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

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