Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The XX Factor

New Zealand is the country that is the farthest away from its nearest neighboring country, and as such, it can be hard to abtain the basic neccessities of life. We've got to import all kinds of things. For example, they don't have the Gillette Fusion here. I had to import my own just to get the close-shaven kind of look that only movie stars deserve. And then even the Fusion wasn't enough. Now we're importing American Women.
Incoming! The girls arrive. Maggie Mason and Katie Fogelsong arrive in country for a two-month stay. And they're chomping at the bit for action. Sunday is a Hellicopter ride to the south island. On Monday they're at Waikanae Beach catching tans, and on Tuesday they're going to the Wellington Botanical Gardens, Mount Victoria, and Oriental Bay. Hey, Wellington! Meet the American woman. One attraction per day isn't enough. These ones are hard to tame.

So the count of South Tahoe Americans goes from six to eight. Can Wellington handle that many? We can only hope so.

Super Bowl Week

"The most anticipated event of each and every year, the culmination of five months of thrills, endless statistics, ego boosts, and several disappointments; a major holiday, no, the major holiday, a day when routine and care is suspended; when the nation, the world, comes together as one; a festival that cuts across national, racial, and religious boundaries; a ritual during which no time exists except the artificial time on the game clock, a symbolic battle in which only token blood is shed and for which the duration of which the grip of death on the human psyche is relaxed and put aside."
-Tom Robbins

Cultural Differences Down Under

It has now reached close to two months of living down here and I have noticed some interesting differences between our American culture and the Kiwi culture. This is only natural for me, seeing how I am a anthropology major. I have taken the emic (solid anthropology word meaning view from within) approach to understanding the ways of the kiwis and have noticed some things. I implore you to understand that by no means are these differences wrong or backwards, simply different. Why am I posting these differences? Well for a few reasons. 1: I haven't posted anything yet so I figure it is about time. 2: Why not, maybe some people will be interested. Then again, maybe some people will think it is a stupid post. But ultimately, aren't all these posts really meaningless. Alas, here are a few differences...

1. Sprite is called lemonade. Everywhere. Working at a bar, this proved to be one of the quickest things I learned. Orders for "vodka lemonade" or "bacardi lemonade" proved daunting at first. Now it is old hat. Also along the lines of lemonade, orders for "lemon, lime, and bitters" are common. It is simply sprite with lime cordial and a couple dashes of bitters. Quite a popular non-liquor drink. So, you might ask, what do they call lemonade? Homemade lemonade (pretty straightforward, but I have yet to see it anywhere).

2. The 21st birthday is a HUGE deal here. Even though the legal drinking age is 18, the 21st is the biggest birthday. Most families rent a function room and have a huge party where there is an elaborate cake and numerous speeches by family members and friends. There is also a presentation of an oversized key. I heard that it used to be when you turned 21 the parents gave you a key to the house. But nowadays everyone moves out when they are 18, so it just became a tradition for the parents to present a large skeleton-like key to the son or daughter. There is still quite a bit of drinking involved, similar to the American 21st.

3. This is a text-friendly country. What I mean by that is that hardly anyone uses their cell phones for calling. It is mostly texting each other. Part pain in the ass, part convenient, it has taken a little while for me to get used to. It is just cheaper to text people than it is to call them. Oh, and most phones are pre-pay, which is pretty good actually because you know that you will be getting your money's worth each time.

Well, I believe this is enough for now. I will certainly post again with some more interesting aspects of the kiwi culture. Have no fear! I will continue the emic perspective of the fascinating Kiwis and reports will continue to inform and astonish you with such bold differences! With my classrooms consisting of popular bars and restaurants, I will always bring the truth to you.

Signing off,
Resident Anthropologist Charlie

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Confessions of a 'Canadian'

They call me 'The Canadian' at work. I'm starting to think that might not be such a bad thing.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to hide from anything here. Like Lee Greenwood, I too am proud to be an American. Indeed, I relish the opportunity to break the Fox News stereotype...but at work, I'm fighting an uphill battle thanks to the other American. Oh, she's a liberal spirit to be sure, but so much more...and less.

She's 19, from San Diego, and can't pronounce the letter 'R'... This is not to suggest that the problem lies with any of these specific attributes, I only list them here in an effort to be appropriately descriptive. Verily, there is nothing inherently wrong with being 19...we've all been there. Nor do I have anything against San Diegans...we all know they stay classy. And by no means do I intend to imply any correlation between the pronunciation of 'R' and intelligent thought...that would be flat out ludacwis. No...I don't think any of those things really matter...but this perfect storm of an individual keeps coming up with absolute gems...my 3 favorite being as follows.

3. While discussing a movie, refers to plot as involving 'escaped convents.'

2. After noticing a toothpick in my mouth...
She: "Wow, you're quite the woodsman. That's so different than me. I'm very cosmotalitan."
Me: "Oh really...you're Cosmotalitan?"
She: "Yeah (slightly confused)...I'm cosmo...cosmo...yeah, cosmotalitan."

1. Upon encountering a group of staff... "Oh great! We're all conjugated here."

It's amusing for the first five minutes of an 6 hour shift.
After that...well, I'm ok being called the Canadian.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Side-trip: Abel Tasman National Park

About 350 years ago, a Dutch explorer named Abel Tasman came across two islands in the south pacific occupied by the Maori tribes, who called their land "Aotearoa" - the land of the long white cloud. 300 years later (to the day), the government of New Zealand honored Ol' Tasman by declaring the scenic northern coast of its southern island Abel Tasman National Park. After all, they had to give some credit to the Dutch after Captain Cook sailed by decades later and claimed all that land for the English. Besides, the government had already named the straight between the two islands Cook Straight, so they were running out of explorers.

As for the boys, business was good in Wellington - so good that they were already dying for a vacation. In fact, business was so damn good that only three of them were able to get two days off in a row to take the trip. So be it. Charlie, Morgan, and Trainer packed their swim trunks and sun screen and hopped on the ferry to the south island. It was kayaking time.

They stumbled out of bed before dawn - driving, pushing, and pulling Delilah to the wharf to catch the early-bird Interislander. The wind and clouds forced them to huddle deep inside their jackets as they waited to load up, and they crossed their fingers that they'd catch a break in the weather on the south island. Kayaking in 20 knots of wind has a few downsides. But the trip was on, and these boys were becoming men. There would be no turning back.

They needn't have feared. The clouds broke and the wind died almost as soon as Wellington was out of sight. Three hours later the ferry was landing in Picton on the south island, and the boys broke down to shorts and t-shirts as they walked the streets shaded in palm trees. Naturally, they stopped to watch the travesty that was the Chargers/Patriots playoff game, and after that set off for the drive to Motueka, gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. The weather, of course, was beautiful.

Dinner was the traditional adventure fare of gourmet pizza and wine, and the next day the boys were up at dawn again to catch the bus to the park. Their instructor was a four-year park veteran, and they were the first crew on the water. Sensing their prowess, the guide set off for an opening run of 4 klicks against the current and wind, and the boys did not dissapoint. They took tea in a secluded island cove, crossed to another island to find a maverick seal colony, and almost flipped out of their kayaks when one seal showed off by swimming under, around, and over them in one of the most impressive natural show-off sessions their guide had ever seen.

There were mussels for lunch, a game of Ultimate on the beach, and multiple sessions of swimming as the boys hopped from one cove to the next. With the wind behind them, they took a sail back into their port, and relaxed in the hot tub as they waited for their bus to pick them up again. Sun-burns were had by all, despite the sunscreen, and their guide promised them visits at their respective bars for the international rugby "Sevens" to be held in Wellington in mid-February, when, of course, the boys would be working.

Full photos available here.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Science: Part II

This week’s topic: TIME

Last week our scientific discussion covered gravity. Now you know why an north-ocean storm that spins counter-clockwise is called a Hurricane while its clockwise-spinning cousin in the southern hemisphere is called a Typhoon. Collaborators on that article: Sir Isaac Newton and Captain James Cook.

The thing about time is this: it’s a much more fluid thing than most of us were taught about in school. Atomic clocks circling the earth in high-speed satellites fall behind 40 nanoseconds every 10 hours compared to earth-bound clocks. The clocks in space just stay young longer than the earthling-clocks. And only because their relative speed is higher.

This fluidity in time was also jarring on Christmas. Being 21 hours behind New Zealand in time zones, more than a few dazzled Americans got Christmas calls from the NZ Boys on America’s Christmas Eve. The New Zealand Boys gave all those people calls from “the future.” The phone calls couldn’t even take place in real time – there’s a four-second time lag.

But walking around in New Zealand, it certainly doesn’t feel like the future. Looking around, things feel a little off. It’s like New Zealand carries with it an echo of something else. But then it all made sense. I put the following together

Mullets by the hundreds

Even hotter female mullets


Florescent clothing

New Zealand is still in the 80s! Somehow, when our plane was making that 12 hour flight across the Pacific, time on earth did something else. It slipped behind. Down in New Zealand, Michael Jackson is still cool, straight guys wear cut-off jean shorts, the air is less polluted, MC Hammer sets all the trends, and cell phones are still the size of boxing gloves.

Science mystifies us again. But the boys have a plan. We know all the trends yet to hit New Zealand, and we’re going to pre-empt all of them with our own fads. Our plan is to bring in boy bands BEFORE we roll out with girl bands, so that we can end the boy-band trend before it hits such lows as 2ge+her and 5ive. We plan to send Michael to rehab before he goes after the kids, and this time his mean dancing moves will stay cool clear into the 21st century. We’ll get on that fuel-alternative car, we’ll stop tract housing before it starts, we’ll invest in Yahoo, we’ll do Reality TV before Road Rules. It’s like a second chance at life. First step, finish off the mullets.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Endless Summer...?

It's raining. Again.

Power Rankings: Week Four

#1 Charlie
Charlie might as well have been here a year rather than a month - he has blended in seamlessly to the Wellington scene and is the picture of consistency. And the Mac's crew is tight - indoor croquet sessions and late night drinking games are not out of the ordinary. The man sleeps on couch cushions and doesn't complain. He works full time. He holds his liquor well. He doesn't scare girls. He always has bread. The boys could learn a lot from Mr. Powers.
#2 Shock
Getting by on his street charm at the door the first couple weeks, Shock is filling new holes. At work. Get your mind outta the gutter. Slinging drinks for the first time, "The Power of Love" sounds so much sweeter on the other side of the bar. Also performed an out of control striptease, dead sober, for a room full of screaming young ladies at a bachelorette party.
#3 Calvert
Calvert had quite the busy week, logging in damn near 60 hours. Out of the boys, he maintains the best schedule, works with the cutest girls, and (supposedly) is on a fast track to management. So why does that No. 1 spot seem so elusive? Well, perhaps one of said bar girls can fill you in on one of his many late night ramblings/proposals this week - he sure can't recall them. Oh yeah, and he got kicked out of his own bar.
#4 Morgan
MoMa clocks in at No. 4 with a bullet. Proving ever valuable to the folks at Chicago, common sense and a reasonable lunchtime crowd have provided smooth sailing for Morgan on the shores of Wellington Harbour. Also, he's been real cool about lending Calvert cash.
#5 Dunne
Dunne keeps the status quo at five again this week, dutifully haeding off to Mollys each night, pre-made cheese sandwiches in tow. Lately, he's been off the sauce and more on foreign affairs. Unfortunately, the deepest anybody in the Wellington hospo industry gets into that field is the great Beck's/Stella Artois debate.
#6 Trainer
While maintaining some of the best relations with fellow staff, it seems the powers that be at Shooters have still yet to tap into the vast resourses they have at hand. A lack of hours and a slow debt payment on behalf of certain roommates created a slight cash flow dillemma. New gig at little Italian bistro has quite alot of potential to dig Pain Train out of the cellar.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


9/11/61 - 1/5/07

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone whose lives he touched.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Calvert says, "No Comment."

Bar's chemical leak keeps firemen alert

The Dominion Post | Friday, 5 January 2007

Firefighters activated their maximum alert level and donned protective gear after a "pungent" chemical leaked from refrigeration equipment in a Wellington bar yesterday.

Emergency services were called to the Establishment in Blair St about midday after staff became alarmed over a chemical leaking from a machine in the bar's basement.

"There was a very strong smell. It was a pungent odour," said senior station officer Brendan Nally.

The street was cordoned off while firefighters removed the unit and decontaminated it. Those who went into the building were then given decontamination showers.

The fire service went to maximum alert level because of uncertainty over the chemical, Mr Nally said. Bar staff were also given precautionary medical checks.

Management and employees at the bar would not comment.

For original article, Click Here

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Power Rankings: Week Three

New Year's Edition
From the first time zone in the world to ring in '007

#1 Shock (Last Week: 5)
Spent a long night at work throwing back drinks and throwing out trouble. Luckily, at a bar that parties like it's nineteen eighty-nine, he can spend much more time doing the former.

#2 Calvert (Last Week: 3)
Somehow Calvert managed to be the only nzboy in front of a bar at midnight. While free drinks for the rest of us could be considered stealing, his fell under good customer service. Misses the top spot only for being the first one home.

#3 Trainer (Last Week: 1)
We know this blog often makes it sound like an endless party down here. Not true. There are sometimes entire days when we don't even get out of bed. So far, Trainer is the poster boy for this lifestyle, which might not be such a good thing.

#4 Charlie (Last Week: 2)
Charlie follows one of the most exciting nights (we hear after hour activities included a cricket match in the bar), with one of the most useless next days. Oh, and finds out the hard way that in NZ, 'shoes off' doesn't keep you safe.

#5 Dunne (Last Week: 4)
Excited to be spending less time bouncing and more time tending, yet still plagued by late hours and Economist withdrawal. A trip to the gym will make everything better...if he can ever wake up in time to get there.

#6 Morgan (Last Week: 6)
Worked 11am-3am...with a stiff upper lip above the bar and an even stiffer gin/tonic below it. Referring to it as a 'spirited' performance doesn't improve his ranking this week, nor his wit.


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