Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Danny

After our big shopping excursion last week today was the day for Danny's American/Australian-themed 30th birthday party. A group of us gathered at Princes Park in Carlton this afternoon on what was a very hot day. We set up a table in the shade with a variety of American foods as well as some Kool-Aid. Surprisingly a lot of guests weren't big fans of the Kool-Aid, which I guess is an acquired taste. Ruth braved the barbecue grill in the sun and we had hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages along with some salads. I contributed a classic macaroni salad, which came out just as I remember it from my youth (it was the first time I had made the dish).

Danny had brought a variety of balls, so while some people kicked the footy we were throwing around a football. I think we had people throwing spirals after a few tries. Danny's attempt at an American accent contest didn't really take off, so we sang happy birthday and had some of Ruth's chocolate ripple cake, which was in the shape of the number 30. It was a fun afternoon and as darkness descended on the park we cleaned up and headed for home.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Americana Australian Style

This morning Danny and Ruth picked me up and we drove out to the USA Foods store in Moorabbin. Danny is having an American/Australian themed b-day party next week so he was looking to pick up some items for the event. The shop was smaller than we were expecting, but I did find some great stuff to buy:
- Jello
- Jello pudding
- Libby's canned pumpkin
- Bulls Eye Original barbecue sauce
- Honey Maid cinnamon graham crackers
- Marshmallows
- Jiffy Corn Muffin mix

So inspired were we by our American purchases that we decided to head to Costco in Docklands for some further shopping and to go in together on a joint membership. Walking into the store made me feel like I was back in the States because the layout is practically identical to the one in Novato. Warehouse stores are a new concept in Australia so they are allowing people to sign in and walk around if they aren't members (although you can't buy anything). I picked up some bagels and a gigantic bottle of Saigon cinnamon that was priced the same as a small bottle of ground cinnamon at the grocery store. It was a successful shopping excursion and if I ever feel homesick I will just go hang out at Costco. I'm now going to make some Rice Krispies Treats with the marshmallows I bought.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brushes with Greatness

Tonight I exchanged smiles and waves goodbye with Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the Teach For Australia celebration at Melbourne Museum. Maybe she thought I was a TFA Associate? Yesterday Victorian Premier John Brumby walked by while I was at Treasury Deli. Unfortunately, I have yet to run into Prince William while he's been in Melbourne.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Team Conan

Before I left the States last week news broke that NBC was going to shaft Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show by moving Jay Leno's failed 10:00 pm show to 11:35 pm after the Olympics and push The Tonight Show to start a half hour later at 12:05 am. I have been really angry that Conan is being treated this way and was glad to read Conan's statement today that he is not down with it either. Who knows what will happen now, but the ball is in NBC's court.
People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky. That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over “The Tonight Show” in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004, I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my “Tonight Show” in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the “Tonight Show” to 12:05 to accommodate the “Jay Leno Show” at 11:35. For 60 years, the “Tonight Show” has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying the “Tonight Show” into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The “Tonight Show” at 12:05 simply isn’t the “Tonight Show.” Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the “Late Night” show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard, and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of “The Tonight Show.” But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet, a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the “Tonight Show,” I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Temper Trap

Tonight Tash and I headed to The Forum for a sold out show by The Temper Trap. Even though they are from Melbourne the band are probably bigger in the UK than in Australia. The opening act was UK band The Boxer Rebellion, who played a solid set of indie rock music.

The Temper Trap got a great reaction from the crowd for their anthemic music and Dougy's angelic voice. There were large sing along for many of their songs, including "Sweet Disposition," "Fader," and "Down River." For the encore they sang Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" and finished the night with "Science of Fear."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Never Ending Journey...

Greetings from Auckland Airport where I am currently stuck for the day while waiting for my flight to Melbourne. The fun started yesterday when my San Francisco to Auckland flight was delayed 5 hours due to a late arriving plane (it was 12 hours late!). We didn't leave until after midnight, so I knew I would miss my 8 am connecting flight to Melbourne this morning. Conveniently the Air New Zealand people had already booked me on the next available flight. Unfortunately, that flight doesn't leave until 7:30pm tonight. The only other flight to Melbourne is at 3:30 pm, and that is fully booked. To add to the fun, since I am "in transit" I am stuck at the airport.

So how does one kill time at the airport? I have been purchasing access to the wi-fi hotspots so I can have some internet time. I will have a wander around the terminal, although there isn't much too see in Auckland. SFO did have this crazy pinball exhibit on in the terminal, so that was interesting. I managed to convince the Air New Zealand people to give me a food voucher, so that will be my lunch (I had received a dinner voucher from them at SFO). I will also have a bit of a lay down, read a book, and listen to music.

Being delayed 5 hours had added an additional 12 hours to my travel time on this trip home. I'm not going to get to my place till probably after 10 pm, and I am supposed to go to work tomorrow! We'll see what happens, but considering how hot it is supposed to be, an air conditioned office may be the better option in my exhausted state.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

California Academy of Sciences

Today my parents and I headed to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. This was one of my favorite places to come on day care field trips when I was little, and my father used to spend his childhood summers going there too, so we were excited to see the recently renovated Academy. The building is now a lot lighter and airier with floor to ceiling windows and many of the exhibits have been updated or changed. There is also an even greater focus on education and interactive displays.

We started with the albino alligator and then headed into the Steinhart Aquarium. Different focus areas included the marine and plant life along the Northern California Coast and in different coral reefs throughout the world. The tide pool where kids can touch things still exists, and there were many cries of "Nemo" heard at the main tank viewing area. The sea dragons and coral life were my favorites in the aquarium.

Next we wandered around the various exhibits of the Kimball Natural History Museum and into the African Hall. Besides the dioramas of mounted animals they now have a live colony of African penguins. The penguins were entertaining to watch and they jumped in and out of the water and swam around.

One of the fantastic brand new exhibits is the living 4-story Rainforest which is contained within a 90-foot diameter glass dome. Animals and plants from Borneo, Madagascar, Costa Rica and the Amazon are represented as you walk up a spiraling path from the forest floor to the canopy. The temperature and humidity levels in the dome also add authenticity to the experience.

Our last stop was The Living Roof on top of the Academy. The Living Roof´s 1.7 million native plants were specially chosen to flourish in the climate of Golden Gate Park. Since it's winter there is not much going on, but it would be cool to be up there in spring when things are blooming and there are more animals and insects around.

On our way back home we stopped for lunch at Marinitas on Sir Francis Drake Blvd in San Anselmo. This Mexican and Latin American food restaurant opened nearly a year ago and is owned by Heidi Krahling, who also runs Insalata's down the street. We had the chicken and vegetarian enchiladas and I thought the food was decent but not spectacular. The restaurant decor is nice and I would imagine probably draws a good crowd for dinner.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Cartier and America

Today my mom and I headed into San Francisco to see the Cartier and America exhibition at the Legion of Honor. Here's the press release for the event:
Cartier and America covers the history of the House of Cartier from its first great successes as the “king of jewelers and jeweler to kings” during the Belle Epoque through to the 1960s and 1970s, when Cartier supplied celebrities of the day with their jewels and luxury accessories. Derived mainly from the private Cartier Collection housed in Geneva, the spectacular array of more than 200 objects includes jewelry of the Gilded Age and Art Deco periods, as well as freestanding works of art such as the famous Mystery Clocks. With an extensive variety of jewelry forms—ranging from traditional white diamond suites to the highly colored exotic creations of the 1920s and 1930s—Cartier made its mark with the ingenuity of its designs and its exquisite craftsmanship.
The exhibition was fantastic with some pretty amazing pieces of jewelry on display. Besides those from the ultra elite of the early 1900s, they had small jewelry collections from the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly (including her 10 carat diamond engagement ring), and Elizabeth Taylor. One thing I found interesting was the versatility of many pieces, which could be worn as necklaces, multiple bracelets or in other configurations. Some people even had their jewelry redesigned over the years to reflect the times. If you are in San Francisco you should definitely check out Cartier and America, which is on through April 2010.
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