Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Concert Review: Band of Horses

I've been a fan of the band Band of Horses ever since I heard their first album, Everything All The Time, but I had never seen them live. Last night, I saw them play at the Palace Theater in Melbourne, and they were fantastic! The guitars sounded great, and I was really impressed by the vocals of frontman Ben Bridwell. He smoked a few cigarettes during the show- I guess you can break the rules when you're a rock star, but I'm surprised it hasn't ruined his voice, which is high and clear and sounds exactly like it does on the recordings. They seemed relaxed and happy on stage and bantered a bit with the crowd. They played a long set that featured mostly songs from their first album, including The Funeral, which rose to popularity partly because of this video. I liked the venue as well- there are a couple of balconies and the whole building is tiered in a way so that you pretty much always have a good view without blocking anyone behind you. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so I don't have any blurry concert photos to post. In closing, if you like Band of Horses and get a chance to see them live, they're definitely worth seeing!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weekend Report

I had a busy weekend in Melbourne, which included the following activities:

I went to see Tim Burton: The Exhibition, which has traveled to Melbourne from MoMA in New York. The exhibition featured a plethora of delightfully creepy drawings....and one Batmobile!

Checked out the State Library as part of Melbourne Open House. We went to see the normally closed Queen's Hall but were far more impressed with the massive reading room.

Made fresh margaritas from squeezed limes! Apparently margarita mix doesn't exist in Australia, so I resorted to the do-it-yourself method. They were really easy to make and quite tasty but a bit on the dangerous side. The margaritas were followed by a soccer club fundraiser at a Brazilian restaurant- it was one of those cheesy dinner show places, but the food was good (meat on giant stakes, oh boy!) and we all good time (the margaritas probably helped with that). I ate a chicken heart. And since D won a dinner for 4 in the raffle, it looks like we'll be back.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Aggressive agressive notes?

Someone, angered by the state of my building's rubbish room, decided to share their concerns by writing them on the door in permanent marker. It makes me laugh every time I see it. And when I'm done laughing, I throw my trash all over the floor. (just kidding)

I'd consider sending it in to Passive Aggressive Notes, but it doesn't seem very passive, does it?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Movie review: The Secret in Their Eyes

I just saw The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos), which won last year's Oscar for Best Foreign Film. I had high expectations, as I love a good crime drama, and anything that's been described as "a really long, really awesome episode of Law & Order set in Buenos Aires" is bound to be my kind of movie. I was not disappointed. Benjamin Esposito is a retired legal attorney who decides to write a novel based upon the one case he never got out of his head, the brutal rape and murder of a young woman, in which the political corruption of the times (the mid 1970s) interfered with justice. He is not the only one haunted by the case, and soon he reconnects with his former colleague and unrequited love, as well as the victim's still grieving husband. I don't really need to say anything more, but if you are at all intrigued, I strongly recommend that you see the movie- a captivating story, great characters, excellent acting, and enough plot twists to keep viewers intrigued for a full two hours, especially the one at the end (yikes!).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Adventures in Strange Fruit

I went to the market on Saturday and saw an unusual fruit for sale at several stands- the custard apple. First of all, terrible name choice. From the outside, they don't look at all like apples, and if anything, resemble puffy artichokes. On the inside, custard apples have white flesh with big black seeds. They don't taste like apples either- the one I had was slightly underripe (I think) as the firmer sections were a little tough and bland, but the mushier parts were quite pleasant- fruity with a slight tartness. So I imagine that the custard part of the name is probably apt, as it seems you're supposed to eat them when they're squishy.

And don't worry, strange fruit fans, the durian is still next on my list.

As a bonus- here's a simple and delicious recipe for oven baked chicken parmesan. I made it the other night with garlic bread and a salad- so good!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Animal hijinx in the news:

Woman who fears monkeys attacked by...monkeys. (thanks, Ry!)

Drunk Australian injured in an attempt to ride a crocodile.

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem got married- I had no idea they were dating (I can't believe they didn't tell me!) but it makes sense: they're both from Spain, incredibly talented (both have won Oscars), and very very very good looking (not counting Bardem's unfortunate haircut in No Country for Old Men). For movie recommendations, Bardem was fantastic in The Sea Inside and I loved Penelope in Volver.

Lastly, just when I thought that the splendors of the internet had all been revealed to me, I stumbled across this (incredibly extensive) collection of photos of people with slide rules. Enjoy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reviews: one book and one movie

The Book:
So, Oscar Wilde is like, super famous and stuff, but I've never actually read anything by him, until I picked up a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray. As an aside, how much do I love Penguin Books? A lot. At least here in Australia, they've greatly expanded their line of cheapo orange and white paperbacks, which comes in handy because regular paperbacks go for like $30 down under. At the beginning of The Picture of Dorian Gray, we meet the three main characters- Basil, a mild-mannered artist, has become enthralled/obsessed with a young, handsome man named Dorian Gray, whom serves as something of a muse to him- gay subtext much? Basil's friend Lord Henry is a natural mischief maker who likes nothing more than stirring up controversy at dinner parties, and upon seeing Basil's portrait of Dorian, Lord Henry blathers on of the fleeting power of innocence and beauty. Dorian makes a wish for the portrait to grow old, rather than him, and it comes true, and the story turns into a gentlemanly horror tale. In spite of a few tedious sections, I did enjoy the book, and found Lord Henry particularly entertaining- full of quotes like this: "To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable."

The movie:

The Cove, is a 2009 documentary about the killing of dolphins in the small Japanese fishing town of Taiji. Considering that I eat meat and have "sacrificed" rodents in the name of science, I may be somewhat of a hypocrite for siding with the filmmakers, but overall, it's a very informative, powerful, and well-filmed documentary. Ric O'Barry, who captured trained the dolphins for the tv show Flipper, eventually determined that dolphins suffer in captivity and has spent the majority of his life as an activist working on their behalf- protesting their capture and risking arrest to free them. The majority of captive dolphins come from a coastal village in Japan, where they are herded into shore and netted- however, only a small percentage are sold live, and the rest are brutally slaughtered in a hidden and heavily guarded cove. O'Barry and a team of activists and filmmakers (and free divers) aim to plant cameras and capture the slaughter in action, hoping that video proof of the killings will help put an end to the practice. In addition, the film also devotes time to the political aspects of whaling, painting the Japanese government as the clear villain and the International Whaling Commission as imbeciles for refusing to regulate dolphins and other small cetaceans (word of the day!). The Cove is certainly not a cheerful movie, but it is an interesting and effective one.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Giant microbes!

I learned of Giant Microbes, a company that makes stuffed animal versions of viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms several years ago, but I was pleased to discover last week that they have greatly expanded their catalogue. I even found two of the bacteria I work with- Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus. So of course I bought them. I was tempted to buy Neisseria gonorrhoeae and mail it to someone as a gag gift, but I managed to restrain myself.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Weekend in Sydney

I had a great weekend with Kris, Rodd, and Dean in Sydney- the weather is still fairly cool, but at least the sun was shining. We arrived Friday afternoon and spent most of that time wandering around and bar hopping in the Chippendale (heh) and Glebe neighborhoods. Saturday, we went to a local food market for breakfast and then flew kites at Sydney Park, which is built on top of a former brickworks. Well, one of the kites flew quite readily whereas the other one seemed to prefer crashing itself into the ground. Saturday night, we ate dinner at the delicious thai restaurant Spice I Am- where we saw a contestant from Masterchef Australia, a super popular cooking reality show. Later that night, D and I went to a joint Canada Day/4th of July party.

On Sunday morning, Kris and I went for a 7K run through the city, which made me feel a lot less guilty about the pig-out that ensued. We had lunch for the 4th of July at the Blue Plate Bar & Grill, an American restaurant with offerings such as Chicago deep dish pizza and Philly cheese steaks on the menu. And they even serve Sam Adams! (I had one.) We ordered three appetizers (hey, don't judge- it's not every day you can find buffalo wings and potato skins down here) and I had the gumbo for lunch. The whole meal was quite enjoyable.

My conference began last night- highlights included a seminar from a nobel prize winner, the society president announcing my name as Elaine when he handed out my travel award, and a lady who touched my face because she thought my black eye was smudged makeup.

In other weekend news, the four of us are now officially hooked on True Blood, because nobody does vampire smut quite like HBO.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

4th of July

Last year, I spend the 4th of July frolicking in Newport and staging murder scenes at the polo grounds. (What?) This year, I'll be attending the Australian Society for Microbiology's annual meeting in Sydney, where my black eye and I will be giving a talk on Tuesday. The fun part is that I'm heading up a couple days early to hang out with Kris and Rodd, and D is coming along to meet my friends. Kristy's made us reservations at an American-themed restaurant (not McDonald's) for the 4th, and it Looks delicious! Nachos and wings and po' boys, oh my.

Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!