Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Art opening

I just received some great photos from an art opening I attended a few weeks ago.

The artist, Billy Atkins, is from Western Australia and he came all the way to Melbourne with his daughter for the opening. He is quite the character and has the most cheeky smile.

His paintings (and the stories they depict) are really fascinating: from goannas that are transforming into trees to cannibalistic beings that live beneath the saltpans of Lake Disappointment.

Here, he is explaining to me the creatures depicted in a painting I bought. The centipede represents his sister, Gracie (whose story was captured in Phillip Noyce's film 'The Rabbit-Proof Fence").

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday bar crawl

8pm: Atrium Bar, Sofitel Hotel.

10pm: Bond Bar.

11pm: Robot.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Paid for Pipefish

I went to St Kilda pier today to collect pipefishes for research. The seagrass beds are teaming with these seahorse relatives. And, like seahorses, it's the male pipefishes that undergo 'pregnancy' and give birth. We were collecting them for a genetic study. It was a beautiful day for fieldwork: sunny, warm. However, as is typical with any kind of fieldwork in the city, people get very curious about what we were doing and soon gathered around our nets asking questions.

Curious bystander: "Are they garfish?"
Me: "No. They're pipefish."
Curious bystander: "Are you going to eat them?"
Me: "No. We're doing research on them"
Curious bystander: "Do you actually get paid for this?"
Me: "Absolutely."
Curious bystander: "Wow."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tour guide

I've been playing host to international visitors for the last week. Just as one left, another two have arrived. I've been stepping into 'tour guide' mode. Looking at aboriginal art at the National Gallery of Victoria, checking out graffitti and stencil art in lane ways, shopping on Brunswick Street, eating in St Kilda. Took my friends to the Greyhound last night. Straight male friend didn't dance but straight female friend couldn't get off the dance floor. Typical. Both had a blast but boy are my legs sore this morning. I think I'm getting old. Chapple street today (and maybe a revisit to Brunswick to try the Little Creature dining hall).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spicy sichuan

Ever done something stupid which turned out to be a blessing in disguise?

Yesterday, my friend and I left work early to go for dinner. We ended up hopping onto the bus...that was going in the opposite direction of where we had intended to go. By the time we realised our mistake (which took a lot longer than either of us would care to admit), we decided to just go along for the ride and ended up in Box Hill.

Once we arrived at our unexpected destination, we went for a bit of a wander, a reconnaissance to suss out our dining options. Thankfully my early childhood mandarin lessons paid off and I spotted two familiar chinese characters which told me that one of the restaurants we were contemplating served 'sichuan' food. My chinese literacy is confined to the recognition of maybe 20 characters so I was extremely proud of my achievement.

Knowing that Sichuan cuisine is known for its spice and that my friend likes all things spicy, we decided to give the restaurant a try. We ordered three dishes between us. All were laced with chilli and sichuan peppercorns and were very, very spicy (and salty and laden with MSG). At one stage, I felt the left side of my tongue go numb from the spice but the dishes were extremely tasty (probably due to the MSG). It was definitely an unforgettable dining experience. And yes, I am suffering for it this morning but I reckon it was worth it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Authentic Mexican

After years of searching, I've finally found a Mexican restaurant that serves authentic Mexican cuisine (on Johnstone Street). No more Tex-Mex for me! Bring on the real flavours of Meso-America! The whole tex-mex phenomenon is really baffling to me. The real stuff is so much better.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Acting your age

It seems that people spend a heck of a lot of time and effort to hide their true age. Young people want to look older. Old people want to look younger. When you're young, it is flattering to be mistaken for being older. And when your older, it's flattering to be mistaken for being younger. But when you're in your 30s, it's not terribly nice to be mistaken for a senior citizen. Or at least that's what Nathan tells me. A couple of days ago a stranger on the tram offered his seat for Nathan to sit down. At first Nate thought the guy was getting off at the next stop but then realised that the man had mistook him for an older gentleman. I really should be more supportive but when Nathan told me the story I couldn't help but burst into laughter.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Court

The conference is over and I'm about to head back to the east coast (and the three hour time, getting to work on Monday morning is going to be tough).

The conference dinner was held on the last evening of the conference on Friday night. It was listed in the conference program as starting at 7pm and finishing 'late' which, in Perth, was midnight. So...after being ushered out of the conference centre by some very surly security guys and then taking my very drunk PhD student back to his hotel, I met up with some other colleagues at The Court Hotel for some dancing.

The Court Hotel is probably the least gay nightclub I had ever been to. I'm not sure if it was an unusual evening (participants from The University Games were also in town) but the people making out (and taking up valuable space) on the dance floor were mostly straight couples. Still, it was fun dancing with my biologist friends (we are all so terribly geeky and uncoordinated). At about 2am, surly security guys once, again, started ushering us, this time, out into the courtyard as they were about to close the bar and dance floor inside (what is it with early closing times and security guys in WA?). It had been a long day of conferencing so we decided to head back to our respective hotels.