Apr 30, 2008

New Shoes, New Suit, Gotta Love That!

My étoile du nord, Mony, had a birthday this weekend and celebrated by buying me a present from the folks at [hoorenbeek]. They make great clothes, which are a little on the expensive side, and Mony opted for getting me the whole package - shoes, pants, ties, jackets; the whole kit and kaboodle.

The Ansor suit is packed with pieces; jackets in open and closed versions, white and blue shirts, underwear, burgundy and orange ties, and pants to match both open and closed jackets. Lots to mix and match. Oh, and you also get a cell phone and a laptop thrown in to complete the image. And with all these elements, the $860 price is a bargain. Even if you're buying it for yourself!

The blacks shoes are simple but effective. When I tried the outfit on, Mony suggested that a pair with laces would be better, so I slipped into my Cattiva e Cattivo Obsidian Oxfords. Love those shoes - and now hard to get hold of since their creator, Lissa Maertens, paired up with Simone Stern. You can get them via OnRez at an affordable $75. I also modified them slightly to get a better black coloring.

The ensemble looks great. Very slick, very corporate. Now I can't wait to take a trip to some fancy club where folks call you "Mr. Leominster" and informal clothing is not allowed. Sometimes there IS a place for swank.

Apr 23, 2008

If the Shoe Fits...

My Treasure of the Metaverse, Mony Markova, is famous for being shoeless. It is her trademark. She needs no shoes to walk this strange land, she tells us all. But she will wear shoes if... and only if... she really, really likes them.

So kudos for the folks at Maitreya for creating some of the best damn footwear in Second Life. I saw a pair of the Slinky Stilletos some weeks back at a PR event promoted by my good friends Annette Wilder and Bibe Mayo of Wilder PR. Bibe was wearing a pair of the stilettos with purple. Awesome, I thought.

However, when I eventually visited the store and checked out the range, I fell in love with the red and black pair. The lining and the soles are in red, with gold tips on the heels. You also have the option of having the shoes "click" as you walk.

Stop by and explore - lots of goodies to buy!

Slurl: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Glam%20World%202/206/151/26

Maitreya Blog: http://sl-maitreya.blogspot.com/

Apr 12, 2008

Dance by a Volcano

It's the last full day here in Auckland and my colleagues decided to take me for a trip to the little seaside town of St. Hellier. Any excuse to be by water works for me, even if it is slightly overcast. En route, I get chance to take a snap of Rangitoto, an extinct (so far) volcano just across the bay. Then we pull over and it's off for a quick paddle in the sea.

After the obligatory cappuccino at Baker's Delight cafe, we make for the War Museum to see the largest collection of Maori artifacts in the Southern hemisphere. The Maori War Canoe is a favorite with the crowds, with is marvellous prow carving of a guy sticking his tongue out the world. The exhibition also includes a complete house, numerous carvings, and more stuff than can be really appreciated in an afternoon.

Nothing special for dinner - a steak at an Italian restaurant, served by a very nice Kiwi who had spent two years of her life in Nashville. Small world, eh?

And with a late return to the hotel, there was just time to pack before hitting the sack. Loooong trip ahead, leaving on Sunday and arriving back in the US on... Sunday - apparently three hours after I was to leave! Such is the thing with time traveling.

Apr 11, 2008

On Top of the Southern World

At 328 meters in height, the Auckland Sky Tower is the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Impressive, eh? And for the princely sum of NZ$25 you can experience the dizzying view. Truth be told, you are only allowed to go to 220 meters where the Skydeck Viewing Platform is located. Before you get there, you start on the Main Observation Deck that is a piddling 186 meters and then pay the extra $3 to get to the top.

One of the fun things to do is to stand in the middle of one of the glass panels situated in the floor of the observation deck and look down. It's a little weird to feel like you're hovering in the air above the ground, but it does make you a little nervous. Looking out at Auckland and to the horizon through 360 degrees is impressive, but not as scary as looking straight down. The picture below is the view you get on a panel.

I was able to take a picture of Mount Eden, where I had been the previous night looking in exactly the opposite direction. There were glorious views of the bay, the Harbour Bridge, and even one of Auckland's youngest volcanoes, Rangitoto. I was also to experience the obligatory "Cappuccinos-around-the-world" from the Sky Lounge Cafe. Sure, the chicken sandwich was a little dry and not as think as a hungry man might prefer, but on a sunny day at 182m, the lounge is still an experience to be had.
Meanwhile, back in Second Life, imagine my surprise to discover that my oldest friend - as in "friend I have know the longest" not "friend who is fast approaching senility" - is going to be partnering up! If someone had been holding the proverbial feather, I could quite easily have been knocked over. I knew that Merry Felwitch and Cap Carver had been friends for some weeks now but I had absolutely zero clue that things were that serious. So I now have to go shopping for a new suit for a wedding - and presumably Cap will be thinking about doing the same thing. My guess is that Styles of Edo will be my first stop. They do some great men's tuxedos. At the same time, I suggested Merry go visit Simone! for the wedding dress.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll get to see Mony Markova in a pair of shoes. Well, I can dream, I suppose.

Apr 10, 2008

A Bridge and a Mountain

Before hitting the Shahi Indian Restaurant in Milford, where I polished of a mix of vegetable samosas, seekh kebabs, chicken tikka masala, soft garlic naan bread, washed down by Kingfisher beer, my hosts took me across the Harbour Bridge to see the city as the sun went down. Down by The Wharf, a place that is currently being renovated and seems to be a location for special functions like weddings, graduation parties, and the funeral of a very rich relative, there is a jetty from where it's possible to see the downtown metropolis under the span of the bridge.

Then we took a narrow, winding road to the top of Mount Eden, an extinct volcano that overlooks Auckland and offers a darkened, secluded venue to folks looking for a little smooching time. Needless to say I avoid the courting couples and climbed up to the highest point in order to take some pics. Of course, not having the equipment to take perfect night shots, I was only able to get a reasonably ordinary snap of a strip of lights against a black background. But honestly, it is the city of Auckland with its iconic Sky Tower in the center.

Apr 9, 2008

Mezzes for the Masses

For what it's worth, today I was on full tilt as far as work went. Like Britney Spears, I was "in the zone." I know I'm there when I'm able to answer every question from the audience, when I'm speaking at around 200 words per minutes and not stammering, and when folks offer me a job. I then get an endorphin rush that helps me soar through the day, handing out my e-mail to people like candy to kids. Damn I was good.

Then 5:00 pm hits, the fans have gone, and the endorphins stop. My body slows, my brainbegins to shut down, I come over all mellow, and thoughts of ice-cold beers begin to dominate. Time for dinner.

This evenings trip was to a tapas bar just off the busy Queen Street thoroughfare, the Mezze Bar tucked discretely off an alleyway. On the specials list was the Cuba Libre - and I was in a Hemingway mood so this was a no brainer. Then my colleagues and I started stacking the table with a selection of meats and vegetables; chunks of marinated lamb; seasoned meatballs; chunky tuna; spiced potatoes; the list went on.

Funny thing about Cuba Libres is that they go down easy and don't become boring. And I certainly wasn't bored. We ate and drank enough to suggest we should take the long way home - via the dauntingly steep Auckland Domain, a piece of land in the center of the city that added around 45 minutes to our walk home.

Apr 8, 2008

An Englishman, An Australian, and An American...

An Englishman, an Australian, and an American walk into an Irish pub in New Zealand...

It was late by the time we'd flown from Christchurch up to Auckland and after checking in at the Airedale Hotel an excursion to a friendly watering-hole was in order. Our first attempt was with a place called the London Pub, which turned out to be unfriendly to the point of being in serious danger of losing custom. It was clearly some sort of local talent night because there was a local talent wailing with a guitar and a small group of solemn and dour individuals with pints nodding like marionettes to the strumming. Oh, and more important - there was no-one at the bar. Not on person. Zero. After 5 minutes without even so much as a nod from the zombies, we decided to move on.

God was clearly on our side because situated adjacent to the pub was Father Ted's Bar, a much friendlier place that actually wanted to serve us with drinks AND was half way through a quiz night. Needless to say, after a few pints we were dominating the quiz - except that we hadn't actually signed up so our answers counted for NOTHING! Still, the beer and Jack Daniels chasers certainly helped work up an appetite, and in high-living style, we stopped off at a local fine-dining establishment, Kebabs on Queens, for a late night snack.

Sleep was easy.

Apr 7, 2008

One Wedding, No Funeral, and a Whale

It was Sunday here in New Mordor and my day of rest. After spending time exploring Christchurch and walking along the banks of the river, I felt it was time for a reprieve from Real Life and my hotel offered a limited broadband connection. Paying the usurious price for Internet access - as is typical for hotels that already charge a small fortune for a room - I slid into Second Life.
Funny to think I felt "at home" as I rezzed into my apartment. I was wearing the same clothes as I had been over a week ago and had the desire to change. Mony snagged me. There was a wedding and we were late! Being an absentee from SL for years (or at least it seemed lke that) I didn't even know there was supposed to be a wedding. But no matter, all I needed to do was change into a suit and TP over.

Ah, if only t'were that simple! Either SL was behaving badly or my hotel connection was having a hard time. I suspect the latter. After taking off my shirt to make way for a nice clean version with tie, I couldn't attach it. Nor could I change my pants or slip on a jacket. After five minutes of standing topless, I put my old shirt back on, which worked OK. So I had to go to a wedding in casuals. Admittedly the shirt was from Simone!, the designer jeans from Lissa Maertens' Cattiva e Cattivo, and hair by Armidi, but would the guests at the wedding spot that? Hmm.

We arrived just in time to wave the happy couple goodbye. Two of Mony's friends, Commando Kidd and Skyra Woodget, had renewed their vows and we'd at least been able to say "hi" and "bye." We then hung around for a while to enjoy the post-nuptial dancing until we slipped away for some SL exploring.

My hotel connection was time capped. After precisely two hours of fun, the virtual doors closed and I left Mony on the Linden Balloon Platform along with a flock of newbies. Damn.

Back in RL, my buddies had arrived back and we headed out to a place called Vic and Whale, which, according to our waitress, was either named after a London pub or referred to the original owners, one of whom was called Vic and the other had the nickname Whale. Both sound plausible so take you choice of which you prefer, The meat of choice was a lamb shank in a mushroom and peppercorn sauce, served with mashed potato and truffle oil, and a crisp salad with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Yummy yum yum. After all, this was lamb and this is New Zealand.

Apr 6, 2008

Why I Won't Be A Time Traveler

In British TV culture, there is a popular iconic hero called "Dr. Who." Since the early sixties, this character has made both TV and big screen appearances with the role of the Doctor being played by a succession of actors. The premise of the story is that the Doctor is a Time Lord, able to travel backwards and forwards in time using his time ship, the Tardis. The Tardis looks, from the outside, like an old London police phone box. But it is also "transdimensional, " which means that inside it is HUGE with many many rooms. And one other defining characteristic of the Tardis is this: It is broken. Sure, the Doctor can sometimes go from time A to time B with reasonable accuracy, but on the whole, what makes the series interesting is that you are never sure if the Tardis is going to (a) work, or (b) get to when it is supposed to be going.

That just about sums up my perceptions of Time as it now exists on my Australasia tour. Traveling from Adelaide to Auckland, NZ necessitated a change of 2 hours 30 minutes forward. Yes, there is a bizarre 30-minute variation. The flight from Auckland to Christchurch (same day) didn't need a time change - until we got to the hotel. The friendly staff reminded my colleagues and I that Daylight Savings was about to kick in at 2:00 am. At this stage, I was unsure of the time, the date, and even the day, so I decided to just give up on the whole thing. The Doctor is a slightly eccentric character and I was now beginning to understand why - he has clearly decided to toss the whole notion of Time out the window.

All I now knew was that it was late and I was hungry. Time to go find something to eat.
Along the banks of the river in Christchurch is a strip of eating places. We got there too late for any significant food intake but the Sticky Fingers restaurant was able to provide three vital products; beer, pizza, and chips. And for those who need the translation, "chips" in NZ and Australia are "French fries." The other good news was that one of the pizzas on offer was the "Carnivore." Bearing in mind that for the past week I seem to have been trying hard to eat my way through the entire animal population of the Southern hemisphere, choosing the "Carnivore" was a no brainer.

And it was indeed meaty! Chicken, ham, barbecue sauce, and several other dead animals made it a deliciously fulfilling offering, enhanced by tomato sauce-laden fries. Washed down with a couple of glasses of Speight's, this meal took us through to "late" - remember, I had given up on trying to work out the time. We walked past the other watering holes along the bank of the river, which were all by now full of folks eating, drinking, and making merry. Given two weeks to explore, I think I could quite happily have spent all my time drifting from place to place without having to eat in the same place twice.

Eventually, I crawled into bed, ignored the clock, and slept though until I felt hungry. I mean, who needs a clock anyway?

Apr 5, 2008

Return of the New Romantics

I am a hopeless Romantic. And please take note of the upper case "R" there. The Romantic Movement covered most of the 19th century and its children included the Pre-Raphaelites and the Neoclassicists. Of the latter, I'm afraid I have an almost erotic fixation on the paintings of John William Waterhouse. For those who have never come across his works, you could do no better than taking a trip to the premier Waterhouse site at http://www.johnwilliamwaterhouse.com

While browsing the site, take a peek at Circe Invidiosa, a positive riot of turquoise centered on the image of the witch, Circe. In the Odyssey, it was Circe who held Ulysses captive (or is it captivated) for many years before he escaped to travel home to Ithaca. In this painting, Circe is in the process of transforming the beautiful nymph Scylla into a hideous sea monster. Wicked, eh?
The only problem is that Waterhouse's Circe is stunningly gorgeous. If she IS evil, then it's an evil most men would die to be the victim of. With her slightly retrousse nose and large, dark eyes, it's impossible for me to find any fault with her. She is captivating and intriguing - a dangerous and fatal duo of qualities for a woman to have, in art or in life.

In life, Waterhouse was besotted by one of his models, Muriel Foster. Some critics have argues that JW only ever had one women in his paintings - I'd suggest two. But it doesn't take a degree in Fine Art to flick through the website to see that the same woman appears over and over in Waterhouse's paintings, and if that doesn't suggest an enchantment, I don't know what does. Ooh, "enchanting," a third dangerous adjective for a member of the fairer sex.

If you want to see the actual painting, you have to travel to the Adelaide Art Museum and venture into room 15. There you can stand for 15 minutes and simply stare at it. Which I did. I also took a photo, which is (a) forbidden, and (b) got me a stern lecture from some jumped up attendant who seemed to think it was OK to allow a bunch of school kids to wander around taking pictures with their cell phones but NOT some 40-year-old adult male to take ONE with a camera. Well fuck him; I did it anyway.

Unbeknownst to me, there was a second painting at the diagonally opposite location of the room that I am similarly enchanted by. In fact, it is on the walls of my Second Life house along with the Waterhouse. This is John Collier's Priestess of Delphi, yet another image of a femme fatale who, not surprisingly, bears a resemblance to Circe. Draped in red, the priestess has her eyes closed while she dreams up her prophecy high up in the mountains in Delphi, Greece.

Two women in one day. A priestess and a witch. A dangerous day indeed.

Apr 3, 2008

Slaughterhouse Six: Revenge of the Carnivores

Vegetarian may want to stop reading now because the following contains descriptions of such animal carnage that this blogger accepts no responsibility for any consequences. Meat-lovers may want to start licking their lips in anticipation.

The Red-Hot Brazilian Charcoal Grill is a modest, unassuming little place on Adelaide's Gouger Street, unpretentious and basic in decor. However, for the unashamed carnivores among us, it represents a retreat from the over-hyped world of the sensitive, caring eaters and an atavistic throwback to when men were men and hoofed-animals were nervous.

For the princely sum of $32 Australian dollars, the diner can gorge on freshly grilled beef, chicken, barbecue ribs, lamb, sausage, pork, and kangaroo. Yes, kangaroo. To assuage some guilt, there is the option to add some grilled sweetcorn and salad to your plate in an effort to change its appearance from an explosion at a slaughterhouse to something resembling a food plate - but yours truly was quite happy to forgo the greenery and focus on the burnt offerings.

When you order, your server gives you a small card in the shape of a cow that's green on one side and red on the other. As long as the green cow s face up, the servers will periodically visit your table with a large skewer of some type of meat, dripping hot fat into a large metal dish. Armed only with very sharp knives, they will cut off slabs of protein as many times as you like until you flip the cow to show red.

The beef was beefy; the pork was porky; the lamb was lamby; and the kangaroo was... rooish. I have to say I wasn't over-excited by the roo on offer because it was a little chewy and had a slightly bitter after-taste. According to friends, this may just have been a by-product of how it was prepared, possibly due to a marinade and under-cooking. Nevertheless, I can now claim to have eaten "Skippy" and one more helpless animal can be stricken off my list of "things-to-eat-before-I-die."

After consuming a small herd of assorted beasts, my colleagues and I walked back to our hotel in an attempt to burn off at least some of the ingested protein and fat. We can but hope that was true.

Apr 2, 2008

Guzzling Garfish and Mony's Minute

Having experienced authentic Australian cuisine at Montezuma's Mexican restaurant, it was time to sample more native food - at the Amalfi Italian. Now here's a place so popular that it we had to book a table on a Tuesday night. A local favorite, the Amalfi has been serving food to the good people of Adelaide for many years and apparently the menu has stayed pretty much the same, with occasional modifications to maintain interest.

It's always good to go for local when on the road, so I opted for the garfish because (a) it is local, (b) I like fish, and (c) I had no clue what a damn garfish was! So time to try. Turns out that it looks like a really small swordfish, and is so small that you don't get "a" garfish but "some" garfish. With "fish" being both a singular and plural noun, of course, the word "garfish" on the menu doesn't tell you anything about number. I thought I was getting one, but turns out I had a school. Well, maybe not quite that many but at least six.

Before hitting the restaurant, I did manage to snag an internet connection for 30 minutes and was able to hang with Mony for a while. Seemed like I hadn't seen her for the longest time but it was actually only a few days. It's amazing how SL becomes just a part of RL and the people you know might as well be living in the same city as you. Incredible. And time moves so fast in SL that I felt we only had a minute. Maybe time dilation is a new law of Physics that only applies to Second Life. Researchers take note. Still , the minute was worth all 60 seconds.

Apr 1, 2008

Mexicana At Montezuma's

I'm no historian but I'm pretty sure the closest that Montezuma got to Adelaide was his backyard toilet. Nevertheless, the restaurant Montezuma's tries hard to recreate an authentic Aztec eating establishment - or not. The color scheme of the place resembles and explosion in an M&Ms factory where the notion of "too colorful" doesn't exist. Still, it's a fun place and was very busy to say I was there on a Monday. The Chili Verde with Spanish Rice was spicy enough, with wonderfully tender meat, but the rice was rather overcooked; unless they prefer their rice dry and crispy at the edges in Mexico. I think maybe not.

The owners clearly have a sense of humor though. The toilets are not marked "Men" and "Womens" or even "Hombres" and "Chicas" but "God" and "Goddess." Irreverent but appealing, especially to self-absorbed egotistical avatars like myself.

Oh, and for those familial with the phrase "Montezuma's Revenge" as a description of bowel functioning the day after consuming spicy Mexican food, I didn't need to go through any "God" doors today. And clue number two - the name of the restaurant - means you could hack into the databases of the credit card companies and search for a receipt that includes the purchase of a Chili Verde. Go to it , Sherlock!