Monday, 10 August 2009

Not so classy in real life

Turns out that North American local television news is nowhere near as hilarious as Will Ferrel made it seem in Anchorman.

About the funniest thing talked about on last night's CTV Toronto News was a small boy catching a really big fish. I know.

There wasn't even any awkward banter or unintended puns.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Diary of a conference husband - part 3

On our third day in San Francisco I awoke to discover that my face had decided to reflect the current terrorist threat level - orange. The ocean winds from the ferry ride together with my dedication to the war on terror had overcome the freedom-hating sunscreen I had applied. Over the following days I kept on pointing out to the Wif that I was developing a rugged urban-surfer tan but she maintained that what I had achieved was actually more of a foolish tourist look. When combined with my flip-flops and backpack worn over two shoulders I could actually see her point.

We were due to travel to Toronto on our third day but as the plane didn't leave until 10.30pm we stored our bags at our hotel and headed off to the Castro.

This is SF's well known gay and lesbian district but as we wandered through it was just like any other part of SF that we had visited: lovely old houses, lots of dogs and couples out holding hands. The only difference to the rest of the city was the number of rainbow flags flying and an increase in the number of double entendres in the shop names. For example The Moby Dick tavern, a hairdresser's named Spunk and a cafe called the Sausage Factory.
From here we wandered through Haight-Ashbury which is filled with the typical SF house that you see in the movies and drug addicts begging for money which you don't.
Next time: 2nd half of day three, bison and what to do if your plane fills with smoke.

Friday, 7 August 2009

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise

This is the fridge prior to departure. Proof, if needed, that if we hadn't had this holiday it would have been only a matter of time before I'd start talking to myself and asking people to hit me in the face.

Diary of a conference husband - part 2

San Francisco has been and gone. No posts for a couple of days due to stupidly expensive internet and our busy tourist schedule.

Our second day in San Francisco we took a walk down to the waterfront. Apparently after the big quake in 1989 they took the opportunity to refurbish the wharfs and they did a pretty good job of it. The Ferry Building was great. A really nice spacious building filled with food stores with an artisan bent.
From there we wandered along the water front to Fisherman's Wharf. Imagine Disneyland without the rides. Just an entire wharf of shops with the single unifying theme of, "You don't really need this." There were stores dedicated to the left-handed, sports memorabilia, Hawaiian pearls, old-fashioned candy, magnets (x2), teddy bears you stuff yourself, Ireland, and a seemingly unlimited number of franchised theme restaurants. And it was being lapped up - busier than anywhere else we visited in SF. At first I figured that everyone had been told by friends to go check out how horrible it is but the cash registers were ringing with the sound of screaming bank balances so they must have been there for genuine reasons.
The next stop was Alcatraz. After the horror of Fisherman's Wharf, The Rock showed how to do tourist attraction with dignity. Maybe because it's run by the Parks Service, the entire trip was a pleasure. Ferry ride gave a great view of the harbour, the park rangers were courtious and helpful, the audio tour was really interesting without being overly informative. Overall, the best historic building I've visited since Pompallier.
Then it was a tired wander back to the hotel via a delicious Italian meal on Columbus Ave.
The roadside hot dog vendor is calling so I'll away.
Next time: The Castro, Golden Gate Park and Bison

Monday, 3 August 2009

Diary of a conference husband - part 1

We've arrived and its still not real. San Francisco is good fun. Feels like a foggy Melbourne. I don't have time for a full post so the highlights are:

- Plane movies: Adventureland (boy meets girl with issues, they have a misunderstanding and end up together in the rain. A bit like The Graduate replacing the older woman with an older man and set at a theme park), In the Loop (Billy Connolly is no longer the funniest swearing scotsman), Fast & Furious (a car movie that kept on stalling; bit like Paul Walker and Vin Diesel's careers), Star Trek (just as good the second time even though it was on a small scene and I was eating reheated roast lamb with plastic cutlery).
- First restroom I used in America had a Dyson airblade. Good start to the trip.
- Loo seats are bigger here: feels like you're squatting over a swimming pool.
- Chose where to eat the first night based on the photos of Bill Clinton and Deepak Chopra in the window.
- Taken on a winery tour by the awesome Jessica and Garyn. Lots of grape varieties that we hadn't tried before but it seems wine lushes are universal.
- Remind me to tell you about my Dry Creek Lambert Bridge Restroom Dilema.
- Robyn is a magnet for winery dogs.
- The chocolate bars you've seen on American sitcoms are just chocolate bars and no better than the ones back home but I now know what a 3 Musketeers tastes like.

Next time - Fisherman's wharf, Alcatraz and trying to find a resturant that doesn't serve broiled steak

Friday, 31 July 2009

And one last thing...

I am a bit worried that I'm being too laid back about the whole going jumping on an airplane thing. Every other time I've holidayed overseas I've had official looking tickets, guidebooks and itineraries. 12 hours before I leave I've only got a couple of print outs, some Google Maps pages and a vague notion of places we want to visit. I'm terrified that we'll get to America and discover they all speak Korean or some other vital piece of info that we've somehow missed due to a lack of background planning.

Where possible I’ll be blogging from the road so check back here over the coming month to follow our tales of getting into a “Who you looking at?!” fight with Jimmy "The Guppy" Whale, having to evade the Mounties over a Maple Syrup misunderstanding (thanks Anna!) and saving the Queen from Voldermort’s plot to replace her with enchanted House Elf.*

Be seeing you.

*Disclaimer: Trip reports may not actually follow the plot of Sopranos/Due South/Harry Potter fan fic. More likely to contain pictures of funny signs, descriptions of meals I’ve eaten and complaints about how North America isn’t actually like it is in the movies.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Nostalga in a can

Robyn is making her Lemon Meringue Pie (objectively one of the best things in the 'verse you can put in your mouth) and just handed me an empty condensed milk tin. Running my finger around the inside of the tin and scraping the dregs of the condensed milk out is for some reason very comforting. I put it up there with watching The Great Escape after lunch on a cold Sunday or sitting up in bed, reading a good book while the cats sleep curled around my feet. It's slightly indulgent and safe at the same time. The kind of satisfaction that comes from having experienced the situation many times and knowing the outcome. An anticipation high.

It's also a buzz because I know that an empty condensed milk tin is a precursor for LMP.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Not exactly Mavis Beacon

I dislocated the ring and little fingers on my left hand playing soccer/football four weeks ago. As you can see from the shots below, the fingers weren't just a little bit out of place - they were effectively the ribs of an umbrella caught in a gale.

Up until yesterday, after the all clear from a hand specialist, the two fingers were strapped together. This protected the fingers but has caused stiffness in my knuckles. Since they removed the bandages, I've been given couple of exercises to do in order to regain the mobility in my hand. One involves making a fist (well as much of a fist as I can with the munted digits) and then extending my fingers. Repeat.

I'm supposed to do this every hour but as I'm sitting at my desk most of the day, I tend to forget. The times I do remember are when I'm on the way to meetings, wander to the kitchen or go and get something off the printer. In other words, as I move around the building I'm walking about with my left hand in front of me doing power-crunches as if I think I'm holding an invisible stress ball. So now not only do I have a seriously reduced typing speed, people are getting the impression that my hand has been possessed by the spirit of an anemone. I can't imagine that either is going to have a positive effect on my workplace prospects.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

There are too many italicised words in this post

In full disclosure, I must admit that I am jumping on the band wagon. I'd love to boast that I was a fan before they were cool as I do remember listening to an album of theirs at uni (Asleep in the Back possibly). But it can't of taken as I didn't think of Elbow again until I read late, last year that they'd won the Mercury Prize. I've gone back, devoured their back catalogue and now they're in my “Top Five Bands to See Live that I Haven't Seen Live Yet”*.

I was listening to The Seldom Seen Kid on the way to work the other day and as I walked up the hill past parliament, “The Bones of You” arrived in my ears and I swear I got goosebumps. And that's just the second track; you haven't even got to "Mirrorball", "Weather to Fly" or "On a Day Like This" yet.

The guitar at the start of the chorus of “Ground for Divorce”, Mwerah-bierrr - the bit that sounds like Satan's gear change - makes my diaphragm contract every time I hear it. I know the whole thing about the Butthole Surfers playing low frequency noise at their concerts to make the audience shat themselves is all myth but I wouldn't be surprised if the crowd at an Elbow gig needed new new pants once Messrs Garvey, Potter, Potter, Turner and Jupp get through the chorus a second time.

Come to think about it, I'm not sure I want to see them live any more.

* In case you were wondering:

  • The Shins

  • Barenaked Ladies

  • Elbow

  • Jonathan Coulton / MC Frontalot (in this ideal gig, they're playing together at PAX)

  • Kaiser Chiefs

I know, they bumped Tenacious D out of the top five. I didn't expect that either.

Note - Strangely, this was written with Vampire Weekend and not Elbow playing in the background