Adventures in Brisbane with the Native Species

Jeff VanderMeer • February 22nd, 2009 @ 8:26 pm • Culture, Photos, Uncategorized


(A rare photo of native species Tessa, a fierce creature that, despite being photogenic, generally resists any soul-captures.)

On the back-end of Clarion, I had two days in Brisbane to bum around (well, more like one and a quarter, given the hang-over following the Clarion South wrap party). Our friend Native Species came up to visit just in time for me to have recovered, and has already documented the experience here in a highly entertaining account. (It was awfully nice of NS to visit, since otherwise I would’ve been like a ghost wandering the streets of Brisbane, given that Ann hadn’t been able to come with me on the trip, alas.)

I only have a few things to add…

Things Thought But Not Said

– Don’t care if we get to Pilaf in straight line–just want to go through the botanical gardens to get there. Not hugely worried about getting lost, either, as South Bank is fairly small…

– I think I’ve figured out the coffee terms, but it’s a lot funnier to keep saying “fat back” rather than “long black.”

– It would be even funnier to joke about this V-day dinner debacle, but not sure if Native Species would find it quite as hi-larious as I do.

– OMG. Native Species has dressed for the koala sanctuary ferry trip as if expecting to be drinking mimosas at a regatta and I’m dressed like a demented ship-wrecked sea captain who moonlights as a roadie for a crap thrash metal band that can’t get a gig outside of its home town. (Leading to another revelation as we went downriver: you’ve been dressing like some kind of shut-in for most events the past 18 months, and this must stop, for Ann’s sake if nothing else.)

– Yes, that’s a very nice dead toad, but I’m a veteran of many dead toads, unfortunately, and while it rates right up there in the smell department, it is a nice Sunday morning and I’d rather not dwell on it. I prefer my toads alive.

– OMG Native Species, I know I look like I’m going to expire from the heat, but you’re losing major street cred fanning me. You’re supposed to be a fierce ninja. Now, where the hell is my camera? (And, yes, wearing a black t-shirt was retarded. I totally forgot my usual tropical climate apparel.)

– Am I sadistic for laughing at little girl screaming “please stop!” on an inner tube towed by a speed boat? (See Native Species‘ account for interesting differences in Aussie/US wording of same event.)

– Hmm. First thought when beef-faced fellow American says “Couldn’t help but hear a familiar accent” and asks what I do is to reply, “My name is Henry Hoegbotton. I’m a nonfunctional architect doing work for Mayoka here, who is a world-famous Tuvian throat singer.” With follow-up about exactly what a nonfunctional architect is and encouraging Native Species to offer up a sample of her singing. (Sanity prevailed and, with no help at all from NS, engaged heartily in insincerely small talk I hate until subject quieted.)

– In Archives, after koala trip: Wish they had all of the Doris Lessing SF novels in the cool trade paperbacks, not just 2, 3, 5, and 6, goddammit! And: Crap!!!! Original Gormenghast novels for $985! (With ATM card hacked before trip, have only wads of cash that must be conserved.)

– In 24-hour pancake place: this is the coolest ex-church ever and if I ever move to Brisbane, I’m living here.

– In The Lab: Yes, I finally get to have that beef Robert Hoge got when I miscalculated and ordered the fish last Saturday! …Hmmm…there are some strange people at the tables next to us saying some odd things. What? Am I in the middle of a screenplay by Neil LaBute?! (Not The Wickerman, mind.)

– In movie theater: Jesus Christ, Twilight is about 2 hours too long.

Pictures to Fill Gaps in Native Species’ Account

Brisbane skyline is kinda cool:

Dejected Native Species sits down to lovely 7-11 plastic-wrapped dinner (note the two glasses of juice she poured for herself):

Native Species a moment after expressing disdain for my black t-shirt hot-weather miscalculation:

Visual of gas-cracking station mentioned in NS’ account:

Here’s the small girl on the floatie screaming her ass off:

My favorite house along the way:

Supporting Video Evidence

This Bonnie Tyler video we saw is awfully strange, and worth reproduction in this account as well, given that its cultural anomalies stymied both Native Species and Foreign Species…

However, that wasn’t as strange as some of the local customs…

And nothing was as strange as seeing Twilight. I’m not sure I can convey how odd this movie was, or how high the ewwww factor was. From the flat, monotone expressions on the pale actors’ faces, to the awkward pauses and poses, to the inane quality of the dialogue, to the inescapable truth that Edward is an old man in a youth’s body who keeps going to high school year after year and falls in love with a teenager. It’s indescribably creepy in a need-to-get-clean way, and the movie rapidly becomes about a creepy octogenarian+ and the crazy girl who loves him. My loathing for this movie is only partially relieved by its unintended humor, especially in the first 30 minutes.

Finally, here’s a professional-looking but at times daft movie about the koala sanctuary. Yeah, you rock out with that kangaroo, pierced girl.

Postscript

Thanks so much, Homeland Security. You took one flipflop from my luggage, but not the other. Why not take both? Or was it just the other one that had the terrorist tendencies?!

6 Responses to “Adventures in Brisbane with the Native Species”

  1. KJ says:

    They took your flipflop? Maybe the customs workers were having a scavenger hunt?

  2. Alex says:

    Or maybe they already had the right one.

  3. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Well, I’m guessing. It was in there when I packed it all up. It wasn’t when I unpacked. And it’s not anywhere around the house. So, yes, they took my damn flipflop.

    Jeff

  4. Matt Staggs says:

    If I were you I’d contact Homeland Security and insist that they foot the bill for replacing that flipflop. What a bunch of heels.

  5. Lane says:

    Funny, I would have thought they’d take the left one instead of the right.

  6. Bill Ectric says:

    Hell, yes, they took it, and they should have taken them both. Once aboard an airplane, you can slap someone silly with those things.

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