Monday, March 31, 2008

Cat vomit and Whitney Houston

Was chatting this morning with a girl on the train whom I had spoken with from time to time in the past. The last time, she was telling me about her cat vomitting just as she was about to head out the door to go to work. This time she filled me in on more cat vomit stories. It seems like her cat is prone to vomitting fur balls and half eaten lizards. The coversation continued from the train to the bus stop. By this stage, we had progressed (?) onto last night's episode of "So you think you can dance". Apparently, Kate is her favourite. And we were both wondering what the hell was going on with Reece's see through outfit. By now, we had been joined by another friend of hers (who was on the same train). Cat girl started talking about Kate's performance last night dancing to 'Queen of the Night' by Whitney Houston. She turned to her friend and asked "You like Witney Houston don't you?" The friend looked a little embarrassed. "I cant believe you just asked me that on the bus," she replied. Apparently the friend didn't know the song so cat girl started to sing it to her. Cat girl rocks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The weekend that was...

I had a truly enjoyable easter this year. It started off on Thursday evening with drinks at the Queensberry Hotel (Nate's former work colleagues had organised farewell drinks for him). On Friday, we headed off to the country to visit Nate's family. Had a great time on the farm. Enjoyed the best pizza ever at the Yarragon pub. Came back on Sunday to catch up on some work. Sigh. I reckon I could have spent the whole weekend there. That night, Nate and I headed off to my favourite roast duck place on Little Bourke Street. The place was packed and we had to share a table with a chinese guy. It turns out that he was from Canada and was travelling across Asia and Australia for a year (he had just arrived in Melbourne from Tassie where he had spent a few weeks working as a fruit-picker). We ended up all going out for ice cream together at South bank. Funny how these things pan out sometimes. Had no idea we'd be meeting an interesting stranger on a casual evening out for tea. On Sunday, we caught up with Nate's former housemate, Penny, and a friend of her's from WA. We went to the delightful Waterfront Restaurant which is a fantastic seafood place situated in the Crown entertainment complex. For once, I actually ordered seafood (instead of the 700 gram Argentinian cut rib which I usually order everytime I go there). Delicious. Dinner was followed by a stint in the Velvet Lounge inside Crown (home of the giant cocktail). I had an extra day off work today so I did some grocery shopping and then caught up with the Canadian guy. Took him to chapel street to my favourite chai place, The Globe cafe. Am now at work (yes...on my off day). Sigh. Am only going to spend a couple of hours here though. Promise.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The talking guy on the bus...

The train was running late today and I decided to hop off at an earlier station so that I could catch the bus to work. When I eventually got onto the bus I noticed the geeky-looking guy who always seems to be engaged in some kind of conversation with a random commuter. This time he was talking to a first year science student about classical music. I have seen him enough times to know that he will strike up a conversation with anyone who happens to sit near him and no topic seems to be off limits (last time, he was probing a young asian woman about her religious beliefs). It amuses me to see that he is completely unaware of the body language of the people that he talks to.. He will persist until they relax their shoulders and start to open up to him. It is a fantastically wonderful process to watch. Most of us, I think, are too painfully self-aware to engage with strangers at that level. And I think it is sad because we are conditioned to be self conscious, to feel shame or embarrassment, to learn what is acceptable conversation with strangers and what is not. This guy on the bus seems to have retained the characteristics that most of us tend to display as young children...daring, unafraid and uncomfortably confronting. It's no wonder that he manages to entice a smile out of even the most steeley-looking of commuters.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The good genes

My dad is a supermarket-holic and his sister is one too. A supermarket-holic is someone who visits the local supermarket every day just to keep tabs on the produce prices and to swoop down on any discounted meat or vegetables. My dad will scour the local supermarkets for the best price on nectarines or chicken or sugar snap peas, without even a second's thought on the cost of his time or petrol. Nothing will bring him more joy than knowing he can save 50 cents on an egg plant by shopping at the Woolworths in Woden, as opposed to the Coles in Tuggeranong. I suspect he even keeps an eye on the use-by dates on the refrigerated chickens so he knows exactly when to turn up when they go on sale. The only thing I am quite sure he doesn't do is 'dumpster-dive' for free produce (thank God). Dad is in no way a stingy man and he is not trying to be frugal either (otherwise he would have factored in the petrol prices). Nope...I think it simply brings him joy to buy lots and lots of discounted supermarket stuff (his version of retail therapy I guess)

Anyhow, my dad's antics had never given me much cause for concern until recently as I'm now beginning to suspect that my dad's behaviour might be heritable. You see, on Sunday, I found myself venturing out into the sweltering heat to loiter at the fresh meat section of the newly opened Coles' supermarket at southern Cross Station hoping to buy discounted chickens. And it's not like they were some special sort of chicken either. Not free range nor corn-fed. Just the regular, mass-produced farmed-lot type. But the joy. Oh the joy of finding a chook that was a dollar off. And by the way, the beans were also a dollar cheaper than the Safeway in the city....

"T" for me.

Went out for brekky on Saturday and ended up carting home a big letter 't' from the Chapel Street Bazaar. It's about 1 meter tall, is made out of shiny white perspex, and I think the font is helvetica. The woman at the cashier asked if my name began with 't'. I said 'no'. I handed over the cash, walked out the shop, and dragged it to Prahran station where I boardered the crowded train back to the city. Somewhere near Melbourne Central, a saw a woman take a photo of me with her mobile phone. I got off at Southern Cross. People were still staring. I tucked the 't' under my right arm, walked out of the station and made my way through the crowd, back to the apartment.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bun Bo Hue

Most people are familiar with the delectable vietnamese beef noodle soup known as pho. Well, it turns out that there is another kind of tasty vietnamese noodle soup which originated in Hue, the old imperial capital of Central Vietnam. It's name is Bun bo hue and is absolutely delicious. The problem is that I've had a really hard time finding a place that sells it. I had my first tast of BBH last year with my cousins somewhere in Sydney on mardi gras weekend. Since then, I 've scoured Melbourne trying to find it and finally I did. Last weekend. I wolfed it down in seconds. The owner of the restaurant was most surprised by the speed in which I had devoured it. Coming up to the weekend, I reckon I might make another trip back to the restaurant for another helping.

Nice surprise...

After being booted from Video Hits following his penis-revealing antics at the Arias in 2006, I'm glad to see that Axel Whitehead has gone and released this catchy little number...

Hot hot hot

Melbourne is in the midst of a heat wave. I think I'm melting. And yesterday on the train home from work, the air conditioning wasn't working...a trainful of sweaty, grumpy commuters is not a great way to end the day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I wonder what they're really like

I'm beginning to wonder how often the same people keep popping up in our lives without us ever knowing. Humans are creatures of habit and in our daily wanderings, I am sure that the same sets of people are constantly crossing paths. Sometimes we take note by virture of what these people look like or what they do. A good example is the young asian woman I keep seeing walking her dog on Collins street on my way to Southern Cross Station . And then there is the security guard at the NGV who I keep bumping into outside the NGV. We are on first name basis now (her name is Mary) and she gives me a hug whenever she sees me. But the people that I am most intrigued about are the people who share my twice-daily commute to and from work. It took me two years to strike up a conversation with the oragami guy (whom I now know as Darren). Oragami guy waited on the same platform as me every morning with colourful paper in hand, busily folding the most amazing geometrical objects. An initial nod of acknowledgement soon turned to a smile every now and then, before finally proceeding to a conversation one day when our train failed to turn up. Recently, I've been intrigued by another fellow commuter. the girl with the nose ring who gets on my train at Flinders Street. She has a cool collection of t-shirts with interesting slogans (one of them says "Show me your riffs"). She tends to stand by the door, walks to work from the train station, and ocassionally she bakes cakes (on those days she tends to jump onto the connecting bus). She seems quiet but nice. Importantly, she is intriguing...her physical appearance doesn't seem to sit with her cake baking antics. I'd love to get to chat with her sometime. Maybe one day...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Mardi gras highlights...

In my limited experiences to date, the highlight of going to Sydney for the gay and lesbian mardi gras has definitely not been mardi gras itself. In 2006, for example, I decided to go for sushi before the actual parade and by the time I finished, the crowds had swelled to such an extent that the only spot I managed to find along the entire parade route was right at the end where the floats turn off all their bright lights and cheery music. Then, in 2007, I thought I'd give the gras another go and made plans well in advance to get to Sydney. And once again, I ended up prioritizing food. This time I ditched the parade altogether, and settled for beef of another kind. Prime angus to be exact, chargrilled to rare perfection at a steakhouse in the CBD. No, the highlight of mardi gras for me has definitely not been the mardi gras so far. The Archibald Prize for Portraiture at the Art Gallery of NSW comes a close second (after food). It's always exciting to see just what makes it on the walls (and there is always controversy to boot). I didn't get to Sydney this year (having given up on the idea of finding a good vantage point to see the mardi gras) but I did check out the archibald finalists on the net. Today, they announced the winner. Hmmmm....

Monday, March 3, 2008

Terrific Tasmania

Spent a few days last week with Nathan in Tasmania for a bit of rest and relaxation. Hobart, the capital, is a beautiful city nestled at the base of Mt. Wellington. I love the houses which reminded me of the dwellings in Boston.

We flew into Hobart late on Tuesday night and spent Wednesday wandering around the city, checking out the art galleries. On Thursday, Nate and I rented a car and headed out to the historic penal settlement of Port Arthur (which was also the site of one of Australia's worst massacres in 1996 when a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage and took 35 innocent lives). Port Arthur was an amazing place to visit and the whole tourist operation was extremely slick. We went on our guided tour and ferry ride and then spent several hours strolling through the settlement. We got back to Hobart in the early evening and decided to head up to Mt. Wellington. It was a breathtaking (and a little scary) ride up to the summit. When we reached the top, the clouds had completely enveloped the summit. It was dark and windy and sleety.

We took advantage of the late return of the car on Friday morning to head out to the Cadbury chocolate factory. There, we went on a tour and ate lots of chocolate. Unfortunately, recent OHS regulations put an end to the practice of grabbing and consuming handfuls of chocolates during the tour itself. I think the cadbury tour was the highlight for Nathan. After returning the car back in the city, Nate and I hiked up to the Botanical Gardens which is arguably one of the nicest in Australia. They even had a collection of subantarctic plants in a speacial greenhouse equipped with sea spray and the sound of nesting albatrosses!

Back in the big city again, with its heavy traffic and huge crowds and long queues.