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Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

OH.MY.GOODNESS!

A friend of mine posted this video on his blog and I had to share it.  I, for one, will never understand cricket even though we’ve been to a match so I got a huge kick out of this farce.  Even if you understand and like the game, you’ll still probably see the humor in this farce.  Enjoy!

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Laura and I are now on year two of our “adventure” and we have learned a lot about Australia, ourselves, and each other.  One thing I love above (almost) all else is Footy or Australian Rules Football (AFL).  I love the game and look forward to watching my Hawthorn Hawks play their game that is more physically grueling than any American sport, more exhilarating for both fans and players alike, and honestly just a better sport than any I have ever seen or played.

I know this is a bold statement due to the fact that I come from America the home of the NFL (National Football League) aka Gridiron to the Aussies, NBA (National Basketball Association), MLB (Major League Baseball) and NHL (National Hockey League) where players and coaches alike are paid not in thousands of dollars but millions and the media portrays the players as if they were Gods….or stars in an upcoming hit TV series.  This has given me one more reason why the AFL is now my number 1 sport.  In the AFL players are ‘big deals’ if they sign million dollar contracts and the most this will be is 1 million per year up to 5 years.  The other thing is that the majority of AFL players are rarely in the news for extra curricular (aka illegal) activities and seem to be very grounded individuals even though they risk brutal injuries and receive major criticism from their fans every week.

Everything revolves around the game for these athletes; they live, eat and breathe footie.  They train like Olympians and they must if they want to play full games which will leave them bruised, battered and drained from running approximately half marathons each game.

You have a great mixture of players, ones like Buddy Franklin, who is by far one of the biggest names in footy right now, and of course plays for the Mighty Hawks.  He can do things that make the men guarding him look like little boys and go on to kick 13 goals in one game!  Then you have players like Sam Mitchell, another legend on the Hawks side, who is a man built for the hard ground work, always seeking out the ball and getting it to the outside players who have the legs and magic to exploit the defenses weaknesses.  Finally you have players like Cyril Rioli, my favorite player, who is a player that does things that are literally out of this world.  Rioli has been called the ‘little wizard’ and ‘little genius’ and rarely goes a full game without doing something spectacular.  This can be anything from turning his opponent inside out on his charge to kick a goal or laying on a tackle that his opponent didn’t even see coming.

I was recently asked if I believe if the AFL could find a home in the good ol’ USA.  I responded by stating that I don’t believe we have the current talent pool that would be needed to play the sport.  The men that play the sport are a mix marathoners, rugby players, soccer players, and footballers.  They play the sport for the love of the game; without pads, little regard for the next game, and for relatively little pay.  The fans are spoiled with fair priced tickets, easily less than $80 per ticket, and a game that hasn’t been tainted with America’s culture of ‘bigger is better’.

I know I’m being harsh on my home country’s sporting culture even though I’ve had years of enjoyment playing and watching many American sports.  They are part of who I am.

But this is about AFL…Footy.  So here is to the Mighty Hawks and the sport I have grown to love.

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This weekend we enjoyed a night out with friends watching the Melbourne Storm — currently first on the ladder — take on the 2nd place Brisbane Broncos.  It was our first live rugby match and we loved every minute of it.  The experience can be summed up as follows:

Learning the rules of the game

One small scuffle that was squashed before it could become an all-out brawl.

Very few hoaky mid-game marketing stunts…although there were cheerleaders and a mascot.

Ended after two seemingly short 45-minute halves.  The clock doesn’t stop except in rare occasions unlike NFL (Gridiron, as they call it here) where it seems there is a TV timeout after nearly every play.

Really solid, large-necked, big-legged, strong-armed men running at each other with ungodly amounts of force and speed.

Un-adulterated brutality.  Imagine NFL without the pads.  So Brutal. 

Great seats at a really cool venue, AAMI park, pronounced “Amy“.

Bundled up in our warm, hooded, winter jackets we felt like we were at a football game at home.

Yes, VICTORY for the Storm!

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We’ve recently had visitors!  My mom, two aunties, an uncle, and my (second) cousin came to visit us in Oz and we had a blast!  Since their stay was only a short nine days I crammed our schedule full of activities.   We hit up the regular tourist spots, of course, and also enjoyed a few things that Ryan and I had not yet done ourselves.

The Puffing Billy Steam Train had been on our list of “to-dos” for some time so we were happy to have the chance to experience it with our family.  According to the website, ‘the railway was one of four low-cost 762mm gauge lines constructed in Victoria in the early 1900s to open up remote areas’.   The train and the stations still have the old-time feel.  In fact, I applied an “antique” filter in my photo editor to some of the photos and it’s not too hard to imagine the train in the 1900’s.

We hopped aboard the line at Belgrave towards Lakeside, through the Sherbrooke forest, over the Trestle Bridge, on to Selby, to Menzie’s Creek, to Clematis, on to Emerald, through Nobelius, and ended in Lakeside (Emerald Lake).  The total train-time was two hours but we also stopped in Lakeside for a quick a coffee and icecream.  Next time I could see bringing a picnic and staying in Lakeside for an afternoon.

The train chugs–albeit rather slowly–through the Dandenong Mountain Ranges so our visitors were able to see the beautiful fern gullies and forests, so different from the mid-west landscape of the US.  Another thing that makes this train special is that you’re allowed to hang your legs outside the carriage.  Side note: As an American I think it’s safe to declare this a major safety hazard, aka liability, as I was regularly poked with branches and could see how losing an eye or a limb wouldn’t be beyond imagination.

As we climbed some of the hills I could almost hear the rhythmic I think I can I think I can I think I can of the train’s engine.  This takes on a whole new level of significance when you’re one of the passengers with legs and arms hanging about, dangling on an old wooden bridge above what looks to be an uncomfortable landing zone.  Still, I joined the others in the experience…when (and only this one time) in Oz, right?

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I celebrated a birthday this month.  21 again, feelin’ pretty good.  🙂

For a special treat, Ryan took me to Moonlight Cinemas in the Botanic Gardens.  We caught a good Scoopon deal which entitled us to two passes to a movie of our choice and included a small hamper from a nearby cafe.  I can’t say much about the hamper, other than it disappointing but the moonlight movie experience was too cool.

We arrived early and had some time to sit out and enjoy the view looking out towards the city (that’s the Eureka skytower way back in the picture).  The “security” at the gardens wouldn’t let us set up our short festival chairs so we parked ourselves on a blanket, read, and relaxed.  I have to admit I was a bit jealous of the people who rented the comfy recliner pillows but we were nice and cozy on our blanket.

As daylight faded and the moon came out the movie crew began to inflate the screen and just like that, a movie theater was made!  The movie didn’t start until it was dark enough to see the screen and just as it began, a shooting star fell from the sky.  Birthday gift indeed!  I highly recommend the experience.

We saw Ides of March, George Clooney’s latest creation in which he wrote the script, produced/directed, and starred.  A man of many talents to be sure.  The movie is about two candidates for the Democratic primary in the US and their campaign managers.  The script was clever but there was a lot of subtle humor and asides that I wasn’t sure would if they’d make sense to an Australian audience.  We were intrigued by how many Aussies showed up for a movie of this nature because this place was packed.  Granted, with a cast of George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marissa Tomei, who WOULDN’T want to see this?  I’m not going to lie, a beautiful moonlight movie was not as much of a draw for me as Ryan Gosling.  Just sayin’.

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As Christmas didn’t quite feel like Christmas to us we wanted to do something unique and memorable, something that we could say was perfect for our Australian Christmas.  If you ask Australians if there is something as a traditional Aussie Christmas you may hear of two different options; one, a day at the beach or two, Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight at Sidney Myer Music Bowl.  We opted for the latter.

In its 74th year, Carols by Candelight is put on in Melbourne by non-profit organization Vision Australia, who, according to their website, ‘are passionate that people who are blind or have low vision will have access to and fully participate in every part of life they choose’.  A Chrismas concert on steroids, this mega-event gets over 10,000 attendees and is broadcast all over Australia starting at 8PM Christmas eve.  As we found, the event is not only about the great music, for many it’s about the whole-day experience and we did it up in a-once-in-a-lifetime way.

We opted for the more cost-effective general admission tickets which gave us access to the big lawn on which to watch the concert.  Without assigned seats, however, we were told that people started queuing quite early to ensure good spots on the lawn.  Doors to the music bowl didn’t even open until 4:30PM but there was space for the queue at King’s Domain in the Royal Botanic Gardens.  This being our first time at the event, we arrived at King’s Domain to queue around 10:30 AM and surprisingly, we were not the first ones there.  Several people spent the night in tents to claim their spots as first in queue.  The queueing process as a mess and so disorganized and I hate to admit the bah-humbug came out in both of us when we remarked at how it would never be this disorganized in the US.  (But keep reading for our take on how what the Aussies do much better than us…)

Equipped with festival chairs, a blanket, two picnics (lunch and dinner), ipods, books, decks of cards, sunscreen, and plenty of water we set up camp waiting for the doors to open at 4:30PM.  We did enjoy a somewhat restful day reading and listening to music in the sun.

We were advised by some regulars that when the doors opened, one person should carry the bags and one person should run with the blanket to secure a good spot.  I was the runner, Ryan was the “pack-mule” as he likes to say.  Running, pushing and shoving aside, I managed to get a primo location right behind the assigned (read: expensive) seats.

The event began promptly at 8:00 with performances by the Australian Boys and Girls choir and the Carols by Candelight Choir.

We were serenaded all night with classic and contemporary Christmas songs sung by famous Australian artists including; Ricki-Lee Coulter, Marina Prior, John Foreman, James Morrison, Anthony Callea, Sylvie Palladino and many more.

As dusk settled upon Melbourne, people started to light their candles.

This was really something to see the darker it got.

The highlights for me were the Hallelujah Chorus and O Holy Night.

And both of our favorite part of the night was the last song, the Our Father.  A song like that would never be allowed to be the closer at a national event of this scale, at least not without a series of other politically correct songs accompanying it.  We were delighted and, quite frankly, admired the Aussies for ending the night with such a religious undertone and reminding us all what the night was about.  As Ameri-stralians, we were honored to have experienced Christmas in this Australian way.

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“I knew them when…”  You know the expression. It’s what you say when people you know are on the brink of something great and I have a feeling we’ll be saying it about Daniel and Jared Daperis in the not-so-distant future. 

Daniel and Jared, brothers and both experienced actors, were the winner of Raw Nerve Production Initiative 2011 and recently “wrapped” and debuted their neo-noir film, Phone Call, a 12 minute short about a phone call between two characters, Jack and Stanley.  Daniel wrote the script and both Daniel & Jared directed the film, produced by Angela Lee.

Image courtesy of facebook.com/phonecallfilm

As friends of Daniel and Jared’s mum and step-dad, we helped make and serve a banquet lunch to the cast and crew on one of the filming days.  We also got a quick tour of the official movie set, of which pictures are displayed on the film’s Facebook page

One of the “perks” of knowing the Directors is getting to see a preview screening of the film.  In our earnest and subjective opinion, the film was smart and intense.  There’s a lot there in the first few minutes to grab a hold of but the tension is palpable from the very beginning.  The set and music were just the “right amount of dark” and there were nuances in the camera angles and lighting to make you forget you were watching a film by first-time Directors.  This was suspense, at its best, which I imagine is ten times harder to create in a short film. 

Mark Leonard Winter and Lewis Fitz-Gerald were brilliant in their roles of Jack and Stanley, respectively.  The film really called for actors of this calibre to pull off the range of emotion demanded of these two characters in the script. 

It’s been a team effort, like any project of this quality, and Jared and Daniel are always quick to acknowledge the heaps of support they received from well-known and established individuals (cast and crew) in Australian films.  As an outsider, it really says a lot about the Australian film industry to see so many people come together on this project.

The hard work is over for this “labor of love” and now it’s just a waiting game to see whether or not the film will get accepted into festivals and what the critics have to say.  We, as critics, give it two big thumbs up…and we’re sure Ebert and Roeper would do the same.

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