Saturday, January 31, 2009

Paris Cat and the Toff

After a week of hiding out in the office as much as possible, away from this record breaking, never-ending heatwave, I was hanging for Friday night drinks. As we polished off a few starters in the tea room at work, the news was that the temperature had finally dropped 10C...

Having drawn out a late night bar for Project 2009 this week, we first ventured out for happy hour at if, downstairs and next door to work.

Approaching 8pm, and finishing off our beers, Bec, Alissa and Michelle made their way to eat, while Bree, Dan, and I were met by Laura, before we all meet up again to go to Paris Cat.

Empty when we went in, the little jazz bar is cute, but perhaps not a drinking and meeting people place. Music starts at 9.30pm, and after a round of drinks we were asked for the cover charge! The band warming up let out a piecing feedback...and we were out of there.

Walking up to Swanston Street, we took to the lift to the second floor at the Curtain Building, to the Toff in Town. Having been here for a gig last year, this little venue is a great place for music, as well as drinks. The band room was an open space with tables, and the other side had intimate booths.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Belgian Beer, Aussie Beer

For a Sunday Session in the middle of the long weekend, I headed in to the Belgium Beer Garden, to mark Melissa's birthday - who's birthday was actually when we were at the Sydney Test, so this was a Melbourne gathering.

Meeting Rick there, and then joining the line for a beer, we settled in to the packed beer garden. Springer, Dan and Laura all joined us for a decent afternoon session, in Melbourne's blazing sunshine and heat.

The next day I made the trek out to Elsternwick for Rick's annual Australia Day BBQ. Feeling very much like a trip on the tube and train combination in London, it was an hour trip out to the 'burbs, to a sun drenched backyard. With Rick behind the grill, the tennis and cricket on the TV inside, and Triple J's Hottest 100 on the radio, it was a perfect setting.

Melissa joined us late in the afternoon, after another one of her work trips, and we saw in the top 10, with little surprise at the top few tracks on the countdown.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Revolutionary Slumdog

Yesterday Nikki and I decided to create our own movie marathon at Nova in Carlton. So many award catching movies around at the moment, and many I want to see, back to back on a free day seemed like a perfect Saturday afternoon and evening activity!

Just a short tram down from my house, we joined the line up and purchased our first two movie tickets, and settled into Cinema 2 for Revolutionary Road.

The reunification of Leo and Kate on the big screen, these two have a chemistry. This movie is about the couple meeting across a crowded room, falling in love with the meeting of dreams and life expectations. And then suddenly they wake up some 10 or so years later with two kids, the picture perfect house in the suburbs, he working a nothing job he loathes and she keeping house and being driven mad by boredom....this is a horror movie in my book!

Set in 1950s, the scenes of Leo travelling into work, walking in the same direction as everyone, looking the same as everyone else, are hard hitting. The discontent of the Wheelers is palpable.

Then it's his birthday, and she suggests changes. Suggests they chase their dream afterall, while they still have the chance. The flame between them is ignited again, and it's magic. Reactions of the people in their world about there plans are comical, and yet jolting. And then John Givings understands them completely...a good or bad sign?

A great movie, which scared me to death, and will leave me thinking for days! Such a strong performance from Kate. About marriage and the modern dream.

Walking along Lygon Street after making Nikki sit through the credits, to her disgust, taking in the bustling people, and then choosing a place for dinner, before our next movie.

Slumdog Millionaire has captured the imagination of anyone who watched the Golden Globes, and has huge expectations for the Oscars...and quite rightly so.

To a packed Cinema 1, the story of Jamal, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? contestant tortured and accused of cheating, the story of his knowledge of each answer to date reveals his life story.

Running is a theme, running through the slums of Mumbai, running from trouble, running from death and tragedy, running to find Latika. The kids that play Jamal and Salim are so gorgeous, and their antics are cute and funny amid their plight.

Beautiful and enchanting depiction of India, the streets and the hustle, and the Taj. The scams these kids get up to are funny, but remind me of the kind of travel I used to do.

It seems every version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? has someone stumble over the pronunciation of million, the storytelling is so well done. And the soundtrack is amazing!

We abandoned the idea of our third screening, after Green Apple sorbet to die for at I am still keen to see Milk.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gin Palace

Last night week 3 of Project 2009 took us to Gin Palace, after work drinks. Mixed reviews from people who had been before and also on the net for this place, it was a new find for me. Our work group of Nikki, Kylee, Bec, Alissa, Michelle, Mary and Simon trammed down Bourke Street again from work, to find this little place off Russell Place, marked with a cursive GP above the door.

Walking in, it's very dark as we found our way to a gathering of old mismatched and gorgeous couches. Inside Jules and Leanne were there, who were joined by Jenny and Kate.

Stacey and Andrew soon joined the crew, with our posse for the Project spread over two groups of couches. The venue is small, and quite, so plenty of chances for chatting, and actually hearing each other. Not really a place to mingle, but it worked well with our groups.

Kylee and I set about choosing a cocktail from the menu. The barstaff are friendly and engaging, as I ordered a cocktail called Suffering Bastard! When our drinks were brought out to our group, the barman asked "who's the bastard?!", and then "who's the lemon tart?" for Kylee. Hee hee. When Kate ordered Another Bartender from the cocktail menu, she was told she was stuck with him for the night! Cute!

Strong, expensive cocktails here with quirky names, the Bastard had Appleton rum, so all good! Back to beer after for me, with a wide range of Aussie and imported bottled beers.

Jenny, Kate, Leanne and I headed out around the corner to Red Violin afterwards, for more funky chairs and another round of drinks, before moving along to The Carlton, a noisy, busy place. Standing on the balcony in the balmy Melbourne night was very nice, after a hot, hot week.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Aus Open Day Two

Second day of tennis for the year, Mum and I headed into Melbourne Park, bracing ourselves for the high 30s temperatures predicted. We headed into Centre Court planning to settle into the match with Andy Murray.

Half an hour into his match, his French opponent started having issues with his back, and retired mere games after. Feeling the heat, even in the shade inside the big court, I sat through a Williams sister's match, just to avoid the heat!

The third match of the day on Rod Laver Arena was Aussie Hewitt against Chilean Gonzalez. A former runner up, we watch Gonzalez last year in a fiery match, and with Hewitt on a comeback trail, the match was poised as a big one.

Tension, a timely injury time for Gonzalez, and the Aussie crowd and Hewitt passion...5 sets later the Chilean was the victor in a hard fought match. The Melbourne weather having dropped down a little during the long match, Mum and I headed out to the outer courts.

We found seats in Court Two as Monfils was finishing his match, ready for the start of Tommy Haas. Perfect timing. Our plan was to watch this one, and then jump over to Margeret Court Arena for the Blake match - keeping one ear on the Aussie girl's match on that court, we watched Haas work his way through a 3 set win.

Our change over for courts worked in nicely with the matches, and Mum and I grabbed seats for Blake just as he was warming up - finding Bumble and Lizby in our aisle for the match also! As twilight decended, and the air got much cooler, Blake breezed through the first two sets, before having the Canadian seems to take control on court and through the crowd. The eventual 3 set win for Blake didn't reflect the efforts of the Canadian, under lights after a hot summer day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Aus Open Day One

Yesterday, after Mum arrived into town from Ballarat, we both headed in to Melbourne Park for the Australian Open.

With our tickets into Rod Laver Arena, we headed straight in for the first match, being Andy Roddick. An easy match for him, with the 191 ranked Swede not causing any trouble for the Seventh seed. The Swedish fans chanted from one side of the arena to the other, but the crowd were enjoying the A-Rod's super fast serves, and all business demeanor.

Outside after that, to the start of the Baghdatis match...and we started to bake out in the mid 30C heat. It took Marcos almost three hours to win his first round match, in a less than convincing display. On the court next door, massive cheers were heard for the youngest Aussie and his first round victory.

Managing to score a seat with shade for the next match, I watched Moya dawdle through his three set loss. One gets the feeling this will be the last time we see Carlos in Melbourne.

A touch sunburnt, Mum and I wondered around to take in this year's Open set up, before calling it a day and making our way to Lygon Street for dinner, and then ice-cream at Brunetti.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Grand Final in January

On Saturday, I marked the Grand Final experience for 2008, in the style to be expected without the threat of internal bleeding and death. And wow, that win just keeps getting better!

Melissa had ordered several slabs of special commemorative edition Carlton Draught just after the win, with team photo, the score, and Premiers 2008 plastered on it. With that, and a gathering of Hawks in our lounge room, we were set to do it all again.

Rick, Melissa, Jenny and I took in the build up on the Victory Pack DVD, and then selected the Triple M commentary, just to mix it up. Being assigned a player for the match lead to us really feeling how many touches Hodge, Ozbourne, Ellis and Sewell got respectively. Man, they were good!

Taking it all in again, we soaked in Croad limbing back up from the rooms with 5 minutes to go, high on painkillers after breaking his foot and missing much of the game. Watched him embrace and draw blood with many of his Premiership teammates, which those crutches. We loved the presentation, with Campbell's hug for the kid presenting him his medal - cute! The moment of the cup raising...and of course, Crawford's elation.

So absorbed, we jumped back to halftime, to watch that Third Quarter, so good! What a memory!

A pub meal at The Empress to take the beery glow down a notch ended the day. And now, I think we are all keen for the 2009 season to start! Go Hawks!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Eurotrash and Collins Quarter

Last night as part of Project 2009, Eurotrash was drawn. Dan and Mary and I, and Sandra and Mark, trammed down to the Paris end of the city, and found Corrs Lane.

Totally empty upon arrival, I ordered tequila for birthday boy Dan, before Jenny and Caroline, and then Rick arrived. Time for a pint and a peek at this tucked away bar, as Mary and Leanne joined us. With limited numbers, we didn't get to explore the full spread of the place, with a downstairs for dancing, and reported upstairs stairway lounges.

Moving on, we headed to Collins Quarter, which was packed with suits, lads, and drinkers. Here we settled in to the courtyard for some concentrated pints and people watching. Great after work spot, and find for us!

Splitting up the group, Dan and I wandered past the Long Room, and having not been inside, popped in for a beer. Fairly empty by this stage of the night, it was all dark and full of pretension. A stop for food after our pint, we then headed to Riverland, with Dan seeing in his birthday to the sky and river of Melbourne.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Good China

Last night after work I drove over to Brunswick Street, to The Evelyn. I met Nicole, and we managed to grab a place on a couch, and a beer.

Quite excited for the first band, one of our new finds, The Good China. Having downloaded a few of their tracks after seeing them in November, I have quickly become a big fan! How can you not love a band with 9 members, and every instrument you can imagine!!

The set was full of energy, and the banjo, maracas, and the recorder got a work out. Loved a new track called Maple Leaves (perhaps?!), and then All Nothing was so great! A band to put a smile on your face, it's so exciting to see them gather the biggest crowd of the night, and have people so entranced!

Next up were Summer Cats, who had us laughing at the Chris Lilley match as lead. And then Seagull - intriging four piece project, very intense and into their music and counts and sound. Shy, and mystical.

The night was actually the first of a residency for Institut Polaire. A shame that they come on so late, the crowd had not stuck around. A tough set to play, really, with attempts at getting the crowd into it and dancing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Loop, and Tegan and Sara

Our Project for 2009 is about visiting new bars in Melbourne city each week, finding new places, meeting new people. I mean, it's 2009 Husband Find, but we've toned that down a bit!! We are drawing out a bar from Dan's pack of Bar Secrets in Melbourne, and really we just need to stay for one drink, at least.

Dan, Nikki, Mary, Alissa, Simon, Bec and I headed down Bourke Street on a tram, after downing a couple of cheeky beers at work, to get to our first draw, Madame Brussels. Finding the rooftop bar's enterance on level 3 of the designated address, we also found a line three flights of stairs long. And we were thirsty!

Thanksfully, just around the corner in little laneway called Meyers Place was Loop, which spilled out into the laneway to meet the drinkers from the bar opposite. Outside drinking in perfect Melbourne summer weather was what we were aiming for all week!

So a little secret bar find of our own, the beer flowed, and people were mingled. Jenny and Mary, and soon after Katie, joined us for Week One's Friday night.

After a spot of food, Katie and I then went across the road to the Palace for our sold out gig. We arrived in time to see one of the support acts, An Horse.

Again, the venue was packed to the rafters with people, ready for the main act, Tegan and Sara.

Never have I seen so much girl on girl action within a crowd, the two sisters up on stage chatted, told stories about wach song, and belted our their songs. I must admit to only hearing their latest album, so I hadn't heard much of their music, but they were quite good.

Encore consisted of an awesome rendition of Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark, before their big hit, Back In Your Head - this song was played with such power and energy, their best track of the night, to finish.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Franz Ferdinand

After work last night I met a pre-jetlagged Nicole out the front of the Palace Theatre, where we join the long queue along side lanes for the sold out gig.

The former nightclub The Metro, I expected this venue to be seedy. The old stairways and platforms are in place, with the stage engulfed in a wall of vantage points - very impressive. Even with the lingering memory of it's Metro days.

First up for the evening were Red Riders, and then The Temper Trap, both quite good, which made it clear why the theatre filled up very early.

And then Franz Ferdinand emerged on stage, and were amazing! Starting with a new track from their soon to be released album, they then launched into Do You Want To and then The Dark of the Matinée.

Powerful and rocking set, they played all their big hits with several new songs, and the crowd were very into it. The encore started with a near-raunchy Michael and ending with This Fire.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sydney's Pink Test

After recovering from my first hangover for six months, I managed to drag myself out to the airport on Friday morning, to jump on a flight up to Sydney. Lovely Leilah picked me up, and so I got to catch up with her and Vincent for the afternoon, before heading into town and meet Melissa at our hotel.

A byproduct of her work in the travel industry, we had a free night at the Radisson Plaza Hotel that night, the same hotel as the South African cricket team. After listening to their lekka accents as they finished up their team meeting, which just happened to be on our floor, Melissa and I caught a ferry and then a bus out to Watson's Bay for dinner. The view of the sunset behind the city skyline was ruined by overcast weather, but we enjoyed the city lights come to life across the water.

A full buffet breakfast after the most amazing sleep, we were all set for Day 1 of the Third Test, at the SCG. Whilst being a dead rubber, given South Africa's series win in Melbourne for the 3 test series, this match was given a bit of hype with the inclusion of two new Aussie players to the side, and the declaration of it's pinkness!

The Sydney Test has been made pink, with the crowd encouraged to wear pink, and the players having pink accessories within their uniform, to commemorate the McGrath Foundation, and it's great work. A way to raise funds to emply breast care nurses around the country, and to raise awareness, marking Jane McGrath's battle and legacy.

Melissa and I met Sparrow at the gate, to join the Waving The Flag crew at the ground, and settled in for a day of cricket. Being Bumbles birthday, we all headed out to the Clock for drinks after play.

A night in the Cross for Melissa and I, being at the Bayview Boulevard, before checking out and having brunch in Oxford Street on the way to the cricket for Day 2. Day 2 being the usual chick pink day for the Flaggers, the ground was filled with pink.

Expecting a quick end to the Australian innings as we took our seats, we watched a great partnership between Clarke and Johnson, with them scoring 138 and 64 respectively.

Basking in the sunshine for half of the day, our section was relieved with shade for the commencement of the South African innings. Drinks at the London, before Melissa and I taxied out to the airport for the last flight out and home.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Seeing In 2009

So we have seen the back of 2008, and have welcomed in 2009. Such pressure as always to have a great plan for New Year's Eve, I had found an option that met our requirements on a pub crawl not long ago.

First, drinks at our house, with the commencement of the House of Mojito, finally getting into all that duty free rum I bought back from the Carribean. Lizette, Jenny and I had drinks out in the setting sun in our backyard with Leanne, Jules and Greg, before we got a tram into the city.

Detoured for the CBD festivities, it took us much longer to get across to Albert Park than anticipated, but we eventually arrived at Hotel Nest. We met Jo on arrival, and then made our way to the bar, and then the dancefloor.

Many drinks consumed, I remember being at the bar for the impromptu and all important countdown to midnight.

Once my out of practiced system had consumed too much, hitting the wall, I declared my need to go home. And luckily for me, Lizette and Jenny joined me for the long trek home via two trams, and a walk through the busy Melbourne city streets.

2008 has been such a rollercoaster, with great travel, scary lows and high highs. What a year it has been. I am looking forward to a nice stable, predictable 2009...with 2009 Husband Find go for launch! Gee, no pressure!

Has started with a killer hangover though! Happy New Year!
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