Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Geordie and the Vogt family visit Darwin

At the start of April, Gideon and I had our first, and hopefully not last, guests. Geordie, Sophie and Monsier et Madame Vogt decided to take a risk on the wet season ending in time and came up to Darwin to take advantage of the school holidays and the semi-free accomodation. It was wonderful to finally have someone come up and see where we live, and to have an excuse to do some of the touristy things ourselves!

I was really impressed with their efforts. In one week they managed to fit in campervanning and touring in Katherine, Kakadu (hours and hours of driving) and Litchfield Park (swimming in waterfalls), dinners at some of Darwin's icons - Stokes Hill Wharf, Cullen Bay and Hog's Breath Cafe (juicy steaks and curly fries), a walk in the botanical gardens, visits to the Art & Museum Gallery (experienced the Cyclone simulation), spending money at the mango winery and throwing bread at fish feeding (a highlight for me too)!

Thanks Geord & Soph for organising the trip, it was lovely to see you and your family and get to do some sightseeing! :)

Here are a few photos. Although, I'm pretty sure that Sophie & Geordie's will be better!

Claude and Sophie sample the very very warm water,
while avoiding the stingers.
At the beach next to the Darwin Museum & Art Gallery.

Mr Photographer

Sophie feeding the fish.

Fish Frenzy

More Fish

Sunset in Darwin

Last night in Darwin.
Dinner at Hog's Breath
Note the big on yours truly
It was the ribs!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fanatic Hard at Work

My local Dymocks stores tells me that there are 91 days left until the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out in 91 days. According to the countdown --> ... there are only 89 days! In addition, Order of the Phoenix comes out at the cinema a few days before!

Of course, there is Spider-Man 3. Just in case you've missed the advertising juggernaut. Only a couple of weeks left!

Hope all of you in Melbourne have managed to make it to at least one show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I'm extremely devastated not to be working at the box office again this year. :( On a happier note, we are booked in to see the Melbourne Comedy Roadshow on the 3rd of May (yes, they even come to Darwin), and then my favourite comedian of all time, Ross Noble, on the 13th of June. I believe Ross is doing a motorcycling tour of Australia, doing gigs here and there, and filming it for a tv show.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Movie ramblings

Just got up after midday... perfect thing to do on the weekend. Am now eating blackforest flavoured yoghurt for breakfast - hmm... not quite as successful as the chocolate. Probably go out for sushi for lunch today... yummm... the local sushi train place has $3 for all plates on Saturday, and lunch runs from 11 to 4! Otherwise no other plans. Wouldn't mind seeing the latest Danny Boyle, Sunshine. Maybe some shopping. Probably play Civilization IV.

Last weekend we finally got around to organising the web of cables in the study. It's ridiculous how many there are. We had been putting it off because we were waiting for someone to come and fix the desk from when it was broken in the move. 3 months later, and they finally came to look at it, only to say that it can't be fixed and will have to be replaced. Anyway, here are some photos of our efforts!

Mmmm....nice and tidy. Not a knot of cords in sight.

Note the mess of power cables... after we tidied them up!
That's 3 power boards.
And Gideon's brand spanking new laptop...mmm... shiny.
It has disco lights, that's my sort of computer!

I was recently most chuffed to discover that two of the songs I heard at the start of the credits of two different movies, that I thought sounded like my two favourite singers, were in fact so, on each occasion (yes, I know, too many segments to this sentence). Rob Thomas sings the song "Little Wonders" from Meet the Robinsons and Sarah McLachlan sings "Ordinary Miracle" from Charlotte's Web... just marvellous.

Oh, and I just noticed that the Curse of the Golden Flower is opening in Darwin this week. I had thought that it would not be mainstream enough to play... so I'm wrapped! According to Empire Magazine, it overtook Titanic for highest earnings at the Chinese Box Office. It's the latest Zhang Yi Mou / Gong Li movie... they haven't made one in years, but they are always good....Raise The Red Lantern - just exquisite.

Geordie & the Vogts trip to Darwin coming your way next blog.

Now, for some reviews:



Meet the Robinsons: 3.75/5

Cast: relative unknowns

In a Nutshell: Best Disney computer animation yet, but not quite as good as Pixar.

Brief Synopsis: Orphan Inventor is chased by an evil man from another time and in the process finds a place to belong.

After seeing the shorts, I was very reluctant to go see this one - it looked like a nice try from those Disney computer animators, but a little too much like trying to be the Incredibles, and ending up like Chicken Little. Happily, I was proved wrong. It has a lot to live up to in the CGI stakes (Incredibles, Shrek, Nemo) and doesn't quite make it, but it gets close. Extremely enjoyable, sometimes funny, sometimes quirky, sometimes sappy and mostly imaginative, Meet the Robinsons manages to bring a modern slant to The Jetsons with a touch of the Incredibles thrown in. Worth a watch, but it'd be ok to wait for DVD.

Becoming Jane: 3/5

Cast: Anne Hathaway (Princess Diaries), James McAvoy (Last King of Scotland)

In a Nutshell: Competent effort

Brief Synopsis: The story of English literary icon Jane Austen

So much potential, and yet it fails to score much more than an average. It could have been a Shakespeare In Love, but instead it was another Miss Potter. Perhaps the problem is that the first half of the movie is much like a sub-standard Pride & Prejudice, nowhere near the league of the most recent BBC series, or the Kiera Knightly movie. Thankfully, it eventually starts to deviate, and that is where it starts to get a bit more interesting, and even still, it does not really take off. There is not enough chemistry between the two main antagonists, and their secret affair is somewhat unconvincing. McAvoy (as much I like to watch him on screen) is not manly or foreboding enough and Hathaway, while quite good, is not quite vunerable enough. It's a reasonable attempt, but the standards of P&P or S&S fans are much too high.



Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America for Make Benefit of Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan: 1.75/5

Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G)

In a Nutshell: Mockumentary, with mostly crass humour with light sprinklings of irony.

Brief Synopsis: Borat, a news reporter from Kazakstahn, goes on a road trip across the USA

I am sorry to say that I am a witless, apolitical ignoramus who didn't quite get this movie. I was waiting for the scenes that would have me in stitches and tears, as I was lead to believe would happen, but instead I just found it crass and mostly quite painful to watch. There were a couple of scenes that I thought were quite clever and funny, but they were quite rare, and that over the top mocking humour really wore thin quickly. Sorry.

Charlotte's Web: 3.25/5

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Oprah, Cedric the Enteratiner, Kathy Bates, Reba McIntyre, Thomas Haden Church, Robert Redford, Andre 3000
In a Nutshell: Fun and fuzzy

Brief Synopsis: Runt pig is saved from being put down, but must enlist the help of a spider to attempt to keep out of the smoke house.

It's just rather lovely. Nothing extraordinary, much like what I was expecting, a modern version of the cartoon version - but it's a well loved formula, so why change it? The animation with live actors works pretty well, there are only a couple of moments where the CGI of the pig looks a bit wonky. The huge cast of voices was picked perfectly - the boy who plays Wilbur is just gorgeous. In the end, it doesn't diverge much from E. B. White's story, and that's just the way it should be.

Love Wrecked: 1.5/5

Cast: Amanda Bynes (She's the Man), Chris Carmack (The OC)

In a nutshell: Annoying and stupid

Brief Synopsis: Girl gets shipwrecked with the singer she has a crush on, and omits to tell him that they are on the other side of the island from their hotel.

I really like Amanda Bynes, she is a very talented comic actor. However, doing this movie was not a good move. The story line sounds kinda fun, but being stuck on an island in a strange kind of teenage stalking situation does not an entertaining movie make. I should have known better.

Step Up: 2/5

Cast: Channing Tatum (She's the Man), Jenna Dewan (Take the Lead), Rachel Griffiths (Muriel's Wedding)

In a nutshell: Just so many other boy-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks-does-good-and-learns-how-to-become-a-champion-dancer/athlete-in-a-ridiculously-short-time,-and-perhaps-gets-the-girl movies.

Brief Synopsis: Delinquent hip-hopper doing community service in an Arts College somehow ends up as the dance partner of a trained dancer and must learn the ropes quickly.

Too much like so many other movies of the same genre. Take the Lead, Save the last Dance... even The Cutting Edge. There's absolutely nothing new here at all. The two leads are nice to look at, but Channing Tatum spends the whole movie mumbling, which is really annoying. Only thing in it that I liked was Mario's acting turn.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Melbourne, my love.

Finally - I've got my arse into gear. Here's the down low on my recent trip to Melbourne. Some highlights and photos.

Hmmm...Where to start? In the words of Sista Maria: "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start."


I arrived in Melbourne at 6.30pm to a rainy Melbourne wearing a thermal top and a fleece (possibly a little bit overkill). The rain was unexpected, but a welcome surprise. After a lead weight nap and a few errands, I turned on Hen's night mode.

Stop 1: Lisa's Hen's Night @ Secret Garden of Dance, Camberwell.
What's going on here then?

After a laughter filled salsa, barn dance and an alternative version of musical chairs, I left the girls at Lisa hen's party to move on to my next hen's party.

Stop 2: Karen's Hen's night @ Imperial Hotel, Chapel St
Time for chatter, food & drink

The proud mother-in-laws-to-be: Moira & Ann

Mmm......Michelle, Marika & Mariela

The glamourous Daniella & Marika

Lovely ladies Renee, Mandy & Jasmine

Stop 3: Room 321, The Como, Chapel St
Change of venue to let the Three Minue Angels work their magic.

Karen, the gorgeous bride-to-be
Complete with glass of champagne, flashing sash
and tshirt displaying most unflattering photograph of Stuart
Next, an aerobics class... No, not really.
Sarah from Pole Divas (the sexy chick in the skin tight hot pink singlet and black leggings) came by and gave us a lesson in lap dancing. Surprisingly it was heaps of fun and all of the girls really got into learning how to strut their stuff!

To cap off the night, we headed back to the Imperial for some reminiscent clubbing. Hitting the dance floor with D, Tan & Kaz took me right back to Lemon Lime Vodkas at Redheads! They even played my favourite dance song for the moment: Put your hands up for Detroit. It was an awesome time! Huge kudos to Amanda and Jasmine for all of their hard work to make it a seamless and adventurous night despite the many hiccups.

GOURMET SUNDAY (aka Fat Sunday)

Sunday morning I caught up with the Pons in their new Doncaster residence. Absolutely love the house. And Jessica & Christopher, you are the most well mannered children ever! And thanks Brendan & Beatriz for the hugest and yummiest of breakfasts!

Christopher, Brendan, Daniella, Jessica & Gayle.

Next it was on to Plume to catch up with my family and see if I could fit any more food into my stomach. As it turns out, yes I could. Hard to go past Yong Tofu and Char Siu Bao's at Plume.

Then for dinner it was to Donovans, St Kilda, for Katherine's Birthday (apologies for lack of photos). I have always wanted to go to Donovans, as it has long been an icon on the Melbourne culinary scene, and I wasn't disappointed. Despite the fact that it seats 120 people, the dining area feels like the dining room of a friend's beach house. It's cosy, without being squashy. The meals, ranging from grilled prawns to fish to pasta to chicken pie were all delicious. And the service was amazing. We were quite blown away, when after ordering a peppermint tea and commenting that she should have ordered a chamomile tea to go with the honey, the waitress happily offered to exchange it for her. I would say that Katherine, Amy, Monica, Cheryl and I were all in agreement that Donovans definitely lived up to its reputation.


AXA peoples catchup: Me, Lulu, Truc, Canny, Matt & (Anna)

Little Person's Catchup: Zoe (& Katherine)

Zoe again... she's so cute!

There were many more catchups and dancing sessions including Lebop at Ashburton, Timon visiting from Japan, the Brunswick gang at Thaila Thai (just as good as it ever was), Anna with the atrocious parking in Fitzroy, lunch with Tania and dayspa'ing with D. I won't list them all, but thanks to everyone for the brunches, lunches, dinners and making some time to catch up, it was a really lovely week.

Wedding #1
Lisa and Ben got married on Saturday 31st March at the Sacred Heart on Rathdowne St Carlton. With such a beautiful church and Lisa looking radiant in white, I had tears in my eyes even before she started walking down the aisle. The reception was a cocktail affair at the Mandalay in Northcote. The speeches were an absolute highlight. They were all so composed and heart felt, I think I cried through all of them... I hoped that my tear quota had been used up in preparation for the next day. A gorgeous venue, with way too much food and an awesome play list! It was difficult to leave.

Ben & Lisa's wedding dance
Photo c/- Susie (thanks Suse!)

Wedding #2

Karen & Stu were married on a glorious day at The Boulevard, Kew on April 1st. The ceremony was held outside in the sun. As beautiful as it was, with the sun shining on my back, I began to feel uncomfortably hot... but then I looked at the groomsmen and was thankful that all I was wearing was wearing only a dress. It was the perfect day though, from start to finish. Being lucky enough to be part of the bridal party, I was able to follow the couple around one their big day. Here are just some of the photos.

Jasmine gets her hair done by Jila who did such a wonderful job with all of us.

Amanda also gets glamourised before we head off to Myer for makeup at MAC.

Jasmine & Ann give Karen a helping hand with her dress.
Meanwhile Karen, already looking slendiferous,
has a celebratory champagne to ease the nerves.

Karen - elegant, stunning, beautiful!

A high five for moral support from nephew Xavier

The gorgeous and newly married Mr and Mrs Wales, Studley Park

The Johnston Family
Lara, Amanda, Xavier, Paul, Suzy (the dog), Stu, Karen, Phil & Ann

Three very green Bridesmaids: Me, Amanda, Jasmine

The handsome groomsmen take a few mintues out.
Andrew, Richard, Dave and Stu.

Happily married for a few hours now.
Karen & Stu outside the Rivoli.

Back at the reception, everyone joins in with the Scottish dancing.
With reels and doseedoing called, it kept us dancing until the end of the night.

Frank (on loan from Daniella) & I join the dancing.

A self portrait of sorts!
Not sure what is going on here.

What a big day!
Paul, Tania, Me & Daniella

AND THAT WAS IT! My trip to Melbourne... more or less! xoxox

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Welcome Change of Pace

Hi Everyone!

Hope you all had a restful and safe Easter.

Sorry to those who have been checking for updates and photos. I promise they are not too far off, but it might still be a few days before I get my act together.

My trip to Melbourne was a whirlwind event, and it was so wonderful to catch up with so many people (Photos and commentary to come) and do so many fun things. Then on return, in fact, on the flight back, Gideon & I finally got our first visitors, in Geordie, Sophie and the Vogts.

I must say it is nice to be back in Darwin - I am really getting used to this slower pace of life! The fact that I'm now working for a Government Department might be a compounding factor -Heheh ;D Just last night we went for a run (to the casino and back), and then jumped into the pool to cool down - it was just delicious to float in the pool at 7.30 at night and stare at the stars in the clear skies above. I guess Darwin really is home now.

It has been both good and bad finally getting a job. Bad, well, because I have to actually spend a set number of hours at work every day! Good, because it's lovely to be earning money, meeting new people and getting the old cogs whirring again. My new job is as a Senior Project Officer for the Department of Health and Ageing, in the Health Strategies unit. The first day, last Wednesday, was boring as - I didn't have LAN access yet, and the didn't really seem to know quite what to do with me to begin with. Plus, I was coming down with a cold after having partied too hard in Melbourne then spending the Tuesday gallavanting around Darwin as a tourist (photos to come), so it was hard to concentrate. Thursday I took a sickie (how slack is that!). Then it was the Easter long weekend! Finally this week I have managed to string a couple of days of work together, so I'm starting to feel a bit more normal. Anyway, it's good to be back in the work force!

Anyway, just wanted to log in and let you know I haven't forgotten you! There will be a few long blog entries coming your way shortly, filled to the brim with photos and movie reviews!

Chao Chicas y Chicos!
Love g