Tuesday, September 19, 2006


here are some photos from our trip to the auckland zoo. here we found lots of things you don't normally find in new zealand, like wallabies, turantulas, and oranutangs. we also found the following.

this emu was all up in my grill. i would've been pecked to death if not for my ability to fly away to the south pole where i met...

... a small penguin named earl. he liked flapping his wings instead of his mouth though he still couldn't fly. what a loser.

this is a tuatara. the third eye is all covered up because he or she is an adult. tuatara's get pretty big. at least, much bigger than i initially thought based on their 1 cm length on the 5 cent coin. the coins are endangered just like the tuatara. the coin is due to go the way of the dodo at the end of october.

chicken hakka noodles were not on exhibit.

a spider monkey named chet. ok, he's not chet. he's larry. but the only way i could tell is by squeezing his liver. spider monkeys are hard to catch and they don't like their livers squeezed.

a mara. no, not my sister. but a rat-kangaroo-horse thing. i can't make this shit up.

* * *

early tomorrow morning brendan and i head off to see the rest of the pretty north island. updates and photos will be posted probably a lot less frequently. well, photos less frequently for sure.

in other news we went to a taqueria today. the first mexican food we've had in weeks. it was kind of like a local version of chipotle, only not a chain. pretty decent stuff. the fish tacos weren't bad. we also went to the auckland library and read some comic books. i read the first alias collection. it was like the fish tacos. earlier this week we ate another pizza at al volo's that was better than the fish tacos. sunday, anton and i had a bake off. well, it wasn't a competition, we just made a lot of baked goods. he made two loaves of ginger cake and two loaves of honey cake. i made two loaves of honey cake, a flourless chocolate cake-y thing, three wedding cakes, a souffle, and an apple pie. and for dessert i made a kitten pie. kittens taste better than ginger. take that, anton!

ok. i have to go pack for a month's worth of travel business now.

Friday, September 15, 2006

australian immigration policy

so australia is trying to set new standards for immigrants, and there are talks in new zealand of following suit. in australia it looks like immigrants will have to pass an english proficiency test and an australian history and values test. there's also talk of imposing some kind of pledge that tourists must sign about adhering to australian values before entering the country. i wonder if australian values officially include prejudice and discrimination, or if that's just a perk.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

real quick...

Quotes from The Tick. I stole them from here. I think they're all from the animated series.

And so, may evil beware and may good dress warmly and eat lots of fresh vegetables.

Well, once again my friend, we find that science is a two-headed beast. One head is nice, it gives us aspirin and other modern conveniences. . . but the other head of science is bad! Oh beware the other head of science, Arthur, it bites!"

Life is a big wild crazy tossed salad, but you don't eat it, no sir! You live it!

You know gang, when you're a superhero, you never know where the day will take you. You may find yourself halfway around the world in the shark-infested waters of true-to-life living. Or you may find yourself going down to the store for a lozenge. You can't know, can you? No! You gotta ride that wave, you gotta suck that lozenge! 'Cause if you don't, who will?

You know Arthur, it's really been quite a day. On the outside, on the surface, oh sure, we were pursued by Swiss industrial spies, trapped in the belly of a whale. But what really pursued us? Where were we really trapped? C'mon Arthur! Get Meta with me! What pursued us were our own obsessions. I'm good, you're evil. I'm a super hero, you're a sidekick. I'm a woman, you're a man. What does it all mean? Nothing! And where were we all trapped? I'll tell you where Arthur! In the belly of love, love chum... LOVE.

Dinner's great! I especially like how you cut up my hot dogs to look like octopi.

Lab rat for your thoughts?

Gravity is a harsh mistress.

Come on, Arthur. The night is young and we have umbrellas in our drinks.

When evil's afoot, and you don't have any arms, you've got to do a little leg work. And when evil's ahead, and you're a little behind, you've got to stay hip. You've got to keep on your toes! You've got to kick a little--

Hug your destiny, Arthur!

I can't lose my name! It's on all my stationary!!

TV Reporter: Can you blow up the Earth?
The Tick: Egad! I hope not! That's where I keep all my stuff!

You don't fight destiny, no sir... and you don't eat crackers in the bed of your future!

Barry, I can't fight you. Superheros only fight supervillians....of course if you wanted to become a supervillian, I think we could have that arranged.

The Fourth Dimension is just one big crazy do not enter clambake jungle of weirdity -- and how does it work? Never mind!

That's a whole lotta' Aztecs!

Bad man hit dog with street!!

Villains, I say to you now... knock off all that evil!

Honk if you love justice.

Sun worshipping dog launchers! You face The Tick! And his dog, Speak!

Well, I hope you boys have learned your lesson. In love, there's a right way and a wrong way to do things. The right way is to take someone to a movie. The wrong way is to take someone from a movie. Because kidnapping is just plain wrong! Not only that, it's wrong in the eyes of the law. Wally, I'm pretty sure they'll try you as an adult. I'm not talking about detention, neither! I'm talking about detention! And what have we learned about Aztecs? Well, nothing really. Because you can't trust everything you read, especially in history books you get in gas stations. But you can trust Speak! Right, boy?

Look at my dog! I named him Speak. My dog Speak can really speak. My dog is the best. I love my dog Speak.

I can see it in your red-rimmed eyes, Speak! You're a righteous firebrand! Speak, we need a furry, moist avenger like you on the team. Come on, man, let's bark up the right tree together!

Speak, the ball fears you! Listen to its cry! Smell its fear! Now fetch!

I'm taking off the kid gloves, and putting on the very mad gloves!

Tropical parasites, your carefree infestation ends here! Tonight, you swim in ointments of righteous hygiene. Flee before the might of modern medicine! Mites, lice, and chiggers, your days are numbered... Yes, in this house, cleanliness is next to dogliness! Oh, Speak! I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. Of course, you're not a dog, you're a wonderful, lovely rodent. And there's nothing wrong with that. No! And if that's your lifestyle choice, then we'll stand behind you all the way."

Let your journey into hugeness teach us all a lesson. Absolute power is a sticky wicket. And, Arthur, chum, you were the stickiest. Don't you get it, good friend? Some of the best things come in small packages. But large things can't! Unless they're inflatable, or require some assembly, or unless they're hearts. Yes, giant, juicy, loving hearts! As big as the moon, but much, much warmer! Right, Speak?!

Arthur! We're a daddy!

Poppa's got a brand-new bag... of fish!

Nobody mauls The Tick's sidekick. And nobody touches The Tick's baby! Ever!

Well, Mr. Mental, I can forgive you for trying to take over the world, but not for stealing my heart! Days from now, Arthur and I will look around our empty apartment and wonder, 'Where's Baby? Where's our little bundle of joy?' and he'll be in prison! How could you do this to us? You made a mockery of everything this family stood for!

I am mighty! I have a glow you cannot see. I have a heart as big as the moon! As warm as bathwater! We are superheroes, men, we don't have time to be charming! The boots of evil were made for walkin'! We're watching the big picture, friend! We know the score! We are a public service, not glamour boys! Not captains of industry! Keep your vulgar moneys! We are a justice sandwich. No toppings necessary. Living rooms of America, do you catch my drift? Do you dig?

Destiny, that finely-shaped engine of the universe with the warm hands and the tasteful footwear, pushed Arthur, wings and all, into my path. We were meant to be together, friends to the end. He has a three-pound brain and it's all smarts!

You're not going crazy! You're going sane in a crazy world!

Let me tell you, last night I was thinking: How can I best express my superhero-ness? As I came here across an ocean of adversity, and after a really long bus ride, with my cheeks ruddy with passion and a heart as big as the moon, the answer came to me: superhuman punishment! A terrible engine of destruction! A big, harmful thing! And I think the results speak for themselves.

Uh, yeah, I suck blood all the time. Look, I gotta straw right here, pal, you want a demonstration?

There's no nice way to put this: Sewer Urchin just stinks!

I know him! I welcome the chance to 'team up'! Besides, he's got a great big cape!

The Tick caters to no man!

A heart of gold beats beneath that big fiberglass croissant, and thank goodness for it!

He has the mustache of a titan!

A day job... in an office?! My worst nightmare!

The human mind is a dangerous plaything, boys. When it's used for evil, watch out! But when it's used for good, then things are much nicer.

Not baked goods, Professor, baked bads!

So warm... so soft... could sleep forever. No! Must fight, mustn't succumb to the rapture of the bread!

Yeast devil! Back to the oven that baked you!

I'm betting that I'm just abnormal enough to survive.

Let us not forget the lesson that we can learn from this, Arthur, that man was not meant to tamper with the four basic food groups.

I hate broccoli, and yet, in a certain sense, I am broccoli.

Villains always have antidotes... They're funny that way.

Yeah, well, don't count your weasels before they pop, dink!

So, foul gelatin, you would do battle with the nose of your birth?!

Nobody mucks around with the Tick's bodily membranes! Prepare for swift justice!

Mucal invader, is there no end to your oozing?!

I don't know the meaning of the word 'surrender'! I mean, I know it, I'm not dumb... just not in this context.

Let's hang ten for justice!

Ah, savory cheese puffs, made inedible by time and fate.

I won't hesitate to forsake species for combat!

Supermodels usually don't date guys who live in the dirt.

Hey, you're the guy that made my head hot! Well, you're not going to make my friends' heads hot!

It's starting to smell a little like danger in here, or heavily-fried food.

Well, once again we find that clowning and anarchy don't mix.

Oh, what a goofy work is man!

Evil, chum, is ever-green!

Yes, destiny has her hand on my back, and she's pushing!

When no one understands you for the little things you do, When destiny strands you or wears you like a shoe, That's when you know it's over, Man, that's when you know it's through. I never thought that I would be so very big and blue.

Y'know, evil comes in many forms, whether it be a man-eating cow or Joseph Stalin, but you can't let the package hide the pudding! Evil is just plain bad! You don't cotton to it. You gotta smack it in the nose with the rolled-up newspapaer of justice! Bad dog! Bad dog! And you don't do it for money. No! You do it for love! You know, I've learned something this week... on justice and on friendship, there is no price. But there are established credit limits.

Yes, my slimy friend, once again slime does not pay! You can't just coat yourself with artificial mucous and slip through the long fingers of the law. It's wrong and it's gross.

Don't ever try to swim against the might tide of justice.

What's this?! It's a little boy's face! Oh, don't worry, little boy, I'll free you from this block of wood!

You know, Little Wooden Boy, the worst sin in the world is disloyalty. You wouldn't lie to me, would you, Little Wooden Boy?

This is one small step for The Tick, and one giant step for... say, a little bug. Or some guy who's been shrunk to the size of a penny.

Space, the Final Frontier, the Great Black Blanket. Man, a guy can get bored out here. Ah... space hurts.

So the cosmic circus moves along, its tiniest clown gone to rejoin it once again.

You know, Arthur, when you spend two months riding around on a really big man, you start to learn a few things about yourself. You learn that it is a really great thing to stay on Earth and live in a place that has no arms or legs of its own. And most importantly, Arthur, you learn how to close your eyes and tell yourself that this just isn't happening to me.

When evil sees a twin-headed, Arthur-powered, flying engine of Justice barreling down upon it, great will be its trembling!

Villain love goddess! You toy with the hearts of men!

Don't make us bite you in hard-to-reach places!

Eating kittens is just plain... plain wrong! And no one should do it, ever!

Like a great blue salmon of Justice, the might Tick courses upstream to the very spawning ground of evil.

Their Achilles' heel is the noogie!

Wait a minute, you! I heard about people like you! Are you saying you don't believe in Santa Claus?! And you call yourselves superheroes?!

I'm flying... I swoop... I soar... the city laps at my heels like a grateful puppy. I am the eagle king of all I survey. I am become Shiva, destroyer of worlds!!

You know... I've heard the smarter you are, the more wrinkly your brain. And your guys' brains must be the wrinkliest! Oh, sure, ordinary Joes like me and Arthur here, maybe our brains are a little on the smooth side. But you don't have to be a genius to know that evil is bad. And good isn't!

Mad Nanny! If you harm a hair on this greasy spoon's head, you'll have The Tick to answer to.

You just toasted the best BLT joint in the tri-state area; prepare to pick up the tab!

Je m'appelle Le Tic. J'ai une grande plume et deux tetes.

You know, though today was the worst day of my life, I learned many things. First, the world looks a lot different when you're six inches tall and covered with feathers. Second, two heads are definitely not better than one. And finally, you can lay eggs and still feel like a man.

Bloom, little leafling, make good your hold upon the world.

Vile vine, now maybe you'll think twice before you eat another human being.

Well, it just goes to show, Mother Nature has a load of tricks up her green sleeves. And tonight she really put her foot down. Yes, here's your little flower, Professor, and next time it blooms, may it bloom in the good way!

Yeah, I agree, falling in love with a supervillain is trouble with a capital troub!

Ottoman, there'll be no Justice of the Peace for you; just a big piece of justice!

Oh, look, Arthur, it's a completely rehabilitated villain. She's comfortable with herself. Comfort, commitment, marriage, what do these things have in common? The letter 'C' except for marriage, and if people get all British whenever they get knocked on the head, what do British people get? I know... comatose! Another 'C'.

Well, folks, there you have it. A day in the life of a superhero and his sidekick. It's a very long day, the tights are uncomfortable; I think we covered that before. Map light, convenient and essential. A lot of working of villain motifs. Crime has a Bossa Nova beat. Leap before you look. Remeber denouement. Other French words: inconvenient, nonessential... oh... I could go on and on... But time's a-wasting and evil's out there making hand-crafted mischief for the swap meet of villainy. And you can't strike a good deal with evil. No matter how much you haggle! We don't need to look for a bargain; goodness is cheap because it's free, and free is as cheap as it gets. Cut! What was that pig about?!

I'm sure millions of viewers out there are just wondering what it's like to wear the tights of justice. Well, it's tingly and it's uncomfortable, but it gets the job done and, oh, the job of it!

Here's a little tip. Leap before you look!

Deadly Bulb! I'm about to write you a reality check! Or would you prefer the cold, hard cash of truth?

Roof-pig! Most unexpected.

So warm, so bright, itchy all over. I'm twinkling... I'm twinkling.

Happy me, I'm the biggest, brightest ball of gas in the cosmos.

Hey! You in the pumps! I say to you, 'Stop being bad!'

Aha! So, bad lady, fate has put a dead end to your anarchy dabbling!

Sanity! You're a madman!

And that's just it, Doc -- my mind has always been my Achilles' heel!

You know, come to think of it, I'm not afraid of ants. I never was. It's just when they all come running out of a lady's pants like that... yech, creepy. And isn't sanity really just a one-trick pony anyway? I mean all you get is one trick, rational thinking, but when you're good and crazy, ooh ooh ooh, the sky is the limit!

Aha, yes, I see... a choreographic conundrum. Whoa, well that was a little dancey. You know why super villains are so unhappy, Arthur? They don't treasure the little things.

Oh, science... boring... interest... fading...

Hey, we've got these on Earth. We knock them into little pockets with sticks. Uh-huh, and we got higher numbers, too.

Got to pull myself together... must defy laws of physics.

Space aliens have neat stuff! Their space cookies are good, too!


Okay, Jack, this little minnow has been playing hooky. Any idea where it goes to school?

And my middle name used to be Helping People, The 'Helping People' Tick.

And so, Arthur, we learned that gambling is bad and yet in a certain sense, isn't life itself a gamble? You can never be sure of anything. Like who would have thought that dolphins could go bad and that fish were magnetic? Not me, no sir, not me.

Arthur, you have no historical perspective. Science in those days worked in broad strokes. They got right to the point. Nowadays, it's all just molecule, molecule, molecule. Nothing ever happens big.

So once again, we find that evil of the past seeps into the present like salad dressing through cheap wax paper, mixing memory and desire.

Arthur! My mustache is touching my brain!

You can't blow up Stinky! He's not even moving!

Rugged, self-assured, adult. These are the words that describe the man who wears a mustache. Yes, it says to the world, 'I'm a man of action!' Ah, but action tempered with maturity. Like a fireman... or somebody's dad! Y'know, most of your world leaders have mustaches!

So the mustache was in love. Oh, that's cool. Love is cool. That mustache is cool. But it didn't make me cool. It made Sewer Urchin swing ten miles by his upper lip. And look at Jim Rave. He should have been cool. He had a cool eye patch, cool RV, cool gadgets, and he traveled the world with three vivacious, exciting, talented beauticians. That's cool! But he wasn't cool. You know, Arthur, I may have lost my mustache, but I've gained... I haven't gained a thing.

This changes everything. I feel... different. Better. A new sensation is sprading out from my upper lip to every other part of my body. It's a feeling that I just can't quite describe. It's a savvy kind of feeling. A suavey kind of feeling. Kind of a.. kind of a mustache feeling!

Man! Today is so loopy!

Whoa-oh! Surprise hug from Mr. Freaky-Big!

Thaw out those cold feet! Let's talk this over!

Thank you for teaching us all that love it thicker than most bodily membranes. But not quite as sticky. And that a heart full of love is better than a body full of people. Merrilly, the feet that carried us on the heart's path today will be the feet that soak in the steaming brew of happiness tomorrow.

Always wear pants. Always wear your wings. And don't fall for Carmelita.

Question: Why would Aztecs be going to the movies? Answer: Forthcoming!

Yaaahhhh!!! Sidekicks don't kiss! You're so... you're so not Arthur! You dress like Arthur. Oh yeah, you're soft, like Arthur. But you curve in all the wrong places!

Everybody was a baby once, Arthur. Oh, sure, maybe not today, or even yesterday. But once! Babies, chum: tiny, dimpled, fleshy mirrors of our us-ness, that we parents hurl into the future, like leathery footballs of hope! And you've got to get a good spiral on that baby, or evil will make an interception!

Ah ha-ha, Chess! The ancient contest of wits. Two opponenets: Mano a mano. Braino a braino. And look! Magnets for ease of travel! You could play chess on the moon!

What was with the lobsters? I thought there were alligators in the sewers. I was ready for alligators.

We're sworn to protect The City. And we're just going to have to face it, that includes the sewers.

We spent all night learning an important lesson: You can't judge a sewer by its manhole cover. No sir, people can be very different under the surface than they might seem. Quiet, mild-mannered just might turn out to be roaring lions of two-fisted cool. And roaring lions of two-fisted cool just might have some crippling lobster problems. Listen, man, it's all crazy down there, under the surface. A lost wallet could bite you in half! A bar of soap could save your life! Egad! A disgusting mound of muck just my have some very compelling ideas! Do you dig my ditch?

Special devilery! Oh, Arthur! The thrill of modern postism!

Majesty snatchers! Unhand that highness!

My first day on the continent, and I already have an arch-enemy!

Let's just see how you fare against two bits of flat, shiny America!

All right, I bought his brain!

Oh, I get it, spelling America with a 'K', are we?

I've got fifty-thousand viewers strapped to my head!

When a nice clean brain tumbles into the dirty street to lay among the discarded wrappers and spat-out gum wads of wickedness, you can't just pick it up and wash it off with soap and water; you have to think it clean from the inside out!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Al Volo Pizza

The search is on. Pizza has been found and consumed. Prior to our expedition north, Brendan and I made a stop over in the Mt. Eden area to check out this punk-feminist comic book shop, Cherry Bomb. While meandering over in that direction, we came across a nice little corner pizzeria by the name of Al Volo. The menu, which was clearly visible through the large windows, listed some pretty traditional pies: a margherita, a marinera, and a napoli among others. Under the ingredients for their eponymous pizza they even specified that the mozzarella was buffalo mozzarella. And what was that on the wall? Yes, it was a history of pizza, describing its nebulous origins up through our favorite tale of the Queen Margherita declaring the pizza that displayed the colors of the Italian flag (the white of the cheese, red of the tomato, and green basil) as her favorite.

Brendan and I returned promptly at 5:00 just after it opened for a sample of what they had to offer. We ordered a margherita (pictured), an Al Volo (sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh cherry tomatoes, roquette, and olive oil), and we topped it off with a marinara. The pizzas were classic neapolitan pies--extra thin crust, measuring about 12" in diameter. According to the pizzaiolo, the oven ran on native manuka wood and burned somewhere between 300 and 400 degrees Centigrade (roughly 575 F to 750 F). The pies only were in the oven for two or three minutes before they were done. The crusts were crisp, if a little flimsy due to their thinness. However, the sauce was somewhat bland. This may have been related to the kind of tomatoes used (I couldn't say for sure), but it also suffered from an apparent lack of any seasoning. The difference between the cow and buffalo mozzarella was suprisingly clear when sampling them side by side with the buffalo possessing distinctive tang and a creamier texture. Olive oil proved to be an excellent addition to the Al Volo pie, while basil was key for the margherita, though it probably could've used a few more leaves. The marinara pie was a nice change of pace after consuming all that cheese, but I would probably not order it again given the lack of character of the sauce and myriad options on the menu--42 to be precise, even if I would only consider a quarter of them actual pizzas (I'm sorry, but tuna and bacon do not belong on pizza).

All in all, it was a solid entry in the great pizza race. It probably wouldn't make my top 10, but it was certainly as good as 2 Amys and maybe as good as John's of Bleecker. If nothing else, this pizza gives me hope for the rest of my stay here. I'll not go pizza-less into the night.

More reviews of Al Volo here and here
Website here

Al Volo
27 Mt Eden Rd
Mt. Eden
Auckland, NZ
09 302 2500

Saturday, September 09, 2006

what up, beaches!

a temporary title change has been enstated. it was too good to pass up. also, brendan finally got his blog up and running. you can read it at http://bonetree.blogspot.com/. if you're interested in seeing photos of me, that's probably the place to find them. here's the photo round-up from the past week:

haruru falls

brendan at cape reinga (where the tasman and pacific oceans collide)

a solar powered lighthouse

your mom is like a kauri tree

90 mile beach, which is closer to 90 km

brendan vs. the bay of islands


trees! and the beach

...speaks for itself

sunset from the bus

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

far north

saw some $22,000 couches and tables yesterday... they were made from old kauri trees and when i say old, i mean maybe 10,000 years... carved out of old stumps dug out of the ground.

we're up in paihia, which is a small town on the north east coast. hit up cape reinga yesterday and saw where the pacific ocean and the tasman sea butt heads. went sailing the day before to a small island out in the bay of islands. photos, which will say more than i could, are tk.

... other than that not much news. my apologies for making this blog more ugly. i'll try and fix that when i get back to AKL.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

work in progress

some adjustments being made... bear with me.