Friday, September 30, 2011

Gotye- Making Mirrors Tour

After meeting up for dinner at Tazio on Flinders Lane, Tash, Mary and I headed over to The Forum for the first of Gotye's four sold out shows in Melbourne in support of his chart topping album Making Mirrors.  We arrived during the second half of Oscar + Martin's set.  They sounded okay but had some tech problems at the end so played a song doing the beats on the drums and rapping freestyle.

Gotye started his set with "Making Mirrors" and then played "Eyes Wide Open."  Wally once again had the 10 piece mini-orchestra with him and used many of the same animations as at the Sydney Opera House album launch last month.  The audience sang along to a lot of the songs, which was exciting since the album has only been out for a little over a month. "State of the Art," "I Feel Better," "Smoke and Mirrors," and the number 1 single "Somebody That I Used to Know" (this time performed with Kimbra's recorded vocals) were highlights of the night.  Unfortunately Wally has been sick during the week and was starting to lose his voice by the end of the night.  This may have resulted in a song or two being cut out of the set list, but he did come back out for an encore and played "Learnalilgivinanlovin."  It is amazing how much success Wally is having with this new album and I hope the momentum keeps building for him both here and overseas.

Here's a short documentary on the making of Making Mirrors

Sunday, September 25, 2011

When Silence is Hard to Find

Flights back to Australia from the States are usually during night time, so it's often easier to try and get some sleep.  However, when you have a toddler who is not a happy flier and spends the majority of the time crying, it makes sleeping difficult.  The other kids on the plane did great, but this one child could not be consoled, which did not make for a fun 12 hours from San Francisco to Auckland.  In addition, the Auckland to Melbourne leg had a fussy baby (but at least that was only a 3 1/2 hour flight).  I tried to block out the noise by listening to music and watching some episodes of Modern Family as well as the movies Something Borrowed and The Switch.  I am glad to be back in Melbourne, but not surprisingly I feel a bit tired.  We will see how long I can manage to stay up today.

Friday, September 23, 2011


One of the best things about being in the States these past three weeks has been getting to spend time with my nephew Logan.  He was only a few weeks old when I last saw him so it's been fun to play with him now that he's nearly 2 years old.  Logan is a sweet, calm, good-natured boy who loves cars and trucks and running around. And he hasn't been that shy around me, which could be in part because my parents show him photos of me when he's at the house.

My brother and I took him to the park one day and he immediately grabbed my hand and led me around to the different play structures.  James, Simi and Logan have also been over for dinner a couple of times and Logan loves to run around in the backyard and explore things.  Today my parents and I got to babysit him since James and Simi both had to work.  It's going to be sad to leave and fly back to Australia today, but mostly because I won't get to play and hang out with Logan until I'm next in the US.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Heading Back North

My Southern California road trip has come to an end.  This morning we all went to have breakfast at IHOP and then Lei dropped me off at the airport in Burbank before driving back to the Bay Area (she wasn't sure she would be able to stay the whole week which is why I bought a plane ticket).  I flew Southwest Airlines to Oakland and then took the Airporter bus back to Marin.  I have had a fantastic time over this past week.  Special thanks to Lei for being my travel companion and our Uncle Tom and Aunt Dulce for letting us stay with them (and also introducing us to the very yummy Porto's Bakery in Glendale).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Oh Mercy- The Hotel Cafe

Photo by Leilani
Lei and I returned to The Hotel Cafe tonight to see Oh Mercy play their only show in Los Angeles.  I ran into Alex last night at Paul Kelly's show and he was kind enough to put me on the guest list. We got a table up the front and had a great view of the stage.  The set was about 40 minutes long and instead of Alex solo we were treated to what he called the "trans-Pacific version of Oh Mercy" consisting of some LA musicians, including Mitchell Froom (producer of Great Barrier Grief) on keyboards.  They started with "Keith St." and played "Mercy Valley," "Blue Lagoon," "Lay Everything On Me," "Stay Please Stay," "My Man," a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Memories," and finished with "Europa."  It was good to hear the songs with a full band, especially the new ones that I first heard Alex play in July.  I am really liking the harder edge to the new material.  After the show I chatted briefly with Alex and thanked him again for putting me on the list.  He flies back to Melbourne on Monday and is looking forward to showing off his tan.

Here is Alex doing an acoustic version of "Blue Lagoon"

Griffith Observatory

This afternoon Lei and I drove up to Griffith Observatory.  It was a hazy and overcast day so there weren't very clear views of LA but we could see the Hollywood sign.  The Observatory building is pretty amazing and I went a bit crazy taking photos of its art deco features at various angles.  We went inside and checked out all the different exhibits, which were well done, interesting, and engaging for a wide range of ages.  This was the first time both of us had been there and we had lots of fun.  Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to see any of the planetarium shows, but maybe that can happen on a future visit.  If you are ever in Los Angeles I definitely recommend making a trip to the Observatory and Griffith Park.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paul Kelly- The A to Z Shows

Tonight was the second night of Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly's A-Z shows at The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles.  Paul was accompanied on stage by his nephew Dan Kelly for the shows.  We got songs from his catalogue starting with the letters M- Z, including "The Oldest Story in the Book," "Randwick Bells," "To Her Door," "When I First Met Your Ma," "Winter Coat," "You're 39, You're Beautiful and You're Mine" and "Zoe."  Since Paul did not have a "Q" song, he let Dan do one of his own- "Bindi Irwin Apocalypse Jam" off his latest album Dan Kelly's Dream, complete with the audience singing along to the chorus.  The show was fantastic and it was a privilege to see Paul play in such an intimate venue (and for much cheaper than it would cost in Australia).  I also got to catch up with my friend Nancy and her husband after the show, which was nice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

San Diego

Today Lei and I drove down to San Diego for the day. Our first stop was UC San Diego in La Jolla.  I don't think I've been there since graduating 14 years ago.  There are a lot more buildings, and Roosevelt College is now located north of Thurgood Marshall.  Lei and I wandered around campus checking out the Geisel Library and small Dr Seuss exhibit, Price Center, and a few of the art pieces in the Stuart Collection.

Next we drove around downtown La Jolla before deciding to go down to Old Town San Diego.  We stopped for a late lunch at Mexican restaurant Barra Barra and had their happy hour margaritas and yummy tacos, as well as an apple crisp burrito with vanilla ice cream to share. We then walked around Old Town and went into some of the shops. The buildings are a mix of Gold Rush era and Mission style. If we had had more time we would have checked out some of the museums there.

For the evening we went to my old college roommate Shoshana's house for dinner.  We got to meet her young daughter and chat for a while.  It's been quite a few years since we last caught up with each other in person.  Unfortunately our other roommates couldn't make it so I'll have to see them on a future trip.  It was great to finally get back down to San Diego though and Lei and I had a fun day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

Today Lei, Uncle Tom, Aunt Dulce and I went to see a taping of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at CBS Studios in Hollywood.  The last time I was here was when Craig Kilborn was the host of the Late Late Show.  Lei is a big fan of Craig Ferguson which is why she got us tickets. 

Although it is Tuesday they were taping Friday night's show.  Since the studio is so small they started by shooting the musical guest, county singer Justin Moore.  After rearranging the set they ran through the whole show from the start with various regular segments and an interview with actor James Woods.  The Woods interview went long so they had to bump the other scheduled guest, actress Kathryn Hahn, but they still taped her segment with us which will air next Tuesday night.  I don't watch Craig's show but he seems to play more to the cameras than the studio audience.  We were also encouraged by staff to laugh at everything, which I found a bit annoying as most other shows will play off of a joke succeeding or failing.  It was an interesting taping to attend though- certainly a bit different from the other late night shows I've seen.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Downtown Los Angeles Arts District

After getting out of the Warner Brothers parking lot Lei and I headed into downtown LA to meet up with our cousin Missy and her boyfriend for dinner at Wurstkuche on E 3rd Street.  The restaurant is located in the Arts District and I was very impressed by all the murals and stencils on the walls in the neighborhood.  It reminded me a lot of Melbourne.  For dinner we had gourmet sausages, Belgian fries and beer while sitting outside to enjoy the evening. The food tasted good and I got some sauerkraut on my bratwurst so I was happy.


Today Lei and I went to see a taping of Conan at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. The last time I saw a Conan taping was in 1998 in New York when he was doing Late Night with Conan O'Brien.  We got their early to make sure we could get good seats in the studio audience.  I was wondering if they would have any Conan merchandise for sale and lucky for us a guy came and opened up a stand in the waiting area.  Lei and I picked up awesome blue t-shirts of an animated owl Conan in a tv shaped bird cage that are only available for sale to audience members.

As expected there was a lot of waiting around, standing in lines and walking as we went through the Warner Brothers lot to get to Stage 15. The Conan studio is decent sized and the set looks great in person.  We had seats a few rows up in the center with a good view of everything. During the audience warm up Lei pointed me out to the comedian as someone from out of town.  Thankfully he didn't seem to question my lack of an Aussie accent.

The guests for this evening's show were comedian and tv host Howie Mandel, boxer Floyd Mayweather, and musical guest Alexander Ebert (lead singer of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros).  We had some funny comedy bits including John Galliano's brother and his many hats, and a cow committing suicide by jumping from the studio rafters and hanging itself after listening to the Basic Cable Band.  Despite the cow incident the Basic Cable Band were awesome and it was a treat to get to hear them play full songs before the taping started and during the commercial breaks. Alexander's performance of "Truth" was amazing and had me wanting to check out his solo album. After the show finished taping we were asked to stick around for a special surprise and were treated to an additional interview with Ashton Kutcher, which will air as part of Thursday's show. It was a fun taping and Conan came up into the audience and sang to the crowd at the end.

Here is Alexander doing "Truth"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Road Trip

This afternoon my cousin Leilani came to pick me up for our drive down to Los Angeles.  We had discussed doing this little road trip around Christmas time, so it's exciting that Lei has gotten some time off work to do it.  On the drive south we spotted over 20 trucks on the I-5 transporting tomatoes (we still aren't sure where they were originating from). For dinner and a stretch break we stopped at Harris Ranch, which is what my family and I used to do when driving to and from UC San Diego each year.  When we came back outside it was sunset so I grabbed a few shots.  We made good time to Los Angeles, especially since Lei was hauling it over the Grapevine.  Our Aunt Dulce and Uncle Tom have been kind enough to let us stay with them during the week.  We have lots of little activities planned so it should be a fun trip.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Jennifer and Alex's Wedding

Today was my cousin Jennifer's wedding, which was the main reason for my trip to the States.  The ceremony took place at Saint Francis Solano church in Sonoma at noon (the mantra of the day was 9/10/11 at 12:00 pm).  The weather was warm but not too unbearably hot and it was nice to see relatives outside of church before mass started.  My nephew Logan was the ring bearer and he looked very cute in his white suit.  We were curious to see if he would make it down the aisle, and he did- but he was carried by the junior bridesmaid because he got scared at the last minute.  Jennifer looked beautiful in her dress and the ceremony went smoothly.  Once Alex and Jennifer were pronounced man and wife we all exited the church and did a big photo on the front steps of the church (with the photographers stopping traffic and standing in the middle of the street).

The reception took place at Jennifer's grandparents amazing property in Sonoma.  There was a bar in the middle of the grounds and appetizers being passed around when we arrived.  They had also set up a photobooth with props, which kept all of us cousins entertained for a while.  Once family photos were completed everyone headed into the impressive tent for our multiple course Italian meal.  The wedding party came in and the newly married couple had their first dance.  In between courses we had speeches from the maid of honor and best man.  My uncle Tony also led us all in singing "That's Amore" before getting his father/daughter dance.  We then all hit the dance floor as the live band played a wide range of songs from different eras (Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" was a highlight for Missy and I).  The wedding cake was a very yummy red velvet, and we continued to dance as the sun set across the vineyards.  As the evening came to a close everyone gathered on either side of the driveway with lit sparklers in their hands as the couple walked through to their car.  It was a wonderful day and so nice to be able to spend time with my extended family.  I wish Jennifer and Alex all the best as they embark on married life together.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Shopping up a Storm

I have been busy the past couple days hitting various shopping centers in Marin County.  I bought a couple pairs of sneakers online before I arrived, and got clothes at Anthropologie, Gap, Old Navy and Macy's.  My favorite purchase though must be my fake leather bomber jacket from Target which only cost $40.  I would have spread out my shopping a bit more during this trip if not for the fact that I wanted to take advantage of all the Labor Day sales that ended today.  This doesn't mean that there may not be more purchases in the next few weeks.  It's my way of supporting the economy and bringing the US out of recession.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Today was another one of those very long travel days when I arrive before I actually left.  I got to Melbourne airport and faced lines for check in and more lines at security and customs, but made it through in time to board my Air New Zealand flight to Auckland.  I was on the ground for a little over an hour before catching the next leg to San Francisco.  Both flights went smoothly and I didn't have anyone next to me in the middle seat, which was nice.  I watched a few episodes of Parks and Recreation and Big Fat Gypsy Weddings (does anyone else see a similarity in dress sense between the Irish Travellers and the cast of Jersey Shore?).  I also watched a New Zealand movie called Hook, Line & Sinker and read Sarah Vowell's latest book about the history of Hawaii, Unfamiliar Fishes.  Unfortunately I did not get much sleep.  However, it is nice to be home, especially since today is my Mom's birthday.
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