Monday, April 24, 2006

Bananafish and the Sea Robin

Okay, so I know.

I’ve been in California for more than a week, and during this time my blog has sat here, unattended by its keeper and only experiencing a surge in traffic because people have been suddenly able to locate this one provocative picture of indie chanteuse Neko Case on Google image search that I posted some time back. (They don’t remain on the site long.) I guess I had to take a break from posting at this blog because for the past six weeks, it serves as a travel diary and a way for me to keep in touch with people I knew back at home. However, once I set foot again in my homeland, the blog seemed temporarily irrelevant and in need of a reinvention — or at least a quick change back to its form before I left: a web log, or a log of the silly and inconsequential things I do and find on the web.

But here’s the problem. In light of the subjects of recent posts — surviving the terrors of the sea and hugging kangaroos, for example — the little things that would have been post-worthy two months ago seemed too trite to mention. It’s a bit of dilemma, you see. After a few days of deliberation, I’ve decided that the best way to continue the life of the Back of the Cereal Box would be to make one more NZ/OZ-related post to cap off the whole trip and close the book on this vacation portion of my life.

Thus, I give you the definitive post for all manner of tidbits related to the big NZ/OZ.

My ten most-played songs, according to iTunes:
  1. The Features - "The Idea of Growing Old”
  2. A-Ha - "The Sun Always Shines on TV”
  3. The Clash - "Lost in the Supermarket"
  4. Nada Surf - “Indochine”
  5. Teenage Fanclub - “Cells”
  6. Gorillaz - “Dare”
  7. Scissor Sisters - “Laura”
  8. Stephen Malkmus - “Kindling for the Master”
  9. Father Bingo - “Ginger Prince Is Not Shirley Temple”
  10. Aimee Mann - “Pavlov’s Bell”
And, as a contrast, my ten most-played songs before I left, according to an earlier post:
  1. Scissor Sisters - "Laura"
  2. The Bravery - "Hot Pursuit"
  3. Stephen Malkmus - "Kindling for the Master"
  4. Gorillaz - "Dirty Harry"
  5. Yaz - "Situation"
  6. Beck - "Bad Cartridge"
  7. Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra - "Some Velvet Morning"
  8. Soviet - "Candy Girl"
  9. Scissor Sisters - "The Skins"
  10. Electric Six - "Danger! High Voltage"
Songs that I, for better or worse, will now always associate with Australia and New Zealand:
  • “My Humps,” by the Black Eyed Peas
  • “In the Summertime,” by Mungo Jerry
  • “Wonderwall,” by any one with a guitar, apparently
  • “By the Devil (I Was Tempted),” by Blue Mink
  • “Knock Three Times,” by Tony Orlando and Dawn
  • “Hooked on a Feeling,” by Blue Swede
  • “Groove Is in the Heart,” by Deee-Lite, technically, but for the purposes of this list by the Kransky Sisters
  • “Pop Muzik,” by M, but in the same manner by the Kransky Sisters
  • "The Grapefruit Song," by Allen and Grier
Strange, Down Under-specific animals I saw while I was gone:
  • Kangaroos
  • Wallabies
  • PademelonsA single platypus
  • Three or four echidnas
  • Three kiwi birds, plus one kiwi hatchlingMany, many koalas
  • A quoll, which is not to be confused with the koalas
  • A single cassowary
  • a Maori wrasse
  • The most horrifying spider I’ve ever seen
  • My first-ever confirmed cockroach
  • Dingos
  • A wombat named Wilhelmina
  • A tree kangaroo
  • A joey — or at least the arm of one, grasping for life from within his mother’s womb
Animals I did not see, though I have ample proof that they were there:
  • Bedbugs
Animals people asked me to bring back as a present:
  • A duck-billed platypus (for Josh)


  • A sloth (for Sanam, even though I don’t think sloths live in Australia or New Zealand)


  • A sloth bear (for Hasan, even though I don’t think sloth bears live Down Under, either)


  • A wallaby (for Kat)


  • A kangaroo (for April)


  • Not a sloth (for Nate)

[definitely not a sloth ]

  • And for Spencer, the long-promised and long-awaited Wooliam


Here you go, guys. Enjoy.

Animal I was most impressed with:
Animal I was least impressed with:
  • The bedbugs
Strange animals I ate while I was gone:
  • Kangaroo
  • Crocodile
  • Emu (in burger form)
  • Many types of strange shellfish, some not readily identifiable
Strange British-ish ice cream flavors (ice-cream flavours) I tasted:
Strange and amusing place names we drove by or through:
(North Island, New Zealand)
    • Ramarama
    • Tapapa
    • Whakapapa
    • Meanee
    • Mangateretere
    • Waipawa (Don’t say it out loud, you racist.)
(South Island, New Zealand)
    • Hinds
    • Geraldine Flat (who I think I may have gone to high school with)
    • Beautiful Valley
    • Middle Valley (neighbor of Beautiful Valley)
    • Cricklewood
    • Twizel
    • Omarama
    • Bendigo
    • Lower Shotover
    • The Forks
    • Inchbonnie
(Sydney to Blue Mountains area, Australia)
    • Parramatta
    • Blacktown
    • Emu Plains
    • Lapstone (Think about it.)
    • Blaxland
    • Warrimoo
    • Bullaburra
    • Katoomba
    • Zig Zag
(Around the Whitsundays, Australia)
    • Proserpine
    • Bird Island
    • Black Island
    • Dent Island
    • Dumbell Island
    • Dungarra Island
    • Esk Island
    • Fitzalan Island
    • Long Island
    • Lupton Island
    • Perserverance Island
    • Plum Pudding Island
    • Titan Island
    • Wirrainbela Island
(On the drive from Townsville to Carins, Australia)
    • Magnetic Island
    • Frosty Mango (not an actual town, but marked on the map as if it were)
    • Paronella Park
    • Mareemba
    • Mossman (Batman’s long-forgotten archenemy
An amusing place name we did not, sadly, go by:
  • Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu
Places I did not see, regardless of what geography challenged travelmates may have thought:
  • Austria
Ten best things:
  1. Scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef
  2. Bungee jumping at the K Bridge
  3. Hugging the kangaroo
  4. Seeing cousins being more grown-up than I remember them being
  5. Actually seeing things at the Sydney Opera House
  6. Ankle-deep sand at Whitehaven Beach
  7. Larry’s cat, Rat Baby
  8. One word: “Zorb”
  9. The stormy night on the Pacific Star
  10. Mud bath at Hell’s Gate in Rotorua
(The aforementioned, traffic-drawing picture, by the way, features Ms. Case wearing an especially sheer blouse through which you can see her breasts and nipples. The picture initially appeared as part of the doozy here-are-some-things-that-I-like post from last summer, “To Quote Wally Exactly.” So you too can appreciate Neko Case’s nipples, I’m reposting the picture here.


So now you know. But I’d advise you to seek out her music instead, as her singing voice is even nicer than her nipples.)

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