Sunday, 22 November 2009

Pearl Jam - All Done and Review

Update 24 Nov 2009:
Hot in more ways than one. It was around 40°C in Sydney (that's about 104°F for the Yanks) so we were sweltering out on the field. But really, once the show started I didn't notice. Pearl jam sizzled. Eddie croaked out the vocals with more or less his trademark growl. Apparently he had a bit of a flu so the fact they played for a full 2 hours was pretty damn fine and we barely noticed anything wrong with his voice.

For some reason I thought they'd be a bunch of old fat blokes reliving past glory but nothing could be further from the truth. They looked and played like it was 1995 all over again (shorts n'all). I was lucky enough to be fairly close to the front so had a great view. Sometimes I wonder why the people up the back in and in the stands even bother at these big stadium events. I know that after U2 back in '93 I swore I'd never go to another stadium event with a seat in the stand or the back section of the field. Give me the mosh any day. And speaking of the mosh. Not much going on mosh wise. It looked like most people were obeying the the big warnings flashing up every now again about not moshing or crowd surfing. Considering there were 40,000 people there it wasn't too crowded and no dickheads pushing for the sake of pushing. I suppose that is why they divided the field into two - back and front. Yellow wrist bands got you into the front section. If anything the crowd was too subdued.

Sound wise it wasn't that loud. I'd forgotten my earplugs (hey I'm old, I need my what's left of my hearing and I've been doing this for 25+ years as well) and I could have gotten by but I ended up ripping up a napkin and plugging my ears with that and that worked adequately. It knocks off the top couple of decibels and stops your ears from ringing the next day. Ringing means ear damage.

I thought the set was okay. A good mix of old and new stuff. Anyone hoping to get a greatest hits set though were probably disappointed. They didn't play a few of their monster hits from the early years unfortunately but it would be hard to keep everybody happy. I wonder if they actually sit down and decide, Even Flow or Alive? We got Even Flow.

Ben Harper came out and did his thing on the slide guitar with PJ, and Eddie and Liam Finn did a version of Hunters and Collectors classic "Throw Your Arms Around Me". I think Eddie called it the Blue Summer Sky song though. This is the point where I thought the crowd was a little bit too subdued. I was belting it out, as is tradition for this song, and I could hear myself. Not many people were joining in around me. It was kind of weird and un-Australian to not sing along considering it looked like your average Triple M type crowd. Now that I think of it though, there were quite a few foreigners around me. Europeans I think. I'm sure I heard Spanish and a Nordic language as well as the usual Irish and English accents so maybe I shouldn't be too hard on the people around me for not joining in.

I went in with low expectations. I was annoyed by the heat and the bar situation didn't help. We weren't allowed to take booze in to the stadium itself so it was a bit of an effort to get a beer. Queuing for ages pissed me off but we passed the time chatting to other punters. Pearl Jam went off though and rocked the place. Totally worth it. I still can't believe it has taken me 20 odd years to get around to seeing them.

Pearl Jam have a link to comments about the gig here. For extra awesome I think they also make bootlegs of the shows available from their website at some point. Cool.

Pearl Jam 13 - Video

Pearl Jam 12

Pearl Jam 11

Pearl Jam 10- Video

Pearl Jam 9

Pearl Jam 8 - Video

Pearl Jam 7

Pearl Jam 6

Pearl Jam 5 - Video

Pearl jam 4

Pearl jam 3

Pearl Jam 2

Plenty of toilets though. Ooh I can hear Ben Harper. Gotta go.

Pearl Jam

Pie and chips and over priced beer. Bar situation is shit. Too many people and too few bars. The bars are outside the stadium and I forgot my ear plugs. Oh well.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Pearl Jam at the Sydney Footy Stadium tomorrow

I can't believe it has taken me 20 years to get to see Pearl Jam. Finally it happens tomorrow. Pearl Jam, supported by Ben Harper and Liam Finn, are playing a stadium spectacular at the Sydney Football Stadium. Usually I'd avoid a stadium show, especially at the SFS (don't remind me of U2's Zoomerang gig with the abysmal sound at the at the SFS - shit was that really in 1993?), but I was able to snag a fairly decent tickets in the front section. So I should be able to squeeze myself up in to, or near, the mosh and get a good view of the old buggers.
Nice bonus having Ben Harper and Liam Finn on the bill. I'd forgotten they were supporting till I checked my ticket yesterday.

As per usual I probably snap a few pics and live blog 'em.

Clicking the picture takes you to PearlJamTour.TV.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Crikey! Zombie Steve on the dollar coin

Well I think it looks like zombie Steve - look at those dead eyes, the bared teeth. The croc looks more alive. But yes, Steve Irwin has been immortalised, again, this time with a commemorative $1 coin.

No I'm not kidding. Details from the Royal Australian Mint can be found here. So this is in addition to the commemorative stamp in 2007, the renaming of the Sea Shepherd "pirate" ship and November 15 which is now known as Steve Irwin day.

The catholic church has not announced whether or not Steve has achieved the required two miracles for canonisation.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Bailed up by 911 Truthers in Sydney

I've just been handed a 911 Truther postcard (click the picture to embiggen) in Sydney of all places. I was just coming out of Central Station on my way home when I saw a couple of people, older guys, handing out flyers. I usually ignore these people but something struck me about the beige t-shirts they were wearing. The motif was a stylized 911 with the ones made to look like the Twin Towers overlaid with a magnifying glass. Anyway I was past these guys before it sunk in as to who they were but I couldn't be fudged going back. But as luck would have it about 100 metres up the road closer to home there was another person handing out flyers. This time it was a blonde thirty something woman wearing the same beige t-shirt. Beauty I thought, I'll get a brochure this time. She saw me and headed straight to me saying, "You look like you'll probably be interested in this". She probably noticed my grin. She handed me a postcard.
"Ah, you're 911 Truthers" I said. I was laughing out loud at this point.
"Yes we are" she said. "We're having a talk tomorrow night at the Tom Mann Theatre across the road. You look like you'd enjoy it. Brings some mates." She handed me more postcards. What the hell do I look like? I was wearing a black t-shirt with a 3d barcode on it but does that make me look like a conspiracy loon? Well duh.
I laughed some more as I walked away but she followed and said, "Have you heard about the thermite?"
I turned and said, "The thermite as in the trace metals and chemicals that can also be found in thousands of pulverized and burned computers and mobile phones? That thermite?" Thanks Penn & Teller's Bullshit.
She stopped and started to back away. "In that case if you come tomorrow night you can come for free. You might learn something. Brings some mates" she said.
I laughed and kept walking home. I was thinking, free though? How much was it to go to this thing? There it was printed on the postcard. $60! Fudging heck. It must be quite a lurk this 911 Truther thing. Apparently I could go for free if I wanted to though.

I really don't think I can buggered going along tomorrow night to listen to these hard core loons. I mean it is Saturday night after all. The other thing is that these people are spouting shit that is plain offensive to the memories of the thousands of people that perished on 9/11. Every point they have raised has been debunked by credible experts thousands of times.

If you do want to go to loonfest though they have a web site, and You'll want some kind of mind bleach afterwards though. You never know I might even still go seeing as I can get in for free. Maybe not.

If you want the real story though check out this site, It is a good place to start to read about some real debunking of the shite the 911 Truthers spew. Here is a link to the awesome Popular Mechanics 9/11 myth debunking article. Hopefully these will be an antidote to the paranoid ravings from the conspiracy believers at 911Oz for you.

It was an interesting experience though. It was the first time I've met these characters in the wild and the first time I've heard of them here in Oz. Usually I run in to them on-line at places like Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy Blog -

Update 16/11/2009: I didn't end up going because... well I forgot. We were watching Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress which was totally diverting for me and 2 hours of Michelle's life she won't get back. :-)

Monday, 9 November 2009

Cancer with a little 'c'... or ouch ouch ouch ouch...

I look like I'm enjoying myself yes? On a sun bed soaking up the rays maybe? Nope. I'm actually undergoing a painful skin cancer removal treatment. That is cancer with a small 'c', not a big 'C'. I went to the dermatologist a couple of weeks ago because a mole on my belly had recently changed colour. A definite sign of melanoma. OMG I'm going to die! Even my GP said with a worried frown, "I think we should get this one checked out". Yep, I'm going to die. Of course we Googled pictures of melanomas and self diagnosed via teh interwebs as well. Now I was absolutely certain I was going to die.

Finally I got to see a dermatologist. Do you know how hard it is to get an appointment with skin cancer specialist? Don't their receptionists know that you're dying? I had to wait a week to get an appointment. I even made appointments at other clinics in case I could see someone sooner. Anyway Dr Bryan P is a jovial personable kind of guy. He puts you at ease right away. He made me strip and and went over my body with a fine toothed comb. Okay, not literally a fine toothed comb. I'm not that hairy. He um'd and ah'd and found four suspicious moles or lesions. I asked about the mole on my belly and he just said, "That? That is nothing. I don't think you're going to die today. Sorry".

He excised four suspicious spots with a scalpel and closed the wounds up with a laser. Not as painful as it sounds because these days they have magic local anaesthetic that works instantly. One prick and you don't feel a thing. Well, 4 pricks in my case. All the time Dr P kept up a running commentary interspersed with Hong Kong movie quotes and jokes. Michelle thought my burning flesh smelled like burnt pork. Cue long pork jokes. I was still worried about the discoloured mole on my belly though and Michelle said to Dr P that I had been stressing about it a lot. So the doc said okay if you insist and after a quick jab, a flick of the scalpel and the smell of burning flesh from the laser it was gone and bandaged up. The stress left my body like a nice long warm pee in the ocean.

A few days later Dr P phoned with the results of the five biopsies. One indeed was a cancer and it was the one he suspected and not the one I went to see him about in the first place. A red patch on my back was a basal cell carcinoma or BCC. A BCC is the most common non melanoma type of skin cancer. It is also the easiest to treat and the least dangerous. Shit, I had one removed 15 years ago. It left a nice 12 cm scar on chest though. I mentioned to the doc that I was familiar with BCCs and the scars they left. My scar being case in point. "Yes," he said, "they were butchers in the old days. We don't do that any more".

Nowadays the treatment involves putting some cream on the lesion, bandaging it up for a few hours and then shining a red light on it. The sting? It costs 600 bucks. Ouch. At least I don't have to go under the knife. The treatment is called Metvix PDT. Metvix is Methyl aminolevulinate and PDT stands for photodynamic therapy. I think the metvix cream works out to be $100 per gram. The consumer information pack suggests that during the treatment you may feel a slight stinging or burning sensation. Slight eh? Frack.

Fast forward to today for the first treatment of two, with the next and final being next week. The nurse said I can have a local anaesthetic if I want because some people find the treatment quite painful. Heh, I thought, a bit of cream and a bright light? How painful can it be? Answer, fucking painful. First they have to rough up the skin around the lesion with scalpel, which was nothing really, and apply the cream. I went back to work for few hours and then came back for the light. The nurse asked again if I wanted a local and of course I declined. I took of my shirt and put on the sexy blackened swimming goggles, because the light is supposed to be quite bright, and lay on my belly ready for the next 9 minutes of light treatment. At first it feels like someone is scratching you with rough scratchy finger nails. Okay, painful but not overly so. Then about 2 and half minutes in (shit! only 3 minutes! shit!) it feels like someone has taken a large magnifying glass and is trying to kill an ant on your back and the ant is trying to burrow into your skin. The pain eases a bit for a minute or two then slowly builds again and feels like a really bad prickly sunburn except someone is trying to stick needles into that one point on your back. Then it feels like a thousand little needle like jackhammers hammering away into the sunburn. Does getting a tattoo feel like this?
Then the 9 minutes were up and it was all a blur for a little while. A bandage was slapped on and treatment information brochure was thrust into my hand, I handed over my credit card and I was out of there. My back stings for the rest of the day.

Oh boy, I can't wait for next week.

Update: 16/11/2009
I've just had the final treatment and was about a minute in when I thought the second the nurse offers a local I'm jumping on it. She did and I did. Aaah, blessed relief. I told her I'm only having an anaesthetic as scientific exercise... just to have something to compare against last week. The light has a lovely cooling fan blowing on my skin too. Didn't notice that last time. So, yes, no pain. The local wore off about half an hour later. Off the the chemist now for some codeine. Yes I am a big sook.

Never a dull moment in Martin Place

But WTF?
A bit early and cool for these poor things to be doing a promo in the wind tunnel that is Martin Place too. A couple of them were shivering.

Afternoon update: Thanks to the SMH we now know that the promo was for the Gold Coast tourism. The models look a lot happier in the video than when I saw them.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Shopping can be lonely

But apparently you can still get the withdrawn from sale Coles Creole Creams in Bi-Lo.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Martin Place movie set

Tripping over film crews in Martin Place today. At least half a dozen various film crews. From single camera vox pop news type crews to this bigger movie set up below. They filmed the three cops walking up the stairs at least 3 times while I watched. They also had a second camera in front of the Reserve Bank until the RBA security people made the camera crew move on.

Redoak for lunch

Mmm, beer for lunch. A bit naughty I guess but I was walking past and...
Seafood Tasting Board
Marinated tartare of kingfish with cucumber, truffle oil & micro herbs Organic Hefeweizen
Citrus cured Atlantic Salmon with extra virgin olive oil Honey Ale
Crispy scallop, eschalot and sesame wonton Organic Pale Ale
Prawn, spinach and Honey Ale soup with coriander cream Irish Red Ale
Not too bad for $20.
Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe is at 201 Clarence Street Sydney.