Archive for the ‘Manly Beach’ Category

How Mary-Kate and Ashley Got it Wrong

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

The last two weeks exams have been in full swing. Since the exam period in Australia lasts for the better part of a month and most of us only have two or three classes this has lead to a lot of down time. In addition to this, it has been raining quite a bit and therefore we have spent most of our time confined to our apartments pretending to study, or just straight up procrastinating. After a few days of this we were beginning to feel the early symptoms of cabin fever, so late one sunday night Kaela and I decided to head to the local blockbuster to pick up some DVDs to watch. We grabbed 3 full seasons of Sex and the City, The Royal Tennanbaums, Ferris Bueler’s Day Off, Stardust, and this little gem:

More like: Our Lips are Full of bad stereotypes and cliches

It was Kaela’s idea.

Our Lips are Sealed is one of those classic straight-to-video releases that Mary-Kate and Ashley made in their prime before they started dating suicidal movie stars and developing eating disorders. The premise of the film is that the girls witness a crime and have to be placed in the witness protection program. They are relocated all over the United States but they keep blabbing that they are in the witness protection program so they are finally relocated to Sydney, where theoretically they cannot be found. It was one of my favorite Mary Cait and Ashley films when I was ten years old, and re-watching it eleven years later I am having serious doubts about my mental capacity as a ten year old.

In the film the girls spend all their time in Sydney, and all their time in Sydney around the Harbor. It’s as if American’s will only be able to recognize that they are in Australia if the Opera House is in the background of every shot. All the usual suspects were wheeled out for the film: kangaroos, vegemite, crocodile dundee hats, and all the boorish Aussie colloquialisms they could squeeze into an hour and a half.

While Jill, Kaela and I sat and watched the movie we mocked the bad acting and were elated when we could pinpoint every location they filmed at. During one scene they have a chase sequence that goes through the public restrooms in Darling Harbor that Kaela has used on many an occasion, she was quite excited that she could recognize them.

While we mostly just found ourselves laughing at the sheer idiocy of the film, we also found ourselves groaning at the grossly over perpetuated aussie stereotypes that the film rested upon. Here is a brief synopsis of what we found to be deplorable about this film. (Let me just say before I go into this that yes, I realize its a movie and a crappy low budget one starring Mary Cait and Ashley at that, so I don’t take anything too seriously nor delude myself to think that this film had much of an impact on anything, although one of Courtney’s friends from Bondi did once say that this film was her reason for becoming interested in Australia, which frightens me)

Aussie slang

1) Colloquialisms- Throughout the film they use words like “sheila” and “brekkie” over and over again, trying to illustrate the point that even though Australians speak English you can’t understand them half the time. This is highly inaccurate. While there is some use of colloquialisms here they are easy to figure out for the most part. For example, brekkie is short for breakfast, sunnies is short for sunglasses, bangers are sausages, barbie is short for barbeque, ect ect. While sometimes a thick Aussie accent can make someone a bit more difficult to understand someone, generally speaking it is really not a problem in Sydney where accents are not that thick. Also- the word “sheila” is only used now on tacky tourist t-shirts.

2) Vegemite- In the film the students at the girls new school make them eat vegemite to prove that they are ‘worthy’ of hanging with the Aussies. While vegemite can be found at most continental breakfast bars and has its own shelf section in the grocery store, it isn’t something people are big into forcing onto other people because even the Australians know its kinda weird. Vegemite is a gritty brown food paste that is made from a yeast extract and it is typically eaten over a piece of buttered bread. So basically you are putting bread on your bread. In the film one of the twins tries it but it is fairly obvious she is eating Nutella and not Vegemite as the substance she spoons into her mouth is creamy looking and smooth, whereas vegemite is thick and gritty. I even looked it up on IMDB and it was cited there as being nutella as well. Not that I put too much stock in Mary Cait and Ashley films but SERIOUSLY!? They couldn’t even be bothered to ACTUALLY try vegemite for one scene? So much for method acting.

Care for some bread and yeast?

3) Kangaroos as pets- In the film the girls have a kangaroo as a pet. This is not only ridiculous but its something that Australians often make fun of Americans for thinking. Keeping a kangaroo as a pet would be like the American equivalent of keeping a deer as a pet, you just wouldn’t do it. Yes its true kangaroos are everywhere, because, like deer, the population has gotten a bit out of control, but you are more likely to see them lying dead alongside a major highway in Sydney than anywhere else in the city. Just like you don’t see deer in New York City you aren’t going to see Kangaroos in Sydney unless you go to a zoo.

4) Climbing The Sydney Harbor Bridge- At the beginning of the film the girls and their parents live in a trailer and the twins share a room. When they move to Sydney they work at a hotel on the harbor but have almost no guests, suffice to say it isn’t a very profitable enterprise. Yet, one day they meet two boys who ask them what they are doing later, and they say nothing. The next scene cuts to the four of them climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I did this during orientation and it is a $200 excursion, certainly not something in the budget of most 14 year olds and definitely not something you can just do on a whim as you have to schedule it ahead of time and its an hour of processing to get onto the bridge.

5) Manly Beach- At the end of the film the girls attend a surf competition that is supposedly held at Manly Beach, which is in North Sydney. Had they actually been on the beach in Manly then the would have been surfing on the ocean and not the Harbor, and therefore would not have been able to see the Opera House or the Harbor Bridge in the background, and yet during this scene that is exactly what you see. Anyone with any sort of basic geographic knowledge of Sydney would know that if you can see these landmarks then you are not where waves could be caught because you would be in the harbor.

6) Boomerang usage- A boomerang is an Aboriginal flying tool that was used for hunting and for sport and has become an Australian icon, but you are far more likely to find one in a tourist trinket shop than anywhere else. Living in Sydney for four months I have never seen anyone tossing a boomerang around a park like a frisbee, or tossing a boomerang to an animal to catch and retrieve. It just doesn’t happen. In the film they make a big deal out of the Australian kids playing with boomerangs like frisbees and one of the Olsen twins even masters the art of using one so that it actually comes back to her after she throws it. Most boomerangs are not “returning boomerangs” which are a kind of boomerang that is specifically designed to return when you throw it, but you have to learn how to do it, it doesn’t just happen if you chuck it mindlessly into the wind.

7) SHAMELESS Qantas Product Placement- Qantas is the big airline in Australia, and clearly they thought it advantageous to use Mary Cait and Ashley as their marketing monkeys throughout this film. It went further than just showing the famous kangaroo logo every time the characters flew anywhere, they even went so far as to blatantly spell out where all the funding for the film was coming from during this little exchange.

Mary-Kate: You need to get yourself down to Australia

Ashley: I recommend Qantas, is a long flight.

Not that I thought the Olsen twins had standards or souls when it came to creating films, but COME ON.

The whole film was camp, kitsch, and embarrassing in its shameless promotion of Qantas and pushing of inaccurate Aussie stereotypes, but then again, it’s a Mary Cait and Ashley movie, so I can’t say I expected much more out of it.

The Ferry to Manly

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The weather here has begun to cool down as the southern hemisphere summer I have been so enjoying slowly fades into my first fall season where the trees wont change colors or lose their leaves. I have been watching the temperatures go from 90′s to 80′s and recently dip as low as the 70′s. While this makes my 30 minute shlep to school far less sweaty, it also means that the window of time for going to the beach will soon close for the season. The beginning of this week was cooler but jam packed. I had two big assignments due on monday and was on campus from 9am till 8pm on Tuesday. So when Wednesday rolled around I found myself already exhausted and looking at the weather forecast to find that it was going to be a beautifully sunny 85 degree day.

I have heard it said that:

“There is no fun in having nothing to do. The fun is having lots to do and not doing it.”

Well on this particular Wednesday I decided to embrace this philosophy with open arms. The two lectures I had on Wednesday were for classes I had spent all weekend doing homework for, and turned assignments in for on Monday, so I sent Lyndsay a facebook message that said

“OK so tomorrow is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL. Like 80 degrees and sunny and amazing. What say you to skipping class and hitting the beach for one last day of surf and sunshine before the fall really sets in?”.

Her reply: “sooooo down! where do we sign up?!”

So it was on facebook so shall it be done

Before going to bed on Tuesday night we made plans to head out to Manly beach the next day, which is located  a half hour ferry ride from the city directly adjacent to the Sydney Harbour National Park. We agreed we would get up around 9 so we could make the most out of the day. I have not exactly been reliable about getting up for social things since I have been here (surprised? anyone?) and of course today was no exception. My alarm went off around 9, and when I woke up there was a text from Lyndsay saying that she wanted to sleep in till about 10 and we could leave then. I was more than happy to oblige this request, so I fell back down into my pillow, but forgot to reset my alarm. So I jolt awake around 10:15 to three missed phone calls from Lyndsay. I call her back and she says that she has already left and is already on her way. I freak out, but she insists that she will not wait and I will have to just meet up with her. (I had flaked on her a few times prior due to oversleeping so I can hardly blame her for this)Seth and Andy were supposed to come with us as well, and she said they hadn’t left yet and that I should just leave with them.  I get dressed, get breakfast and go down to the boys room. Seth answers the door and says that they aren’t leaving until after 1 when Andy gets out of class. If I’m skipping class I’ll be damned if I’m not getting the whole day out of it. I decide to try and find Manly on my own.

I set out with no idea where I was going, I just started walking towards the bus station. Lyndsay had told me what station I needed to end up at, Circular Quay, and that I needed to get the ferry from there, but that was all I knew. Luckily the bus station information booth was well staffed and the lady there told me where to catch the bus and what number bus I needed. Since it was still early in the morning the busses were coming fairly often and I didn’t even have to wait five minutes for one to arrive. Once on the bus, it was less than a 30 minute ride to the ferry station, and getting off the bus I asked the driver where the ferry ticket office was and he pointed me in the right direction. The ferrys leave Sydney on the half hour, but they stop boarding five minutes before they head out. I arrived at the ticket office at 11:22, got my ticket and got on the ferry in the nick of time. As luck would have it, even though Lyndsay had a 30 min head start on me, she had missed the 11:00 ferry by mere minutes, and had been waiting in the warf for the 11:30 one, so when I got on the boat I called her to tell her that I was sorry for not waking up and that I was now on the ferry and she told me she was too! We found each other and after I apologized profusely and she forgave me we laughed it off and ended up really enjoying the ferry ride out to Manly.

Touristy picture on the ferry

Cute touristy picture


Once the ferry let us off at Manly we found the info center and got directions to the beach, which turned out to be only a five minute walk away to the other side of the peninsula, to the ocean side. Once there we set up shop with towels, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Lyndsay even brought out some homework to do while we were there.

From where the ferries drop off on the sound side to the ocean side was less than a five minute walk. it was awesome

SHe is a far better student than I. I refuse to let something like schoolwork taint my beach day.

Still starkly pale.



winning combination

So lovely

After a few hours and at least two liberal applications of sunscreen, the boys showed up and joined us on the beach. We hung out there for a while, but soon clouds began to move in from behind us. The lifeguards informed us that a torrential downpour was headed for the beach in a matter of minutes so we packed up our stuff and headed for drier and higher ground. We found a bar on the beach and sat down for a beer while the summer storm rolled in and the rain poured down. Thankfully the storm was short and passed in only a few minutes. With and hour and a half left before we needed to get back on the ferry to Sydney we decided to do the 40 minute cliff walk around the northern edge of the peninsula that provides beautiful cliff views of the ocean.

So lovely.

rocky coastline

cool rock sculpture

This thing stopped me dead in my tracks, it was SO BIG. Lots of Australians stopped to take pictures of it after I noticed it. Apparently there are huge fines for anyone who hurts them. We didn't believe it was real until it moved. It was so cool!

Evergreen the Australia...this was weird on so many levels

So pretty!

view as we were leaving on the ferry

We got back to the ferry station right in time to miss the ferry that had just left. We found a guy who was selling 8 dollar ferry tickets for the express ferry, which is smaller and faster and was leaving sooner than the next regular ferry, but we had purchased round trip tickets for the regular ferry. We debated for a good five minutes what to do about this, wether or not it would be advantageous to spend more money and loose the round trip ticket we had already purchased. Well, really Lyndsay and I debated it while Seth seemed unconcerned, and Andy’s only concern was wether or not he would have time to get McDonalds. The express ferry guy was observing all this and getting quite a good chuckle out of my panicked reasoning clashing with Andy’s intense longing for a McDonalds cheeseburger.

Lyndsay and I had tickets to see Spring Awakening at 8pm and we were trying to get back in time to shower and change before we had to go to the show, and the ferry was a 35 min ride, and then we had to either get a bus from the warf back to Glebe or walk. If all went according to plan we would be get back around 7:15, which would mean 15 minutes for a quick shower and change and then another 20 to walk up to the Seymour Center. Luckily we had already purchased our tickets, good life decision there.

We calculated we could still manage to get to our show on time even if we took the later one, so we opted just to wait. The next boat departed at 5:45 and we made sure we were on that one.

Seth and Lyndsay

Me and Andy

All the sailboats coming out to play in the Sydney Harbour

Postcard perfection. Except I actually took this picture.

The opera house from the angle it is least often viewed. Our orientation director told us that the Sydney opera house is one of the most photographed buildings in the world. I am not sure how one would determine such a thing, but I believe it.

Touristy posed picture.

In case you missed the previous 8 pictures, This is the Sydney Harbor Bridge!

I have watched Grey’s Anatomy for years now and listened to Derek (McDreamy) go on and on about how he loved ferry boats and I never understood what the big deal was. Its a big boat that doesn’t even go very fast, I just didn’t see the appeal. Well, NOW I GET IT. Most forms of transportation offer street views that you would see normally, and the destination is whats important, not really how you get there. But with a ferry boat, the journey is also a destination. Getting to ferry through Sydney Harbor Bay was gorgeous and so relaxing. Sitting on the ocean for the 35 minute trip out and back was just as fun as the actual events of the day. So now me and Derek Shepherd have something in common, a mutual love of Ferry Boats. Maybe while I am here I will also come to understand why elevators are so great, because Grey’s Anatomy writers certainly seem to be obsessed with them. Stay posted for progress on that, the elevator in my apt building is now working again for the first time since I have been here. Who knows what magic awaits me between floors one and two!

We got back to Sydney and the boys took the train back because they had already purchased tickets, but Lyndsay and I decided we would just walk in back to save some money. After a few wrong turns and guidance from friendly Australians we found Glebe just fine, and got back around 7:10, which gave us enough time to shower, change, and walk up to the Seymour Center without needing to sprint. When I was getting dressed for the play I noticed that I had a bit of a sunburn. When I woke up the next day I found that definitely had a sunburn. When a rough morning follows a long night of drinking many people will say things like ” I will never drink again!” this is how I feel the morning after a sunburn.

The use of the color green for this opening scene I took real issue with, as green is a color associated with illness and swampy things in terms of color theory, really this show should be done in blues whites and purples, but I won't get into the technical short comings of this production, because I could easily write another 1000 words on that

The show was well done. The actors were all played their parts with depth and conviction and sang extremely well. That being said, the sound mixing was way off, but it was a tricky situation since the Orchestra was seated above the stage, which makes mixing difficult because normally you have them sitting off stage or have an orchestra pitt to swallow some of the sound, thus making the sound easier to control with microphones. Also- the choreography was SO AWKWARD. This show should really be done with very minimalist choreography and more just staged movement and free form stuff. Like I said, I could write another 1,000 words EASILY on this, but I won’t as this post has already gotten to 2,000.

Yaella, Alana, Lyndsay, Me, Megan and Amanda. No body had seen it before but me, and everybody liked it!

I sat next to Lyndsay who got a bit peeved at me because I was singing every word. During intermission she said

“Valerie I paid to hear them sing not you!”

Everyone liked the show and I sang all the way home from it. A bunch of the girls even cried during the final scenes where things really get intense. It was like my mom was there in spirit to cringe at the sex scenes and cry during the sad parts. It was a great ending to a great day. I never get sick of Spring Awakening.