Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's The Monastery Life For Me

Apologies for going quiet, but my weekend was uncharacteristically subdued. This is mostly because I organized Thursday drinks which turned into me staggering home around 1am and needing several days to fully recover.

The apparent highlight of the night (which I don't remember but was recounted to me over drinks last night) was me being introduced to a friend's colleague and pulling on his curly hair and asking if he was "Jewish or something". Nice.

I even managed a couple of hours at a day spa for a massage and facial to top it all off, since I foresee some very messy weekends ahead, in part because the 4-day Easter Weekend is coming up, and it's what Jesus would have wanted.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bipolar Advertising

When I changed the template on my blog, the Google ads down the side of the page seemed to have vanished, which was upsetting. Not because I make any real money off of these ads (I seriously make about $0.01 each time someone clicks on one of those) but I find it highly entertaining to see what Google thinks are appropriate ads based on the content of my recent posts.

So imagine my delight when I looked at my blog the other day and the ads were back. Especially because these were the first two listings:

Apparently Google isn't too concerned about mixed messages. Nice work, team.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fine, Don't Show Up

Although I've been on Facebook for almost 2 years now, I'm still adjusting to various elements of Facebook etiquette. Being who I am, I have no real qualms about deleting a "friend" or 20 at a time, and I often use my status updates to tell people what losers they are. Consider it a public service announcement.

The one thing that continues to get my goat (I'm trying to bring that one back) is events on Facebook. I love the idea that a site that so many people use can be an invite list management tool, but it seems that not everyone got the memo on "How Not To Be Rude, Even If We Are Online". At least back in the days of evite, which was used pretty widely in the US but never took off in Australia, you had total control over the guest list to the extent that I could move people from the "Not Replied" column to "Attending", since I knew they were rude lazy shits that would claim to be too busy to click once on a page they were already looking at.

Alas, in these new days, one simply has to adapt to the following code:

Attending = Possibly, if nothing better comes up
Maybe Attending = I hope you consider this my attempt to come to your event, even though I put zero actual effort into it
Not Attending (with a comment on the wall) = I actually would like to come, but whatever, I'm not
Not Attending (without a comment on the wall) = Oh, are we still friends on this thing? Need to remember to do something about that

And more often that not, the people who actually do show up never bothered replying because they couldn't be bothered.

The reason this bothers me is not because of actual numbers who may or may not attend my events, it's because it makes me look unpopular. Case in point - a day and a half ago I sent a somewhat last minute invite for drinks this evening after work because Miss Chong is in town for a few days and I thought it would be good to introduce her to a few people and have a night out. The numbers?

Attending: 9 (sadly, that includes myself)
Maybe Attending: 17
Not Attending: 4
Not Yet Replied: 70 (including the guest of honor herself, plus at least 8 people who have told me in person or via email that they are coming, but apparently couldn't grasp the concept of an RSVP)

Which makes me think that I might have to go back to email-only invites to events until Facebook lets me play God the way evite did. I am a small, petty man. Awesome.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"You Need A New Liver."

I was reading a recent NYTimes article (actually it is billed as a "blog" which annoys me because I don't see how it's different from one of their articles other than the comments and some marginally different font and page formatting, but I digress) about how we choose drinks based on what we want people to think of us. No huge revelations there, but I still found it an interesting read.

Of course it led me to think about what my drink selections say about me. When I was in New York, my drink of choice was a vodka tonic, both because I liked the taste and also because it was something I'd picked up from my mother. I also thought it seemed a bit classier than drinking a beer, which I associated with poor people and the uncultured. Wine was something that I drank with dinner, but wasn't socially acceptable to be ordered anywhere else.

Moving to Sydney changed all that. Australia (along with other countries like the UK and Ireland, where binge drinking is essentially the norm and a bit of a public hazard) requires that one serve of hard alcohol is equal to one regular shot glass, or 30ml. Considering how much vodka a NYC bartender would normally pour into a vodka tonic, this meant that even ordering a double and paying twice as much left me wondering if I had just been duped into paying for a glass of tonic.

And so, I generally stick to beer and wine. Australian beers are a little bit awesome, especially when compared to the chilled frothy urine that passes for the American version. If I find myself in most places that I would class as a "pub", there's no question that I will order beer. I can actually think of certain pubs I go to on a regular basis that I have never ordered anything other than beer. This is possibly in the fear of anyone in the bar thinking I'm not a real man, which is hilarious considering how many other reasons they would have to think that. But alcohol, much like love, defies logic.

However any trip to somewhere with a nicer atmosphere means that I will lean towards ordering a decent bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, ideally with a friend, as the looks that come along with asking for a bottle and one glass generally aren't kind. I imagine that being specific about my choice of wine makes me seem more worldly than the fatass next to me asking for a $3 schooner of beer, which is also ironic considering that wine gets me drunk and beligerent so much faster and results in many more broken glasses and hurt feelings.

The one other choice that happens literally a handful of times a year is a Smirnoff Black (a.k.a. Smirnoff Blackout) which might seem like a girly drink at first glance, but essentially says that I've decided I have no issues with not remembering anything that has happened or will happen within 3 hours in either direction of that first sip. Because really, you have to save the good stuff for special occasions.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I went out briefly on Saturday night after a nice, quiet day at home. Killed a 6 pack of beer at a friend's place and then headed out to a club to say hi to a few others.

At one point a photographer walked up and quickly snapped a photo of me and a couple of friends, and feeling a bit feisty, I decided to yell at him as he walked away. I believe it was something along the lines of "I'm so sick of you paparazzi following me around! Can't I just have some privacy! I'm a person too! LEAVE. ZANDER. ALONE!!!"

My friends (who I should more accurately refer to as acquaintances, or perhaps former acquaintances now) were sufficiently horrified. This is why I don't get invited out more often.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Probably should have known last night was going to be material for embarrassment in the morning when I was drunk and had broken the seal before I'd even left the office at 5.30pm.

Things that just did not need to happen included:
  • Me and the Hickster jumping in a taxi to go meet a friend and then both completely blanking on which bar we were supposed to go to, followed by the Hickster asking the taxi driver to list every bar in Kings Cross he could think of in the hopes that one of them might ring a bell. WTF.
  • Being introduced to a colleague of a friend who I assumed was a lesbian, and upon being corrected that she is not actually a lesbian, asking her "Oh, so is this just a phase?"
  • Running into an acquaintance I haven't seen in about a year, finding out he just went through a breakup a week ago, and then giving him breakup advice.

And to think that was all accomplished by 11pm. That's efficiency for you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

If You Have To Ask...

The other day I went on a bit of a rant (you know, for something different), this time about how ridiculously enraged I get when someone asks me "So, are you ever moving back to the US?"

For reasons that I have yet to fully understand, that question is insanely annoying to me. My main gripe with it is that it's just a really, really dumb question. It's essentially the equivalent of asking a single person "So, are you ever getting married?"

People, come on. How on earth could I possibly know how the rest of my life is going to play out, unless you lend me your functioning crystal ball moments before asking me that question? I might move back to the US. I might stay in Australia. I might move to Paris. I might do some mix of all of those, plus a few others. I really have no idea, and I don't have some silly five or ten plan in place, considering anyone who has one of those and makes it public generally looks like a jackass in five to ten years unless their "plan" involved something painfully mundane like "getting married and having kids", which pretty much anyone can do as long as they throw all their other far more interesting life plans down the shitter.

Perhaps I'm assuming the worst when someone asks me that question, but I just find it incredibly presumptuous. A more carefully worded "Do you ever think you might want to move back to the US?" is possibly a little more acceptable, although just as hypothetical. I think a "So, how's Australia?" is general enough to seem like you have a more sincere interest in my life, while also standing a pretty good chance of giving you my view on if I'm thinking I might spend much more time here.

Overall, I agree it's likely that I'm being overly sensitive, and people are probably just making small talk and that's one of the more obvious things to ask me considering they haven't seen me in years and don't actually know anything about my life beyond the fact that I now live in Australia. And so, I have agreed that going forward anyone who asks me this question is simply going to get a response of "Next Tuesday" without any further explanation, and we'll see how that goes down. Dumbasses.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Still Drunk Hall of Fame - Lady Gaga

I made my first 'Hall of Fame' post over 4 years ago with the intention of doing one every few months to highlight awesome drunk celebrities. Unfortunately, many drunk famous people are simply not so awesome, and generally come off as kind of creepy and depressing (e.g. Amy Winehouse), so there's been less than one of these a year.

However, I am proud to bestow the latest admission to this esteemed group of dumbasses to none other than Lady Gaga. Over the last few months, as she has topped charts around the world, she has started showing up in photos on almost a weekly basis where she is stumbling out of clubs, or even better, being carried out by her bodyguards.

Now in the interests of full disclosure, I pretty much worshipped this chick from the moment I heard her first single open with the lyrics "I've had a little bit too much..." -- clearly this would be someone I can relate to. And considering her newest song has her telling some dude that she "wants to take a ride on [his] disco stick", I'm pretty sure she's my version of Jesus.

However I think we can all love someone who not only sings about getting drunk, having sex, and partying all night and day, but clearly lives by these things as the pillars of her life and reason for being. And we should probably consider the fact that she walks around dressed in what looks like bedazzled underwear as a bonus.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Nevermind, I'm Just Awesome (Relatively Speaking)

I would like to immediately retract all of my statements in my last post about being a sad old man because I am planning my 30th birthday party 9 months in advance.

The about-face is because last night I got home (from my 4th night of drinking in a row, but that's another blog post) and received a birthday invitation for the 30th birthday picnic of a former high school friend who now lives in D.C., which included the following line:

"If you want to bring food to share, I would appreciate it being vegan."

And so, my comments:
  • Have you ever received an invite asking that all the food brought to a picnic or pot luck dinner be "appropriate for omnivores"? There's a reason for that. It's rude and self-centered, considering the vast majority of invitees are likely to be normal. Get over yourself, and bring your own cardboard to munch on if you're going to be difficult.
  • This is why no one likes vegans.
  • Who throws a picnic for their 30th? Picnics are for sunny Sundays, or when your children turn 6. Be a little more creative.
  • You've invited 250 people to your birthday picnic. I will be impressed if more than 4 show up after reading your request for vegan food, mostly because non-vegans generally find it hard to figure out what weird restrictions there are in vegan diets and after looking it up probably won't be enthused about attending an event where everyone is determined to eat only lentils and tree bark.
  • While I'm fortunate enough to have "I live in Australia" as an excuse, I would be more than ready to think of a few good ones if I lived anywhere near D.C., or even in the actual park that you are throwing this painful-sounding event.

The major positive of all this includes that I can at least feel comfort in the fact that my 30th birthday won't suck as much as this one, as I imagine 9 months of planning should at least result in something marginally better than a vegan picnic.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pathetic Old Man

There's little out there that has made me realize what a loser I am more than the fact that, 9 months in advance, I've started planning my 30th birthday party.

And so, with 267 days to spare before that momentous occasion rolls around, I have considered different venues (originally wanted a harbour cruise, but decided the logistics and cost were all a bit much), discussed my options with the event staff (I want my own DJ and catering for the first 2 hours), created A and B invite lists (I wouldn't actually notice if anyone on the B list wasn't there), and started to think about what I'm going to wear.

I'm not sure why I'm so ridiculously excited about this, apart from the obvious fact that I love anything that is all about me. Although when you think about it my 30th birthday is probably the only really huge party I will get to throw for myself for quite some time, especially considering I certainly don't plan on getting married unless it becomes some sort of global mandate, with noncompliance being punished with unending and repeated viewings of MTV reality shows or something equally likely to inspire depression and suicide.

And so, I feel rather justified in my exuberance, even if it means that I have made the planning of this party a priority over other possibly relevant things like figuring out what hotels I will be staying at in cities around South America in May, consoling friends who are living through various life traumas at the moment, and so many work related items that I won't list any here because I don't want anything to distract me from the big THREE-O.

It's become so much of a focal point that I think my friends and family might want to start preparing for the fallout when I wake up the day after my birthday and realize I have nothing left to live for. At least not for another 10 years.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hooked On Chingrish

I got another one of those Engrish emails today, and while most of it is the usual immigrant hilarity, I am determined that I will own this shirt in the near future:

(This riveting update on my life is brought to you by a very boring Thursday afternoon.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Best Spam Ever?

I've always been a fan of creative junk mail, it's always interesting to see what subject line the email hackers in Russia believe will make millions of stupid Americans open and click.

However I have to wonder what the target audience is when I open my junk mail folder as I did just now and see the subject "Virgin Credit Card in ass".

I mean, I have a Virgin Money credit card, but somehow I'm guessing this isn't an official email from my financial institution. And I'm not quite sure there's value in combining financial products with porn. Nonetheless, I would LOVE to see the click rates on that one. If it's successful, I'm looking forward to "Stick your huge c0ck into super low mortgage rates!"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Window To A Messy Past

This past week was like I had suddenly decided to revisit my life about 3 years ago. Between a few visitors being in town and the run up to Mardi Gras, it was just a drunken mess.

Tuesday was my biggest schoolnight out in months, and on Wednesday I suffered indeed, but still managed to drag myself out for a few quick drinks after work. Friday and Saturday each involved between 6 and 9 hours of partying, and now that it's all over I wouldn't mind a few weeks of sitting at home knitting, or something equally old and lame.

Work has also gotten ridiculously quiet for the past week or so, which has been awesome despite the inevitable worries that if it gets too quiet I will be another statistic. My list of things I managed to do last week included my US taxes, showing up between 10 and 11 in the morning every single day, and planning out my partying schedule for the week.

This week isn't looking much more exciting, and between my allergies and my very empty calendar for tomorrow, I'm considering a well-deserved and overdue sick day at the beach. Don't be hatin'.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Name Envy

I was reading a New York Times article the other day where they casually quoted a woman named "Autumn Boomgarden", and I developed some serious name envy because I thought it was awesome. Sounds like someone destined to be a pop star (or a stripper) and I was amazed that she had somehow escaped fate and ended up as the head of a customer service team.

It reminded me of the time I worked with a hefty black woman named Robin Hood. Yeah, seriously. And the Hickster claims she has an ex-boyfriend named BJ Blowes, and her friend had a boyfriend named Guy Feeler. There are a lot of cruel parents in the world.

As for the one below, I am making the assumption that the guy gave the news station a fake name, for the love of god.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sounds Fair To Me

I just read an article (accompanied by this photo, which was the last thing I needed to see right when I'm deciding what to get for lunch) about a woman who called 911 three times because she paid for McNuggets at McDonald's and was then told that they were all out.

While I may not have called 911 (and certainly not three times), I can tell you that if I had been in the same situation, there would have been a scene, and I would have essentially forced the McManager to drive to the nearest other McDonald's and get me my fucking McNuggets. You don't screw around with my processed "chicken", damnit.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


I somehow managed to forget the best conversation I had while working on Saturday afternoon, this one with a guy who was clearly already drugged out of his mind at 3pm.

Me: Here's your wristband -- have a good time!

Crackhead: OH MY GOD.

Me: Uh...what?

Crackhead: WHERE are you FROM?

Me: Um, New York.

Crackhead: HOLY SHIT!

Me: Enjoy yourself, bye!

Crackhead: Wait, wait...do you know...that...that THING?!

Me: Not sure where you're going with this...

Crackhead: Oh you know...that thing...oh, oh...CLOVERFIELD?!

Me: Hmm, yes, I saw the movie.

Crackhead: Wow.

Me: Yeah. Totally.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Advice to Upcoming Young Wristbanders of the World

As a favor to a friend, I ended up working on Saturday afternoon. Specifically, I was standing at the entrance to a massive music festival putting paper-plastic wristbands on people as they walked in. Yes, seriously.

It wasn't all bad. I was paid some small sum of money (something like $25/hour), and allowed free entry (to an event that costs around $150) at 6pm after I was done working. More importantly, I learned some very valuable lessons about wristbanding that I can now share with the general population. Take note:

  • Wristbanding is one of those activities that looks deceptively easy when you see someone else do it, but let me tell you it is harder than it looks. There are so many complex nuances about a wristbanding transaction -- the approach from either party, the size of their wrist, if the wristbandee is holding things, etc. -- that can mean epic wristbanding failure should something go even slightly wrong. They should make this a special certification subject.
  • I decided early on that I would attempt to say something friendly and conversational to as many people as I could, and I kept it up for most of my shift. However, I have a newfound respect for friendly staff, as it was utterly exhausting. Having said that, being a miserable shit seems even worse, so I am confident I made the right choice, and recommend you do the same.
  • Making 3-second conversation with what must have been over a thousand people consecutively within one afternoon is not easy. You end up figuring out a few catch phrases and using them often, e.g. "Have a good time!", "Enjoy yourself!", "Love your outfit!" and so on.
  • You can be as nice and smiley and conversational as you want, but some percentage of people will not look at you (or even in some cases, pause to have the wristband put on them) for even a moment. Get used to it.
  • As obvious as it seems after the fact, commenting on the size of someone's wrist is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs, regardless of the urge that arises every time someone with a spectacularly small or large wrist comes through. I probably told about 30 women that they had the smallest wrist I had seen that day, and I doubt they were too offended, but I'm guessing the girl who I "joked" that I might need more than one wristband for (and who I had assumed was a man from the size of massive forearm and nothing else) was far from amused.
  • Likewise, you will occasionally be faced with a ridiculously fat person who says something like "Don't make it too tight.", just as you were wondering what laws of physics you might have to break to even come close to getting only one wristband to fit around what would be considered a cankle if it were located in a different part of their body. Hopefully by the time you're done, they realize the stupidity of the request and everyone can move on.
  • Midgets are distracting, especially when they are dressed in gold spandex and are standing 10 feet behind you handing out the list of set times for all of the different acts on each stage. Resist the urge to stare but also the natural reflex, when someone asks you about the list of set times, to simply blurt out "The midgets have them." It simply offends said midgets and confuses the person who hasn't looked down yet.
  • Around 5 hours or so after the festival has started, people will start getting dragged out of the event by police and/or security, often handcuffed while covered in dirt, blood, and clearly off their faces on alcohol and/or pills. This is by far the most entertaining part of your day, so enjoy it.

All in all, it wasn't such a horrible experience, and clearly I found more than a few moments rather amusing. We were also at a secondary entrance, which meant we weren't that busy and could enjoy all the acts (N.E.R.D., Paul Oakenfold, Basement Jaxx, etc.) that were playing on the main stage right behind us. And once we got off work, I had the opportunity to slam about 3 Smirnoff Blacks within about 10 minutes to try and catch up with everyone who had started drinking 6 hours or more before I did.

Having said all that, it's unlikely I will be doing it again, favor or not, and so I bequeath to the world my personal learnings in the hopes that it was not all in vain.