whale wars

December 9, 2008

Despite the fact I don’t own a TV, I watch a few TV Series from Netflix or on the Internet. I know television is an essential element in people’s house, and it has always been one present in mine. Nonetheless, after realizing how much time I have spent watching bad shows or endlessly flipping through channels hoping to find something that pleases my eyes; I decided to give up. I sold my tv about a year ago and bought a projector. Now I have control over what I watch, the same way I control what I listen or read. 

My new reality addiction is a well produced show broadcasted on Animal Planet. It is called “Whale Wars”, and it is a documentary about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s mission attempting to stop Japanese whaling. The organization was founded by the Canadian Captain Paul Watson in 1977; after being asked to leave his co-founded organization “Greenpeace”, due to his extremist behavior. 

Every year, the Sea Shepherd receives the support of activists with different backgrounds from around the globe; and leave Port Melbourne, Australia on an expedition to the cold waters of Antarctica. The controversial, unpredictable and utmost campaign uses any available ways to impede the Japanese ships from hunting whales. Because the dispute happens in high seas, laws are interpreted differently by the countries involved in the battle. The Japanese claim that the whales serve for scientific research to provide a basis for the sustainable whaling, in which the remaining parts, such as meat and oils, are processed and sold to the Japanese population. The opposition, composed mostly by Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States believe in the conservation of endangered species. 

No matter what you believe, or which side of the story you support; this is a TV Series not to be missed. It’s action from beginning to end, filled with real drama and edited in a very honest and interesting way. It’s one of those shows that make you stand on the top of your toes and cheer for those people on the screen. It makes me feel so proud of those few who are putting their life in risk fighting for their beliefs; but at the same time, I can’t help not feeling I could be doing more to make this place a better world.

If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a go and let us know what you think. The show goes on every Friday at 9pm.
You can check the schedule and more info at: http://animal.discovery.com/tv/whale-wars/

 

 

sex is in the air

May 28, 2008

Air – Sexy Boy

After a long wait, Sex and the City: The Movie, is being released. The feature film which is an adaptation of the HBO comedy series, is causing a buzz in the four corners of the world. The TV series has brought to our lives a new and sincere approach to sexuality, love, friendship, and reality which cannot only be applied to New York City, but to any other big city in the world. Its characters have inspired millions amongst different generations across the world, therefore often groups of friends easily identify themselves with their favourite character while they sip cosmopolitans at lounges and restaurants around town. I believe Sex and the City was the first TV show which dealt with the daily crisis of living in such a genuine and concrete way; furthermore it was the first show to break stereotypical rules imposed by the human being and our societies. It brought up taboos while bringing down layers and facades existent in our individual’s character. Therefore, it showed us new possibilities based on a controversial yet straight forward new-yorker life-style. 

The movie’s world premiere was held at Leicester Square, in London, on May 12th, 2008, being released in the UK on May 28th. Tomorrow is the big day in the United States and Canada, however we need to wait until the 5th of June to watch it on the big screen down under. In the meantime, while people anxiously wait for the day, cinemas are working hard to ensure its Australian debut follows the movie’s classiness and sophistication. The movie’s advertisements can be seen all over town, at the same time local businesses, such as clubs and bars, take advantage of all the excitement to improve their sales by organizing thematic parties based on the film. As the movie receives mixed reviews, I have once again chosen to disregard them. Moreover, it would be a plus if the movie brought something new into my life, nevertheless if this is just another follow-up two hour episode, I’ll be more than satisfied. I can’t even remember the last time I watched a Sex and the City episode which I hadn’t seen before.

watch the official trailer here:

The Fratellis – Whistle for the choir 

 

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It was from an unsophisticated thought that I ended up having the adventure of my life, while discovering my new way of traveling, or at least the best way of experiencing Australia.

 

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Camping has never been my thing, probably due to the level of overindulgence in which I was raised. Nonetheless I’ve always had adventure imprinted in my soul. Although I’ve loved road trips since I first started driving, I’ve always been attached to my home comfort. My previous few camping experience can either be described as drunken and forgettable; or sober, painful, and unforgettable. 

 

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After deciding to take some time off work and travel over an extended holiday weekend, my partner and I had the idea of hiring a campervan. Surprisingly or not, that’s a common business down under, as we found several companies which offered the same service. Sold by the website layout, we decided to go with Britz. The vehicle options are endless depending on the number of people you are traveling, desire for luxury, and budget. Whether you plan on hitting sealed roads or the outback, they have the right car for you. 

 

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We decided on the “Elite” Model which accommodates two people, which is fully equipped, and has a toilet with a shower, microwave, air conditioner, cd player. Our kitchen had everything your home kitchen has, at the same time the bed was comfortable enough to make you want to go to sleep. The vehicle had panoramic windows all around, which gave us cinematographic walls, changing according to our location. 

 

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Without having a destination in mind, we hit the road towards the sunset, aiming for the Great Ocean Road. Driving on one of the most beautiful roads in the world, without time or a place to be, was a delightful feeling. Sometimes we were tourists stopping at scenic lookouts, other times we were adventurers who would park the car in the middle of nowhere and hike towards the unknown. We would buy fresh seafood in the small fishing villages, and keep it in our refrigerator until we would accidentally find the perfect place to stop, and cook our meal at the flawless spot. Unintentionally, we found the perfect spot to sleep every night, always away from the city lights. As a result of that, we were blissed out with the incidental lighting every sunset and sunrise. 

 

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After driving through the entire great ocean road; after seeing the massive waves hitting the shore. After spotting koalas, kangaroos, emus, cows, precious birds, and sometimes a few human beings, we decided to drive inland heading up to the Grampians National Park.  Two days of hiking in the cleanest air, under the tropical rain in the rainforest, we decided to go back to the coast and interact with others like us.

 

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As we got close to Apollo Bay, our car suddenly broke down, leaving us along a road without mobile coverage. After panicking and running in circles for a while, we  were rescued by two danish surfers, and with the help of some amazingly well intentioned locals, we got in touch with the road assistance. For a minute we thought our adventure was over, however Britz sent us a tow truck which drove us to a motel in Geelong. The next morning we woke up ready to ride the train back home when the company tells us we have another vehicle on its way and we’ll have an extra day to compensate for what we’ve lost. Following the script of ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, the Queen of the Desert‘, we were back on our Great Ocean Road. 

 

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As we were close to Torquay, we decided to go check out the Rip Curl Surf Championship, the aussie edition of the WCT, which took place in Bells Beach. After surfing half a day at one of the best breaks we’ve surfed, we were ready to settle for the night. At the last moment, we had a couple of good friends joining us. After looking for a good place to spend the night, we ended up on top of a coal mine just off the Great Ocean Road. It was beautiful, mind-blowing and surreal when the sun went down and the absolutely full moon rose. We fell asleep as the night fell, waking up early in the morning on the next day for one of the best surf sessions ever. We surfed at the same spot some local surfers had recommended. It’s called 13th beach, located about 20 minutes east of Torquay. As the morning goes by, as the swell increases, we notice photographers and videographers coming to that remote beach. Soon enough we started seeing some surfers flying over those waves, they were some of the best surfers in the world, like Dane Reynolds, riding and sharing the same waves with us. 

 

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At the end of that memorable day we came home, wishing we could have stayed on the road for a bit longer. The campervan experience was not only approved, but strongly recommended to the ones that like an adventure but can’t let go of cleanliness and some level of comfort. For now we can only look at the pictures and happily remember the extraordinary experience, while planning our next adventure: New Zealand, on the road.

 

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the big issue

February 28, 2008

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Thursday evening, seating at the Gipsy Bar in Fitzroy, sipping a ginger lime tea, after having a nice dinner with a local friend. A well behaved homeless man, with a great sense of humour, walks into the restaurant, selling some sort of magazine. My friend shows excitement while quickly gets $5 out of her wallet and buys one. People around wave their arms to that same homeless man, which by now is the attraction in the restaurant, while collecting money in exchange for copies of the magazine. I watch the scene, speechless, and finally ask my friend what have just happened there. She proudly smiles and says: “Oh, It’s the big issue!”

 

The Big Issue is a magazine that mixes an unsparing journalism and clever entertainment coverage. The fortnightly magazine is sold on the streets of Australia by well trained homeless people who keep half or the cover price. With its independent character, The Big Issue approaches relevant subjects while preserving its personal comical aspect. Their main purpose is “to provide a mechanism to assist homeless, ex-homeless and long-term unemployed people to participate in society as independently as possible”. The magazine can be found in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, and Canberra.

 

After hearing everything about the magazine, still astonished, I found myself staring at the door wishing that he would come back to sell me a copy. Once that didn’t happen, I came home with that stuck in my mind. For now then, I’ll be enthusiastically waiting for a homeless person to approach me on the streets, offering me a magazine.

 

For more info: the big issue

(the image was extracted from The Big Issue’s website)

sony tropfest 2008

February 18, 2008

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It happened yesterday in Australia, the 16th edition of the Sony Tropfest, the world’s largest short film festival. The event was broadcasted live from The Botanic Gardens Trust, in Sydney, transmitted simultaneously to every state capital and eight regional centres, having no cover charge for any of its locations.

 

The competition had over 600 entries this year, starring independent filmmakers from several countries around the world, such as Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Denmark, Austria, France, Germany, the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, and of course, Australia. 

 

The event has three main rules: the films cannot exceed seven minutes; the event has to be their premiere screening; and each film must include the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI), confirming that the film was produced exclusively for the festival. The TSI chosen for 2008 was the number ‘8’.

 

The event has expended its frontiers overseas; having had its second edition in New York City last september, taking place at the Battery Park in downtown. The edition had over 8,000 people attending. Having a successful repercussion, the event will be happening again on October 11, 2008. 

 

Back to the other side of the world, in parallel with the aussie edition, the organizers have launched the Trop Jr, being the world’s largest short film festival for kids, by kids. The event also happened yesterday, just hours before Sony Tropfest’s regular program.

 

Needless to say how incredible was having the chance to experience the event, and being one of the 150,000 people that gathered together to watch the 16 finalists. The weather couldn’t be better, with a big, bright, and yellow sun keeping the thermometers over the 30 degrees mark all day. As the sun went down and the presentations came on, my thoughts couldn’t be other: what an amazing and cultural country I’m living in. 

 

For my filmmaker friends, and for all of those involved in the film industry, I highly recommend working on something outstanding to participate in the next year’s edition. For the sponsors, filmmakers, and each one of those australian citizens; permanent residents; and others not so permanent, that were part of that outrageous event yesterday, I have only one thing to say:

 

BRAVO!

(followed by the endless claps)

 

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for more info visit the official website:

www.tropfest.com

 

Melbourne, VIC. Australia

 

A week after arriving in Australia, after spending my days walking around and exploring Melbourne, receiving a significant amount of information, processing, and digesting it, I can finally have my first conclusions. 

 

Australia is a great mix of Brazil and North America. It mixes the southern warmth with the northern economy and education.

 

Public toilet on Elizabeth Street

 

The time for arrival couldn’t be better. Mid summer, during the Australian Open and three days away from the Australian day. In addition to that: shows, concerts, music festivals, art performances and exhibitions, incredible architecture, thousands of amazing cafes, bars and restaurants; people, people, and more people… energizing this city which, in my mind, used to be called “Utopia”.

 

Australian day parade

 

Melbourne has a bit of everything, a mix of all the good places I’ve been around the world. A diverse city with many cultures and languages, separated by the Yarra River, which literally divides the city in two: north and south. This division is easily and quickly identified just walking in certain areas. The older city is located north of the river, where downtown is, in addition to many adorable neighborhoods like Carlton, Fitzroy, and Collingwood. These are the hip, alternative, and more underground parts of town. South of the river is the new city, easily identified in its architecture, yet mixed with some old buildings in certain areas. The most famous neighborhoods in the south side are the trendy, yet pretentious South Yarra, Prahran, and St Kilda, having the last one by the ocean. It’s clear that most people don’t cross the River for cultural/local reasons, creating an unfortunate atmosphere of rivalry and social separatism. 

 

Rubber Duck Race at the Yarra River

 

The architecture in Melbourne is an amazing mix of old and new. Old victorian terraces and buildings are side by side with brand new sky scrapers, where architects have no fear of thinking and “designing” outside the box. Massive architectural installations can be found along the freeways, bridges and different areas around town. Art installations are everywhere, mostly common found as sculptures on the streets and amazing graffiti in the hundreds of small alleys between the buildings. There are hundreds of art galleries and museums in town. Plays, musicals, opera, and dance can be seen day and night in several different venues. The music scene has infinite possibilities no matter genre or style. International and local attractions, mainstream or underground, can be enjoyed on a daily basis, most of the time having more than one event that fits your needs and taste to choose from.

 

Old building on Elizabeth st 

Melbourne has a strong asian influence combined to the old British values. The several nationalities here found can preserve their own language and culture, just like in other countries, yet adding a lot to the country’s culture, especially to the culinary. 

 

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The first contacts with locals were very positive. Melburnians are friendly, outgoing, helpful, and generous. Everyone I met here so far has shown to be well travelled, educated, polite, and somehow artistic. A few exceptions were found when heading south of the river, where some people, just like anywhere else around the world, think that money and status are the most common denominator of culture and society. Overall, following the local division, I’m proud of being a north sider. 

 

 Federation Square during a tennis match