Monday, March 30, 2009

Gory Goya Allegory

In this post, I plan to use a famous painting (one of my favorites) by Francisco de Goya, wherein the titan Saturn devours one of his sons in a grisly fashion, to create several metaphors through which you might better understand some things I'm going through. These are my plans. Whether or not everything will go accordingly, I have no idea. Something unforeseen and drastic may happen, and you may cry out as if you've learned something terrifyingly disturbing, found out about an unplanned pregnancy on national television, or witnessed the sudden appearance of a velociraptor. Hopefully the graphic nature of this painting will allow me to draw vivid connections that would otherwise command lots of description. There's only one way to find out.

1. I have been attempting to learn how to surf with a short board. It is MUCH harder than surfing with a long board, as I have found out on several occasions. The key to getting better, as I've learned, is to ignore that voice inside that tells you to stop doing things that will endanger your life gravely. In this metaphor, imagine that I am being devoured by giant waves that crush my body as if they were large godlike things. See how this works? (The waves are big and scary.)

2. Thus far, I've had about 6 weeks of classes and one assignment. Australian university is slightly less demanding in terms of the workload, compared to American university. However, in the next few weeks, I am about to be eaten alive by some huge assignments.

3. I find out whether I got an internship with Ogilvy tomorrow. This has been such a long ridiculous process, and I'm incredibly nervous about it. It's tearing me apart.

4. The other day I was picked up and viciously chewed on by a massive, titan, naked, brutally macabre godlike being. Don't worry though. In Australia, your limbs grow back in like a day. Also, it might have been a dream.

5. I can't decide whether to go to Thailand or not! You can invent your own metaphor for this one, I don't want to step over any cultural boundaries. Any thoughts?

Hopefully you got a lot out of this. I know I did.

No worries,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kevin vs. Wild

So a few weeks ago, I got this crazy thought. "Oprah in space!" After deep consideration and more than a few self-inflicted slaps to the face, I rejected this thought and conceived a second, even crazier thought. I thought to myself, "Kevin, you should randomly and spontaneously go out and experience the outback for yourself, on a university-organized trip that you've been planning to go on for several months with thirty other students!" I briefly swooned with excitement and then finished shaving the space between my eyebrows. In compliance with this brave resolution, I went on the "Northwest Trip," a 10-day outback adventure offered to Murdoch University international students. This trip was super great times ten, like a cross between going to underwater princess land, and finding out that Hogwarts is real. So, pretty damn great. If you have facebook, my two albums from this trip can be used as a neat visual aid for the rundown I'm about to give you. If you are facebookless (MARK) I will throw in some pics so you don't feel blind and lost in the world.

Prelude: I successfully drag myself out of bed and wander aimlessly until I arrive at the parking lot, where I find that I will be traveling in an interestingly shaped bus, with two guides who are not unlike the older, disgruntled versions of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum (but far less fun). After climbing aboard the bus, I get myself mentally ready for the adventure to follow by promptly passing out in my seat.

DAY 1: We drive for 700 kilometers (500 something miles), stopping every once in a while for food/peeing, and I discover that the outback is FLAT. It was not at all the small cozy restaurant-shaped area with booths and a friendly atmosphere that I had imagined. The land stretches on and on, populated with scrubby little bushes and the occasional tree. We spend the night at the Wogarno sheep station, where we were greeted by THE MOST ANNOYING FLIES EVER. So think about the encounters with flies that you've had in the past. Now stop. Have an image in your head? Those flies are HEAVEN AND GUMDROPS compared to Australian flies. If you do not wear a fly net (which everyone resigned to doing), the flies will go in your nose, in your ears, on top of your eyes, and will not give up until they have invaded your body in some godforsaken way. They sucked. On the bright side of the animal kingdom, there was Andy the Australian shepherd! He loved to fetch, jump over huge fences, and get rubbed. Unfortunately, in playing fetch with him, I sent a two inch wooden splinter across my hand and through my finger, in one end and out the other. It hurt, it bled, I manned up, ripped it out, went about my bizness, and then cried myself to sleep.

DAY 2: Another pretty long bus ride, through the mining towns of Cue and Meekatharra, to Newman Caravan Park. We found a swimming pool and, as responsible 20-something year old university students, made a HUGE WHIRLPOOL. In our ill-advised quest to find a pub that night, we discovered that Aboriginal people are SCARY AS HELL. A couple of my friends asked a group of them for directions, and were then fondled and told "this is not your country, be afraid." We probably would have been knifed if we didn't have Stein on our side. Stein is a 6'6" Norwegian mountain of a man. Turned out everything was closed, so we just went back to the park and slept.

DAY 3 and 4: We head to Karijini National Park, which is a crazy awesome place filled with gorges, dingos, spiders, and unbridled beauty. The spiders are HUGE, and are pretty much between every single tree. They don't all have fatal bites, but it's generally "bad" to get bit anyways. We hike gorges and swim in waterfall pools during the day, and get surrounded by howling dingos at night. At one of the waterfalls, we saw what was either a Taipan or a Brown snake, respectively the #1 and #2 most venemous snakes in the world! It was a little guy, but one bite contains enough venom to kill probably 50 adults. We also saw a small water python, which isn't venemous, but can grow up to 15 feet long. There's a famous picture from Karijini in which a monstrous water python is lifting a large waterlogged kangaroo from the gorge. Ridiculous.

DAY 5: REALLY LONG DRIVE. Like 14 hours on the bus. Towards the end of the journey, as we neared Warroora station, we finally saw kangaroos! I saw at least 10 roos near the road - they would bounce away as the bus came close. Needless to say, I was pumped. Seeing a kangaroo is the first step to riding it. Saw a scorpion that night (whom I dubbed Josh), as well as a very large hairy spider in my shower (whom I also dubbed Josh).

DAY 6: Awesome day. Went to Coral Bay, and snorkeled in Ningaloo Reef (2nd largest reef in the world), where I saw sea turtles, a myriad of fish, stingrays, and all sorts of awesome things. We spent the rest of the day drinking on the beach, in shallow water, surrounded by huge spotted emperor fish that would swim all around and between your legs. Paradise. That night, while trying to photograph the beautiful sunset, I saw more kangaroos! I tried to sneak up on them to take pictures, but failed pretty miserably. I settled for some really blurry pictures, then turned back to the sunset, which was BANGIN. bangin bangin.

DAY 7: We head to Hamelin Pool, which is home to stromatolites! These rock-things are the oldest living organism on earth, and exist in only three places all over the world. They're pretty uninteresting, otherwise. Really cool place though. The surrounding area was a shell beach - 6000 years of storms had deposited tiny shells all over the ground, which had the composite effect of making the area absolutely beautiful as well as absolutely sharp and painful to walk on.

DAY 8: We feed dolphins at Monkey Mia (which was kinda touristy and lame, standing on a beach with like 200 other tourists), and then take a catamaran (read: BOAT) out through Shark Bay, where we run into a pod of dolphins that follows us for good 10 minutes. We played some beach volleyball, fought off a bunch of stupid hungry emus, and then returned to camp for some dinner and drinking games.

DAY 9: Drove for a few hours, stopped at a beautiful beach for a few hours, CUT MY FOOT ON A SHELL (shells: 2/10, cuts my foot), drove more, arrived at Lynton station, where we climbed a small hill and watched the orange sun slowly set on our dreams and our journey.

DAY 10: We went home.

Reliving these memories has been extremely tiring for me, so many emotional ups and downs, highs and lows, balloons and spelunks, so if you'll excuse me I will go to bed. The night after the trip, I slept about 0 hours, so disoriented was I by not sleeping in a tent surrounded by 5 spooning friends. The next day, COMA. And today I'm super tired again, having been to the beach and having played some extremely extreme volleyball. Farewell, fellow travelers.<3 No worries,


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kevin's Official List of Things to Ride in Australia

Alright, it's what you've all been patiently waiting for, my OFFICIAL list of things to ride in Australia. You can put away all of those worthless pirated copies that you got off the internet, this is the real deal. As many of you know, I came to Australia with a single goal that bordered on obsession and insanity: to ride a kangaroo. Since my arrival, I've realized that there is a lot more to Australia than ride kangaroos. In retrospect, it really was kind of a childish goal. I should have known that there are so many other things to ride!

  1. Kangaroo: DONE sort of. (small plastic carousel kangaroo, for 2-6 year olds.)
  2. Manta Ray: DONE came within 3 feet of one, so I'm gonna count it. Also, WTF?
  3. Killer Whale: chances: very likely
  4. Dolphin: chances: very probable, since I'm going to Shark Bay next week.
  5. Velociraptor: chances: very low, their backs are scaly and hard to climb.
  6. Naomi Watts: chances: you tell me. what's that you say? sure thing? agreed
  7. Wave: DONE easy. surfing is a lot harder than it looks, for everyone except me.
  8. Camel: chances: high, since Australia has the most wild camels of any place on earth.
  9. Emu: only so I can tire one out, wrestle it to the ground, and kill it. I hate emus.

In closing, this is what one kilogram of bacon looks like:

MMMM. Alright, l8r.

No worries (actually maybe a little worrying about the risk of heart disease),