Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Of Pawns and Kings

In Hyde Park, massive fig trees rustle their leaves to a silent melody, ibises patrol the lush grounds on silent feet, and, on the northwest corner, grizzled immigrants duel on a concrete battlefield.

These men conduct daily war against each other on a giant chessboard. There's a grey-haired tyrant, who shouts profanities in some European language as he proudly knocks over his opponent's pawns. His opponents are a mix of old and young allied forces. They pool at the edge of the board like a collective think-tank, encouraging their lead solider to defeat the "tyrant." On rare occasions of victory, the allied forces crow in triumph like roosters at dawn. It's an amusing scene.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Expectorating walk

When I see a 9km trail, gently winding through forested glens, secluded beaches, and grand cliffs, I can think of many more elegant and graceful names than:

Bob and I hiked The Spit to Manly Walk over the weekend. I felt from the name we should be embarking on a mission down a giant's digestive tract. Rather, the path led us through diverse habitats, past multitudes of basking lizards (Bob's very proud of his picture of this Eastern Water Dragon),
 past the most pathetic lighthouse in the Southern Hemisphere, and left us with a great craving for ice cream.

Cliffs thrust their limbs to the Pacific Ocean with rocky abandonment (see attached warning below).

And those nautically endowed flooded the waters with sailboats and high flying acts. 

At the end of our hike we met our friend Fiona for a drink and to admire the crowds at the surf beach of Manly.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"I get around"

Mardi Gras was celebrated a bit late in Sydney, but Bob and I went to see the night parade. After weeding our way thru a very lively and very intoxicated crowd, we were disappointed by our lack of view. An unusual amount of spectators were tall, fit, and broad-shouldered men. The man in front of me was particularly tall and I thought maybe Bob and I had inadvertently ended up at some buff sports game. There certainly was a lot of yelling. 
Out of curiosity, I turned to a guy on my right to see if he was wearing a sports jersey. He was wearing lingerie. I turned to my left, that guy was wearing pink fairy wings. Turns out Sydney's Mardi Gras parade, is the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

Once Bob and I finally found a spot in the flashy crowd, we were entertained by drag-queens, co-ed lifeguards singing to the Beach Boys 'I get around, ' and lesbian's on motorcycles, and so on. The crowd was crazy with enthusiasm and with over 300,000 spectators, it was quite a show.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Politically incorrect

After a few months in Australia, I have come to a conclusion that most people grasp in minutes. Australia's version of "politically correct" is very different than America's. 

Breast cancer fundraising banner at the mall. "Every mouthful helps."
Ad for a job website at the train station. The disclaimer reads, "Results may vary."
It may not be p.c., but I can't help but laugh.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Slip, Slop, Slap

Bob and I went north to the lovely Balmoral Beach on saturday. Our plan was to spend a few hours on the beach to soak up some sun and go for a swim - not a bad itinerary for a February day.

As summer started, I heard a lot of radio ads for, "Slip, Slop, Slap." Without any further information, I came to the conclusion that "Slip, Slop, Slap," must be a slogan for some dodgy brothel. However, one day at the beach, I head a little girl yell out to her brother,"DON'T FORGET TO SLIP, SLOP, SLAP!" And I thought, "That's just not right."

Turns out "Slip, Slop, Slap" is a slogan for the Cancer Council of Australia. "Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat." That makes more sense.

Australia has a very aggressive skin cancer awareness campaign. Which makes sense for a country with the world's highest incidence of skin cancer. 

So while Bob and I were at the beach we were careful to protect our skin. Due to a rather grotesque commercial by Al Bino that is aired rather frequently, I can't seem to apply sunscreen without thinking of a cheese-head version of a mole singing, "It's a beautiful day for cancer." No words can accurately describe it. Be happy the commercial isn't playing in the States, it's gross, but effective.