Saturday, February 24, 2007
My five hour flight today from Sydney to Perth went off without a hitch.
Landing in Perth I kept thinking how much it reminded me of Southern California 25 years ago -- spread-out, relatively flat and mostly brown.
The city itself is very charming. It certainly feels like "Western" Australia.
By the way, I learned last night they don't have "downtowns" in Australia. They have "City Centres." Nor do they have "gas stations." They have "Servies" which is short for "Service Station." The Australians love shortening words, like "Uni" for "University."
Sometimes someone will talk to me and I'll sit there thinking, "I know we're speaking the same language, but I don't understand you."
Tomorrow I board the Indian Pacific Railroad for the three day trip back to Sydney (crossing Australia's Outback) and via Adelaide.
One of the world's longest regularly scheduled rail routes, it includes the single longest perfectly straight stretch of railroad track -- 478 kilometers over the stark Nullarbor Plain.
I'll arrive back in Sydney on Wednesday. I'll blog along the way if I can, but I don't really expect internet access on the train as we trundle through the desolate landscape. So we may have radio silence until Wednesday.
But I wouldn't leave you without my annual Oscar predictions. (Since I'll be on the train I don't expect to see the show and may not even know the results for a day or two afterwards. Not my best example of travel planning!)
Forest Whitaker in "The Last King of Scotland"
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Eddie Murphy in "Dreamgirls"
Helen Mirren in "The Queen"
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Jennifer Hudson in "Dreamgirls"
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST ART DIRECTION
"Children of Men"
Martin Scorsese for "The Departed"
"An Inconvenient Truth"
BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY
"The Blood of Yingzhou District"
BEST FILM EDITING
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"Listen" from "Dreamgirls"
BEST MOTION PICTURE
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
"West Bank Story"
BEST SOUND EDITING
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"
BEST SOUND MIXING
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
"Little Miss Sunshine"
At least if my predictions tank I won't know it while it actually happens.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Took the Manly Ferry to Manly Harbor today -- about thirty minutes from Sydney's Circular Quay.
It's considered one of the most scenic (and cheapest) excursions from Sydney.
Saturday I'm up early to fly west (for a change) to Perth, on Australia's West Coast. I'm looking forward to my first glimpse of the Indian Ocean.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Dick Cheney's arrival in Sydney today seemed to have stirred up more dust than mine did.
What is it with VIPs visiting Australia the same time I do?
In 1988 when Brian Perry and I visited Australia it was like we were stalking Queen Elizabeth. She toured Sydney the day before we arrived. We traveled to Canberra, the capitol, and she addresses the House of Parliment the day before. We went to Brisbane to visit the World Expo, and the Old Dame had done a walkabout the day before.
Thursday night I went to see a shocking film that was part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival called "Grimm Love." It tells the true story of one of the most horrifying crimes to have ever occurred. A few years ago in Germany a match was made over the internet. Someone with the desire to eat someone met someone with the desire to be eaten. They met in a chatroom called "Cannibal Cantina."
The Festival host introduced the film by saying it was "the most out there" of all the films in the festival. I don't doubt it. And it proves there is a perfect someone out there for everyone.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
A Broadway-caliber musical based on the movie, "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert" is currently making its world debut in Sydney and I had a chance to see it tonight.
What a fun, fun show. The story is familiar: three drag queens from Sydney ("the drag queen capitol of the world") make their way through the Outback to perform in Alice Springs.
This audience of Aussies loved the show. They clapped along at the slightest hint of a disco beat. They applauded the Harbor Bridge on the stage. And they went wild when they first spotted the bus. (Actually presenting the bus on stage is quite an accomplishment. It looks like a real bus and is a centerpiece of the show.)
And the show loves the audience right back: bringing several audience members onstage for one scene, throwing stuff into the audience, and even the bus floats over the audience at one point.
It'll be interesting to see if this show transfers to London or New York.
Given the nature of the story I was surprised the older, conservative looking audience enjoyed it as much as they did. But it's a fun-loving show that's pretty hard to resist.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Made it to Sydney Tuesday night, but I haven't been out and about yet.
I spent Monday hanging out at my hotel in New Dehli, never venturing out into the madness of the streets before my late night airplane departure.
With time on my hands I went into the hotel's Barber Shop to get my beard trimmed. Before I knew it my head was in this giant steamer machine. It wasn't very pleasant. But I got a good picture for my blog and isn't that what matters anyway?
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan made two promises to his wife on her deathbed: 1) he would build a monument to her unmatched by any built before or could ever be build after and 2) he would never marry again.
He kept both promises. The Empress was buried in the Taj Mahal and Shah Jahan followed her there upon his death.
The Taj Mahal is in Agra, about 4 hours by car south of New Dehli. In my mind going there and back in one day would be a little like a trip to Fresno. That would be true if Highway 99 was filled with people walking, people on bikes, people driving on the wrong side of the road, motorcycles, overloaded trucks, huge containers of wheat being drawn by camels or water buffalo, etc.
What an amazing adventure.
Tomorrow I leave New Dehli for Sydney, Australia. I fly on Singapore Airlines via Singapore, arriving in Sydney on Tuesday night.