30 September 2006

Free Hugs Guy

This is a video from YouTube about Juan Mann, the 'Free Hugs Guy'. He primarily hangs out at the Pitt Street Mall, just a few minutes from our apartment. I've seen him down there a few times. This video was put together by the Australian band the Sick Puppies and has taken off on YouTube, quickly surpassing one million views.

This second video is a local news report about Juan Mann and briefly details his story, primarily his run-in with city council.

Towards the end of the video a girl calls for a meeting at noon on Monday to 'hug the whole city'. That's this Monday--it's Labour Day here. Heather and I will unfortunately miss this potential meeting, but if there is any local coverage of it, I'll pass it on. For the moment, there is an article here in the Sydney Morning Herald.

23 September 2006

Cheer, Cheer the Red and the White

Attempting to quickly bury that last post. Friday night I went to the Sydney Swans AFL First Preliminary Final against Freemantle. In America you would call it the semifinals. Sydney won the game 19. 13. (127) to 14. 8. (92). That means the Swans had 19 goals (6 points) and 13 behinds (1 point) for a total of 127 points. The Grand Final will be next weekend against the West Coast Eagles. This will be a repeat of last year's Grand Final, won by Sydney.
It will also be a rematch of the first round of the playoffs this year. The AFL uses an interesting format. Eight teams qualify for the finals series, but instead of the typical 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5 matchups, you have two tiers in the first round: 1 to 4 and 5 to 8. If you are in the top half and you win, you get a pass into the semis. If you lose you move on to round 2. If you are in the bottom half and you win, you move on to round 2, but if you lose, you're done. Winners of round 2 advance to the semis. If you are confused, click the diagram to the right.
It's impossible to watch a Swans game and not think of Notre Dame. That's because the Swannies 'borrowed' their fight song. Instead of Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame you sing

Cheer, cheer the Red and the White
Honour the name by day and by night,
Lift that noble banner high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky
Whether the odds be great or small,
Swans will go in and win over all
While her loyal sons are marching
Onwards to victory.

Lions 20, Pirates 27

The streaks are over. The defence gave up all 27 points. The team took the first loss in over three years. We have a bye next Saturday, so that will be two weeks to let this one sink in. New win streak begins on October 7th.

20 September 2006

Sydney Uni Lions

A few of you have heard that I am playing football. Not soccer, rugby or AFL, but American gridiron football. Here in Australia. I play for Sydney University, but this is nothing like NCAA athletics. It's basically just a club team that is hosted by the university.
We play real, fully-padded, hard-hitting football. I'm a defensive back--mostly corner, but some time at free safety. I wear number 4 because my regular 24 was taken. I don't mind--I kind of like the college style single digit. The team is good--we are playing this year for a fourth consecutive title. Undeafeated over that time. So far this season, we are 2-0. We won our first game against the Hated Bondi Raiders 42-0 but narrowly won this past week 20-13. Their points came off a kickoff return and interception return (missed PAT), so our defence is still maintaining a shutout.
Sydney Uni Gridiron has been added to the links on the right. Check it out. Next game is this Saturday versus the Pirates.

12 September 2006

Ben Folds at the Sydney Opera House

Last Thursday, after thirteen months in Australia, Heather and I finally attended a performance at the Sydney Opera House. Ben Folds performed with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. It was a great show, highlighted by 'Brick,' 'Landed,' 'Jesusland,' 'All U Can Eat,' 'The Luckiest' and 'Smoke.' Not sure six songs qualifies as a 'highlight,' but it was that good. It was our first time to see Ben Folds, but from what I've heard about his concerts, he was his typical, interactive and amiable self. The orchestral arrangements for his songs were a perfect accompaniment. We were sitting on the side, right above the orchestra. It was interesting to see them play--a new appreciation of their talents. We thought we were also going to have a good view of Ben when we sat down since he would be facing our direction at the piano. The conductor ruined this when he stepped directly in our line of sight, but as this didn't stop us from actually hearing anything, all is forgiven. There were questions about what to wear to a performance by an informal Ben Folds at the formal Sydney Opera House. We split the difference--khakis and a sweater. As it turns out, there were jeans and tshirts and suits and ties in attendance and everything in between.

05 September 2006

Crocodile Hunter, Rest In Peace

I'm sure you have all heard the news of the death of Steve Irwin, who was mentioned here just a few days ago. It was suggested to me by a few people that I might alter that post, but I decided against it. What was written then was accurate. His death does not change that. However, I felt I should perhaps explain a little more why Australians felt the way they did.
No one here was wishing death on him. It is always tragic when someone dies much too early. Most people appreciated his conservation efforts, most recently his prevention of the establishment of crocodile hunting safaris in Queensland. He rubbed Australians the wrong way with his exaggerated accent and mannerisms. I have heard him referred to as a caricature of himself. People felt he was a sell out to American media interests--never a good way to make friends back home.
Personally, I liked him. I thought he was crazy, but he was good at what he did. His numerous imitators prove the success of the formula. Most importantly, he was sincere in respect for the environment and wildlife.
For more on Australia's reaction to the loss of Steve Irwin, here are a few links to articles from the Sydney Morning Herald. Bizarre death of 'remarkable' man is their story on the event. A deluge of tributes is a collection of quotes from some of the Australian VIPs. Superstar ignored at home provides further insight in to how Steve Irwin was viewed in his home country.