Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oprah, you've outdone yourself

First the trip to Australia, now this?? I fucking love The Sound of Music.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Magnetic Island

I got back yesterday from a lovely four day trip to Magnetic Island, located off the coast of Townsville in northern Queensland, not too far from the Great Barrier Reef. The majority of the island is a national park, but luckily for me, D has friends who live there and love hosting visitors. And they also have an adorable puppy. It's funny, most people outside of Australia assume it's all beaches and tropical weather, but I hadn't yet experienced that side of it. Magnetic Island is indeed a tropical paradise- beautiful beaches, lush palm trees, and warm weather. And since it's not on the main tourist track and only has 2000 residents, nothing is ever crowded. The landscape reminded me a bit of Hawaii, and yes, a little bit of The Island from Lost (especially with that whole magnetic business). Over the four days, we did a lot of relaxing as well as a bit of exploring, inlcuding a hike up to n old WWII gun tower and snorkeling at a coral reef, where and managed to get a sunburn on my ass, which made for an uncomfortable plane ride home.

Items of interest spotted: tree frogs (even saw one in the toilet, aka a "dunny frog"), sea turtle, mama and baby koala, snake, shark (not a scary one, just this guy), lots of birds (including the Magnetic Island curlew) and last but not least, a Dip Sign!! I can't wait to go back- four days was not nearly enough.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The redesign

So I decided to clean up the blog links sections to remove links to some blogs that no longer exist or have been inactive for months, and while I was at it, I started playing around with the new (to me) Blogger templates- DCoE was looking a little too 2006. And ever since I swicthed from Internet Explorer to Firefox, the formatting has been a little off. So, do you like the new look? I'm not crazy about the birds in the upper right corner but couldn't figure out how to get rid of them, and birds aside, I did like this template the most out of the ones available. Maybe I'll insert a cartoon stick figure drawing of me next to the title shooting at the birds. That would be totally normal.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

List #44....Secret Australians

Do you remember how Adam Sandler had that Hannukah song about the people in Hollywood who are Jewish? Well, I feel like Australia could do somethig similar. I mean, everyone knows Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman are Aussie, and we all saw Toni Colette in Muriel's Wedding. However, since I moved here, I've been trying to watch some classic Australian films (you know, like Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), and in doing so have realized that many actors I had assumed were American were actually from Australia.

So now I present List #44... Secret Australians
1. Cate Blanchette
2. Guy Pearce
3. Anthony LaPaglia (from Without a Trace)
4. Elle Macpherson
5. Olivia Newton-John
6. Geoffrey Rush
7. Hugo Weaving
8. Ryan Kwanten (better known to True Blood fans as Jason Stackhouse)
9. Not an actor, but Rupert Murdoch is also Australian.

and as for Mel Gibson, turns out he's a Secret American.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cats in IKEA

I have a love/hate relationship with IKEA. I hate the store's layout, I hate the lack of customer service, I hate their cheaply made furniture, and I really really hate assembling their cheaply made furniture*. Okay, so this love/hate relationship is skewed towards the hating. I do like their meatballs and the fact that you can buy a bag of 100 tealights for like two dollars. And to be honest, when you need a new coffee table because a big, drunk guy fell onto yours and smashed it into bits at your housewarming party, IKEA can come in handy.

I also really like this commercial that was filmed when 100 pet cats were let loose in an IKEA after hours. Here's some additional video footage about the making of the commercial. (via Metafilter) If my catphobe mother catches wind of this she'll never set foot in an IKEA again.

*I came up with a new money-making idea to add to the list: become an expert in assembling IKEA furniture and hire yourself out to put it together in people's homes. I would gladly have paid someone $50 (or more) to piece together six of these BÖRJEs.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Peanut butter jelly time!

I’ve always been fond of peanut butter. My go-to breakfast is toasted English muffins with peanut butter: quick, tasty, reasonably healthy and most importantly, dairy-free (nobody wants to start their day with explosive diarrhea). Over the past few months, this fondness has turned into more of an obsession, or a quest, if you will. You see, Australian peanut butter kind of sucks. It exists, but the major brand- Kraft- makes the sugary processed type (eww). I had some hope for the natural food brand, Sanitarium (which sounds like a place where you quarantine TB patients, not something you’d want to eat), but it was disappointingly bland and just not peanutty enough. However, a peanut butter from New Zealand, Ceres, came to my rescue- it’s just about perfect. My parents also brought along reinforcements in the form of Teddie All Natural peanut butter- my favorite, and made in MA! And in case I run out...they also brought me a 3 lb. tub in addition to the jar. Looks like I'll be able to satisfy my peanut butter cravings for a good long while.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Soccer in Melbourne

One of the first things I did when I moved to Melbourne was to find a soccer team to join, figuring it would be a good way to meet people and stay in shape. However, recreational soccer for adults in Australia is much different than in Boston. There’s no equivalent to the BSSC, and all teams are organized by clubs that have their own home field and clubhouse. Each club with have several youth and men’s teams and one or two women’s teams, and historically, most clubs have some sort of ethnic affiliation. We also played against several universities, and at first I was worried we’d get our asses kicked by a bunch of superstar 18 year olds, but luckily it wasn’t like that at all- apparently they don’t have intramurals so all of the mediocre players join local leagues instead. My team, the Port Melbourne Sharks (motto: Our turf, no survivors!), belongs to a Greek club- most of the players aren’t Greek, but the Greek men who hang around the clubhouse drinking wine and the fact that the snack stand features items like spanakopita does give a certain mediterranean flair. The other difference is that although the level of play is fairly similar to what I was used to, teams have practice (practice? We’re talking about practice?!!) and a coach. A coach? I hadn’t had a coach since high school. At first, the idea of running drills and whatnot struck me as sort of silly for a bunch of out of shape adults playing in a social league, but it ended up being pretty fun. I lucked out and ended up joining a newly formed team, which meant that most of the other girls were new to the area, having moved from abroad like me or recently relocated to Melbourne from other cities in Australia, so everyone was keen to make friends. And they also like fun and beer. Soccer-wise, we weren’t the best squad in our league, but we weren’t terrible, and I really enjoyed playing in an organized league and getting to know a great group of people. Although now that the season’s over, I must admit it’s nice to sleep in on a Sunday morning.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Book review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

So I finally caved into the hype and read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. In this novel, journalist Mikael Blomkvist is employed by the aging patriarch of a wealthy family to find out what happened to his niece, who disappeared decades prior. The girl with the dragon tattoo is his assistant, the young misfit hacker Lisbeth Salander. It's definitely an entertaining page-turner, but overall not much more than your standard blockbuster thriller, like a Swedish Dan Brown book (albeit with a surprising amount of sexual violence- based on its popularity, I was expecting something a little more vanilla). My biggest bone to pick was with the writing- it seemed so obvious that the intention was to turn it into a screenplay, which kind of gave the book a commercial feel. The protagonist- he's handsome and charismatic and sleeps with beautiful women! There's also some pretty obvious product placement- Blomkvist doesn't type on a laptop; he uses an iBook. In summary, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is am ideal beach or airplane read, but just wasn't enough to warm my cold, book-snobbish soul. I didn't see the movie- was it any good?