Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh Mercy and The Veils

Last night, in a weekend of back to back gigs, Nicole and I met outside the Curtin House and made our way upstairs to the Toff in Town, for the near sold out gig.

Grabbing a beer, and checking out the band members in the crowd, everyone shuffled up to the stage in anticipation for Oh Mercy to begin. Opening and closing with Seemed Like A Good Idea and Lay Everything On Me, the little foursome played their tunes from their LP and EP, plus the inclusion of the Demo tracks like Salvation Jane and Holding On.

Astrid, No was introduced as a track about Alex and Thom's crush on their Kinda teacher. Met A Wizard and Broken Ears were lovely, and In My Stride started with a hint at it's origin.

Get You Back was a big crowd favourite, with two new songs, one with the line I'm A Single Man/Don't Fuck Up My Plans, and the other with Thom on lead vocals. A great set, and our reason for coming out this night.

The headliners of the evening were The Veils, of which the Oh Mercy boys profess their fanhood for. Finn Andrews graced the stage with his iconic hat, and played the set with enthusiasm for the enthusiastic crowd, but also melancholy about it being the last gig for the year, and also fatigue from a big year. Playing a specific request from Oh Mercy's Thom, some words were forgotten, and apologies and explanations of tracks rarely played.

The Toff is such a great music venue, which last night just shone through. People shut up for the acts, totally into the band and their efforts, which in turn encourage said bands to chat and engage with their audience. A venue for finding artists, and hearing them at their intimate best, with actual music lovers all around.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Let You Down Easy

Last night Nicole and I braved the bucketing down rain, and made our way to the East Brunswick Club, and were one of the first 50 people to gain entry (possibly in the first 5, truth be known!), and thus scored ourselves a free copy of the single to be launched this evening.

We made our way in, grabbed a beer, and claimed a piece of standing room on the sticky carpet, for the first band up on the bill, Alpine. Formally Swiss, apparently. Two girls at the front, all glitter and dance, and dressed for a big gig in front of a growing audience. The 4 boys around them on drums and guitar, were in skinny jeans and the first t-shirt they happened upon as they left the house. This little, fresh indie pop band has potential. The girls chatted and danced and engaged the audience, and displayed some vocal quirkiness to be remembered.

Next up were the Beatles-styled haircuts of Geelong lads, Frowning Clouds. Another engaging band, with cute vocals, and talented musicians.

The bandroom emptied, and then filled again, as the Hungry Kids Of Hungary set up the stage, complete with huge coloured helium balloons, to match the cover of their new single, Let You Down. They played a collection of their tracks from their EPs, and some new songs to be laid down for an album in the next few months, they tell us. Releasing the balloons to the crowd and inviting people up on stage for a song soon got out of control Scattered Diamonds, Old Money, and Set It Right got massive crowd participation, clearly the result of some Triple J plays, and praised the Melbourne weather!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Wished For Song

This afternoon I drove across town to South Melbourne, to find Raw Gallery. Faster Louder had had an article at the start of the month about an exhibit that this little gallery is hosting, with opening night being last night.

The photographic exhibit is that of Merri Cyr's shots of Jeff Buckley. Merri shot the iconic cover of Grace, the back cover, and also that cover with the mirror image for Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk.

This little gallery is a shopfront really, with a front room, and a little alcove, for their exhibits. They run feature exhibits every other month, with their regular collection on display

Flipping through the book, placed on the table as you walk in, titled the same as the exhibit, I happened upon a quote from Eddie Vedder, stating his wonder at Jeff doing a cover of Pearl Jam's Indifference.

Some 35 images of Jeff adorn the white walls, many of which are part of album cover photo shoots, and several of of Jeff during this time, just in repose, hanging out, so real. This young, fresh, captivating face with such talent, gone too soon. It's clear that he was very comfortable with his photographer, and legend has it that he launched her music photography career, by insisting she be the artist to do the cover of Grace.

The Sin-E shot, which featured on his live EP, shows the venue where Jeff launched his career really - a small room with him in the corner, and the few patrons barely paying him any attention.

The collection is on display at Raw, until Xmas eve.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Top 5: Bars In Melbourne

With the Project 2009 winding down for the year in terms of regular organised bar destinations, given Xmas parties and work functions for the rest of our working Friday nights, we have actually found some great beverage venues this year. Little tucked away hole-in-the-wall, down little alleyways we never knew existed, very cool and themed bar concepts.

The Canary Club has been my favourite find of the year. Great mezzanine, gorgeous booths, attentive and friendly table service, amazing sangria and tapas. Totally worth walking down the toilet smelling Melbourne Place to find!

Section 8 is a bar I should have known about, one I had heard about, but had not been to until it was drawn from the bar secrets pack for the week. A shipping container, a load of woodern pallet crates to sit on, a portable looking bar, and the wire cage creates an atmoshpere in the middle of the city buildings around it. Summer, it's perfect, but for winter they put up a shed-stype roof, for a whole other feel to the place.

Although it wasn't a Friday night drinking destination on the invite list, a few of us went to the opening of Campari House, which certainly makes it to this list of bars for the year. This bar has the versitility of dining and drinks out in Hardware Lane, booth style private drinks possibility, and a gorgeous rooftop bar, complete with astro turf.

Cabinet was a destination that had just two of us attend on the week it was drawn...and yet I think this little tucked away place is such a find! A balcony overlooking the bustling Swantson Street, and it's collection of table clusters and decor, make it a place to pop into for a quite one.

Gin Palace and Croft Institute are squeezing in as a joint mention on the list of 5 (and 5a perhaps!) GP for it's dark, ornate interior, with it's clusters of seats, and friendly and cheeky bar staff. Not for it's prices, alas. The Croft for it's novelty theme, and it's hidden-ness in an alley off an alley off a lane of inner CBD Melbourne.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Top 5: Albums This Year

In the spirit of the ARIAs, of which I am watching as I write, I thought I would share my favourite albums of the year. Given that I don't actually listen to the radio, and find my music through recommendations from others, recommendations from and my 'friends' on there, with a find at a gig, or just pure loyalty with my Aussie bands, my picks are quite different to those getting statues tonight. Although a couple have nominations.

No surprise, given my ravings, and gig attendance frequency over the last couple of years, that The Basics' Keep Your Friends Close. The pain, and angst delivered in these tracks is just disarming. They are so great live, such a talent. And the sweet!

As Day Follow Night by Sarah Blasko. This album totally feels like home for me. I feel like it's spot on with how I feel, and where I am at in life. The fact that Ms Blasko is about my age, and thus the same level of life experience opportunities under her belt, really comes through in these 12 tracks for me. She's just lovely! OH! And she just won Best Female Artist! See! Even mainstream Australia appreciates her!

The Temper Trap and their Conditions. Just amazing. Seeing them at the start of this year, as support for Franz Ferdinand, and then seeing and hearing them soar on to international radars. Very impressive. But what's more impressive is that voice!

The Privileged Woes of Oh Mercy. Or possibly their EP before that, In The Nude For Love, has best the most joy for me. From seeing them play a tiny, nothing gig 18 months ago, to noting their efforts with supporting every band possible, touring their butts off, working so hard. Our little lads and Eliza from Carlton.

I was obsessed with Little Birdy's Confetti release, with total anticipation before it's release, to hanging to see them live for the first time. Katy was a sensation. So good.

Discoveries for me for the year have been The Decemberists, and just this week, Florence + The Machine. Secrets And Lies, by Bertie Blackman should definately get a mention, too, for this collection of musical thoughts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


You know how a big, life changing decision comes out of the blue? It lands at your feet, and you look at it for a bit, and then pick it up, and it just feels right? One such thought has hit me in the last couple of weeks.....and it's taking force!
So, I attended an Information Session this afternoon, at the University of Melbourne. For the Master of Social Work.

I had actually found inspiration for this, the thought of it, from a blog I stumbled upon on the Randomiser on NaBloPoMo. She's doing what I want to be doing!

This feels like the answer to the 'what do I want to be when I grow up' question. I mean, I am a Social Worker, working as a Psychologist, registered and recognised as neither. I need professional registration of some form. This feels like the way to get that, do some learning again, and jump into a profession that I am, and can be, passionate about.

I was actually hoping that they would talk me out of this big idea today! I told them that, too! But they told me that my background would be advantage for the course, that I would do well given my experience, and clearly they could see 'research student potential' written on me. They were really encouraging, and supportive, and informative - but also real about how this course would work for people in the real world, ie people who have to work to pay the rent, feed themselves, etc. That is refreshing!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blogging Just For The Challenge

I have absolutely no topic in my head to blog about today! This is the challenge with NaBloPoMo! Needs an idea everyday! And I am fresh out!

This morning I walked around the lake, first time for about a week. And then felt totally wired all day - have to remember that when the alarms goes off each morning and the temptation of snooze and sleep for another hour tries to win!

When I finally get to work, I call a real estate agent who had advertised a new apartment for lease, which I am convinced could be The One! I had been thinking about it all evening. A perfect, almost novelty living place, for my year of rent. I make an appointment to see said apartment, at 12 noon.

In the process, I distract everyone else in the office, who had probably been working solidly for about 3 hours before I drag my arse in. Oops! I always such a distraction!

Then I get an invite via email to an event next week, which is super exciting.

I try to make a few phone calls to make sure one of my Injured Worker's return to work is all set to go smoothly this afternoon. Leave a bunch of messages, confirmed nothing, start to worry. I start someone else's assessment report.

Run next door to get my dose of coffee from Cafe Lekker, where the girls know my order. This is also an attempt to help me settle into work, and stop distracting myself, and everyone around me. Ha!

At 12 I pop out, after telling everyone who would listen about my potential dream apartment. Meet the agent, and she tries to get us in, but no luck. Her key is presumably the wrong one. Conspiracy theories enter my head...maybe she's promised MY place to someone else! Maybe I'll miss out! No! We agree on another time, next week. My potential dream apartment (or shit rental property number 5 on this search) awaits.

I have my aforementioned Injured Worker pop in for the paperwork that says he can go back to work, and what he can do, and how long he can do it for. We chat about how he's feeling about it all, and he's all set. I am a little nervous cos noone has assured me at the other end, but still, this is a big positive step!

I write a bit more of the assessment report. We chat more in the office, telling stories, or laugh about someone's silly phone conversation.

I get some calls, I make some calls. I enter my cases notes, I keep working on the assessment report. I send a report to someone again, which I sent them last week, but they claim they didn't get. I just forward it again, so they can bloody well see that I sent it last week.

I get an email from my Injured Worker's Employer, saying all has gone well today, he's back at work, and things have been all good. Awesome. I remember, in quiet celebration, that I haven't had lunch, and decide to go searching on foot for sushi in Ballarat.

I walk to Central Square, buy weird sushi from the food court, and run into Katie as I am walking back. We plan what's for dinner, and what time I'll make it home home tonight.

I pump out the remainder of the big chunk of the assessment report, now just for the research-y bit...home stretch. I get an email asking about another report I have to do, and set on belting out both before I leave the office tonight.

We all settle in, and get loads of work done. The other two go home from work at respectable times, and I polish off the first report, and then beeline to get the second one done. I email them out, invoice, close a file, make a funding request for my recommendations. Shut down my computer.

I drive down Sturt Street, pick up dinner for Katie and me on the way home, and we eat in front of the tv. Mum comes home, and we bond in front of Aussie drama. We all figure out an over-complicated plan for tomorrow, and Katie proves she is a top sister!

Now, here I am back at Jo's, for the last night, blogging, and listening to a song that tells me 'my boy builds coffins, he makes them all day....' A new, enchanting and lovely musical discovery, sent with love by Jessie in London. Thanks gorgeous!

Good day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Billable Hours

Capturing and charging out for my time at work has been the bane of my existance for about 3 and a half years now, in Occ Rehab. It's just the nature of the beast. Like a lawyer, I need to charge out for everything on a case, at an hourly rate. Not a lawyer hourly rate, though, sadly!

Every phone call, email, letter, and report needs to be charged out, to ultimately reach my personal target of 6 hours a day. Six hours sounds easy as, considering a 9 to 5 day, but it's harder than you may think. Attaching a dollar amount to the work you do means you need to make it worth someone's cash!

I have never been so ruled by dollars and numbers!

This article today sparked my thoughts, but also a discussion with a newbie at work. I can't now imagine working without this accountability....I just cannot imagine getting enough work done with out the clocked hour target at the end of the day!

360 minutes rules the day. But it also means that I can get in when I want, and leave when I am done, and make up time when it works better for me - as long as I have hit my weekly target. Suits me, most of the time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Top 5: Play Counts

I am usually totally obsessed by my playcounts on iTunes, and more recently on But I have just bought a new laptop and I will be transferring all my music across to I am assuming I will lose my count.

I have had my iPod since July 2007, I think, and so my top 5 bands, which actually make up my top 10 tracks are:

The Basics come in at one and two with Rattle My Chain and Have Love, Will Travel. They also come in 6 and 7 with Just Hold On and I Don't Need Another.

Goyte comes in at 3 with Learnalilgivilanlovin. Such a great track!

Four and 5 are Wasted and Stranger, by Angus and Julia Stone. These two siblings dominated my iTunes for such a long time since the release of A Book Like This, and will probably do so again come March, when their next release is due. Just A Boy rounds out the 10.

All Nothing by The Good China is currently at 8, with such a fun, happy and catchy indie pop song.

My favourite Oh Mercy song is the track at 9, being Salvation Jane. From a Demo they released some time ago, but had added to their regular setlist again with a change of drummer. The word play in this one, as with many of their tracks, is sublime.

Ohhh, this totally captures my music taste as a snapshot of right now, and the last 2 and a half years. I guess a reset will be interesting, but my scrobbles on will continue the count.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Liam, Harper, and Pearl Jam

Springer messaged me during the week, with the offer of a spare ticket to Pearl Jam. Jumping at the chance to see Ben Harper, she promised that she would forgive me if I wasn't the biggest Pearl Jam fan.

A hot and sticky day, and a frantic drive back to Melbourne after work, we jumped in a taxi from mine, and got to Etihad Stadium just in time to see Liam Finn and EJ Barnes. These two offsprings of big Aussie music names held their own to a filling stadium.

We were in the Fixer section of the stadium, on the arena front section, and managed to negotiate the bar line several times, with relative ease, just before Ben Harper and his Restless 7 graced the stage.

A seated Harper for much of his set, he and the band played mostly new material, with Diamonds On The Inside being the highlight of his back catalogue.

A much shorter set than I'd hoped, but a true support artist length, in all honesty. The big moment was when Eddie Vedder joined Ben on stage, for Under Pressure.

After a brief, dark quite interlude, as the crowd grew, the stage started to come to life. Springer had actually gone to use the facilities, and go to the bar, and I didn't see her for the rest of the gig! I think she went into the moshing section, never to return!

As the band come onto stage, and their 2 and a half hour show commenced, I realised that I was surrounded with some pretty seriously passionate fans of the band. Tall, sweaty, smelly lads with a brief linger of aftershave. Not only the music was providing flashbacks to the mid-90s for me!

As someone who has heard the big tracks, again back in the mid 90s, I recognised tracks like Animal, Jeremy and Even Flow. Daughter was powerful.

There's something about Eddie, isn't there? I mean, I think I can honestly say that I am not sure I could have picked him out of a line up till last night. But he had the 50,000 people at Etihad, eating out of his hand. The engagement with the crowd, the continual chatter with the crowd, and his energy.

Eddie talked about the fact that he was playing to such a big crowd, and then talk about seeing someone else shine on the very ground we were standing on, and dedicated Given To Fly to Matthew Richardson (Eddie said Mark, but we all knew who he meant, and he corrected himself later), as the Melbourne crowd called out 'Richo' in response. Richo must have wondered why he had just announced his retirement from footy.

Our little Liam Finn come back out to join Pearl Jam, for Throw Your Arms Around Me, which would have been a massive stadium sing-a-long, expect that Liam fluffed the words.

Alive was amazing, and initiated massive crowd participation. The show was totally engaging, even for a non-fan. As the lights were turned on by the stadium, and the band continued their set for their two last songs, it was awesome to be amongst a fan base that were so adoring and so into everything the band did. As the crowd started to leave, Springer and I found each other, and made our way to the pub for more drinks, and show debriefing. A great night.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Institut China

Last night, after a drive back from Ballarat, I picked up Nicole on the way through to The Empress, where we had a great pub dinner. Hearing the sound check from the other room, Mel and her husband Neil joined us. Now, I haven't seen Mel, I don't think, since high school, but through the wonders of Facebook, I had introduced her to The Good China, and sent her an invite for tonight.

As we wrapped up our meals, we made our way to the bandroom, where Institut Polaire played their set. This evening was actually part of their residency this month, however they didn't explain how they managed to be bumped in the headlining stakes for this gig. There was a track I recognised from the last time we saw them, but I did actually enjoyed them more this time. A better listen, perhaps!

Now the reason for the dash back to the city was really to see The Good China, having missed their last 2 gigs as they had clashed with The Basics. A very hot and steamy Empress saw the 8 Chinas grace the tiny stage with some challenges, such as the heat of the lighting, but surely with the numbers up there too.

Opening with No More Maps, No More Roads, they treated us to The Couch Song, as well as the reworked Perversion For Profit. Ryan graced the lead vocals for Turn The Page, and introduced their The Cure cover (which was awesome!), as a tool they used to impress the Canberra crowd on tour.

All Nothing, with it's requisite hand clap participation, and If Pain Persists. A little cameo roadie gig for Oh Mercy;s Eliza, assisting Mit with her clarinet. 39 Black is still a favourite of mine. Love the Chinas!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Live Alone

I am housesitting at Jo's house this week, while she is away on a much deserved break. I was a little nervous about living on my own again, even for the week, not sure if I would like it again.

I haven't lived alone since my last place in Hawthorn, just before deciding to pack up and move to London. Since then, I have lived in the big sharehouses of London, in Kilburn and Wimbledon. Then coming home, after a time of dossing here and there, it was with one other person in the share arrangement.

That said, though, I guess there have been large periods of time when Jane was away for work, and both Jane and Jen, and I, have operated frequently as mere ships in the night with our respective questionable work/life balance!

But having just one other person is actually really lovely. Someone to come home to, tell your crazy work stories to, and listen to theirs from another working world sphere. Someone to just hang out with.

But with the prospect and planning to move back to Ballarat, the idea of getting a place on my own is certainly what I am looking for. So this week has been a little reminder of how that works, and a little reassurance that I could still do the solo living and not drive myself bonkers!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Top 5: Gigs (To Date)

I am totally addicted to gigs at the moment, and have a ton lined up for the rest of the month this month. Love seeing a band live, in a small setting usually, where the band/artist engages with the punters. But then, some of my favourite gigs thus far have been the big stadium experiences....

My most amazing gig is still, and may be for a very long time, seeing Crowded House at The Corner Hotel. A massive band in name, stature and success, they played to a packed Corner, to the Crowdie faithful. And Nicole and I were very close to the front of the stage. Will be very hard to top!

I had always wanted to see the man, George Michael, live, and I managed to do this, in Sweden, before I came home. George in Sweden! Camilla and I were about 10 back from the stage, and he was just a sensation! Such groove for a man of his age, and considering the shape you'd expect him to be in! Was really cool to be the precipitate of Cam getting out around that time too, she was so excited to be heading out, away from mother duties for a night.

The secret gig, second show on sale but first actual night of Gotye at The Prince, would be next. Wally was disarmingly good! The talent of this man, and what he can do with sounds in his bedroom with a computer and an array of soundbites..... This was also the night I was introduced to The Basics....need I say more!

The experience of Sound Relief still resonates as a sensational musical experience. Hard to go past, with all those Aussie greats, current bands, and the big name international acts coming together for such an emotional time for all Victorians.

And, amazingly and rather embarrassingly now, Robbie Williams would still rank. Katie and I went to see him at what is now Etihad Stadium, back when he wasn't quite the tool he is now. He was awesome, so much energy. Actually a Google search tells me that it was at Rod Laver, and was in 2001! That's how long ago it was!

Special mentions to this list go to Sarah Blasko last month, the Whitlams with the MSO in our Grand Final week, and Jamie Cullum at the Royal Albert Hall for the venue experience...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Missing London

Last week the London Xmas lights were turned on, and it's pics like this that make me miss London...just a tiny bit.

My Xmas over there, and especially our White Xmas was a highlight of my time in the UK and Europe.

Jessie also sent us a parcel which arrived this week, and so I am sitting here eating Percy Pigs! One of my favourite things of London! Now if only I can get someone to send me the Xmas special sandwich from Pret, with the brie and cranberry, and maybe a Love Bar too, I would be set food wise!

And Jessie is there. I would love to see Jessie!

But I don't for a second miss the darkness. The ice cold wind in your face as you walk to anywhere. The long ride on the tube to work. The amount of people rushing through the tube stations, and crammed onto the tube. Ew!

It was just a little pang.....

Monday, November 16, 2009

Careful What You Wish For!

Ever dreamed that you place of work would burn down, and you wouldn't have to go in? Well, carefull now! Our Melbourne office had a fire, ironically started by the water cooler, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and is now unworkable.

I went in on Friday afternoon, on what was to be my last day as a Melbourne Consultant. Knowing that noone was there on our floor, I popped up to the vacant floor above, where a couple of our staff have set up make shift assessment rooms, and have continued to see appointments, business as usual.

Then I went downstairs, to get an idea of the damage, and to also collect my things from the desk that is no longer mine. As soon as the elevator doors opened, the pungent stink of burnt office hits you in the face. Our glass front door has been replaced with a makeshift bit of wood, evidence of the firefighters efforts.

As you walk past the singed reception area, and into the water soaked office, the noise of the blowers trying to dry things out was the only life around. An eerie feeling of an abandoned office in the middle of things.

Luckily, the fire was in the middle of the night, and not when anyone of us were there. Given the location of the exploding water cooler, being right next to our exit, it could have been a very hairy exercise trying to get out!

But now, while repairs are being sorted out, the whole office is working from home. And working from home is great, even a novelty, for a day, maybe 2. But for a week....I would be going stir crazy out on my own! Even washing the dishes looks good when you have work to do, and hey, there is always the midday movie! I would be S.T.Ruggling, just quitely! I need to be around other people! I don't think this is going to be a very productive month!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Keep Your Friends Close

And The Basics closer! Last night The Basics returned to Melbourne after a stint working on their album release overseas, to officially launch that new album, Keep Your Friends Close.

Mary, Nicole, Mel and I met for dinner at Mexicali Rose, before getting down to The Corner. When we entered a hoodie clad lad with sunglasses was on stage. Wally later filled us in that the Boy Who Cried Wolf was in fact Jordie Lane.

Summer Edmunds was up next, in a set that started with promise with strong vocals, but seemed to lose much of the crowds attention. As the stage was prepared for the change over, we made our way to the front of the stage, for optimum viewing, and dancing room.

As the lights went down to just stage, and the percussion of the opening track of the album Fear Of Failure, the boys emerged on stage, complete with new matching suits. Looking very good, Kris launched into the first, very powerful track, to set the mark for the evening.

What Do You See In Me? was next, before Kris really commandeered the stage with his mesmerising vocals, and personal pain, for The Day Mairead Goes Away, and The Executioner.

The boys were joined on stage by 4 others, bringing a full sound to many of the tracks, including the sax. With This Ship, a track you can imagine being tough to reproduce live on stage, was awesome, and drew the most crowd participation.

The No 1 Cause Of Death Among Youth Today is such a great track, with the emotional building, the pain and then the hope. Love it! It was sensational last night. Kris really shone on stage last night, as he does on this album.

Home Again and Keep The Doors Open brought us back to Wally's amazing vocal range, and musical talent on drums. The harmonies of the three lads, plus Simon and Dave on stage, were gorgeous.

A solo by Tim for Trouble In His Head, and lastly Kris' cathartic All Or Nothing rounded out the album, with Like A Brother thrown in there. It's such a great album!

After a short break, to allow Wally to get his breath back it seemed, the boys returned for some older favourites, like Have Love, Will Travel, and the calypso feeling Second Best. A decision from Wally had them play Rattle My Chain, and then ending with a cover of Cocaine - what a great show!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hairy Canary

Last night's Project drinks, we hand picked a bar to be in line with a birthday drinks Springer had planned, to mark final her acceptance of her 30th last month. For reasons soon to be blooged about, just a small handful of people were around in the office, and thus after a few beers, it was MJ and I who walked down Little Collins Street to find Hairy Canary.

We found Springer, and Skinner, and co, positioned at a great table, and being afforded great table service. We soon tucked into more beers, as we exchanged stories from our crazy week. The evening seemed to go very fast, with table service.

The group started to make the move to Brunswick for the next destination. MJ and I moved to drop some things off at hers, and spotted Gin Palace just steps away, and popped in for another drink. This was a previous Project bar, and was quite packed last night, with a good feel.

As we were there, we got news that the next destination was closed, and getting very late, MJ and I found somewhere in town to eat, before calling it quits after a strange week!

Friday, November 13, 2009

International To Write Love on Her Arms Day!

Apparently today is International To Write Love on Her Arms Day! In support of To Write Love on Her Arms, you should write "love" on your arm today, National To Write Love on Her Arms Day.

Well, according to the Facebook event, anyway!

'To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.'

Any initative to get mental health awareness out in the general forum works for me! These are issues and experiences that need to be out in the everyday world, allowing people to be open to talking about it, and acknowledging their feelings.

Go on, grab a texta!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Swamp Wendouree

Since working up here in Ballarat a few days a week, I have been walking around the lake in the morning, before work. It's 6kms, and when I get up there, I usually pass all the kids going to school, or keen beans running from rowing to homeroom, or worse - on Wednesday, I think Loreto were doing Lap of the Lake! Shudder!

Here, the highlight of moving back to regional Vic is displayed to me every half km. People say good morning as you pass them on the way around! Or at least smile and nod! Back in Melbourne, I do the same kind of walk around Optus Oval in Carlton, and people barely make room for you on the path, let alone say hi!

At the time I walk, the sun is new and dusky, but high enough to make it's presence known. The light is usually awesome, so pretty, and in the few sections where there is actually water, it glistens off the once glorious lake.

There are about 3 sections with actual water, deep enough to trigger memories of the lake. The rest is really a return to the original swamp land. This morning about half of the lake looked like the rice paddies of Asia, with the reeds poking out of the shallow water.

This has been a chance for Ballarat to clean up the lake, deepen and improve the rowing lanes, once used for the Melbourne Olympics, and complete works to the bedding around much of the shore.

It is hard to imagine Lake Wendouree returning to it's glory days, full of water, afloat with boats and rowing teams and the paddle streamer! And given this week's heat, and the predicted long hot Summer, climate change is alive and visual here in Ballarat, and will be for at least the next 6 months.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Top 5: Favourite Pubs

There are some top pubs in Melbourne. Good food, good music, easy feel to the place are the requirements, of course.

The Corner - the music venue of choice, for the intimate feel and yet big enough bandroom crowd potential for a great gig. Pulls great artists, including up and coming finds. But then, the upstairs rooftop beer garden, with the views of the city over the train track, is amazing. Plus great food!

The Empress - my local, and a pub where I have made many stunning music discoveries. Awesome pub menu, and the parma is big and worth driving across town for! Great feel to the pub, too. Can do no wrong!

The Evelyn - great bandroom, and band pulling power....and venue for music discoveries. Brunswick Street, so easy as to get to.

Drunken Poet - Jessie and Heath's old local. A little hole in the world, Irish pub. Run and owned by Siobhan, a sweet Irish girl, who takes the time to chat, and get to know who you are. An easy place to be, and you can sit out on the footpath on perfect days. Also has Bulmers!

The Retreat - mainly for the astro turf beer garden! Sitting out there on the fake grass in summer, with a jug of beer, is perfect! Usually packed, but worth the battle to get a good spot. Also awesome menu and eggplant parma.

Of course, completing our pub crawl routes have actually helped us find many amazing, tucked away pubs. Gems really!

Now the challenge will be to find good pubs in Ballarat, the town with a pub on every corner, a pub for every week, with change!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top 5: Houses Lived In

Last night I went along to a house inspection for a rental property here in Ballarat. I am dreaming of a really great place, in line with my current Melbourne abode....but sadly last night's will tick off the second of 10 shit places you must see before you find a place to live. That's the rule, right? Tick! Yuck!

Of course, it will be very hard to ever top the mansion we lived in in Phnom Penh. Marble downstairs, all wood upstairs, our place for 4 of us, plus a regular guest, had 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, and an amazing lounge space that acted as a dancefloor when required. The marble floor, you see! Massive yard, where Borin was our trusty gardener, guard and on call driver. My ensuite there was bigger than some of the bedrooms I've lived in. Really roughing it in the developing world!

I do love our current house. The pretty white terrace in Carlton North, with the white picket fence. Floorboards, big bedrooms, little private courtyard....we really haven't utilised it enough. Jen, and Jane, and I work too hard!

My first apartment in Hawthorn makes the list, too. It was my first place out on my own, and it was all white, four roomed place, with a little balcony. My first place to just spread out...and study my arse off as it turns out!

The Maxi-pad in London was awesome in it's own right. This funny little add on rooftop apartment, in a perfect location for everything, and our balcony for hanging out, and BBQ parties. This was back to shared living for me, but the only way to survive, but also to have loads of people around, and thus opportunities to experience everything there was to do.

Andrea, Dean and I in our double story in Raglan Street here in Ballarat rounds up the list. Great spaces in the living areas, and bedrooms....and the addition of the spa in the sunroom out the back! Again, an aspect that was under-utilised!

Fingers crossed I find something equally lovely for the next year, which may help me decide to buy at the end of it, or run away all together and avoid becoming a grown up for a bit longer!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Boys Are Back

Last night I went into town after a lazy day, to meet Erin and Alissa, at Kino for the premier of Boys Are Back, with Clive Owen.

An Aussie made movie, with a British lead, this film is shot primarily in South Australia, and takes in fairly remote farming and vineyard properties, and way of life. The film shows a father's challenge of dealing with the grief of the loss of his partner, and the challenge of getting to know, and learning how to care for his school aged son. His son from a previous marriage, (not Ron from Harry Potter film fame, but surely his twin, or cousin at least!), comes into the equation, to really test the man's ability to rear and love.

I think one of the key themes for me was the parenting style on display. Joe's approach to parenting was to let the boys live, and thus, his motto was 'just say yes'. Meaning the house was always a mess, the boys could do as they pleased 90% of the time, and then the kids also had the freedom to do anything - like ride on the bonnet of the 4WD as Joe spend along the beach.

Many of these scenes challenged your ideas, and the modern day way of cautious child-raring. Careful about getting dirty, don't touch bugs and plants, watch out for germs, don't climb up on there, clean your teeth morning and night religiously. The notion of contemporary fear driven rules for kids today usually leads me to laugh at any friend of mine, not allowing their child to do what we all did without a care in the world when we were 5. Eat dirt, ride bikes without a helmet, wade out deeper than we know we should.....

Do we really need to be so careful? Has the world changed for the worst, this quickly? Is injury risk limiting today's kids of exploring the world properly? What kids of people will this give us, 20 years from now?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

My World Tour

There is a little competition running at the moment, finalists to be announced in the coming week, that I would give my left leg to win! Alas, I have had a million other things to focus on in the couple of weeks, and thus my entry is not as tended to as some others. But, hey! An awesome idea, and something to watch over the coming year!

The competition is My World Tour, put together by Universal music, and V Australia, and a host of others. Basically the Tour includes around 11 music festivals around the world, from Berlin to Japan, to the US, and of course, Glastonbury. Imagine!

The idea is for two roving bloggers/music reports to go, and report back. An amazing way for someone to get their music journalism career up and kicking! And the opportunity to travel to each of the proposed gigs, all around the world, as Universal's guest, with VIP passes and access to artists for interviews.....would be a year of bliss!

There are some fantastic entries, with a few stand outs for me, given their work on their profile, and also the initiative shown to raise their name into contention. Chantal Bann has a great profile, put so much work into it, and has also generated quite a following on the site and on Facebook. LadyTrumpet has used a Facebook group to generate fans, and a mention goes to Sophiemoog too. Rachmoor has an enviable resume! Sabi, who I have on my Google Reader, blogged about it first, and put me onto it, so gets a mention too!.

This is my profile on the MWT page, and I would love you to pop over and make a comment! I mean, I have been blogging all things music gig-gy for sometime. Comment for me, and at least get me to Homebake as a top 6! Ahhhh, a girl can dream!

Saturday, November 07, 2009


For the last 3 months, I have been travelling up and down the Western Highway, "helping out" the Ballarat office, after their Psych Consultant resigned, for 2 to 3 days per week. As my caseload as grown more variety with this change, and with working in a more relaxed, friendly and stress-less working environment, and tossing up the pros and cons, I have indicated my interest to move back to my hometown. I will offically be a Ballarat office employee on the 16th of this month.

I have shocked myself, really, as I actually didn't think I would return home...unless I was going home to make babies! And yet, here I am, looking at rental properties, thinking about what kind of car to buy, and how I will build my social life back in the 'Rat.

The work has includes a promotion of level, which I probably was going to get anyway, a non-event payrise (read, not worth it), but lets me work with Jo again, and returns me to a small work office, not drowning in a toxic culture.

I did actually look at the idea of buying a place, which I know I will never be able to do in Melbourne on my own, but it turns out I am not ready for that grown up and scary step. All good.

I love Melbourne, and all it has to offer. And my life here. My friends, music gigs, the endless events, the footy, amazing places to eat...everything at your doorstep. I really do think it's the best city to live in.

I know that I will be up and down the highway for the footy most weekends, and perhaps in-between for gigs.

Here's hoping I don't get bored in 5 minutes, that I can find a pretty or ultra modern place to live for a year, and reclaim the life side of the work/life balance. Get some sanity back, enjoy my job for longer than a 2 day window at a time, and not regret this big move home.

Friday, November 06, 2009

La Vita Buona

Tonight, after a long crazy week, Katie arrived on the doorstep at work and insisted that I take her to Horse Bazaar, a previous Project destination, all in the name of research for uni. So we popped down and had a beer there, so she could get a feel for the place.

Our actual Project 2009 drinks bar this week, however, was in City Square, adjacent to the big Xmas tree, called La Vita Buona. Mary, MJ and I convened there, at an outside table, to discuss the events of the day.

We sat at a wine barrel, were afforded table service, and were sitting out in a bustling Swanston Street, next to a rowdy Three Below next door. This bar was quiet, with a small interior with little intimate booths, sweets selections, and deli options apparently!

Friendly service, and the novelty of sitting outside as dusk descended held promise of the Friday Summer nights ahead.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Top 5: Worst Jobs

I have had a lot of crappy jobs in my time, so far! All in the name of working towards what I want at the time, whether it's traveling in the US to visit a mate, trying to live in the UK and see as much of Europe as I could, or just simply trying to pay the rent and get through uni.

My role in the UK at the start of my time over there is a definite entry for this list. For placements like this. The initials ME will never be the same for me!

Another crazy job in the attempt to keep myself housed and fed, and well traveled, whilst overseas, was in Nashville in 1999-2000. Here I worked as a Housekeeper at the Opryland Hotel. Cleaning hotel rooms, 16 in an 8 hour shift including the need to prepare your cart of supplies and towels folded just right, was such hard physical work! Changing two king size beds, and completing all the tiny presentation details for each room....and learning the corners you can cut. My advice is to never bath in a hotel bathroom! This job included things like cleaning up after cheerleaders, during the Cheerleader Convention. A delight, I can assure you! This job also opened my eyes to the unfair treatment of Latin American employees in the States.....

I worked as a Disability Support Worker for an agency, just as my studies were getting interesting, to pay the rent but also to get some invaluable experience in my newly discovered field. My very first shift was when I was just 19...and I had to shower a lad the same age. Confronting doesn't begin to explain! From there I went to a range of other full-on jobs, including showering old men, ewww. One sleep-over shift I remember as a highlight of the level of horror of this particular role was in a community residential unit for young adults with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities. I was to stay the night, and just be there in case. As the final shift finished, my handover included being made aware of the alarm on the kitchen, to let me know if anyone was creeping in there to the drawer with all the knives. That's actually what this other staff member told me, before she left the house. Such transferable skill development!

I also worked as a Locum in a dementia unit. My role was case management for people in their own homes, but my office was within the secure unit. Which meant the nursing home smell, and food sightings, and interaction with the residents. The reason this one rates on this list is mainly for encounters with one such resident, who would occasionally wander into my office and just silently hover. Gave me the creeps when I realised she was there, and wondered how long she had been there. And then she would ask me if I was her daughter. Awful.

Can't actually decide if serving drunks in the bar at the MCG is the 5th, or whether my very first job as a Checkout Chick at Safeway Ballarat, beats it. Before OH&S practices were taught, scanning and handling people's groceries was done so badly! But it was mainly the customer's behaviour that makes this job stand out. Which is very much parallel to refusing hammered footy fans another beer!

My very first real job out of uni is still my favourite, and still my most rewarding to date!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Top 5: Travel Moments

OK, so this is a list that floats around my head on a dull day, or my walk around the lake, or stuck on the tram....and why wouldn't it! So many great, memorable, life changing times!

Number 1 is and may always be, my train ride at dawn from Kandy to Colombo in Sri Lanka, in 2004. I was there for the cricket, and had landed and made my way in the dark in the taxi ride from hell from the airport to Kandy, in the middle of Lanka, in the mountains. I was to meet the boys there, but it turned out they weren't there after all.

To get back to the capital, I made my way to the train station in the early hours of the morning, and then when the ticket booth opened, bought a first class ticket...for a grand total of $4, or something. My seat faced backwards, at the back of the train, with a full window effect for the first class carriage. As we pulled out of town the dawn began to break, and thus we wound our way out of the jungled mountain range in the most beautiful light. Gorgeous!

Next, at 2 would have to be the magical White Christmas, in Sweden. That trip and all it's expectations were all brought together with that first flurry of white stuff from the sky, on our walk around Uppsala. So wonderful, and just a special day for the 5 of us there that day.

Experiencing Ankor Wat at dawn, perched on one of the highest points of the temple, with only a handful of other people around is up there at 3. The fact that you as a tourist have access to this wondrous ancient wonder, and the peace and beauty of it as the light dawns and comes across the formations....spectacular. Of course, then wandering though Ankgor Thom and staring at those big faces, and then the jungle covered Ta Prom. The Angkor complex is just so amazing.

My totally wild night in New Orleans for NYE for the Millennium tick over definitely rates a mention. 6 girls from all over the world, staying in an amazing, empty mansion in New Orleans, and then the revelry of that massive night of our lifetime, along Bourbon Street. A crazy, fun fun New Years Eve!

Number 5 is another Cambodia story from when I lived there. On Christmas Eve a group of the staff of the centre I was working in took a load of toys and things that had been donated, to an orphanage on the outskirts of town, run by the Missionaries of Charity, which had been described as the place for the "hopeless of the hopeless'. Here, there were 5 of us young volunteers, we visited a couple of the hospital wards, and ended up spending the most time in the children's AIDS ward. We were told that these children's parents lay terminally ill in the ward on the floor above, or were deceased. These babies rarely had human contact, let alone someone to hold them, and interact.

We had each taken on a little one, and spent time with them. The little boy I held, and cuddled, and played with, and rubbed his belly swollen because of his medication, was so weak, and sweet, and just fascinated that this barang would spend time with him. Even though we really had done and taken so little, we all left there that day a little different for the experience and the brush with raw human suffering.

Special mentions would need to go to my hot air balloon ride over the fairy chimneys in Cappadocia in Turkey, and the 90th anniversary ANZAC Dawn Service at Gallipoli, also in Turkey. Passing Mt Fuji in Japan, and also our roadtrip day in Cuba.

I will need to separate and make my Aussie travel moments their own top 5....made it easier to decide on a 5 here, and there!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Trying to be a Psychologist

I gave up my day of sleeping in and rest today, being Melbourne Cup day, to put in a day reading applications for Assessments Australia. The applications are for aide funding for children with special needs, in the government schools of Victoria.

Tapping into my uni studies in disability and psychological assessment and educational supports, and also all that hands-on related work I have done....I always walk away from this work questioning what I am doing in OR (Occupational Rehabilitation). It always stirs up the 'what do I want to be when I grow up' question.

Earlier this year I had started the Supervision and submitting a Plan to the Board process, to work on being registered as a Psychologist. But I have been disheartened, again, by the rejection of my Plan, with a million little comments for change and modification to my job, duties and projected reading and skill development for the next two years. Plus the talk in psych circles of the increasing difficulties of getting a Plan approved, and the push towards further formal studies.

I feel ill just thinking about more study, and am reminded of this post...and yet, maybe this is the only way. Which is another thing to put in the 'too hard' basket for now!

Reading reports about kids in school, and their quirky idiosyncrasies, like the tendency to seek out corners at Kinda to pee in, or only eating pasta with sauce but cracking it if the sauce is actually on the pasta to start with, or insisting on discussions only about train timetables, reminds me that Educational psych is still a major interest of mine.

But then I have good patches at work, and feeling like I am actually doing something. I know that OR is not for me for the long haul.... Work, and other people's jobs, is nothing something I am passionate about. And yet, helping someone get their lives back together after an injury, or a non-work related illness, or an issue at work, can also be quite amazing.

Hmmm, maybe I need to try a new tact on the 2009 Husband Find, and stop worry about all this. A ha ha, as if....

Monday, November 02, 2009

NaBloPoMo II

I have signed up for NaBloPoMo again this year, after making it through the month successfully last year. The challenge is to post every day for the month of November. The challenge is kind of laughable to me this year, given that I have about 2 months worth of posts over September and October still in note and draft format...but I am going to give it a crack anyway!

Last year I really do think it sparked a renewed blogging enthusiasm, and encouraged a much more frenetic posting activity here for most of this year.

I have hit a wall in my bloggy commitment just recently, as my work/life balance has tipped to the wrong side....which is perhaps just another reason to encourage this challenge, and see if I can tip it back a bit!

Last year also meant that I played around and read loads of other blogs too, through the NaBloPoMo site blogroll. Numerous adds to the Google Reader, so all good.

A tip from Jess last year was to work with some themes, to get through the days lacking in inspiration. And random thoughts are not really the flavour of Jouljet. I have quite a few gigs booked and planned for the month, so there is some posting right there. The Project 2009 is a post per week, as the bar discovery continues for the remainder of the year.

But there are actually big life changes in the midst at the moment for me, so that will be fodder for the blogger! Loads to chat about there, the ossilating thoughts about it, the justifications, the angst, the preparations.

Plus, I had thought since last NaBloPoMo that I could do a High Fidelity style Top 5s, as a way of working through any dire last minute postings. Cos the panic of some days last year will need a pre-pondered theme to save me this year, given the madness of the aforemention inbalance!

So here's to a bloggy November, and a renewed Jouljet into 2010! Hopefully I'll even catch up and finished my older posts for this year, too. Good luck to other challenge participants! I know Nicole has signed up....anyone else?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Trick or Treat Pub Crawl

With an old lady dress from the op shop, an oldie wig and some strange person's prescription glasses Katie just had lying around, I dressed as my worst nightmare for Halloween yesterday. Making my way down Brunswick Street in the surprising 27C heat, I made it to the Rose Hotel, for the first stop in the Trick or Treat pub crawl in Fitzroy.

Meeting MJ and Sharon, and Meggsie, we went in for a pub lunch, while Melissa, Katrina and Kylie made their way to us. Springer and Bree joined us for our first drinks, before we made our way to the air conditioned Royal Derby, which had actually featured on a pub crawl earlier in the year.

Walking down Brunswick Street all dressed up in random Halloween garb, we walked down a side street to find the Commercial Club. As we walked into the empty white space, the bartender made some crack about us being dressed up...and we had our one pot pretty quickly!

Back to Brunswick Street, the Punters Club on the map is today's Bimbo Delux, and the destination for our next pot. Joined here by witchy Lana, we also ducked across the street to the Evelyn, which was a little weird, drinking there in the middle of the day, and dressed up as an old lady!

Down to the Provincial for a pot, in their gorgeous rooms, we were joined by Amanda, before walking down Johnston Street to find that McCrossin's on the map was now opened as Griffs Wine Pub, and thus an extra stop for the drink. I am not sure that the publican was thrilled by our group wandering in, but we were joined here by Kym, and Nick.

Inside Rochester Castle we found a nanny couch, a pool table, and funky booths to keep us entertained for our pot stop, before getting to the Birmingham, where we were joined by Sara and her friends, and Bumble and Lisbe, who had been at the races.

Walking around the loop on the map, we found a tidy bucks party at the Marquis of Lorne, before discovering the awesome rooftop beer garden. Back on the map, we all made our way to the Napier Hotel, where Neil found us, for a bit of a Flagger reunion.

Finding a church Halloween party, where there was an entry fee, but then climbing through an archway to anothe rmuch cooler house party, we lost our nerve and returned to the pubs on the map. The Rainbow seemed to be having a Halloween party of it's own, where we found many, many others dressed up.

Getting to the Perseverence back on Brunswick Street, we found many tidy race-goers, who looked strangely upon our group. Delayed here during out pot consumption by a heavy downpour outside, we had to time our dash to the next pub with care.

Bumble, Meggsie and I jumped in a cab, and with the driver being less than helpful, we had no luck finding the Standard, having our next pot at the Pumphouse. And that, amazingly, was stumps for me. Very tired, and a little bit drunky, this is the first crowl we haven't completed, with 4 pubs and the longest leg, distance-wise to go.

Alas, maybe some other time. But a fun Halloween day, to mark my birthday, notheless!
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