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Token post…

January 26, 2007

…just to appease Gruntski.  Done

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The road to fame

November 16, 2006

So we spent last weekend in Virginia Beach, VA. We went specifically to see Death Cab for Cutie in the nearby city of Norfolk.

It was the longest (and most ambitious) road trip I’ve embarked on to see a band; a foreign state in a foreign country. And despite Virginia Beach being fairly disappointing, suffering from unforgiving and zealous developers, the weekend was fantastic and worth the trip.

The Death Cab show was a world away from The Corner in Melbourne 2003 where the venue was divided in half by a curtain and they struggled to fill even that. This gig was packed (sold out) and the stage had a backdrop reflecting their current album cover. The one constant was the quality of the gig. Over 2 hrs they touched on all albums, although dipping heavily into Transatlanticism and Plans. No “Title Track”, but at least they played “Photobooth” and “Company Calls” for me. The duelling drums of Ben and Jason on “We looked like giants” was amazing to watch and set the crowd off.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists supported. They rocked – and if you like The Clash or The Jam, I’d look them up.

The venue was a beautiful old theatre in Norfolk – a city with the largest naval base outside of Russia. The venue was a little more polished than you would expect from your average rock gig, but the weirdest thing was that the bands kept starting bang on time.

My only complaint – that all the OC kids kept singing along – loudly. Even during a quiet Ben-only acoustic number. I didn’t pay for bad karaoke. But, hey, 10 out of 10 for knowing the words kids.

Other weekend highlights:

kebab substitute after DCFC – italian sub sandwich from Chichos pizza

the 2 days of freaking awesome fall weather

gorgeous fall colours on the trees on the way up

the dunes, pipers and Atlantic ocean on the un-destroyed Back bay wildlife refuge

going to find dinner and instead drinking for 5 hours with a local artist, a social worker, a homeless guy called “Grey Wolf”, a bouncer, 3 naval pilots on F-18 training and a girl who controls the aircraft carriers

seeing the dismal swamp canal on the way home despite the torrential rain

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Up from Downunder, ya’ll

October 26, 2006

Just over a week ago we had our first visitor from downunder. We were very excited when Dad first called to say that he may be stopping by at the tail-end of a business trip. The possibility turned into an itinerary and it worked out really well because he was here from Friday afternoon through Sunday night, giving us a full weekend to give him a taste of the American south.

Some preperation was required. For example, we had to expand on our “minimalist” life-style and expand our crockery from 2 plates to 4. Combined with our 4-person cutlery set, we are now set to hold some gala dinner parties…..as long as guests can cope with wine out of glasses that could survive a drop from our second storey apartment.

It was great to see him. At the airport, we had our camera ready for when he made an appearance, but so did he – I think each of us has a photo of the other taking a photo! After dropping off his luggage, we headed straight out for a pint in our favourite local beer garden.

Despite his insane jetlag (he’d been in the states for a grand total of like 6 days) he managed to survive as we dragged him from place to place forcing him to try local beers and iconically southern cuisine (a feat for any stomach and arteries to manage). Dad did really well for only 2 and a bit days in NC, trying grits, biscuits (like scones), hushpuppies, pulled-pork BBQ, brunswick stew and gumbo.

Fortunately, Dad got fantastic weather (which has only gotten worse since he left). It provided us a great afternoon exploring Chapel Hill / Carrboro topped off with dinner and drinks at the Carolina Brewery. On Sunday, a walk in the beautiful forest of Umsteadt Park lead to a canoe ride (last chance for the season) around one of the larger lakes.

It was fantastic to have a visitor from home. We packed in a lot in our short time, but eventually we had to do the sad sendoff (although I think Dad was looking forward to sleeping in a more familiar time zone). Saying goodbye at the airport was like a weird reversal of Tullamarine 8 months ago. At least he got to come though, and even better that worked payed for most of it!

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Fraggle Rock

October 24, 2006

I know it’s been a while, but I’ve had a case of blog block.

So after a dozen years of waiting, I finally saw Built to Spill perform. They have never toured Australia (although they probably will while we are over here) so i jumped at the opportunity to see them.

I was really looking forward to it and in the weeks leading up to the gig, I’d put together my own BTS retrospective on the iPod.

However, the day got off to a bad start. Both Mrs Antman and myself had been doing field work all day and were pretty stuffed by the evening. But, at the club we were feeling much more alive and ready to rock. The downfall was two support acts. I’m all for the concept of support bands; the up-and-comers get a go and we get exposed to some new tunes. But on a week night, when I’m tired, I really just want to hear the band I came to see (geez, i’m an old man!).

The first act were, to put it plainly……shit. The next act was great, but in my opinion took great liberties in playing for 1.5 hours. They actually played longer than BTS who didn’t come on until midnight.

When Doug Martsch from Built to Spill came on, the crowd fairly beserk. If you didn’t know better, you would have to wonder why such a figure would garner so much attention – he had long, unruley hair encircling a bald patch that was compensated for by a beard that wouldn’t look out of place on the Man from Snowy River. Throughout the gig, he would run a towel over his sweaty head, causing his wispy hair to float around in the stage lights making him look like a crazed Fraggle. His vocals seemed out of place emerging from such a figure.

Great gig – with close attention paid to covering their moderately long career and not just the new album.

One problem – and I’m going to sound old saying this – but it was too loud. Probably not surprising given the 5 piece set up, including 3 guitars.  However, it was difficult to make out the melody at times. The solution came in the form of moving back, through an archway, with the stage still in sight, but standing near the toilets.

Obviously not prime position, but it allowed the BTS songs and Doug’s voice to sound as good as we know they are.

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The same, but different

October 12, 2006

Thanks to Seebs for showing me how…

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Trickling trinkets

September 25, 2006

I love this time of year. Like the changing of the seasons, August / September (although it seems to get earlier every year) herald the annual release of new trick trinkets and shiny bits from the bicycle industry. It allows us to indulge in that other, less spiritual, side of cycling – gear!

But bike companies don’t just put all their cards on the table at once. They love to watch us clamber for crumbs whenever they choose to drop them, working us into a drooling, materialistic fever. It is a flurry of sneak previews, early releases and internet leaks.

It’s totally addictive, but the first step is admitting it. C’mon, don’t leave me out here by myself……

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Jet fighter

September 24, 2006

Not so much a movie review as a demand; but in the words of one M. Meldrum “Do yourselves a favour” and go see Jet Li’s “Fearless”.

Not quite “Hero”, but bloody good. A Chinese period piece telling the true story (loosely) of Huo Yuanjia. Well structured story and fantastic fight scenes. You even learn how to plant rice. What else do you want?