Melbourne’s Moving Image Museum

Weds. Feb. 20, 2013
Melbourne

We left Brisbane early after one last trip to see our friendly young Aussie server at the Coffee Corral. It was clearly time to leave: in our three consecutive breakfasts our eggs in our egg sandwiches had progressed from acceptable to firmly cooked to rubberized.

I spent the afternoon at the Ridges Hotel on Exhibition Street in Melbourne (in the Chinatown area) getting the blog up and running while John had meetings and a dinner with the Kohler guys and more potential Australian distributors. I had dinner at John’s recommendation, GingerBoy, a funky Thai place around the block. Fun place but not ideal as a single; most plates were sized for sharing. My mango flavored Australian beer was $10.50, which is 5% more in American dollars. Pricey yes, but good!

This high cost of living, according to my taxi driver, is cutting into tourism in Australia and making life hard for many.

Thurs. Feb. 21, 2013
Melbourne

After breakfast at the hotel, I jumped on the super fun free Circle Tram, a trolley car, which makes a run around the inner city. There is commentary on the tram, highlighting sites and giving info on connecting trains. These trams are OLD!

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I got off at Federation Square – which is a stunning showcase of angled, whacky architecture and public spaces. Here’s a view of some of the highly controversial "fractal" buildings and shards in Federation Square, which cost $467 million (four times the quoted bid) and opened in 2002. Architects loved them but many Melbournians thought they were ugly and out of place.

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Located in the square is the Australian Centre for Moving Images – the ACMI. Its exhibit, Screen Worlds, is "The story of Film, Television, & Digital Culture." I'd recommend this museum to anyone – it was spectacular.

Luck was with me as Alice, the volunteer docent, was just gathering a group for her free 11a.m. tour. Two others joined us as Alice led us through the museum and the progression from the first attempts at creating a sense of movement in art – flip books and peep shows- to the newest in computer animation. I knew I was going to love this lady and the museum when Alice started out saying that the French Laxcaus Cave paintings were attempts to create motion – to depict moving animals.

There were segments on Chinese shadow puppets, early cartooning including Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse, Hollywood, Bollywood, Aborigine documentaries, computer animations like Toy Story and so much more.

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The coolest thing, which you really can't appreciate in a still photo, is this revolving scene of little characters set up on a merry-go-round. First you see it rotate slowly, and then it speeds up and a strobe light is added, bringing it to life with movie-like action.

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Alice, who was probably over 70, originally from New York, paused when she invited me inside a long dark booth displaying nothing more than a dramatic stream of white light. "Light," she said. "That's all it is, really, the movies. Just light on a screen. Isn't it amazing?"

We headed for the airport mid afternoon and spent four hours sitting on the runway before the lightning, the rain, and the engine trouble was resolved. Had a great dinner at the Owl House, 97 Crown St. Darlinghurst – a fun and surprising hole-in-the-wall spot run by Armani – an Israeli married to an Aussi.

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