Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Heat Wave

It's so hot in Melbourne that the train tracks are buckling. Today was 43/109 degrees, and it will be above 40 degrees until Saturday. I'm sure you can guess how thrilled I am about this.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Australia Day

Happy Australia Day or Invasion Day, depending on your perspective. Here are some articles for your reading pleasure:
- Sarah Smiles "Dodson urges rethink on 'offensive' date of our national day"
- Barry Everingham "Another Australia Day without our own head of state"
- Melanie La'Brooy "Living in fantasy land"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Inauguration of Barack Obama

I got up very early this morning (2:00 am) to watch the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. I have always enjoyed the ceremony of this day and being able to watch history in the making, which was especially the case this year. I first saw Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and was absolutely amazed by his speech. I remember discussing it at work the next day with other people who had seen it and saying that this man could be President one day. Little did I know we would be so fortunate for it to happen this soon.

I thought Obama delivered a strong and inspiring address full of conviction and hope. I especially liked this quote:
And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.
Leadership has been sorely lacking over the last eight years. I trust that although Obama has a huge task in front of him on both the domestic and international fronts, his intelligence, calm nature and desire to succeed will see the US and the world change for the better. I'm so excited to have this man as our President. It's not just the breaking down of racial barriers but also a generational shift in power. I wish the Obama Administration all the best over the next four years (and hopefully four more).

Obama's inauguration and address:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Institut Polaire

Last night Tash and I met at The Evelyn for the first night of Institut Polaire's residency. The first band for the evening was one of our favorite new Melbourne bands The Good China. They were down one member, but considering that meant there were still 8 people on stage you really didn't notice. There was already a decent sized crowd to see them, and they put on another energetic set of their uplifting songs.

The next band was The Summer Cats. Their set was one of the more bizarre ones I have ever seen. The whole thing felt like an indie band comedy skit with their intros and songs. Imagine an indie Mr G as the lead singer and you may have some idea of what we witnessed. It was just awkward.

Third on the bill was Seagull, who came on stage and played their whole set without introducing themselves once. A throwback to the best UK shoegaze bands, their atmospheric songs were both beautiful and confronting. Lead singer Chris Bolton used a looping petal on his guitar to build sonic soundscapes and his delicate vocals made the whole thing a bit of an abstract artistic statement. Seagull are definitely an interesting band and one to watch.

Finally it was time for the headliners Institut Polaire. Originally from Perth, all eight members of this musical collective have recently relocated to Melbourne. Their set consisted of songs from their first EP and the new album they are currently recording. "City Walls and Empires" was a definite highlight, and their music follows in the tradition of many great Australian pop bands.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Madame Brussels

Depending on how the week is going, Chantal and I will head out for a drink or two after work (earlier in the week if things are really busy). Our usual spots are across the road at The Commune or down Bourke Street at Lane's Edge. However, Melbourne is full of unique bars that are hidden on the upper levels of buildings or down side alleys. Tonight we tried a new venue to me on Bourke Street, Madame Brussels. It's located on the third level of a building and you enter into a garden-themed indoors (with grass) which leads outdoors to the rooftop terrace. The place is very cute and all the servers were dressed in pastel tennis outfits. It was also packed as the venue is very popular. We enjoyed our jug of cocktails and then headed out for dinner, greeted by a line of people waiting to get in as we departed.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Retreat Hondas

Tonight Belinda and I headed down to The Retreat Hotel in Brunswick to see The Hondas play. The hour long set started off a bit slow, but began to pick up with Taka's song about freedom, Quang's song about a monkey, and old favorites like "I Am A Homosexual," "Ariana," "Julia," "Dream Girl," and "God Save My Soul." The banter was very amusing as always and there was even a group of people up dancing towards the end. Once again it was fun evening with The Hondas.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Franz Ferdinand

Now you would think after 20+ hours in transit that I would have been to bed very early this evening. However you would have been wrong because instead I went to see Franz Ferdinand at the Palace Theatre with Tash. The opening acts were Red Riders and The Temper Trap, who really impressed me with their anthemic songs.

Franz Ferdinand took the stage to huge cheers from the sold out crowd. They played many of the hits from their first and second albums, which had the crowd singing along. "Take Me Out" received a massive reaction from the whole theatre as everyone bounced around to the song. The guys were very smart with their set list as they sprinkled in new songs from the upcoming album throughout the night, and they sounded great and fit right in with the catalogue. The concert was absolutely fantastic and ended with Alex, the lead singer, jumping into the audience and crowd surfing back to the stage for his final bow with the rest of the band.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Sunrise at Auckland Airport around 6:30 am this morning.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Making Tamales

Today my parents and I drove up to my brother's house for a lesson on how to make tamales from Simi's parents, who were visiting them. This trip also allowed me to spend some time with my brother, who has been working the majority of the time I have been here, and to see their house fully decorated as I last saw it right before they moved in.

Our tamale lesson began with James and my Dad kneading the shortening and liquid into the masa. Next we became an assembly line of tamale makers as we spread the masa, pork and an olive into the corn husks and then folded the husks to make a tamale. It was a huge batch but we got through the 20 pound bowl of masa fairly quickly. After about an hour and a half of steaming some of the tamales we were ready for our late lunch, which also included rice, beans, and salsa. It was so great to have homemade Mexican food! The rest of the tamales for assorted family members were divided into zip lock bags to freeze and eat later on. Too bad there is no way I could get through customs and bring some tamales back with me to Australia.
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