Big Question Marks

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Makeover time!

It's funny how sometimes the laziest weekend can fuel a lot of creativity (and we were trying to avoid going outside, where it keeps getting colder). Our faithful blog readers may notice a few changes on Big "?"s- enjoy and tell us what you think!

Here's what's new:
- Our banner: Adrian got inspired to recreate us in cartoon form! Too bad we aren't this cute in real life.
- Slideshow: We just realized we could feature a few of our most recent photos in a slideshow on our blog. Fun fun! But don't forget to keep on visiting our Flickr site for the whole collection.
- This week we love...: We keep coming across really fun websites that we want to share, so we'll try to update this section as often as we can. Let us know if there's one you want to share, too.

Plus, we've got a few more exciting things to come in the near future. Thanks for reading and commenting! xoxo, d&a "?"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Meet Pax

He's very cute, furry, and purry, and he's the newest and most entertaining addition to our house. Pax the kitten arrived two weeks ago and was nameless for quite a few days, going by everything from "cat" to "little boy" to "kitty" to "Vladimir Putin" (Adrian's choice) until he finally received a real name.

Our roommates adopted him from Lort Smith Animal Hospital, a huge place which is even the setting for local reality TV show "Animal Emergency". Pax is about four months old and was a real squirrelly one to begin with, first getting his paw stuck in one of the holes in his cardboard box before we could even take him home (the nurses had to open the box and rescue him). We were a little worried about what kind of terror this little kitty was going to be...

But Pax has been all cute, charming our visitors and most of all, charming us. For a kitten he can be pretty lazy at times, but he's always a good sport and will always go for a playwhen someone gets out the pingpong ball. In fact, if there was a cat volleyball league, Pax would be their star player, as he is quite good at lobbing and spiking the ball across the kitchen, and he always lands it in the goal (under the fridge, or in Adrian's shoe).

Pax also works very hard on de-carpeting the stairs and is determined to chew all the way through an electrical cord one day. He likes to give high-fives (with claws!) and can be a little squeaky. We've found he can also be a bit of a perv, stealing pairs of girlie underwear from the clothes drying rack. We've been trying to get him to write a guest blog for us, but he unfortunately has a very short attention span. At least he's a fierce fly-hunter and he has also rescued us from a kitchen spider... so he is pulling his weight around here! And we haven't seen a mouse since he's moved in.

We sometimes wonder if Pax were to meet a cat from another country, would they would speak the same language? We've been listening for an Aussie accent, but we haven't heard any "G'Day's" or "Bloody Oath's" yet. Someone surely must have done a scientific study on this! Ah, never mind. Time to get him ready for a first appearance on Stuff On My Cat... now, if only he'd sleep a little more soundly.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Costumes, crepes, and kitty fun...

It's been a busy few weeks but plenty of good times to write home about. Adrian's been Mr. Corporate lately ("Buy, buy, buy! Sell, sell, sell!" he likes to say)-- well, maybe he doesn't work on the stock exchange but he sure loves dressing the part. You've gotta have a little fun at work! Adrian has been working downtown in an office tower of one of Australia's major banks (ANZ) for almost 3 weeks now, and has gleefully discovered a games floor in his building. So every Friday he and his co-workers sit in those video-game cars and race each other. Word is there's a beer cart that comes around the office on Fridays as well- now that's the life!

As for me (Dayle), I've been blissfully unemployed since last Monday, enjoying another wave of sunny, 25-degree autumn days. This week's been a little colder, so I'm not spending as much time doing crayon drawings under the old trees in beautiful Carlton Gardens (the nearby park where we sometimes chase possums at at night). It's been really nice to enjoy some "me" time, exploring the nearby neighbourhoods and shops, and running all of those little errands that have been neglected for months (and fixing tattered clothing and shoes!). The work will come soon enough-- but it's just nice to relax a bit for now. It's a "working HOLIDAY visa", as we say here, not a "working slavery visa"!

But actually, I'm not totally unemployed. On Saturday afternoons I get paid to play dress-up at this wonderful, humongous costume hire (that's Aussie for rental!) shop called Costume Factory. I applied for the job way back in January but only recently did they decide they still needed another staff member for busy Saturday afternoons. It pays great and the staff are all quirky arts students, painters, writers, and theatre enthusiasts, and we basically just help people piece together costumes for the unbelievable amount of costume parties that happen in Melbourne. (For a country that doesn't do much for Halloween, I have been shocked). My first day consisted of fixing up wigs and dressing mannequins as tacky tourists, gladiators, cowboys, and even a 'gay sailor' (that's a sailor suit with sequins!). And ever since I've dressed people up as flappers, Prince, Tina Turner, Alpen yodeler and even an Indian chief and Pocahontas. It's been a real exercise in creativity because a lot of customers walk in without any costume ideas, and it's also easy to get lost in the huge shop/showroom. But it's a nice place to spend a weekend afternoon and I do wish we were staying long enough to see what Halloween brings. And apparently the company's been around for ages, evolving over the years since the Gold Rush days! For that reason we have an amazing amount of gorgeous medieval wear, etc., which we rent to a lot of theatre productions too.

In other news, our roommates got a kitten last week! Pax is rambunctious and lively, and he's completely adorable (but more about him later!). He's also a great entertainer of houseguests--we've just finished a multi-day goodbye party for our French friends Stephane and Jenny, who came to stay with us after working in Tasmania. There was lots of wine-drinking, reminiscing, and a final crepe feast... and we definitely caught (me more than Adrian I think) a bit of the travel bug as we chatted about their plans to travel Southeast Asia. Our friend Bianca's also off to New Zealand now and we're possibly the only people left in Oz from our original Echuca crew. We can only wonder on which continent we'll all meet again... we'll miss you guys! xoxo, D.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Getting sporty in Melbourne

Since we couldn't be around for yet another Jays home opener, we decided to get sporty, Australia-style over the weekend. We'd previously caught bits on TV of the strange spectacle that is the Australian Football League (AFL), and since Melbourne is true heart of the league, we figured it was about time to check out a live game. And people are REALLY into it here...

Basically, this version of football (or "footy") involves two teams of 18 guys each wearing tank tops and short-shorts, running around a gigantic circular field and kicking a ball through the goalposts (not to mention beating each other up along the way). The season runs from late March to early September, and it's by far the most popular and well-attended sport in the country. The league began as a solely-Victoria league, which is why many of the 16 teams are Melbourne suburbs-- only recently did the other state capitals get their own teams in the league. Naturally, we have to cheer for Carlton, not only because we live here, but because they're pretty much the worst team in the league (yay underdogs!). So we got on our Carlton Blues scarves and watched as our guys nearly beat the Essendon Bombers... but then lost.

The game itself is surprisingly not at all boring and pretty easy to follow, unlike American football. Aussies often ridicule American-style football because of the players' padded suits-- "That's not real football, mate!"-- which we can now understand, since these guys play just as, if not rougher, in outfits fit for the beach. Luckily, it's not too hard to understand: there are four fast-paced 30-minute quarters and a few strange rules about how to pass the ball. Our favourite scenario is when one player has the ball, and everything's on pause as he readies himself to boot it, while members of the other team stand a certain distance away and do jumping jacks in his line of sight (presumably as a distraction). Quite funny to watch from the nosebleeds!

At the end of the game, the winning team's "song" comes onto the staticky loudspeakers, and the fans sing along. In our case, we got to hear Essendon's song, which was very 1940s/WWII/creepy. Perhaps time for an update? The best part is how much people get into the game. We sat behind two moms and their teenage daughters-- one mom had a hand-knitted Carlton-colours scarf on-- and they were screaming louder than the jock types sitting on either side of us. From what we've heard, the rivalries run deep, and the queues to score a seasons' ticket or a member's seat will commit you for decades- word is locals sign up their kids at birth! Seeing as many of the teams have been around since the 1800's (Carlton's club dates back to 1864), there's a bit of that old-school Yankees/Red Sox legacy flavour, where fans wear their scarves proudly and take every win and loss very seriously. [You can read a little of the history here!]

Although attendance was more than 64,000, there were still many blocks of seats empty in the MCG on that chilly autumn evening (isn't SkyDome around 50,000 at full capacity?). The Melbourne Cricket Ground (or the "Mc G", as we call it, waiting to stand corrected) is an enormous open-air stadium, and shares with the retractable-roof Telstra Dome for all of our local games. It was definitely a good time to be part of a cheering, excited mass; almost-- but not quite-- a substitute for baseball!