Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Friends, family and Romans...a very Happy New Year to you, and all the best for 2009 (I know some of you back home have already seen the first sunset, but give the rest of us some time to catch up).

A lot of my friends who blog have written some lovely summaries of the year, and some extremely informative and insightful business thoughts, but all I can say is that it has been an AMAZING time for me in the past 365 days.. To those of you who I met, worked with or even just talked to in 2008, you have changed this year for me and some, been a HUGE influence. So for this I say thanks, and see you in 2009!

Take care and prosper,

P.S. Expect MANY more blogs in 2009!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New York, New….something…I forget the rest.

Day 1 in New York was pretty quiet. I arrived later in the evening but got to have a good walk around Times Square. Ca-razy place. Seriously. All the movies I watch with New York are mostly set before the 60’s, so I was pretty shocked to see so many people. You hear about all the cars and buses, but there’s really nothing like standing in the middle of it (the hustle and bustle, that is, not the road – you don’t wanna do that). I called it a night pretty early as I was buggered from the flying and lugging luggage.

I hit the road pretty early the next day and did some more walking. Then I made my way to the TKTS (discount ticket booth) to check it out and see what the deal was with getting passes to shows. Then I saw that Avenue Q was available, so I lined up to grab tickets. I had no idea what the time was, and then the guy said the show started at 2 p.m. and told me how to get to the theatre. I moseyed over and realised that everyone was lining up, so I asked when the show started – “Now”, was the grouchy and urgent answer. Pretty good timing I guess.

The show absolutely rocked my world. Avenue Q is one of my favourite musicals, although I had never seen it performed live. I know the soundtrack and score inside out and obviously know what goes on in between. I am very used to the Original Broadway Cast performance, and for that reason I had to do a quick adjustment and accept that the show I was seeing was NOT the show I knew so well. Some of the characters were performed in a similar way to the original recording, but mostly the actors had a great new slant on the voice and style. This I liked, once I got into the swing of the show.

Now, after spending some time in New York City, it becomes kind of weird to see pigeons actually flying in the air. It’s that breed of town. There is so much trash (I hope it’s just trash) on the ground in Times Square, and of course the flying rats just flock to that area.


The next day in Noo Yawk was a whole heap of fun. I started the day by walking around Central Park and visiting the United Nations headquarters. I caught up with 3 friends from New York - all fellow voice actors. First I met Lucien, who I know through the internets. We chatted for a bit and then Rachel joined us. I had met Rachel at the VOICE conference in Los Angeles, but she lives and works in NY. We all had a great meal at a restaurant with all organic meals and then cruised out back to Bryant Park. We caught up with Crystal, who is a roomie of Lucien (and of course, a VA).

We had planned to watch the original Superman movie in Bryant Park (they do free screenings there in summer). Unfortunately, although we arrived about 4 hours before the movie started, the whole park was absolutely packed. We stood for a while, but after a little while, our legs grew weary and Rachel and I decided to head off to Downtown Manhattan. We checked out a busy little comic book store and then moseyed over to a restaurant called Max Bremmers. Ok, so this restaurant’s gig is chocolate. Big time. And they do it with style. When there is an abundance of food, and you can’t decide between all the tasty dishes, the best thing to get is a platter. So we did.

Oh man, the decadence, the flavour and the pure, chocolatey goodness was just too much. Rachel and I ploughed our way through a banana split, Italian hot chocolate, chocolate slice and marshmallows, banana and strawberries with a fondue. It was brilliant and I’d recommend this place to any chocolate lovers or closet chocolate lovers.

Having eaten enough sugar to power a plasma TV for 3 hours, we called it a night.


The next day, Rachel and I hung out again. We first met at the NY Natural History Museum. It was really fun. I met Rachel’s buddy Armistead, and he showed us around some of the exhibits. We saw this very impressive movie about the universe and all the cosmic changes that have been happening and will happen. It was narrated by Robert Redford and the movie screen was the roof of this dome building! We also saw this sea monsters film, which was really cool. We also checked out the lizards exhibit and it was fun to see some reptiles from back home (frill necked and blue tongue lizard). It never matches up to the seeing them in your own backyard, but it was a nice bit of nostalgia!

After a classic New York pizza and some more looking around the museum, we headed back to Times Square to try to get tickets to Wicked. We spent some time enjoying the interior decorating in the Gershwin Theatre (waiting in line) to try to score us some reserve tickets. After about 2 (?) hours, Rachel and I managed to get superb seats. Orchestra, to the left. Elated, we left to get a meal at the ‘Musical’ restaurant nearby. Oh, the place was great fun. Waiting staff dancing on tables and root beer and ice cream – you can’t get much better than that.

Then we made our way back to the theatre during which time I was goin’ supernova. Like Avenue Q, I’ve wanted to see this musical for about 4 years. I could have actually seen it in Melbourne before I came to the USA (Wicked just started an Australian tour), but I thought that as I’ve waited this long, I can wait a few more months. Plus the cast looked a bit unimpressive (except for a few cast members, namely the late Rob Guest – I wish I had seen him in his last show)

Anyway, back to the action. I felt like I’d taken a trip back to childhood, walking up the steps to the theatre doors. When we finally got inside, I found myself lookin’ up at an amazing set – I had never seen anything so impressive in all the shows I’d been to. Obviously it’s Broadway, baby, so they have a huuuuuge budget, but it was still mind boggling.

The musical was pretty much all I hoped it to be and more. I was slightly let down by the acting of the gal who played Elpheba. She actually performed in the West End debut and was clearly British, trying to do an American accent. Unfortunately that was a barrier for her and resulted in a lot of ‘forced acting’. Her vocal performance was outstanding though. I also liked the performance of the actress who played Glinda – she had a fun slant on the character. A little more serious and subdued…

I am so glad I went to see the show. I sat through the whole thing, thinking ‘hell yeah’….it was a bloody beudy!


Last day. I caught a train to Astoria, which is Rachel’s neighbourhood. We hung out for a while, I did some laundry, and we went to a brilliant little Greek restaurant. Seeing as I had eaten so much meat so far on my trip, I thought it would be the responsible thing to do, to get a salad. It was freakin’ massive! We had some dip and bread before that, so the salad destroyed me. Some of you may shake your head in disbelief, considering my usual appetite, but this thing could have catered for a couple of big Greek weddings. After that it was just about time to dash off to La Guardia. Having been lucky enough to spend a whole heap of time with my mate, Rachel, it was a bit sad to say bye! New York won’t keep me away for long, though….

The city was amazing, and as I said, I know I’ll be back there again soon. Next up, I’ll be writing about my very first European adventure ever. Watch this broken jpeg!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Animated Series Debut!

Some of you may know about it, some of you haven't stopped hearing about it, but it's finally here - The Beach Crew hits Fox 8 on Foxtel and Austar on the 6th of December!

I am super-excited as this is a step forward toward my dream, and I had an unreal time recording the first season. 

Visit the website for some videos and more info.

I am the voice of Billy and Sammy, and the majority of the other male 'crew'. Some characters include Cash Coin, Slimy Seaweed, Uncle Umbrella and Screechy Seagull.

Please check it out and don't forget to watch (if you have it) on December 6.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Review: Mitsuko and Mozart

Last night I went to see the world acclaimed interpreter of Mozart, Mitsuko Uchida perform with the London Philharmonia. The program consisted of two Mozart piano concertos, No. 22 in A major and No. 24 in C minor, preceded by Igor Stravinsky's Apollon Musagète. What a pleasure it was to hear the dark and quirky yet less bold work of Stravinsky against the sublime and transcending musical perfection of Mozart!

Well, let's start with Apollon. I really enjoyed this performance. Originally a ballet in two scenes, the production is accompanied by strings only. It’s about the Greek god Apollo and 3 muses. Stravinsky achieves a great range of texture, though and this colour was accentuated masterfully by the ensemble's synergy. I reckon' the best way I would describe the effect of the music, was that it was transfixing. Sometimes I didn't quite know what was really happening, but I listened intently anyway! I think the violins needed to have some more guts when approaching dissonance. Sounds a bit harsh, but it wasn't that bad.

My only major complaint has nothing to do with the orchestra. At the beginning of the performance, we had the usual announcement say "please turn off phones, blah blah" (I think it was Ian McKellen) and then at the end was added, "and please, keep coughing to a minimum". Everyone had a giggle, but after the first break between movements, I could see why it was announced. The orchestra could not make a louder sound than the fortissimo coughing fit that erupted in the Royal Festival Hall. I mean, it was ridiculous. I understand that it's London, the weather is crappy, and everyone rides the Tube (which is like a cylinder of germs), but I CANNOT grasp how that many people with tickly throats, flu or the pneumonic plague can forget to bring a bottle of water or a cough drop!!!!! You might say, "Hang on Matt, at least they weren't coughing during the pieces"...

To me, in most works, the silence or space in between movements is part of the work. I use that space to absorb what has just happened, or maybe I won't be allowed to, for now, and the orchestra will just charge on. However, it's extremely hard to create that suspenseful or serene effect, when you have a symphony of irritated throats hacking away, or.....I'm going to say it.... a cacoughony.

Anyway, rant over. The piece was excellent and it was a nice choice to start the concert with that.

I'm going to kinda lump the two Mozart concertos together in this next bit, and look at Ms. Uchida's performance overall, because I fear this review is getting too long.

I should start by saying that the Concerto K. 491 in C minor is my favourite piano concerto of all time, and definitely one of my top pieces overall. So I came into this concert with high excitement, high hopes and from Highbury and Islington. I'm pleased to say that I was so very, very satisfied. I love the Concerto in A major (K. 488) also and studied it a couple of times in Uni (studied, not played).

Mitsuko Uchida has been called the 'high priestess of Mozart' by many critics, and I can totally back that up. Uchida brings this wonderful kind of blissful elegance to Mozart. This is not all she brings though - try a bit of passion, fury and majesty on for size.

Uchida played the solo and directed the orchestra, just like old mate Amadeus used to do. I love this, and it is so inspiring to watch. Sometimes I thought there was unnecessary conducting in there, but it never really hindered Mitsuko's performance.

I have to say that Uchida has a gorgeous conducting style that is quite feminine. It's almost like dancing at times. When I say feminine, I mean it is something that a bloke couldn't pull off. Except Jackson (I can say that because I know he probably won't read this far).

Never having seen this work (K. 491) performed live, this was a really special treat for me. To hear things like the clarinet arpeggios, the flute mimicking the piano, the strings swaying and sweeping and an UNBELIEVABLE piano cadenza (please, someone tell me who wrote it) was heightened by the fact that I could see and feel it too. Bloody awesome!!

I'm going to leave it there, because I've rambled on for too long, but honestly, I could talk to you about this concert for houuuuurs.

If you haven't ever heard the 24th Piano Concerto, please listen to it sometime. Even if you don't like classical music, I would like to think that this is a piece that would make you appreciate the genre on a different level.

For recordings, you could listen to oh, I dunno....MITSUKO UCHIDA. Also Geza Anda is wonderful. Check it out.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Boy Who Cried Nigeria

If I'm in contact with you via email or social networking sites, you may have noticed that I was hacked by a scammer in the last week. If not, you probably have pretty good spam filters, or just usually ignore what I send you.

It was really, REALLY annoying, but you just gotta try and get through these things. Though the situation is naturally stressful (as your business contacts may be receiving highly suspicious emails), you have to keep as cool as possible. 

All I can suggest is to regularly update your passwords (just for your peace of mind) and the most important thing is to have a 'secondary' email. For this, I would say Google (Gmail) are best, in my opinion. They got back to me really quickly and were able to boot the hacker out of my account.

The main reason I like having two (or more) accounts is that it allows you backup if this sort of thing happens. You have your business contacts located predominantly in one email, and then things like Facebook, Myspace, eBay etc. in the other one (Gmail or your choice). It also means you have another email so that staff at Google, social networking sites and your bank (maybe?) can contact you.

As I said, it was extremely stressful and I lost a lot of sleep and work hours. I am grateful though, that nothing worse happened. Saying that, I know what sort of present I would have for the hacker if I ever met him. Here's a photo of me with a sampling drill from when I was doing some farm work.

Ahh, I'm not really a violent, vengeful person. I actually feel sorry for these people, because they are sick. I spoke to the bloke on chat - I know. Desperate and ignorant, is what they are.

PLEASE - look after all your data etc. - I hope this never happens to any of you! If anyone has any further suggestions for security in this regard, please add them here or write to me.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Just if you missed it....

Here is the 'wrap-up' article and interview about my TV appearance on The Richard and Judy Show, kindly organised and written by Stephanie Ciccarelli from You'll also find the Youtube video on the page.

Although I didn't win the 'contest', I had a really great time!
Thanks to all who left me comments and watched the show - I appreciate your support.

Oh, and just for the heck of it, here is the other video of me doing an impression of Gollum, back in March. For those who are faint hearted, you may want to turn your monitors off or avert your eyes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Now listed on Voice Talent Productions dot com

I'm very pleased to say that I can now be found on
I'm totally stoked to join this team of voice actors, and there are some absolutely stellar individuals there.

Check out the website, and a little post on Mr. Erik Sheppard's very entertaining blog.


From the 14th of September

Over the next couple of days, I did some walking around Cairo, but was pretty much still in recovery mode, so generally I took it easy.


I had to switch hotels to meet up with my tour group. For our night in Cairo, our lodging was the Hotel Capsis. A nice place in the centre of the city. The staff were also very friendly and helpful.


It was there, at the Hotel of the Capsis variety, that I reached the place of destiny. The place where 12 ‘intrepid’ travelers and 1 fearless group leader would first meet before they ventured out to experience the wonders and challenges of Egypt. That night was when our unique and unbreakable bond formed, that would ensure we stuck together ‘till the very end.


After a thorough briefing for the journey, it looked like it was time to rest up for the days ahead. But hark! Our empty stomachs cried out for nourishment, so we went to dine on the fine cuisine at Gad. At the food place, you can experience such dishes as liver rolls, stews, rice pudding, delicious seafood and viagra. Think I jest?


So after refilling our intrepid bellies, we trekked back to our luxurious resting inn. But not before learning the ancient art of Shisha. 

Tomorrow – a revisiting of Giza, a thrilling trip to the museum and the end of my unnecessarily elaborate writing style.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Let's have a quick Giza.

I woke up the next morning feeling like mild death, but the show had to go on, because today I was visiting the pyramids at Giza and Saqqara and Memphis. It really wasn’t shocking throughout the day, but it certainly wasn’t the most comfortable I’ve been in my life. I started off with a trip with my guide Haitham, and my driver Ahmed (the same guy from the cruise last night) to the archaeological site at Memphis. Generally, it was a little overrun by tourist shops/stalls, but there were wonderful statues of Ramses II (my hero). In particular, this one huge one.

It’s about 26 metres tall.

The next stop was Saqqara and the pyramids there. This site features the first pyramid built in Egypt. Designed by that clever little architect, Imhotep for the Pharaoh Djoser. How fitting, as these were the first pyramids I visited. Boy, was I mesmorised! I could see the step pyramid from outside the enclosure, but the real hit of excitement came when I walked up the corridor of the temple leading through. Then…….pyramid.


After learning interesting info from my guide about how the pyramid was constructed (the step pyramids are actually just tombs stacked on top of each other – called mustabas) we left the miraculous site and made our way to Giza.


I was almost tempted to buy a carpet at the Cairo carpet school that we stopped at, but then I realised I had no idea what the house that I move into in London will look like. Not that I am capable of any decent sort of interior decorating, mind you.


I had that same feeling as earlier (no, it wasn’t gastro), and one similar to what I felt walking up to the Acropolis in Greece, while we drove to the site of the Giza pyramids. I’m sure Haitham was telling me something as we gazed at the 3 ancient giants from the car window, but I don’t reckon’ I retained any of it. That was ok though, as he passed on plenty of valuable material when we got there. The dimensions of the ‘mids are amazing, but they mean nothing on paper.

Seriously, folks – if this sort of thing interests you at all, you gotta go see ‘em. They are more untouched than the ruins at Greece (well, it looks that way) and the mystery of the place is breathtaking.


I took in the ‘atmosphere’ for a while and then wandered into the pyramid of Khafre. You walk down a shaft for a while, and then reach a little room that is freakin’ hot.

After escaping the underground sauna, we made our way to the Sphinx. I read somewhere just the other day that this particular monument is smaller than it looks in photos, and I think I can agree with that to a certain degree. I certainly never put it on par (size-wise) with the pyramids, but I did think that it had more grandiosity than it does. This doesn’t mean I didn’t love it – noooo. I was not disappointed in any way, shape of form.


There is also a stunning lookout at the Sphinx, where you can see the other pyramids.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: I felt and looked like dog’s breakfast at this point.

The best way to explain the experience of visiting the pyramids is to say that it was like getting closure after wanting to visit Egypt for about 12 years or something (my folks can attest to that length of time). Plus, then you have the natural mystery and majesty of the country and the wonder of these ancient sites.

My food poisoning had well and truly reached its peak by this point, so it was lucky that we were heading back to the hotel. I made a quick stop at one of the papyrus academies, which turned into a mildly lengthy shopping trip.

Even though I was in absolutely shocking shape by the end of it, that day was amazing.

The entirety of my next day was spent sleeping and lying around to recover, which means that I don’t have to blog. Nyah.

REVIEW: LPO performs Tchaikovsky’s ‘Iolanta’.

Well, I went to my first orchestra performance in London, and I started myself off with a goodie. The London Philharmonic grabbed Tchaikovsky’s final opera by the horns, and rode that bull around the arena. Led by the LPO’s resident conductor, Vladimir Jurowski and joined by a spectacular vocal ensemble with 11 soloists and the Moscow Conservatory Chamber Choir as the chorus. The soloists were Tatiana Monogarova, Sergei Aleksashkin, Sergej Larin, Vyacheslav Pochapsky, Rodion Pogossov, Robin Tritschler, Maxim Mikhailov, Anne Collins, Olga Peretyatko and Julie Pasturaud.

Iolanta was first performed the year before Tchaikovsky’s death and he apparently reckoned that it was nowhere near as strong as his early operas and thought that he was repeating himself as a composer. 

Bad Tchaikovsky, DON’T doubt yourself. 

This was a concert performance of the staged opera.

It’s a rather touching story of a girl who was born blind, but her father sought to keep her ignorant of this fact, by letting noone tell her. He was hoping this would lead to her having a better life, buuuuut she ends up just sitting around with the same friends entertaining her all the time. She is betrothed to Robert, who doesn’t know about her being blind either. Then Robert and his buddy Vaudémont show up, unexpected. Robert leaves, but Vaudémont stays and figures out that Iolanta is blind and had no clue, and he subsequently falls in love with her.

Now it turns out that the local doc has a way to fix Iolanta’s blindness, but Vaudémont claims that he will love her no matter what. Iolanta’s father threatens to execute Vaudémont if the treatment fails. Then Robert arrives back and confesses that he loves another. Iolanta’s father gives his blessing for her and Vaudémont. The couple are happy, and then it turns out the treatment was a success – Iolanta can see!

It was a solid performance with ridiculous amounts of expression. Jurowski really works the orchestra, and they work with him. The London Philharmonic is a very tight ensemble with great dynamic range. Tchaikovsky’s virtuosic flourishes were treated with due skill and panache and the fleshy harmonies were rich and rang throughout the Royal Festival Hall.

Tatiana Monogarova was quite stunning as the character of Iolanta. She captured that lovely innocence of being completely unaware of the visual world surrounding her. Backing up to my cast notes, though I stated that Sergej Larin performed the part of Vaudémont, I’m going to take a punt and say that it wasn’t him. Why? The guy on stage was the only singer reading from music, so I’m lead to think that something happened towards the last minute and had to get someone to fill in. If they did, Mr. Replacement was EXCELLENT. If not, Mr. Larin should learn his part! At times it distracted from an otherwise stellar performance. That is my only criticism of the singer, and if it was an understudy, then that point is void.

The singers and orchestra had a wonderful synergy, which is important for Tchaikovsky’s music. You have the soaring and lyrical vocal parts, complimented by counterparts in the winds and strings. To make this work, strong ensemble skills are essential. I’m pleased to say that the LPO performance presented Tchaik in an extremely positive light.

My only other negative point was that the chorus was not strong enough towards the end (the finale), and I found they didn’t match the exuberance of the orchestra and the vocal soloists. Jurowski’s style exudes plenty of strength, but the choir was not as receptive to this as the others.

I was so pleased to see so many Russian singers performing this evening. I guess in Australia, we get used to our local artists trying to bash out a difficult language like Russian (I imagine that’s a particular toughie). As much as there is a lot of talent in Australian Opera, and you will not hear me bash them (too much), it’s incredibly refreshing to see a ‘native’ performance…well kind of. I guess that will be the norm’ from now on, though! Lucky me! Obviously, Jurowski himself is Russian, and I could tell he had a particular affinity for Tchaikovsky’s music.

Well, that was a very exciting and reassuring entrance into London’s classical scene and what I would imagine was a great start to the ‘Revealing Tchaikovsky’ series (it was one of the first concerts). I can’t wait to go to the next one tomorrow night!

The night I got sick in Egypt

After a pleasant sleep in I set out to wander the streets of Cairo and make a few essential purchases. What a city. There is nothing quite like wandering the hustling, bustling environment of Cairo. My friend, Rebecca, told me in Greece that Cairo is somewhat like the inside of an ant colony, and that’s a pretty apt and accurate description. It’s organised chaos at its finest.

Any person you think is a madman, is actually completely sane. Somehow – everything works!

I did my usual thing of getting ‘lost’, except this time I genuinely screwed myself over. It took me over an hour to find my way back to the hotel (after I was ready to return), and I didn’t even walk that far.

I was also enticed by a few of the store owners, but didn’t get so roped in, that I was stuck in the store. Plenty of  ‘la shukran’, which means ‘no thank you’. I was actually just out to buy some small things like sanitary wipes and bottled water on little shopping trips. I end up buying a massive bottle of water (which a policeman stole from me, anyway), and I got lost straight after that.  So I was wandering, mildly aimlessly, around the streets of Cairo. Oh year, I forgot to mention, for those who didn’t know – Egypt is hot.

At last, I made my way back. Then that night, I went on a dinner cruise up and down the Nile (not all of it). What a brilliant night that was! It started off with a buffet Egyptian dinner which was extremely impressive. I don’t think I’ve ever been served so much cooked liver, except by Dad. There was also a tasty dip and then it was followed by an unreal dessert.

We moved up to the deck a couple of times and I chatted with some people I met from the States. Then the on-board entertainment started. There had been a singer and band at dinner. By band, I mean a guy on a Casio keyboard who wasn’t even playing. He sang, but was totally key-syncing. That’s a new word I made up…creative, huh?

BUT. The real show was the belly and Sufi dancing, accompanied by a band and percussionists. Man, it was so fun, particularly the sufi dancing. If you ever get the chance to check out Sufi dancers – do it, especially if it’s more authentic.

Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, even though I may have contracted food poisoning from that particular meal. Hooray.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Land of the Pharaohs - The Arrival

It would have been quite the spectacular, flying into Cairo during the day. Unfortunately I arrived at just around midnight. The lights are a nice sight, but no aerial view of Giza and the pyramids for me. I guess I’ll have to wait until my departure.

I pulled in and cleared customs pretty easily, and buzzing with excitement. Walking through to the arrivals area and entrance to the taxi and limousine rank, I was hit with a big ole spoonful of Cairo. There were hundreds and HUNDREDS of people (including kids) yelling and waving crap around. So amongst all that, I had to find my driver, who was going to be holding a sign with my name on it. Huh. Well, turns out there was a mix-up between me and the hotel, and the driver had come yesterday. BUT I didn’t find that out until the second time I made a phone call to the hotel. Up until then, they had told me that he was coming 10-15 minutes. Oy.

Seeing as I wanted to wait for my hotel’s driver initially, I stood around for approximately an hour and 15 minutes before I made that second call to the hotel to find out what the heck was happening. During this time I fended off the advances of numerous drivers who were battling for my business. I’m serious, they get really territorial and will stand there yelling at each other. Not in a particularly nasty way, because I think they all have a pretty polite understanding.

There was this one guy in particular, who stood next to me for a solid 45 minutes in the hope that I would use his limousine. Poor guy. When I finally did get onto the hotel again and found out no driver was coming and that I’d have to catch a cab, I didn’t even use him because he was way too expensive and refused to yield to my superior bargaining skills (scoff). Ah well, that’s his fault. Clingy Clive, I liked to affectionately call him.

The limo driver I went with finally took me to leave the damn airport (I had had enough of Cairo International by that stage). By the way – a ‘limo’ is actually a car that is roadworthy. Usually a reasonably fancy sedan or hatchback. Don’t get any ideas of me driving through Cairo in a stretch. OK, the driver, Hussain, took me out of the airport and headed to Downtown Cairo. Now, Hussain’s nickname could be nothing less than ‘Crazy Hussain’. He was a very nice guy, he just drove like Raikkonen on Bundy Rum.

I have a new perspective of traffic ‘weavers’ in the Western world. I still hate them, but I’ll just think, “Oh well, at least they’re not driving in Egypt”. It was that ridiculous.

 When I asked my driver back at the airport if he could drive me to my hotel, and his eyes lit up, he smiled and said “Of course!”, I naturally assumed he knew where it was. Instead, we were constantly pulling alongside cars and he’d be yelling out for directions. Then one time he pulled over, left me in the car and walked into a shop to ask the owner for directions. However, Hussain’s truly defining moment was when he reversed 400 metres up a one way street. I wasn’t worried, and actually had a chuckle at the hilarity of it. He would go back and then pull over to let cars pass. It was a pretty busy street, too.

I gotta give him this though, he got me to the hotel. Having not died on my first day in Egypt, I was happy.

I checked in, and finally got to sleep.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I saw a man and he danced with his wife.

Chicago was very beautiful and lots of fun. Short, but lots of fun. I was able to have a decent walk around, as I like to do in the cities I travel to. I was staying in Lincoln Park which is a really nice green and old style area. I walked to the park and on my way purchased the best damn sandwich I have ever had (thanks, Dustin!). It was so jam-packed with different kinds of meat (not jam), salad and really tasty sauce/mayonnaise/mustard. I chose a good date to arrive in Chicago, as there was an air show festival running over the weekend. I sat down in the park to enjoy my sanga and all these fancy planes started doing loops and twirls and dives and things.

I was feeling a little edgy and tense, as Chicago was really the first stop in my crazy travel adventure. You know, unfamiliar territory and all that jazz. I had been to Los Angeles last year and I was there this time for about 2 weeks, so I had plenty of time to get settled. Anyway, Chicago had me a little unbalanced initially. So I went to the driving range in Lincoln Park and smacked away a 100 or so balls. The range had a great view of the city and I was able to loosen up a little, which is the effect that golf usually has on me. Except when I putt – I’m awful and get the shits really easily. Isn’t that the great thing about golf? You’re in such a relaxing environment and playing a supposedly very slow paced game, yet can suffer extreme, mental anguish over the tiniest thing. Beautiful sport.

Back to Chicago – I kept cruising around and then arranged to meet up with my friend, Mattie. I hadn’t seen her for ages and we caught up for a quick meal before we went on to visit her work (which is a really funky place – ‘Midori Park’ – check it out if you’re ever in Chicago). Mattie is the coolest gal’ in town, so make sure you order from her! I had some outstanding coconut martinis.

My next stop was to get a pizza. Chicago pizza. The one with the deep dish. Boy, do I love a good pizza, and this one was a taste sensation. I had to line up for about 20 minutes, and then it takes them at least 45 minutes to prepare the pizza. So it was almost an hour and a half before I was able to lay into my meal. I had a big ole' salad and a delicious red wine (always great with pizza) with my salami pie, and the only negative thing in whole experience, was that the Olympics were on and I had to witness Phelps slay us again. Grr.

I had really wanted to go to either an improv show or a jazz bar, but it was so late by the time I left Gino’s Pizza restaurant that I had to get back to Lincoln Park. It’s ok though, as I know I’ll be returning to Chicago, soon enough. I was an idiot, and didn’t plan nearly enough time in Chicago, but I also had a timeline to work to. If you’re doing a big travel trip and not a quick, planned trip somewhere, spend a good amount of time to really take in your surrounding environment. It’s not always possible, but if you can, don’t feel the need to ‘rush off’ to your remaining destinations. Enjoy it, even if all you do is sit around in a park or an all-you-can-eat buffet. What? I’ve never done that.

No, seriously I haven’t…but I think the idea has potential. Has anyone done that before?

Ok, lecture over.

The next day I had to head off early in the morning to the airport. It was so early and I didn’t have nearly enough energy to lug my heavy-arse suitcase and bag. It ended up being a useless effort anyway, because I gave up my ticket to an elderly lady and waited until the next flight. I got free ticket out of it though…so, not a bad deal.

The plane was bloody freezing and I was only wearing a t-shirt, shorts and thongs, because I was warm every other flight. Stupid unpredictable airlines. Then I slept through Kung-Fu Panda, which I was rather disappointed about. Not because it was bad, just because I was so tired.

Then, I touched down in New York!

*Dramatic music and cut away to credits*

Oh yeah, if anyone gets the reference in the title of this blog're awesome. Conrad, you don't count. You're not awesome.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Update and Comic-Con of the San Diego variety.

Alright, to all those people who have been writing to me asking when I will update my blog (those people don’t exist), I am going to put you out of your misery. I will post everything in separate posts, so you don’t have to read a completely massive single entry. I’ll add them over the next couple of days, and make sure you check out the corresponding photos!

The last few weeks have been pretty fast moving, so I haven’t had so much time to sit down and write. However, it has been an absolute blast. I can’t express it (good for a blog, you say). This last month and a bit has been the best time of my life, to date. Comic-Con was once again the satisfying and fulfilling experience I expected it to be. The lines were RIDICULOUS this year, but it didn’t push me to the point of exaggeration (much). I went to a bunch of fantastic panels (the ones we didn’t miss…grr…See? I am bitter) and met some legendary voice actors. I’ve said it a couple of times, but for me the convention is a great hit of inspiration and a yearly ‘kick in the pants’ to get me going. Very good.

The majority of my idols attended Comic-Con this year, as shown in the Facebook photos. If you aren’t on Facebook, get an account and add me! (Yeah, now….what? Why? This blog ain’t goin’ anywhere). Highlights were meeting Chris Edgerly, Dee Baker and Phil LaMarr for the first time, the Kevin Smith panel (I was crying), Deepak Chopra and Grant Morrison, the American Dad and Family Guy panels and most of all, a sensational breakfast with the great, prolific and talented Maurice LaMarche and three brilliant friends – Sherry, Madeleine and Jaime. Plus I have never met Maddy in person before, so it was very cool to meet my internet buddy from Sweden. It was a very inspiring meeting overall. Although I believe no person has the right to be arrogant and conceited, Moe is so approachable and generous, despite his fame and immense talent. It’s refreshing to see that in someone. He shared some great stories with us (not to mention impressions and characters galore) and gave us a lot of his time.

Other random things during the Con were going out (late nights, every night). We went to a really great place called ‘Yardhouse’ which sports over 200 beers and it’s special feature is the ‘half yard’ glass. Great beers – I’ll have to get back again and try the whole 200!

I also had my first Quizno sub (even though I think you can find them in Australia, apparently) and I just kept thinking of the American Dad quote every time I had one.

We also returned to the Irish Pub that we went to last year, which was a nice novelty. I’m pretty sure I had exactly the same meal as last time, too. New York steak and Guinness. There was this really talented muso there, playing all sorts of hits (mostly classic rock) as a one man band. I asked him if he knew any CCR, and he played ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain’ – that made my night. There are some pretty fun photos of the four of us (Jaime, Sherry, Madeleine and I). I’ll add photos to the blog eventually, but for now, it’s too much effort.

I was also lucky enough to go to the Video Games Live concert, on the first night of Comic Con. I have wanted to go to that show for YEARS. Since it first came out I’ve been waiting for it to come to Australia, but…no go. However, the timing lined up perfectly and I lived my dream. For those of you who don’t know what it is, Video Games Live is a massive concert with performers and a live orchestra playing a variety of music from many different video games. As a lover of both games and an orchestral musician, this was huge! There was also a surprise guest (I could feel Jaime’s head explode beside me) – Dee Baker. Dee is a ridiculously talented voice actor, and is probably most famous for his work as Klaus on American Dad. However, he also does a lot of video games and in particular, he does ‘vocal effects’ – Monsters, screams, aliens belching, ceiling fans…you name it, he can probably do the sound. Anyway, the orchestra played selections from the score of Gears of War (XBOX 360) and Dee stood there with a microphone creating incredible noises. That man is simply inhuman. There was also a guy who won a recent Guitar Hero contest, and they had him play along with a song on ‘expert’ difficulty, accompanied by the orchestra.

It was such a great performance – they covered so many games. From Space Invaders, Mario, Final Fantasty, Zelda…to a massive Metal Gear Solid medley. Totally grouse!!!

I also got to spend some time at the harbour at nighttime, which was beeeeautiful. I have really enjoyed visiting the marinas throughout my trip, as they remind me of home.

So, Comic-Con was an overall loud and boisterous success. I would love to go back again next year (for the 40th annual convention) but time will tell if it’s a possibility!

Oh, here is a random tip for future travelers (I'm sure I'll be full of these):

Don’t let yourself get sick.

I didn’t get badly sick, because I hardly ever get sick. BUT – you don’t want to sacrifice your health for going out and having a great big night on the town, ‘just because you’re travelling’. It’s harder to recover when you keep pushing yourself to your limits. Trust me, I did it in San Diego. Of course, it's always hard to fight peer pressure, but sometimes ya just need a night or day to recuperate. If your trip is shorter - no problem, but if you're travelling for a while, it's likely you'll keep going downhill.

Another tip, for anyone taking a laptop along on their travels – Be extremely careful of what Wi-Fi spots you connect to. Not that anything happened to me, but I have seen some extremely enticing, yet dodgy unsecure access points. If you are usually not wary of such things, pay particular attention and only connect to internet access points that have been recommended to you. When in New York, I saw a wireless ad-hoc connection titled “FREE INTERNET”. Oy.

SO. Next up, some thoughts from the VOICE conference in Los Angeles. Or maybe Chicago and New York – I’m not sure yet. I should really try to do things chronologically, right? Otherwise you’d probably get confused. I’d love to hear comments from you. Mainly to find out what’s happening back home or on your side of the world, but also to hear whether you want more or less detail. A simple “Matt, you’re boring” or “Matt, you’re as vague as traffic lights in Athens” (more on that in the near future).

Thanks for reading, and there’s more coming soon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Arrivederci Roma

Here we have two significant milestones in my world – Taking a potentially life-altering overseas trip for who knows how long, and starting a blog.

I always knew the two would be intertwined, though never anticipated what an amazing, breathtaking moment it would be. Ha! Ok, enough of that.

So if you are actually bothered to read this thing, chances are, you probably know by now that I am heading off out of Australia this week. I had of course decided to compile some sort of collection of my thoughts, while I trek across the globe. However, seeing as I’ll most likely forget when I’m away, now is a good time to start and get organised.

I’ve been really happy with how things have been going lately – my career is keeping busy and have had some major opportunities come up in Australia. It also feels like there is a great momentum starting to happen, and it took a lot of consideration for me to ‘throw’ that off. This is the right time for me to travel though, as I feel that the next step for me to take as an actor and creative person is to walk outside my world and take in the other people, places and things that are out there.

I hope that I’ll be able to share these experiences on here through words ‘n’ pictures, and that YOU will keep me up to speed on what’s happening in your life.

EDIT: I actually started this blog a week or so ago, when I was quite calm and collected though excited about the trip - now it’s the day before I leave and I’m bloody pumped!!

If I’m seeing you overseas – I can’t wait to catch up! If you are back home, I’ll see you on the internets and stay in touch.