Sunday, April 25, 2010

Best Funeral Ever

You know that feeling that many women get in their late 20’s and early 30’s?  You know, that feeling of their bodies telling them that they need to have a baby – and soon?  Well, my housemates and I recently had that feeling.  But instead of a feeling about pushing a screaming little nuisance through our loins, our feeling was about throwing a party.

That’s a pretty good analogy, right?

But in order to throw a party, you have to have a reason – a cause to celebrate.  Maybe a holiday?  Maybe a birthday?  An anniversary perhaps?  A great idea would be a bar mitzvah, but since I’ve already had mine and the Spanish boys weren’t too keen on the idea, we decided to toss it.  So, in the end we did what any reasonable people would do.  We threw a funeral.

Or rather, a funeral party.  A fish funeral… party.

And the invitation went like this: 

Dear Friends,

As many of you have heard, our household was stunned last week by the tragic death of our fish, Fighty. His exact cause of death is unknown, but the coroner's office is certain that Fighty's passing somehow involves the Cookie Monster.

We have all been wallowing in despair these past few days, but we've decided that we should pull ourselves together and celebrate the amazing life of the greatest fish that has ever lived on Cleveland Street. Over the course of his three months on this planet, Fighty touched the lives of so many of us and it is only appropriate that we honor his legacy... with alcohol. His memorial service will begin promptly at 4:00pm, with the traditional vodka service following shortly thereafter at 4:01.

We do ask that you BYO, as Fighty would have wanted it that way. We will have some light snacks, but please also bring anything that you'd like us to throw on the barbie.

We can't wait to show you how we put the "fun" in funeral!

- Mayra, Oscar, Jim, & Phill

I hate to brag, but I just have to say that our party was, well, probably the best fish funeral EVER.  It was the talk of the town.  Dozens of people were in attendance – so many that at one point it was quite difficult to move through the kitchen… or dining room… or through our nicely sized patio.  After the event, Facebook photos sprang up like wildfires.  Or is that wild flowers?  Either way.  Did I mention that we started at 4pm and the last guests left after 4am?  Damn, Gina!  The mess was a bit much the next day – the floors were black and there must've been hundreds of beer bottles - but let us not dwell on the details.

And what happened to poor little Fighty you might ask?  Well, we – very honorably I might add – gave Fighty a proper maritime burial.  Down the toilet he went.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Seasonal Confusion

Everything you learned in science class: forget about it.  Generally, we consider autumn (in the southern hemisphere) and spring (in the northern hemisphere) to begin on or around March 21 – the vernal or autumnal equinoxes.  But not here.  General consensus in Australia is that autumn begins on March 1 and ends on May 31, with winter commencing on June 1.

Ok, so maybe the weather patterns are a bit different here and it makes more sense to do it that way?  Maybe.  But not so far this year.  We are now in late April, which by Aussie rules means we are over half way through autumn and winter is just five short weeks away.  But it doesn’t feel like autumn to me.  Do you know why?  I’ll tell you why with a play by play of my week.

Monday.  Monday Oscar and I went to Maroubra Beach.  It was hot.  It was clear.  We soaked up the sun and ate some schnitzel.  Yummy.

Tuesday.  Tuesday I went for what turned out to be a nearly 5 hour walk.  I walked from my home to Bondi Junction where I met Kathryn.  Then we walked to Bondi Beach and up North Bondi a bit.  Then back.  When I got back, I was sweaty and gross.  Not very autumnal if you ask me.

Wednesday.  Wednesday I went over to Coogee Beach- got some color, read a book, drank a Coke, watched the topless men walking around.  Yummy.

Thursday.  Kangaroos!  Thursday was zoo day.  Kathryn and I took the ferry over to the Taronga Zoo.  Saw some kangaroos, koalas, emus, and all of the other weird Aussie animals which most Americans think are science-fiction.  More details to follow in a later blog post.

Friday.  That’s yesterday for me.  Oscar and I had brunch at the coffee shop with the really cute baristas.  Then we hopped over to Tamarama Beach (lovingly referred to as Glamarama because of the high proportion of homosexuals there).  It was hot.  It was sunny.  In fact, it was too hot and too sunny.  We didn’t last two hours.  It was too much.  How is this autumn?

Did I mention I was wearing shorts (or board shorts) and flip-flops for most of this?  I think the Aussies are a bit confused about how seasons work.

Also, that whole groundhog thing in the States:  that’s just as stupid.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Prize Cock

Easter is a big holiday here.  It’s like as big as Christmas.  Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday are all national holidays. That’s right, Easter is so big here that they have to have it on both Sunday AND Monday.  The Sydney Royal Easter Show is an integral part of the celebration.  The Easter Show is basically, well- it’s basically a state fair.  Walking around here you might momentarily get confused and think you are in Arkansas or Texas or Kansas or one of the other crappy states.  Living in Seattle, I went the Puyullup Fair down in the redneck suburbs of Tacoma one year.  Walking into the Royal Sydney Easter Show gave me flashbacks of that experience.  Here is a brief photo album of the day:

As the title says, this is the Prize Cock.  Actually, I don’t know if this particular cock won a prize, but it’s the only cock that we got a picture of.

Robosaurus: 1, Ford Taurus: 0.  Yep, this is a giant robotic dinosaur completely destroying a car.  I don’t actually think it was a Ford Taurus, but Taurus rhymes with Robosaurus so I’m going to pretend that it was.


What a better way to celebrate Passover than by watching the most kosher of animals - the pig - racing and then diving into a little pool.  Wow.  The sad part is that we missed one show because it was full, so we got to the next one nearly an hour early to make sure we got seats.  People must really love bacon.  Bacon eaters will all burn.

Oh yeah - I've got video!

What crazy craze will we crazy Americans craze about next?!?!?


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sex In A Pita

I’ve been here now well over two months, and while I’m still not working and I still haven’t seen any of this great country beyond my Sydney bubble, I am gaining ground in one very important area: the War on Food.  While Aussieland does have some very good cuisine from different regions of the world, there are some major holes – many of which I’ve already blogged about (because apparently I’m obsessed with food).  But, I’ve won a few battles lately, and those holes are getting smaller… unlike my stomach.  Here is the most recent report from the Sydney culinary world:

Burrito update:
The most important update of them all.  Since my letter to Chipotle (which they were awesome enough to respond to), I’ve tried two more burritos in Sydney – bringing my total to seven.  One was complete rubbish, but the other was a place called Baja Cantina.  It was recommended to me by a Rice alum that I met up with a few weeks ago.  He originally hails from New Braunfels, Texas, so I trusted his judgment.  And you know what?  His judgment was spot on and my friend Kathryn agreed (she’s like my burrito Vanna White except that I won’t yell at her like Pat Sajak would).  Baja Cantina now takes the gold position on the (Australian) Olympic podium of burritos, though it probably won't even make it to bronze at the World Championships.  It’s not nearly as convenient as silver medal winning Mad Mex, but it’ll be worth the jaunt every now and again.

But here is something completely shameful:  both Baja Cantina and Mad Mex serve Pepsi.  Not Coca-Cola.  They serve Pepsi.  Foul language coming in three, two, one… Fucking rude!  And disgusting!  Pepsi.  Pish.

Falafel update:
I’ve been avoiding falafel like the plague or children.  After the first two nightmarish falafel pitas, I was deeply afraid of having to give up falafel due to the “three strikes you’re out” rule.  But yesterday I was brave.  Very brave.  My buddy Roy mentioned a place called Sabbaba over in Bondi Junction weeks and weeks ago.  Yesterday, my housemate Oscar and I finally gave it a go.  I ordered a falafel pita called the “Tel-Aviv”.  I was skeptical at first – how the hell is this going to live up to the falafel in Tel-Aviv?  Well, I took a bite… and…

Success!  It was almost like sex in falafel form!  It was seriously pretty authentic – pita with falafel and hummus and tahihi and lettuce and tomato and pickles and cabbage I think - and the best part:  FRIES!  Well, actually, they call them “chips” here but I still call them fries because America may do a ton of shit wrong but fries are one thing we do right.  Damn right.  Israelis put French fries in their falafel pitas – and this place did too.  ORGASM!

Starbucks update:
After a few miscounts and a massive failure on the part of Google Maps, I have officially determined that I’ve been to every single Starbucks in Sydney.  There are only six of them, though Google Maps shows more – there used to be tons more, but they closed most of them down because Aussies don’t appreciate good coffee from a good company.  Whatev.  Monday – which was a national holiday here for Easter – marked the completion of the sixth location.  My American buddy Todd accompanied me and we enjoyed some nice Caramel Macchiatos on Darling Harbour.  There is one more Starbucks WAY out in East Jesus, but it would take me forever to get out there on the train.  Besides, that suburban location is in a children’s hospital.  I hate hospitals.

And I hate children.  

Nectar of the Gods update:
Ok, not technically an update since I haven’t blogged about it before, but noteworthy nonetheless.  Thai Iced Tea is super delicious and every Thai restaurant that I’ve been to in the States serves it.  But not here.  It’s probably an American creation, but it’s yummy so I don’t care.  I’ve been to several Thai restaurants here – at least five or six – and none of them had it.  In fact, they seemed not to know what I was even talking about.  Stressful!  Maybe the Thai people there were really Vietnamese or Cambodian or something.  Tricky Cambodians.  Today, at a random food court in the CBD, I opted to get Thai food.  Not only did the Thai food taste like Americanized Thai food (yay for the familiar!), but they also had Thai Iced Tea!  YES!  YES!  YES!

Ok, I didn’t scream out “Yes! Yes! Yes!” in the food court, but I sort of wanted to.  I was a bit giddy and it took all of my strength and will power not to suck that shit down in one quick gulp.  My Spanish housemate tasted it and he thought it was gross, but what does he really know about good food and drink anyway?  He comes from a country where the idea of a great specialty food shop is “El Museo de Jamon” – or in English – “The Museum of Ham”.  A whole store devoted to ham.  The defense rests.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I'd Like To Buy A Zee, Please

On December 14, 2012, Pat Sajak and Vanna White will guest host the Australian version of Wheel of Fortune.  Here is an excerpt from the transcript of that show, which I was able to obtain by traveling to the future:

Pat Sajak:  Ok, Paula from Adelaide, please pick a consonant.
Paula from Adelaide:  I’d like a zed, Pat!
Pat Sajak:  I’m sorry, what letter was that again?
Paula from Adelaide:  A zed, Pat.
Pat Sajak:  Are you saying zed?  What’s zed?
Paula from Adelaide:  You know, zed – the last letter of the alphabet.
Pat Sajak:  You mean zee?
Paula from Adelaide:  ::flustered:: No – zed!  You know… X, Y, Zed!
Pat Sajak:  Right. Well, ok, I’m going to assume you mean zee, and in that case there is one zee on the board.  Vanna…
Vanna White: ::tries to tap the letter zee to come up::
Pat Sajak:  Is there a problem, Vanna?
Vanna White:  It’s not coming up…
Pat Sajak:  Just press the zee a little bit harder…
Vanna White:  It’s really not coming up!  It won’t work!
Pat Sajak:  The fucking word is “organization” – there’s obviously a zee.  Just press the fucking screen a little bit harder, bitch!  You get paid millions of dollars to tap little TV screens with letters on them!  Any blind monkey could be trained to do it properly.  Just do it!!!!
Vanna White:  ::sobbing::

Ok, so Pat and Vanna won’t be guest hosting the Australian version of Wheel of Fortune, mainly because the Australian version was axed in 2008.  But if they did, it likely wouldn’t be quite so dramatic.  And I assume TV producers would brief them beforehand and spare Vanna of Pat’s violent streak, but there’s only so much a man can take before he snaps.  There are some major spelling and pronunciation issues in this country.  Allow me to elaborate.

First of all, the letter “zee” is pronounced “zed”.  Seriously – it’s “zed”.  Aren’t there rednecks in trailers in rural Mississippi named “Zed”?  That should not be a letter.  Also, “H” – I guess spelled “eych” maybe? – is pronounced like “heych” here – like “hey” but with a “ch” sound on the end.  WTF?

But wait there’s more!

Everyone knows about the magical “U” – in colour, harbour, favourite, neighbour, bulldouzer, phoutougraph.  Ok, maybe not the last two.  I don’t mind the “U” so much, especially after these next two discoveries:  Did you know that “C” is really “S”????  Like in the word “defense”.  Defense - a simple word, but spelled differently in Australia.  It’s “defence” here.  With a “C”.  Oh, and tires – you know – those rubber things on the wheels of your car?  That’s spelled tyre.  With a “Y”.  But the verb “tire” is still with an “I”.  Oi vey.

But here’s the kicker:  the government of Australia has bribed “English” teachers across this great continent to engage in an active campaign against the letter “Z” – you know – zee – or zed – whatever you want to call it.  There is no “-ize” in Australia, nor can you find “-izes”, “-ized”, on “-ization”.  It’s all “-ise” or variants thereof.  No “Z”.  Organisation.  Capitalised.  Realise.  Monetise.

ALERT:  No.  That’s wrong.  “Organization” is not pronounced like “sensation”.  There’s a “Z” there for a reason.  It makes it sound a little bit different.  Learn to use it, kangaroos.  I’m using a “Z” to pluralize words until the government of Australia comes forward and advises the public of this grave error.  I’ll be using words like:  Frogz.  Citiez.  Beanz.  Photoz.  Bitchez.  Pizzaz.  Or maybe not Pizzaz.  That just looks like pizzazz spelled wrong.  Or is it really spelled pizazz? Oh lord that's a tough one.  Whatever, it doesn't matter here.  My point is that apparently “Z” and “S” are interchangeable.

This is going to have some serious implications for my Boggle and Scrabble abilities.  Crap.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Ok, yes.  I’ve neglected the blog for nearly two weeks.  My apologies.  I promise it won’t happen again.  Let’s do the a quick rundown of the top stories starting with the good:

It’s been warm here.  And sunny.  I like warm and sunny.  I’ve been heading to the beach a bit more lately – including Bondi, Manly, and Coogee.  I’m slowly adding to my friend base and trying to keep occupied with social activities as often as I can.  I have a regular group trivia night each week, along with other various meals, coffees, movies, and markets that I’ve been hitting up with friends.  I’m slowly forming a circle here, and it’s a happy thing.

The bad:  All good things must come to an end, and winter is about to hit.  The typical Sydney winter features bone-chilling blizzards and snowstorms and gallons of hot chocolate consumption while wrapped up in wool socks and seven layers of clothes!!!!!  Ok, I’m being dramatic.  I’ll need a light jacket.  Maybe.  In fact, I’ve already worn a light jacket once at night here, and the past few days I’ve opted for shoes over flip-flops.  But I’m still in shorts.  You’re going to have to pry these shorts from dead, cold body.  Or my very much alive but slightly-chilly body.  Same thing.

The ugly:  I’m being a picky bitch with jobs, and I’m getting bored during the day.  There’s only so many times you can go oooo and ahhh at the Opera House before it gets old.  I need to get to work.  I may start looking for temp jobs next week to hold me over until the perfect opportunity at an insurance company comes along.  The extra cash would be great too.

Or, once again, maybe I’ll just win the lottery or get a sugar daddy.  I’m now accepting applications, so please apply within.