22 April 2007

TV Turnoff Week 2007

Heather and I will be participating in TV Turnoff Week 2007 this week. That means no TV, DVDs, internet or Xbox. In a matter of minutes, the plug is pulled.

So what will we do instead? Well, tomorrow evening we will be watching A Friend of Mine, a German comedy. I have seen two German films and both were depressing (I'll tell that story sometime next week), so our friend Klaus is determined to show us that Germans can make funny movies, too. This is part of a German film festival going on in Sydney at the moment. We will probably see another German comedy that Klaus has recommended next Friday or Saturday as well.

Heather is also going to participate in a satire writing workshop, led by me. I gathered some materials this weekend, and we will spend an evening reading and discussing satire, and hopefully writing some of our own.

Heather will get some work done on various quilts she is in the middle of. I will do some reading—I'm in the middle of Don Quixote at the moment. We will go for walks. We'll try a new restaurant. Maybe we'll play Scrabble or some other game. Mostly we'll just see what happens when the TV or computer isn't on all the time.

So we're going off the grid—if you need us, I hope you have our phone number. And I encourage you to give TV Turnoff Week a try, too.

Talk to you in one week.

Weekend entertainment

Friday night, Heather and I went to the movies. Dendy is an excellent theatre here that always shows a variety of independent and foreign films. Since we are trying to stay away from the typical Hollywood movies, we saw a French film called Priceless that was pretty funny. On the way home we talked about who would play in it if Hollywood remade it but couldn't really agree. I say Owen Wilson would be a good lead, but Heather thinks he isn't likeable enough. The movie was good, so if you have an independent or foreign film theatre nearby, look for it. Two thumbs up.

On Saturday, we saw Wilco, one of my favourite bands at the moment, at Enmore Theatre. They played over two hours and it was a great show. Here's the setlist if you're a fan:

You Are My Face
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Muzzle Of Bees
Handshake Drugs
A Shot in the Arm
At Least That's What You Said
One By One
Impossible Germany
Jesus, etc.
War on War
Via Chicago
I'm The Man Who Loves You
Hate It Here
The Late Greats
I'm A Wheel
California Stars
Airline to Heaven
Poor Places
Spiders (Kidsmoke)

I would like to put together an iMix, but I need to wait until their new CD comes out next month. Be on the lookout for that.

18 April 2007

Surfing is hard

While on holiday at the Gold Coast, I finally tried something I have waited a long time for: surfing. Here is a video collection of some of my surfing exploits. In the first scene, I'm the guy who almost gets to his feet before splashing down. The second scene is Heather's favourite. In the third shot, I get to my feet for almost a full second!

These clips were all taken on the first of three days I took lessons. I would love to say I did better each day, but I'm not sure that would be the case. It is true that I learned more, but it didn't show because we attempted bigger and more challenging waves each day. I did catch a nice wave and ride it all the way in at the end of day two, though. But here is my attempt at a cartoon to show you what else happened on the second day.
Like a hammer to a nail. Let's just say I'm glad it was a soft board. That was bad enough.

The third day was really tough because we were paddling out to the biggest waves, and by the time we got out there, I was zapped. I didn't have the strength to push off the board to stand. I rode one wave in sitting side-saddle on the board because that was as far as I could lift myself.

It was hard, and I'm certainly no pro, but I did earn this fine certificate for my efforts, and I'm looking forward to my next opportunity to catch a wave.

17 April 2007

It is time

I was saddened to see the news about the shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday. Saddened, but not surprised. It has happened too many times in recent years to still be a surprise.

It's time for gun control in the US. That is the only sane response I can think of, but unfortunately, I am already hearing the twisted call for more guns in the name of self defense. I can't tell you how many times today I have heard people quoting the Charlton Heston line: guns don't kill people, people kill people. Try telling that to 33 families this morning, Charlton.

After the Port Arthur Massacre in Tasmania in which 35 were killed, the Australian government passed gun reform laws. Port Arthur was the thirteenth mass shooting in eighteen years. There have been no mass shootings in the eleven years since.

The United States has refused to implement gun control, and has in fact allowed the Assault Weapons Ban to lapse. And these tragedies keep occurring.

And another thing, America: the rest of the world is shaking their head sadly. Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, a Bush yes man, even spoke up, saying that the negative gun culture in America would never become a negative in Australia.

My prayers go out to the families and friends of the dead and injured. My letter goes to my congressmen.

11 April 2007

The Gold Coast

Heather and I just got back from what is becoming an annual event: autumn in Queensland. Last year was our cruise to the Reef, this year was the Gold Coast. We spent five days at Surfers Paradise, doing nothing except relaxing on the beach. It was nice to spend a few more days in the sun with the season winding to a close.

And that's was about it: sun, sand and surf. I've got something I'm working on as a presentation for part of the trip, but that will have to wait for now. Just know that we got back to Sydney a little bit more tan than when we left.

As for Surfers Paradise, you could easily convince yourself you were at Myrtle Beach, Padre Island, Panama City Beach or any other typical American beach strip. All the regular players were to be found: Hard Rock Cafe, Hooters, extreme thrill rides, tattoo parlors, and high rise hotels as far as you can see. About the only thing missing was an airbrush t-shirt stand. Surfers Paradise separates itself from these American beaches when you actually get to the beach: blue water, nice waves, powder sand and no tar balls. And since the beach was the only thing we were concerned with on this trip, we had a great time.

01 April 2007

Earth Hour

Last night, from 7:30 to 8:30, Sydney observed Earth Hour, in which people were encouraged to turn out the lights to show their commitment to reducing global warming. Road and safety lighting were left on, but as you can see in these pictures, many businesses and individuals did their part to support the cause. This was the first event of its kind in a major city in the world. The organisers are hoping to repeat the event annually and to hold similar events in other cities around the world.

We were at the Sydney Swans v West Coast Eagles game (more on that later), where they announced that, because of safety, Telstra Stadium would be unable to fully participate in Earth Hour, but they supported the event and would be switching off the large Telstra sign for the hour. Every little bit helps.

See the Sydney Morning Herald's coverage of the event here.