Friday, November 30, 2007

Southern Cross

When you see the Southern Cross for the first time,
You understand why now you came this way.

We decided to take the Diamonds on a little road trip to Christchurch, the biggest city on the South Island. As odd luck would have it, Crosby, Stills, and Nash were playing on the same night we were to arrive. Tickets were pretty available and we bought the best ones..10th row center.

By some amazing coincidence, the boys were staying at the same hotel as us and we saw them relaxing in the bar.

Nobody recognized them...nobody but us. Pretty cool!

So we sat within 10 feet and plotted how to get a photo without looking like a bunch of old stupid fans.

(H comments) -"Actually, Michael has about 85% of the story correct. Kimberly and I already knew the only way to get a picture was for Kimberly to say hi, and drag me over. We unanimously made Michael staff photographer and when the moment was right, Kimberly sprung into action. I went over and chatted briefly with Graham and thanked him for coming to NZ. He told me the concert was going to be a great show. Meanwhile, Kimberly got Graham to stand next to her and I moved up on the other side. When Michael was ready, Kimberly looked over at David Crosby and literally pulled him over to join our group. He came easily and leaned over to Kimberly, after briefly glancing at Mike and said, "your much nicer than him". How impressive and intuitive Mr. Crosby is...must be the new liver or something...anyway, the picture tells the story and it was a fantastic concert. Especially, Stills impressive guitar solo's. Wooden Ships, and For What It's Worth were very well received. Teach Your Children was the encore and fans were up and dancing... The group really performed Woodstock like it was yesterday. This was an afterthought worth mentioning." (end H remarks...)

The concert was fabulous and Crosby kept complementing New Zealand on their beauty and politics.

Here is the review:

From there it was all shopping and sightseeing and eating. Mr.Diamond did not disappoint in the latter category. His stomach must have felt like it was attached to a food funnel. "How easy to throw forks at your guests..must be a New Zealand thing...h-again.."
Throw forks? The man uses them not...hands are faster, even for soup.

Any time we stopped the car, or even slowed down going through intersections, Howard would leap out and follow his nose to a bakery where he would emerge laden down with crap.. burgers, fries, ice cream, soda... The car gained 5 pounds just from what fell onto the floor and seats.
Back in Nelson, Jack and H needed to do a little souvenir shopping and take one last look at the Subway sandwich store. Oddly, I never realized we had a Subway here and Mr. Diamond has already received a free sub on his frequent eater card.
"Mickey, you are right...what a schmuck Michael can be...but we all still love him.." (H..again)
Visiting NZ for the first time was a real treat. Especially, coming from the Alaskan winter. Kimberly and Michael couldn't have been any nicer and showed us the time of our lives...except for the time Rick introduced me to his Portland dancer friend...that's another story for another time...
Thank you Mike and Kimberly and anyone who ever wanted to visit NZ or even realized it was a country, should give it a they say...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Like A Diamond Eyed Jack

Well, the Diamonds are here and we are trying to cover a lot of distance in a few days. Those who are aware of Howard's slovenly ways know he has trained his son well. Jack and H do not move to the same pace as, say, Kimberly. In addition, our home and car have been "Diamondized", which is an endearing term for, "Haven't you ever heard of making a bed, or putting that shirt on a hanger? How did these french fries get all over the back seat? Must we vacuum you after every meal?"

There is much late sleeping. There is an amazing amount of stopping every few feet for additional nourishment in the form of ice cream, pastries, lattes, ad nauseum...all followed by rest.

That being said, we did begin the week with a scheduled talk by the Diamonds at Nelson Girl's College. Jack and H were to talk about Alaska in a few classes.

This went very well and in the first group were about 25 cute kids Jack's age. It didn't take long to break the ice, as they say in Yakutat. Jack was explaining bears in his own unique manner and the girls were all smiles.

After that we had time for lunch. Most of us would have enjoyed staying on campus and eating with the girls, but Howard needed much more than was offered at the canteen, so we went into town where we had a full sit down meal.

It may have been the heat of our sun or the hurried pace, but for some reason when we got back to school for the second talk, Howard was pouring sweat from every orifice. While he was opening the speech, I wanted to throw him a towel, but I feared he might think it was cotton candy and eat it.

Fortunately, Jack saved the day by commanding the stage and fielding questions, as expected, mostly about bears. At the finish, photos were snapped. Jack has a school assignment to appear in pictures with his 2 thumbs up. All the girl's did it too.

When it was over, Jack wanted to move to Nelson and attend Girl's College. Howard wanted a sponge bath and a 5 course meal.

We have also gone hiking and fishing. Also we held the original ring from Lord of the Rings. During the coming days, we hope to shop in Christchurch and swim with dolphins in Kaikoura.

Mr. Diamond can't wait to try the dolphin burger.

Friday, November 16, 2007

But I'll Get Back On My Feet Someday

For the last 5 weeks, we have had our good friend and builder, Pete Bowden in the house working on a remodel of the guest bathroom. Starting Monday, we are having visitors from Alaska, Howard Diamond and his son, Jack and we wanted to get the job done before they arrive.

It is ready enough to accommodate them even though there is a little more to be done. Truth be told, I also use it as my bathroom and have been invading Kimberly's lair for over 30 days now. I know she will be happy to get me the hell out of her zone.
I wonder how many other couples each have separate bathrooms?
Does the woman usually get the one off the main bedroom while the male has to use the lesser one in the hall?
Well, I don't care anymore because mine is as good or better than hers...and no friggin' cotton balls anywhere!
But this post isn't about bathrooms.

What happened was this: Pete and I were taking a break. Well, Pete was having his tea time and I was sitting in the kitchen bullshitting with him and having a cup of coffee.

Kimberly had just come back from Yoga and had her shoes off and walked into the leg of a stool in the kitchen.

Now when somebody stubs their toe on the leg of a chair, and we all have, there is always the cry of pain and tears and rubbing and going for ice and sympathy. But Kimberly didn't say a word. in fact, we didn't even know it happened.

Later in the day, she tells me she thinks she broke her toe.

I think she broke her toe, too.

This may affect the tramp we intended to take with Howie and Jack.

Lucky she is a nurse and knows what to do. Also lucky New Zealand has free health care for all so she can get one of those funny shoes if necessary.
But she says that ain't happening.

She already figures to wear an old Birkenstock way before she puts on one of those orthopedic devices.

Also, I notice some of my special pain medication is a little low. As Bob Dylan says,

"No one can get no sleep,
with someone on everyone's toes
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
Everybody's gonna want a dose."
Even though it is nearly midnight, I am going to use the bathroom. I don't really NEED to, but I will give it a good try because the last thing I want is for Mr. Howard Diamond to be the captain on the the maiden voyage of the HMS New Crapper.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

All I Know She Sang A Little While And Then Flew On

Last week, We had our buddy, Phil doing a little painting and he showed up with a 24 year old kid as a helper. Tall skinny dude. Turns out he plays a little golf so of course, we get to talking and set up a game for later in the day.

Well, the kid, Ricki Borell, just happens to be New Zealand's number one amateur with a handicap of -4. That means he usually shoots 68.

We played that afternoon and he was hitting the ball 300 yards straight down the middle, making 20 ft. putts for birdies and shot a dismal 72 to my 90. We arranged to play the following day and were joined by another guy from London, who calls himself Birdie Ben. Naturally, I call him Bogey Ben.

Ben and I were to get lots of strokes and we played the kid, 2 against one.

Here in NZ, it is Spring. Persephone has left her dark domain of Hades and returned to the Earth to adorn the flowers with the myriad colors in her paintbox. All over the country, little lambs are prancing and bleating after the ewes and ducklings are swimming close by their moms in lily padded ponds. Mornings, in the trees, we hear the chirping of hungry baby birds demanding a meal before flight lessons.

As we were walking down the fairway on the 9th hole, Ricki noticed a tiny bird that had apparently fallen from the nest and was struggling along the ground, mouth wide open, seeking nourishment.

We figured that Mother Nature had dealt the little guy a bad hand and he would not make it for more than a few hours.

Some would have walked on. Some would have placed it in the bushes and wished it luck. Some may have pounded the life out of the bird with their Taylor Made R7 driver to hasten the eventual certainty of death.

Ricki decided he wanted to take it home and give it a chance at life. A bird in the hand is worth....

Ben and I figured it would die either way, but all the same, I donated my possum hat to serve as a faux nest and we tucked the little guy into my golf bag.

Within 10 minutes, we discovered it was gone, must have jumped out. Riki ran back and actually found it. We figured it was hungry or thirsty and wondered how to feed it.

The bird seemed to say, "This is my neighborhood. You and your friends should show me some respect. You should let me wet my beak a little."

Ricki then sipped on his water bottle and transferred the liquid into the chick's gullet. Ben donated a small bit of his muesli bar, but then we decided it might choke the little guy and had to use a stick to get it out.

Ricki played the rest of the round carrying my hat between swings. He made 3 birdies before he was done. But Ben and I still managed to emerge with a victory.

After the game, we went into the clubhouse for a snack. My hat, filled with bird and poop was on the table. The club pro said hello to Ricki and slammed a tournament registration form inadvertently on the hat nearly crushing our little pal.

That was not funny.

In the car, after more nourishment, the bird was flapping it's wings and practically singing show tunes. We were congratulating ourselves for saving a life.

I dropped Ricki off at his house and he returned my hat, which had an amazing amount of bird shit within.

When I called the next day for a report, I was told the bird died.

Sleep in the stars. Don't you cry. Dry your eyes on the wind.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hang Me, Oh Hang Me, So I'll Be Dead And Gone

Religious unrest ignites conspirators to bring down the government by destroying buildings using explosives. After special change in policy to allow torture, captured detainees are forced to talk.

Sound familiar? Well it should if you are from any British Colony because that is the scenario around Guy Fawkes Day.

This special day is celebrated on November 5th in Britain and NZ. The story goes back to 1605 in England where there were 2 religious factions fighting for whatever it is that religious factions fight for.

One was the Roman Catholics and the others were Protestants. The royalty, King James, was a Protestant and thus, so was England.

Personally, I could not explain the difference between these religions. Don't they not both go gaga for the baby Jesus? Don't they both shlep crosses all over the place? Don't they all vote Republican?

Do the Catholics root for Notre Dame and the Protestants cheer for Yale?

I have no idea.

By the way, the Jewish faction in England was hiding under their pushcarts to avoid getting the shit kicked out of them by the others while they prayed for the return of the Messiah and protective headgear.

Back to the story, the Roman Catholic conspiracy wanted to bring down King James, so about 60 of these men plotted to blow up Parliament.
Known as the Gunpowder Plot, they rented some space under the Parliament building. and filled it up with tons of explosives. I don't know whose name was on the lease, but some poor Jew probably was the co-signer.

Guy Fawkes, who had knowledge of fireworks from his experience in the military, was chosen to be the detonator.
However, Lord Monteagle, a noble, got wind of the plot thanks to an embedded narc. Monteagle had the basement searched and the guards discovered Fawkes with a Bic lighter about to ignite the fuse. He was captured before any damage was done.

At that time, England allowed FOX "news" to inform the public that all was well and they were in the process of interrogating Fawkes and that, there would be no illegal torture. A quote from king says, " This country does not believe in torture. We do believe in protecting ourselves. We don't believe in torture."

But, when the prisoner was not cooperating, the king issued special laws under the name ... "Manorland Security"... which temporary allowed more harsh interrogation policies. Somewhere in some back room, they dusted off the RACK and put it to good use.

They also had a water torture device, called the Texas Tea Party.

All they needed was Dick Cheney and for someone to invent electricity.

In the end, Fawkes, now several inches taller and a lot less thirsty, sang like a canary and the usual suspects were rounded up. Some were held at Guantanamo Bay for the rest of their lives. They were the lucky ones. The others got the Grand Exit. I believe this was designed for the amusement of the King.

If they had been women, they would have been burned at the stake.
These boys probably wished they could grow vaginas overnight because the male punishment for traitors was the the Terror Trifecta....
Hung, Drawn, and Quartered.

It goes something like this:'s worth your time.

"Dragged on a hurdle (a wooden frame) to the place of execution. (This is one possible meaning of drawn.)

Hanged by the neck for a short time or until almost dead. (hanged).

Disembowelled and emasculated and the genitalia and entrails burned before the condemned's eyes
Beheaded and the body divided into four parts (quartered).

Typically, the resulting five parts (i.e. the four quarters of the body and the head) were gibbeted (put on public display) in different parts of the city, town, or, in famous cases, country, to deter would-be traitors who hadn't seen the execution.
The condemned man would usually be sentenced to the short drop method of hanging, so that the neck would not break. The man was usually dragged alive to the quartering table, although in some cases men were brought to the table dead or unconscious. A splash of water was usually employed to wake the man up if unconscious, then he was laid down on the table. A large cut was made in the gut after removing the genitalia, and the intestines would be spooled out on a device that resembled a dough roller. Each piece of organ would be burnt before the sufferer's eyes, and when he was completely disembowelled, his head would be cut off. The body would then be cut into four pieces, and the king would decide where they were to be displayed. Usually the head was sent to the Tower of London."
When Fawkes turn came at the gallows, he leaped off the hanging platform with the noose still around him and caused his own neck to break, avoiding being a witness to the rest of his demise.

The fatheaded, self serving, drug addicted, draft-dodging town crier called him a Phony Conspirator.

Soon afterward, many Roman Catholics considered him a hero.

A common phrase was that Fawkes was "the only man to ever enter parliament with honourable intentions".

On the opposite side, Protestant children would go door to door with little effigies of Fawkes, asking for small donations, "Penny for the Guy". The effigies were burned in a large bonfire and the pennies were used to buy fireworks. I reckon a Jew was the seller.
It is said that the term "guy", for a man, may have come from this.

The recent film ,"V for Vendetta' was a take-off on the story.

Nowadays, on November 5, Guy Fawkes Day, there are large fireworks and and bonfires to commemorate the event.
There is also this cute little poem:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
A penny loaf to feed the Pope
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah hoorah!

I'll tip back a pint of Mogan David to that.