The travelling pharmacy: A holiday story

Part two: The end at the beginning and being a nerd in Melbourne

The place we stayed at in Melbourne was pretty average. The Arrow on Swanston. Don’t go there. We booked a four person room and they gave us three. Then blamed us for the mistake. Then tried to charge us more for the upgrade. Then gave us a room that was almost identical, but instead of a regular couch we had a fold-out couch. With most of the springs missing. And no sheets. It took them until the last night in Melbourne before they realised we needed four towels instead of three. And the shower was pathetic. Cramped, leaking, mouldy, taking forever to heat up and taking forever to wash. Unimpressive. The only redeeming qualities were its heating and its location a few blocks from the city.

The first day in Melbourne I was tired and half-deaf and thinking this holiday is going to be horrible. All I could do was try to make the most out of the situation. My brother was flying in the next morning, and as he’s not a Harry Potter fan, it was a good opportunity to go see the final Harry Potter film with my mum and dad. We went to the hoyts in the city in the shopping centre around Swanston/LaTrobe/Lonsdale St area and watched it in 3D on what I think they were calling the extreme screen, or something like that.

The film was good, in the way that epic films with lots of bright lights and explosions and cheesy dialogue is good. And they did the Pirates of the Carribean thing with the whole romance aspect of the plot with the “oh my god we could die any moment now so let’s stop fighting the bad guys and make out for a while”. Then there’s the scene where Voldemort hugs Draco. What a scene right there.

Other than it being an epic film of epic proportions, the closing of an epic series that many of us have grown up with, there’s not really a lot to say that you haven’t heard already.

Thursday was all shopping. My mum loves shopping. I like it so long as I can go to shops that I’m interested in and can have a good browse around. My brother is kind of the same, but not quite as keen. My dad’s not really a fan. Before the trip, there were two shops I really wanted to go to in Melbourne: Minotaur and Polyester books. Minotaur is in the city. I went there. It’s a “pop culture” shop, like how supanova is a “pop culture” expo. It’s a nerd shop that’s packed with comics/graphic novels, science fiction/fantasy books and movies, manga, anime, figurines, toys, shirts, basically anything that caters for any type of stereotypical nerd. My recent interest in manga and anime pretty much meant that I had to go there. The manga is a bit more expensive than what I can get online, and the anime is a little more expensive than what I can get through JB Hi-Fi. But the range is awesome. It’s all right there. It’s massive. It’s awesome. It’s Minotaur.

I left Minotaur with the following items: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (manga) vol 2, Battle Royale (manga) ultimate vol 1, xxxHolic (manga) vol 1, Sin City (graphic novel) vol 1 and Desert Punk (anime).

Over the course of my holiday I ended up reading all those books and I’ve started watching Desert Punk.

Nausicaa is unreal. I love the movie and the manga just takes things into a greater depth. Visually, it’s stunning. It’s got that Hayao Miyazaki magic that just makes it a brilliant read.

Battle Royale. I haven’t read the novel and I haven’t seen the film. I was hoping to read the novel first, but novels anything longer than around 300-400 pages tend to take me quite a long time to read. Even ones shorter than that I can struggle trying to find the time to read. So, at a decent price, I decided to give the manga a shot. The first volume of the ultimate edition is the first three volumes of the manga collected in hardcover. My first impression of this is that it’s real fucking hardcore. No bullshit it’s going to be intense and it comes out blazing. Lots of graphic violence and less-than-ethical sexual content. It’s brutal. It’s ugly. Some of the characters spend half their time crying and yelling, and in amongst all that it’s really powerful. The art work is amazing. It’s so detailed it’s ridiculous. It really brings the story to life in a gory, nightmarish fashion.

Sin City is similar, in the brutal, violent, sexual way, but the art work is a completely different style. Comic book noir. Black and white. No shades of grey. Not even cross-hatching to give the impression of grey. In black and white everything stands out more. It’s either light or dark. The work of strange shapes and angles and shadows really makes the artwork stand out. The story is a classic underground noir murderstory. The prose is pretty good too.

I watched the xxxHolic movie not too long ago and liked it. It was different to the anime I had been watching in that it’s really gothic but not really violent at all. It’s more about voodoo magic and psychology and stuff. I was considering getting the anime series, but I saw the manga and grabbed it and really enjoyed it. It’s certainly good to have a story going at a completely different pace to everything else I’m reading.

Now, I’ve seen four episodes of Desert Punk. I don’t want to say I hate it, but it hasn’t hooked me yet. The comedy isn’t really my style and the boob jokes get old quick. I hate the intro, but otherwise, it’s not too bad. I read somewhere that it changes tone about half way through the series, so I’ll be looking forward to that. I’m still not sure if I like the protagonist or not. I know that was intentional but even if he’s morally questionable, I’m yet to warm up to his personality. We’ll see how it goes.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to checking out Polyester books this time around. The appeal there is that they stock bizarro. Well, their pitch is that they provide weird/cult/fetish literature. Stuff that’s on the fringe, that’s offensive to normal people, that other book shops don’t bother stocking. It may have been strange going there with my parents, but it’s the only store I’ve been to that stocks bizarro. I guess its biggest downfall is that it’s ridiculously small. There’s not a huge selection to choose from and it’s not exactly cheap. I suppose that’s the price of books that only few people want to buy.

There was also a lego art exhibition going on in Federation Square which was pretty cool.

Man rips open own chest - fun for the whole family!

And there was a Graeme Base art exhibition at the Melbourne library. Seeing as Graeme Base is a writer/artist of children’s books, and my mum is a teacher, naturally, we had to go check it out. It was all his original artwork from the book that I think was called ‘The Waterhole’ or something like that. Anyway, there weren’t any signs saying no cameras, so I snapped up a feast. His artwork is really good. And it was free. Which was more than I could say for the lego exhibition…


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