Friday, August 29, 2008

One for the comic readers..

.... so you "normies" are excused for now.

I borrowed Frank Cho's Liberty Meadows from the library yesterday, not having read anything of his before. I've seen bits and pieces of his lavish artwork around and have heard people rave about him.

But I think it's SHIT!!
His beautiful artwork couldn't save his book from being thrown to the other side of the room in disgust!

Discuss. .. (If you care)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nicks 24th Mega Mix

It was my younger brothers 24th birthday a week ago.
While he is young and relatively tech-savvy, he still uses cd's for his personal music listening enjoyment. So I made him a mix tape. It's full of songs that I think he might like or ones that I think might interest him. A range of obvious songs that everyone should own and a few slightly obscure ones.

In the interest of SHARING THE LOVE, I've made my mix available for download for a limited time, COMPLETE with album ARTWORK!

Part 1 HERE!

Part 2 HERE!

Friday, August 08, 2008

The iRiver shuffle

Because Miss Mardi The Curatrix asked me to. And when she says jump- I jump!

You know the deal. Set your music player to shuffle, and the songs that pop up are the ANSWER to the following questions.
No skipping until a cool song comes up, this is what I got:

1. What does next year have in store for me? Purest Love by Blackalicious

2. What’s my love life like? Special Cases by Massive Attack

3. What do I say when life gets hard? Underneath it All by Money Mark

4. What do I think of on waking up? Cold, Cold Heart by Dinah Washington

5. What song will I dance to at my wedding? How About You? by Oscar Peterson

6. What do I want as a career? Horse Pills by The Dandy Warhols

7. My favorite saying? King for a Day by Faith No More

8. Favorite place? 1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins

9. What do I think of my parents? Sista Rebecca by Jimmy Smith

10. What’s my porn star name? Big Spender by Peggy Lee

11. Where would I go on a first date? Diga, Diga Doo by Artie Shaw

12. Drug of choice? I'm Sitting on Top of the World by Bobby Darin

13. Describe myself: Surrender by Elvis Presley

14. What is the thing I like doing most? Evidence by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers

15. What is my state of mind like at the moment? Tangled up in Plaid by Queens of the Stone Age

16. How will I die? Chinatown, My Chinatown by Slim and Slam

Now it's YOUR turn!

In other news I'm a bit bummed out as I've been locked out of my Flickr account! I can't remember my yahoo email details as I only used it to get onto Flickr. I can't remember the password, if I used a real D.O.B when I registered or even what country and postcode I used when I signed up. (Was I in Hobart OR London??) All the information I need to log in. I was going to upgrade to a Pro account too.

In todays modern internet world there's TOO many passwords etc to try and keep track of. Between my normal hotmail address, the internet provider account, my pro-website account, the gmail email for Blogger, the LJ, the MySpace, the Facebook, the Flickr, the LinkedIn, the internet banking, the Frequent Flyers account, the Red Bubble and the numerous discussion boards account details..... HOW am I meant to keep track of it all???!!!!

Sometimes I yearn for a simpler time!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Vacation in The Tropics

Just got back early this week from about 2 weeks away in Tonga and Fiji (with diversions to Auckland and Sydney).
The agenda was to go sailing with the Fraser Clan (Mum, Dad, my 3 brothers, Ainslie and I) around the island group of Vava'u for a week in the north of Tonga. Then, as we had to fly through it to get back, spend some time in Fiji where we ditched the parents at a 4.5 star resort while the Ains, the brothers and I slummed it at a backpackers style island.

Flying out of Melbourne in the morning we had to spend a night in Auckland to catch our connecting flight early the next day for Tonga. We also rendezvoused with the Sydney-based family at the airport.

Auckland Highlights-
-Having dinner with Ainslie's uncle and aunt.
-Good selection of duty free alcohol.

Auckland Lowlights-
-Not buying the hard to find alcohol at duty-free, expecting to find it at other duty free locations but not.
-Having to get up at 5am to check in for a 9am flight.
-Being stuck on the runway for 3 hours waiting for the fog to clear.
-Auckland. (Just joking! OR AM I??!!)

(The plane we were on for around 7hrs.)

Landing in Tongatapu (Tonga's capital) we made a dash through customs as we were running 20 mins late for our connecting flight. We had no idea if the other airline knew that we were held up in Auckland, and if they'd wait for 7 passengers,
A slight hold up at immigration where we all went through leaving mum behind without her passport. (Confusion at check-in and immigration points would be a running theme as, for some reason, the rest of the family let Dad be in charge of their passports etc. This lead to people actually loosing their passports, and at one stage Dad actually loosing his folder with all the passports, tickets etc behind. Ainslie and I choose to keep our passports with us.)
Then another hold up at customs where dad had to pay a bribe to get his vacum-packed meat through, even though it was all certified.

Luckily the local airlines run on local time and there for were not in any rush so we were able to make our next flight even though we arrived 30 mins after it was scheduled to depart. I quite enjoyed this flight as the excitement of the upcoming trip began to set in. There was plenty of leg room on the small plane with coral atolls and volcanic islands visible from our window and our first experience of Tonga and it's people was pretty cool and very relaxed.

Landing at the small shed that was the airport in Neifu (main city for the Vava'u island group), we were met by a taxi driver named Mathew Tonga who drove us to our boat moorings. Mathew Tonga had a knack of popping up in the most unlikely times throughout the next week when he was most needed! He also took my two younger brothers on a personal tour around the island.

After a period of skipper meetings, unpacking and organising the galley (that's maritime speak for the kitchen), buying of supplies and sorting of snorkel gear we raised anchor and set off for the next 7 nights at a large range of different anchorages amongst the coral reefs, palm-fringed beaches and turquoise lagoons.

Activities included snorkelling at some great coral reefs. The waters in this area quickly drop deep and combined with the exceptional water visability made for some dramatic underwater scenery. While the coral looked healthy and in abundance, the range and vibrancy of colour wasn't spectacular but the variety of fish, cuttlefish, rays and sea-snakes made up for it.

There were a few exciting spots, like Swallows Cave accessible only by water, and with the light streaming in through the gap made for dramatic lighting. After checking it out in the dinghy we later snorkelled through it.

Another interesting spot was the secret Mariner's Cave. The entrance is hidden a couple of metres below the water surface and it takes a bit of an effort to dive deep enough and then to swim through the dark 4 metre long tunnel. After 1 scary botched effort I got through. Inside the cave you experience a strange atmospheric phenomenon, where the incoming swell compresses the trapped air causing the water to condense into a heavy mist. As soon as another wave enters, the fog instantly vanishes. The air pressure in your ears are affected as well. The light streaming under the tunnel makes it atmospheric too.
We took a disposable underwater camera with us so it'll be interesting to see how the shots turned out.

Besides the diving we went whale watching. Tonga is one of the only places in the world where you're legally allowed to SWIM with the whales. We'd planned this trip specifically for this time of year due to being told it was a good time for the friendly humpback whale mothers and their curious calves. However it turned out we were about a week too early. Even though we saw plenty of them, and many full surface breaches, they weren't letting us get close enough to swim with them. They were the younger whales or males who don't tend to stick around the boats as much. The mothers and calves were still on their way to the islands. Disappointing, but probably worth the experience to see a 4 tonne animal flip itself completely out of the water and come crashing down again in a volcano-like explosion of water.

We also spent some time visiting a village where a lovely couple showed us around and introduced us to the whole village. Generally speaking compared to the gushing friendliness and hospitality of the Fijians the Tongans are slightly reserved but once warmed up are extremely friendly laid back people. Needless to say we spent some time eating and drinking in the traditional way.

Kava, which is drunk throughout the South Pacific is a brown, dirty dishwater looking drink. While it's neither alcoholic nor narcotic it has a very nice effect. I drank it in both Tonga and Fiji and I would liken it to drinking coffee- except the effect is the opposite. Instead of getting a buzz, it gives you a calm relaxation.

The local brewed beer, Ikale, was pretty good too! (I didn't order that fruity looking cocktail. I was just having a sip. HONEST!)
Travelling Tip: The good thing about drinking the local beer is not only will you not find it back home, but often it's better then the imported stuff and half the price!

Tongan Highlights:
-Swimming/snorkeling in warm, stunningly clear waters with some dramatic underwater landscape.
-Hanging out with my family who I haven't seen since Xmas and haven't spent more then a few days with altogether in the last 8 years. I was initially worried about spending a week ON A BOAT with them, but it all turned out well.
- Sailing/ cruising through the islands with such an experienced yachtsman as my Dad. The best way to travel and see that part of the world.

Tongan Lowlights:
- Really stretching it here, but the weather wasn't 100%. It was quite windy at times and the occasional dark cloud.
- Not swimming with whales.
- Some of the restaurants in the towns were pretty average.
- 1 instance of running out of petrol in the dinghy at night when the wind picked up and was quickly pushing us out to sea. We were laughing about it at the time, but then Dad said we could either yell for help now when people could hear us or wait until it got serious and then we'd be too far out from people. (Not really a lowlight as it makes for a good anecdote).

From Tonga we flew into Nadi, Fiji where we grabbed a boat ride out to the Mamanuca Island group. We dropped mum and Dad off at their fancy resort and we went to our backpacker/budget place.

(A local village dog was as friendly and hospitable as the (human) locals.)

There we drank, ate (they had a great chef in residence), swam, snorkeled, relaxed, partied, played volleyball and hung out with the other guests and locals. We had a few quiet nights and a few nights where they felt the FULL FORCE of Los Frase Bros. Hearts were broken. Dance-offs were fought and won. Bar tops were stood on and rafters were swung from. Much shit was spoken.

(Drinking games. Young Nick is sloshed!)

One afternoon we went for a walk along the tidal beaches with our cameras where we were checking out and taking photos of all the weird cool shit.

I was enjoying playing with the macro setting on my little Canon IXUS 70.
Hermit crabs became my muse as they were easily herded and cute!

(These strange aquatic crustacean/arachnid hybrids with their waving spiked tentacles were abundant in the shallows. )

See more photos of weird shit (and holiday snaps) at my Flickr site.
Naturally pro-photographer Ainslie got WAY better shots of just about everything then I did. However we're both inspired to get out more taking wildlife photography. I might even look at getting a D-SLR.

Fijian Highlights:
- The Fijians and doing things on Fiji-time.
- Fiji Bitter.
- Pimms on our porch
- The great food
- Spending time hanging out, goofing off and getting drunk with my brothers
-Meeting some nice people from all over the world. (mostly Canadians and Poms)
- Weird cool shit in the water

Fijian Lowlights:
- Snorkelling with a hangover.
-Shitty hotel we stayed in at Nadi on the last night as we had an early flight the next morning.
- Too many tourists
-Heavily populated snorkel spots complete with jet skis.

From Nadi we flew to Sydney were we TOOK the old shit-box Batmobile and drove to Melbourne the next day. Doing the trip in one day, it wasn't too bad. I do like a good road trip! It gave Ainslie and I plenty of time to debrief and plan our next trips!

Sydney Highlights:
-Scoring a car
- Collecting lots of old books and photo albums from storage
- Meeting the new family dog
- Catching up and going to a nice restaurant with new Sydney-siders Dave & Sam.

Sydney Lowlights:
-Coming back to winter
- Not hanging around in Sydney long enough to catch up with people.
-Having the holiday end.