where are tom and joel?

some may ask, where are tom and joel these days? well here, you can find out.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

the end of an epic.

And so i'm back, tapping away on my lovely little ibook, munching on Mr Spuds delicious potatoes with more filling than potato, and gorging myself on all the music i've missed.

It's good to be back, in a way, being here makes me realise how much i missed certain people/places/foods (mainly foods).

Our last full day in L.A was exactly what we imagined it would be , the city of angels is everything i imagined in the stereotype thoughts i had had about it before. There's fast food restaurants everywhere, literally everywhere, and downtown is the most 'downtown' like place i've ever been. Riding the buses around is fun though, everyone has something to say and put forward, the bus drivers are super friendly and its all much much cheaper than england.

Joels one wish of america was to go to a diner, so we found one close by to our hotel (in Inglewood...), and again, it was exactly what we imagined. I ordered the country omlette and a chake, Joel the burger and root beer. We guessed my omlette must have been made up of at least 5 eggs, and the shake of pure ice cream with extra whipped cream on top for good measure. Perhaps tasty then, but for the first time in my life the next day i had a dairy hangover. It was worse than any alcohol hangover i've ever had. Seriously.

Anyway, we said we would put a few awesome photos up that we never managed to before.

dog with a sword! wahhhh

Well thats all thats needed, really.

And if i ever pay off my debt for traveling this time around, perhaps this blog will be alive next year...

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Oh, Joel's right here.

So I finally reached LA, the last stop on our trip before heading back to England. In the most amazing timequake of my life thus far, I boarded the plane in Melbourne at the same time, on the same day, that I got off the plane in LA. That was cool.

The rest of the Melbourne Festival was very enjoyable. I averaged about 2 and a half films a day, and got to know some nice places to hang out in the city. Lots of animation, lots of documentaries, and one amazing animated documentary. Australia in general was very friendly and pleasant - and it was nice to have a summer in Byron and then a winter in Melbourne. I got a lot of use out of my woolly hat.

I won't be using it much here in Los Angeles, however. It's very hot and sunny here. Coming to the States for the first time is a pretty big deal for me, although I'm not really getting much of a look at it this time. Especially as the place I'm staying is practically in LAX. I'm just kind of waiting around now, pretty eager to get back home. Never mind, there's plenty of time to see the rest of it.

I guess this will be my last blog post, so thanks for reading. I might not come back any wiser, or even any older, but I had a whole lot of fun. Who needs attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion when you've got small dogs, big gods, electric towns, beautification enforcement areas, soundtracked landscapes, floating villages, Canadian pirates, trains, planes, automobiles, buses, coaches, taxis, bicycles, ferries, longboats and even the occassional tuk-tuk?

Knocked me sideways, anyway.


Saturday, 2 August 2008

Fiji is...

Hot. After the cold, cold, but great times in Sydney over the last few days its great to come back to somewhere with decent weather. But it's not overwhelmingly so, so i can still move around in the day without too much trouble. And everything is on a tab, so i end up getting a lot of drinks.

Couply. I've only been to two places with a family atmosphere on my travels, Railay and here. There's even more couples here, I've found. And lots of groups going on two week holidays. Not the best people to try and befriend when travelling alone. It was a lot easier in Nepal, as people were, well, better. Maybe it's me. Although i have befriended quite a few Japanese students, as they all seem to come down here for a working holiday or to study English. Seems like a great place to do it. Even though their English is slightly limited it's nice having some company.

Good for walks. With the lack of conversation being made I've been taking a few super long walks along the masses of road and beach there is here. Along the roads i passed through villages, where everyone stops to talk and all the children wave at you, at first it's a bit intimidating when a huge guy comes up to you with an even bigger cleaver, but all they want is a little chat. The beaches are just as friendly, in the distance you can see the waves crashing along the coral reef, and strewn across the beach is tons of bits of coral, all of it i want to take home.

Coco Loco. Not taking any beverage with me on these long walks was not much of a problem, as the entire beach is backed by hundreds of coconut trees, and after a few minutes of bashing their fruit against the rocks, i managed to split a few open and drink some of what was inside. The rest went all over down my hair, neck, arms and clothes. But it was definitely worth it, with the beach being as remote as it was, i felt like i was on a desert island. After some more time bashing, i broke them open and scraped out the inside with my nails. Tasty.

Cheap. Another use for coconuts here is in oil, which i found yesterday when i bought a twenty dollar (7 pounds) massage at the resort I'm staying in. Again, afterwards i was covered in coconut, my hair was super greasy, but smelt so good. And it was definitely worth it, unlike my massage back in 'Nam, the masseuse was hired for her skills, not her looks. Perhaps Fiji isn't quite as well priced as S.E.A, but what hides that is that everything here is put on a nice big fat tab for you, so it all seems free at first. Which i can deal with, until Wednesday anyway.

Chilled. The resort I'm staying in is about 45 minutes from then nearest town, which is one of the reasons they give you a tab, no-one bothers to ever get out of the resort, it has everything you need. So all people do here is lie around in hammocks and go for a swim occasionally, as long as the pool/beach is close by. I think the most I'm going to do today, as the weather is a bit cloudy, is attend a free coconut jewellery making workshop. It looks hard work.

Don't get too jealous, as I'll be back in a week, and have to find a job immediately and work off my wonderful adventures. Also, i haven't got everyone presents, so a lot of you may be receiving hugs, or bits of coral as your gift from afar...

The internet is being really bad at uploading photos, so i only have a few on there at the moment.






Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Best of the Fest

Hi everyone. I'm still at the festival in Melbourne, the town that was founded by Batman.
Here are some things I've been seeing:

Ploy - A new Thai film from auteur Pen-Ek Ratanaruang about a couple returning from the US to Bangkok for a funeral. Having been in the states for a decade, they no longer have a home in Thailand and check into a five-star hotel. There, the husband meets Ploy, a 19-year old waiting for her mother to arrive from Stockholm. He invites her to nap in his room, which upsets the wife and exposes a gap in their 7-year marriage. The talky scenes are a bit mundane, with the couple's complaints of married life sounding a bit too familiar from similar films. The quieter moments, though, are remarkable; this is the most jet-lagged film I've ever seen. There's even the occasional suggestion that the characters are dreaming each other along the narrative, and you're never quite sure what's really happening or who's awake.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image is hosting some of the festival's screenings, and it's the kind of place that I wish was in every city. Among other things, there are a set of individual screens that offer hundreds of short films...for free! So I can watch animated shorts all day long, which is just about my favourite thing to do.

Animation (with dogs) - Of course, this is still a festival and there are still the expensive ways to do things. This was a set of short animated films, all linked by including a dog in there somewhere. Some were European and weird, some were Australian and normal, some were Australian and weird, some were European and normal. My favourite was 'KJFG No.5', which I can't find on the internet but I recommend. It proves that the less dialogue more funny animal noises you have the better the film.

Blip Festival: Reformat the Planet - When Nintendo released its home and hand-held consoles, such as the GameBoy, it was a revolutionary technology that changed video games forever. Now, the kids who played them obsessively have grown up...and they've learned a few things. 'Chiptunes' is the name given to music created using video game consoles, and it's the subject of this excellent concert documentary. The genre is compared to hip-hop for its hacking of corporate technology, and to punk for its attempt to strip an elaborate music form back to its bare bones. However, it belongs entirely to the geeks, and differs to these genres in its complete lack of anger or outward rebellion. These musicians are taking their most beloved childhood memories and pushing them further, using them to create; making them do more than they were meant to do, celebrating but transcending nostalgia. The live performances at New York's 'Blip Festival' are energetic and lively, backed by jaw-dropping live visuals. As someone who has placed so much in technological pop culture, it's inspiring to see a generation use their favourite hobbies to create something wonderful and new. A great film, and a great way to learn about this exciting, generous, global, honest, independent and totally unique scene.

The Night James Brown Saved Boston - Another (very different) concert documentary, looking at James Brown's performance at the Boston Garden on the 5th of April, 1968 - one night after Martin Luther King's assassination. Illuminating interviews are interspersed with remarkable live footage of Brown, which exists because of the controversial last-minute decision to televise the concert, over fears of riots in the city centre. As the night went on, trouble and violence hit the streets of Chicago, New York, Baltimore and Detroit - but Boston remained peaceful. The film then explores (too briefly) how this momentous performance turned Brown into black America's new spokesperson and leader, who as an entertainer rather than a politician or religious figure could reach younger generations with a powerful, immediate effect. Brown took on this role, and helped to stop the riots not because he disagreed with them but because it was detrimental to the memory of what King lived and died for.
Also, there's a great short film with James Brown here. Watch it.


Saturday, 26 July 2008

and what tom's doing...

Sorry i haven't blogged in such a while. I don't really have much of an excuse, except Joel always seems to get there much faster than me.

war memorial in Canberra. light was really nice. we found out after this that the whole hill this memorial is on is a huge museum, full of about every war Aus has been in.

I got into rainy Sydney about 15 minutes ago, although warmer than the south, it's much more wet. Down south we've been doing the nature part of our travels, with lots of bird spotting, wombat cuddling and kanga feeding. I didn't realise how tame some of the animals here are, on a walk with Meredith we saw kangaroos that came right up to you, and multicoloured birds that landed on my shoulder. Which was just lovely.

koala! kawaii!

hmm. i've forgotten what this is called. but the others didn't look like this one...


Because of Joel having to go to his stinking film festival on time, and me having to get back to sydney to find another drinking partner and in a few days depart for fiji, we only got to stay one night at Merediths, which i've been wanting to visit since i was about 10. But it was still a lovely evening, her home is all you could ever want in the middle of the "bush", with lots of wood and comfy chairs around a fire. Its so lovely to stay in a home, instead of sharing a room with some bunks in. So thanks, Meredith!

The "bush" around Merediths house

Merediths house. Very cosy.

Travelling is getting worryingly closer and closer to not being travelling, and being home. With money being how it is i'm starting to dread the idea of a routine, but at least every time i think about it i stop taking this amazing holiday for granted, and enjoy every little thing about it.

Tonight i meet Cat, a Sydneyer I met the first time i was here, who's putting me up for the last few nights in Aus. Pictures should be up, a few days after the blog is published, of course.



Being urban, trying to be urbane.

So here's what's what and who's where: I'm in Melbourne, arrived this morning at 6am (it's now 10.15pm here). Tom's in Bateman's Bay, on the East coast, with Meredith and no internet access. We parted after feeding kangaroos and seeing some stunning Australian countryside (although I get told off unless I call it 'bush').

Soon after arriving in Melbourne I adopted 'festival mode': a map of the city in one pocket, a scribbled schedule of films in the other, and, thanks to the cold weather, I'm wearing 4 layers. Yessss. The Melbourne International Film Festival (yes, that would make MIFF) is one of the biggest and longest-running film festivals in the world, and shows a very wide range of films from all over the world. Unfortunately, it's plagued by bureaucracy based on suspicion and elitism, but we won't go into that. Today I saw my first film, Idiots and Angels, a dark animation about a lonely miser who one day sprouts wings, which try to turn him good. It was pretty good, but bleak.

Right now I'm waiting for a midnight screening of George A Romero's Day of the Dead, one of my favourite zombie films. Romero's actually doing a Q&A, but I think I'll miss it as his last film was really, really, really bad. I wouldn't want to start an argument. I plan to book for 17 more screenings, and then stop myself there, for the sake of my wallet. But there are some very interesting-looking things in the program.

As for Melbourne, I've only been here one sleep-deprived day, but I love it. It's exciting to be part of such an old festival in such a culturally wealthy place, not to mention varied. This place has everything that I love about big cities - activity, life, generosity, diversity, trams. It even has neon lights and rain. Brill. No photos from me, I'm afraid, as I don't have a camera. But hopefully I'll develop into such a master storyteller that you'll feel as if you're here anyway.

On the dessert front, something has happened. Something surprising...embarrassing...even upsetting. I threw away some cake. A fair amount of cake. I'm ashamed. But baklava is deadly stuff and should come with a warning. I couldn't even manage half before I had to get rid of it. Tasty, yes. Easy, no. Anyone wanting to lose weight should just have a piece of that on Monday, and you won't feel like eating for a week.

Maybe it's just the baklava talking, but I'm pretty excited about the next ten days.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Oh, and the Pope says hi.

We're back in Sydney for one night only, stopping off on our way down to Canberra.
Frankly, it's a little strange. Yesterday was World Youth Day, and the Pope was down under to greet the masses. Today everyone who came to see him is leaving Sydney, but for some reason everybody has matching rucksacks and calls each other 'pilgrim'. It feels like we've come back to some weird future Sydney from a sci-fi novel, but it's still a nice city and friendly.

We spent the last 10 days in Byron Bay doing...well, not doing much at all. If that sounds lazy, then it's because you've never been to Byron; it's a place that's pretty well suited to doing not much at all.

IMG_6865It has sunsets like this every day.

Not only was our hostel rather nice, but they gave us free bike rental, so we spent a large portion of our time pedaling. Also, the beach is very pretty there, perfect for lounging around or going into the sea when you feel like braving the cold, and the waves (I got hit by a very big one). Byron is a lovely, friendly town, so it was always nice to walk around. Not to mention the huge selection of cake shops.

IMG_7039It also has moonrises like this at the same time every day.

Today we arrived in Sydney at 6am after a bus journey for which we packed cheese and avocado sandwiches, chocolate bars, fruit and double chocolate and pecan brownies (a selection representative of our stay in Byron). We tried checking into our suspiciously cheap hostel twice, then went to see a free break dancing performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art. We had a stroll around Sydney, then finally made our way into our room, before having more cake and tea.
You'll notice that that's the third mention of cake in this post, and well...most people know how much cake I eat in England. And I'll tell you what...Australia has done nothing to assuage this obsession. I've had to separate my money into 'accommodation budget', 'travel budget', 'food budget' and then 'cake budget'. Don't worry though guys, I'm on top of it.
Tomorrow we get the bus down to the suspiciously expensive hostel in Canberra, then meet up with Meredith (Tom's aunt) in a couple of days. I'm trying at the moment to change my ticket so that I can stay in Melbourne for the film festival instead of going to Fiji.
More as it comes.

IMG_7023The best part of Byron, though, has to be how whenever Tom went to the beach he turned into a giant, and then danced around like a huge Michael Jackson.