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for the Finn Brothers concert that night.

On Friday I spent the day being a tourist. I walked past St. Mary's Cathedral on the way down to the Sydney Opera House. From there I walked to Circular Quay, and then onto The Rocks. It was incredibly hot and humid (31 degrees C/88 degrees F) and I was dying outside. A breeze did start to kick up in the afternoon, which made it a bit more bearable. I had a delicious chocolate thickshake from the Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream stand to cool down. The Rocks area has lots of shops and restaurants, but I refrained from spending money in them. When I couldn't handle the heat anymore I made the long trek back to the hotel. I walked past the Domain so I could check out the situation for Homebake. That evening there were huge thunderstorms, so I spent the night indoors.

Saturday I was at the Domain enjoying the Homebake Festival (see below). On Sunday I had some time to kill before my flight home so I checked out a Scottish Heritage celebration in Hyde Park, and also looked at the Christmas windows at David Jones. They have animated "The Night Before Christmas" this year. Myer in Melbourne has done The Santa Kid. Animated windows are big for the department stores here. Around 11:30 am I headed to the train station and caught the train back to the airport. The flight to Melbourne was a bit rough because of high winds, but I made it home in one piece. I will post pictures once I get my film developed.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Today was the Homebake Festival at the Domain in Sydney. After a night of thunderstorms, thankfully the weather held today. It was warm with periodic cloud cover, which provided some time out of the sun. The show was sold out (20,000 tickets) and the lines to get in were huge when the gates opened at 11:00 am. Once I entered I had a wander around the grounds. Along with the stages there were merchandise and food tents scattered about. The food was pretty good considering it was a festival show, and not overpriced.

As you can see from the timetable, there were four stages going at the same time. I spent most of the afternoon at the Dome Stage and caught sets by Expatriate, Architecture in Helsinki, The Go Betweens, and Sarah Blasko. I then headed toward the Main Stage for the end of Wolfmother's set, and stayed there for the rest of the evening. I got a nice spot by the sound board along a front barricade, so I could lean against something as well as watch the big screen. Ben Lee was his usual optimistic self and threw flowers to the crowd when he came out. The Living End rocked and the place went nuts, which wasn't that surprising considering how drunk a lot of people were. I got to hear a couple more new songs from their upcoming album, which was cool. The evening ended with the Finn Brothers, and I made my way up to the front of the stage to get as close as I could. Their set was pretty similar to what they did at The Enmore Theatre on Thursday night. The crowd sang along to the Crowded House and Split Enz numbers, but didn't seem to know the latest material. They played for an hour and a half and then the show ended at 11 p.m. because of curfew. It was an amazing day of music, and I was exhausted by the time I got back to my hotel.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Finn Brothers

Tonight I got to see another fantastic concert- this time by the Finn Brothers. This show was a secret warm-up for the Homebake Festival on Saturday. They played at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, which is a lovely art deco venue. Now, for those of you who don't know, I am a huge fan of Neil and Tim Finn. Their musical careers go back to the 1970s, starting with Tim's band Split Enz (which Neil joined in the late 70s). When the Enz broke up in 1984, Neil and Paul Hester went on to form Crowded House. I have been a massive Crowded House fan since 1987, and have followed Neil's solo career since Crowded House broke up in 1996. Last year Neil and Tim released their second brother's album "Everyone Is Here," and these are the last concerts they will be performing as the Finn Brothers for a while.

What made this show extra special was the band the Finns had joining them. On piano was Eddie Rayner, who played in Split Enz, and on bass was Nick Seymour, who was in Crowded House. For the drums they brought in Joey Waronker, who has played with Beck and REM. The concert was amazing. It had an energy and looseness to it that had been missing in previous shows because with Eddie and Nick there is a lot of history to draw on. They played a mixture of Split Enz, Crowded House, and Finn Brothers songs. Tim was his usual frantic and slightly psychotic self on stage as he let the music take him over. There was joking and lots of banter between the songs, and the crowd was really into it because it was mostly an audience of hard core fans. The boys played two encores and could have gone on the entire night. The show ended with a touching crowd sing-along to "Four Seasons In One Day," which was dedicated to Paul Hester, who committed suicide in March of this year.
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