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Beware the Creeper!

Iain's life as a psychotic crimefighter

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Two weekends ago murasaki_1966  and I went down to Melbourne, last weekend we were in Canberra (we didn't see anyone, just went down to help Mum clean up stuff and go to the George Lambert exhibition.)


We went down on Friday morning. Early Friday morning. So early I instinctively took my keys with me. The keys with the small penknife. The small penknife that had to be confiscated by security when we were going through to the departure gates.

And yet they left me with my mobile phone, which could potentially bring down the airplane with one call. Curious set of priorities, but there you go, we all need to feel safe from tiny penknives in the age of terror.

We flew in via Aryan Airways - I mean Virgin Blue, where the back of our chair exhorted us to pay a mere 5 dollars to switch off Sophie Falkiner miming the categories of Foxtel programming we could replace her with. I declined and stared fixedly into my eyelids.

We landed and, still half asleep, decided that caffeine had priority over our luggage. The caffeine did its work, waking up just enough brain cells to make us realise that maybe the luggage should have taken priority. We charged off to baggage claim area only to find the carousel empty.

Truly this is the age of terror as our bowels froze in unison (or maybe it was the air conditioning.)

Fortunately our bag was at the luggage counter so we grabbed it and caught the SupaShuttle (or whatever it was) into Melbourne.

We were just around the corner, a few blocks from Spencer St - Southern Cross Station. Unfortunately I forgot that Melbourne blocks were often the size of Sydney suburbs (okay, okay the small ones, like FiveWays and Ben Buckler) so we trudged along, dragging our bag behind us, ignoring the pointing and laughing from tram passengers, until we found our serviced apartments (just next to the Neighbours travel centre! With the Neighbours tour of Melbourne, and the pubs you can go to see former stars of Neighbours weeping openly into their Carlton Bitter and cursing their agents.)

We couldn't take take our rooms just yet, but they could take our luggage whilst we did some initial scouting to fill in time.

We meandered along Little Flinders Street, gingerly peering up the arcades to try and ascertain what treasures/dangers lurked within. The only dangers we found were to our wallets - we found the Melton jelly shop - and lost it again on the Monday (our designated shopping day). I found Bava's Kill, Baby, Kill (a much better film than it sounds) in Collector's Corner a secondhand CD and DVD store I found on my last trip to Melbourne with ferkster .

We checked out Minotaur - the shop that looks like the contents of Previews regurgitated into a basement. They still didn't have anything I wanted at a price I was prepared to pay. They haven't changed much. More Family Guy and bondage stuff, I spose.

Finally we walked into Chinatown for lunch and then to the Free City Tram (worth repeating for the Sydney-siders) the Free City Tram which we rode around until our room was available (and the Free City Tram stopped just outside the serviced apartments! Is Melbourne bending over backwards for us or what!)

Then we went out to dinner with an old friend of mine, Lindsay. She introduced us to the Hairy Canary which was a groovy little tapas and pizza place in Little Collins Street. We reciprocated by taking her to a really rundown coffee shop in Swanston Street.

And that was the end of our first day in Melbourne.


After a lovely breakfast at one of the many, many nice places to have breakfast in Melbourne (our initial choice was closed on weekends - penalty for staying at the business end of the CBD) we went to the 20 Years of Pixar exhibition at the ACMI.

It was a great exhibition, but now I don't feel talented enough to even watch a Pixar film. There was lots and lots of amazing pre-production sketches and designs that were so far away from the finished product it was clear the artists were given a much freer rein than I can imagine at other companies - one of the highlights for me was some amazingly dark, noiresque shark studies by Simon Varela done for "Finding Nemo". The technical highlights both have to be seen to be believed - a Pixar 3D zoetrope that, while amazing, gave us a headache after awhile, and an astonishing film of Pixar's landscapes that was is some really, really widescreen ratio. They had to pry hypnotised kids off the floor with a crowbar. At least, that's what I assumed they had the crowbar for...

So after admiring the professionalism and the craftsmanship of the Pixar artists, we decided to balance our aesthetic intake by attending the Guggenheim exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (obviously named when Australia was on the cusp of being renamed Victoria.)

The Guggenheim exhibition raised many questions such as:

  • Is it the piece of string stretched across the corner of the room that's the artwork, or its shadow? And if it is its shadow, wouldn't that be a bastard of a thing to send over from New York?

  • Is a room full of neon tubes art, or a solarium they erected in the gallery by mistake?

  • Is it great art if I can't see the fucking point?

  • Jeff Koons - why?

As you leave the exhibition, you can take a free canvas bag with a newspaper in it. In the spirit of the exhibition, we all took a crap in the bag, wiped ourselves with the paper and mounted an explanatory plaque above it.

Finally, on Saturday night, our entire purpose for the Melbourne trip. The Royal Shakespeare Company's production of King Lear starring Ian McKellen.

I'll let murasaki_1966  go into details about the production. I agreed with her there was a certain superficiality about it, a surface literalism that only occasionally probed below the surface. And Edmund was more of a pantomime villain than a bastard - but McKellen's performance was astounding (and most of the other cast, especially Jonathon Hyde's Kent and Wiliam Gaunt's Gloucester) and we were entranced at the end, leaning forward in our seats to catch the final tragic moments.

Makes up for the crap Othello we saw in Sydney.

(and, yes, Sir Ian did drop his trousers. I'm not going to say much more that that, except the audience was lucky he wasn't aroused - he could have somebody's eye out.)


Yum Cha at the Shark Fin restaurant in Little Bourke Street. We chatted to the couple next to us (Ann, a dentist with a practice in Brunswick St, Fitzroy) and her partner ? who is a doctor working on his licence to work in NSW by relocating to Wollongong for three months. Melburnians are incredibly friendly without being overpoweringly so. I guess they have nothing to prove, no games to play, they're perfectly happy with their lives in Melbourne and who can blame them.

After brunch we caught the free tram up to Queen Victoria Markets and wafted around the fields of crap (though murasaki_1966  founds some socks, and we picked up a bag to take more stuff home with us.) It wasn't much different from Paddy's market, but it did have camel rides.

We dumped our stuff back at the apartment, then caught a tram down to St Kilda. I hadn't been to St Kilda in ten years or more, so I was interested to see how much it changed. Maybe a little more yuppified, but pretty much the same St Kilda. I had a beer in the Espy (the Esplanade Hotel) and checked the local markets near Luna Park. murasaki_1966  took some details from the jewellers' stalls.

murasaki_1966  found a Paul Kelly CD she was after in a bookshop, after that we checked out a second-hand record store (prices weren't especially second hand) and caught a tram back to the city, that took us along St Kilda Road. I spotted a domed building at the corner of Toorak Road and St Kilda Road but can't identify it. Google Earth was no help.


Then we went as saw The Simpsons Movie (the Melbourne Film Festival was on, but everything I wanted see was on late, and we're much older than we used to be, so an early evening session was as much as we could manage.)

The Simpsons Movie was... okay. There were a few scenes that differentiated it from a typical episode, but it didn't have an especially cinematic feel, like the South Park movie did. I can't say I was disappointed, all I can say is it maintained the integrity of the brand.

I must admit, though, it's not every weekend that you see both the genitals of the world's greatest Shakespearian actor and the world's most beloved cartoon character. Fortunately.

We retired to the apartment where we watched most of a very dispiriting Great Comedy Debate, and I cast my mind back to when you actually had to be funny to be called a comedian. The Irish guy was good, but I think Greg Fleet needs to go back to the heroin. And Fiona O'Loughlin should just shut the fuck up.


Monday was shopping day, before we went back to Sydney. We spent too much time trying to find the David Melton jelly shop again. We knew it was in an arcade somewhere, but that's like knowing it's in a building somewhere. Eventually we were able to find it. We found Basement Records, went back to Minotaur so murasaki_1966  could fill in her Diana Wynne Jones collection, bought other stuff and finally went back to the airport early.

Then we flew home. The plane was slightly delayed so we were worried we wouldn't get to the cattery in time. I rang ahead, but for some reason they were adamant about when they closed. We made it with about five minutes to spare. And Trixie was pleased to see us.

We had a great time in Melbourne, and are seriously contemplating moving there in a few years (work permitting.) It's a lot more like our kind of place, than Sydney is, but I'm sure if we were actually living there the charm would rot off. We hope to get back there more frequently (especially as ferkster has upped stakes and relocated there) and experience Brunswick St, Lygon St and Chapel St. And we didn't even make it to the State Library!


And here's some of our photos

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As you leave the exhibition, you can take a free canvas bag with a newspaper in it. In the spirit of the exhibition, we all took a crap in the bag, wiped ourselves with the paper and mounted an explanatory plaque above it.

Unimpressed much?

That Free Tram wasn't there the last time I was down there, but that was a dozen years ago or so. But I hear the train system has got worse, even more so than Sydney's. I could be wrong.

Hmm. ashamel was saying something similar about moving to Melbourne.

But I hear the train system has got worse, even more so than Sydney's. I could be wrong.

I'd heard that too, but we never took a train anywhere.

Next time we go down, we'll probably drive so we won't test it that time either.

My friend Lindsay had to drive to the train station, to get a train into town to meet us, so obviously there are parts of Melbourne which are difficult to get to via public transport.

I'll probably get more information from Brett once he's settled there.

Melbourne's wonderful, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm especially glad that the Shakespeare was everything it ought to be :).

It's amazing what fully funded theatre can do...

(and yes, Melbourne is wonderful.)

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