GDS Comics Launch

Remember last month when I mentioned that Prey, the short comics I submitted to a publisher got accepted? Well, the Going Down Swinging (GDS) publication that includes my submitted comics will be released this coming December and there’ll be an official launch party here in Melbourne at 7 pm on Thursday December 14 at Fad Gallery, 14 Corrs Lane, Chinatown.

I just got an email from the publisher yesterday regarding the event. According to the email, there’d be “a few drinks, a few performances and a whole lot of fun.” Sounds good to me. There would also be a presentation and a montage of all the comics included in the book. For the artists, there would be a comic jam. What is it? Basically, we artists go and draw there while people look over our shoulders to see what we’re drawing. Sounds fun but am I brave enough? Lastly, there will be a comic art auction for those of us interested in selling our art (just as long as it is properly framed) and attendees interested in buying art from us.

Admission for me is free but any guests I bring along, including Raquel, needs to pay a $5 entry fee (or $10 if you want the book too which would retail at $19.95 in stores). I can’t wait to be there.

Now the downside of all this. Our flight for Manila is at midnight the same night! Actually, it’s more like 1 AM the next day but it’s basically the same night. So, we won’t be able to stay at the launch party for too long if we don’t want to miss our plane.

So, we’ll actually still be coming to work on Thursday. We’ll just bring our luggage along and probably store it in a locker here in the CBD at lunch time (we’re still not sure if there’s a cheaper way to store our luggage away before we leave for the airport). Then after the party (or at around 9:30 pm, whichever comes first), we’ll just pickup our luggage from the locker, hop on the next SkyBus to the airport and catch the plane for the Philippines.

It’s going to be a very hectic day but I wouldn’t miss this launch party for anything!

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Published in: on November 30, 2006 at 12:24 pm  Comments (8)  

DFO Spencer Street

A new Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) opens today at Spencer street. Their website still doesn’t have a list of stores but expect the usual mix of fashion, footwear, bags, jewellery, sporting goods and homeware shops. Trading hours are from 10 am till 6pm, except on Fridays (till 9pm). Certainly worth checking out if you’re in the vicinity!

Published in: on November 30, 2006 at 12:08 am  Leave a Comment  

The Spring Harvest Picnic at Werribee Park

After hearing Mass and watching our friends G and E act as commentators last Sunday, we headed off to the this year’s Spring Harvest Picnic at Werribee Park. There were lots of cars in the designated car park area when we arrived that afternoon. The car park area was basically just one big empty dusty field but it was a pretty big field as it could accommodate all the cars parked that day. There were so many cars that the parking spot we got was a few minutes walk from the entrance gate.

We went there basically for some food tasting and to roam around the Werribee Mansion. And that’s what we did. The yard in front of the mansion was circled with stalls occupied by food and wine companies selling their wares. In the middle of it all were the visitors who have set themselves up for a picnic. We should have brought our own blanket or chairs and enjoyed the wonderful sunny day right there.

They didn’t have to bring any food to this particular picnic because it could easily bought from one of the surrounding stalls anyway. And in some cases, you can get it for free like the free bowl of mixed fresh fruits from the fruits awareness stall. Feeling thirsty, “have a taste” of some of the wines and juices there.

The wonderful thing about all the free-tasting there was that I was at last able to have a small taste of some of the products I see on supermarket shelves without having the need to buy a whole box of it first. Take the variety of Waterthins twists flavours for example. Each box is worth about $4 in the grocery. I don’t want to buy a whole box of it just to find out in the end that I don’t like the taste of the flavour I’ve chosen. Should I then buy another box with a different flavour just to find out if I’d like it? There, I got to taste all their flavours making it easy to choose which flavour (if any) I was going to buy. What’s more was that they sell the products cheaper there, too.

After a quick round of looking at the stalls there, we lined up for entry into the Werribee Mansion. It was quite amusing to see the staff there walking around the court yard and inside the mansion wearing Victorian-era period clothes. There were lots of rooms to explore inside the mansion revealing different aspects of what life was like for rich folk back in the old days.

The most uncomfortable thing I noticed about the mansion was the obvious presence of dead animals. There were quite a few animal head trophies that hung from the walls. There were also a few animal rugs with the animal’s stuffed head still attached. There was a stuffed dog in a glass case, an elephant foot turned into a stool and a couple of knives with handles made out of dead animal limbs! But that was how it was like in the old days, I just told myself.

So, after exploring the mansion, enjoying the band that played in the open grounds, tasting the variety of food on offer and buying some of it, we decided to leave an hour before the end of the event in order to avoid the other people all leaving at the same time.

Unfortunately, we were too late. A lot of people also decided to leave then. There was just one road out of the park and all the cars have to line up to go through it. It took us over an hour just to get out of the park. It was the most horrible part of the day.

Next year, we’ll probably go back and we’d be better prepared for it. We’ll be bringing a big blanket, some chairs and a giant umbrella. We’ll also come in earlier and leave earlier to avoid the rush out of there in the afternoon. We’ll also invite our friends to come along next time. After all, the more, the merrier.

Published in: on November 29, 2006 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

The trouble with Connex

When I posted a blog last Wednesday regarding Connex’s troubles with cable thieves, we didn’t expect any trouble in the Werribee line as we’re getting home. Connex was, after all, promising passengers affected by the thievery that services would be back to normal. What could possibly go wrong with the other lines which didn’t experience any disruptions that morning?

We got to Flinders Street station about 10 minutes before the next train to Werribee was scheduled to arrive. Then, about 3 minutes before it was to arrive, an announcement was made through the public speaker system. There would be no trains to Werribee and passengers were advised to take the Sydenham train instead and get off at Footscray station where people could take connecting buses.

The first sign of trouble was when the 6.14 train to Sydenham arrived, it was immediately packed and one passenger commented later that it was idiotic to have that train go around the city loop when nobody else could get on anyway. Our sardine can of a train arrived at Footscray at 6.28 and the number of people who got off were quite overwhelming. An announcement greeted us and directed us to platform 4 where the buses were supposed to be waiting.

When we got to the bus stop, there were two Connex staff waiting with a group of passengers. One Connex personnel addressed the crowd, saying that there was an “overhead” problem in Yarraville and that there would be connecting buses to pick up the waiting passengers shortly. He also mentioned that there were 13 buses servicing the temporary route.

Fifteen minutes into the wait, a bus rolled down the street and everyone rushed to the doors. The Connex guy yelled that the bus would be going to Williamstown and that the next one would be heading for Laverton. Williamstown?!? All this while we thought that the people stuck there with us were all users of the Werribee line as well, that was the first we’ve heard that the buses were also meant to service people going to Williamstown. Those 13 buses supposedly servicing our route have now been halved and there’s no mention of when the next Laverton bus would be arriving.

Half an hour into waiting, a Laverton bus finally arrived. Although I got on this time, hubby didn’t because a Connex man was preventing him from boarding the bus even though was clearly still room for one more passenger. By this time, we were contemplating taking a cab home even if it’ll probably cost us an arm and a leg. No such luck as people around us were discussing the lack of taxis around the area and people had to resort to calling the taxi company to send some. The taxis weren’t coming fast enough though (2 cars in a span of 15 minutes) and when they do, people were only too glad to share if they’re heading in the same direction. Unfortunately, nobody with a taxi was headed for Werribee. We had to wait for the next bus.

By this time, another train was coming in and was offloading another batch of passengers. People who came in with us in the earlier train were now getting angry, saying that 13 buses aren’t enough and what were they thinking, not providing more? A channel Seven cameraman captured all the complaints and the sheepish looks of the Connex staff nearby.

After an hour of waiting, another bus bound for Laverton finally came. This time, we elbowed our way in, just like everybody else was doing. We were now getting hungry, tired and desperate. We got on and even got seats. The bus deposited us to the Laverton station where we were again told to wait 10 minutes for the next train to Werribee. The train arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule. Thinking our luck was finally turning, we breathed a sigh of relief.

That turned out to be a bit premature as our slowly moving train ground to a halt and let an empty train overtake it. Exasperated, one of the passengers commented that maybe because we’re already late anyway, what’s a few minutes more of waiting? Weary laughter greeted the observation, everyone just wanted to get home at this point.

After a couple more minutes, the train we were on finally moved and arrived at Werribee station without further incident at a little past eight. Since the last bus left at half past seven, we had no choice but to walk home. We got home at 8.35, way later than usual. No thanks to Connex.

Melbourne’s public transport system is good if and when it works. The trouble is, the system has no backup whatsoever. Unlike in the inner city where people could take trams or buses to get to their destination when the train system breaks, there is no such alternative to us living in the outer suburbs. As an experiment, we tried searching the Connex website for an alternate way to get home from work without using the train. The recommended route could only take us as far as Laverton station, assuming we wanted to get home on the same day (as opposed to waiting for the public transport to start again the next day). Once in Laverton, we could presumably take a taxi home.

There had been a lot of complaints lately with Connex not being able to stick to their timetables, cancelling trips and giving public transport users no other alternative than to use their cars to get to and from their destinations. With the rising petrol prices and increasing awareness of greenhouse gas emissions, Connex certainly could do with an upgrade and better service. And don’t tell me they don’t have the money either, they should just scrap those silly ads about passengers holding the trains back and put those advertising dollars to better use.

Published in: on November 27, 2006 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Weekend Events in the Western Suburbs

Just letting everybody who might be interested know that this year’s Philippine Fiesta in Melbourne will be held in the Philippine Community Centre at Laverton tomorrow and Sunday (November 25-26). So, if you’re a Pinoy expat missing the Philippines, here’s your chance to go to a fiesta here in Melbourne. Just go to their website for more information.

If you are Roman Catholic and live in the West area (well, even if you aren’t), there is a Filipino Mass at the St Peter Apostle Mission Parish located at 31-33 Guinane Ave., Hoppers Crossing (Melway 206 F1) this coming Sunday at 12 noon. Actually, according to Mass schedule, there is a Filipino Mass every fourth Sunday of the month at noon. But this coming Sunday though, according to a friend of mine, there is also a free lunch made up of Filipino dishes after the Mass.

So, some friends of ours intend to hear Mass at St Peter this coming Sunday and have lunch there before going to the Philippine Fiesta at Laverton (which is just a few minutes car ride from Hoppers Crossing).

Although we’ll be attending Mass at Hoppers, Raquel and I might not go on to the fiesta with our friends. We decided that we’ll just give this year’s fiesta a miss since we’ll be flying home to the Philippines in December for Christmas anyway.

Instead, we’re heading off to the 2006 Spring Harvest Picnic at Werribee Park at K Road, Werribee (Melway 201B4) for something different. It’s from 9 am to 5 pm this coming Sunday only. Here’s a description of the event from their website:

Food and wine producers from all over Victoria will gather in the grounds of Werribee Park to sample, showcase and sell their tasty products. This is a wonderful day for the family and will feature music and dance on stage throughout the day, cooking demonstrations by well known chefs and lots of activities for kids.

Bring a picnic blanket and basket, and create a picnic from the delicious array of goods on offer. Stock the pantry in time for Christmas, or buy Christmas presents for all your food-loving friends. Ticket covers admission to the Spring Harvest Picnic, Werribee Mansion, the Victoria State Rose Garden and access to the Winemaker’s Cup polo tournament.

So, although we don’t really care much for wine, we care a lot about food. Also, we haven’t seen the Werribee Mansion yet (which is one of Werribee’s tourist attractions), so this is a good excuse to go visit it since the admission for it is also included in the admission for the picnic.

Anyway, this weekend is looking to be a busy and fun-filled couple of days for us. Thank God. I’m so looking forward to doing something leisurely after all the work I’m doing.

Published in: on November 24, 2006 at 12:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Freakish Night

At around 9 PM last night, Raquel and I had just finished watching something on TV and had turned the TV off for the night. All was quiet for a few seconds but then, a roaring sound started to come from outside the house. We wondered what the sound was. It was like a couple of aeroplanes were flying low and headed straight for our house. Actually, it sounded like the sound effect used in movies when it had to show a creeping wave of energy after an explosion like in the Independence Day film.

Needless to say, we were both freaked out by the sound that steadily grew louder with each passing second. It didn’t help that we watch the TV show Jericho which was about a small town needing to fend for itself after the major cities of the US were destroyed with nuclear bombs.

And then, boom! Suddenly, our house was in a middle of gale-force winds (or at least, it seemed to be). The wind was the strongest I’ve ever experienced personally in Australia thus far. Groaning sounds came from our ceiling as the wind battered our house. We heard the sound of what could be hail stones falling down on our roof but when we peeked out the window, it wasn’t raining and there was no hail. Only falling dust and debris. The lights in the house flickered briefly but the lights on the street lamps gave out.

The strong wind went on for several minutes more. It was very bizarre. My imagination ran wild in my head. Was this the end of the world? What could’ve caused such a sudden change of weather?

Soon, it was over and our house was still in one piece. Thank God.

Today, we found out that it wasn’t a localised incident but affected most of western Victoria including Geelong and Ballarat. According to The Age article Winds wreak havoc across state, “State Emergency Service volunteers have had a busy night, answering more than 600 calls for assistance as strong winds wreaked havoc across Victoria.”

In hindsight, it wasn’t really all the bad. We’ve experienced worse weather in the Philippines. It was only freaky because it came so suddenly. That and we didn’t know exactly how much strong winds our new house can endure. At least we’re lucky enough to come out of it with no problems.

Published in: on November 22, 2006 at 12:17 pm  Comments (3)  

Wild Weather

It was a little after nine last night when we heard a loud roar. Was that the wind? Hubby turned off the television and answered in the affirmative. I continued unloading the dishwasher but the roar was followed by a louder one and yet another. We ran to the backyard and saw how the wind was simultaneously flattening our small plants and yet also seem hell-bent on uprooting it. We then went into the house and glanced out from the front window to see what is happening in the outside world. Dust was blowing from all directions as small bits of debris rained down on our roof.

We felt like characters in the Three Little Pigs story, thinking all the time why there were no warnings from the weather bureau. We watched mesmerized as people walking in the street try to walk as fast as they can until the street lights went off. Our indoor lights were also flickering by this time and hubby was getting nervous, asking where we kept our candles.

About an hour later, everything seem to have calmed down and the street lights were back. Our brick house escaped the wolf this time, others weren’t as lucky.

Published in: on November 22, 2006 at 12:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Red Gold

Two office colleagues came in later than usual this morning with another transportation tale of woe. Train services were cancelled and people heading towards the city were left to use overcrowded buses and trams. Public transport users in this city had to deal with late and cancelled trains in the past with a myriad of excuses coming from Connex. Flooding, signalling problems, lack of drivers and faulty trains were only some of the explanations put forward by the company to explain their spotty service. So what’s different this time?

This time, Connex may not be entirely to blame as thieves helped themselves to overhead lines used by the rail. These lines contain copper wires and with copper prices soaring worldwide, the thieves risked getting electrocuted by high voltage live wires just to make a quick buck. The first time I heard of stealing electric cables for the copper was when typhoon Milenyo struck Manila in October. Power lines downed by the typhoon were also stolen by thieves then, even electric poles were not spared. Consumers were the ones who suffered having to go without electricity for several days as the electric company struggled to replace everything.

It seems like everything could be sold for a price these days and as long as there’s a market for it, thieves would risk life and limb to get it. However, it is not only simply copper wires that these thieves are stealing, it is also the time and productivity lost by thousands affected by their selfish act.

Published in: on November 22, 2006 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

First Aussie voting experience

This Saturday, November 25, is the official election day for the state of Victoria. It’ll be our first time to vote and we were quite excited to participate. We were planning to go to the polling centre in our district on the day and cast our vote. That changed though when an office colleague mentioned that he has already voted at the CBD Town Hall even if he’s not a resident of the city of Melbourne. It turned out that there’s an early voting centre set up in the city’s town hall and we could cast our vote there.

So today we went there on our lunch break to get it over with. We’ve already decided on who/which party to vote anyway and given that we would have a couple of errands to run on Saturday, doing it early would be more convenient. As with most polling centres, there were people handing out sample ballots depending on the party they are supporting. We got one of each from the Greens, Liberal and Labor parties before we went into the voting centre. We were then instructed to bring the pamphlets back after we’ve voted (looks like they’re recycling them and would be handing them out to other voters once we’ve given them back).

Once we were inside the voting hall, we were asked if we have our Easyvote cards with us. We answered in the negative because although we’ve received them in the mail, we didn’t bring it with us. The lady said it’s okay and asked us to wait in a queue. There was a short wait while we waited for an election official working in front of a computer to be free to talk to us.

The election official I talked to asked me for my surname first, then given name and my address. He then handed me two ballot papers – one for the Lower House and another for the Upper House. He then briefly explained the voting process and how I should fill out the ballot based on my preferences and directed me to a voting booth. The booth is actually just a tall counter with dividers made out of hard cardboard with a pen and a small lamp on top. I filled out my ballot with the pencil while referring to one of the sample ballots. I then proceeded to the cardboard boxes where I dropped my ballot papers with the assistance of the lady manning the boxes, making sure that I dropped the right ballot in the correct box. We handed back the sample ballots on our way out and we’re done.

It was over in a couple of minutes and our first voting experience was relatively easy. Hubby and I were actually surprised that we weren’t asked for any proof of identity and there were no indelible markings/ink involved. Now the wait for the results begins.

Published in: on November 20, 2006 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Billy Hyde sale

The McKillop branch of Billy Hyde is currently holding a sale on the following items until December 8.

  • 25% discount on all print music, books & plays on stock. Doesn’t include orders.
  • 80% discount on items without barcodes.
  • 70% discount on items with Fine Music on the barcode (as opposed to Billy Hyde Fine Music).
  • 80% discount on print/plays/books downstairs including those already discounted.
Published in: on November 20, 2006 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment