Friday, March 30, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

I'm busy!

What a nice change! And to think that my parents will be here on Sunday and then of all the things I still want to have done before they are here - time is short! But once they are here, three weeks of complete relaxation and enjoyment will be my share.

So Jaag: back to work! You can rest later!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Just write

I've told some of you already that of late my work has been stagnating a bit. The feeling of: "Why am I doing this", "I just want to get it over with!" and the absence of a hard deadline and obligation to go into uni every day, have all contributed to this. But! Just a few days before my mom and dad will be here in Adelaide (joy!) I am beginning to see the light again.

I was reading some articles about how beginning academics tackle their biggest problem: keep writing on their research. Not that I am an academic (yet?) but the problem is of course the same. The solution however is as obvious as it is simple: just write. I know, it sounds stupid and too straightforward, but looking at my own way of working, it makes sense. I think too much, or better to say: worry too much. I can hear my mom in my head saying: "Maak nou eens geen waterhoofd!" (Stop turning your head into a water balloon!). The fear of writing has become the driving force behind my procrastination and that is why yesterday I punctured the water balloon and just wrote - 4 pages on end and a rewrite of my previous argument.

I have to admit, there are no academic references yet, but I can fill those in later. The important thing is that finally my argument is becoming solid and clear for my machinima research:

Map out and identify the different practices inside machinima and how these practices relate to machinima's position in-between both game-culture and traditional film making.

Sounds pretty workable to me!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Papillon d'Amour

Beautiful short about what a dear friend of mine calls: "Same shit, different name": of course the fragile balance between love and life. About how butterflies struggle to come into this world and bloom for such a short time.

Lecture

Yesterday I have given my first lecture! In English and about machinima. It was Monday morning at 9am. Although I had built in a buffer of 20 minutes, the Adelaidian bussystem still managed to make me late. At 9:05 I came rushing into the lecture theater with a lot of anxious looking faces turned at me. So much for an easy start. But once I got the powerpoint on, I was in business. And it went great! It felt really cool to stand there and just talk about the stuff that I'm doing at the moment with machinima and they even found my quirky jokes funny (don't forget: 9am...)

Afterwards Katie said she thought it went really smooth and natural, a born lecturer. Well thanks Katie.

And now I am going to do it again tomorrow, at 10am this time and with a slightly different focus, away from gaming and more towards film making. Should be alright, I'm feeling confident! Although I will need to be really concise for I only have 30 minutes instead of 50 - I say: high speed, low drag.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A hint of music

It has been a while since I put some music here. I don't know about you, but at the moment I am a bit in a classical and film music mode, so here are some things to enjoy:


Deportation / Iguazu by Gustavo Santaolalla
For those of you who have seen Babel recently, you will instantly recognize this hauntingly beautiful piece of music. Gustavo's work is excellent as are the other songs on the Babel soundtrack, which is spread out over 2 cds and incorporates a lot of styles and influences, an intricate tapestry, just like the movie.


The Illusionist - Philip Glass

Philip Glass, you love it or you hate it, there doesn't seem to be a middleground when it comes to this man and his minimal music. The soundtrack for the Illusionist is again a nice piece of work and this main theme is instantly recognizable to those who know any of Glass' other works. (he also did the Notes on a Scandal soundtrack, which is better enjoyed in its entirety, than as seperate songs)

I love Magnatune! They let you listen to everything for free, with just a little note at the end of each song. I can always find something new and interesting there.

Bach: Transcriptions of Italian Music by The American Bach Soloists has been one of these finds. A very vibrant and emotive performance of two very accessible works by Bach in his lighter mood. Especially the first part of the cd, the Concerto for Four Harpsichords is fantastic. Lots of energy and swirling musical motives.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Fringe is in town

Last night I went into town to go and see what was going around the Fringe Festival. Every year during the whole month of March, Adelaide is host of the Fringe Festival. With over 400 acts there is something going on basically every moment of the day. An enormous bunch of streetperformers, upcoming artists, theater-groups, comedians and heaps of others are filling the theaters and other places which resemble a stage (streets, parks, squares, you name it) to perform.

The main hub of activity is in the so-called Garden of Unearthly Delights, in Rundle Park and it was there that I went last night. The Garden is open all day, but it really comes to live after dark. With lights, people, music and circus tents scattered about, it had the feel of a fair. I strolled around the place and found some small tents here and there with magicians and other performers. For a couple of bucks you could go in and watch the show. When the performers were rallying spectators I could here a couple of them talking with a very distinct Dutch accent, so I went up to them and asked. And yes! They were from The Netherlands! Really funny, they had been travelling all around the world in pursuit of festivals like this. It is a small world after all :)

After watching the Dutch magicians doing a cool coin trick and a Dutch girl and her dad doing some quite freaky telekinetic stuff (I still can't figure out how they did it, or even scarier: how it could have been real!) I found Michael strolling around the place and I tagged along with him and Bruno for some drinks and dancing.

All in all a good night and I will definitely go back a couple of times during the remainder of the month!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Winning big @ The Adelaide Cup 2007

WWWOOOWW!!!

I won money!! :D

Australia, you just gotta love it!

Today it was Adelaide Cup day. What kind of cup is that? Well.. there isn't really a cup.. the Adelaide Cup is all about: horse races! Aussies are weird people, a public holiday for horse racing. Every major state has its own Cup (with the Melbourne Cup being the biggest event, celebrated all over the country, but only as an official holiday in Victoria) and this Monday it was Adelaide's turn! I have never been to horse races, nor placed a bet on anything in my life, so me and Aki decided to go.

It was at the racing grounds in Morphettville. I knew from the Melbourne Cup that everybody dresses up pretty and chique, so Aki and me went in our slickest outfits of course, my cowboy boots being an instant hit. I can't count the times (drunk) people stopped me to say they liked the boots so much. It was a very 'straight' happening, with all the guys in very safe (and boring) suits and jackets, so yeah it takes a bit of courage to pull cowboy boots off ;)

In this very buzzing and happy atmosphere Aki and I placed our bets. Of course we both knew nothing of horse racing, so we sneaked up on old guys who had heaps of papers and books with them, obviously the retired men who devote all their time to that one passion: horse racing. We got a paper from one of the men and he explained how all the odds and stuff worked. With this new knowledge Aki and I made some 'educated' guesses and even went to predict a couple of quinellas (where you predict both the number 1 and 2). With our tickets in hand we went to the track and shouted with the crowd at our horses and after a nose to nose finish we realized in an instant: WE HAD WON! Not only did we predict the correct number one, we won the QUINELLA!! :D

So both Aki and me could reap our harvest of a 110 bucks!! (of course wishing that we had bet more money on our quinella, like 5 bucks instead of our 2, because we got a whopping 43 dollars for every dollar we bet on that combination!)

As a tribute, see here our prize winning horse, Gallic:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mardi Gras | Reloaded

As you all know the theoretical concept of "tomorrow" is up for debate, since every new day has a tomorrow. I do however acknowledge that I have been lacking to update all of this and leaving you all wondering about when "tomorrow" turns into "today".

Well: Today! I have been sick these last couple of days. Yes I know - nasty, fever, strep throat, dizzyness, blablabla, not over yet, but well on my way to recovery - anyway: I am back here. To fill you all in on what I have been doing those six days in Sydney during Mardi Gras.

I left Adelaide at 9am on the first of March and this time I was well on time. No rushing, instead I had to wait and wait. More people were apparently leaving for a nice long weekend interstate, because the whole departure hall was full of people with large suitcases. Oh well, what can you do? Nothing, just stand in line. Of course at a slug's pace the queue shortened, but it was worth it, because the friendly lady behind the counter could swap me over to an over wing seat - I never say no to some extra space! And with that done I was checked-in, seated and ready to go.

The flight went by in a breeze and 2 small hours later I was on the train and on my way to the heart of Sydney. Thursday night I had called upon one of my internet buddies in Sydney, Saad, for a place to sleep. Saad had to go to Uni all day so I dropped my backpack at the Central Station and went into town. First stop was the Art Gallery again, I read that there was an anime exhibition on and I was curious about it. Unfortunately it wasn't really exciting - just a bunch of pages from anime comics framed with short explanations about what the pages depict. Lunch was then my second thing to-do. I went to a salt-water pool near the Art Gallery before and I knew that they served food as well, so I decided to head there. After a hearty lunch, I went down to the pool itself and came to the conclusion that even with goggles on, salt water is not fit for swimming. As luck wants it, just that same afternoon there was a yoga-class at the pool, so I joined and enjoyed that.

Time to pick up my stuff and go to Saad. A short ride on the train brought me to St. Peters where his apartment building was. After a short refreshing shower and change of clothes, we went to a very nice Indian restaurant in Newtown. For dessert we went elsewhere: Oxford St! When we arrived in what would be the main hub of activity over the coming days of Mardi Gras madness, it was still quite a shock to see gays everywhere. Where did all the women go?! Scary is too big a word, but the testosterone level was intimidatingly clogging my senses for sure!
We danced and talked a while in the Stonewall and left for a good night sleep, because I knew that sleep would be scarce over the next couple of days.

Friday morning I left Saad's place and went back to the city to wait for Gianni and Te-Yu to arrive from Adelaide. After some nasty checking-in delays at the hotel I could finally drop my backpack and leave it in the same place for a couple of days. We all got our own access key for the room and the hotel was right on the corner of Hyde Park and Oxford St: perfect! We had a late lunch and another friend of Gianni's and Te-Yu's walked past, he sat down with us, introduced himself to me: Wayne and of course asked who I was.
"Jago, from the Netherlands."
"Really? Last night I met up with 7 Dutch guys, how funny!"
"Indeed!"
"I'll bring them along tonight."
"Yeah for sure! That'll be interesting."
And so it was said and done. That night I met Richard, Jeroen and Michael, as Dutch as you can get them! We had a good night, but we, the Dutchies, really felt that everybody was holding back a bit. Nobody was completely out there or partying like there was no tomorrow. We came to the conclusion that they were saving themselves for the big parties tomorrow - the day of the Mardi Gras Parade. How boring, 'we' in Amsterdam party for days on end when the Pride is on (probably not true at all, but being 14000 km away from home makes you a bit melancholy about such things)!

Saturday. The day of the parade! During the day we did basically nothing, just like the rest of the city. Everybody was buzzing with excitement, a few early birds were already sitting along the route with their blankets and picnic baskets, but most people were just roaming the streets and shops in anticipation of the parade, which would start at 7:30pm. After a last shower and change of clothes, Gianni, Te-Yu and me went to Taylor Sq. at 6:45 to watch the parade. We had an OK spot. We could see most of it, but occasionally someone would step into our views - oh well, that's the price for being so late. What was a bit more of a problem however was that we were surrounded by a group of deaf-mute gays and lesbians. The fact that they were deaf-mute was of course not important to me at all - to live and let live is my slogan. However they were rapidly becoming really drunk, and really aggressive, resulting in them shouting and gesturing at almost anyone who came near, in the belief that everyone was making fun or insulting them, which wasn't true at all. It soon became so annoying and irritating, that we decided to move, since the parade was a bit boring as well.

The parade itself lasted for 2,5 hours - far too long! I have posted some pix on my Flickr page of the interesting cars and people that came along. In between these interesting parts there was a lot of boring stuff. Just a bunch of people, not really in costumes or with attributes, just walking and waving some flags and/or cardboards with scribbled messages. The Dykes on Bikes with headlights in all the different colours of the rainbow was probably the coolest part. We were glad that we didn't wait all day along the route to have a better view! After the parade finished the fences were opened by the police and everybody flocked into the streets to follow the trail of the parade to Fox Studios were the after party would be. After a hearty walk we arrived and it was party time - with 5 different venues and 17000 happy people, I was ready for it!

I partied from 10pm till 8am, it was an awesome night! The music was good, everybody was enjoying themselves, lots of beautiful people to watch, laughs to share - a blast! (and yes, I kissed with one really hot guy, he looked like a younger version of Sam Neill, with a body to match!) And I wasn't the only one who found a hottie - at 5 in the morning I got a txt message from Gianni saying:
"I am taking Joe back to the hotel room. Don't come back in the next 2 hours!"
Understood Sir! The night is young and love is in the air, sort of.
At 8:30 I stumbled in the hotel room and both Gianni and Te-Yu were still up. Gianni just worked his Joe out of the door and Te-Yu was back from Oxford St. We all had a great night, that much was clear.

As you can imagine, most of the Sunday was slept away of course, but at 2:30pm I put my bathers on and caught the bus to Bondi Beach. It was rather crowded, but a bit of the party mood was still hanging everywhere. I just relaxed and enjoyed the sun, the sea, the waves and the people. After a nice dinner on the boulevard, I went back to the hotel and decided that it was no more partying for me that night. I just crawled under my blanket and blissfully watched television. Gianni and Te-Yu needed to go home the next day, so they went out one final time.

Monday Gianni and Te-Yu had to go back to Adelaide, I waved them goodbye and I went off to Kathryn in Newtown. Kathryn is a friend of Liam and Tara's, I had met here several times already and I really like her, so I was excited to see how we would go this Monday and Tuesday together. She was staying at a friend's house in Pott's Point and said that it would be no problem for me to crash there as well - a godsend of course, because otherwise I would have had to pay dearly for a hotel room! Monday we had lunch, talked a lot and went to see The Illusionist. After that we went to her friend's place, freshened up, had dinner with some more friends and later drinks. But Kathryn and me felt that we wanted more: we wanted to dance!
So for the 4th time during my trip, we went back to the city for a night out. Again it was a super night with great music and laughter with Kathryn, she was great company! The night ended very pleasantly for me in the company of Taron.

And then it was Tuesday, my final day! I would leave at 6:45pm, so I went shopping with Kathryn for a bit, had lunch and a final look around town, saying goodbye to a wicked couple of days. After my last shower I looked in the mirror and concluded that I looked like shit and completely exhausted - it was time to go home and rest!

And so I did. Packed my bags, said goodbye to Kathryn, got on the train, got on the plane and finally came down the escalator of Adelaide Airport where Aki was waiting for me.

The journey was over. I'm still not completely recovered, but man.. it was well worth it!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Back from Mardi Gras

I am completely exhausted, partied for 4 days straight, watched the sun come up twice, laughed my ass off, dragged my bags and stuff through all of Sydney, went up and down to cool places, restaurants, bars and clubs, met lots of different and interesting people, have feet that are still hurting from all the dancing and walking around the city, laid on Bondi beach, had some encounters with beautiful strangers, met my deadly limit of gay people - they were EVERYWHERE!, watched the parade, went to the movies, did some shopping - but to make a long story short:

I'm back from Mardi Gras

[the details come tomorrow, I need my bed now]