From Austin to Oz. I'm planning to flee the country for 7 months - working for 4 and traveling for 3.
Departure = 03 Sep 2003 / Re-entry = 03 Apr 2004

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


Happy Thanksgiving! My fellow Mericans, glug down a turkey soda on my behalf, would y'all?

Eid mubarek to my fellow Muslim humans. May the new year bring more understanding of your religion to the world community.

All Muslims are not terrorists, just as all Catholics are not IRA terrorists, all Protestants are not Orangemen terrorists, all Baptists are not abortion clinic terrorists, all Basques are not ETA separatist terrorists, all Indonesians are not Acehnese separatist terrorists, all Corisicans are not separatist terrorists, all Germans are not Nazis, all Americans are not DC snipers/Oklahoma City bombers/Houston babydrowners, and all Texans are not end-of-the-world fearing, David Koresh-following Branch Davidians.

Stereotypes are easy to assemble and nigh impossible to destroy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Untalkative Bunny

Back in the US, I didn’t watch much television. I often was outside of my apt, visiting friends, eating with friends, volunteering, going to the cinema, going to listen to live music, cycling around my neighborhood ... I really did not have much time for television because I already had heaps of activities that kept me away from the Asian Light Box.

Further, I did not find most teev shows entertaining or well-written. I also abhor the laughtrack of pre-recorded audience laughs added to shows that have no studio audience. Faux. Plus, I would rather not support any program where every 1 of 3 minutes is advertising. (In other words, during a “one-hour” show, 40 minutes are allocated to the show while 20 minutes are ads. Wrong.) Well, OK, I will admit that I did follow such terrible shows like “V.I.P.”, “Fastlane” and “The O.C.” on Fox just because they are trashy and my friends turned them into drinking games. Mmm... drinking games....

So, even tho we have a telly here in the apt in Brissie, I really didn’t warm up to the TV because it wasn’t my habit. Little by little (sometimes by leaps and bounds), that has changed. I watch heaps of television programs here in Australia, yet I don’t have any regrets. The writing, the variety, and the entertainment value of Australian programming is phenomenal! Granted, Oz has its share of bad programs, yet overall the quality is much greater than most non-pay TV programs in the US.

Part of my reasoning is based on the Aussie population. A country the size of the continental USA with only a population of 20 million cannot support a strong, domestic entertainment industry as vast as that in the US. So, many shows are imported. Loads of British and American shows -- as to be expected. For example, the following American shows dominate the Aussie telly across all non-pay stations:

“The Simpsons”
“The Bold and the Beautiful”
“Law & Order”
“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”
“Everybody Loves Raymond”
“N.Y.P.D. Blue”
“South Park”
“Will & Grace”
“Late Show with David Letterman”
“Walker, Texas Ranger”
“The Twilight Zone”
“Get Smart”
“Buffy, the Vampire Slayer”
“Dark Angel”
“The News Hour with Jim Lehrer”
“That 70s Show”
“Queer as Folk”
“Jerry Springer”
“Ricki Lake”
“Judge Judy”
“Days of our Lives”
“Punky Brewster”
and, of course. “COPS”

Granted, this list is by no means comprehensive and does not include the numerous US cartoons or US films run as the “movie of the week”.

What has surprised me, tho, is the frequent amount of Canadian programs that pepper the schedule. Why do I have to travel to the other side of the globe to watch programs made in the country next door? Irritated. (I think it harkens back to my earlier argument that Australia screens shows from other English-speaking countries to supplement the Aussie shows due to lack of financial and human resources necessary to maintain 24-hour, 365-day programming.) Fortunately, I have already found a favorite Maple Leaf show only after having seen one episode. “Untalkative Bunny” is a cartoon about a rabbit that makes not a sound. It’s like watching a lagomorph mime.

The 5-minute episode that I saw last week follows Untalkative Bunny as he takes his (ecologically responsible, plastic-bag not-needing) shopping basket to the local organic market, accompanied by his friend the red squirrel. As bunny inspects produce, the squirrel positions his open mouth underneath the spigot of a large barrel of peanut butter and lets loose a river of PB down his gullet, forgoing any small plastic container found next to the barrel like at Wheatsville CoOp. When the bunny finds the squirrel, the squirrel looks like a bowling pin full of peanut butter. At the register, the cashier tells the bunny to weigh the squirrel because she will have to charge the rabbit for the peanut butter contained in the sidekick. In addition, she charges him extra for the organic worm burrowing thru his organic apple. Damn hippies! Then, bunny decides to try on the sunglasses for sale at the counter, each pair having a different magical effect. After a few tests, he selects a pair for him and one for his mate. Finally, the Untalkative Bunny pays his bill, the two walk out with new sunglasses, and the story is done.

Today, I caught my second episode. Having seen an advert on television, Untalkative Bunny calls a Caribbean-accented telephone psychic akin to Miss Cleo. At the end of the verbose call that spanned from how great of skin he has to his favorite color, an automated voice notifies him that he will have a $263.00 charge on his next phone bill. Yipes! If only Almost Miss Cleo would have told him from the beginning that he was to be aghast in the near future.

Thus, from Monday to viernes at 16h45, when able, I will plop meself in front of the teev and click on Channel 2 for my dose of a golden firehydrant with long, floppy ears.

Dynomight, creaters of Untalkative Bunny

Untalkative Bunny Fansite

(Yes, I am member # 28 of the Untalkative Bunny Fan Club.)


Saturday, November 22, 2003

Wild Kangaroos

Apparently, some kangaroos escaped from a zoo near Paris and now live wild in a nearby forest.

Here's the article (in French).

Monday, November 17, 2003


Fed up with the (1) collaborative manipulation by the US Military and Bush Administration, (2) the US becoming a pariah state run by religious conservatives, according to a growing list of nations, (3) decay of civil liberties that once set the USA apart from aristocratic dictatorships, and (4) waste of MY tax dollars, I demand that all American newspapers immediately install a daily quadrant in the “A” section that provides a list of statistics (as of 18 Nov 2003):

798 days since 11 Sep 2001
2’600 people killed on 11 Sep 2001, of which
____ are Americans
798 days that Bush has YET to locate Osama bin Laden

772 days since the USA invaded Afghanistan
____ people killed in Afghanistan, of which
____ are Americans
____ are Afghani civilians

243 days since the USA invaded Iraq
____ people killed in Iraq, of which
400 are Americans
9’708 are Iraqi civilians
$85,570,000,000 the cost of the Iraqi invasion
0 weapons of mass destruction found in Iraqi
243 days that Bush has YET to locate Saddam Hussein

1 trillion lies told to the American people by the Bush Administration

Statistics like these would crumble the Bush Administration because it would reveal how ineffective, wasteful, and hollow it is. And, it would force Americans to admit their own belligerence.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Gettin' Square

If you like the films "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch" by Guy Richie (AKA "Mr. Madonna"), then I guarantee that you'd luv "Gettin' Square", and Aussie film that Robin and I just saw. Set in Surfer's Paradise, a beach community just a few km from Brisbane, it tells the story of Barry Wirth, a 29-year-old convict released from prison and attempting to "get square" (become a law-abiding citizen). While in prison, Barry becomes a chef. When released, he scores a chef position at a restaurant in Surfers Paradise called -- of all things -- "TEXAS STAR". Cowprint booth seats, longhorn skulls, and wagon wheels throughout . . . Is this what Aussies think of Texas? Well, the description is pretty accurate, to be honest. They just need to add a few bluebonnets, Mexican blankets, German lederhosen, Polish accordians, Czech flags, and Irish shamrocks to be a bit more authentic.

Further, the scene stealer is David Wenham as Johnny Spitieri - "Johnny Spit". ¿Who is David Wenham?, you wonder. Ever see "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"? Wenham interprets the role of Faramir. A right good Aussie bloke he is, fair dinkum!

Heaps of great camera angles, plot twists, and Australian-specific references --- all served up with a large dose of Aussie-accented slang. (Admittantly, sometimes I wish there were subtitles.) As it has only released in cinemas on 09 Oct here in Oz, it may take a while for it to become available away from Down Undah. When it does reach your shore, be sure to grab on for a wild ride.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

And in the news: Apologetic villagers have no axe to grind,5942,7857962,00.html

The missionary's descendants live in the Australian State of
Queensland. In fact, some live right here in Brisbane.

¡trabajo! (take two)

I quit my door-to-door salesman job on Wed, 29 Oct. In the two weeks
since, I have aggressively hunted down a job like a koala jonesin' for
a supah-size eucalyptus burger. Yeah, just like that. Last Monday, I
started searching for jobs and leads at 4PM. I stayed up until 10AM
the following morning searching, applying, and jotting down a list
telephone numbers to call on Tuesday.

I took a 2.5 hour power nap, woke up at 12:30PM, and dashed off to
follow up on job postings. For Wednesday, I lined up an interview at
2PM at a hotel and one at 3:30PM for a kitchen hand job in Fortitude
Valley (Brisbane's nightlife center & Chinatown). For the rest of
Tuesday, I decided to drop off a resume at a jewelry store advertising
Christmas positions, and just walking up to shopkeepers and depositing
resumes for future consideration. That being done, I decided to hit the
hostels in the area to see if there were any jobs. Washing sheets,
kitchen work, guest registration; it didn't matter, I was looking for

Walking into the Tin Billy backpackers' hostel across from the
interstate bus terminal, I went in to see if there was anything that I
could do. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Empty. Fortunately, the bloke
at reception told me of the hostel's "jobs club" that would allow me
access to short-term jobs for an annual fee of A$25. Figuring that I
have searched on my own for a job for 2 months now and applied for over
60 jobs and landed just 1 interview (for the door-to-door salesman
gig), I decided to take the risk. While talking to Wendy, the job desk
coordinator, she received a phone call from Caxton St. Catering (the
caterers of the Queensland Performing Arts Center / QPAC / ) wondering if she had someone available
for a 4-week stint. She told the bloke on the phone that she had whom
he was looking for seated right in front of her. Dag! Now that some
quick service, no? Before ending the call, Wendy set up an interview
between him and me for Wed at 4PM. An interview! With this good news,
I decided to cancel the other two interviews for Wed. and risk getting
the Caxton one. In addition to that, Wendy gave me two more leads
before I left the desk. Ah, the feeling of finally getting a job so
that I can save a few bucks to trounce around Oz. Happy.

Returning home, Tuesday evening was a mix of excitement and anxiety. I
never have had a "true" restaurant/bar job, just volunteering at
various events and working at the Texas Renaissance Festival for two
months at a time. Most restaurant jobs here in Brisbane require
extensive experience (sometimes at least 3 years' worth!), thus
immediately disqualifying me. So, in order for me to get this job, I
would have to incorporate some of my extemporaneous speaking skills and
the Southern tradition of embellishment. Desperation magnifies

Wednesday morning, I went to purchase black pants and a white
button-down shirt, as restaurant jobs in Australia require "blacks and
whites", all-black clothing preferred. Then, back to the apt. to suit
up for the interview. A bit much, maybe, but better safe than sorry,
no? My interview was really 7.5 minutes long, just a brief
introduction of what Caxton St. Caterers do and what work is available.
I told my boss B.J. that I was really keen on learning as much as
possible. With that and a handshake, B.J. told me that I got the job
and to show up on Saturday morning for my first two 4-hour shifts.
Yippee! And to add even more incredulity to the stroke of luck, QPAC
is only 1 block away from my apt. One block!

I don't know my rate of pay, yet I am not that concerned. In the USA,
waiters/bartenders practically beg for tips to supplement their <
US$3/hour minimum wage. In Australia, waiters/bartenders start at
A$10-15/hr. (US$7.50-10.50/hr) and tips are just extra. After the four
weeks of work, Wendy already has me scheduled to work a 5-day test
cricket match at the Gabba stadium just a few blocks from the apt.
What luck doth fall upon me this eleventh month!

Saturday will be a grand day: my first day of work, Priscila's
birthday (two days before she jaunts off to the Eternal City for a
Roman Holiday in search of purses galore), the Australia/NZ and
France/England rugby world cup semi-final matches, and our Swiss friend
Gianni (whom we met in Brazil) comes to visit. Whew! When it rains,
it pours!


PS: A baby kangaroo or koala is called a "joey". A baby platypus or
echidna is called a "puggle".

PPS: Vegemite and brie cheese do NOT mix. Trust me on this one.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003


Earlier this evening, Robin and I walked down to her univeristy (Queenland University of Technology / QUT), located aside the Botanic Gardens. We went to the fenced off area of the gardens to catch this evening's film screening at the Sunset Cinema. For AUS$13 each, we caught "Adaptation" with Nicholas Cage and Meryl Streep. We walked into the inner square, handed the gatekeeper our tickets, and he gave us some blankets to spread on the grass. Classy.

Before we found our patch o' green, we picked up a bottle of wine and a pizza, sold by some caterers inside the viewing area. Convenient! After having found our spot, we enjoyed the Yank flick, all the while, little Aussie possums would investigate everyone's seating area for food scraps. Now, before any ladies become squimish, Aussie possums look nothing like US ones. Aussie possums resemble Madagascarian lemurs. Very fuzzy and unobtrusive, they are. A few bright fireflies also distracted me, along with the crow-sized fruit bats that flew overhead.

Enjoying a movie in the cool night air on the grass, sipping wine and watching wildlife. A great night, t'was.