Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Recipe: Tomato and garlic stew with prawns

We're headed into winter down here in the southern hemisphere, and on a cool and rainy night, nothing beats a big pot of soup. I made this really easy and tasty recipe from Donna Hay for Tomato and Garlic Stew with Prawns. Prawns being shrimp, not the aliens from District 9. It came our really well but was a little heavy on the onions- 1 large would probably be sufficient. I only used half the recommended amount of prawns/shrimp, because those little guys are expensive, but it still seemed like plenty.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My June Project: InLeWrMo (note to self: come up with better acronym)

What has turned out to be the most troublesome aspect of living in Australia isn't the distance per se, it's the fourteen hour time difference between Melbourne and Boston that makes it difficult to find a good time to Skype or call- usually at least one party is either sleeping or at work. Sure, there's always email, but I've decided to revert to the old fashioned way of keeping in touch: letter writing. I've always had a penchant for stationery and stamps (and even participated in a stamp collecting club as a kid- nerd alert!), and hey, everyone likes letters. It's nice to find something other than bills and credit card offers in the mail.
Like most people, I have the tendency to procrastinate, and often when I come up with ideas like "hey, I should write more letters!" they don't ever come to fruition. So I'm issuing myself a challenge. If you're a blogger you probably know that November is NaBloPoMo, a.k.a. National Blog Posting Month. I've declared June as InLeWriMo- International Letter Writing Month, in which participants (me) will write a letter every day for the whole month. Feel free to join in, or if you'd like to receive a letter from me, email me your address. I'd also welcome suggestions for a better acronyms and perhaps a slogan. It's better in a letter? Nothing says you're a champ like a stamp.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In the news

Hey hey, I'm in a magazine! A nerd magazine!

Thanks to Molly for taking a professional looking headshot while we were sitting in a train station in Germany.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Movie Reviews

Over the past week, I’ve watched a couple of DVDs.

The first was Let The Right One In, the Swedish vampire movie that’s essentially the antithesis of Twilight- these vampires definitely do not sparkle. The protagonist is Oskar, a 12 year old misfit boy who doesn’t seem to have a single friend until he meets Eli, a strange girl who lives in his apartment complex, who only appears at night, doesn’t seem to feel the cold, and smells funny. Yep, she’s a vampire. The movie proceeds slowly, with lingering shots of the cold winter landscape and limited dialogue, but when the action does occur, it is poignant and brutal. I thought the movie was fascinating, in particular by the relationship between Eli and Oskar, and it is brilliantly filmed, especially the swimming pool scene towards the end (holy crapola!!). It was refreshing to see such an unusual film: the main characters are children, and much of the movie is left up to the viewer’s interpretation- who is the old man that Eli lives with at the beginning? Does she really care for Oskar or is she using him? I couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards. Be warned, though- it’s not a scary movie per se, but it is a dark one, and definitely not for the squeamish. Here's the New York Times review.

And now for something completely different:

, set in Pennsylvania in 1987, is a sort of coming-of-age film about a recent college graduate who ends up back in his hometown working in an amusement park after his more grandiose post-graduation plans fall apart. It turns out to be quite the learning experience as the somewhat na├»ve James has never held a job before nor has he had any success in romantic relationships, but his Midwestern niceness (along with a big stash of joints) rapidly endears him to his new coworkers. I loved it! It’s sweet, funny, and definitely captures the good and bad parts of working at a shitty part-time job. Adventureland was written and directed by Greg Mottola of Superbad fame, but this film is more substance that slapstick, although there are a few similarities- the main character, portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, reminds me of an older Michael Cera. Lastly, any movie that prominently features Bill from Freaks and Geeks is a winner in my book.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Things I'm into lately

Beer! I reviewed my first Australian brew over on Beer Crusade.

I generally dislike all things techno, electronica, trance, and the like, but I absolutely cannot get enough of this funky track by Australian DJ duo Yolanda Be Cool: We Speak No Americano. (right click and save as to download) It's a lab favorite! I just love that someone can take a brief clip of an old-timey Italian tune and turn it into a modern dance hit. Damn, that shit is catchy!

Hokkien noodles
: Yes, they're cheap, they come in a bag, and you soak them in hot water before eating them, but they taste a zillion times better than ramen. Just throw them in with some stir-fried veggies and meat and YUM. I had them for the first time on Tuesday (thanks, D), and I just made them again for myself tonight.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's all fun and games until someone loses their knickers

I laughed when I saw this note posted in the women's bathroom at work...until I looked at the underwear and realized they were MINE! No, there aren't any Grey's Anatomy shenanigans are going on at my hospital- they must have fallen out of my gym bag while I was changing. Couldn't I have lost a sock or something? Geez. I don't know if the fact that they were lame cotton workout underwear made it more or less embarrassing, but I didn't want anyone to know they were mine, so I waited to until I was leaving to slyly retrieve them. But hey, I'm okay with telling The Internet, because we don't share an office area.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Concert Review: Vampire Weekend

Last week, I saw Vampire Weekend at Festival Hall in Melbourne. I fully admit that I have completely fallen for their peppy sound and catchy guitar hooks, hipster haters be damned! I even like their oddly compelling cover image of a preppy girl in a Polo shirt, which they used as a backdrop at the concert. I hadn’t seen them play live before, so I had been looking forward to the show, and it did not disappoint. The venue was kind of a dive- it’s a former boxing ring that still feels like an enormous concrete gym, but luckily the entrance we used popped us in right along side of the stage, which was a good thing since there were about 3000 people in the general admission area. Since Vampire Weekend only have two albums out, their set list consisted of about eight songs from each album, including my favorites: A-Punk, Oxford Comma, Campus, and Cousins. Musically, they were spot-on and they seemed at ease on the stage, like they were genuinely having fun performing. The whole show had an energetic, upbeat vibe to it. I always associate VW with the northeast, so it was a funny being in Australia and hearing them sing about Cape Cod, and it even made me feel a little bit superior. Maybe almost everyone in the crowd was a decade younger than me, but I know where Hyannisport is. So there!

In other news, unlike Michael Buble*, Vampire Weekend is not being stalked by a velociraptor. (thanks, CR)

*for a long time, I thought his name was Michael Bubble. Not quite as suave.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Adventures in strange fruit

Last week, my coworkers were talking about fiejoas and how good they are, so when I spotted them at the supermarket I decided to give them a try. From the outside, they resemble small avocados. But when you cut them open, the flesh is fruity deliciousness. They're related to the guava (a highly overrated fruit, in my opinion) but taste more like a mixture between a strawberry and a pear. Yum!

Next up on my fruit adventure list: the infamous durian.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Chewy on your boot!*

My flatmate Belinda’s friend Tony ended up crashing at our place for a few weeks last month while he was waiting for his new lease to begin. How very Three's Company. As a thank you, this past Saturday he invited us to attend an Australian Rules Football game in his company’s corporate box at the MCG, the main sports arena in Melbourne. We're smiling because there's free booze.

People in this part of the country are absolutely mad about AFL, a.k.a. the footy, so I had been meaning to check out a game. The sport is fairly similar to Gaelic football and is something like a cross between soccer and basketball. The field is round (I had no idea!) and enormous, and each team has 15 players on the field at a time. The goal consists of four uprights and you score by dropkicking the ball between them- getting it between the inner two posts earns 6 points and between an outer post is worth 1 point. I had thought the players would be stocky rugby types, but not at all- it’s a fast paced game with a lot of running, jumping, and some mauling, and the players are incredibly fit in addition to being huge. The uniforms are quite snug and have fun stripey socks- I reckon they were designed by a gay man. I mean, look. One thing I really liked about the game is that it’s nearly continuous action- play rarely stops, and if it does, it’s only for a few seconds. Even better, the officials hardly ever call penalties, which means there’s no sense in diving (the worst aspect of professional soccer) or exaggerating to try to draw a foul (one of the most annoying things about the NBA), because unless someone punches you in the face (and maybe not even then), the ref ain’t blowing the whistle. Some more footy notes:

When the ball goes out of bounds, the referee turns his back to the field and hucks it over his shoulder to put it back into play. Crazy!

The other strange thing about the game was the flock of seagulls that were constantly on the field. When play gets close they fly around and move to another part of the field, but I think they live in the stadium, as no one else seemed to find their presence unusual at all.

Tailgating doesn’t exist here, and sounds sort of ridiculous when you explain it to people unfamiliar with the concept: “Well, you get to the game a few hours early and sit around in the parking lot and grill food and drink beers. It sounds lame, but in fact, it is AWESOME.”

Lastly, here’s a picture of D and me in our Essendon Bombers gear. (Note my fancy new haircut.)

*what you yell when you want a player to shank a kick. It’s kind of like the Aussie version of shouting “Wide left!”