Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Australian Road Trip Musings

No photos today (but they're coming)... just some random mental meanderings from the land of marsupials.

Started an 8-day road trip across the southeastern portion of the country/island/continent.

Left from Sydney, drove down the Pacific Highway to Mogo Zoo. Saw some white lions, dingos. Stayed in a mining town resort.

Left from Mogo, down the Pacific/Princes Highway, on the way to Giant Gippsland Worm country. Stayed in Leongatha in a roadside motel. The next day, stopped at a replica mining town (lots of these in Australia) in Korumburra, chatted up two shopkeepers for worm info. Bought Alan Burnett some postcards (okay, okay... Baino bought Alan Burnett some postcards). Saw a photo of a Gippsland Worm reclamation project sign. Drove around a dinky country area (Poowong) until we found the sign. Hunted for worms for a couple of hours.

To no avail.

Drove to Phillip Island and saw some Fairy Penguins, which are now known as Little Penguins, since some Aussie bureaucrat arbitrarily decided that gay men might take offense, despite the fact that no gay man in Australia has ever complained about Fairy Penguins.

Went to Melbourne, saw where they hung Ned Kelly, took part in a reenactment of Ned Kelly's court trial (I played Sergeant Steele) and spent the night with two awesome people (Lenore and Chris) who got me friggin' pissed on home-brewed beer. Including a heavily-alcoholic ginger beer that I got to name (Melbourne visitors... track down "Red Sonja!")

Drove down the Great Ocean Road, all the way to the Twelve Apostles (gorgeous cliffside/seaside natural formations) and the Loch Ard wrecksite. Drove back up the Great Ocean Road (of which much of it is nowhere near the ocean) and stayed in Airey's Inlet... where I was attacked by cockatoos the following morning (photographic evidence will be presented at a later date).

Went back to Melbourne and hung out with Baino's niece and her boyfriend (two more awesome people). Someone remind me at some point to talk about the driving laws and peculiarities in Australia... particularly Melbourne's infamous "hook turns."

Drove up to Swan Hill (saw zero swans) and visited another vintage mining town/museum. Drove past Pyramid Hill (which does look like a pyramid).

Drove down the Alpine Highway to Jindabyne, found an AWESOME hotel in East Jindabyne (by accident), then checked out Australia's highest mountains.

Went to Canberra, saw the Ned Kelly suits of armor at a museum (all four in one spot), then checked out the war memorial museum the next morning (awesome museum). Sadly, I slept through the Dawn Service for ANZAC Day (I will attend one in the future... which means, yes, I'll be back).

Now back in Sydney, preparing to return home.

I have not seen any koalas in the wild, but I have seen kangaroos, wallabies, and wombats. Shit yeah.

Okay, so there's not much musing today... but I'll revisit all of this in more detail shortly.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Table of Contents: One Last Thing

I can't remember why I decided to write this story. Perhaps I wanted to "borrow" two of my favorite characters and insert them into a story of my own. I don't know. Regardless, the full version of this one has a massive plot hole, but I'm working on it.

In the meantime, enjoy...

"One Last Thing, Part I"
Cray stares at Drew, studying his partner's face. They've been together for years, not really out of any sort of friendship, merely the acknowledgment of the other's competence. Cray is slightly older, just on the other side of 60. Drew has a couple of years left before he enters that... Read More

"One Last Thing, Part II"
Seven Uzbek mobsters aim their handguns - a variety of weapons ranging from American M1911s to Czech CZ75s - at Cray and Drew. Cray's HK G36 and Drew's HK416 return the favor. The two Americans know that they might die here, in this dusty excuse for a warehouse... Read More

"One Last Thing, Part III"
The sounds fade as the lights dim. Cray knows he's missing something spectacular and it's his body's fault. Too old, too slow, it couldn't keep up. Or stay ahead, in this case. It's disheartening... not so much that he has to take it lying down... but that his mind is as young... Read More

Friday, April 15, 2011

Leave Your Hair at Customs, Part 3

A few things I've learned in Australia (so far):

Australian cigarettes kinda suck. Not because they're bad, but because they're essentially American cigarettes.

But their waterfalls are kinda cool. This one's at a place called Govett's Leap.

The weather makes my scalp itch. Okay, okay... the photographers make my scalp itch.

Australia is the home of the largest Japanese Gardens in the Southern Hemisphere. This is from a lookout called "Symbolic Mountain." Because, you know, that rock supposedly looks like Mt. Fuji.

And said Japanese Garden has a waterfall.

And fishes. Because "fishes" is an acceptable plural form of "fish." It said so on the sign.

I was asked to photograph these mushrooms. I'm thinking Helen was hungry.

Japanese invasion money. Apparently, the Japanese intended on replacing native currencies with their own. In several languages. There's money for places they never even got around to invading.

Were I not driving, this would be a MUCH better photo of a kangaroo/wombat crossing traffic warning sign. But I was driving. On the wrong side of the road. Which is the right side of the road for upside-down people.

My first meat pie. Not bad. But don't be surprised if I never have another. I had this in a small town called Carcoar. Population: 385. Historic claim to fame: Australia's first daylight bank robbery.

Store-bought kangaroo meat.

Me. With my storytelling rudely interrupted by a photographer attempting not to be noticed.

Prawns (top left), kangaroo (center), beef (bottom right).

Kangaroo meat is friggin' awesome. Shit. Yeah.

Lily's gums were itchy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Leave Your Hair at Customs, Part 2

My hair has survived another day, but only because I wanted to let some of Australia's native fauna play with it (that's not innuendo, folks).

Helen took me to Featherdale Wildlife Park during the day, where I got to see kangaroos, wallabies, dingos, koalas, skinks, Tasmanian Devils (well, one of them), and a kick-ass bird called a Tawny Frogmouth (which looks like a bad Hollywood special effect... seriously). Basically, the day at the park was me trying to get a wallaby to attack me, to no avail. Even the threat of eating one of their larger cousins did nothing to spring them into a frenzied action.

At night, Helen, Adam, Alex and I went to a comedy show featuring (egad) four Americans, a Canadian (who, ironically, lives in my neighborhood back in the US), and two Aussies. Two of the Americans and one of the Aussies were gut-busters (Tony Woods, in particular), but every act was entertaining (save the second American, who sucked balls... I'll remember his name at some point and post a warning).

Right before I said "I'll eat your face, motherfucker!" And to no response.

Climb. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Why does no one worship these things as gods??? I'll be the first.

Frogmouths don't like my hair, either.

Tasmanian Devil. Poor guy was running around in circles. I agree: loud children are scary.

My nephew wanted to see a skink... so here's a skink.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Leave Your Hair at Customs, Part 1

My hair's pretty long. Rather ridiculously long, to be honest. Also to be honest, I kinda like it long. But it's gotta go.

I'm sick of cleaning out my shower drain every three days or so. I'm sick of having to buy proper "product" to make my hair look decent (although I've learned a shortcut or two...). In fact, the only thing I'll truly and properly miss is the strange willingness of women to braid my hair when there's nothing else to do.

Anyway, in preemptive memoriam of my lengthy locks, I've decided to enshrine images of their final vacation in Australia.

Also, taking suggestions for hair styles.

The "woman on a motorcycle" look. Except I'm on a boat. And have a penis.

Now you know why potheads prefer long hair: it can help hide their habits.

Shiny.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Song-Written

A while back I waxed poetic (and perhaps alcoholic) about writing to music, and I've been asked by a handful what I've written to music. Truth is, most of the fiction I write is likely written to some form of music at one point or another, but given the thesis of the earlier "Song-Writing" piece, I figure I'll share what I've written using the method I touted there.

Oddly enough, some of these "song-writings" were written listening to music I don't normally listen to. And it's fairly to easy to tell that I go through phases of what I do listen to. In the case of Star Fall, the song is so ingrained into the story that it's in the story itself.

Just goes to show... imagination really does get pulled out of hats and asses.

The Song-Written:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Up in Your Down Under

By the time anyone reads this I'll be in the air, having left LAX for Sydney, Australia, where I will spend over three weeks making Aussies hate America. Oh, yes... if they don't already, they will...

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Kanga."
"Kango who?"
"No, Kangaroo, bitch!"

Not funny? Fine, how about this one?

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Koala."
"Koala who?"
"Koala Bears, motherfucker!"

You're probably rolling your eyes, but I find the latter one extremely hilarious.

Lost-In-Translation Fact #1: Australians think Americans are arrogant and obnoxious. Americans think Australians are arrogant and drunk. They're wrong. We're right. Nyah.

I plan on eating kangaroo (how evil of me, I know). My friend Helen swears that I'll refuse to try any after seeing roos in the wild. I've seen wild rabbits. I've seen wild cows. I've seen wild deer. I've seen wild pigs. What's my point? I've eaten all of them (and more). Helen's logic is arrogant and drunk. I mean... fallacious.

I was hoping to catch an actual opera at the Sydney Opera House, but I'm going to have to settle for a symphony orchestra. Ah, well... at least I'm actually seeing something at the Opera House, rather than just doing what most Americans do - walk around it.

Lost-In-Translation Fact #2: Australians still use that horribly inefficient "British-English." Why add two unnecessary letters to the phrase, "favorite color?" Why pronounce "zee" as "zed?" Seriously, think about it... it's the only letter that has a pronunciation that begins and ends with a consonant. One of these things is not like the other ones, one of these things does not belong. Er, yeah... that would be us, I guess. But only because we're the only primarily-English-speaking nation without a queen.

An aside: A, Bed, Ced, Ded, Ed, F, Ged, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, Ped, Q, R, S, Ted, U, Ved, W, X, Y, Zed. Yeah... definitely ridiculous.

Also going to an Aussie-rules professional football game with my buddy Adam. Fuck yeah. First sporting event I'll have been to in a looooong time. Can't wait. Good times. With drunk Aussies.

Spending the night at a haunted quarantine station. It was supposed to be (partially) a location scout for an American Ghost Hunters-type production. Sadly, the people who run said production (not Ghost Hunters, by the way) are horribly unreliable. Their loss, not mine... since I'm still going. Nyer.

Lost-In-Translation Fact #3: Most Aussies find Americans horrible travelers. Actually, I tend to agree. Americans are mostly tourists. What culture breeds people who claim to have experienced foreign lands and cultures by taking a cruise ship to a dock filled with other Americans who - outside of funny letters forming words they can't read - wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Cozumel, Nassau, and Miami? Oh, wait... America.

My aforementioned friend Helen is taking me on a (probably) two-day hunt for the infamous Gippsland Earthworm. It's a rare species, often growing up to six-feet in length, with a maw the size of a large marble, full of razor-sharp teeth. They've been known to feed on unsuspecting campers in the night. They have some sort of hollow injector in their mouths that anesthetizes the bite area so they can feed on you without you waking up to your blood being sucked.

Okay, I made all the flesh-eating shit up, but it got you excited, didn't it? Really... they do grow to six-feet. An earthworm! Who wouldn't want to see that? Oh, wait... stupid people who take cruise ships just to offload on beaches full of Americans.

Anyhoo, I might post some cool shit that happens while I'm down there (maybe even my hair cut), but don't get your hopes up.

"Knock, knock."
"Shut the fuck up. Tourist."

Irreview, Book Review: The Story of English in 100 Words

Along with geoscience, another academic interest that has taken hold in me as of late is anthropology and, more specifically, linguistics.  ...