Faster than a koala can strip a eucalyptus tree, Nashville's yearly Australian Festival has grown from a small gathering of rugby aficionados and homesick Aussies into a weekend-long celebration of fine arts, food, football and fauna. The 2004 Australian Festival, which runs through Sunday, has become so big that it has moved to Centennial Park, which will serve for the weekend as a combination football field, food court and zoo.
For gridiron enthusiasts, there'll be authentic Australian Rules football as well as men's and women's rugby matches and a cricket exhibition. Music fans, meanwhile, can sample performances by Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, New Zealand country artist Kylie Harris, and honorary Antipodeans Trent Summar & the New Rob Mob. As in years past, Kentucky Down Under will bring exotic creatures from down under to visit the kids. This year's attractions include a kangaroo, a wallaby and a kookaburranone of which will be among the menu selections at the festival's Australian Bakery Café.
General admission to the festival is free, but food, drinks, the petting zoo, and most attractions require up to five $1 tickets. For a complete list of events and activities, see the festival's web site, http://www.australianfestival.org.
♦ Throughout the fall, the Nashville Farmer's Market will offer mini-festivals and events each month. Saturday's "Afternoon of Free Family Fun" treats the young 'uns to rounds of games, a moonwalk, a rock-climbing wall and other diversions. Parents, meanwhile, can peruse the last of the summer's harvest bounty. Coming soon: our most eagerly awaited event of the fall, the annual Turnip Green Festival. You only think we're kidding.
♦ A prominent theologian meets the father of psychotherapywhy, the sitcom possibilities are endless. (Imagine a cameo by David Schwimmer as Jung.) But PBS has taken the high road with its new series The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud with Dr. Armand Nicholi, which juxtaposes the two intellectuals to address matters of faith, love, human sexuality and the meaning of life. The series starts 8 p.m. Wednesday on NPT Channel 8, but viewers can get a sneak preview 7 p.m. Monday at the Vanderbilt Stadium Club. A panel discussion follows, featuring Dr. Douglas Knight, professor of Hebrew Bible at the Vanderbilt Divinity School, and Dr. Volney Gay professor and chair of Religious Studies. The event is free and open to the public; parking is also free in the school's Kensington Garage.
♦ Speaking of bedrock issues involving the human intellect, the Krystal Square Off World Hamburger-Eating Championship contest arrives in Nashville 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Tennessee State Fair. Speaking of fair, we find it only fair to warn you that championship eater Ed "Cookie" Jarvishe of the six-pounds-of-pasta-in-10-minutes renownwill be among the competitors. You will have 10 minutes to down as many of the square gutbombs as your esophagus (or self-respect) will permit. The winner will go on to the finals in Chattanooga. The losers will compete directly in a related event, the Projectile Vomit 500.
♦ Still well known in these parts as a former Legendary Shack♦Shaker and an accomplice of Hank III, the artist now known as JoeBuckYourself plays his first-ever solo Nashville gig Thursday night at The Basement. Opener is Scott H. Biram. See Joe Buck's web site at http://www.joebuckyourself.com.
♦ Hurricane Ivan has delayed this weekend's Titans-Miami match-up until Saturdayand with it the kickoff of the annual Tailgate at the Belcourt festivities. Doors open at 11 a.m., and the kickoff starts at noon; the featured drink will of course be hurricanes. The Hillsboro Village arthouse also opens the acclaimed indie drama Maria Full of Grace, while the Bill Clinton right-wing conspiracy doc The Hunting of the President continues to pack 'em in. Call 846-3150 for more information.
♦ Also new on the movie front, some late-breaking additions at Green Hills: the painfully intimate music doc Metallica: Some Kind of Monster; Ferzan Ozpetek's romantic drama Facing Windows, in Italian with English subtitles; and Patrice Leconte's erotic character study Intimate Strangers, in French with English subtitles. See our Movie Clock for more information.
♦ Support another home team Tuesday at Grimey's, where Middle Tennessee's latest great major-label pop hope, The Features, celebrate the release of their Universal debut with a pizza party and dinner-time in-store show. The fun starts at 6 p.m.; don't miss the group's electric show Monday night at Rocketown. And if you can't wait a few days to spend your money, show up at Grimey's Saturday for an all-day sale and live show by power-poppers By Divine Right.
♦ Finally, turn up at Shelby Park's Boguskie Field 7 p.m. Monday to watch the mighty Nashville Scene Typos take on the Misfits in hellacious softball action. The terrifying Typos will go heavy on the cleats and light on mercy, having lulled future opponents into a false sense of security with their previous 3-15 outing against some accountantsdespite a tag by defender Liz Murray Garrigan that almost had an opposing player pushing up daisies instead of pencils. Watch out, Soundsthe Typos have a red pen with your name on it.