Monday, September 24, 2007

The Nation’s Capital: Canberra

This past week I visited Canberra as part of my scholarship program, and had the opportunity to meet the American Ambassador to Australia. We also sat in on an incredibly raucous Parliament session, where the two parties insulted each other like schoolboys and some members were ultimately ejected from the floor. If only the American congress operated like that, politics would be a lot more fun.

After being wined and dined for a few days we traveled up to the Blue Mountains for some hiking (and atonement), before heading to Sydney and then back home. I posted some pictures from the weekend on picasa. Check them out here…

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I exposed myself to Brisbane art/culture

I’ve become friends with a bunch of Mexicans here (who knew I would be practicing my Spanish in Australia?), and over the weekend we went to an art gallery opening in The Valley. There were free drinks, free food, and a live band, and all the exhibits involved “Gray Water.” One black-tiled room was empty except for 6 bubble-making machines mounted to the ceiling, blowing bubbles onto the ground. A sign outside the room read, “The water inside was used to clean bodies in a Mexican morgue. Enter at own health risk.” I went inside, but covered my wine glass so no corpse-bubbles floated in. In another room a movie was being projected, in which naked Thai teenagers were linked together underwater in a sphere, and kept breathing with SCUBA support. In less interactive rooms I saw poison bottles melted into the floor amidst fluorescent lighting, and photographs depicting mannequin heads floating in small crater lakes. All in all, extremely Grey Water.

In other artistic news, The Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) was a few weeks ago, and I saw a bunch of great films for obscenely high ticket prices. The highlight was going to see “All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane” with Ben, which turned out to be a Brisbane version of “Garden State” meets “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Unbeknownst to us, it was the world premier, so all the tickets were sold out. However an old grandma-aged lady was scalping tickets outside, so we bought two from her, and made our way inside. The directors and actors were all there, which was fun, and it was interesting to see familiar Brisbane places in the movie. The take home message: All my friends are leaving Brisbane. Ben identifies with this message, but I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet. Thursday is Mexican Independence Day, so I’ll see most of my new amigos there.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

RiverFest Explosions

I’ve never seen fireworks like this before. In honor of the 10th annual Brisbane River Festival (which celebrates the Brisbane River), self-congratulatory fireworks were set off last Friday night. What made these fireworks special was the depth/levels – they were shooting these things off from the river in front of us, a bridge downriver on the right, a bridge upriver on the left, and from the tops of 5 buildings across the river in the Brisbane skyline. As always, I took some poor video of the event until my camera battery died.