Friday, January 26, 2007

Happy Australia Day

Today is Australia Day, which means I had the day off work. I didn't do too much (other than watch a lot of American talk shows on tv). However, I did head out to dinner with Fran tonight. We ate at Rumi in East Brunswick and shared several dishes. It was pretty good Lebanese food. Afterwards we headed down the road for some gelati. It was nice to catch up with Fran and have a chat about what she's been up to lately.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Crowded House Reunion

My favorite band of all time, Crowded House, announced this week that they are reforming! Neil Finn explains his desire to reunite the band here. There has been a lot of press internationally, including this article in the LA Times:

Crowded House stands out in the Coachella crowd

"I just wanted to be in a band again," says lead singer Neil Finn.
By Randy Lewis, Times Staff Writer

There's "Something So Strong" about New Zealand rock band Crowded House after all: The group that disbanded a decade ago is re-forming for a new album and tour that will begin at this year's Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.

While most of the headlines regarding the latest Coachella talent lineup announced Monday focused on the one-night-only reunion of rock-rap group Rage Against the Machine, fans have been buzzing worldwide about the resurrection of Crowded House.

After charting hits with Crowded House in the late '80s and '90s, including "Don't Dream It's Over" and "Something So Strong," the group's lead singer and chief songwriter Neil Finn decided to retire the band so he could concentrate on a solo career and on sibling projects with his brother Tim Finn, who also joined Crowded House briefly. Both had previously been members of Australia's Split Enz, which did a reunion tour in 2006.

But after the suicide of Crowded House drummer Paul Hester in 2005, Finn says he slowly came to the realization that "I just wanted to be in a band again. And what other band could it be, really?"

Speaking from Auckland, New Zealand, where he's been finishing the new album with bassist Nick Seymour, Finn told The Times today that he and Seymour came together again after Hester's death, and last year began working on new songs. They also spent time revisiting the band's past for "Farewell to the World," a 10th anniversary expanded DVD release of the film of their final concert at the Sydney Opera House, which came out earlier this month.

"It just feels like something good and true," Finn said. "We sought each other out in the shadow of Paul's passing. That helped us reconnect and gave me a reminder of what bands are and what they bring, with the sharing of the load between everybody, and the humor of not being the only guy at interviews and photo shoots. It all started to feel very natural to me."

The new album, due in the spring, will be called "Time on Earth," signaling the fleeting nature of life, a theme that came into sharp focus for Finn and Seymour with the loss of Hester.

"In ways I can't really elaborate on, Paul's presence looms large on the record," Finn said. "I didn't want to make a record that was wallowing in anything.... We were moved to write and to do things that remembered him to some degree, to acknowledge what happened. It affected us both very deeply and it still resonates very strongly. I dream about him a lot, and it will always to some degree haunt me. But ultimately it's an act of free will and choice, and you have to recognize that too."

Keyboardist Mark Hart, who toured and recorded with Crowded House, also will be taking part in the reunion tour, but Finn said there were no plans for his older brother, who has a solo album due soon, to join in. He and Seymour have been holding auditions in New Zealand and Australia and will continue the search for a new drummer with additional tryouts in Los Angeles in the next couple of weeks.

"It's pointless trying to find another Paul, because there isn't another Paul," he said. "It will be different, but hopefully it will be something that can grow and develop.... I'm very concerned that we do this properly so that it becomes a real band, and not just a brand."

Acknowledging rampant skepticism about the ever-rising tide of band reunions, Finn said, "There are people who may choose to see it in cynical ways, and I can't blame anybody — they can look at it any way they want. I know what drives me, and I'm not doing it for the money. I've done very well and I've got a really great, loyal and significant community of people who follow what I do as solo artist, with the Finn Brothers, and this is very exciting and has got me very fired up."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Farewell Adam

Today was Adam's last day in the office. He's going back into schools to work with the Leading Schools Fund on improving school performance. We had a big lunch for him yesterday at Da Hu Peking Duck on Little Bourke Street, and then a farewell morning tea this morning. It will be sad for me to see Adam go as he has been my partner in crime in the office (we started around the same time). I'm sure we will catch up regularly when he comes into the city to visit though.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Heat Wave

This past week has been my own personal hell because it has been consistently hot. On Tuesday we reached 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) and had a major power outage throughout Melbourne. I was very fortunate to be on one of the few train lines that was actually running and made it home, only to find the power out. The rest of the week the temperatures were in the 30s (upper 80s-90s Fahrenheit) with increasing humidity by the end of the week. If there is one thing I hate more than heat it is humidity. Friday was unbearable outside since the humidity levels were around 75%. It felt like the tropics! Thankfully we have had some good rain falling today and it has cooled down. I also finally bought a fan this week, so that has helped to circulate the air in my apartment.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Back Safe

I survived the flights back to Australia. I did manage to get some sleep and was able to watch Little Miss Sunshine and The Queen (both excellent films). It is very hot here in Melbourne and quite a shock to my system. It was 36 degrees (97 degrees Fahrenheit)- about a 40 degree difference from when I left the Bay Area. I ventured out to the supermarket and my cupboards and fridge are now stocked. I'm unpacked and feeling ready to go to sleep. It will be interesting to see how I make it through work tomorrow.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Farewell San Rafael

Today is my last day in the States. I stayed up late last night to get my packing done, and thankfully all my new purchases fit in the bags. Around midday I headed out to visit my old colleagues and students at Wilson Elementary School in Richmond. I spent the first part of lunch in the staff room catching up with people, and then hit the yard to see my students who are now in fourth and fifth grade. A few of the girls spotted me immediately, started yelling my name and ran over to hug me. It was sweet to see them all and have a quick chat. They are all getting very tall.

After my visit I met up with Lynne on Fourth Street in San Rafael to have some Starbucks and say goodbye. We had a wander through some local shops and ended up buying these cute red suede mary janes which were on sale for $20. I've had such a great time visiting my family and friends and being able to catch up with them in person. My parents are kindly driving me to the airport tonight. I can't say I'm looking forward to spending 14 hours in the plane. Hopefully there will be some good movies and I will get some sleep.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

More Shopping and Visits

It's been a busy last few days. I met up with Angie on Wednesday and we headed up to Petaluma so she could torture me with trying on bridesmaid dresses. Being the maid of honor for her wedding in 2008, I get first choice of design. I think the current thought is to go with separates- tea length skirt and choice of top. After our bridal adventures we headed up to Santa Rosa so that I could see her and Andy's brand new house! It's in a new development and will be perfect for them. On Saturday I was back up in Petaluma to spend some time with Angie and Katie, and help her pack up some of Katie's toys and clothes. Katie was very entertaining- we read some books, hid under blankets, and Katie named the different parts of her face. You can see how cute she is.

On Thursday I headed into San Francisco to meet up with Lynne for our shopping excursion downtown. We started at Union Square and then headed down to the new Westfield Shopping Centre on Market Street. It's really nice in there and puts the San Francisco Centre next door to shame. Despite all the great shops, I didn't come out with too much stuff. I got a purse at Macys, finished off my gift card at Old Navy, and got the latest Badly Drawn Boy CD. I was really bummed out that I didn't find anything good at H&M. I think they are clearing out their winter items and don't have the new spring stuff in yet. The highlight of the day was our trip to Ghiradelli Square for a hot fudge sundae. They are the best things ever. Lynne had a hot chocolate because it was absolutely freezing outside with the strong winds.

Friday was spent walking and talking. Lynne came over and we headed out to Tiburon and had a good two hour hike around Blackie's Pasture and the downtown area. We stopped in the most bizarre coffee shop ever which was run by an old lady. I can't even describe it- it was like walking back in time. We would both recommend that you never go there to order anything. After a quick rest back at my house, Lynne was eager for more walking, so we hit the neighborhood and did a loop up Elizabeth Way and back down Fairhills Drive. It's a steep hill but you can see the Marin Civic Center at the top of Elizabeth Way. To reward ourselves for all this physical activity we baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Saturday morning I finally caught up with June for breakfast at Bubba's Diner in San Anselmo. She recommended I try the creme brulee french toast with a side of bacon, and yes it was as good as it sounds. When I returned home there were deer in the driveway, so I took a picture of them. Dad wasn't too thrilled to hear they were there, since they love to eat the plants. I remember one year when I was younger we had all these tomatoes ripe and ready to be picked on the front deck, and the following day they were all gone because the deer got to them first. These are the hazards of living amongst nature.

Today I went along to the Modern Bridal Faire at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco with my mom, Simi, and her mother. It was basically a bunch of vendors trying to sell you their wedding services. We checked out the booths and sampled some food. The bridal fashion show never happened, which was kind of a bummer as that would have been fun to watch. I think Simi has found a couple potential photographers/videographers for the wedding, so that's good. I'm glad I don't have to deal with all this planning (and Jamie doesn't have it that bad either). I just get to show up in October and everything should be done.
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