Wednesday, March 23, 2005

My alarm bells are ringing...

Lately I've been hearing a lot about the wonders of this product...

At face value it seems like a fantastic idea, but am I the only one who has serious concerns about Microsoft having everybody's fingerprints on record?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Tour Diary - Days 21 & 22 - Gold Coast/Canberra

Despite a rough start, my recent Gold Coast experience was redeemed via a single encounter yesterday afternoon.

Whilst standing on a bridge, transfixed by a school of mullet and a single squid, I struck up a conversation with an elderly gentlemen (who, for the sake of convenience, we shall refer to as "Bob").

What started as a few quick words soon became an in-depth conversation about the history of the Gold Coast.

"Bob", who was born on the Gold Coast in 1928, explained how there only used to be a handful of fishing families living upon the river. Apparently, according to "Bob", the patriache of the main fishing family was doing extremely well from the fishing industry and so utilized his spoils from the ocean to start expanding the village.

Unfortunately, it turned out that the reason this fisherman's business was so profitable was that he hadn't paid income tax in over 30 years. Inevitably the tax man eventually came knocking and, in a true modern tragedy, the fisherman decided that suicide was a preferable option to a life time in jail. By then, however, his money had already been well invested into the local community and one man's tax fraud provided a massive growth spurt to the Gold Coast.

"Bob" then went on to explain that the man-made canals, which run throughout the Gold Coast, were created to allow for greater fishing access and to make the area more tourist friendly (which, considering my earlier observations about the "non-friendly" nature of the Gold Coast, is quite ironic). Sounds like a great idea, but it was one which was thought at a point prior to a time when the words "environmental" and "impact" had ever been used in the same sentence.

"This area used to be full of seaweed," Bob explained, "but when they built the canals they subtlely changed the natural balance of the original river's ecosystem and all the seaweed died out. No seaweed means no fish. Now the river's mostly full of sharks."

Bob and I continued to chat for another half an hour and covered such subjects as sharks, resorts, tourists and shopping trolleys, at the end of our conversation I bid him farewell and informed him that our chat had made my day. He seemed suitably pleased by that fact.

As I mentioned before, up until that point every local Gold Coastian (except for the theatre staff) that I spoke to seemed to be more than a little bitter, so it was an absolute pleasure to meet a local who was randomly open and friendly.

That single encounter turned my Gold Coast experience around... Just in time for me to leave...

Following an extremely smooth bump out last night and the best night's sleep I've had since I got to Australia's Sodom and Gommorrah, today I awoke, packed and flew to Canberra (via Melbourne).

That flight marked the end of the first section of the "Weary" tour. I now have three weeks off from the show, during which I will be Folk Festivaling and working at MTC. No more "Weary" until we fly to Adelaide in April.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Tour Diary - Days 18, 19 & 20 - Gold Coast

Since the moment I touched down in Australia’s answer to Las Vegas I’ve felt like I’ve been pushing excrement up a mountain.

For no explainable reason, focusing the show seemed to take twice as long as it has everywhere else (despite the fact that everybody seemed to working twice as hard).

In addition, we then had to deal, yet again, with a slide projector which decided to unionize and go out on strike with the others. Of the five slide projectors we started the tour with (four for the show, one spare) four have now broken down at some point (with only two having being capable of repair), which, all things considered, is the best argument I have heard for spending a little bit (okay, a lot) more money and hiring two data projectors…

Sadly the producers don’t agree with my logic, so it appears that projectors will continue to be the bane of my existence for at least the next few months.

In true “Murphy’s Law” fashion, today, which is the only day that I have off whilst in the Gold Coast, is also the day on which it has decided to start raining. Since our accommodation is miles from the theatre and miles from the shopping/cafe strip, I’ve spent the day catching up on some paper work, watching some DVDs (third season of Millennium) and reading a book.

To tell the truth, although I’d much rather be at the beach, I’m not overly disappointed that I’m stuck indoors. The Gold Coast is a remarkably strange place. It’s incredibly beautiful, yet inherently “touristy”. For such a sunny town (current weather excluded) there seems to be a complete lack of “warmth” here. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it appears that all of the locals harbor a deep-seated resentment of anybody who just happens to be “passing through”. Is this merely the inherent curse of a tourist destination? Or does it just have to do with my fashion sense?

Hmmm… Maybe I’ll don a Hawaiian shirt and go conduct an experiment…

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Deja Vu Packing...

After a brief respite in Melbourne, I am once again packing my bags and heading off on tour.

Next stop - The sunny Gold Coast!

As much as I'm looking forward to the sun, beaches and bikinis, I am also faced with a dilemma.

Directly after the Gold Coast season, I'll be jetting back to Canberra for a camping Easter at the National Folk Festival (where, if nothing else, I will have a great deal of fun pouring Guinness down the throats of Jared, Nick, Euan and company). So, how exactly does one pack for both the 30+ degree heat of the Gold Coast and the 10 degree nights of Canberra whilst still remaining under Virgin Blue's ridiculous 20kg luggage limit?

Hmmm.... It's a conundrum alright... I think I'll try filling my jumpers with Helium...

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Single day faith...

This weekend Sharn and I drove for two and half hours to a little country town named Yarram, where we attended the wedding of one of Sharn's ex-housemates.

Now although the drive, ceremony and weekend was lovely, there were one thing which struck me as odd.

I find it intensely strange when a couple, who are in no way religious, have a formal religious wedding ceremony.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but a wedding is meant to be an incredibly personal, once-in-a-lifetime (note, I did say "meant to be") event, so why would you conduct it in a fashion which is effectively a lie?

Is it just that most people are uniformed about alternate options? Or could it be that the ceremony is conducted predominately for the benefit of the parents? Do people turn to religion simply because it is the default option?

Whilst no longer religious, I was brought up with a religious education. Which, for the record, is not something I resent. Quite the opposite, in fact, is true. I feel that my religious education gave me a much richer understanding of the context of a wide range of literature, political debate and modern culture. Forgoing faith has not deprived me of those benefits.

During my education, however, it was drummed into me that faith is a remarkably serious issue and, as a result, despite my choice not to believe, I feel that I have a understanding of how serious an issue faith is to those who do believe and, thus, I try not to denigrate them for their faith (in fact there are times when I suspect that I envy it slightly).

So, since I can understand how important faith is to those who do believe, I take issues of religion and faith very seriously (including my lack of said "faith") and I fail to understand why a couple would adopt a faith for a single day simply because it is "the thing to do in the situation".

Does anybody agree with me, or am I hanging out on a limb with no net below me?

Now I'm very aware that I could be opening a can of worms which would be better left closed, but I'm actually remarkably eager to hear a few other opinions on this issue...

So... What do you think?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Home... briefly...

Following a successful final show in Hobart, we bumped out the set, I wandered back to the hotel at 1am and promptly locked myself out of my room. Luckily I was able, with the assistance of Adam, to track down a "late arrivals" number, which was used to rouse a very bleary eyed attendant.

Yesterday we flew back to Melbourne where the company will be enjoying 5 days off from touring before flying north to the Gold Coast.

I, on the other hand, leave with Sharn tomorrow to go to the wedding of one of her ex-housemates in a little country town two and half hours north of Melbourne.

In the meantime I am taking a moment to wash clothes, answer e-mails and be generally domestic... Which I'm well aware isn't particularly exciting, so, instead of boring you with the details, I'll end this post here.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Interviewing the multi-skilled.

Despite being ridiculously busy whilst I'm traveling around this luscious island, I recently found time to do another interview/article for In The Mix.

This time the subject of my article was a pair of UK house DJs/producers/record label owners who call themselves the Inland Knights.

I think it went pretty well, but you can judge for yourself by checking out the entire article here.

Tour Diary - Days 15, 16 & 17 - Hobart

The seafood in Hobart has to be tasted to be believed. Over the last three days I have eaten some of the best fish, squid and octopus that I have ever tasted.

The Hobart season of the show opened last night and looked fantastic. Getting it there, however...

Through no fault of my own, or the theatre staff, the Hobart bump in was plagued with technical difficulties. During the first night of focusing we lost around 2 hours just dealing with technical hiccups.

Then, directly after the Tuesday's technical rehearsal and two hours before our opening night, another one of the slide projectors decided to implode... A few frantic phonecalls later and we managed to locate the only hireable, compatible, projector in Hobart and have since substituted it into the show.

So far we've had two performances and, similar to Launceston, the number of bums on seats has been a little small. This is a trend which we imagine will reverse by the time we get to the bigger capital cities, but at present the producer is beginning to look a little pale. Those punters who have seen the show, however, have loved it.

We've got one more show tonight and then we'll be packing it up again and flying back to Melbourne. After a few days rest and relaxation we'll be trading one extreme for the other and heading north to the sunny (and remarkably hot) Gold Coast. Still, it'll be nice to get away from the cold, overcast days we've been enjoying here in Tasmania.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Tour Diary - Day 14 (cont.) - Launceston to Hobart.

Yesterday the company enjoyed a remarkably leisurely drive from Launceston to Hobart, or, to be more exact, I enjoyed a lovely drive whilst Neil provided a running "tour" commentary of everything we passed... ("This is you captain speaking, in the case of an emergency you will be required to throw the doors open and run like hell...")

After a brief stop over in the lovely, convict-built, historical village of Ross, we arrived in Hobart.

At first glance it appeared that our hotel was going to be an considerable improvement on the last one. Our Hobart hotel is attached to a "therapeutic salt bath and spa", which the guests may use for free. Sound inviting? Sure, except for the fact that my room smells an awful lot like chlorine.

Add to that the flickering light in my room's kitchen, which is not just annoying but liable to induce seizures in epileptic and I think you'll understand why I've requested a change of rooms...

Doing our best to put the negative thoughts about our accommodation behind us, last night Adam, Andew and I feasted on amazing seafood at Mures, whilst over looking the bay... You can say what you want about Tassie, but you've got to admit that the place is extremely beautiful.

Today's the first day of the bump in here in Hobart... We've got four hours less than we had in Launceston, so it's probably going to be a little strenuous... Oh well... That's what I'm paid for...

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Tour diary - Days 11 - 14 - Launceston

The very first thing I noticed about Launceston was the air.

Over the last few decades I’ve heard a lot of discussions, seen a lot of documentaries and read a lot books which talk about air pollution in our cities. It wasn’t until I arrived in Launceston, however, that I finally achieved a real understanding of this issue.

The air in Launceston is amazingly clean. You can actually taste the cleanliness of the air with every breath you take. That realization alone has made the tour to Tasmania a worth while experience.

The second thing I noticed about Launceston was how beautiful it is. Launceston and its immediate surrounds are simply gorgeous. Words can’t describe just how idyllic The Basin is, and it’s just a taste of the environment which borders every side of Launceston.

The third thing I noticed about Launceston was the location of our hotel… And I use the word “hotel” liberally…

The company manager booked the hotel/motel, site unseen, due to the fact that it was listed as a four star hotel and the advertising material stated that it was only 500m from the theatre we were playing in. What the manager wasn’t aware of, however, is that everything in Launceston is less than 500m from our theatre and that the “hotel” in question, whilst less than 500m away, sits at the top of a sixty degree hill…. Getting to the theatre of a morning has been remarkably easy, getting home however….

The forth thing I noticed about Launceston is that the town shuts down completely after 5pm on weekdays and 12noon on weekends, which has made little things like finding food, getting internet access and washing clothes remarkably difficult.

Despite low attendance, the season here in Launceston was well received and the show received fantastic reviews in both The Examiner and The Mercury. Following our three shows in two days, we wrapped it up last night, packed up and were out of the theatre by 1am. Today we drive to Hobart, have the night off and then do it all again (this time for just two shows).

I’m immensely looking forward to the drive, since I suspect that it’s going to be my best chance (during this trip) too actually see a little of the Tasmanian countryside. Anyway, its time for me to head back to the hotel, finishing packing and check out…

Once last thing before I go - For those of you who are awaiting e-mails from me, I will hopefully get a bit of time in Hobart to deal with my in-box (provided that there is an internet connection in my room… and I’m not holding my breath…).

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Tour Diary - Day 10 - Melbourne to Launceston

After a quick flight across the ocean, we arrived in Launceston at around 4pm. Andrew, our truck driver/assistant stage manager, is a Launceston boy by birth, so immediately set about showing us the local’s version of Launceston.

Following a brief stop at our rather dodgy hotel, we traveled up to The Basin and enjoyed a beer whilst overlooking the river and being stalked by hungry peacocks… Idyllic!

Tomorrow we’ll begin the bump in to the Princess Theatre. It’s going to be an interesting experience, especially since it’s the first time we’ll be setting up the show without the design team.

One last thing worth mentioning – Whilst having dinner (a decidedly average chicken parma) I tried a “Beez Neez”, which is a honey infused beer. It’s the best reason I’ve heard so far for moving to Tasmania… How has this wonderful brew not made its way to the mainland?

Asleep, Awake, and Awaiting...

I've just finished re-packing and will be jetting to Launceston in about two hours time.

Whilst I'm waiting for the cab to arrive, however, I've been enjoying Ben Lee's newest offering "Awake is the New Sleep".

Written directly after Ben's break-up with Clare Danes, this album is, in my humble opinion, the Ben Lee's best album so far. It's beautiful, heart-rendering and thoroughly enjoyable.

I highly recommend it to anybody who enjoys catchy rhythms, sublime lyrics and beautiful melodies!