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Jan. 3rd, 2009


Cappucci-NO GARRY NO

Back in 2007, my housemate Zak decided he was going to give up what he called 'The Big Three': McDonalds, Hungry Jacks and KFC. It wasn't a "resolution" so much, it was just a...thing. (Does anyone really call them "resolutions" anymore? Or do we all now have the superstition that giving them that title immediately renders them unachievable?) More like a year-long Lent.

He pulled it off with hardly any difficulty at all, so at the beginning of 2008 the rest of us decided to join in. I gave up 'The Big Three', Tammy gave up cheeses (she was a big fan of chowing down on a wheel of brie or camembert), and Zak gave up fries - on top of his already existing moratorium from 2007.

I fell off the wagon a total of five times in 2008. I had Hungry Jacks twice - both times while utterly, utterly depressed. I had McDonalds once - my hangover cure in Washington DC, and KFC once - I actually completely forgot about the embargo. All in all, I'm counting it as a light-to-moderate success.

So it continues in 2009. I'm going to attempt Zak's accumulative method, and this year am staying off The Big Three. As an addition, I'm also giving up coffee. I'm not sure I actually want to do it, but Tammy is giving up lollies, which is a massive call for her: so massive, in fact, that back when she was considering it, I stupidly said "holy shit, if you follow through with that, then I'll give up coffee." Well, the bitch followed through. Bitch.

I could probably do with a ban on coffee for a year. I do tend to have it an excessive amount, particularly when I'm bored. Luckily, since January 1st, I have had this ridiculous head cold/chest infection double team, so I've only been drinking tea anyway.

It occurs to me while writing this that I have no idea why I'm doing this to myself - banning things just for torture. I guess it's just To See If I Can - like that time I grew my hair out and spent the most of 2007 looking like a child actor from an 80s sitcom.

Jan. 2nd, 2009


Couldn't escape if I wanted to

Am I the only person on this plane of existence who just doesn't get Mamma Mia? (Those of you who hate all musicals as a rule are exempt from this question - and here's an alternative question: how does it feel being no bloody fun?) I really couldn't stand it. And I mean that literally: I had to turn it off after half an hour. Even the awesome Christine Baranski (whom I love), and the heavyweight of Meryl Streep (whom I don't 'love' as such, but on merit is also awesome) couldn't save it for me. I just...hated it.

Is it one of those musicals that you have to see on stage to fully appreciate? Or is a deep love for the music of ABBA a prerequisite? I mean, I can belt out CHICKEN TIK-KA YOU ARE MY BRO... with the best of them, and I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do is an earworm more times than I care to admit, but I wouldn't necessarily call myself a fan.

Maybe it's the plot. Daughter Finds Out Mother Was Slut. Can't Identify Father For Wedding Purposes. Hilarity Ensues. I mean, I'm sure most paternity cases are ideal fodder for a delightful romp, but still. I'm just saying.

All I know is I have to go watch The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Hairspray AND The Little Shop of Horrors just to get the taste out of my mouth.

Dec. 30th, 2008


At least I now have an excuse for the inevitable lack of a snog on NYE


It's been creeping up since I got home, but this sore throat has just hit its straps, it seems. It feels like I have attempted to swallow a Matchbox car. A Matchbox car that has shards of glass and bits of barbed wire glued all over it. A Matchbox car that has shards of glass and bits of barbed wire glued all over it, and was also set on fire just prior to my consumption. You get the idea.

So now I'm awake in the middle of the night again. The jetlag has seamlessly cross-faded into illness. Maybe once I get over this little bug I can develop some insomnia - then I need never sleep through the night again.

Dec. 29th, 2008


Sensory Scrapbook

The following will always be indelibly linked to my three weeks in New York, on account of their repetition, or significance, or in some cases, excess consumption:

Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
We spent a lot of time in cars, driving hither and thither, and this song was ALWAYS on. Seriously, always. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that there are entire radio stations in Westchester County that play nothing but Jason Mraz, The Veronicas' Untouched, and various AC/DC songs on loop. I'm not particularly fond of the song, there are far too many pauses - "But I.....won't...heh...suh......tate...no..........more...noooo...more..." (is he distracted? did someone let him take a PSP into the recording studio or something?), but I'm now compelled to sing the staccato hell out of that shit every time I hear it.

I know Americans call capsicums 'peppers', but what I didn't realise was some of them have never even heard the word 'capsicum'. The first time I said it, Danielle looked at me like I'd just spoken Welsh. A lot of time was then spent being the kind of arrogant foreigner who corrects the locals on their words, just for funsies. CAPSICUM. ALUMINIUM. BAY-CON. Fucking tourists.

Quotable Phrases from SNL, 30 Rock and Airplane/Flying High
We watched an excessive number of these, and sometimes we would have entire conversations consisting of nothing but nerdy-assed quotes:
"I want to go to there."
"You win. You always DO."
"Ruff? Just how your mother likes it!"
"Oversized hat. It's funny. It's funny because it's bigger than, ah, a regulat sized hat."
"I just want to let you know - good luck. We're all counting on you."
"We're the dahncerrrs."
"Ahahahahahahahahaha get out of here, you little bastard."
"I'm gonna distract you with some fancy pageant walkin'!"
"It's a simple question. Would you eat the moon if it was made out of ribs?"
"Bernard, it's hot in the worm!"
"Jim never has a second cup of coffee at home?"
"Supercalifragalisticexpealidocious...is a disease of the liver."
"Roll call...and Murray, yes. Present."
"I am born anew in your genius."
"Jim never vomits at home?"
"I am not alone in thinking that you make Gandhi look like a child pornographer."
"It's BORPO!"
"I found a dead cat on the side of the road so I took it home and put some honey on it and I cooked it and I ate it is that bad do-do-doo-doooo" (this is sung)
"Turd Ferguson. It's a funny name."
"Gimme Ape-Tit for 800."
"Headquarters, what is it? It's a big building with generals, but that's not important right now."
"We're warmed up like biscuits. Dance biscuits."
"What do you mean, you got no fucking chips? I come here on a plane, you CUNT."
"I once got a pair of binoculars and stared at the sun for an hour. I guess I'm curious like that. That's why my friends call me Whiskers!"
"I could make a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl that flies!"

Buffalo Wings
That stuff is magic. I want to eat them and make clothes out of them and have sex with them.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
The aim was to work that question into a conversation while making it sound like a genuine, thought-provoking question. Of course, as soon as you get to the word "wood" the whole thing is a dead giveaway, but you had to follow through with it as a serious question. "How much wood, do you think, a woodchuck would chuck - but consider this: only if the aforementioned woodchuck could, theoretically, chuck wood?" Hmm.

Beyonce - Single Ladies
Partly because the Justin Timberlake/Paul Rudd/Beyonce sketch on SNL was hilarious, partly because the film clip is strangely hypnotic, and partly because it's a major earworm; this song was never more than a few "WUH OH OH"s away. And then a bit of the dance.

Do you have any Clare Bowditch?
This was a private joke between John and James from their workplace that none of us ever really got, but it was just inane enough to seep into everyone's consciousness.

I have lived an hour's drive away from the skifields of NSW for four years now, and have not once been down for a ski or a board. I had to go to Hunter Mountain in New York to try it for the first time. And it was amazing. Without the help of Bobby, our proficient American companion, I'd still be face down in the snow today, except by now I'd be half eaten by black bears.

Do you have any hardcore trance?
John thought he was hilarious as I was flicking through my iPod. It's not even a funny or witty comment, but there you go - it was asked almost constantly from that moment on.

Remote controlled helicopters
Through bizarre coincidence, no less than three of the guys found themselves with those miniature helicopters as Secret Santa gifts on Christmas Day. I knew of one being given, and the reason it was chosen was the theory that any man of any age would love it. We were right.

Guitar Hero: World Tour
Oh holy mother of god, do I SUCK ASS at the drums on this game. Don't tell your American hosts that you can kick them up and down the street with The Living End's Prisoner of Society (they're Australian, of course I'll be awesome at it!), because that is a LIE.

It's amazing how one short holiday can hijack so many...things. Beyonce, Guitar Hero, random quotes - they all belong to the trip now.

Dec. 28th, 2008


Nearly Done

Tuesday December 23
- housebound for most of the day. There is a shopping expedition planned, but I've already had my share of laughs at Wal-Mart's expense.
- shovelling snow. It's up to the waist at the kitchen door, and we needed to dig paths from the doors to the hot-tub, the wood pile and the pool house. It is while digging the latter that we discover, behind the pool house, a suitably large and marvellous snow covered hill for sledding. How fortuitous, then, that we had just located four sleds (well, they looked more like garbage bin lids with handles) in a shed! We threw ourselves precariously down the hill on those insignificant slivers of plastic, and even managed to crack one of them.
- started the two day job of emptying, cleaning, and refilling the hot tub. Determined to get in that thing before the holiday's end.
- decided that the sledding wasn't enough - need to go back to Hunter Mountain for more snowboarding tomorrow.

Wednesday December 24
- Christmas Eve! But...what's this? Why is that snow falling so fast? And why is it not water coloured, not white? BECAUSE IT'S FUCKING RAIN. That's bad for snowboarding, because it's even colder, and the roads are wall to wall ice. Housebound again.
- Tried to upload photos, but got bored. Hung out in The Lodge, starting many games of Monopoly, and finishing none of them.
- Realised late in the afternoon that it wasn't even that cold outside. Turns out it was about 48 degrees (not celsius), and the rain was melting most of the snow away. Spent a little while outdoors on Christmas Eve in New York in a t-shirt. Weird.
- the Obenauers stick to their tradition, and provide us all with Christmas pyjamas. Those comfy tartan beauties would later serve me very well getting me home on the long haul flight from LAX to Sydney.

Thursday December 25 - MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
- Hooray! Up at 7am, ready for opening of presents by 7:30am. Jack is so cute, fully in the swing of opening presents at three years old. Can, weirdly enough, recognise all symbols and logos for various superheroes, despite some of them being mostly text-based.
- giant breakfast as a final hurrah, and then bidding farewell to everyone to be on the road by midday.

Thursday December 25 - Saturday December 27 (plus/minus time zones)
- 12pm - hit the road from Hunter Mountain.
- 3:15pm - arrive at Kennedy Airport. Totally bummed about leaving, cheer myself with a duty free purchase of Burberry something-or-other.
- 6:40pm - plane departs for LAX.
- five and a half hours later (I can't figure out the timezones) - arrive in LAX.
- two hours after that - depart LAX for Sydney.
- fourteen and a half hours later - land in Sydney. Was there a fucking headwind?
- four hours later - plane departs Sydney for Canberra.
- one hour later - plane arrives in Canberra. Small delay with landing - first attempt at a descent turned the cabin into a Pop-O-Matic Bubble. Bumpy!
- one more hour - arrive home. Tired, uncomfortable, utterly depressed about leaving, decide Australia is a fucking dump. Kidding.

And that, in a variety of nutshells, was my holiday in New York.


Dec. 27th, 2008


Home Stretch Dottage

Monday, December 22
- first morning at the Inn. Unbefuckinglievable. This place is awesome. Still as hard as ever to get people up and at 'em, but at least there is now at least one bathroom for, on average, every 1.5 people. Sweet.
- the major agenda point today? SNOWBOARDING. Hunter Mountain, the ski lodge, is only two minutes down the road, and a cheap hire store is between us and the slopes. Off we go.
- SNOWBOARDING IS THE MOST FUCKING FUN THING I HAVE EVER DONE. So embarrassed to be living so close to Thredbo, and have not once been there during ski season. That will change in 2009.
- playing 'Spot The Aussie' on the slopes is embarrassingly easy - they are the only five people on the whole mountain unprepared and stupid enough to just be wearing jeans. After about an hour, they have become the only five people wearing a 1cm thick armour plate of ice across our asses, with jeans underneath.
- upgraded from the bunny hill (no ski lift), to the lowest ski lift, to the second lowest ski lift. Result. Eventually face froze off and had to return to the Inn for some quality time in the deer head/leather lounge room.

Fuck me sideways, I'm so tired. I'm home now, after 34 hours (and a bit) of travel. Three hours drive from the Inn to JFK, three hours wait at JFK, five and a bit hours from JFK to LAX, two hours wait at LAX, 14 and a bit hours from LAX to Sydney, four hours wait at Sydney, and another hour to Canberra. Death. I thought I'd catch up on the last few days of dottage, but it's going to have to wait. I hope I don't forget any stuff that happened, thereby completely defeating the purpose of this whole exercise.

So, so tired.

(Donny, I am spewing that I missed you, but fear not - if the first trip back in '05 sent a clear message that I'll have to come back for a second trip one day, then this second trip has sent an even stronger message regarding a third trip. And a fourth. And fifth.)


Merry Christmas!

Dec. 24th, 2008

are you shitting me?

More Dottage - including the Great Inebriation of 08

Saturday, December 20 - Tophe's 28th Birthday!
- with four more guests in the house, it was suddenly a lot harder to mobilise 10 people, especially in a two bedroom apartment with only one bathroom. It was hilarious and fun, but slow going. It's 11am before anyone is ready to leave the house.
- off to the JV Mall for some extra Christmas shopping. Did you know that nobody in entire Westchester County of New York ever wants to know the time? Because that entire mall did not contain one single wall clock, which I needed for a gift. We had to go to Walmart (again, HAAAAA) to find one.

Birthday! aka The Great Inebriation of 08
- Danielle, John, James, Mike and I head into the city to meet Michelle, and then go for some catching up and heavy drinking with Lowie, a mate who now lives in Tribeca. He recommended The Patriot Saloon, the most hilarious and out of place dive bar you've ever seen. The music is exclusively country, and the barmaids get up on the bar and dance every time a song like 9 to 5 (or similar) comes on (for the record, Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire got no less than three plays during my time there).
- PBR is a feral, awful beer. But only TWO DOLLARS! Please sir, may I have another?
- Showed Molly, our barmaid, my license which had my DOB on it ("see? It's my birthday! What do I get??") and got a tequila shot for my efforts. The first of many. Those girls are quite free and easy with the shottage.
- Sarah and Justin rock up to partake in the festivities, and all is well until about 1:15am when we realise that the last train back to Croton leaves at 1:51am, and everyone needs to get their skates on. James and I, feeling quite hardened by our last drunken stint in DC, decide that we will MAN UP AND CATCH THE FIRST TRAIN IN THE MORNING WOO! and hang with Lowie instead. More PBRs, and Molly starts mixing some lemony tasting shots that I really can't remember anymore.
- 4am. Last call. Bar closes. Molly sends us on our way with a FUCKING JAEGERMEISTER SHOT. What a bitch. We stumble out the front door, Lowie heads home (five blocks away - bastard), while James and I spend the NEXT FOUR HOURS trying to get back to Croton. Admittedly, James put in more effort than me, because every time we stood still for longer than 18 seconds I fell asleep.
- First we walked to the train station on Chambers, which took us to 42nd St (Times Square). I have now thrown up there.
- Then we tried to find the shuttle which took us to Grand Central, but kept getting lost, and wandered around in the underground tunnels of New York for about a day and a half. I have now thrown up there.
- Finally found the shuttle, got to Grand Central, but that place is CLOSED. It doesn't open until 5:30am, so we hang out with about twenty other people (some shitfaced like us, and also some sensibly dressed, showered, and nice smelling people obviously off to work - awkward) until we are finally let into the terminal. I have now thrown up there.
- Get to the appropriate platform by 5:45am, but the first train to Croton doesn't leave until 6:20am. Time to sleep.
- On the train to Croton. I have now thrown up there - but it's okay, it was in a paper bag. Unfortunately, the bagel that James had bought me was also in the bag. Shame.
- At Croton-Harmon station by 7:30am. In the cab by 7:45am. In the front door by 8am. Bed. I think.

Sunday, December 21
Oh. My. God. Every part of my body is either shaking, pounding, whimpering or evacuating - sometimes a combination of all four. I can't sit up, I can't lie down, I can't curl up, I can't stretch out, I can't put my left leg in and shake it all about. Everyone is packing, getting ready to drive up to the Catskills for Christmas week at the Inn; while I spend seven hours shaking, squeaking and changing colours like one of those remote control shaped devices that tell you when your table/meal is ready in a restaurant.
- eventually I manage to pack - which consists of taking my suitcase and zipping it shut. RESULT.
- get in the car to drive up to Hunter Mountain. I brace myself for two and a bit hours of hell, and trying not to be that guy - the one who makes everyone pull over for an emergency yak. Unfortunately, some shoddy directions and fading daylight make for some wrong turns, and two and a bit hours becomes four. I am dying.
- we arrive!! 2124 on Route 269, Hunter Mountain. The place is amazing. Stupendous. Scrumptulescent. I even manage to bring my shaking and whimpering down to a light tremor and quiet hum. Ah.

If this entry gets much longer, even I'll be too bored by it to read it, so I may have to break it down into an instalment plan.

Dec. 20th, 2008



Tuesday December 16
- drove from Washington DC back to New York. Uneventful, except we managed to hit the George Washington Bridge in NYC right on peak hour, which added another 1.5 hours to our journey. But at least we've now done peak Manhattan traffic.
- more pizza for dinner. Fuck me sideways, that stuff is good.

Wednesday December 17
- stayed out in Croton-on-Hudson. Went to the local MALL. HA HA HA!
- had an issue at Subway with a language barrier. Apparently people who speak predominantly Spanish, while having a problem in general understanding English, have a HUGE problem understanding English with an Australian accent. Despite this, I managed to order a foot long spicy Italian sub on honey oat bread - but I came unstuck on the Coke:

Lupita (it was probably Lupita): To drink?
Me: A Coke.
Lupita: What?
Me: Coke.
Lupita: Sorry?
Me: A coke...a-cola.
Lupita: What?
D-Ray (it was probably D-Ray, it was some black dude in the queue behind me - I might be racial profiling?): He said a COKE, are you deaf, son?

Thank goodness for D-Ray.

Thursday December 18
- back into NYC. First made the trek all the way down to Chinatown for one purpose: Wo-Hop. The best Chinese restaurant on this plane of existence. Ridiculously cheap, ridiculously fast, ridiculously tasty, ridiculously large servings, and all encased in a ridiculously shoddy looking hole in the wall in a quiet off-street downtown. As good as ever.
- Staten Island Ferry. It's free! And you can take photos of the Statue of Liberty as you tootle past it! Photos that, unless you have a shit-hot lens, look tiny and meaningless! But the views (from your regular old eyeballs) are just spectacular.
- hovered around down town for the Bodies exhibit on Fulton. That new thing where they have actually taken real bodies and done something with resin and corrosion or something and can now display all the insides of people. Bones, muscle, organs, the nervous system - even the entire body's blood vessel layout - pretty amazing. I touched a brain.

Friday December 19
- snowed in! It looked completely dry in the morning - but by 11:30 the snow took over and, to steal a cliche, everything was covered in a blanket of white! Two attempts in a car made us quickly realise that it is not fun to drive sideways; and instead we walked to the nearby A&P for junk food and beer for a long day/night of staying in.
- waiting for the rest our Christmas group to arrive - but they were hugely delayed due to the snow storms. So we occupied ourselves with shovelling snow, and then having some hot chocolate and board games. Norman Rockwell, eat your fucking heart out.
- early birthday present!! My own clothes, giftwrapped and given back to me! Hilarious! (Still waiting on the real presents. Hmm.)

It's my birthday right now, hooray!!

Dec. 15th, 2008



Friday December 12
- drove to Washington DC. Well, passengered to Washington DC. Through New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland - including Baltimore which, wouldn't you know, looks exactly like the opening scene from Hairspray. I don't know what I was expecting, considering the movie is set in Baltimore and we were in Baltimore, but I was surprised nonetheless.
- discovered that Washington is very much like Canberra, in that while there may be buildings and apparent civilisation all around you, it could be hours before you find an actual shop or cafe of any use. The hotel is very nice, though.
- dinner at Fuddruckers. This is only worth mentioning because it is called Fuddruckers. FUDDRUCKERS. Turns out it is an actual place; not just a made up name from the movie Idiocracy (which is what I totally thought it was). We, of course, have been calling it "Buttfuckers" ever since, and even made a point of entering the establishment via the exit (it seemed appropriate).
- seeing as the hotel has a gym, I decided to buy a pair of shorts to exercise in. A great idea, yes? As of Monday afternoon, I have not set foot in the place. But they are very nice shorts.
- tried to go out for a drink in the town. Tried. About 48 seconds after we got off the train, the 'Verizon Center' flung its doors open, and 239847295723047 people filed out, after having just watched an ice hockey game. EVERY pub, EVERY bar, EVERY restaurant, packed to the gills. We wandered around for an hour before giving up and heading to Starbucks for a hot chocolate. What happened next gets its own dot point:
- WHAT THE FUCK IS A SALTED CARAMEL SIGNATURE HOT CHOCOLATE?? Because that is what I got, even though I didn't order it. I tasted it, and it is everything it says on the label. It tasted like salted caramel ass.

Saturday December 13
- the National Air and Space Museum. TCs John and James were wide eyed with wonder - this was, after all, the main reason we'd all gone to Washington in the first place, so they could get their aeronautical nerd on. Mum, Danielle and I had covered the entire place before they were even half way - apparently they were reading everything. Who does that? I don't go to museums to learn, I go to touch all the interactive stuff and ignore the rest.
- the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Paintings and shit. All very cool. Except when some cat's-bum faced old slag leaned in too close to a bust of Ulysses S. Grant and set off a little warning alarm, and then shot ME a dirty look. I pointed at Grant, pointed at her stupid fat head, and then flounced off to the next exhibit. I'm fucking hardcore.
- drink attempt #2. Hoping that there were no major sporting events on that night, which there were not. This helped facilitate much drinking, which ended with me being THE WORLD'S BEST WINGMAN EVER. Not only did I help TC James get his pash on with one of three lovely ladies (it was my job to keep jovial conversation going with Katie and Alexis - Courtney was James' target), I then half dragged, half carried him back to the hotel without getting any of our personal effects lost or stolen. According to my camera, however, we did stop half way to get some (truly awful) photos of the Washington Monument.

Sunday December 14
- HUNGOVER. James and I were hungover so bad we gave John and Danielle sympathy hangovers. Finally made it out of the hotel about lunchtime, and holy frijole, I've never had such fine tasting McDonalds in all my life. The pleasantness of the taste was directly proportionate to the severity of the hangover, I know - but it is almost worth getting that sick just to experience that first bite of double quarter pounder. If crack is half that good, then no wonder Robert Downey Jr had so much trouble cleaning up.
- took on the major monuments of DC on foot. Capitol Hill to the Washington Monument (which I have, every single time so far, written as "momumemt") to the Lincoln Memorial to the White House and back again. My legs hate me now. I think my feet have actually frayed a little. But it was worth it for the photos - at least, the photos I got of the first two momumemts (fuck it) because then my camera battery went flat.

Monday December 15
- have pretty much wasted the day so far. But that's okay, I'm on holiday. The plan is to go to the Smithsonian National History Museum soon - but there are many repeats of Scrubs and Family Guy on TBS. And yet more medical commercials with side effect warnings (anal leakage, amnesia and sleepwalking are the three most recent and hilarious).
- also did some washing, which is unexciting, except it sets me up for this amazing joke: I did a TON of WASHING in WASHINGTON. HA HA HA! *High five*

I'm sure these dot points are mindnumbingly dull (especially when nothing exciting happens), but I need to write it all down or I'll forget it. John keeps reminding me of stuff from our last trip to New York, and the conversations always end up like this:

John: Remember when we were here last and we bought a giraffe/found Jesus in our toast/killed a man with a trident/etc?
Me: No?
John: Really? We totally bought a giraffe/found Jesus in our toast/killed a man with a trident/etc!
Me: We did? Oh. That sounds like it was fun! I wish I'd been there...

Hence my laborious dot pointing.

Dec. 14th, 2008

what the frick

Nearly Struck Oil

In Washington DC. Too hungover to give a dot point update at this point (dot?) - but I would really like the dude about ten feet away, who sounds like he's digging for clams in his throat, to either get it up already, or leave it where it is.

Oh, it was a hobo/lush/terrorist/Amy Winehouse of some sort, trying to get access to the hotel. There was a lot of swearing, and a scuffle, and I'm really glad this "hotel courtesy business centre" is accessable by keycard only.

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