Thursday, November 30, 2006

Preparing for winter

It's going to be 19 degrees Celsius tomorrow, Friday Dec 1st, the first official day of winter. By Saturday it will have dropped to 6 degrees. That ain't right! There is even a chance that it may even SNOW next week!

I am quite petrified of winter. People gleefully tell me stories of snow piled so high it covers the cars parked on the sidewalk; icy wind that whips through the sky scraper canyons; days on end when the temperature doesn't get above freezing. Gargh!

I have already dis-gorged almost $100 buying ski-gloves and thermal glove-lining, and still need to buy winter boots, a long, Michelin Man-style coat, and maybe even gumboots for when the snow turns to slush. Gumboots! They come in all varieties - plaid patterned or plain, polka dots and some even have heels! My friend Sarah bought a pair for $80. (That ain't right either)
Even the little dogs have coats - not their own - and some even have 'shoes'. The below pic is a pair of dog rain boots on sale at Wal-Mart for $14.94. They come in a variety of sizes.

Today I returned a pair of winter boots. They were great, really comfortable and pretty, but there was quite a bit of dead rabbit on them. In New Zealand I'd proudly wear such a pest on my feet, but unless I knew I was also eating the little critter (like I eat cow) I can't do it. Unfortunately this side of the world rabbits are more Watership Down than pestilent scourge.

I will however wear, with pride, the possum-fur scarf that Mum is sending over. Die little suckers! Die!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bahamas - do dis, do not do dis...

When in the Bahamas:


  • Ask. We got a room wit' a view, a coffee maker and extra shampoo. Pikey pikey....

  • Learn to dive. Complete all the tasks: hovering, equalizing, navigation. Taking the mask on and off underwater. Preferably without a big booger hanging out of your nose. Even though most the the time we were learning stuff to keep us alive, we still saw some good fish, a ray (pretty, big, with teeth), and an aeroplane, sunk for a James Bond film. The Bahamas are a James Bond mecca...a lot of the dive instructors at Stuart's Cove were part time stunt doubles.

    Go diving with Hank! Hank was a large Canadian on the same diving course as us. Hank panicked when his large girth kept him afloat, banged his head on the underside of the boat, got twisted up in his gear and had to go back to the boat (blamed the gear) kicked us underwater, got distracted by the fish and end up off course, complained about jet-lag...even though the Bahamas is in the same time zone as Toronto, where he came from. Hank made us look GREAT. (Hank still passed. Scary)
  • Meet the locals! The food is better and cheaper outside the hotel, especially at a group of sea-side restaurants/bars called the Fish Fry. There is a lot of conch ('conk'). Conch tastes like boiled rubber. Conch is stewed, fried, grilled and made into a salad. This man, a criminal attorney, told us that the conch is quickly becoming over-fished, endangered - god knows why. He is eating conch salad.

    • Luke is eating a snapper head - apparently the best part.

  • Try to learn a few Bahamian phrases. The words are clipped and they talk fast...except to tourists.... 'dis and dat', 'tink'..... Although when we asked a wandering guy on the street where we could get some food nearby, he says 'Of course mon, I'm from Jamaica. How much do you need? It's good stuff'. Since when was marajuana known as 'food'?

  • Get a taxi to a cheesy nightclub. Your pumpkin could turn out to be a limo, circa 1970.

    Avoid the timeshare people. 'Free drinks! Free tickets! Free breakfast!' It ain't worth it - 90 minutes of sales talk from sales rep, Grenville, including 'Are you a model' (in reference to our pay bracket and the fact that I live in NYC). Luke sniggers. 'Well you're tall. You could be.....with a bit of make up on'. Luke suggests a lot of make up would work better. Then he tells us we'd like Miami because it is like New York. He likes Miami, the people are beautiful there. I suggest that maybe I could be a model there instead. 'No, probably not. All the girls are models there. All along the beach,' he says. Then, to Luke, 'And strippers at night. He he.' At the end of the session, Luke tells them the hotels they have listed are crap, because he has stayed in them, and not worth the money. The promise to 'depart as friends, whatever you decide' seems unlikely. We come away with $60 worth of flavored rum, one of which breaks in Luke's bag after the flight.

  • Torment the bird, it deserves it for crying like a baby, biting and mocking your laugh.

  • Learn how to play craps! But don't lift the dice up off the table. Everyone yells at you.

  • Go to the cabaret, Jambalaya. A multicultural singing orgasm - lots of taught buttocks. Don't be the guy who gets pulled up on stage for a multi-buttock dance. Your girlfriend won't be impressed. And tourists will recognize you later, down at the Fish Fry.

  • Play dominos! Or, to be safe, watch it instead. Gets pretty crazy -the rules are the same, but each piece must be SLAMMED down. Torretts is encouraged. Yell! Slam! Push the other players! Luke and I only went into the bar because we thought a fight had broken out.

  • Drink rum. Preferably from the road-side daiquiri-only shacks...fresh fruit, ice, rum...yum.

  • Visit Atlantis, the not-so-budget hotel on its own island, Paradise Island. The Atlantis has a cave system, waterfalls, sharks and tropical fish, myriad of swimming pools, a massive, glitzy casino with incredible glass sculptures ......

  • ....... fat couples in faded denim and white sneakers walking by the super yachts and boats as big as large houses, Gucci and Cartier and other over-priced tat, Haagen Daas - $10 for three scoops, young girls with braces, thick make-up and mini skirts smoking on the balconies, boys wearing chunky chains, making plans on cellphones - like a mall that's had an expensive make-over. One visit is enough. Escape (with your expensive ice-cream). Possibly maybe accidently 'steal' a small expensive bottle of water.

  • Mix it up at Senor Frog's, where they don't serve mojitos because they are a MEXICAN bar. Avoid the local expat Canadian contractors, trawling for cruise boat fodder. Do a Bahamian version of bootylicious, led by an on-stage DJ - 'Sexaholics make some NOISE! Alcoholics make some NOISE!'. Shake off that fried lobster holiday fat with your white girl/guy dance moves....

  • And scare the locals with your eerily non-floral, matching outfits....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Eight Principles Of Fun - watch it!

This was too good to not this - eight principles of fun

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Hedge-ettes

Okay, this is a sort of request post, or rather, it has been indicted that I omitted one... a night that apparently bears repeating, in as much as i can recall anyway...

So, if you could have any hors d'oeuvres, what would it be? I choose those marinated shrimps on a stick that you dip in sweet chilli sauce. At the
Pink Elephant (again! this one was actually before the Dems' victory booty-jumpin' celebration) we got ourselves into a strategic sweet-spot on the stairs that narrowed the waiters into a funnel of moving food. The event was some sort of hedge fund soiree, so the fare was pretty good - no sausage rolls here! Actually I've just looked at a review of the club by an unhappy patron; I think it's worth repeating...

"One faithful night approximately two weeks ago, I went to meet some friends and was cometeply ignored at the door. I was head-to-toe Marc Jacobs and extremely friendly and a gentleman with an Austrialian accent completely ignored me, like I didn't exist. The head of the table had to come out and personally escort me in, which was extremely embarrassing for someone like myself. And what was even
more frustrating, is that I saw young women with low-quality standards being let in immediately. That night my friend spent $1,000 on his table so I feel as though, I should have been treated better. I probably wouldn't go back unless I myself purchased the table or I am walking in with those who have purchased the table. I cannot risk additional insult at the hands of that gentleman with the Australian accent."

Damn Aussies, didn't even recognize a quality sheila.

By 9pm when the bar closed we were pretty stuffed full of shrimps etc - me, D and R, the two guys who actually had an affiliation with the event.

After we signed off on myriad important deals (like, I'll swap my teriyaki chicken for your prawn dumpling), on to Rocktober Fest at BB King's bar, which is a grand, huge place where you can imagine jazz legends crooning before an audience wearing tailored black clothes and smoking cigars. Not tonight though. Tonight was a skinny white guy howling out 70s and 80s pop, but with a full band backing him - brass and strings, the works. Not very impressive, and definitely not BB King cool, but then R informs me that the members are all hedge fund managers brought together from different firms across the city...and I forgave every one of them right there. It's about expectations, and for a bunch of disparate finance guys, they were pretty damn good.

The BEST bit by far was when random women started jumping on stage, then took off their tops to reveal matching white singlets underneath, and began the Britney moves, synchronised and all. D christianed them The Hedgettes. The event was raising money for something.... I have a t-shirt somewhere with logos tucked away in my pyjama drawer....

We were inspired + we were also a bit drunk = we went to kareoke in a tuk-tuk.

Yes ladies, this is the standard for tuk-tuk drivers in New York. I'll leave the bus drivers to your imaginations.

ANYWAY...kareoke. D started us off with 'Dancing with myself' and R did a very brave and interesting version of Prince's 'Kiss', falsetto and all. Phew.

I did Madonna, Killers and Guns in Roses. Madonna cos it's gonna be easy to sing. Killers because I love them. And Guns n Roses because that way the whole bar can join in...kareoke gives me a lot more respect for singers - they can't give up near the end when you just don't feel like singing anymore.

R fell asleep on the stair railing, and our spots were taken by some large women with professional attitudes who began singing Carpenters songs earnestly, so we decided to call it a night.

I'm trying to think of something philosophical, because when I left the kareoke club with my two friends and stumbled out onto the early morning streets, it felt like the end of a mini adventure. But the best I can think of is that NYC must be becoming more like home, because I also recall the feeling of being snuggled up in bed after the cab ride home in the rain, and being a very happy camper indeed.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My new phone stinks

My phone was stolen by a fruit seller and I had to pay significant cocktail/travel money towards a new one. And it stinks. So far I have taken a few crappy pictures, and I can't even download them. Boo hiss.

Here are some I took with my really cool phone that the fruit seller is now enjoying.

Museum shops are the best shops in the world. Here's a fun present idea. Fun fun fun.

And how about these for the young kiddies, just starting out at pressure...

Exciting Times

In the women's toilets at the Democratic Party party last week, the girl behind me in line was almost delirious - she'd almost had her photo taken with Clinton but had not managed to find her camera, which was hiding somewhere in her handbag. Luckily her friend had taken a picture instead. I asked to see, and shouldn't have really been surprised to find out the Clinton was actually the male member of the family, rather than the star of the evening, Senator Hillary. Then the flustered girl found her camera, hanging off her arm.

All Bill did at the party was stand behind Hillary, rather red-faced, clap and look proud. Then kiss her at the end, which was the picture that ended up in the papers. It's a funny thing, that he holds so much public appeal, even among the random Republicans I've encountered, but for her it's a different story. New Yorkers are fans; she is seen to have tried her best for the state under difficult circumstances, and the huge swath of people crammed into the Sheraton ballroom were vocal and exuberant in their appreciation...but to win over America as whole, there's a massive PR campaign to run. The media portrays her as someone who polarises the populace. I'm new here, and don't know what this is based on. Or whether it is actually true or not. But seeing how she handles the next couple of years will be very fact, I've now decided to stay here til after the presidential elections in 2008. Whoever runs, it will be exciting times.

When you're at a political party with 4,000 people, it's good to be on the winning side. The place was decked out in red/white/blue balloons, a huge American flag as a back-drop (I noticed the Republicans had exactly the same backdrop at their celebrations.... the American flag has a monopoly on so many events!) a large, well lit stage and a small mountain of press people - TV, radio and print. There was food, although not suitable for anyone on the Atkins Diet - all deep fried carbs and sweets - and free soda wine and beer.

I was invited to the party by C, my political campaigning friend. J also came along with his parents - his father gave me a US politics 101 class as we were watching CNN as the Democrats took Congress. Rather than me try to explain sucking eggs, for those who don't know, info is here

Hillary is a good speaker when in front of the audience. Engaged and smart. Spitzer, another Democrat, won the governor's seat and brought up his whole family on stage, as did the guy who won for the Attorney General position. His family looked very wealthy, all furs and expensive suits, even his Grandma and Grandad - who had been together 60 years. Family is a big deal here, a real bonus-points opportunity. Spitzers wife - I swear - was the mother off The Sopranos. Chelsea wasn't there, and compared to everyone elses stage-cramming, Hillary's one supporter looked like a sparse offering. But then again, I can't say I recognized anyone else's whanau from the front page of the daily papers. Everyone thanked God and Blessed America! A good tactic - new statistics (Time magazine) show that the US is 85% Christian and most of these are born again/evangelical.

Another toilet queue conversation - again about Bill, and commenting on how supportive he was of his wife. The general consensus (among the ten or so girls in the line) was that he'd damn well better support her. He owes it to her.

Afterwards C got me into the private Clinton post party. It was held at a nightclub called the Pink Elephant, a trendy place in Chelsea where on a normal night it will set you back a few hundred for a bottle of vodka. As an aside, the elephant is a Republican symbol, although i doubt there was any intended poking going on. Tonight was excellent nibbles and free cocktails. I was hoping to get a photo with Ms C...but on entering and hearing the music (my hump my hump my hump) I realized quickly she wasn't coming. Damn! Oh well. Maybe I'll volunteer in the mission to win over America. And sometime in the next year and a half get a picture with a Clinton....even Bill will do!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Spooks and sluts

I was pretty skeptical about Halloween; for a start pumpkin is one of those foods that I hated as a child and really really really hate as an adult. Then I expected, in terms of costumes, that the odd person would dress up as a ghost (sheet) or devil (garden pitch fork), or at best, a blood-dripping vampire (sad waste of tomato sauce). And then a bunch of sprogs would terrorize the streets, whinge about sweets and pelt doorways with eggs and rotten vegetables....

That ain't Halloween. That's the rest of the world's interpretation of Halloween. Halloween is HUGE! It's bigger than Christmas! And Halloween is slutty! Super slutty! Super fabulous slutty!

These are Halloween costumes...and seriously, I did not go out of my way to visit a porn store just to liven this up:

On Tuesday (31st - Halloween night) at work, people started leaving early, which was weird. Then the bosses daughter came in as a pumpkin - nothing too unusual - and gave everyone a cookie. But it was a beautiful, elaborate gingerbread 'pumpkin' cookie, inscribed with her name and wrapped in pumpkin cellophane.

And although I was ambivalent at first, the excitement - the whole town seems caffeinated - is infectious. Shops everywhere are decorated in spider webs, pumpkins and plastic bugs (and American flags, which seem to be an appropriate accompaniment to any celebration) including my local supermarket.

There are pumpkins in the oddest places, like in the subway. On my way in to work I started noticing little things, like a woman in a full business suit, business face and business suitcase ...and little red horns sticking out of her perfect business hair. A man who was definitely a banker - somber suit, striped shirt - sipped his coffee and exposed little, red-tipped fangs.

So instead of going to yoga, I met with a couple of Kiwis, stuck on my black wig left over from Burning Man and went down the road to 6th Avenue. Roads everywhere were blocked off. We were on our way to the parade...and yet the parade seemed to be all around us. Colored wigs and wings, blood spatterings in odd places, cloaks and ghosts and men in high heels, and so much more.....imagine a huge, bustling city - like any warm city night when people are out in the streets - but everyone dressed up in costume. Friends I met at the parade had berets and sweaters slung over their shoulders; they'd come as 'French people.' Afros and doctors, slutty nurses, French Maids, Statues of Liberty, fairies, World Wrestling champions...I can't describe it - so much imagination and inventiveness - a night of fun! Here are some pics of the parade itself:

Thousands line the streets and anyone in costume can enter.

Can you make out the French Maid on the dog float? There were quite a few George Bushes, one with a toilet seat around his head. People on stilts, marching bands in full costumes, drummers and acrobats, floats for causes as diverse as saving lost kittys to promoting gay awareness - the parade goes for hours - they expected 50,000 people to take part.