Monday, March 23, 2009

Week Thirty

Week Thirty was deleted by Blogspot when I submitted "Publish Post", and sadly I don't have a backup copy. Blame Blogspot. You will have to wait until Week Thirty-one now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Week Twenty-nine

A recent survey this week found UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to be the country's Most Boring Speaker, ahead of David Beckham and Kate Winslett. He is pretty boring - not just when compared with Barack Obama, Tony Blair or other engaging leaders, but when compared with living mammals of any kind. However, he is not the most boring speaker in the world. I think it's safe to say that honor goes to Kerry O'Brien, host of The 7:30 Report on ABC Australia.

What a bottle of Aquafina is to a refrigerator full of Red Bull, Kerry O'Brien is to the rest of the television personalities here. Listening to him talk is like going to see The Fray perform a 180-minute acoustic concert on a rainy Tuesday late morning in Fort Stockton, Texas, after taking five klonopins without having slept for the previous 76 hours. Adelaide is less boring. In fact hanging out with 17 emo kids would be more fun, because at least you'd be able to do something to them. With Kerry O'Brien you just have to sit and listen.

So another week down and this week I went to Sydney…again. I was only there for about 16 hours, mainly to see one of my clients, but I did enjoy an evening in Darlinghurst catching up with a lovely Canadian bird. I’m not sure why, but Sydney is starting to charm me. Every time I’m there the weather is terrible, the taxis overcharge me and I get hardly any sleep. Yet, the people are delightful and the city is vibrant. Is it possible I'm moving from Team Melbourne to Team Sydney?? I've already switched to Team Edelman, Team Pepsi Max and Team Aniston, so I suppose anything is possible.

After Sydney, I spent the rest of the week working, sleeping and saving money. I did Hoo Haa it Saturday night and I purchased new earphones on Sunday, which are quite frankly the worst earphones I've ever had. Yes they were relatively cheap, but they manage to make every song sound like they are on 808's & Heartbreak or Is This It. And when I do play Kanye or The Strokes, the songs are completely indecipherable.

Well, it’s finally March Madness. Not only is it a pretty exciting time for college basketball fans, it is very exciting for us Syracuse faithful. Friday night was one of the most thrilling basketball games in college basketball history, when Syracuse upset Connecticut in a near-record six overtimes. It reminded me of the Orange's 2006 Big East run, when the Gerry McNamara-inspired team reeled off four consecutive victories to clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament…only of course, to lose in the first round like they always seem to do. This year, however, the Orange team looks like it can reach the Elite Eight.

Here is my bracket. Don’t copy: I know you want to.

And finally, tomorrow it's time to dust off the 'ol Cranberries cds, boil the potatoes and bust out some mad W.B. Yeats rhymes. Tomorrow it's St. Patrick's Day, the one day each year it's actually cool to be Irish. While some cities dye their river green or have massive boozefests with half a million drunks, Melbourne has both on any given day of the week. Be sure to wear green. Have a great week and Let's Go Cuse! Twenty-nine weeks down, 23 to go.

Week Twenty-nine Summary:
Weather: Starting to get chilly. Like a crisp October night in San Francisco. It's beautiful.
New observation: I had NO IDEA that the lead singer of Silversun Pickups was a dude!!
New activity(ies): spending $132 on a taxi in Sydney. Good thing my company gave me a CabCharge!
New food: Subway breakfast sandwich. The concept sounds terrible, but at 5:15 a.m. it can be beautiful.
New word(s): bugger off! (get bent!)
New people: I FINALLY met someone who LIKED my American accent. I think that was the only thing she liked about me.
What I miss: Shante Micah Schroeder, old Facebook, Whataburger, the Power Players, Matisyahu, my own washer & dryer, summer

Monday, March 9, 2009

Week Twenty-eight

Optus blows. Not only does my phone service consistently de-credit my account, hang up on important phone calls and get no reception in the first- and second-largest cities in Australia, but it also successfully managed to charge me $35 in roaming fees for calls made in Sydney. And the last time I checked, Sydney was based within Australia. Apparently Optus uses the same phone system as 16th century Africa, at a significantly higher price. Come on Optus, seriously.

So Saturday was Mardi Gras in Sydney, and since it was a three-day weekend I decided to make the 712-kilometer trek to watch how gay people celebrate Mardi Gras. You see, Australia's version of Mardi Gras really has nothing to do with our Mardi Gras, the annual series of events preparing for the start of Lent. There were no beads, no drunk Louisiana Tech frat guys and no delicious gumbo. Mardi Gras here is just one massive gay orgy.

Approximately 871.5 billion gay people flooded Oxford Street, Sydney's version of the Red Light District, to watch a three-hour parade where everything from football players to piggy banks suddenly became gay. Thousands of people marched in the parade in costumes, underwear or leather, and all were celebrating and barracking for universal gay rights. It was quite the spectacle for Australia, but basically the equivalent of a Tuesday in San Francisco.

Some of my friends in San Fran have actually been doing their part to keep the "Overturn Proposition 8" movement alive. More than 3,000 people marched down Market Street on Wednesday, the night before the California Supreme Court commenced hearing arguments for the validity of Prop 8. While Sydney's Mardi Gras was a celebration for the entire gay community, many more gay rights activists will be celebrating if California and the U.S. can prove to the world they are a leader in the quest for universal equality. It's a big statement but one all Californians can be proud of if and when our judicial system repeals what non-sensical voters helped push through.

So it was a good week here in Australia and abroad. Other than standing for seven consecutive hours waiting for the gay people to actually show up to the parade, I also spent my weekend in Sydney meeting new Canadians and old co-workers. We spent most of the time in The Rocks, enjoying Saturday night beverages and Sunday afternoon refreshers at The Glenmore Hotel and The Argyle. Both were beautiful.

Abroad, Syracuse is FINALLY going to the NCAA Tournament after two years in the NIT. Just two and a half months ago Syracuse was losing at home to Cleveland State and Eric Devendorf was busy punching women in the face (which by the way, all of us who saw Devendorf back in 2006 probably knew that was bound to happen). And now? The Orange finished the regular season 23-8 after an overtime win at Marquette: not too shabby.

Here in Victoria, colder weather has helped with the bushfires, but Australia is still proving it's a land with many natural disasters. On Friday Melbourne had the biggest earthquake in 36 years and a cyclone is currently hitting the state of Queensland. Adding insult to injury, Cyclone Hamish, which was originally expected to effectively flush out dengue-carrying mosquito larvae, is now expected to instead create more breeding grounds for them to spread the disease even further. D'oh!

So 28 weeks down and I'm finally starting to get into The Raveonettes. I always appreciated their Buddy Holly melodies and Everly Brothers harmony, but not until recently did I find out Sune Rose Wagner, the female half of the duo, was actually pretty hot. Suddenly I appreciate their music a little more now. And despite hiring me, Edelman was this week named PRWeek Agency of the Year for the third consecutive year, an impressive accomplishment. Go Team! Anddd... Happy Birthday Tara!!! We'll celebrate when I get back. Miss you all! Twenty-eight weeks down, 24 to go.

Week Twenty-eight Summary:
Weather: Rainy. Twenty-eight weeks and I still don't own a brolly!
New observation: Australians really like the name Hamish. Why???
New activity(ies): Gay Mardi Gras, standing for 7 hours
New food: white wine sangria (yum), lychees (double yum)
New word(s): gobsmacked (surprised). Mozzies v Muzzies (Mosquitos v Muslims) - don't mix them up
New people: heaps of gay people and Canadians. I miss them already.
What I miss: all the randoms outside the Fillmore Center, American bread, the old Joaquin Phoenix, Frappuccinos, 3(0)c1W

Monday, March 2, 2009

Week Twenty-seven

Another shark attack in Sydney *yawn*. Way to be creative there, Sydney. Seriously. You're a beautiful city with a decent personality, so why are you being such an attention whore? (Note that anything found on Wiktionary is ok to publicly type - it means I'm hip with today's slang.) This is the third time in three weeks a shark has bitten a piece of an Aussie, and knowing Sydney it'll happen several more times in the months to come.

Tourism is already floundering here in Australia, and Sydney's weak desparation to get in the news is only hindering this country's ability to recruit international tourists. It doesn't help when the country's iconic airline to import tourists keeps crashing into itself and the country's international spokespeople are these guys. So while Australia may be doing a good job of recruiting accident-prone 41-47-year-old gay males, it hasn't exactly brought in the rest of the masses. Note that it also doesn't help when the international tourism song , "Come to Australia", explicitly confirms tourists may die here.

It's gotten so bad that the only tourists I've been meeting here in Melbourne are Canadians who either want to substitute teach or pick fruit: not exactly the cream of the international tourist crop.

In fact, it's so bad in Queensland that the government is actively targeting and recruiting unemployed people and giving them jobs to aesthetically improve tourist areas. The $57 million plan gives $10.4 million to Tourism Queensland, the same moneybags organization that's giving one lazy bum The Best Job in the World. I can't help but think the money might be better spent hiring a plane and flying 30,000 international tourists to Australia (30,000 people multiplied by $1,900AUS, the average cost of an international flight, equals $57 million).

Tourism Australia did actually launch an expensive tourism campaign already - in conjunction with Baz Lurhmann's movie Australia. Unfortunately, the movie and campaign were released just as the recession started in Australia's key market: The U.S. of A. According to the 15 January edition of Media magazine, the cost of Tourism Australia's ad campaign was $40 million AUS and the cost to make the movie Australia was $130 million. The direct impact is hard to measure, as the impact of the economic downturn instead has resulted in a bleak forecast: In 2009, inbound tourists are expected to decline by 4.1 percent.

Regardless of the government's ineffeciencies at recruiting tourists, I am adamant on doing my part to bring foreigners to this hot, sparsely-populated and disaster-prone land. You see, I have now lived in Australia for 27 weeks and not a single friend, other than Frenchie, has come to visit. Really? How many record-breaking floods, third-world diseases and mass-murdering fires must this country endure before people realize this country has it all?! It's not like I live in Syracuse or Adelaide, the most boring cities in their respective hemispheres. I live in Melbourne. It's fun. Come visit.

And speaking of fires, authorities here are warning Tuesday might be worse than Black Saturday. I even got two text messages from the Victorian Police notifying me of the danger. While several of my friends have called with concern for the fires, several more are pressuring me to risk my life and go into the fires to save koalas. I suppose there are worse ways to die...

Red back, funnel web, blue ringed octopus, Taipan, Tigersnake and a Box Jellyfish; big shark, just waiting for you to go swimming at Bondi Beach; come to Australia: You might accidentally get killed. La la la

Twenty-seven weeks down, 25 to go.

Week Twenty-sevenSummary:
Weather: So inconsistent. Warm, cold, warm, cold, hot, warm, hotter, cold c'mon!
New observation: American Express is a nice credit card to have, unless it's the only credit card you have. Not many places take Amex without charging a usage fee. :(
New activity(ies): Gay eco-friendly vegetarian bars
New food: Singapore stir-fry with crunched up Doritos. YUM :)
New word(s): Tucker (food)
New people: A girl who usually stands across from me on the city tram who looks EXACTLY like Chelsea Clinton, circa 1998.. Not cool.
What I miss: Uluru, my non-girly bed frame, my fluffy mattress pad, my photo albums, Flamin' Hot Cheetos, my mom's shag carpeting, Janet Reno, (any) Mexican food