Thursday, July 31, 2008

Money, Cash, Hoes

This is purely a post to gloat about the fact that I went and got my taxes done the other day, and while hoping for a return around the 5k mark, it actually came in at about $7,000. I tried to conceal my glee from the accountant who gave me this fortuitous news, however I have never come so close to dry humping someone whose name I couldn't have remembered with a gun to my head.*

It doesn't actually leave me with a ton of cash to play with, but at least it spares me the image of myself begging for spare change in the office so that I can afford lunch when I get back from my month-long vacation..

*This statement is an absolute lie.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shut Up And Die

Okay, I think I need to make a confession. One that may make me somewhat unpopular here on the interweb. But I have to say it -- I can't stand Rihanna. That's right -- despite the fact that the entire world has been sucking at her teet for every single bit of pop crap that might dribble out, I just want to punch her in the face.

This confession was so much harder to publish after being intimidated a few weeks back by Cristin's "Ode To Rihanna", as I like to call it. That is easily one of my least favorite Rihanna songs (I have tried several times to listen to it the whole way through and simply can't do it) and yet there it is, at the top of the charts, along with everything else she even farts on.

I even had so much trouble attempting to find a truly bad picture of this girl that I had to settle for a doctored one that mocks a facial flaw so obvious (her "fivehead") that it seems pointless to even mention it. Either there is a team of chimps that has been trained by DefJam Records to constantly prowl the internet for unattractive photos of Rihanna and somehow remove them, or she actually looks that good all the time. How irritating.

I didn't always harbour such a dislike for her -- I absolutely loved "Pon De Replay", her first song, even when it seemed like it was destined to be a one-hit wonder. And anyone who claims they didn't think "S.O.S. (Rescue Me)" was a fantastic party song is most likely a terrible liar, and at least this I know Cristin would probably agree with.

But then came a few painful songs, including the absolutely awful "Unfaithful". I generally think that any song I know I could improve upon must be complete crap, and the vocals a recording of someone murdering an old cat. And most importantly, I saw Rihanna in concert -- for someone who was just establishing herself as an artist, I was pretty sure she could have made a little more of an effort to a) sing live and b) at least PRETEND to be somewhat humble, a.k.a. not look at everyone around her, including the audience, like we were a stale collection of turds.

I also think everything from this new album is kind of generic crap, including "Umbrella" (annoying), "Shut Up And Drive" (painfully stupid), "Take A Bow" (whiny), and that song with Ne-Yo which sounds like every other song that Ne-Yo has ever done. I almost wanted to like "Don't Stop The Music", and might have succeeded if it weren't for the already unoriginal and overused "mama say mama sa mama coo sa" which makes me want to slap various songwriters silly.

And so, you can imagine my annoyance this week when I realized that I might genuinely like her new one "Disturbia". I still have no idea what she's talking about and I'm afraid to look up the lyrics in fear of suddenly hating it, but it now resides on my current iPod playlist, and will remain there until I either get tired of it or find a reason to despise it along with everything else she's done lately.

Rant over.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Half The Man I Used To Be

This weekend was really just another reminder of how old I'm getting.

I made sure to take Thursday night off from drinking, as I knew I had a lot going on Friday and Saturday.

Friday night I started drinking in the office, per usual, and then went to dinner with my colleagues before a bunch of us headed to a small agency party with both free beer and an intimate acoustic performance from Faker, who is currently one of the more popular Aussie bands on the charts.

Not one to be starstruck, I generally talked and acted like a dick throughout the entire set. This included a clapping competition with a coworker, arguing with the coworker over if the lead singer was checking me or him out (most of the band is gay), and when they got ready to perform their biggest hit and everyone else clapped and cheered, I decided to yell out "NEVER HEARD OF IT!" even though it had been stuck in my head all day.

This was followed by drinks at a bar and then dancing at a club, where around 2am I decided 10 hours of drinking was just about enough, and I grabbed some pizza and headed home.

And thus, I ended up feeling absolutely horrible on Saturday morning, but had already committed to start drinking at lunch. I lasted around 10 hours, but come midnight at my former flatmate's 30th, I hit a wall (no, not literally) and couldn't even imagine drinking more beer or even having to talk to my friends anymore, and I went home.

This just reminds me of the days when we were all 22 and could party all night and then go to work with barely any sleep and look and feel pretty close to fine. Now I can't even go to 2am without whining about it for 3 days. Somebody euthanize me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Must Be Funny, In A Rich Man's World

I had hoped to have a relatively quiet weekend, but I suppose it goes without saying that I didn't manage to do anything of the sort. There was one birthday and 4 bars on Friday night (according to reliable sources), a dinner party and then birthday drinks on Saturday night, and more birthday drinks on Sunday.

As I walked home on Sunday, I felt like I finally had just a glimmer of understanding of how a fat person's mind must work. Despite telling myself that once Belle left Australia, I was going to go on a financial diet, I either found excuses to spend unnecessarily, or simply got too drunk to care. And there's the feeling that once you've started, you may as well keep going. Minus some $400 later, all I was left with was the shame and disgust. With the prospect of 3 more friends celebrating their birthdays this weekend (clearly October is a popular time for old people to decide they want babies), I doubt my ATM card will go unused for more than a few hours at a time.

I've never been one to be overly concerned with money. There always seems to be enough there, and although I haven't checked it since I moved to Australia, I imagine that my credit rating is close to perfect.

However, the last few months have been excessive, even for me. I was spending large for the first half of the year, even though I managed to avoid international travel until June, which is usually where most of my money seems to go.

And then, it was June. Between airfare, shopping, drinking, eating, taxis, and whatever else, I imagine that I spent around $4000 on 10 days in NYC. A couple of weeks later, Belle arrived in Sydney, and apart from taking her to some of my favorite bars and restaurants in a desperate (but successful) attempt to impress her with Sydney, we also took a few days to fly up to Port Douglas, which would have cost me another $1500 or so.

In what I wish was my last act of idiotic spending for the year, I spent almost $4500 on a round-the-world ticket for 4 weeks in September, two of which I am required to take without pay. And over the next couple of weeks I will have to buy one more flight, plus 4 sets of train tickets. This doesn't include the hotels for Sri Lanka and India, the car rental in the UK, and of course all of the shopping, eating, and drinking in all 6 or so countries I currently plan to visit. It's safe to say that I will be returning from this trip completely destitute and unable to carry on my life in any recognizable fashion.

Fortunately, fate has stepped in and given me a few helping hands. Earlier this month, I received a check for about $600 from my insurance company, because they've been purchased by some other company. I don't really understand how that entitles me to anything, but I was happy to deposit it into my account.

And then a few days ago, I actually received a $300 stimulus check from the US government, despite the fact that I haven't lived there for almost 3 years now, and haven't paid any tax as a result.

Combined with my recent raise and a hopefully similar Australian tax refund to last year of around $5000 or so, I can only pray that I can keep my head above water long enough to learn how to budget starting some time in October.

In the meantime...can you help a brotha out? (PayPal account for donations will be set up shortly.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's Never Too Late...

I absolutely love to read. Unfortunately, it also takes me an extraordinarily long time to read any book.

I have plenty of excuses for this. I'm not actually a slow reader by any means, however the amount of time I manage to devote to reading is embarrassingly tiny. If I'm at home, I find it hard to sit down and read a book when the TV and internet are right there, and I often try to read a bit before I fall asleep at night, but I generally last about 2 paragraphs before I can literally do nothing to keep my eyes open any longer.

This means that the only time I read is on the bus. And only in the mornings, because my brain tends to shut down around 4pm and becomes available exclusively for insulting people and talking about myself (and then only with constant infusions of cheap Australian beer). To add to the pressure of completing an actual book, I also have to read my Time magazine each week. And so, this person who "loves to read" ends up spending 30 minutes a week reading, at most. (The actual amount of time reading might actually be less considering I have an unstoppable need to check out and evaluate each and every person who gets on the bus, rather blatantly as well.)

Given all of the above, I should have foreseen issues when I started to read The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. Even if the book wasn't heading for 700 pages long with tiny font, I had been told by several people that it was "such a good book, but the first 500 pages are kinda boring".

I started reading this book in April. So when I found myself still trying to make my way through the same book in early July, I started to get a very real complex about the people on my bus route actually thinking I was mentally disabled. Granted, I'm pretty sure most of them seem to be satisfied with staring at a pole each and every morning, and have probably never even attempted to read anything more complex than Famous Weekly, but that did nothing to make me feel better.

And so, the reason for this rambling blog post is that I am oh so proud to announce that after a concerted effort during my few days in Port Douglas, I have actually finished The Blind Assassin. At this point I don't even care if it was good (I suppose I found it entertaining overall, although I had determined all of the supposed "twists" when I was still in the first boring 500 pages), but it's no longer my mark of shame in the mornings and I'm not sure any words can describe my sense of relief.

As a mental break, I've now started reading the latest from David Sedaris, which I am sure I will not only find amusing, but will probably be a very light effort in the reading department. Now I only have to worry about laughing to myself at 8am in the morning, and I will take insane over retarded any day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Really, He's Just Another Creepy Guy In A Hat

I am thoroughly annoyed these last few days, mostly due to the "celebration" of World Youth Day here in Sydney all week. I use quotes around "celebration" because I'm not sure how appropriate that word is for what has to be the most unappealing and boring half million people that have ever descended on what should otherwise be a raucous and drunken city.

Tuesday was pretty painful, with so many Catholic pilgrims walking down the street outside my office that I was actually concerned I might snap and tackle several of them to the ground. It's not their religion or faith that bothers me so much. And I haven't loved the constant singing and religious chanting, but that hasn't been the clincher either. It's surprisingly been the absolutely awful way each and every one of them is dressed. Seriously people, you haven't seen this many pairs of tapered jeans since the early 90's, and paired with the hideous orange, red and yellow backpack they've all been equipped with, it's all just a little too much for my only somewhat fashion conscious eyes.

And so, since today is when the Pope himself will be getting off a ferry and walking down the street right outside my building, while all 500,000 of these asshole groupies follow him all afternoon, I have opted to "work from home". As of 1.37pm today, this has consisted of getting out of bed late, going for a long swim, sitting in the sauna for a bit, and then splitting my time between eating and cleaning my apartment. My company definitely got its money's worth today.

Now I'm off to a boozy lunch with a colleague who has found herself in a similar situation, but if I'm home before my dinner plans this evening, maybe I will use all this free time to post again on my somewhat neglected blog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Life How It Should Be

The weekend in Port Douglas was pretty much perfect. As much fun as New York was, there was pretty much nothing truly relaxing about my time there, so a weekend of minimal partying was just what I needed.

After arriving there late Thursday night, we spent Friday morning on the beach, before heading into town for some food and then drinking ourselves silly all afternoon. My big mistake there was not taking into account the fact that Belle a) isn't used to Australian style drinking and b) is about 3 feet tall. By 7pm she was too drunk to make sense of anything going on around us, and we had to grab her a coffee and head back to the hotel room, where she passed out by 8pm.

Saturday was spent on the reef where we snorkeled, ate tons of food, and made a few friends, including a chick from London who lives in Sydney. She joined us for dinner and drinks that night (along with a friend of mine who happened to be in town) but we managed to keep things civilized.

On Sunday we'd had a mild inclination to head to the rainforest nearby, but it essentially came down to choosing between that or a couple of hours at a spa getting massages and facials. I'll let you guess which option won out.

So now I'm back in Sydney with even less motivation than I had last week, which I didn't think was possible. I'm also in the process of booking my next vacation, which will involve being in 8 countries on 4 continents over the course of 4 weeks. Because why do anything half-assed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yes, Another One

That's right, despite just getting back from NYC around 2 weeks ago, I'm going on another vacation -- flying up to Port Douglas this evening with Belle, who is visiting from LA.

Not that I've been blogging with abandon lately, but at least this time I have a valid excuse. See you in a few days.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Huh? "Dignity"? What?

I knew the weekend wouldn't be particularly respectable when I had this MSN conversation with a my work friend at 3pm:

Coworker: i'm bored

Zander: same...i'm officially not doing anything work-related until monday

Coworker: pub?

Zander: pub.

Needless to say, we were both drunk for the 4.30pm Friday meeting (where we drank more) and in fine form by the time we finished up at another bar around 8ish. Fortunately, it still ended up being a quiet-ish night.

Saturday, not so much. I started at 1pm at a lawn bowls birthday party, stopped into a bar for a couple of hours with some other friends, and ended up at The Retro from 8pm onwards for a friend's farewell bash.

The Retro is one of those ridiculously tacky places that plays 80's and 90's music (or basically, anything you should be embarrassed to love), so I spent the whole day beforehand telling everyone how I was totally just going to stop in to show face and then leave as soon as possible. Naturally, I ended up singing and dancing along for hours, have absolutely no recollection of how or when I got home (although the time I can figure out from all of the unintelligible text messages I apparently sent), and woke up still drunk and wearing a glowstick band around my wrist.

The photos have begun to surface on Facebook, so I may as well share one here before retreating into myself for a few days before the stench of shame has faded:

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Easily my favorite moment from all of Saturday night was around halfway through, when I looked up and saw my coworker Chrissy dancing on the stage, across the ballroom. I took off my glittery silver hat and waved it in the air to get her attention.

Upon seeing me, she waved back, clearly excited...and then dropped out of view. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in a room full of 2,000 of our colleagues, she fell off the stage.

At first I was a bit shocked and concerned, and headed straight over to where she would have fallen. Not seeing here there, I went to our table, where she was sitting at a chair while another team member asked if she was okay. She was a bit bruised, but mostly fine, not including the fact that one of the straps on her dress had completely broken when she apparently fell right into the middle of a circle of people dancing.

And so, I did what any concerned manager would do in that situation -- I literally fell down on the floor and laughed until I cried. All while she sat there glaring at me. Later on, after she'd recovered a bit, she said to me "Zander, of all the people who could possibly have seen that happen to me, you definitely would have been my last choice. I hate you."

She totally meant that in an endearing way, though.

While you ponder if I'm deluding myself or not, here are the pictures from Saturday night.