• Martha Iserman

February Stuffs

After almost a full month of house guests, our lives are getting back to our normal routine of pajama pants and binge-watching Netflix (at least for this first week off, we need a gentle re-entry into normalcy). Since we were showing people around Melbourne I didn't have as much time to work on art projects or to explore other creative avenues like reading and discovering new music so this month's recap will include some of the local stuff we experienced.


Exploring



We took our friends to the important spots in the city, like the Royal Botanic Gardens, the National Gallery of Victoria and whatever rooftop bars we could find.



Melbourne is quickly becoming one of my favorite cities to wander through and explore. It's very walkable, there are tons of arcades and street art laneways to explore, and the weather (though very changeable) is always pleasant. I've found that you don't ever really need a reason to head into the city, just hop on the train and let your curiosity

guide you until something catches your eye.



FOOD

That's how we found one particular restaurant, Cookie that we particularly enjoyed. After having a drink on the roof of the same building, we decided to drop in for a beer and take a look at the menu.



We were there in the middle of the day, so the place was very quiet, with a few patrons sipping at a glass of wine while reading on the multiple window balcony seats, or enjoying quiet lunch dates. The vibe felt very European to me with high stained glass windows, original architectural features, and multiple nooks and crannies to tuck yourself away. For some reason, they were also displaying children's books all over the restaurant. Oh, and they serve Thai food. Really good Thai food. So if you're looking for a French-style Bistrot with a great wine selection, that plays old jazz and Christmas music year-round, and serves some of the only food with legit spice in AU, and named after something they don't sell, Cookie is it. I can't wait to go back.



Outdoors



We also spent plenty of time outdoors (this is Australia after all), exploring Phillip Island, animal reserves, and multiple hiking trails.


We took both sets of visitors to Phillip Island Wildlife Park which has over 100 species of Australian animals spaced out over 60 acres. You can buy kangaroo food for $0.50 a bag and you spend the day wandering around various creatures like wallabies, Tasmanian devils, emus, and very intimidating geese.


Thou shalt not pass!

We also went hiking at Hanging Rock, which segues into....


Book




Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay is a classic of Australian Fiction, and also fits into my favorite genre Folk Horror (which I'm sure I'll blog about at some point). Set in the early 1900s, a group of schoolgirls takes a trip to a mysterious mountain range north of Melbourne called Hanging Rock, but not all the girls come back (Oooooohhhhhh....spooooky....). It was written in 1967, though in a classic victorian style. If you like The Turn of The Screw, you'll enjoy this.



It was a nice day hike, though there was a car show happening at the park during our visit which made it a bit crowded, loud, and EXHAUSTing (see what I did there?.. you know, for cars...). The views were beautiful and the place definitely has a spooky vibe (if you can ignore the revving engines).


Since I was the only one in our group who'd read the book, I was alone in yelling "Miranda" from the summit (politely of course), though we did find her not-at-all-creepy likeness at the guest center.

We found her! Mystery solved.

Side Note: There is a tv adaptation of the novel on streaming services right now starring That Smirking Whore From Highgarden. It takes a lot of liberties with the story, which I guess would be expected since it's an 8 episode series and the book is pretty short. There's also a movie adaptation made in 1975 which I have not seen.


Music


While our guests were exploring the city sans hosts, I got to have my own adventure going into the city alone to see Tool in concert for the first time!



I've been a Tool fan since 1997, which is still considered late in terms of their fan base. If you know anything about them, they've been around since 1990 and their recent album Fear Inoculum is their first in 13 years.


I used to be a bit more shy about my Tool fandom, but as I get older I've learned to embrace loving what I love. If that's a prog-metal math band from the 90s that alternates between making music about transcendental spirituality and penis jokes, that's fine. That being said, I was a bit apprehensive going on my own when I arrived at a stadium with 20,000 headbanging men. Much to my surprise though, my seat was next to 2 sisters in their early to mid-60s complete with well-coifed white hair, buttoned-up blouses, and respectable shoes. I thought at first they were chaperones until one excitedly asked me my favorite song ("Pushit" live from their Salival album in case you were wondering). She then exclaimed "I really do hope they play "46 and 2" because that's just the best song and it would really make my evening." I was still suspicious until the music started and they knew every word to every song and rocked out until the very end, screaming for encores.


On my other side were a group of middle-aged Irish dads who I'm guessing hadn't gotten out in a while so were pounding beers before the show. Once it started they brought out the weed (which I declined when they generously offered me some) and I'm glad I did because the light display, intense surreal visuals on the backdrops and pounding music proved too much for 2 of them and they had to leave to avoid a full panic attack.


It was really fun to see a band I've loved for the majority of my life, and also kinda nice to see people my age and older unabashedly rocking out. It was a very lovely and earnest experience. I'm not judging those dads ( I would have been in a fetal position in the bathroom in a heartbeat). I love that they came to fully experience the music and went all in. It was a beautiful night! (Click below to hear their latest single)





So that was my February! I'm hoping to get back to a routine with artwork and reading, and even some writing exercises as well. There are a few more Australian animals to paint to finish off that series, and I'm almost done with the last of the Red Locust images. Stay tuned for more artwork at Big Red Sharks and comment with what you learned, found, enjoyed and/or discovered in February!

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