Friday, January 30, 2004

Goodnight, Sweetheart

I'll be out of blogging action for the next 10 days or so - won't have access to a computer till I start my new job on Monday 9 Feb. Canberra, here I come! I'm looking forward to a new beginning and checking out some unfamiliar scenery. I've lived in Perth all my life, and have probably gotten a little too comfortable here, so I guess it's about time to make a move somewhere different. Lucerne or Vancouver would have been preferable, but you gotta start somewhere, right?? :)

Catch you soon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Sounds of Then (This is Australia)

Perth's annual SkyShow was held last night in celebration of Australia Day - the biggest fireworks display for Aussie Day in the country, apparently. It's the one day of the year when Perthites flock to vantage points in King's Park and on the shores of the Swan River in huge numbers, usually toting an esky full of beer and a footy. They arrive at the designated area early in the afternoon, and stake out their spot until the "sky lights up" at 8pm, for a 1/2 hour show. I decided to forego the crowds this year and take advantage of the great view from my office building - not quite the same atmosphere as being one of thousands on the foreshore and smelling the gunpowder as fireworks explode, but no fighting for blanketspace!! And I don't regret my choice, either, reading this today - I suppose it doesn't get more Aussie than drunken yobbos starting brawls on a hot summer's night. In the immortal words of Alf Stewart - flamin' galahs...

Continuing on the Australian theme, I was at a friend's place on Sunday night, and we happened across a program all about that perilous place that is our nation, aptly titled "Don't Go There". I think it was filmed with the sole purpose of scaring off any Brits who are thinking of holidaying in or immigrating to Australia. One particular story on the show described the "hellish" experience of a pommie backpacker who decided he would cycle through Kakadu National Park. Yep, that's right - ride a bike through Kakadu. Sounds like SO MUCH FUN. So he takes off on his bike, and surprise, surprise - he gets a puncture. And while he's mending the tyre, he gets rather thirsty and drinks his entire supply of water. Honestly, I think Australian immigration should do basic intelligence tests on visitors so that idiots like this don't make it into the country!!! The rest of the story described this guy's "extreme annoyance" at having to share his tent with mosquitoes (yes, we have mozzies, get some damn Aerogard!) and his very thirsty and hot ride in seek of water.

There were a couple of genuinely scary creatures mentioned on this show, however - like the Funnel Web spider - thank God we don't get them on this side of the country! They are the most venomous spider in the world, are very aggressive, and are big, black and ugly. But wait, there more - they can survive up to 30 hours submerged in water - just when you thought it was safe to take a dip in your pool.... Eeek!

Speaking of scary Aussie beasties brings to mind that great Aussie icon and hero, our very own croc hunter, Steve Irwin. Even scarier than the crocs is the fact that Stevo is probably one of the best-known Australians internationally...I was appalled to see him on a TV screen in the airport at Honolulu recently, while I was waiting for my flight back to Perth. Yes, folks, people the world wide have seen footage of Steve Irwin holding his newly born baby in one arm, with a croc less than a metre away. Worse still, excerpts of an interview in which Stevie was outraged at the media attention and was defending his actions, in the most ocker accent I've ever heard, were also screened across the globe. Seeing those excerpts, I was acutely embarrassed to be an Australian.

Thank goodness that our international reputation can be salvaged by worthy, fearless and intelligent leaders who insist, despite a lack of any evidence whatsoever, that weapons of mass destruction really do exist and our participation in the Iraq "intervention" really was warranted, and courageously follow in America's heedless footsteps. Aussie Aussie Aussie - oi oi oi!!!

Cringeworthy events and actions aside, I am *generally* proud to be an Aussie...we have done some pretty cool stuff...and most of the time we're not such bad folks...

Thursday, January 22, 2004

My Favourite Things - Part I: Movies

I have a bit of spare time on my hands at the moment (haven't received any work from Canberra yet, and noone around here wants me to get involved in any of their matters since I'll be gone soon...and, btw, I am booked on a flight on Wednesday 4 February - so soon!) so I thought I would indulge and write the first in a series of rundowns on various categories of my favourite things! I'll try to limit each list to 10. We'll start with movies, in no particular order (there are so many great movies, each of which I like for different reasons).

The Princess Bride: As Fred Savage's grandfather says at the beginning of the film, this movie has everything - fencing, fighting, revenge, an evil prince, true love, shrieking eels, rodents of unusual size - the works! This is a timeless movie that I can watch over and over again, and it never fails to cheer me up. Great for a laugh.

Clue: A madcap caper! Based on the boardgame "Cluedo", a number of people are invited for dinner on a stormy night to a scary looking mansion by a mysterious host, who it turns out has been blackmailing each of the guests. A series of murders follow, with everyone who's still alive a suspect, and the butler leads a hilarious chase to find the murderer. Classic quote from Mrs White, when she's discussing her dead (3rd) husband: "men should be like Kleenex - soft, strong and disposable".

Mulholland Drive: I really like David Lynch's bizarre take on things, and love that his movies defy logic and leave you confused and wondering. I enjoy the mystery and unpredictability, and trying to work out how it all ties together. Mulholland Drive is the best I've seen so far of Lynch's work - with a stellar performance from Naomi Watts as the stars-in-her-eyes innocent and hopeful Betty.

Heaven: A beautiful movie. I've yet to see a Cate Blanchett movie that I haven't liked, and this is definitely her best.

The Apartment: One of the things I really appreciate about "non-Hollywood" movies is that generally they rely so much less on dialogue and things being spelled out - it takes a lot more skill to paint a story using imagery, symbolism and filming technique, and it takes actors who can convey their feelings effectively without words. The Apartment is a great example of this - a French film following Vincent Cassel and the love of his life through a series of flashbacks. Brilliant.

Better Off Dead: An obscure 80s teen comedy featuring a very young and cute John Cusack, whose girlfriend has dumped him and is now dating the captain of the school ski team. He's obsessed with winning her back, and his bizarre snow- and jelly-snorting friend, kooky family and neighbours don't make his life any easier. Absolutely hilarious.

The Sound of Music: What a classic movie - they just don't make films like this any more! I loved Julie Andrews in this. A great family film.

Dead Man Walking: I've only seen this movie once, but it made such a huge impact on me, and cemented my abhorrence of capital punishment. Directed brilliantly by Tim Robbins, it's based on the real life experiences of Sr Helen Prejean and her interactions with/counselling of persons on Death Row waiting to receive their lethal injection. It was very emotionally draining to watch, but it was great to see such an honest portrayal of a rapist/killer and his eventual acceptance of his crime and his fate. Excellent performances from Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.

Charade: Cary Grant was a smooth and suave old-school charmer, and Audrey Hepburn - well, she was just graceful and gorgeous. Charade is an entertaining thriller/mystery/romance - a real classic.

The Neverending Story: I loved this movie as a kid. I think there's a bit of Bastian in everyone - we all want to escape reality and find a world where we are the hero. A great fantasy movie.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Bookends Theme

I have a compilation CD of Simon & Garfunkel playing in my car at the moment - what musical geniuses they are (although in my opinion their joint work far outshines their individual pieces, particularly Paul Simon's). There's one particular little melody on the album called "Bookends Theme" which only runs for about a minute, but is one of the saddest little songs I've heard:

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they're all that's left you

It's a really simple song, with vocals accompanied by a single guitar fingerpicking the melody, and nothing else (guitar tab is here for anyone who's a muso). But there's just something about it that never fails to tug at my heart strings a little - perhaps also because the first time I heard it was while watching an episode of The Wonder Years, one of my favourite TV shows, during a particularly poignant scene. (As an aside, there was some brilliant 60s music played throughout Wonder Years episodes - check here.)

Anyways, I can't hear the Bookends Theme without getting a little reminiscent and sad about the days of yore, and thinking back to all those growing up experiences... and this leads me to one of my serious problems - my inability to throw ANYTHING out, for fear of losing the sentimental value attached to it. My family will attest to my disfunctionality in this area - my collection of crap includes all of my old toys and stuffed animals, all of my files and work books and notes from uni, high school, and even primary school (you never know when you might need them!), movie ticket stubs dating back to the early 80s, stationery (I am a big stationery freak - huge collection of patterned envelopes (not that I ever write any letters!), coloured pens, textas, pencils etc etc) and all other kinds of miscellaneous, useless rubbish.

The worst part is, that when I am trying to sort through things and pack things up, I inevitably end up spending the vast majority of my time looking through all this stuff and remembering little incidents associated with them. Like the container full of hole punch punchings that my friend and I were going to make a fortune out of in Year 4 by selling it as confetti. Or the list of Christmas songs with the lyrics rewritten to become songs about the teachers at my primary school. Or the pocket Nintendo games (remember Donkey Kong??) that I used to play when on long car trips with my family.

I blame Simon & Garfunkel entirely. Gotta preserve those memories.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Moving on Up

Well, it's official...I am off to Can-brrrrrr-a, our nation's lovely capital, for a 12 month work jaunt. It has all been organised so quickly - I got back to work here in Perth last Monday, thinking it would be back to business as usual, and my supervisor asked if I'd be interested in taking up a position working with the CEO and executive team in our Canberra office, and could I let him know my decision by the following day (!!!). I'd had a bit of advanced warning, as I was contacted (unofficially) while I was on holidays and told that this position may be available, but I had been pretty sure that the position would've gone to someone else by the time I got back.

So I had a chat to the Director of our office in Perth, and spoke to the person who just finished up in the position. It's a term position - they like to get fairly junior staff to act in the role and get a bit of experience, then move on so that someone else can give it a go for a year. I figured it sounds like a fantastic career move, hobnobbing with the big guns (and hopefully not getting them offside!), and I like the fact that it's gonna involve lots of project-based work relating to the inner cogs and wheels of the organisation. It's gonna be more of a sideways move than an upwards one (career wise and geographically!), but I don't mind this, as I'm not certain that this career is for me anyway.

So, I "expressed my interest" in taking up the position, and next thing I know, I've fallen into it! And because the position has been vacant for a little while (is this a bad sign??), they are keen to get me over to Canberra as soon as possible, which means starting work in Canberra in early Feb. When things happen around here (which is not all that often), by golly they happen fast!

I'm hoping I can handle 12 months in Canberra - I know it's not the most exciting city in the world, and has occasionally been described as somewhat sterile...but I think there'll be lots of young people in a similar situation to me, who are away from their home city and are transient, so hopefully it won't take too long to settle in and get to know a few people. And it's so close to Sydney and Melbourne - will be a great opportunity to catch up with some interstate friends on weekends!! But I am really gonna miss my family, and Perth friends, and the beach...

Friday, January 16, 2004

What's Up

Last Sunday was the hottest January day in Perth in 6 years (got up to 40.5 degrees, I think), so Allen and I decided to wait until late afternoonish to head down to the beach for a swim. I didn't want to hang out at one of the "popular" beaches and have to fight for towel space, so we headed just south of City Beach, to the beach that borders on the dog beach (where I have taken Deefa, my loveable, dopey cocker spaniel a coupla times for a run - too hot for him this day though!) and the crowd was a much more reasonable size. The water was just perfect - clear and a gorgeous shade of aquamarine, and was refreshingly icy. (I must say that beaches in Hawaii just have nothing on Perth beaches - they are much rockier due to the islands being volcanic - I was kinda horrified but amused to find out that all of the sand on what is probably the most popular beach in the world, Waikiki, is imported from Australia!).

So anyways, Al and I are having a bit of a dip, and I notice a couple of women swimming near us, whose husbands are waiting back on the sand for them. One of them looks (and sounds) vaguely familiar, and I realise that she resembles one of the teachers from my old high school, whom I haven't seen for probably 6 years. And this wasn't just any teacher - this was the one that all the guys at school wanted, and all the girls (me included) wanted to be - when I was in year 10, she was fresh out of uni, enthusiastic, intelligent, athletic, blonde and generally gorgeous. So I look over a couple of times, trying to work out if it's her, and figuring that I won't have to talk to her in any event, coz there's no way she'll remember little ol' me. I'm watching discreetly as she gets out of the water and heads up to hubby (noticing, smugly, that she's gained 1 or 2 kilos) and she looks right at me and does this little wave. I kinda just smile and nod, thinking bugger, how do I get out of this awkward situation - am I supposed to go up and say hello, or just play it cool?

So I delay for a little while, as she stands on the beach with hubby and friend couple, looking like they're going to leave...but they don't. So I drag Allen out and say we gotta go say hello, and dry off and delay a little more (after all, can't really interrupt when she's apparently engrossed in conversation with the 3 others...) and eventually hubby and male friend head up the path to the carpark, so I deem it safe to approach. Allen tags along behind, and her friend abandons her as we get closer. We exchange the usual pleasantries, what have you been up to, you must be nearly finished uni by now (yeah, I've been working 2 years now), are you still teaching (yeah but I am 5 months pregnant) - woah, hold up, well I guess that explains the extra kilo or two!!

At the end of the whole conversation I was left feeling, I dunno, a little disappointed that this woman that I just worshipped in high school is living such a "normal" and maybe mundane existence... happily married with hubby and starting a family, still living in Perth and maybe continuing to teach part time once the bub is born. Now, I know this is a perfectly fine and worthy vocation, which many people would totally envy, and if she's happy with it (which she totally seemed to be) then that's great - but to me, a life like that just seems to be lacking - I expected much more earth-shattering and worldly accomplishments and goals from someone that I thought so highly of. I don't want to find myself in that kind of position in 7 years' time - but I am afraid that I'll get to 31, look back and wonder what have I achieved in the last 10 years??! Even worse, I may get there, find that I am still single, and be insanely jealous of my friends who are married and starting a family. And that really scares me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Back to Life, Back to Reality

After 6 weeks of holidaying in LA, the Canadian rockies and Hawaiian islands, it seems like torture to come back to work...but here I am, third day into it, and still alive to tell the story. It feels a bit like starting a new job, coming back here after working 9 months elsewhere on a secondment, although I'm surprised at how static the organisation has been - in a staff of maybe 50, I think there are 3 new faces. There are no free offices here at the moment, so I've been temporarily assigned to a lovely corner office with a WINDOW (a rare and highly desirable commodity here - even if it does look out onto the Terrace rather than the river!) until the permanent (senior staff) occupant of this office gets back from leave in early Feb.

I haven't gotten around to printing out any of my trip photos just yet, or even downloading them... I'm looking forward to showing off my lovely shot of Tom Cruise taken at the Last Samurai premiere in LA!! Sad as it is to admit it, I have to say that being within a metre of Tom was one of the highlights of the trip - what a dead sexy man he is. I've had a thing for him dating back to my first viewing of Top Gun (who could forget that beach volleyball scene, with him AND Val Kilmer - yum!), and although I'd cooled off a little since he split with Our Nicole (like all Aussies, knowing absolutely no facts about the matter, I consider that their split was undoubtedly all his fault, and Nic is blameless. What was he thinking, breaking the heart of a woman of Nicole's calibre?? Shame on you Tom!) he is still right up there.

So when we got the inside word from a guy at our LA hostel that the Last Samurai premiere was on, we bussed our way to the theatre it was screening at (no mean feat, using public transport in LA!) and positioned ourselves at the far side of the barricade cordoning off the red carpet, and hoped to catch a glimpse of the man... It was beyond belief when he actually approached us, and as I was trying to remember how to breathe, Tamara whipped out a dollar bill and ever so coolly asked for his autograph. He looked so hot, with his Last Samurai locks chopped back to short and spikey, and a bit of a five o'clock shadow. What a man!!

I guess I'll have to go see the movie now!

Oh, btw, the "comments" function of my blog is down at the moment - apparently there are some problems with the hosting of Blogspeak - hopefully back to normal soon, but till then you'll just have to hold your tongues!