For me our trip to Melbourne was perfectly bookended by these two excellently (but accidently) mirrored pictures of Jess (on our first day) and Emily (on our last):
On our last morning in Melbourne, Jess, Emily and I walked up to the Victoria Market to check out the acres of clothing and crap plastic junk. Then we walked to Smith St, a funky place full of small interesting shops. We visited Vegan Wares (a vegan footwear shop), and then had lunch at Las Vegan, a cool wee vegan cafe. I had a “vegan fish burger”, which turned out to be excellent.
We walked back to the apartment for a rest before heading out into the night to see the opera Turandot, put on at the Arts Centre. It was an astonishing production. The story was a ghastly little piece of nastiness, unpleasant in every respect, but the music and performances were amazing. (The dichotomy was so strong that I almost wished that there had been no surtitles so that I could appreciate the music without being brought down by the ugliness of the story.)
But for me the set was the star. Wow! It was extraordinary what they achieved, sometimes with very simple set-design tricks.
It was a terrific night, and a great way to end our holiday in Melbourne.
On the way back to the apartment we stopped to try and photograph the famous river-side towers that produce massive gas blasts every hour (for no other reason than it’s a way cool thing to do). I only had my iPhone with me, and it didn’t do a very good job in the conditions, but still, this gives you the idea:
Emily flew over to join us for a few days after GAC. We spent the first day of her trip wandering around the Botanical Gardens, and then walking out to St Kilda to take in the famed chocolate dens.
I spent the Friday morning happily pootling up and down the river on a Williamstown ferry.
Then in the evening Jess and I went to the opening events of the Global Atheist Convention. You can read my report on GAC here.
Jess and I took the train out to the Dandenong moutains to do a little hiking. It was a lovely two-hour loop through a thick Eucalyptus forest, with the extraordinary racket kicked up by the cockatoos in the canopy above us.
(See the full gallery for other pictures.)
That evening we went to see a fascinating event called “Video Games Unplugged.” This consisted of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra playing the music from a wide range of computer games. I was astonished by how brilliant these compositions were. To my untutored ear they certainly sounded like exceptional pieces of music. I can remember many years ago having a conversation with my dad about why there were no “modern classical” composers. Well I now think we do have modern classical composers – it’s just that they write for computer games and films these days.
There was a large screen above the stage, and most of the pieces were accompanied by trailers from the games.
Between each piece Wil Wheaton, Kris Straub, and Scott Kurtz goofed about, telling geeky jokes and talking to a couple of the composers and arrangers. I wasn’t familiar with Straub and Kurtz (who started off by assuring us that they were famous in the States, and that we’d just have to take their word for it that their appearance was a Big Deal), but it was fun to see Wheaton in action.
The concert ended with a stroke of genius. They held the final bout in a computer game championship live at the venue. The two combatants sat on the stage with their game controllers, looking for all the world like they were part of the orchestra, with their duel playing itself out on the giant screen for all to see, and with the MSO playing the game’s score as accompaniment. Great stuff.
My friend Jess and I are in Melbourne, primarily to attend the Global Atheist Convention. But the Convention only lasts the weekend, and we have arranged to be here for several days on either side. We spent our first day on the ground checking out the lovely lanes of the central city.
For my latest attempt I’ve tried to reproduce sketches of Han Solo:
and Padme Amidala:
from my “You Can Draw Star Wars” book. Neither look much like who they’re supposed to be, but still, it’s another step along the way. And as for the really unfortunate micro-moustache, that’s an ancient Nabooian tradition – didn’t you know?