Here's a somewhat vague travelogue of my trip to Brisbane, and the three days during which I met Positronbob and Yahtzee. Click on the pictures for bigger ones. (Update, 2013: I've edited this a bit, largely because I feel I can write significantly better these days, and because some elements of the story are now either awkward or more embarrassing than I previously thought.)
DAY ONE (Sunday)
Having determined where Positronbob was to be found, went and collected him. Drove to Kingston railway station, deposited car in car park. Took the train into the city, after bumming train fare from Positronbob. Can't remember if I ever paid him back. Probably should do something about that. Karma's a bitch, and all. Spent most of the duration of the train trip discussing online activities on the Home of the Underdogs Forum, a discussion arena attached to the old Home of the Underdogs abandonware website, which kind of disappeared from existance, but kind of reappeared in 2012, but it's so far removed from what it used to be that it doesn't bear thinking about.
Arrived in the city to discover that at some point between Kingston and Brisbane it had become very hot. Wandered out of South Bank station, where we were stopped in our tracks by the stultifying stupidity of this sign:
Although on later reflection we realised the sign is probably there for the benefit of commuters passing on the road to the right.
On further reflection on the above realisation, we again noticed that even if the sign is for motorists, there's still the issue of how the blind people know where to cross.
It hurts my brain to think about it.
We ate at a small cafe near the Energex Arbour. The Energex Arbour is a massive winding footpath covered in with a hideous metal framework with weeds growing all over it. Eventually, I postulate, it will form an impenetrable forest of thorned and vicious plantlife, to be traversed only by warriors dressed in khaki and weilding machetes. As it stands, it's a poor attempt at even blocking out the sun.
We waited under the Suncorp Piazza for Yahtzee to show. We kind of realised that we knew nothing about his appearance apart from some really old online photos, which lead us to wonder whether the photos were even of him at all. Perhaps he just typed a random name into Google Image Search and used whatever photos popped up.
To cut a long story, uh, less long, we found him. And then we stood about. Awkwardly. For quite a while.
Then we ate. Again. Yahtzee ordered chips. We fed several of them to a hideously unattractive bird that was hovering about the table. Then her husband told us to stop. (Do you see what I did there?)
Brisbane is a complete arse of a city when it comes to things to do. Basically, once you cross the border from New South Wales into Queensland, the passtime of "do things" mutates into the passtime of "do not a jot". People in Queensland spend 99% of their available time doing nothing, and the remaining percent considering the option of doing nothing. Having come to no conclusions whatsoever about what to do to pass the afternoon, we headed vaguely towards the city. I proposed this idea, as I recalled visiting the museum a few years earlier on the suggestion of a friend who informed me that there's a button on the wall that replicates the sound of a whale farting. The move was unanimous.
Brisbane Museum does not suffer from over organisation. There's no system to it whatsoever. One second you're staring at a dinosaur's femur, the next you're examining a tandem-bicycle-powered-fire-engine and wondering why these two exhibits share a room.
Alongside the fire truck stood an array of cardboard cutouts.
On the top level of the museum stood the beginnings of the "How To Make A Monster" display, which was to deal with animatronics and special effects. Sadly, it wasn't open yet. We asked a kind tourist to take a photograph or two for us. We didn't realise at the time that said tourist didn't speak a word of English. I was somewhat concerned when she started gibbering in some Asian language, and I hoped dearly that she did not think we were handing out complimentary cameras.
(I got my camera back, for the record.)
Moving away from the animatronics exhibit, we found....more animatronics. Around the corner was a stuffed leopard mounted atop a papier-mache rock. Unassuming, you may think, until you realise (under close scrutiny) that the cat has a half-eaten sausage roll jammed up its jacksy.
But wait, there's more! (Animatronics. Not anal pastry.)
The next room featured a warning sign in a large font, reading something to the effect of "PARENTS: THE NEXT EXHIBIT FEATURES A VERY REALISTIC LIZARD WHICH MAY FRIGHTEN CHILDREN". And behold:
The sign did not lie. The creature was terrifying. It shuddered to life with none of the realism you'd expect from a battery-powered toy, hissing with pneumatics and hydraulics. It looks so natural tucked up against the ductwork, too. Yet more disturbing, though, is the rest of the exhibit. Surrounding the giant lizard is a large papier-mache dinosaur corpse with several Tasmanian devils feeding on it. One of them tugs back and forth on a chunk of rubber intestine, while another appears to perform oral sex on the dead reptile.
The rest of the museum paled in comparison. Several rooms containing spiders in jars. Several rooms containing randomly scattered fibreglass animal replicas. If nothing else, thanks to the marine-themed room, a new anthem emerged:
Dugong man, Dugong man
Does whatever a dugong can
Which is basically nothing
As dugongs are large and stupid
Additional kudos should be served to Brisbane Museum for featuring an entire wing dedicated to nothing but roadkill. I'm particularly enamoured by the realistic potato chips in the following photograph.
And that, in short, sums up the Brisbane Museum. Here's one last photo, just to give you the entire Brisbane experience in a nutshell.
Having wandered aimlessly through the entirety of the poorly organised Brisbane Museum, we headed next door, to the Brisbane Art Gallery. Their official website is here, and it's actually fairly informative.
After surrendering our bags to the cloakroom nazis, and receiving a lecture on proper camera usage within the gallery (i.e., don't), we moved on. The entranceway consists of a staircase leading down to a white boardwalk surrounding a pool of somewhat greenish water with several billion silver balls bobbing in it.
Now, this is an art gallery, so the purpose of everything within it is a matter of interpretation. HOWEVER. I think the idea here is that the balls are "powered" by the fact that people cannot resist manipulating and tossing them about, so they kind of swill in a vague spiralling motion about their pond. Closer examination revealed several points in said pond where the balls would form eddies, suggesting pumps beneath the surface were egging the spheres on. To be honest, I don't really care. It's art. And it looks expensive.
The next room comprised a white passageway with a large square pillar amid, projected onto which was a large anatomical animation of a woman being dissected by a CT scan. We stared at it, giggled at her breasts and moved on.
Around the corner we were ambushed by a museum staff person armed with an array of battery operated cats.
I had hopes that the cats were going to be of similar quality to the AIBO dogs from Sony that I'd seen a few years prior at Fox Studios in Sydney, but they appeared to be standard children's toys purchased at K-Mart. We attempted to get two cats to mate.
Unfortunately, the cats "switch off" whenever their noses touch something, so their courtship was short-lived. I discovered that repeatedly stabbing at the button on the tip of the cats' noses causes them to meow in an increasingly angry fashion.
Behind the "Battery Cattery" (Jesus Christ) we found a series of fairly inane exhibits featuring telephones, which provided audio cues to the artwork. One of these exhibits, which appeared to be a piece of pipe plucked out of an air conditioner, featured a soundbyte of someone burping loudly. Genius.
In further extension of the household pets theme, we found a small cinema behind a wall at the back of the building. Six screens at odd angles had onto them projected footage that appeared to alternate between a camera strapped to a dog's head, and a car hurtling down a road in the snow. Once again, it's art. It's not supposed to make sense. Unless you're on drugs, or something. (Hey, it's Queensland!)
The rest of the gallery was fairly lacklustre. I'd like to know how one goes about getting the job of being one of the people who wanders about the museum shouting "DON'T TOUCH THAT" whenever someone gets closer than fifteen metres to a sculpture. The item in question was a massive chunk of welded metal that appeared to consist of former typewriter parts. It's welded. The best one could hope to do is to push it off its pedestal and perhaps break the floor.
Along one of the walls, in an innocuous looking darkened doorway, we found a small cinema, onto the wall of which was projected a film. At first, we had no clue what it was, apart from a small placard outside which read "One Minute Sculptures". I really have neither the want nor the need to further describe this phenomenon, as anything I add will only pale in comparison to Yahtzee's essay on the subject. Needless to say, our lives were enriched a millionfold, and will never be the same again.
DAY TWO (Tuesday. Where did Monday go? No-one knows!)
I spent most of the morning in Surfers Paradise. There are a lot of reasons I dislike Surfers Paradise. One of them is grammatical. Y'see, it's missing a possessive apostrophe. It's something to do with naming conventions, in that suburb titles should not contain punctuation marks. Stupid naming conventions.
So. Surfer(')s Paradise. 9AM. Nothing is open. I guess the surfy culture doesn't wake up prior to midday.
Got back from the Gold Coast around lunch time. Went to collect Positronbob, with the plan being to go Christmas shopping at the Logan Hyperdome.
This evening we went bowling. Dan won the first round, I won the second. I can't remember who wound up with the scorecards, so you'll have to take my word for it. Truth be told, no one cares anyway. It's bowling. It's such an impractical sport to get good at. The only times I've ever bowled, the entire purpose of the game has been to see who can make the largest fool of themselves, and/or break a limb.
DAY THREE (Wednesday.)
We basically started today with no clue whatsoever what we were doing. This is not at all unusual. I drove around most of the morning trying to figure out where Positronbob was, due to missing one pissy little side street and thusly becoming lost. This happens. Often.
I found him, eventually. Arranged to meet with Yahtzee in the city. Decided, in a rare moment of braveness, to actually drive into the city. The guy I was staying with suggested a spot for parking, and having glanced at a map I figured it was a fairly simple place to get to. So off we went. Found ample parking. Everything going well. This usually doesn't happen.
Met Yahtzee in the same location again, figuring that it worked quite well the previous time. Minced about looking confused and sounding unconversational. This is becoming a routine.
While snacking at one of the small cafes along the Energex Arbour, we also happened upon a freak occurance -- Santa Claus on his lunch break -- snacking merrily on a parcel of hot chips. It's nice to know it's Queensland fried foods that keep Jolly ol' St. Nick's arteries so joyously blocked.