Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

Tonight Lynne and I went to see Slumdog Millionaire at the Rafael Theater. Jamal Malik, who was raised in the slums of Mumbai, is a contestant on India's version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" and is one question away from winning 20 million rupees. Suspicious that he is somehow cheating, he is arrested and interrogated by police. The movie jumps from the present to the past as Jamal explains to the inspectors how he was able to correctly answer each question. Through these flashbacks you get to see the story of Jamal's life and that of his brother Salim and their friend Latika. It is a fantastic film and definitely worthy of all the award nominations it is receiving.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! I started my Christmas Day at the 10:30 am mass at St. Raphael's Church with my parents. After mass we did last minute preparations for our annual Christmas dinner. My aunt and cousins come over to join the family each year and it's always fun to catch up with them. Unfortunately my brother had to work this year, so it was just his wife Simi and their dog Chloe. Chrissie, Lei and Mei were a bit late arriving as they got caught in traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge from people trying to get into the observation points. Their tardiness didn't stop me from enjoying multiple cups of mulled cider though.

We sat down for dinner around 6:00 pm. My mom loves a festive table and did a tablescape of cranberries and roses as well as individual name cards with cute stickers and stockings with treats. We had a very yummy meal consisting of the following:
- Vegetable soup
- Bread rolls
- Turkey
- Ham
- Dressing
- Potatoes
- Green Beans
It was all delicious as usual. Of course we had a lot of left over food but that will just be eaten in the upcoming days (plus we sent home a tupperware container for my brother).

While we were digesting our dinner and making room for dessert, my cousin Lei gave us a presentation on her summer trip to Europe. Not only did she have photos but props as well. It was great to hear about her travels and see pictures of Switzerland, Spain, France, Italy and Sicily. Next we exchanged presents and then it was on to the dessert table. I had done the majority of the baking the day before having made the pumpkin pie and sugar cookies and helped my mom with the snowball cookies. We also had cream puffs and petit fours. It was sugar overload but very good and we were all extremely full by the end of the evening. I was happy to be able to enjoy Christmas with the family as I only seem to make it home every other year to celebrate with them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Today my mom and I went to see Baz Luhrmann's film "Australia." The story is narrated by Nullah, played brilliantly by young Brandon Walters. It is set during World War II in the Northern Territory. Nicole Kidman plays an English aristocrat who comes out to her husband's cattle station Faraway Downs. Working with the Drover, played by Hugh Jackman, they resurrect the cattle station and attempt to break the Carney cattle monopoly. The cinematography and costumes are as fantastic as you would expect from one of Baz's films. The movie is long however, and really could have ended before the bombing of Darwin. I'm not sure if Baz got his Aussie "Gone with the Wind" but he's made a good attempt.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On The Road Again..

In another one of my very long days I flew from Melbourne to Auckland to San Francisco on Air New Zealand today. The flight was full but as pleasant as a long haul flight can be. I got to watch a few movies: Ghost Town, WALL-E, Waitress, and Tropic Thunder. I also listened to Salmonella Dub's live album with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and even got some sleep. It's nice to be back in the Bay Area, although the rain has followed me across the Pacific (not that I mind that much).

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Homebake 2008 and Sydney

Friday night Tash and I flew up to Sydney for Homebake, a festival which features all Australian bands. On Saturday morning we grabbed some breakfast and then walked to The Domain. There was a brief wait in line before we eventually got into the venue. It was a very hot day- 35/95 degrees! After stopping to buy some bottled water we headed to The Dome stage for our first act of the day, The Holidays. Next up on the stage was Melbourne female duo Dash & Will in their first ever festival appearance. Their set was a lot of fun as they used tennis rackets to lob lollies into the audience and brought out a beach ball for the crowd to toss around.

We then headed to the Main Stage for another Melbourne band I've been wanting to see for a while, Eddy Current Suppression Ring. They played a great set of their old school punk songs, and I really enjoyed hearing "Which Way To Go." After a wander to refill our water bottles, we went back to The Dome stage for my favorites Little Red. They played a high energy set with a mix of old and new songs and had the crowd singing along. I was very happy to hear "Lazy Boy" and it was good to see such a positive response to the boys outside of Melbourne. After retreating to the shade under a tree to cool down a bit we were ready for End of Fashion. Their set was really good and included their first big hit "Oh Yeah" and the single "Fussy" off their latest album.

British India was our next act on the Main Stage. They really had the crowd going with their indie rock tunes. Unfortunately we were right in the sun for their set, so my goal of avoiding sunburn failed (even though I had on sun block). Besides the multiple stages, Homebake also set up a Cinema Pavilion to show a variety of short films. After grabbing some food we headed down to enjoy some films and relax in the dark for an hour and a half. My favorite of all the shorts we saw was "Mankind Is No Island" by Jason van Genderen. It's a really moving and thought provoking film.

When we emerged from the cinema the weather had gotten much cooler, which was a big relief. We headed back to The Dome stage for Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson. They mostly played songs from their album together "Rattlin' Bones." They are both great songwriters and musicians, and Kasey was very funny and sweet with her song introductions. "The Devil's Inside My Head" was stomping bluegrass number that had the crowd dancing. When their set finished we made our way through the crowd to the Main Stage for dance act Sneaky Sound System. They played a lot of their hits including "Pictures," "UFO," "I Love It," and "Kansas City." The crowd was totally into it and singing and dancing along.

The headline act of Homebake was Crowded House. Tash and I got as close to the stage as we could. I thought the set was a bit flat in comparison to the other shows earlier in the week. Neil had a bit of a raspy voice and the sound from where we were in the crowd was a bit muddy and hard to hear. Their set list probably needed a few more energetic hits in it considering this was a young festival crowd. The big hits though went down really well and the band were nearly drowned out by the singing of the crowd. I also got to hear "Hole in the River" which hadn't been played in Melbourne. In the encore some idiot threw their flip flop and hit Neil, which really pissed him off. He told the guy if he threw up his other shoe and took off his pants that he might let him stay. Security ended up carting the guy away and the show continued. They finished up the night with "Better Be Home Soon" and had the crowd hold up their lit mobile phones in the air- the modern equivalent of the lighter. All in all it was a fantastic day of music.

Today Tash and I started off with breakfast at a cafe along Cockle Bay Wharf, then had a wander around Darling Harbour. Next we caught a bus to The Rocks and checked out their Sunday market. After ice cream at Circular Quay we walked over to the Opera House as it began to rain. We hid for a bit inside the Opera House and once the weather cleared headed back outside. We spent some time at QVB having coffee, cakes and conversation before heading off to the airport for our flight home.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Crowded House

Over the past two nights I have been to The Forum Theatre to see Crowded House play their first Melbourne shows in over a year.

2 December
Anika Moa was the opening act and she played a half hour set. Like her album launch a month ago she flew a couple of her band members over from New Zealand. She was as funny as always and the dub version of “Youthful” with her freestyle rap in the middle went down very well with the audience. “My Old Man” and “Dreams In My Head” were also personal highlights.

Crowded House came out onto an unlit stage with headlamps on and launched into “Locked Out.” Unfortunately when Neil went to take the headlamp off he cut his forehead and started to bleed a bit. He thought that was pretty rock ‘n’ roll. The entire show was an epic 2 hours and 45 minutes long with multiple encores. The band included additional musicians Don McGlashen and Elroy Finn on certain numbers. They played five new songs throughout the evening, which sounded fantastic and gave me a lot of hope for the new album. I especially loved “Isolation” for its jangly guitars and “Lucky” for the amazing soaring chorus. Some old classics were also played that I haven’t heard live in a while: “Chocolate Cake,” “Love You ‘Til The Day I Die” (with You Am I’s Davey Lane on guitar), “Whispers and Moans” and “Fingers of Love.”

There was lots of banter and storytelling throughout the night. Neil was perplexed about the fact the balcony area of The Forum had been walled off since the last time he was there, which led to a microphone being passed around the audience to find out when that had happened and into a broader question time with the band. One guy and his band mates requested “Private Universe” to be played and ended up on stage playing and singing with the band (along with a few other audience members).

This show reminded me of the Crowded House shows of old with the audience interactions and sing-a-longs as well as funny stories or comments leading to musical improvisations. When coming out for the second encore Neil took to the drums and Matt to the keyboards as they and the rest of the band had a bit of jam. We even got a Matt drum solo at one point (which was very good- he adds such a drive to all the songs). I felt this was the first time that Neil has been able to play in Melbourne and not have the ghost of Paul Hester looming over him (although we did get a brief verse and chorus of “This is Massive”). It was such an amazing show and a great reminder of why I still love this band after all these years.

Set List
1. Locked Out
2. World Where You Live
3. Isolation (new)
4. Turn It Round (new)
5. Pineapple Head
6. Amsterdam (new)
8. Don't Stop Now
9. People Are Like Suns
10. Chocolate Cake
11. Not The Girl You Think You Are
12. Heaven That I'm Making
13. Lucky (new)
14. Fall At Your Feet
15. Whispers And Moans
16. Love You ‘Til The Day I Die
17. When You Come
18. It's Only Natural
19. Cars Collide (new)
20. Private Universe
21. Distant Sun
22. Weather With You
23. Instrumental Jam/This is Massive
24. Fingers Of Love
25. Throw Your Arms Around Me
26. Better Be Home Soon

3 December
What a difference a day makes. Tonight’s show was a mellower affair that only went for 1 hour and 50 minutes- almost one hour less than last night. I think the main reason was because the crew had to load out for the show in Sydney tomorrow night. I had a great position near the front off to the right side of the stage. There was a lot less banter and Neil commented that he had run out of things to say after the night before. It was a heavy guitar driven set with the appearance of “In My Command” and “Silent House.” We got even more new songs which also sounded good and “Italian Plastic” by request from the audience. The funniest moment of the night was Nick and Matt acting out the opening verse of “Something So Strong.” It was so great to see Crowded House in a smaller venue again instead of the big arenas they played when they were here last year.

Set List
1. When You Come
2. World Where You Live
3. 789 (new)
4. Fall At Your Feet
5. Don't Stop Now
6. Lucky (new)
7. Four Seasons In One Day
8. Inside Out (new)
9. In My Command
10. Silent House
11. Either Side (new)
12. Amsterdam (new)
13. Don't Dream It’s Over
14. Distant Sun
15. Locked Out
16. Something So Strong
17. Mean To Me
18. Better Things (new)
19. Italian Plastic
20. Weather With You
21. Better Be Home Soon
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