Monday, July 30, 2007

J Day

Today is the third anniversary of the death of my friend Josh who was killed skiing in New Zealand. I don't think this is really the place to describe how I feel about this apart from that I'm sure all those that knew Josh miss him. Today I'll be thinking of him and those who loved him.

Just before I left Australia, my good friend Gwen gave me a couple of photos of Josh to carry in my wallet so he could symbolically tag along on the journey. So Josh has skirted the Burmese border in Thailand; walked amongst the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia; visited hilltribes in Vietnam; trod upon his beloved snow at the base of the Himalayas in China; had a private tour of the grounds of Stoke City FC in my hometown in England; watched the sunset over the Italian coastline; drank Mojitos in Barcelona; and been within one metre of Jessica Alba in Berlin (don't ask). I'm sure, somewhere, he is laughing at my crappy travel style and hopefully enjoying the ride.

Josh in Berlin.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

From Paris to Berlin Part 1

Paris - the last part

Like in Rome, we decided to do a night tour of the major attractions. However, where the majority of historical sites in Rome were seemingly lit up with a 40w bulb, the French know how to put on a light show. The Eiffel Tower has a fifteen minute window every hour where thousands of light bulbs sparkle like thousands of, urm, sparkly things. Those in the crowd on acid seemed very impressed.

As Paris is home to some of the best and biggest art collections in the world, we spent a lot of time checking out places such as the Louvre where we saw the Mona Lisa. Behind its bullet proof glass and the hundreds of people crowding around it, well, it seemed a bit small and sad really. I think its just one of those things where people see something not because its famous as an amazing art work but because its famous for being famous... much like Paris Hilton. Anyhow, you can't photo the Mona Lisa so I took a picture of my favourite painting entitled "Who fed the hell hound chocolate? It was that guy!!!"

As well as my favourite sculpture, the four man penis inspection.

We also visited the Pompidou, the biggest modern art gallery in Paris. I have a mainly hate/hate relationship with modern art because I see most of it as self indulgent twaddle dressed up with self importance and bullshit. However, there were some amazing works... well as some complete crap. Yes, they are skinned fluffy animals. No, its not very clever and I've seen it done before and better.

We also went to see Monet's Waterlilies that took up eight walls of two huge rooms. Dude had some time on his hands apparently.

The crap thing about Paris was that the only place I could find free wireless for my laptop was at the Pompidou and a McDonalds. Damn, do I hate McDonald's but we'd go in, grab someone else's rubbish off another table and pretend like we were eating there. Then I noticed that on the back of McDonald's garbage they're teaching kids to do devil signs which proves my point that McDonalds are in league with Satan and Slayer. Fact!

Also Andy and Lucy were in town for a couple of days so we had dinner with one night in a fancy restaurant. There's nothing better than seeing crew in dazzling, exotic locations so it was great to catch up with them again after their London engagement bbq. Andy got adventurous and tried the Pig's Ear which proved once and for all where the phrase "making a pig's ear of something" comes from. It looked wholly disgusting, inedible and downright wrong. Bon Appétit!

So that was Paris. It was beautiful, the people were friendly and they have the best pastries on earth. Really, these people eat chocolate croissants for breakfast which is like eating a block of butter covered in chocolate sauce. I love this town!!! And yeah, this is the place where Amelie gave Nino his photo book back after using cut up zorro pictures to communicate... yay!

Next stop: Barcelona by night train. Peace out! V for Victory! (Maybe)

I'd like to apologise to anyone I know who has ever had back pain. I probably sympathised with you at the time because I thought I knew what back pain was. I didn't, well, not until I threw mine out on Friday and was almost throwing up from the pain. I didn't understand. I am sorry. Now you really have my sympathy. (I'm all better now though).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hey Shorty...

Hey Shorty It's your birthday
We goin' party like it's yo birthday
We goin' sip Bacardi like it's your birthday

Hey there, its Ruth's birthday so here's three cheers for her. She's very excited about the prospect of celebrating her first birthday in a warm climate. No coats, scarves, beanies this year, she already has her t-shirt picked out for the day. Yay! Happy birthday babe!

And speaking of babes, last Sunday was the actual birth day of my good friends' Zac and Carissa's baby. So big congratulations to them and lil' chops. Happy birthday, erm, baby!

And you'll know where to find them... you can find them in da club...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Nerds of the world unite

I've never shied away from my nerdom and I hate to admit it but this is me reading the last Harry Potter novel in Berlin. Yep, cultural centre of Europe and I'm reading about Hogwarts... brilliant.

Anyhow, if you want to know how it ends it turns out its all a dream. Yep, Harry is in a mental institution after his ice addiction sent him into psychosis. Hermione is his nurse, Ron an orderly, Dumbledore is his shrink and Voldemort is the mean janitor or something. Anyhow, Harry wakes up after this dream and falls in love with Hermione but jilts her when his true feelings for Ron awaken. The new couple head to San Francisco with Frodo and Sam to drop the ring of power into the fires of Mount Doom while Hermione spirals into alcoholism. Every word I have just written is true...*

*Claim not based on fact.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Zap! Pow! Kazaam!!!

1. The Eiffel Tower is perhaps best known as a the prop that Grace Jones sky dived off in the James Bond film, A View To A Kill. The Tower's second claim to fame is that Duran Duran shot the video for the theme tune to A View To A Kill there. The "disturbance in the force" is a direct reference to Star Wars and an indirect reference to Chuck Norris.
2. Spidey Senses are goosepimples Spiderman gets when aroused. The "I sense the presence line..." is a direct quote from Star Wars when Darth Vader senses Ben Kenobi on the Death Star. Sadly, neither Spiderman, Darth Vader or Ben Kenobi have visited the Eiffel Tower.

3. Ruth has had a long history of crime and can in fact be linked to the Great Train Robbery and the missing Dillinger gold.

4. Dan Brown wrote The da Vinci Code, that ripped off so many other books it was hard to name them all and a team of scholars are expected to have the book referenced by 2087. Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum also prattles on about the bloodline of Christ and the Knight's Templar, only Eco can string a sentence together. Finally, no matter how bad The da Vinci Code is, it does not excuse Tom Hanks' mullet in the film.

5. This is in fact a stupid statement when most books are infinitely better than their film adaptations. This is true for all movies except for Transformers.
6. Tom Hanks starred in a film called Castaway where he was, amazingly, a castaway on a deserted island and his only companion was a volleyball called Wilson. It is still astounding that an inanimate object gave a better performance than Hanks in this movie. It is also an interesting fact that 9 out of 10 people in the world wish Tom Hanks was actually deserted on an island... filled with venomous snakes.

7. I hate the Doors.
8. It is actually tradition to leave a lipstick kiss on Wilde's tomb as tribute. Sadly, I was without my lippy at the time and as a rule, generally do not make out with tomb stones.
9. In the early 90s, a young Australian singer named Collette released a cover of Ring My Bell. It is plausibly the worst cover of all time if you discount any cover song by Britney Spears, Tiffany or Limp Bizkit.

10. Joan of Arc is not a lesbian icon that I know of, I just said that to be "provocative" and "edgy". That said, Milla Jovovich played Joan of Arc in a Luc Besson film called The Messenger and therefore that version of Joan of Arc could be deemed worthy of lesbian icon status.

11. There is, in fact, no Eiffel Tower growing out of Ruth's head.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hep Alien

After enjoying the, ahem, summer of England and France, I´ve arrived in Barcelona and actually getting to see some sunshine. So I´m going to check that out and will recommence blogging as per usual when the novelty of a burning globe in the sky wears off.

By the way, I saw a genuine, real life celebrity at Barcelona train station. Sebastian Bach from Skid Row!!! He also appeared in the Gilmore Girls!!! Sadly, he looked too hung over and angry to approach for a photograph. Totally bummed but totally cool at the same time.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Don't Know About You But I Am Un Chien Andalusia*


Paris kind of bludgeons you with its beauty. Its quite breath taking.

I like to think art has a life of its own. Much like Donatello's Mary who has to spend eternity looking at an incredibly weird sculpture of the crucifixion, good old Julius Caesar here lucks out...

...he gets to watch the ferris wheel all day long.

The entrance to the Louvre: shaped like a pyramid in honour of all the Egyptian treasures that the French seem to have which aren't in, like, Egypt.

So sweet, kids playing by the fountain.

So sweet, soldiers with machine guns playing by the fountain.

The Cathédrale De Notre Dame De Paris

The Hunchback of Notre Dame? More like the Nickelback of Notre Dame...

* By the way, the Pixies were wrong it should have been Un chien andalou. Oh well, that was the only French phrase I could think of...

Monday, July 02, 2007

God save the Queens

London (again) to Paris.

Remember this? The Fugazi In on the killtaker sleeve signed by Ian MacKaye. Well, after receiving this prized gift, my good friend Claire got her reward...

...two pints. That smile is the definition of "happy camper."

This was the night before I hit the chunnel to Paris. I hung out with Claire eating, potentially, the crappiest pizza in all of London and arguing about what is more embarrassing to have on my ipod, Coldplay or Limp Bizkit? Personally, I was glad she didn't see the Jack Johnson records I have... (I can explain all of these musical anomalies with mathematics my friends).

So Paris. Yes, you want to see the Lourve, the tower and all those shenanigans but sadly I'm not that predictable... I give you hay. Pretty much the first thing I did was go to the Furia Sound festival which had a very North Queensland music festival circa 1995 feel about it. Why? Because any concert promoter worth their salt knows not to give rowdy rock fans access to hay (a common feature of North Queensland festivals). Why? Because when the rock takes over, you just gotta start throwing it.. at the band... in the air... wherever you see fit... and Thurston Moore is not a man to throw hay at.

Furia was held in a place called Cergy Pontoise, a half hour train ride out of the city. To my credit, I only got lost once and that was in the tunnels of one of the underground stations looking for a ticket machine. On the train trip out, these gypsy guys started playing Amelie like music much to the consternation of the sneery indie kid across from me. Poor guy, he picked at his cons, rolled his eyes and muttered under his breath the whole time. An awkward time was had by all.

Being a student of sociology, I was interested to see if there were any differences between Australian and French rock fans. Here are three things that caught my eye: 1. Even though the festival consisted of three stages set amongst hilly grasslands, a number of the patrons thought it was a good idea to wear high heals. I haven't seen that too often in Australia but it seemed very rawk n' roll in a tacky Motley Crue kind of way. 2. You know that free hug guy from Sydney. Well, that craze has caught on in France and every ten minutes or so I was asked for a hug by some annoying adolescent. Of course, I obliged, I'm not that bitter. 3. Crowd surfing is very "in" with the "youngsters" here where I have found this trend decreasing in oz. I kind of hate them because you're minding your own business, watching the band and then suddenly someone's kicking you in the back of the head. As they pass over me I like to give them a quick punch to the kidneys. I kid, I kid. I just try and steal their wallets.

Those of you who know me know that I am a terrible music snob but I tried going to this festival with an open mind. I tried watching some local bands but They. Were. Awful. This wasn't a language barrier thing, I know the language of rock whatever the dialect and they weren't talking to me. This left me with the two big bands of the day, Sonic Youth (above) and Queens of the Stone Age.

Some of my dearest friends love Sonic Youth and are often exasperated and dismayed at my dislike of them. I've seen them before and they're ok but I can't listen to their records. But with a sense of open mindedness I watched them again hoping I'd get it. I didn't. It was kind of boring and watching Lee Ranaldo was kind of like watching an aging high school teacher play guitar at school assembly. I feel petty for saying that but it is true and I haven't even mentioned Kim Gordon's dancing out of respect for this iconic figure (I'm not going to buy that so uncool its cool argument for a second). I couldn't work out why they had two bass players playing same the bass parts either, that shit don't make no sense! Sure there were moments of brilliance (great drummer too) but the most interesting thing about the set was Tony the Tiger crowd surfing. If only he had crowd surfed for the entire show it would have probably made it more interesting for me. Probably but probably not.

Tony the tiger (not crowd surfing).

The only constant about Sonic Youth is that their fans look the same the world over. I haven't seen this many pairs of cons and skinny jeans since Sigur Ros last played the Enmore Theatre. Actually, if they put little tracking devices in Cons, tied it to a satellite and put it on the net, you'd be able to see where Sonic Youth were playing at anytime of the day or night by the cons cluster.

So it was onto Queens. To be fair, Sonic Youth never stood a chance in my eyes as Queens are a mild obsession of mine. OK, a total obsession. This is the eighth time I've seen them and given how often they tour Australia (urm, not very often) that's a lot.

As always, Queens put on an entertaining show. There are three things that I love about them. First: I can say I like at least 95% of their songs and given how picky I am, that's a pretty amazing strike rate. Second: They are (particularly band leader Josh Homme who is often referred to as my boyfriend by some because of my unhealthy obsession with the band) incredible musicians but can be understated as well. There's a certain soul to their music which speaks to me. Third: They make me want to get on my knees, do devil signs and then dance like an idiot. They make me happy in that way that makes you blush whenever their name is mentioned... much like a Jane Austin novel. Queens of the Stone Age are my Mr Darcy!

They even had a Tony moment when Homme thought he was hallucinating and seeing Tony the Tiger. He invited him up on stage for a hug and so that everyone could share in a "mass hallucination together." The crowd started chanting "Tony! Tony! Tony!" although it sounded more French, like the guy from 'Allo ' Allo saying "Toné! Toné! Toné!"

It was an interesting gig for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the band stuck to playing its simpler, poppier songs rather than the dark complex ones. That was fine by me as they played my latest fave Misfit Love as well classics such as Lost Art of Keeping a Secret and three tracks off their first album. Sadly, they did play one bum song off their new album (Battery Acid) which looks like its more fun to play than listen to. Secondly, their new bass player can emulate some of the screams of the old sacked bass player so that was a joy to see. I know that means nothing to pretty much 99.9% of people reading this but I like my screamy bits and miss them dearly.

All in all, a great show and well worth the hassle of trying to navigate the Paris public transport system. God save the Queens.


Sorry for the blurry, crappy, far away photos. My zoom ain't that hot and even though I wasn't too far away in the crowd I was trying to stick a bit to the side to avoid the moshers so I wouldn't go home smelling like Eau de Toilette la Sweaty Fifteen Year Old Boy. Its almost as bad as that perfume by Britney: Eau de Toilette la White Trash.