Thursday, February 16, 2017

JLT Community Series- Essendon v Collingwood

It's hard to believe but we have reached the start of the AFL pre-season, this year represented by the JLT Community Series over the next few weeks around Australia. Tonight Belinda and I headed to Etihad Stadium to watch the first game of 2017 between arch-rivals Essendon and Collingwood. There was a large turn out of Essendon supporters to welcome back our players who were suspended by WADA last year over the 2012 supplements scandal.

It was great to have new captain Dyson Heppell playing again, along with former captain Jobe Watson, Michael Hurley, Ben Howlett, Travis Colyer and David Myers. We also had the debut of our number one draft pick Andrew McGrath tonight. The game itself was quite enjoyable and free flowing at times, and Essendon led for the majority of the match. We had quite a few goal kickers, which was an encouraging sign considering last year's scoring issues. The moment of the night for me was in the second quarter when Jobe took a mark and had a shot at goal and the crowd erupted in cheers for him (unfortunately he only kicked a behind).

We went into the fourth quarter with a 23 point lead, but a combination of our veteran players coming off the ground for the night and two super goals by Collingwood sparked the Magpies to make a comeback and ultimately win the game. Although I didn't get my birthday wish of a win, there were a lot of positives to take out of the match for the Bombers, including the fact we played competitively and everyone got through the first match injury free.

Final Score
Essendon: 0.14.10 (94)
Collingwood: 2.13.9 (105)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists

The latest international fashion exhibition at the NGV is Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists. It features the avant-garde creations of the famous Dutch designers, showcasing over 40 pieces from their haute couture and ready-to-wear collections, as well as videos of their runway shows over the years. In addition, the exhibition contains 21 handmade porcelain dolls that are dressed in a miniature key piece to represent each of their major collections since 2008.

Viktor&Rolf are known for the sculptural elements of their designs, with pieces from some of their key collections such as Cutting Edge Couture, The Fashion Show, Wearable Art and Performance of Sculptures on display in the exhibition.

For Viktor&Rolf the theater of the fashion shows can be just as important as the clothes themselves. Two examples of this were one of their first shows, Russian Doll, where model Maggie Rizer was on a rotating platform as they kept adding layers of clothing one on top of another until she was wearing all nine outfits at once. Another key show was Flowerbomb, where the first part of the collection was all in black, and then the stage rotated to reveal another group of models all in pink (this show also went along with the launch of the Flowerbomb perfume, which is one of my favorites).

The exhibition is an amazing opportunity to get to see the construction of these complex designs up close. It runs until 26 February 2017 at the NGV.

Friday, February 03, 2017

NGV Friday Nights- David Hockney and Olympia

NGV Friday Nights is on again for the summer bringing together current exhibitions at the NGV with performances by Australian and international music acts in the Great Hall. Tonight I checked out the David Hockney: Current exhibition, which featured over 1,200 paintings, drawings and video works from the past ten years of his career. Having seen a Hockney exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco in 2013, quite a few of these works were already familiar to me. He has continued to utilise iPhones and iPads to create his drawings, with prints as well as screens displaying the drawing of the pieces throughout each room.

The exhibitions also displayed 80 of his portrait paintings in a long room, which was amazing to walk through and see them all hanging one after the other in the same space.

The landscapes were the highlight of the exhibition for me, with his "Bigger Trees Near Water" paintings covering entire walls of one room, and a series of prints of iPad drawings from Yosemite National Park which were quite beautiful.

The exhibition also features Hockney's fantastic video work "The Four Seasons, Woldgate Woods" but unfortunately it was displayed on screens in a room that wasn't square and therefore lost the power of engulfing you in piece that I felt when I saw it in San Francisco.

After the exhibition I headed to the Great Hall to catch this week's musical act, Melbourne singer-songwriter Olympia (aka Olivia Bartley) and her band. Her debut album Self Talk is on the short list for the 12th Australian Music Prize, and its songs featured throughout her hour long set. Starting with "Honey," highlights included "Different Cities," "This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" and "Somewhere To Disappear." It was great to see some kids sitting captivated at the front of the stage as they watched her absolutely shred on guitar. On a night that saw the launch of the AFL Women's League, it would be great if some of those little girls were equally inspired to pick up an instrument just from watching the gig. The evening closed with "Smoke Signals" (my favorite track off the album), which got a good response from the crowd in the room.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Le Ride

The 1928 Tour de France still stands as the toughest race in its history, with only 41 of the 161 racers who started the race finishing it. It was also the first Tour de France to feature an English speaking team with Australians Hubert Opperman, Ernie Bainbridge and Percy Osborne, and New Zealander Harry Watson making the long six week journey via ship to France to participate.

The story of this Australasian team is not very well known, which is why Phil Keoghan (host of The Amazing Race) and his friend Ben Cornell decided to retrace the route of the 1928 Tour de France and film their adventure. Le Ride documents their insane journey riding around France on those heavy, steel 1928 bikes that don't shift gears or have strong brakes. The film also shows footage of the underdog Australasian team and what they endured on each stage of that gruelling 1928 race competing against 10 man European teams on unpaved roads and riding for hours on end almost every day.

Phil and Ben gained a lot of respect for these riders and what they went through as they rode the route (although at least they had paved roads). The mountain stages in the Pyrenees and the Alps were particularly brutal, with the 225 miles of Stage 9 taking them 23 hours to complete. I really enjoyed the film as I'm a long time fan of Phil (since his mid-1990s Fox After Breakfast days) and I admired his optimism in tackling an adventure everyone else was telling him would not be successful. The film also showcased the beautiful scenery of France and you got to learn some Tour de France history along the way.

We were fortunate enough to have Phil in town to do a Q&A with Lee Turner from the St Kilda Cycling Club after the screening. Phil discussed what it was like to do the ride in 2013 at the age of 46, especially on those 1928 bikes (he did allow himself a modern ergonomic bike seat though). He discussed the physical toll it took on their bodies, which included hip pain for him for over a year. Since they were riding for so long every day it was impossible to eat enough to match the calories they were burning (hitting up French bakeries and eating quiches seemed to be one solution). They drank a magic concoction each night which seemed to help their recovery and prevent muscle cramping. They were also very fortunate to not have any punctures throughout the whole race (unlike the 1928 riders who faced multiple punctures in each stage), although Phil's handlebar frame cracked on the first day and had to be welded back together.

If you love the Tour de France or are a fan of Phil's you should definite check out Le Ride. It is screening at ACMI through 12 February and will have a showing at SXSW in Austin in March 2017.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March On Melbourne

Today was the first day of The Resistance with the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States (you cannot know how much it pains me to type that). This afternoon nearly 6,000 people gathered at the State Library for the Women's March on Melbourne, one of many sister marches around the world in solidarity with tomorrow's massive Women's March on Washington. It was a pretty big turn out to not only oppose the Trump presidency, but also fight against misogyny, bigotry and hatred.

There were a number of speakers, including a couple of representatives from Democrats Abroad. The highlight of the afternoon though was writer and Guardian Australia columnist Van Badham, who gave an impassioned speech that motivated everyone. I loved her line, "If you are a feminist and you are not a member of a union, you are not doing feminism properly."

Once the speeches concluded everyone hit the streets to march to Parliament House (not sure why we didn't head down St Kilda Road to the US Consulate). There were some great signs in the crowd and a few chants, but it was a bit subdued on the walk, which may have been because of the tragic events on Bourke Street yesterday. It was good to get some honks of support from cars driving by along the march route, but things kind of fizzled once we reached the steps of Parliament House as the sound system wasn't working. However, it was still a great event and I was glad I could participate and demonstrate my resistance to Trump while living outside of the US.

Of course, today is only the beginning, and it will be important to keep the momentum going. So what can you do?
  1. Continue the protest of the Women's March by joining their campaign for 10 Actions for the first 100 Days.
  2. Follow progressive voices in the media like Robert Reich, Van Jones, Shaun King, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Michael Moore, who will keep you up to date on the truth of what is happening and any calls to action to stop Trump and the Republican Congress.
  3. Read Indivisible, which was written by former congressional staffers and is a how to guide on ways to engage and influence your representatives in Congress and resist the Trump agenda.
  4. Get involved at the local, state and/or national level by contacting your local representatives to let them know what you think - both positive and negative.
  5. Support organisations like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood that are fighting for people's rights.
  6. Continue to protest, stay active and resist!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

White Cloud: Tim Finn

Tonight Fran, Lara and I headed to the intimate Fairfax Studio at the Arts Centre Melbourne to see the second of three performances this weekend for White Cloud: Tim Finn. This one hour and 15 minutes performance was written by Tim Finn and New Zealand playwright Ken Duncum. It focused on family, identity and home through the telling of generational stories using a mix of spoken word, music and song. Tim, who moved between acoustic guitar, piano and ukulele, was accompanied by long time collaborator Brett Adams on electric guitar. Video artist Sue Healey compiled the projected visuals for the performance out of home movies from the Finn and Healey family archives.

Written as a series of impressions, the narrative jumps around between families and different eras of life in New Zealand for its white settlers (Pakeha) and their interactions with native Maori people. Most of the music is original to the show, but there were glimpses of Tim's Split Enz back catalogue with the opening verse of "Haul Away," the piano intro to "Remember When" and a bit of the chorus to "I Hope I Never" played on the piano in the swing style of his mother. The song "White Cloud, Black Shadow" joined all the bits together as it was played in four parts throughout the performance.

The show is thought provoking as it calls upon the stories of ancestors through journals, letters and memoirs. It gets you thinking about your own family history and where home resides when you are an immigrant. The most touching part of the performance for me was the section about Tim's mother Mary, with it's recorded bits of dialogue from a journal she wrote about her life as she was dying of cancer. We were lucky to be at the show where Tim did a Q&A afterwards, and he spoke about the fact that he feels her presence each time he performs the show. It was good to hear his thoughts and explanations about things as it made parts of the show clearer since it isn't written as a traditional narrative. If you have the opportunity I would definitely recommend checking out White Cloud.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Indie Australia Sampler Vol. 7

It's nearly the end of 2016, so here's my annual compilation of some of my favorite Australian songs released this year. It's another eclectic mix of music styles, with some great Aussie hip-hop really coming to the fore in 2016.

1. The Stiffys - "Celebrate Every Night"

2. The Living End - "Monkey"

3. Alex Lahey - "Ivy League"

4. Rolls Bayce - "Inside Out"

5. Sans Parents - "Can't Stop Moving"

6. The Ocean Party - "Hunters"

7. The Goon Sax - "Boyfriend"

8. Holy Holy - "Elevator"

9. Dan Sultan - "Magnetic"

10. L-FRESH The LION - "1 in 100,000"

11. Tkay Maidza - "Always Been"

12. Omar Musa - "Lak$a"

13. Sampa the Great - "2 4"

14. REMI - "Forsaken Man"

15. D.D Dumbo - "Satan"

16. Olympia - "Smoke Signals"

17. Big Scary - "The Opposite Of Us"

18. Slow Dancer - "Don't Believe"
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