Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Giant Koala

Today I drove to Horsham and back for work, and passed this big ugly monster! Snapped in a tribute to the Aussie Big Things I am anticipating on our roadtrip this weekend...gotta love Australia's fascination with making big things on the side of the road!

I had actually thought that this Aussie animal was past Horsham, as I recalled it being such a funny stop on a footy trip to Adelaide for one of the best finals ever. 2001, and the 4 Reid girls got out here - we have a silly photo of us in front of it with our Hawks scarves on.

Anyway, it's located between Stawell and Horsham, at Dadswell Bridge, where the Grampians are in full view to one side of the highway.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ballarat Dawn Service

This morning I joined the convoy of cars heading into the centre of Ballarat, for the ANZAC Dawn Service. In the dark, people from all different directions converged into the centre grass strip of Sturt Street, between St Andrews and St Patricks Churches, to gather for the service. Around 2000 people gathered in the chilly, crisp morning around the cenotaph, to pay tribute to the fallen, the returned, and the serving Australian and New Zealand military personnel.

The gathering of a full range of age groups was standing around the crosses laid our in rememberance for those lost from the local area. An address to open, this years service included a history of the Dawn Service, with the first service, 88 years ago in Albany remembered, which commemorated the place of the final glimpse of Australian land the soldiers heading off to Egypt, and ultimately Gallipoli, saw.

The Last Post and a minutes silence ended the short service, as light started to break.

This year has probably meant more to me, along side the one 6 years ago at Anzac Cove, because about a third of my caseload at work at the moment are returned soldiers, who I work with on their return to function after physical and psychological injuries, and some experiencing unimaginable atrocities, in the various ADF efforts around the world at the moment.

Lest We Forget.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dreams Come True

Yesterday I visited ACMI again, to walk through the Dreams Come True exhibition, The Art of Disney's Classic Fairy Tales, which is open until this Tuesday.

Walking downstairs to the gallery, you are first met with inspirational quotes from Walt Disney, the timeline of his life, and the story of his desire of putting fables and fairytales to film.

Then into the gallery space, Snow White comes to life, with the sketches from development, to the study of colour and contrast in scenes. The level of detail in the Queen's hands in her transformation into the witch, and that iconic vision of Snow White with the bluebird. Then the personalities of the dwarfs, and then the princes' entrance.

Next is Cinderella, where you are invited to sit and watch the footage of her Fairy Godmother transform pumpkin into coach, mice into horses and coachmen, and rags into ball dress. So magical!

Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, and the newer Tangled, are also featured, in this little journey into dreamy happily ever after. The animation steps, the vision of Ariel surrendering her voice for immortality, ballroom dance scene with Belle and the Beast, and Rapunzel's hair lifelike movements were all so enchanting.

All the way through, however, I couldn't help but find Angus and Julia Stone's Hollywood in my head. I mean, the overwhelming messages of good and evil, of princes, and all that. Maybe Snow White didn't want some guy violating her and ruining her sleep! All setting the bar very, very high for children's expectations of life!

I then did a spot of shopping, spending my voucher for being at my current place of work for 4 years. My longest job ever!

I was actually down in Melbourne, checking on a possible apartment for rent, after putting my hat in for a job which I had thought of as a 'dream job'. Alas, I was reportedly a close second for the role, and decided that I wouldn't take the apartment, despite it's great location. Just not to be, just yet.

The fatalist in me thinks that these particular changes perhaps were not the right ones, and there must be something else around the corner for me. But then, I am really too old to believe in fairy tales....

Castaway with Clare Bowditch

On Tuesday I had tickets for an evening called Desert Island Flicks, at ACMI, with Clare Bowditch. Apparently something that ACMI have on a monthly basis, the idea of a glimpse into the favourite movies of one of my favourite women, favourite singer-songwriters, was too good to pass up.

I convinced Michelle to come along, after a last minute pike, and we drove down to Melbourne, and met Jenny for a drink at Beer DeLuxe first. Joining the queue outside of the little Studio 1, I wasn't quite sure of the sign at the front door, and walked around the side to check we weren't missing it - and crossed paths with Clare herself, and said hi! Ha!

The small crowd shuffled into the Studio, with Michelle Carey, the new Artistic Director of MIFF, and Clare Bowditch on stage. Chatting about life, film and how Clare chose her 5 flicks for the night's discussion, we then went through the list, which a chosen scene out of each which meant something to our Artist.

The first film was introduced by scene, being a shot of a very young Claudia Karvan floating in the sea, in High Tide. Michelle and Clare chat on stage about why this film has been a stand out for Clare, and the plotlines.

It's A Wonderful Life is next, and watching the clip, and Clare's face of delight in the glow of the studio screen through the heart-felt family scene, is such a special moment. And makes me add this on to my Quick Flix list!

The beauty and mystic of The Piano is Clare's next film, with the scene selected being when Holly and Anna knock on Harvey's door and beg him to take them down to the beach, and then the first piano playing and Anna dancing. Such a great movie! Clare talks about how seeing this drew her back to classical music, which has ultimately influenced her folk tunes.

Zorba The Greek is Clare's 4th selection, as a reminder of her late father and moments of her childhood. A privilege to be part of this conversation, and a key point in the cinema-studied Michelle's take on Clare's five selections.

The scenes of In The Mood For Love were the final film, and again, has me adding this one to my list of Quick Flix with some serious desire. The cinematography and character exchanges featured in this short clip, the synopsis, and Clare's description of the "sashaying dresses" makes this Hong Kong film look so enchanting.

Dinner out in Fed Square, in the mild Melbourne night, at Chocolate Buddha. God, how I miss Melbourne and nights like this! Such a treat.

Launceston for the Footy

Last weekend I joined Jenny and her extended family for a weekend in fine Launceston for the footy. Meeting up with Annie and Kathy for my flight, we then taxied into town, dropped our bags, and met the group our for drinks.

At The Northern Club, Annie and I joined Jen and Josie, Chris and Toni, Matt and David as they were wrapping up dinner, before we went into the bar next door for some music flashbacks and pints. Staying at Waratah On York, we had the massive three bedroom suite in this heritage building up the hill, with views of town and the footy ground.

After a massive sleep in for me, I wandered into town and met up with the rest of the group, before grabbing lunch and heading the Aurora Stadium. I actually just had a GA ticket, which allowed me to stand on the fence for the whole match, and be very up close to the action. Haven't done that for years, and hearing the hits and the talk out on the ground was still a surprise.

The Hawks looked good, even with the fade in the last quarter which made the game a close finish, and the sunshine was exactly what was needed.

Meeting up with the rest of the group, we had a couple of celebratory beers at Blue Cafe, right next door to the ground, before a walk down to the waterfront for dinner, taking our table at Bellini. Dinner, and the Bellini's, were pretty impressive here, in a little pocket of culture I had never found before in this town.

The drinking half of the group then walked through Launceston town, taking in a beer at each stop, but as usual, found the nightlife somewhat lacking. The cavernous, but empty nightclub we found in the end was good for pool and drinks, but that was about all.

A hearty breakfast in the morning with Jen and 'the little gentlemen' at The Metz, was just what I needed, before getting out to the airport for my flight back to the mainland. Always a great escape weekend, topped off by a Hawks win!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Great Barrier Grief

I convinced Kayleen the following day to take the begging ticket for my next gig back at the start of this month, and so constructed a little night out on a school night, to see one of my favourite bands.

We finished what we both needed to do for the day at the office, and then went to Thai Pavilion for dinner. Great Thai food here.

Getting to Karova, we caught the last tracks of The Ocean Party, who captured our attention straight up. Next up was the solo and nervous presence of Gossling - just a girl on the stage with her keyboard and her enchanting voice and lyrics. She drew the attention of the filling band room.

But hearing the set from Oh Mercy, showcasing their sophomore album, Great Barrier Grief, was why I came out that night. And this little Melbourne 4 piece band put on such a show, a treat of dreamy indie tunes. Alex is such a pleasure to see live!

Opening with Keith St, and then playing the lovely Broken Ears, the set played most of the new album, with highlights from the back catalogue. Mercy Valley, fast becoming one of my favourites, along with my much loved Let Me Go from this album, the crowd was then asked to quieten down, ready for Eliza to sing Doldrums solo.

The set also featured covers of The Velvet Underground and Leonard Cohen, and then Alex reminded us all to listen to their appearance early the next morning for Like A Version on Triple J (which was so awesome!).

Was so great that these guys have come back to Ballarat on this tour, and as always, a pleasure to see them live. This new album of theirs is easily one of my favourites of 2011.

The Holidays

At the start of the month, I had just purchased tickets to a couple of gigs at Karova for Maria and I, when I got a call to say she was sick, and perhaps couldn't go. But alas, for some reason she was super keen to go to this gig, and dragged her pneumonia-filled self along. What a trooper music fan!

Given the aforementioned incapacity, however, we decided we would drive, and just aim for the main band. Walking into a packed Karova, we caught the final couple of songs from Gold Fields, an up and coming local band. They were very impressive, and the packed Wednesday night student crowd loved them!

The main band for the night, The Holidays, then arrived on stage, to a rather embarrassingly emptied room. People really were here to see Ballarat's new indie band!

Having loved their EPs material, and seeing them live a couple of years ago, I was keen to have this gig capture my attention, and encourage purchase of their debut album. That wasn't actually the result, as the new album steers a little away from the sounds of their earlier work, with just a handful of track with hints on that pop reggae feel. They played nothing from their EPs. Shame.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Ballarat Make A Wish Ball

After coming back from my last trip, I decided that I had life pretty good, and thus, I wanted to find a way to give back again. So I joined the Ballarat Branch of Make A Wish, who just happened to be organising their ball for the year at the time.

Saturday night was the big night, and a group gathered at mine for pre-Ball drinks. The theme was connected the the 25th anniversary of Make A Wish, and so was silver, or 'bling'. Kayleen and Kane arrived first, and then Renee. Soon Katie and Kym joined us, before Jo and Matt, and a hungover Michelle! Much wine was consumed, in preparation for the night, before we got a cab across town to the Mercure Convention Centre for the Ball.

Arriving to a massive pre-drinks room filled with people all decked out, we met up with Mel, and Matt and Olivia. We were soon directed through to the big room, to find our tables, where Kate and Mick joined our group.

More wine was arranged, and all very soon dinner was served. Steak was mine...and I couldn't tell you what was for desert! Mingling around our tables with the work crew, the girls from school, and Katie and Kym, was so much fun. Soon the band for the night started, and then there was much dancing. The highlight for me from Toto's Hold The Line, and then Katie calling out for Africa at the end - and getting a laugh and a bar from the band! Ha!

With a silent auction on the night, and a speech about what the night was all about, it was a great event for this little volunteer committee, and raised a decent amount of money for the kids in our local area.

At the end of the night, almost all of us boarded taxis and headed into town, for more drinks and dancing at The George. The obligatory wait in the taxi line in the cold topped off the night. Thanks to everyone who came along!
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