Saturday, January 31, 2015

Beautiful Noise

Over the next two weekends ACMI is showing the documentary film Beautiful Noise, which tells the story of the UK shoegaze scene in the 1980s and 1990s. I was already planning to attend but managed to win a double pass from ACMI on Twitter this week for tonight's screening. There are many bands featured in the film, including the Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, and a couple of my personal favorites with Lush and Ride. Having grown up during this period and also being a devotee of San Francisco alternative radio station Live 105 and MTV's 120 Minutes it was great to see and hear all these bands from my youth again. I feel fortunate to have lived through a genre that had gender equality and was so focused on the music. Seeing the film also made me wish I had my Cocteau Twins and Ride albums here to listen to (although I would have to track down a cassette player to play them on).

Here's the trailer for the film:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Lullaby Movement and Birdman

It's Australia Day today so Onagh and I took advantage of having the day off to catch up and do a couple things. First off we went to the NGV to see Lullaby Movement featuring Sophia Brous and special guests Leo Abrahams and David Coulter. This work was originally commissioned by Urban Theatre Projects for Bankstown: Live as part of the Sydney Festival 2015. It featured Sophia exploring the melodies and multi-layered meaning of lullabies, drawn from migrant families in Bankstown. There were lots of children in the audience for the half-hour performance in the Great Hall, and Sophia alternated between performing in the crowd and on the stage. It was lovely to hear these lullabies sung in different languages, and always great to see Sophia perform (I'm hopeful she will release some new music soon).

Next we headed to the Kino Cinemas for an afternoon showing of the movie Birdman. The film stars Michael Keaton as Riggin Thomson, a washed up famous Hollywood actor who starred in the Birdman movie franchise. To revive his career he decides to write, direct and star in an adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story on Broadway. The movie covers the rehearsals and preview performances of the play leading up to opening night as well as Thomson's battles against the voice of Birdman, which torments him throughout. The staccato jazz drumming in the score really adds to the pace and feel of the film. Keaton is great in a role that seems to parallel his own career, and I thought Edward Norton as Thomson's acting nemesis Mike Shiner gave an absolutely standout performance. All the accolades are definitely deserved for this film and if you haven't seen it already go check it out.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chantal's Bachelorette Party

My lovely friend Chantal is getting married next month, so last night we had her bachelorette party (or hen's as it is referred to in Australia, which I personally refuse to use). The theme was "Spec-Tacular" so everyone brought along funny glasses to wear. We started the evening doing some life drawing at The Artful Hen in Prahran. After some drinks and nibbles we sat in front of our easels and did brief introductions before our male model came out. Our instructor took us through several different drawing exercises as our model did various poses. At the end Chantal sat up on the podium with him and we had to do a progressive drawing exercise where we rotated to a new easel every 40 seconds. Some of the end products were quite humorous. My sketching got better as time went on, and it was good to catch up with Amrita and get to meet her 3 month old son.

Next we walked up Chapel Street to the Temperance Hotel for dinner, where we were joined by even more people. We had our own section of the bar reserved, and Chantal's sisters did a great job of organizing everything, including some rounds of trivia. For dinner we had our choice of an entree, main and dessert.  I ate the fried calamari, roasted salmon with garlic mash, and citrus and fennel salad, and the creme brulee with rose water and pistachio biscotti. All of it tasted pretty good. After some group photos I said my goodbyes and headed home. The evening was a great success and I'm really looking forward to the wedding festivities.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Kris Schroeder- The Drunken Poet

In order to make up for missing The Basics post-Christmas show at the Corner Hotel Mary and I made our way down to The Drunken Poet in West Melbourne this evening to catch Kris Schroeder play two sets. He started off with a cover of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" and managed to lose the amplifier plug into his guitar mid-song. After quickly getting a second microphone set up the show continued. It was an epic mix of covers and original tunes. The new Basics tracks sounded really good: "What Ever Happened To The Working Class," "Tunaomba Saidia," "The Lucky Country," and "To Think Of You." It was also very interesting to hear Kris sing lead on "So Hard For You" instead of Wally.

Kris played a lot of new and interesting covers across the two sets as well, including Cold Chisel's "Cheap Wine," "After The Gold Rush" and "Old Man" by Neil Young, "Come Together" by The Beatles and "Got My Mind Set On You" by George Harrison. The most anticipated cover though had to be Kris finally playing his interpretation of Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald singing "What A Fool Believes." Things got very entertaining towards the end of the second set when during The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" an older gentleman decided to join in by playing some maracas he brought along with him (Kris even played a couple bars of "I Go To Rio" in the middle). As usual there were also a heap of Crowded House tracks played throughout: "Nails In My Feet," "Four Seasons In One Day," "Fall At Your Feet" and "Better Be Home Soon," which was the last song for the evening. Both Mary and I really enjoyed the extended second set and Kris may have continued to play even longer had he not broken another guitar string.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Imitation Game and Sol Food

This is always the best time of year to see movies as studios release all their good films in time for awards season. Tonight Lynne, Gabby and I headed up to the Regency Cinema to see The Imitation Game. The film is based loosely on the life of British mathematician Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he and a select group of cryptographers tried to crack Germany's Enigma code as part of a top secret mission during World War II. Cumberbatch is fantastic in his portrayal of the prickly Turing, and Keira Knightly was equally good as the lone female in the team, Joan Clarke. After the war Turing, a homosexual, was convicted of gross indecency and underwent chemical castration, which may have led to his suicide. It was a sad ending for a man who really was a pioneer of computer science and the use of machines for artificial intelligence.

After the movie we headed to the Puerto Rican restaurant Sol Food on Lincoln Avenue in San Rafael for a late dinner. Always a very popular place, and one I've been wanting to try out for quite a while, it was good to be able to get in without having to stand in line and get a table. I ordered the bistec encebollado combination meal, which included salad, rice, black beans and plantains. The food was good but really enhanced by their secret weapon- the pique or homemade vinegar hot sauce that added a lot of flavor to the dish. Besides the meal it was good to chat and catch up with Gabby and Lynne as we all went to school together (and I haven't seen Gabby in years). If I was living in town I would definitely enjoy the little weekly movie club they have going.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Early Birthday Celebrations

As I will be back in Australia when my milestone 40th birthday occurs in February my parents decided to throw me an early birthday celebration with family and friends from the Bay Area. Mom made three poster boards filled with pictures from throughout my life and hung those on the wall in the dining area. It was great to see some of my aunts and uncles, cousins and godparents who I don't get to see regularly. We also got a bit of kid wrangling in between my niece and nephew and Lynne and Jeremy's two little ones.

Lunch was very nice between the hors d'oeuvres and the main meal of chicken tetrazzini and a mixed green salad. The chocolate cake from Victoria Bakery was rich and delicious, and accompanied by a glass of Mumm Napa sparkling wine. The funniest gift I received was from my aunt who managed to save my high school graduation senior cruise t-shirt that was given as a hand me down to my cousins in order to give it back to me all these years later. It was a lovely afternoon and best of all I've still got a month and a half until I actually turn 40!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Yosemite National Park

It's always good to get the chance to visit somewhere new, so I managed to convince my cousin Leilani that we should do a mini two day trip to Yosemite National Park while I am home. It takes around 4 hours to drive to Yosemite from the Bay Area. Since it is winter time and other roads are currently closed for the season, we entered the park at the Highway 140 entrance along the Merced River. Despite the sunny weather it was very cold outside, especially in the shade. You could see ice on the rocks and in parts of the creeks and rivers throughout the park. As we drove around the Yosemite Valley yesterday afternoon we caught so many iconic sights, starting with El Capitan.

The best views of the day were when we stopped and walked around Swinging Bridge, which allowed us to get some great shots in the afternoon sunlight.

 Next we stopped at Sentinel Bridge and got our first good look at Half Dome.

After a quick stop at the Yosemite Village store for some souvenirs we hit the road and headed south to the Wawona Hotel, our accommodation for the evening. Along the way we discovered the famous Tunnel View, which was especially beautiful with the nearly full moon rising at dusk. The Wawona Hotel is a Victorian era lodge that normally closes during winter, but they were open for a few weeks over the holidays. We ate some cheese and wine in our room at Clark Cottage before heading into the main building for dinner. We passed time while waiting for a table in the dining room by sitting in the guest lounge and listening to piano player Tom Bopp. It was quite enjoyable as we played some competitive games of Uno and drank our hot cocktails. Dinner was very filling and I regretted eating all that wine and cheese beforehand as we went back to our room for the night.

This morning we had a leisurely breakfast before checking out of the hotel and heading down to the Mariposa Grove to see the giant sequoia trees. Normally at this time of year the Mariposa Grove Road would be closed, but since the first major snowfall hasn't happened yet we were able to venture in. As we entered the parking area it quickly became apparent that we were going to have trouble finding somewhere to park, We did three laps of the parking lot, but had no luck finding a space. Considering the amount of snow along the roadside and ice on the trails that may have been a good thing from a safety standpoint, but it was disappointing not to be able to stop and explore.

We headed back toward the Yosemite Valley and were able to enjoy the sights of the forest from Wawona Road in the daylight. We stopped once again at the Tunnel View with its amazing vantage point of the Yosemite Valley that includes El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall and Half Dome.

We did a quick drive through parts of the valley we didn't cover yesterday, including the Curry Village and Upper and Lower Pines campground areas before heading back to Yosemite Village to park and walk around. We explored the Ansel Adams Gallery, Yosemite Museum and Indian Village before grabbing a late lunch from the deli. Next we stopped at the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail, which had great views of both the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls at its entrance. As we walked up to the viewpoint for the Lower Yosemite Fall I was somewhat shocked to see the number of people who were climbing up the large boulders in the creek to get closer to the fall, especially as it was starting to get dark and there was a lot of ice on the rocks and in the creek. I really hope no one fell in!

Our last stop before leaving the park was catching sunset at El Capitan. It was quite beautiful and peaceful as people stood in the meadow and watched the sunlight fade on the granite rocks. I couldn't think of a better way to end our two day Yosemite adventure.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...