Saturday, July 11, 2009


I have just read a couple of my blogs and have learnt that I should not be so harsh in editing. Admittedly in posting the last week or so of blogs I did go hell for leather to just get them on the page and as a result I see/read that they could have been better. I didn't think it would make that much difference but surprisingly it has. Nothing of importance has been omitted, just the fillers that provide the adjectival entertainment. Ooooh, do you like that? Adjectival!!! I impress myself!

Also, to update, Chris' wallet was dumped in a postbox and the US Mail returned it to Australia. How cool is that? It was waiting for him when he got home! Minus the cash.

Anyway, if you don't have access to Facebook and would like to see the photos please let me know.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Saturday 4th July

Make sure you read this in date order. It won't make any difference really but I want you to follow correctly. It's actually fortuitous that the original post didn't work as I missed out a chunk of events.

8.30am, wow what a sleep in! I don't have any set plans today, mostly wandering around. I have aborted my plan for a swim because my scalp is sunburnt and my t shirt tan is really remarkable and doesn't need any help. I update some blogs after breakfast and then walk to the Fashion District. It is not what I expect i.e. regular chain stores etc. What I get is a gigantic Victoria Market full of cheap and tacky clothing and souvenirs. I spy a dress shop that has some quite pretty dresses so go in. I am looking for something to wear to Cathy's wedding but the salesman and I can barely understand each other so I leave.

I buy some purple sneakers for $12 and could probably get them cheaper but can't be bothered with a continued search. Everything I touch turns to purple which is fabulous because it is one of my favourite colours. It is the season's "it" colour and it is not the pink tinged wannabe purple, this is the real thing - electric purple!!!!!

Heading home I walk down Broadway to take photos of the old art deco style theatres. Just like my fire escape obsession, I check out all the theatres. Back at the hotel I sit down to read for a bit but I notice how grubby and worn out my runners are. Oh, well what luck, there is a Foot Locker around the corner with a big sale on. I pop in and pick up a pair of Nike's for $50. I did hesitate though as I don't really like the air bubble in the heel. After discussing this with my salesman, we decide I do need to get over that issue as they are really comfortable and great value.

There is an Anime Expo in town for a few days so there are hundreds of mostly young people getting about in weird costumes, wigs and hats. Each to their own.

With 2 days left I have given up on having a good coffee so I sit down in Bottega Louie for a strong cup of tea in a ceramic cup and not a paper one. Oh heaven! My cupcake is light and yummy too. I can watch the chefs preparing food, the staff are sophisticated and immaculately dressed and the food in the deli section is mouth watering. Why didn't I discover this place on our 1st day here?

I have another walk around and I really don't like LA. It is dirty and smelly. There are homeless and alcoholics everywhere begging. Some of the men are quite sleazy and make suggestive comments as they pass me. It makes me feel gross. At least in New York, they made me smile when they were trying to sell me a hip hop or rap CD. One guy says to me "show me some love, I know you get down Mama!" Well, yes I do, but I get down to a different beat, child!

When I get home I intend to change before dinner but really can't be bothered so just turn around and go out again. I head to the California Pizza Kitchen. I order some mushroom ravioli with a tomato sauce and check the garlic levels with the waitress. I am assured it will be fine but I am soon having my doubts. Sure enough when she sets the meal in front of me I nearly have a heart attack. The amount of chopped garlic I see sends my stomach into spasms as I call the waitress over. She changes my meal without problem.

A couple across from are very non-descript but their conversation is what catches my attention. He is using words like, promote, work, I'll do this, that and the other for you. He is rattling off his competitors names and saying they really don't know what they are doing. I guess he is an agent. I am listening hard and watching their mouths for assistance but I can hardly hear them. She soon looks bored out of her brain while he does all the talking and shaking his legs. She offers him what looks like a throat lozenge before letting out a dainty pathetic cough. I hear the word "Hustler" and I "bingo", PORN. This makes more sense to me although she is not what you would call a Page 3 pin up. I keep missing the important bits of the conversation so all I get is things like "I'm so anti.....", "Are you good at....", "Why is it okay to....." He talks about how there is no flirting, he fell in love......she knows I am having dinner with you.....playing with breasts. I really did hear these things!!! I get bored trying so hard to eavesdrop so give up.

On my way home I would like to stop by a bar for a drink but of course everything is closed. This place is heading for ghost town status day and night, holiday or not. I find a supermarket and buy some wine and crisps. Chris and I watch a cooking show and I fall asleep watching it after polishing off the wine. Bad move!

Where is Saturday?

I have had major internet trouble this morning and I have just discovered Sat 4th July is missing. Stand by.

Tuesday 7th July and a bit of Wed 8th

A 2 hour wait in Auckland and we are so bored we just want to get home. The flight is just under 4 hours and I watch Tsotsi. Unfortunately the in flight entertainment system is not working properly for some people and after re-booting the whole system no one's is working. I miss the last 6 minutes of the film!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have breakfast again and I try to sleep. I am restless now.

Back in Fitzroy around 11.30am and I add some photos to Facebook, write some blogs and do my washing. Around 4.30pm I start feeling a bit spinny so I have to go to bed and wake up sometime after dusk to be freaked out. I don't recognise the silhouettes in my room and don't know where I am. I know it is not New York but it doesn't look like LA so where am I. I really do freak a bit but try to tell myself this is what I always do, which it is. I go back to sleep and get up when the phone rings. It is 8.30pm.

I add some more photos, check my mail and start to get tired again. At 10.30 I go back to bed and get up in the morning around 7.30am. I feel pretty good. I spend the morning finishing the blogs and my photos and then looking at them continuously. I think they are fantastic shots.

Well, it's time for some serious exercise so I am going to get Billy Blanks Boot Camp up on the screen.

Thanks for reading everyone. I had a fabulous time and it was a dream come true to finally go to the USA, especially New York.

Monday 6th July

There is no Monday 6th July. We lost it over the Pacific Ocean somewhere never to be recovered.

Sunday 5th July

Checkout isn't until 12pm so there is no rush but I am still up at 8am. I attempt to have a shower but the drain is blocked so move to another one. There is no hot water so I wash my hair in a tepid temperature and curse the hotel. It's like a Fawlty Towers here with blocked toilets, drains, 1 elevator for 15 floors and rude reception staff but it has free internet so I have been able to do my blogs for you. Thankfully it is summer so I will warm up soon after my shower. When I get back to the room I put my watch on and it says 8am. I hit a time warp and wonder what the hell is going on. It's then I remember the room clock is set forward an hour and we didn't change it so I really got up at 7m and didn't have the sleep in I thought I had. It doesn't make much difference as I am a bit hungover. Thought I would slip that one in there! The 2 mornings I have been hungover have been flying days, silly girl!

I go back to Bottega Louie for breakfast and savour my cup of tea and individual banana and marscapone bread. Yum! A man at the next table asks me if I know who the large group of men are nearby. Of course I don't know but looking at this man, I know he knows and is about to tell me. They are a bunch of retired policemen and this is their regular Sunday morning motorcycle ride breakfast. This piece of information gives the man licence to continue talking to me which I don't want. It is early, I am eating breakfast, I am reading - 3 sure signs I do not want to be disturbed. It only takes 1 or 2 words from me before he notices my accent so the obvious questions follow. He goes on to show me the cartoon he drew for todays' paper and I don't understand the gist of his ensuing conversation with it's political tones. I tell him this but it doesn't stop him from continuing. He introduces me to his friend who speaks at a level 2 below that of a whisper so I keep saying "sorry?" which they in turn don't understand as "pardon?" In the end I just nod and say "mm" a lot and I don't care if I seem a bit dumb because it works.

Back at the hotel I continue with my blogs, I am really cracking along with them now and hope you are all reading. Once my photos are up for your viewing pleasure the 2 go hand in hand, mostly. With still another hour before checkout I just put my feet up on the bed and we watch Big Daddy's House. Big Daddy is cooking some meditteranean food and ooh, they look yummy. He is incredibly excited about the dishes too.

As I mentioned earlier there is only 1 elevator working so it's a good 10 minute wait for us to get in with our luggage as we watch 2 men in wheelchairs go up and down!!! There are a lot of wheelchair bound people in this city, quite a number with no legs, it's very noticeable. We take the stairs and store our luggage. We still have 10 hours before take off.

First stop is the Bradbury Building famous for it's cage elevators and stunning architecture. Next is the Walt Disney Centre where we take an audio tour. It's a gorgeous building inside and out, although the designers etc keep referring to it as a warm and inviting place. I don't really feel the warmth but the garden is most definitely inviting. The tour lasts for about an hour and at the end I leave my Disney biography on the bar. This is a book that I found a few months ago. It is registered on and hopefully it will travel across the world.

Across the road a bit is City Hall, a building so grand and beautiful it is famous for appearing in many films/tv shows.

Starving, I have my hunger pangs set on a famous French Dip Sandwich from Coles around the corner from the hotel. It is basically a meat baguette with au jus. You dip your sandwich into the warm meat juices and it melts in your mouth. Delicious!!!

Last stop is Godiva chocolate store but it is closed. Oh well, I have a small stash already but do buy a few more bars from a shop nearby. I cave in and get a coffee from Louie which I think is going to be pretty good but I am wrong. Should have known better. When I get home I am going to try this no coffee business as the calories in milk are very high and are the major contributor to my battle of the bulge. It is NOT the cakes, alcohol or lack of ab crunches - oh, I know that!!

We don't want to walk around anymore so collect our bags and go to the airport. I buy myself some of my 2nd favourite perfume, J'adore (I know you want to know and why not my 1st favourite? Well I have almost a full bottle of Paris at home). I spy the Godiva chocolates but refrain as they are tres expensive.

We settle in for a 13 hour flight to Auckland and I don't feel like concentrating on much so I watch "I Love You, Man". Dinner is roast beef and vegies and I limit myself to 1 glass of wine, how good am I? Then I watch the classic "In The Heat Of The Night" and sleep afterwards. My sleep is fitful with a sore coccyx and about 5am I give up and watch 2 episodes of CSI, the one where Grissom leaves, for all the fans. Breakfast arrives and I have time for 1 episode of The Simpsons before we land.

Friday 3rd July

As we are nearing the end of our trip I am slowing down. There isn't a whole lot in LA I want to see which is interesting. Before we left I had every day packed and San Fran was pretty chilled. It's turned out the opposite.

I take the train back to Hollywood and arrive in perfect time for the Kodak Theatre tour. Home of the Oscars, I am pretty excited. I feel pretty special to be here and have a smile on my face the whole time. The theatre is wonderful and if you happen to be NVI(not very important) and get a seat in the top tier at the back, you might as well not be there. But really, who is going to say no to an invitation?

Each year in September a ballot is held to give away 500 bleacher seats on the red carpet. They start the ballot this early as each person is subject to an intense security check. After the stars have entered the building on the night, you are whisked across the street to a venue for a meal and to watch the show. It's all for free!!!!

We are given a special postcard that isn't available to buy anywhere because we couldn't take our own photos. I forget to take a photo of the outside.

Nearby or I find, not so nearby, is the 75 year old Farmer's Market which is like a giant food court. It is so busy but I am displaying incredible patience getting through the crowds and find myself a seat for lunch. Next door is The Grove, an upmarket, beautifully manicured and designed shopping mall. I have a look around but it's not that interesting so I jump on a bus and head back downtown.

Oh what a surpise, I go to Macy's! My discount card is still valid so I really should buy something. The weather makes me think about going to Santa Monica beach for a swim tomorrow so I buy swimmers at 60% off. The trying on phase is not too traumatic, probably because I am trying a suitable style. I throw into my purchase a couple more Godiva chocolate bars. Awesome chocolate and very expensive normally.

My shin is giving me so much pain that I really think I should be on crutches. I wonder how I will manage back at tap class. Time for something to eat and I find that many cafes and restaurants are closed for the holiday weekend so wonder what I am going to do about dinner. I end up at an Irish/American pub where I am asked for ID by a large black man. I say to him "do I need it?" He responds hesitatingly "ahhh, I think not." Good man!

I order pasta with prawns and it is awful. I eat most of it but only because I am hungry. I just want to go home now with some alco-pops and put my feet up. There is nowhere open to buy them. I discover that you need a hard liquor licence to sell spirits whereas you can sell wine and beer at places like 7/11 and the chemist. I settle on some Rolling Rocks. I watch a bit of TV and find a crazy woman hosting an entertainment show with a special on Michael Jackson. I get bored, read for a bit, then sleep.

Thursday 2 July - part 2

Oh, before the tour starts I get my home made name plate out and place it on a star to have my photo taken. I am hilarious and people are watching me. Chris, in turn finds a star (in fact 2) that have the initials CB so we take his photo and our humour astounds us.

It's time to walk down Hollywood Blvd and visit some important places. I get my photo of Marilyn Monroe's star which is unfortunately outside McDonalds, I don't think she would approve of that. I cross the road to Grauman's Chinese Theatre and take a tour. It isn't very good so I don't really recommend bothering. The hand and footprints in the forecourt are what everyone comes to see so it is very busy. I have to wait a bit before I can get Marilyn's without other people in it. The footprints of the women look abnormally small because the actors take off their regular shoes and put on tiny ones so their feet look dainty. It is too late for my tour of the Kodak Theatre so will have to come back. I wander for a bit and then catch the train back downtown. I go home for a shower and short relax before dinner.

Tonight it's Pete's Cafe just down the street a bit. It looks expensive but I have looked at the menu and prices online and it is fine. I sit outside to avoid the large and noisy party inside at the bar but the smokers bother me so I move inside. Much better and very sophisticated. My meal is just delicious! Fish with a white bean ragout and sauteed spinach. It really was so good and each day I am desperate for vegies so this is perfect.

I ask my waiter for advice on the studio tours, actually I my first question is "are you an actor, as I want an actor's point of view?" The tours all say they are the only one to go inside a working studio - it doesn't matter much as I know what I will see and anyway most of the shows are on hiatus for the summer. I am not fussed on the rides at Universal which is the original choice. I feel bad for Chris as he really wants to go and I have already said no to Disneyland. He is fine though and happy enough to go on his own. Anyway, my waiter confirms my suspicions and the reviews I have read online. Decision made.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thursday 2nd July - part 1

Today I make my pilgrimage to Hollywood. I check out the train options and voila we are there in about 20 minutes. Straight across the road is the visitor's centre and what luck! If we sign up now as early birds we can get 2 tours for the price of 1. But wait, there's more! "Are you on a budget" Well, as a matter of fact "YES". Anyone who says no to this question is a bit silly. I will pay $30 for a 1 hour tour through the Hollywood Hills and then a 2 hour tour through Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Dr, Cedars Sinai Hospital - sick beds for the stars and all the places you see on TV. Chris goes off to do his own thing.

The hills are certainly alive in Hollywoodland, the original name, with extraordinary structures and buildings that are homes to those who have money. We are in an open top truck of sorts and our guide Bruce, points out lots of interesting homes telling us about their owners/history. As a matter of fact some of the homes are under $1 million so they are not out of reach......for some. We see the home Bugsy Siegel built. Madonna owned it for a while and this is the house where someone climbed her fence. When you see this house you will understand the incredible feat this intruder undertook. Mind you we only saw the back fence, or rather the massive wall, so there must be an easier point of wrongful entry.

One home we see is having extensions and what an eye-popper! It is almost 2 houses worth with an above ground walkway between. Phew! Back at the visitor centre we have a quick break and change to a double decker bus. I'm pretty excited but I find the tour underwhelming. Natasha our guide is a born and bred local with a 13 year old daughter so this qualifies her for knowing everything. It becomes evident that she doesn't when she fills gaps by repeating 3 times what she just said, telling us what street we are crossing and the piece de resistance - pointing out a frozen yoghurt store. She was really giving me the shits by the 2nd hour and after mentioning twice that we would be going past the orphanage where Marilyn Monroe grew up, she lost me completely. The tour ends and I certainly am glad I did it as I could never have done it all on my own, on foot. LA is so spread out and huge, the maps do not give you any indication how big it really is.

At this point I will digress a moment. I normally write in the past tense but this time am using the present. If I switch between the two ignore it, I can't be bothered all the time to fix it. Will finish here but there is more to this day.

Wednesday 1 July

I'm up early at 7am because I am too restless. We are heading to Santa Monica today so we jump on the bus and get there 1 and 1/4 hours later, not realising we could have caught the train and probably been there in 40 mins or so. Anyway once there, we head to 3rd St Promenade for some shopping. We pass through a street market with the best looking produce I have seen in ages. It is mouthwatering but it would be a pain to carry stuff around if I buy anything. We split for an hour to look at different things and I make a couple of purchases. We go over to the famour Santa Monica pier and walk to the end for photos. The beach is lovely and so wide. You will see from one of my photos.

We start the pleasurable but a bit too long for blistered feet walk to Venice Beach. My blisters have actually almost gone but my shin is in agony and gives way a couple of times. The compensation my other muscles made to help my blisters is causing me a lot of grief. Strolling through the stalls is monotonous as one would expect I suppose and I am glad that I do not make my living this way. I was going to say the competition is mad but that would be forgetting the madness of my own industry. Muscle Beach is a non event for me as I am not into the bulging muscles of show offs. The highlight is seeing an old man in his street clothes doing his sit ups outside the gym enclosure.

It's already mid afternoon and our intention of going to Hollywood is put off until tomorrow. We jump on a Big Blue Bus (that's what they are called), get the directions we need and go home. We bus along Wilshire Blvd and it must be one of the longest streets ever. It is a very bumpy and busy road and we are moving at a cracking pace. We certainly do not want an accident now. A young-ish woman gets on while talking on her cell phone. She is is having an argument with some type of business and she goes on and on for at least 20 minutes - until she gets off.

The bus route finishes right near our hotel so we go in to freshen up and go for dinner. I look through the brochures and do some internet research for a place and choose Rocket Pizza Lounge around the corner. Warner Brothers are filming just nearby but the guard won't tell me what they are shooting. My meal is fantastic. I have a salad of spinach, tomato, apple, almonds, caramelised walnuts and raspberry viniagarette. I will definitely be making this one at home. My pizza is awesome too and I eat everything. I go home very satisfied.

Tuesday 30 June

Hangover alert!!! My head hurts a lot and the combination of too much wine and the heat made sleep very tossy-turny.

We leave stinky Chinatown at 6am on the wrong train. We don't actually know this until we reach Jamaica, Queens and not Jamaica Centre, Airport. After getting some directions and a warning that the cab drivers here will rob us we agree it is just easier to get a cab and spend the $25 it will cost. We stand at the kerbside waiting for one to come along but we aren't in the city anymore Toto, and there are no cabs driving by. Someone asks us if we need help as clearly we do and he tells us the cabs are right here! They are unmarked cars so we would never have known ourselves. Off we go and it was good to see a bit of Queens and the different houses.

We get to check in with 10 minutes to spare and they don't weigh our luggage, luckily, as we were definitely over the domestic limit. I am desperately hungry so grab some breakfast and soon enough we are on board. I am so tired I fall asleep straight away. We are due to take off at 8.40am and when I wake up at 8.55, then again at 9.10 I wonder why we haven't left yet. With people moving through the cabin I realise that we are in the sky and I have slept through take off. I can't believe I didn't wake up with the noise or the feeling. Unheard of!!!! I don't remember anything else about the flight and there isn't anything in my journal to remind me.

It doesn't take long before we are checking in to the Stay Hotel, a hybrid hostel. We share bathroom facilities but we have a telephone, television and get our beds made if we wish. Next door is the Cecil Hotel which they are affiliated with and we share the lobby, cafe and reception issues if need be. I discover my luggage has been searched as the lock is missing. It's a weird feeling but nothing is out of place and they leave a notice to say they have done the search.

We organise beds and have showers, deciding to go for a wander around the streets. We go to the information centre and leave there loaded with brochures, bus routes and maps. Our first attraction is the Grammy Museum and wow, what a place this is. Fantastic value at $11.95 with a student card, ahhem, we are there for nearly 2 hours and could easily stay another 2. Packed with tons of interactive touch screens and headsets giving trivia, showing memorabilia, backstage footage from 1800's to the present day. Anyone with a slight interest in music would enjoy this, in fact if you don't, then you don't really like music. Every genre is covered. Nerida you would be in heaven here, as far as museums go!!!

We pick up some alco-pops and go back to the hotel to chill out. I pick up some chinese food for $4.69 and it could have done me 2 meals. Apart from the sirens going off all night, or rather on and on and on, we have a quiet night. It is pretty stuffy though.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday 29 June

Last day in New York! I allow myself a major sleep in til 9am then I am off to Chelsea, mostly just to see the infamous Chelsea Hotel to get a photo.

I venture north to Hell's Kitchen to check out the Actor's Studio and I go straight past it because I had the wrong street number in my head. It is a very non descript building with a small sign so it's no surprise I missed it anyway. What an anti climax! I don't really know what I was expecting but all the significant acting houses and theatres I made special trips to were that way.

Off to Central Park for round 2 on foot. Strawberry Fields - big deal! Belvedere Castle - closed on Mondays. Keep wandering towards the exit but get side tracked by the Loeb Boathouse and what a good thing it is. I stop for a wine by the lake. It's so beautiful here and I am completely relaxed, well my feet are 90% relaxed. I order a prawn cocktail and a mango mojito to treat myself. Delicious! I don't want to leave but I must. I want to finish the park which I do over an hour later.

Back to Times Square and I line up for a ticket to see Next To Normal - Best Musical/Actress. It has been recommended to me and 39 Steps isn't on so I am looking forward to it. After 40 minutes I get to the counter and the only seats available are restricted viewing for $85. No way, if I am paying those dollars I want to see everything! Walking to the subway I am a bit sad to be leaving. Apart from my mangled feet I am really comfortable here.

I go home, shower and go to the supermarket to get dinner. It's going to be a very quiet and relaxing evening. It's damn hot in the flat and I am restless. Chris tells me he doessn't want to do anything in LA, just sit on the beach and go to Universal Studios. Fine! CENSORED.

It is fucking hot and there is no breeze. We have to be up at 5.30am and sleep is going to be restless.

Sunday 28 June

I snooze for 1/2 an hour, it's too hard to be so regimental every day. I rearrange my morning and set off for The Bronx. I am trying hard to stay awake on the subway and it hurts. The trip is about 30 minutes and as we approach the end of the line the difference in aesthetic is obvious. The last few stops are above ground so I can check things out. Here we are 242nd St, The Bronx.

There are large groups of apartments and tenements all over New York but here they just seem to go on and on. The streets are littered and dirty, the shops are old. I am here to check out Wave Hill, a massive garden and performance space, another of those secret places in New York. I walk for a bit and can see the Van Cortlandt House Museum which is to be my 2nd stop. I soon discover that I am about to get myself lost and am nowhere near my destination. I think I have mixed up directions between the two places. That's okay I will just go back to the house and wait for it to open which won't be long.

Van Cortlandt House is the oldest in The Bronx and it stands out because it is so out of place. I am the first visitor and get chatting with the sale lady. I wonder how she gets through the day out here with few visitors. There are no other attractions around.

I decide to skip Wave Hill due to the awkwardness of getting there and my time frame which does not allow for me getting lost. I simply cannot get lost today as I have my theatre ticket. I walk several blocks sticking to the train line as this is a "hood" and I don't have an extensive map for this area. I get some shots of the overpass and the road which is an image you will be familiar with from car chases in movies.

Next stop Harlem. Yep, I am up in the hoods today. The hoods are uptown so saying "down in the hood" is technically wrong. I walk along 125th St which is the main street and there are heaps of street vendors selling Michael Jackson t shirts and memorabilia. The Apollo Theatre has a memorial wall where people can write a message. I get some photos but don't feel the need to stop for long.

I pop in to the Studio Museum of Harlem which is actually an art gallery and I'm not too fussed. I'm happy enough to leave town and head back to Times Square for my play. I'm very glad I got to look around the area a bit, not as much as I had intended, but I have blisters to take care of and the clock is ticking. Once on the bus I am able to relax my eyes as we move into familiar territory and I don't need to pay attention for ages.

As we get closer to Times Square the traffic is backing up. Oh the Gay Pride march is on. I get off and walk grabbing a hot dog on the way. I am starving but don't have time for anything else.

Time for God of Carnage. It is a great play but the theatre is far too big for the show. It really needs intimacy. So much was lost between the stage and the back row that this is where I think ticket prices are a crime. It's a different show when you are in the back row of the balcony compared to that which you see in the stalls. Remind me when I am a producer to adjust ticket prices more fairly. I hang around the stage door which is right next to the main entrance because I can. I get pictures of the cast and don't bother with autographs.

I'm feeling pretty damn chuffed so I think it's Macy's time!! I know, how many times can I go back there? It wouldn't be fair to miss things. As it turns out I get my Calvin Kleins and more. I even find a department that I wasn't expecting to. So you see this is where my style of shopping becomes successful. Now I really have to gome home, I am dead on my feet. My feet are dead. I don't know how but I get through the supermarket and home before dropping. I (think) have a shower, I can't remember 24 hours later, have dinner and write a bit. I accidently on purpose fall asleep and wake up when Chris comes home. I read for a bit then go to sleep again.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Saturday 27 June

A big day ahead so I am up at 6.45am. I am so impressed with my consistent early mornings. Today I am walking in the East Village according to Lonely Planet but skipping a few parts. It's obviously one of the poorer areas but that's not to say it's a down and out zone. Following the map, I go through Tompkins Square Park which is clearly a druggie station. It's about 8am and I see a guy at a table who looks like he is preparing his trade. I am a bit unnerved and am glad to see the exit.

I hear someone shouting out to me as I cross the road and look at my map. "Hey, where are you going?" I let him know I am fine and on track. Let me introduce to you, Joey from Florida. Today he is 46 and he is on a bus tour staying at the Marriott, Times Square. This part I find difficult to believe. He is feeling lonely and asks me how tall I think he is and then how tall I am. The same questions keep popping up over the next half hour as he follows me around, he really wants some company. He keeps kissing me on the cheek and a couple of times I only just manage to turn my face away. Euw!!! Soon I tell him I have to go and get on with my day. I seriously don't want to talk to him anymore. I am concentrating more on him not doing anything weird than the surrounds I actually came to see.

I subway it to Times Square and check out some souvenirs before going to the box office for God of Carnage. These tickets are not available at TKTS, it is the hottest show in town after winning the Tonys for Best Play and Best Actress. I get the last single ticket for Sunday's matinee. It's in the upper circle, back row - $81.50. Oh well, I have to see this show. The cast - Marcia Gay Harden, James Gandolfini, Hope Davis and Jeff Daniels.

Next stop is Central Park and I rent a bike for 2 hours. I didn't check the bike properly before I left so I feel like I am riding a child's bike with my legs folded up. The seat won't rise because there is a rack on the back in the way. I wasn't given the lock so I couldn't stop to do some of the things I wanted to. BUT I am so glad to be off my feet.

Discovering I cannot ride through all the pathways, just around the perimeter defeats the purpose of me having the bike so I am bit cranky. I stop at the Conservatory Pond to eat my lunch that I picked up from the deli outside the park. Back on the road and I see nothing but trees. Beautiful yes, but you know, trees are not exclusive to New York City. Soon I discover they have a pool and I stop to imagine myself having a swim, cooling off. This is the ice rink in winter. I am really enjoying the ride now regardless of the setbacks. Uh, oh here come the hills. My legs do not need the extra effort but there is no way around.

After just over an hour I have had enough so I take the bike back. I try to tell the 2 people (twice each) that I did not get the lock and the seat did not go up. I was conveniently ignored. No recommendation here.

I catch the bus back uptown to the NYC Museum which is interesting but not quite what I had in mind. I buy a book and get another bus down to the MET. I still want the jigsaw but it is gone!!! I ask about it and someone goes downstairs and comes back with half a dozen. Yay!

Time to head back downtown for a photo of the Flatiron Building. It really is a sight to see when you first see it from the correct angle. I asked a local to take a picture for me but he kept missing me and I gave up, moved away and asked someone else. It is very difficult having others take photos for you, they never get what you really want.

In agony I hobble to the subway and head for home via the supermarket and wine store. I discover that you can buy beer anywhere including the milk bar and chemist but you can't get wine. It is troubling. I get some buttermilk fried chicken and salad from the self serve. I am staying in tonight to rest up. It's already 8.30pm when I get home anyway and it won't be long before I am asleep.

However, as soon as I open the door and before I take a step inside I hear "guess what happened to me?" Before I can answer I learn that Chris has had his wallet stolen - from the back pocket of his low slung, loose fitting jeans. Easy target!) I will need to lend him money for the remainder of the trip which is 1 week. It's lucky I have the money. Of course I am sorry for him but if you are thinking my tone is harsh, it is.

Friday 26 June

My alarm goes off at 7am but I snooze for 20 minutes. I am going to do 2 of my self guided walking tours from Lonely Planet today in Soho and the West Village.

I leave at 8.20am and it's really lovely at this time. Chinatown is only just starting to wake up and I get a coffee a little along the track for breakfast. In both villages it's mostly just to look around and take some photos of particular places. Once again I get lost in the West Village, it is an awkward design of streets. It is raining but I don't mind, it's cooling me down. The weather each day is increasingly muggy so before long I am sticky and feel yucky. Anyway I get the photos I want which don't have much meaning but I have argued with myself whether I should bother or not. If I didn't get them I would be disappointed and it's done now.

I stop and buy a t shirt, what a surprise! then make my way home. I am having coffee with Reece, a friend from Melbourne who now lives here. I have just enough time to plonk down for 10 mins. When Reece arrives he is sick and has come over just to tell me he can't stay out. He lost my number. I walk back towards the East Village where he lives as I want to do a walking tour over there. I stop at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and book into a tour leaving right now.

Our guide, once again, is an expert and has grown up in this area. He is in his 80's and knows what he is talking about. The building is in the same condition now as it was in 1935 when it closed. You can see various layers of wallpaper deteriorated and peeling paint. It's very interesting listening to the stories of a certain family and how 4 of their 8 children died. We learn about the hygiene laws that were brought and how the city went from having the highest child mortality rate to the lowest. I wasn't expecting a tour at this venue so am extremely happy.

I wander off and head to the Brooklyn Bridge. I walk across in about 20 minutes at a good pace. I am sure I have missed a turn when I end up in the city itself. I'm supposed to be down by the water. I know where I went wrong but I didn't bother to check the map when I questioned the fork in the road. It doesn't matter as I need to go to the city anyway. It is very humid and I feel a beer coming on. I find a bar/grill and enter an empty room. I ask if they are open and "yes" comes the reply as one waiter scurries out the back and the other comes to the bar.

I am waiting for him to come and serve me and eventually I have to ask him if he is the one serving. He says he is waiting for me and I say I am waiting for you. I can't be bothered with this service so I leave. I go to the next place which is almost as quiet but am so thirsty I am not moving to another place. I ask for a Brooklyn Lager and it is too strong a flavour. The barmaid offers me a pilsener which is yummy and she swaps my drink for free.

The owner starts chatting to me and a couple of locals drop by. We bond over neighbourhood noises. Lots of talk about Australia and Brooklyn happens and I learn about the old roads that went through the city and that some buildings are odd shapes because of the updates.

I am looking forward to the Brooklyn Historical Society and am gutted/cranky to find they are closed for some reason or other. I decide to go to Century 21, an outlet store that apparently is the best kept secret in New York. Uh, I don't think so! I miss my stop and have to double back. It is later that day that I find out it is a station that would have been used by World Trade Centre folk and is under reconstruction.

This store is an absolute shambles. I hate it! I go straight to lingerie as I am in search of my Calvin Kleins. I am in great luck and pick up about 6 bras, 3 undies and 2 t shirts. In the dress department I say "excuse me" to a woman I need to get past. No response so I repeat. She looks at me with disdain and turns away. My 3rd excuse me carries an appropriate tone and I just push past her. Now, I have found manners in this country to be of the utmost importance to most people but when it comes to shopping I think all the rules go out the window. It's not nice, let me tell you. Women are mean!!

I reluctantly join the very long fitting room queue only to be told that I cannot try on the bras. Really? Well, forget it, I will just leave them here and you have lost a potentially large sale. I find this in a number of stores when things are cheap there is to be no trying on. Bugger that!

As I walk out of the building I find a seat to sit down for a bit. I realise I am at Ground Zero. I am momentarily silenced (in my silence) and try to envisage to 2 city block emptiness in front of me filled with concrete, windows, computers, carpet, coffee and people. There is no longer a viewing deck so I just walk around and find a space to look through the fence.

I saunter down to Battery Park Esplanade and sit for 10 minutes to rest. My blisters are really hurting and hindering me. It's about 5pm and I want to make a decision on my evening's activities. There are 3 broadway shows that I want to see but I really just want to go home and have a shower. Which is what I do!

Little Italy down the street is the destination for dinner. I walk up and down perusing the potential spots while the waiters gathered out the front try to tempt everyone in. Eventually I choose one with decent prices but unfortunately my choice is not a good one. The service is slow and my meal is salt flavoured with prawns. I can't wait to finish my wine and go home to put my feet up and chill out. I detour to get a couple of alco-pops and am home before 9.30pm. Oh look, there's a blister coming up on my other foot! An earthquake in Erinsborough doesn't get much better than this!

Thursday 25 June

I get up about 8am and see that Chris isn't home. He went out with a local who he had been in touch with. I'm not concerned however by 9ish I text to see if he is okay and alive. I think he has either lost his phone or completely lost. I also think he probably picked up. I get a response after a bit and my imagination settles.

This morning I go to the MET and find the labrynthine rooms annoying. I am not as interested in art as I would like to be (since I am here) and move swiftly through each room looking for something to take my attention. I'm out in 2 and 1/2 hours including my 15 minute coffee break. I almost buy a jigsaw of Klimt's The Kiss but don't. Kind of wish I did now but I can always go back. This is not a good thing to rely on though as you never know what the day will bring.

Tiffany! I had no intention of going in to the store but it would be silly not to now that I am here. After seeing plenty of other "not so snappy" dressers go in, I follow. Not really my cup of tea most of it. I wouldn't say no of course but most of the stuff is too big. All I want is to have my breakfast at Tiffany's photo taken. This is a shot of me holding a handwritten note saying Breakfast and me standing in front of the Tiffany sign. I am so funny! Mission accomplished, I head across to Bloomingdales. I really can't be bothered too much with this one as I'm not going to buy anything at these prices. They still have the rickety old wooden escalators and I am transported to another era.

I walk a few blocks and reach MOMA. Lauren Hutton walks up to the counter at the same time as me. She looks exactly as you expect. The staff don't recognise her as they are a younger generation. My interest levels rise a bit with this environment but not by a great deal. I have a coffee first and it costs $4.74. Ouch! Walking around I find I am insulted by some artist's ideas of art. Honestly, a black painted square of canvas is not art, an old woman's collecton of household rubbish and junk is still rubbish and junk no matter how nicely you arrange it. I am not joking when I say rubbish - there are plastic drink bottles, take away containers, paper bags, bird cages, shoes, boxes and bottle tops. I take a photo to prove it. Again I whizz through the exhibitions and get out. No more museums for me on this trip. Historical ones will be fine.

Time is ticking on and I go to Times Square intending to get theatre tix but change my mind. I have dinner at Planet Hollywood only because I have a $10 off voucher. My cannelloni style meal is loaded with garlic, salt and cheese. I may just die right here at the table. I get cranky with the bill because I am forced to pay the minimum tip and expected to add more. Now, I am at peace with the tipping system but this is just incredibly rude. My meal was less than satisfactory and the service wasn't that good either. There will be no extra tip.

As I head off to the shops again I notice everyone looking up. It's different to the normal looking up at the signs etc and I wonder what they are looking at. I look up and see the news headlines - Michael Jackson, King of Pop, dead at 50. Everyone is still and staring in shock. As I move on all the stores are playing his music. A short time later I see someone's newspaper with a picture of Farrah and a word "was", so I think she must have died too. Which she did. Her death will be way overshadowed by Michael's.

Back to Macy's, I can't help myself. Luckily they are open til 9.30pm as I need the time to look around. I don't want to try on the 6 bras I have collected but they are good value and I buy one, missing out on 3 others as they didn't have my size. Damn, I want those Calvin Klein ones.

I must get home to write and plan tomorrow. I put the radio on but after about an hour or more of Michael Jackson I have to turn it off. Bed time.

Wednesday 24 June

I have to sleep in this morning, just for an hour but my the time we leave we are 2 hours behind schedule. Not in the plan.

We go to Madison Square Garden but miss the first tour so book in to the 1.30pm and go across to the Empire State Building. first we go on the Skyride which is a simulated helicopter ride. It's lots of fun but does make me feel a bit sick by the end. Chris definitely doesn't like it but is a trooper for coming on.

We get the elevator to the 80th florr and have to wait for another lift. It's about a 25 minute wait but we are allowed to walk up the stairs the last 6 floors. This is good because we don't have much time. It's very crowded on the deck and you have to be a bit pushy to get to the fence for a photo and just to look. Yes, it is amazing but I'm over views from observation decks.

Time to go back to MSG and the tour is very good, the guide Craig (said like Crag) is excellent and knows his stuff. The stadium isn't as big as I expected but it is pretty cool. It's time to go our separate ways and as we do my bag strap breaks. Oh great, that's just what I need - the frustrating search for a new bag while carrying the old one. It will be several hours before I find a suitable one in Macy's for less than half price.

Off to TKTS and I get my ticket for Our Town which is a play that I have wanted to see for years since I performed a beautiful monologue from it. I decide to go shopping but am not having any luck. Victoria's Secret is so packed but I try on some stuff because...I can! It is so overrated and nothing fits me. What a surprise! A lot of stores are so big that the staff communicate via personal radio headsets. It's very efficient and I am impressed. The wait for fitting rooms everywhere is ages and my feet are screaming at me - Sit Down, BITCH!!

Next stop Macy's, the largest store in the world! I buy a dress at 60% off with the sale and my discount card. I am rapt to discover the discount lasts for 30 dayss so I am happy to shop. Now is when I get my bag. I have a skip in my step now. As I leave the store I say to myself, I will be back for jewels and lingerie.

It's time for me to head to the West Village for my play. I get lost immediately when I come out of the subway. If I had gone right instead of left I would have been there within 2 minutes. The neighbourhood is gorgeous and I finally find the theatre. I have time for a couple of drinks so go around the corner being careful not to take unnecessary turns so I can find my way back. I have 2 cocktails, they are so cheap.

My seat is in the back corner seat but it's no bother as I can see perfectly. The show is wonderful and I think I did a better job on my monologue, of course. What I like about the shows here is the curtain calls don't go on forever like they do at MTC. Really it is so indulgent and not needed.

On my way home the fruit and veg lady is still working at 10.30pm and I see limes. I ask her for 1 and she says $1. I think that can't be right - and it wasn't. She bags up 15 limes for $1. What the hell I am going to do with them all is anyone's guess. It's late and I write my journal before lights out.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tuesday 23 June

I'm up at 7am just as the construction workers are beginning but take my time getting ready. I think TKTS opens at 10am and I want to get in line. This place offers up to half price theatre tix. I have 4 options: August: Osage County, God of Carnage, 39 Steps and Our Town. Of course when I get there it doesn't open til 2pm. No matter, I have a 10.30 tour at the Lincoln Centre I want to take so make my way there. Trying to find the entry with the address in my pass book sends me around the block, literally. When I do finally make it, the tour time is 11.30 - I have an old pass book. Fine, so I go off for a coffee. I have been drinking mochas and I don't have much to say about them. I don't like the regular coffee and the tea is pretty ordinary. Starbucks is everywhere, on every corner and in between. The way we have 7/11's, they have Starbucks, in fact we hardly see 7/11 anywhere.

Lonely Planet tells me I should go to the Time Warner building and head to the 7th floor atrium for the amazing views of Central Park. After failing to find the atrium I ask 2 staff members, neither of whom knew what the book was talking about. Okay, I will just go back to the Lincoln and hang out for my tour to start, resting my blisters.

The tour is very good and we are lucky to listen to the New York Philharmonic rehearsing with a choir and some famous principals (sorry Cathy, can't remember the names). We saw the theatres for the ballet and plays/musicals (which is holding South Pacific right now)

I needed to get back to Times Square to check theatre tix and after joining what I thought was the right queue, for plays only, I find I am in the main one and probably could have been out of here almost half an hour ago. Oh well! I get my ticket for August for half price at $64 and am extremely happy. This play is/was playing in Melbourne at the time of my departure and because I had quit MTC I wasn't able to get free tix.

I'm hungry so go to Bubba Gump for lunch. Inspired by Forrest Gump, it's a seafood restaurant along the lines of the Hard Rock et al. It's yummy but soooo salty.

Next stop is the Guggenheim and I get lost on the way due to crossing town and then not finding the uptown connection. See what I mean!!! Eventually I get there and it is a waste of time for me. Not the sort of art I am remotely interested in. I read a review that felt the same. I stroll back along Fifth Ave for a bit, then catch a bus back to 42nd st. I don't really have time to do anything much so I just hang around.

I'm up for a 3 and 1/2 hour show and it starts 20mins late. I am in the 2nd row on the side so it's not a great seat. It's too close to allow myself to be transported to Osage County with these characters. However it is still fabulous and most of the acting is superb. So it should be for winning the 2008 Tony awards for Best Play and Actress, etc. It starred Phylicia Rashad from The Cosby Show and in a cameo John Cullem, who most people will remember as Holling in Northern Exposure. I have seen my first Broadway show!!

Another exhausting day behind me as I reach my front door and collapse.

Monday 22 June

There is no sleeping in even if I wanted to. Construction is going on all around us and is in full swing and the sound is magnified by the empty block next door. We are in a very good area as far as getting to places is concerned. The transport system is quite full on but reasonably easy. You are either going uptown, downtown or across. The trick is getting to the right subway entrance first!!! Uptown and downtown entrys are not necessarily in the same place.

First up is a 3 hour cruise around Manhattan which is very informative and gives us lots of photo opportunities that we otherwise wouldn't have. It's too long really and I am bored after the 2nd hour, especially as we had to turn back at the Harlem River due to the river levels being up and we wouldn't fit under the bridge.

Afterwards we go to the Rockefeller Centre which incorporates NBC Studios and Radio City Music Hall. Radio City is gorgeous and the tour is great up until we meet one of the current Rockettes. She clearly does not wish to talk to us and is quite surly when it comes to answering questions and having her photo taken which she is required to offer. In the gift shop I buy myself a Rockettes t shirt.

We visit Top of the Rock Observation Deck which is terrific with many different levels to get amazing views from. After that we go to NBC for a tour which is lots of fun and I volunteered, naturally, to take the helm as the news anchor and read from the teleprompter. I viewed the video afterwards and I was almost sick. I know why they don't show the hands of newsreaders now. Fiddle, fiddle.

I head off to Grand Central Station which is amazing in size and beautiful in design. I pass by the Algonquin Hotel where Dorothy Parker held many a witty discussion with artists and such like. It's getting late in the evening and I desperately need to rest my blistered feet so I go home. I search for and find a bottle shop and then get some fish in Chinatown for dinner. Chris is out so I have a lovely quiet evening to myself reading and researching my next day out.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sunday 21st June


We have easy directions and make it to Chinatown where our apartment is and meet Hana, the owner. It's a great little place and we are very happy. A shower, nap and trip to the supermarket see us almost refreshed and ready to go again.

We hit Times Square and I am in an advertiser's heaven. We just wander and soak it all up. We pick up our New York Pass (NYP) which gives us access to tons of attractions. We go home and cook some dinner and relax. It seems there are no bottle shops in Chinatown - don't they drink?? So we end up walking to Little Italy. As tired as we are, it doesn't seem right to go to bed so we just get a little drunk and listen to music.

I must say the supermarket has the most wonderful selection of food available. The options at the self serve salad and meals bar were fabulous, then the over the counter options seemed endless and everything looked sooooo good. Unfortunately US food is loaded with salt and sugar so it's no wonder there is an obesity problem. Even your healthiest salads and vegetables are dripping with some type of sauce or glaze.

I'm so excited to be here. Upcoming blogs are chock full of amazing days! Oh and my blisters are settling but my shin is in pain from the way I have been walking. I will refer to this many times so you understand my distress.

Saturday 20 June

We have to check out by 11am and I am ready to get out of bed at 7.30am - much to my disgust. The only thing I have left to do is ride the cable car up and down these hills. I am very happy with everything I have done. Our flight to New York is not until 11.30pm so we have a long day ahead. Packed and ready to go we store our luggage at the hostel and go into town to one end of the cable car line. A half hour queue awaits us already.

It is a bit hairy on the hills but fun and I have a smile on my face pretty much the whole time. Once we get to the other end I need a coffee and Chris wants a sundae so we pop into Ghiradelli. I have a brownie which literally melts in my mouth and I can't eat it all. I know!!! Me, not being able to eat a whole brownie! I save the rest for later.

We start walking again and go the the cinema to see Drag Me To Hell - a truly awful horror film.

Starving, we stop at Mel's Diner for a burger and then make our way back to pick up our bags. Our last stop is another cinema near the train station so we can go to the airport after our next movie - Easy Virtue. This is a much better film.

The last few days of weather have been superb and I would love to stay a little longer and relax but away I must go, New York is waiting for me. We have several hours to wait at the airport so I lie down on the floor and have a snooze. After grabbing some dinner it's almost time to go. We aren't sitting together on the plane but no matter, we'll be sleeping anyway.

My blisters are a real problem but what can I do? I must grimace and bear it.

Friday 19 June

There is no way Chris will be out of bed before noon and I have given myself an extra hour's sleep, until 9am. I have a few ideas for today of things I want to do so sit tight this is a huge day!!!!

First up I walk into town and I come across a window displaying beautiful old stagecoach. It is an original Wells Fargo postal coach. I go in to take a photo and discover it is actually a museum and free. What a job that was back in the day with the long hours and travel time!

My next stop is the Railway Museum which is small but interesting to read about the different streetcars they have. I saw one in action that was painted in green and yellow with Melbourne on it. They do this with all the cities that have streetcars (trams).

I move towards the centre of town and go to a mall looking for a spiral escalator I have read about. I find it and ride it but it is a non event. It is too big to really notice you are moving in a spiral but I think it's a novel idea. I am suckered in by one of the shops in the middle of the walkways, you know the ones where they come at you with a sample of something so great you won't know what you did before it came along!! This is one I have bought before, the Dead Sea lotions and potions. I don't mind being stopped, the girl is lovely and we have a great time, she laughs at my jokes while exfoliating and moisturising my hands. We chat about Australia and the harsh sun and I know she is working up to the sale but I have already decided I will buy something. She will start at the value of all 3 products being $250 and work her way down to me buying 1 for $50 and then 'ssh, don't tell anyone' giving me a free gift of the second. The piece de resistance is the staff price on the third item so I can have the set but I really have to 'ssssh, she isn't supposed to do this but she is a trainer so she can'. I spend around $90. It is actually good value as these products do last the 15 months or so they say they do. Jen even gives me her personal email to let her know how things are going and if I have any questions. I am so lucky!!!

I need to get going, I didn't factor in this time waster. On my way to the Cable Car Museum I am distracted by 4 fire trucks that come speeding towards me, well to the homeless man lying semi conscious on the ground. This distraction costs me a very steep walk up Nob Hill and I am the knob because I just have to walk down the other side!! The museum is terrific with the actual cables and sheaves that the cars run on. It doesn't seem real.

My next stop is the area of Fort Mason (suburb by the water) so I head in the right direction intending to take the bus but it's too close so I walk. The scenery is just gorgeous and so summery. The bay, sunshine, tourists, attractions, me and a general relaxed attitude.

I need sustenance and a toilet break so I go into Safeway. I buy a red banana (which is purple) from Mexico but I pick one that isn't ripe and it tastes like any other banana.

Moving on I aim for Fort Point which is underneath the Golden Gate. This is where Hitchcock filmed the scene where Kim Novak dies in Vertigo. I planned to take the bus but the walk is so lovely and the houses amazing I can't stop. This is the Marina area and this lovely walk is to become my enemy as I am getting tired now and my legs are aching. I get side tracked again by an extraordinary building housing the Exploratorium. I don't go inside as it is just like Scienceworks and I don't need to re-acquaint myself with experiments and facts that I can remember anywhere. It's the structure outside the museum that I am drawn to as is everyone else. There is a wedding going on and I hear the bagpipes which are not being played particularly well.

I feel like I should be wearing a toga and am transported back to Roman times. I wonder how this structure survived the 1906 earthquake and what are the Romans doing here anyway? I find the info I need and it tells me it was built for the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915. So it's not as old as I want it to be.

I take the bus the remainder of the way and arrive at the bridge at 4.45pm, the Fort closes at 5pm. I still have to find my way down the hill and the signage is terrible. I am sent in different directions by various people and I am not happy now. When I get there I just get a few photos and imagine what it is like inside. When we walked the bridge we caught a glimpse inside.

Desperate for a chardonnay I am seeking a cafe to sit in for a while but it's all park and beach, no shops. I am tempted to walk the The Presidio area but decide it's really not a good idea given the pain I am starting to feel. The Presidio is the area once occupied by the Marines as you would expect with a name like that. It is now one of the wealthiest areas to live in.

I have got to get to the bus stop before I collapse and after a mix up of bus numbers and finally accidentally coming across the shops, I am on the home stretch. This bus will take me within minutes of my front door.

I pop in to Enrico's at 6.50pm. I have time for a happy hour mojito. I have been out since 10am and figure I have been walking for 8 of the 9 hours.

Time for a well earned shower and then it's out to dinner and to relax. I go around the corner to an Italian restaurant. My meal is delicious - roast chicken with zucchini mashed potatoes and broccolini. My cab sav is yummy! I really like being on my own, listening and observing. Americans are very loud, we have established that and it is well known. I am loud and often feel self conscious when I catch myself. Here, there is no catching of one's self, it is the way you are.

Couple A in front of me are competing for my aural attention and all I want is to eat my vegetables. Couple B next to me are not trying to be subtle. She is disturbing me because she is shaking her legs with nerves or maybe she has a chill. My peripheral vision is awesome at the worst of time so this is just killing me and I can't turn away far enough in my seat to avoid seeing her without looking strange. Besides there is a mirrored wall on my other side and I do not want to look at myself.

I have sometimes thought I would fit in with America society given the volume I can speak at and I can be brash but geez I hope I do not come across like this. It hurts my ears it is so loud. The shaky legs are still going and I want to smack her as she takes a photo of her calzone.

Couple A man is getting louder and louder. The waiters are not attentive to my wine levels and I wonder if this is a safe drinking tactic or they are just slack. I decide they are slack! Some restaurants love to wait on a single female diner - others don't! I can't wait to leave so I can go elsewhere for dessert. Maybe I should let everyone leave before me and then I can avoid them. Plan!!

Couple C - oh no, another leg shaker! I think they are on a date. Threesome D has a foot swinger, female B is still going - is she dizzy? I'll make her dizzy. Oh, couple A has left the building. I hear someone many tables away say "ssh". I'm like, yeah shut the hell up everyone. Couple E have been eating so slowly, drinking the same wine, corporate clothing - let's meet after work Friday type of meeting. I can't hear the words coming out of their mouths, just sounds. The body language tells me everything. I know these things and there is no one here to tell me I am wrong.

Finally I leave and I am hanging out for some tiramisu. Staying in Little Italy the options are plentiful. Unfortunately I choose the wrong place. I struggle through my coffee and dessert with a constant grimace on my face.

Time to go home to bed. It's the last night here and I am wrecked.

N.B. I know there are some typos but I can't be bothered to fix them. I must really be relaxed!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday 18 June

San Francisco Part 1 didn't actually exist so I should apologise for any confusion by my headlines. I thought about that afterwards but didn't bother changing it.

So onto Thursday. First thing to do is to book Beach Blanket Babylon so off we go to the box office just down the road. We sidetrack to the post office to send our postcards. Okay, tickets booked and we head off to the Haight, hippie headquarters. We detour to Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies for a photo. To say I am underwhelmed is an understatement. If I didn't come I would have wondered and been disappointed. I later manage to find some painted ladies that show the meaning and actual aesthetic of these houses.

Down to the Haight itself now - after I direct us in the opposite direction - and we are starving so set our sights on finding sustenance. It's not easy as we would prefer not to have pizza, but pizza it is. Chris finds himself a Dr Who t shirt in an op shop and simply must have it.

Changing course we mmove on to the Castro District - Gay Central. We soon decide to go separate ways and I take a walking tour through the Mission District. This is the main Hispanic area and has many murals painted on houses and walls. At first I am intimidated as I am the only white person in the vicinity or rather the most obvious! Oh well, I try to forget about that and soak up the atmosphere. Some of the murals are stunning and I think the photos won't really do them justice, especially the Women's Building. My walk lasts over an hour and I am weary but the day is not over. I make my way back to town taking various photos along the way.

Back at the seaside I walk almost the length of Fisherman's Wharf and the promenade. I stop at Fisherman's Alley to pick up a crab sandwich for dinner and I am hanging out for a beer to go with it. I have 1 left in the fridge back at the hostel. I am wrecked.

My beer has gone - not down my throat - I mean stolen!!!! I have to trudge down the stairs again and go to my local for another. It goes down exceptionally well with the crab. I have to hurry as I need a shower and we are meeting Daniel at 7.15pm for Beach Blanket Babylon. It is now 6.30pm. Of course the clothes I want to wear don't fit me so I throw them back into my case and choose again. Ready in a flash! I grab the Tim Tams and Vegemite for Daniel and we make our way down to the theatre which luckily is only a 10min walk.

BBB has been recommended to me and it sounds like a great night. It is the longest running revue in the world at 35 years telling the story of Snow White searching the world for love. She is taken on a whirlwind tour around the world meeting notable characters and celebrities such at The Godfather, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Parisians, South Americans etc. I must say I am very disappointed and do not think it is as good as it should be. The hats are a famous part of the show and indeed they are incredible but it is not enough ot satisf my entertainment desires. It hasn't helped that a couple have arrived just as the show is starting and we all have to get up to let them in. Of course they need drinks but the waiter has gone and they talk and talk and talk. After a while she gets up herself and on her way back she walks over our seats in defiance, then continues to talk and talk. I am ready to punch her lights out.

After the show we head back towards the hostel and settle down with $5 mojitos at Enrico's next door. Yum! Daniel and I convince Chris that he should go out with Daniel in the Castro as it's now or never on this trip. I am happily drunk and ready for bed.

I don't know what time Chris gets home but he is really drunk and I am confident he has had a good time.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I forgot to mention the single woman that came into Zoetrope and sat near me. She had one drink and when the waiter brought her bill over he said, "I have taken care of your check, here is my number if you ever feel like giving me a call." I thought, "What the hell is wrong with me?" Daniel brought me back to reality and said that "she probably was 'somebody' and he recognised her so was trying to make a contact. I "could" have been somebody, sittiing here writing in my journal with a confident air about me. He wasn't to know that I was writing holidays notes, I could just as well have been writing a script! Yeah!!!"

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday 18 June

Sorry, too tired and a bit drunk to post today's adventures! They were very interesting though.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

17 June

We are up early so we can book into a tour for this afternoon. We have breakfast and then head into town to have a look at the shops. I'm not getting into it, I can't seem to justify spending time shopping when I am on the other side of the world. I thought the shops would inspire me, but no. Fashion here is just as crap as fashion in Melbourne. Chris and I part ways as we are not interested in the same things for obvious reasons. I stroll casually around which is just lovely after charging around with Chris. I look at the buildings, the people and create my life in my surroundings. Soon I have had enough so grab a coffee and something "to go" for lunch and head back to the hostel.

A bus collects us for our tour to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose which is about an hour's drive south. The bus driver is great giving us heaps of information regarding the city and surrounds. The AT & T building which is where they play baseball has a giant coke bottle that Coke had installed for $1million. The San Andreas Fault Line is filled with water that keeps the people quenched with fresh drinking water. The fog acts as a natural air conditioner for the valley. In the movie The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman is driving across the Bay Bridge and he is actually going in the wrong direction for the background!!!!!

We arrive at the house and start our tour with Molly. She is fabulous with just the right amount of corny attitude to her jokes. To describe this house would cause brain injury so you should look it up on the internet. It has staircases going to the ceiling, doors that go nowhere, cupboards that are walls inside and a seance room with secret exits. It is completely fascinating as a house that was constantly being built around the clock for many years and never completed. There is a movie called Red Rose which is based on the house. 4o odd bedrooms, 6 kitchens, 13 bathrooms and 1 shower. The number 13 is an auspicious number and features constantly throughout the house in various ways. The stained glass windows are exquisite Tiffany designs. I listen to every word Molly says and buy the book at the end of the tour.

We hit the road for home and part ways again. Chris goes off to the Castro to see a movie and I go down the street to Cafe Zoetrope. This cafe is in the Sentinel Building which Francis Ford Coppola owns and it houses his production company Zoetrope. I enter through the revolving door and the whole place looks at me. Do they recognise me from We Can Be Heroes? Oh, maybe it was my RACQ ad they saw when they were all in Port Douglas for the last film shoot. I feel confident but alone. That's okay, I have my journal, my book and soon I will have a glass of wine. There are some very loud people nearby and 2 guys in particular are talking at such a volume that I must listen to them. But wait, someone else's conversation is struggling for my attention. All I can hear is film talk and only half of it at that as the din of restaurant talk is blurry.

I stay here for quite a while, listening and looking around occasionally. Some men come in late and sit at the bar asking questions about Francis. How old is he, when does he come here bla bla bla! Well, when he is in town he comes in twice a day and once at night! This gives me good inside information for the next few days. I mention in passing that I will try to come in tomorrow for a coffee. I leave a good tip!!

I am to learn later that Francis was sorry that he missed me as he had an emergency on set that he had to attend to.

16 June

We get up at 8am, have our free breakfast of bagels and fruit then head off to the Golden Gate Bridge. It is cold and foggy. I am wearing shorts but I have my cardy so I feel prepared to shiver through the chill. We catch the bus to the south end and head off on our walk. It's really quite pleasant despite the moist air and constant murmer of the traffic. It's not smelly and windy as the guide books warned us, thankfully. It takes us about 1/2 an hour to reach the other side and when we get there, we have a look around and decide there is nothing to do so head back. Our legs are feeling the effects of walking up the hill of Lombard St and the rest but at the same time it feels good.

We take as many photos that will come up decent in the fog as it hasn't lifted at all. Back to the start we make our first boo boo and get on the wrong bus. Well, it was the right bus going the wrong way! That would have been okay but we don't have time to waste as we are boarding the Alcatraz ferry at 2.30pm and we need to have lunch.

Back on track we go to the Hard Rock Cafe as Chris wants to buy a souvenir. Not somewhere I would choose for lunch it seemed obvious to take this option. A burger and margarita later we waddle to the ferry. We are both looking forward to this attraction very much and the ferry only takes 10mins. Soon after arrival we are watching a video introducing us to the former wardens and some former inmates. It's then time to move on to the cellhouse and pick up our audio equipment for the tour.

The jail itself is what anyone would expect but it's the commentary that makes this one special and the details we are being given make it fascinating. Listening to actual prisoners who were there gives it a more authentic feel, which it absolutely is. We take the obligatory cell photos even though I didn't really want to. The tour comes to an end and we finish up in the souvenir shop where I meet a former child resident of the island. Her father was a warden when she was 7 years old and she has written 3 books about the times and inmates. I buy her 1st book and have her sign it. I am really looking forward to reading it. Time to go so we board the ferry back to the mainland.

I'm not ready to go home so we wander along Fisherman's Wharf and end up at Ghirardelli Square to buy some good quality chocolate. We are so tired now we have to go home and freshen up before dinner. The hostel is in North Beach which is like Little Italy so we pick a restaurant and go in. At the end of the evening I have my first intense moment with the American tipping system. As you know I do NOT tip so this is a very real moment of anguish for me. Oh sure, it's easy to follow what the guide books tell you but it does seem extreme when you get those dollars out. The system shits me and I petulantly leave a tip, less than I should. I will do the right thing next time around so I will not be bringing this subject up again unless something interesting happens. I need to understand the amounts in MY head first before people tell me what to do. \

Off to bed and sleep is interrupted by the music from the clubs down on the street but eventually I nod off. Chris tells me in the morning that I had an argument with someone in my sleep and that I snore!

San Francisco - part 2


We settle in for the long haul of our flight to San Francisco. Chris was lucky enough to book our seats early and we are by ourselves at the back of the plane. Dinner isn't far away and I start watching Wall-E but can't get into it and switch it off. I choose the chicken with sage and onion stuffing and vegies for dinner which is followed naturally with more NZ icecream. Yum!! I treat myself to a few wines to accompany my cheese and crackers.

Time is passing very slowly and my coccyx is getting very sore now so I'm tossing and turning. The seats aren't particularly uncomfortable, it's just that I get pain. When I lower my seat I slip down a bit so my head doesn't reach the head rest properly. The seat is placed a bit further away from the wall than normal so I can't lean against it. But wait! I have a solution. My backpack is just big enough to fill the gap and then I place a blanket and pillow on top. This is good and if I curl up I can almost lie on my side. The comfort doesn't last long and I have to turn over to an inferior position. Chris has taken a valium and I have taken a valerian. Soon we are still both wide awake. Chris actually won't sleep until we arrive in SF, except for a catnap at breakfast. I get up and stand at the back near the stewards station reading my book. I look a picture in my purple striped toe socks and red thongs. Soon I start to get that familiar feeling of being faint and I am concerned. The last thing I want now is to collapse and send everyone into Swine Flu defence mode. Relax, I am a fainter!! I sit down to settle myself.

Hours later after a few naps I sit up in frustration with my woozy head and dry eyes and attempt another movie. It's not really long to go now but long enough to be bored. I choose Frozen River and 30minutes in I realise I have seen it before at MIFF.

Finally we commence our descent into SF and the captain proudly announces we have cut 30minutes off our flying time. A few seconds later he tells us we have to stay up in the sky for another 35minutes in the holding pen as there is congestion on the runways. Well, yes there would be if we are breaking our schedule!!!!! The remainder of the airport business is boring so let's skip to the main event.


We are staying at the Green Tortoise Hostel and as we open our room door and step in we almost fall out the window! After freshening up we go out for a casual walk and get our bearings, kind of. What joy! We are in the heart of strip club territory and Larry Flynt's Hustler Club is right across the street. I consider myself a very lucky girl when I see a shop that specialises in Swedish Erotica. My favourite!!! I consider picking up some casual work while I am here as the choice of strip clubs is endless however there are limited positions vacant for chubby 40 year olds.

We head off to Lombard St which is the crookedest street in the world. Most people are aware that SF is home to some of the most excruciatingly steep hills and Lombard is one of them. It is beautiful and the homes, or as they are known here, condominiums with perfectly manicured gardens are stunning. Streams of tourists walking and driving down the crooked bits remind us that we are tourists too and look like everyone else.

Heading down to Fisherman's Wharf we find ourselves amongst the souvenir shops and lots of restaurants. We are starving and opt for a cheeseburger which is actually pretty good and twice the size I wanted. We explore some more and buy our tickets for Alcatraz tomorrow, then head home for our free dinner at the hostel. There is an hour to wait so Chris has a sleep and I write in my journal. I go to the shop and buy a 6 pack of Rolling Rock which is my favourite beer and make friends with the shop attendant.

Dinner is pesto pasta with zucchini, garlic bread and salad. Not my cup of tea but I need to eat. There is no salad left so I am stuck with garlic and garlic. We discuss the next day and make loose plans. Chris isn't really a planner so I find it difficult. He heads off to bed and I stay and write and drink my beer.

So here we on on Broadway St. I am surrounded by travellers mostly in their early 20's. I go to the computer and see Anthony, a guy I used to work with at Eureka. It's just crazy how these things happen. Of all the places in all the countries in the world, to run into someone you know is dumbfounding!

I head to bed and hope I can make it through the night without getting up for the toilet. I am on the top bunk and the ladder steps are far apart.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Melbourne to Auckland

Monday 15 June 2009


I am thinking that I should not have continued with the wine and my teeth are aching because I flossed them very hard. I wonder if I should just get up and read for a while, perhaps I could just fall asleep on the couch?? Not a good idea. Sleep - here - now. I can hear a few birds chirping so I think that it might be around 6am. I am wrong, it is only 4.30am.


I am up and showered, Sarah arrives, Chris gets up. We flit around the flat doing last minute things that should have been done already. Chris hands me a bit of paper that I need to fill in with details that are not handy!! Shit!! What else haven't you given me?


My 150ml of Olay moisturiser, macleans toothpaste and half a bottle of water are confiscated at customs. I am furious and cursing my way through the gates. Chris understands that I need to have breakfast before I explode.


We take off bang on 12pm and I am impressed. Immediately we have begun our in flight entertainment - I have chosen "Valkyrie" - which takes up the majority of our flight to Auckland. The headsets are always too big for my small head so I am constantly arranging them appropriately. Dudley, our captain spruiks the wonders of his crew continuously and I can't help but suspect that they may be new recruits. From my observations they are of an average age of 38 which makes me think they are more than experienced. It is difficult to focus on the movie which I knew would be an issue but I persevere. I have my toe socks on, I am relaxed, fed with a nice meal and all's right with the world..........until...........a baby cries. Half an hour before our descent this baby is screaming non stop and there is not a whisper from the parent/s. Then another one starts. WHAT!!!! You have got to be joking!!!!

Valkyrie ends and I begin to watch the original Frost/Nixon interviews but Dudley keeps making announcements about the rainy weather and the right hand turn we need to make before going through the intersection to get to runway 5. Personally I would be taking a left hand turn Dudley, it is peak hour!!!! And once again we are reminded of the fabulous team we have on board servicing us today. I abort my cinematic experience and move on to listen to music and start my journal.


Auckland. As we sit in the terminal awaiting our connection, we partake in another beverage and a snack. We are bored, reading, writing, chatting, wondering why no one has sent us any messages. Of course we know why but we miss contact with the outside world. A visit to the toilets proves to be very entertaining. With a sliding door and button to press for locking, you are also treated to a very polite and welcoming female voice telling you how to open/close the door. Upon your departure you will be asked to stand clear as the door is now opening and with your first exiting step you will be asked to "please come again!" I wonder if the male toilets have a male voice? I send Chris in but he goes to the wrong toilet.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Where Is Darling Towers? - Wrapping Up The Comedy

Greg Fleet’s show this year was to be his 21st and quite rightly he titled it “Where’s My Pony?” Fleety, as he is endearingly called, is one of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s stalwarts, returning year after year to make us laugh or otherwise. Like Fleety, I returned to the festival this year for my 10th as a box office babe and to make you laugh or otherwise. I didn’t ask where my pony was but I did exclaim “Where’s my chocolate, Susan?” Each year the festival director gives us a chocolate heart from Pink Lady as a thank you for all our hard work and having not received it by the end of the night I was a little put out.

I think at this point in my box office career it is time to allow you into our world, one that fills us with exasperation, frustration, hilarity, insanity and booze. After the first 4 or 5 years most people tend to move on from the festival having had enough of the stress and volumes of punters that haven’t got a clue. They usually go to or come from the Edinburgh Festival or Adelaide Fringe and a few transfer from live action to cinematic glory with the Melbourne International Film Festival. One can be labelled a festival whore quite quickly and that’s fine with me as at least I know I am a damn good one and you will get your money’s worth! At the end of each comedy festival a few of us say we are not coming back next year but secretly we know that we will. The festival club after work is a great place to go and unwind, get trashed, chat with comedians and celebrity spot, if that’s what you like to do. I haven’t been to the club for a few years now and actually haven’t seen any shows either except for a few grabs of whoever is on in the main hall! I’ve done my partying and had a fantastic time with many memories. My record night was getting the 7am tram home.

With over 300 shows to choose from, every night there are thousands of punters mingling, reading, studying, wondering, note taking and discussing. The queue for tickets can be an hour long and most people don’t remember from year to year to allow for that so they get cranky. By the time they get to the front of the line the show they wanted has sold out or we don’t sell the tickets. We are asked all kinds of questions from ATM locations, where are comedians staying, who’s playing football this weekend and where is Darling Towers. At a comedy festival half of these questions are stupid. Now you may be forgiven for thinking that is a little unfair as there should not be any stupid questions, but let me give you an example, “What’s on TV tonight for comedy?” My case is not at rest here, there are more examples below.

Case Study 1 – The First Timer

Peter and Amanda are in the queue, they have been waiting patiently although getting a bit anxious as one of the headline acts they have chosen is due to start in 5 minutes. They didn’t book in advance, surely they could just rock up and get tickets to one of the most famous comedians/TV celebrities in Australia. After waiting for 30 minutes they reach the counter blurting out they want to see Dave. “Excellent, which Dave? We have many comedians in this country named Dave and I don’t know which one you are referring to.” The reply is “the one on TV.”

Case Study 2 – Steve The Smart Arse and Lenny The Lazy

Smart Steve rocks up to the counter with a smirk on his face as he is about to ask me something he thinks I have never heard before “What’s funny?” To that I reply, “Nothing is funny, it’s a comedy festival!!!!!” Lazy Lenny, his mate laughs raucously at my comment and gives Steve a little punch in the arm as if to say “She got ya there mate!” The festival guide is a comprehensive tome with every piece of information you need and that is why thousands of them are printed for you to use. “I want something funny. What’s on?” To that I say, “Look at the guide or perhaps try the daily diary to help you find something. “Nah, it’s too hard. What can you recommend?”

This last question is the most hated of all questions at a festival. I can recommend 20 shows to you and you will turn around and say “no” to all of them. I have just wasted 15 minutes because you are too lazy to read the program yourself and decide what YOU think is funny. Meanwhile the 100 people behind you are shuffling their feet and mumbling obscenities at you and me for taking so long. Of course, it will be my fault when you walk away in a bad mood because you couldn’t make a decision.

Steve and Lenny will go on to ask “Who’s the next Irish comedian?” or “Who’s that guy from TV?” That guy will generally be playing at The Athenaeum next door so we tell them to get tickets there. “Where is it?” “It’s just next door.” “How do I get there?” Most people would put one foot in front of the other and move their body forwards, this is commonly known as walking! “You go out this door, turn left and walk into the next door.” Under the flashing lights and signs that will blind you with information!!!!

Case Study 3 – The "Friend" of the Comedian

“That show is sold out.” “Oh no, it can’t be, I’ve come all the way from Perth to see him!” So many punters blurt this piece of information out to us in a plea to obtain tickets. “He’ll be so disappointed I couldn’t get tickets, he’s expecting me to see the show tonight. Can you do anything?” My answer is “NO!” As I stare blankly back at them my head is saying, “Well you should have booked tickets then. You were capable enough to book your plane ticket?”

When we say a show is sold out we mean it. Asking us if there is “just 1 seat” or “scattered seats” is pointless and STUPID!!!! Thinking themselves one up on us, some people say “it doesn’t say sold out on the board.” “SO!” I may have just sold the last ticket to the person before you so saying that isn’t going to get you a ticket. Sold out means sold out, no tickets, everyone else got their tickets BEFORE you and there are NO more. We cannot magically expand the venue just for you.

Case Study 4 – The Tightarse –How Do I Get A Comp?

Case 3 leads us perfectly into Case 4 which is all about the complimentary ticket. This ticket is the bane of any box office person, whether it be for a festival, play, musical, concert or sporting event. We go to many lengths to make the process or organisation and collection of comps straight forward but inevitably there are mishaps. It’s usually the artist who has promised someone a free ticket whilst accepting a drink from the fan who is gushing over them. They forget who and how many tickets they have offered and so the recipient comes to collect their freebie and it is not there. “But he said he would leave a ticket for me at the door!”

Once you know the lingo you could rock up anywhere claiming your name should be on the door. A lot of people this year would ask about promoter’s tickets being released to sell for a sold out event. It was incredibly annoying with them hanging around loitering at the counter bothering us every 5 minutes.

Case Study 5 – The Parent

The festival is for adults but over the years kids or teenagers have been coming and of course they generally walk away disappointed as shows are not suitable or they are in licenced venues. The kids shows have become increasingly popular so now there is usually a good selection for various age groups. Many parents have abused us for the lack of childrens options (I remind you, at an adult festival) and I just want to tell them where to go.

“What can you recommend for a 17 year old?” Honestly, you know your child better than I do, which is not at all, so isn’t he old enough to look at the guide himself? Really, at 17 I don’t think he needs you deciding which show he will like.

Case Study 6 – The Regular

Some punters are so incredibly organised it is insane. Their giant diaries, laptops or colour coded spreadsheets plonk down on our desk with notes written in each day for each show, pieces of paper with more notes on them flying loose threatening to be lost and options, options, options. We love these people but we hate them. They take a lot of work which is fine but we can never trust that they have done everything right. Oh, they will tell us they have checked all the times, discounts, venues and restrictions expecting us to go right ahead and not check ourselves. Buh bow!! (wrong buzzer sound) They won’t believe us when we give them information contrary to their research so they will then check the guide and show us what they know. They are still wrong.

Case Study 7 – The Penis Whisperer

Puppetry of the Penis, La Petit Mort and Storm In a D Cup are shows that people can’t seem to say aloud. “I want to go that show with the puppets.” We might say “Postcards From Purgatory?” “Um no, Puppetry of...” “Okay, PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS?” You want to watch the boys on stage playing with themselves?

“I want to see this show (person opens the guide and points to La Petit Mort).” La Petit Mort means orgasm.

Come on people, how old are you?

And so I could go on and on and on with examples. We’ve heard it all, we’ve seen it all but there is one answer I don’t have....

“Where is Darling Towers?”

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Walk The Walk

Only a few friends have seen my impressions of people’s ways of walking. I don’t do them all the time, just if someone has a particular style about them that is recognisable or unique. There are various styles of walking: as a ballet dancer, pigeon-toed, knock-kneed and bandy-legged. There are also people who walk on the balls of their feet and have a slight spring to their gait. There are people who swagger, saunter, walk fast/slow, in a straight line/all over the footpath, sway their hips, shuffle, don’t move their arms or look where they are going.

Models are the easiest of all to imitate. They slouch their shoulders and stick out their groins to give them that relaxed look and then depending on the speed of their walk, move their legs appropriately – which I will now explain.

The Saunter

This is a slow, leisurely pace. The scene is moody so there will be lots of pouting lips and indifference written on faces. Beige, fawn, sand and taupe coloured basic sets with maybe some billowing ivory curtains for the lingerie section. Perhaps this is a standard fashion show where it’s all prĂȘt a porter. Oh how common!

Step 1: Slouch shoulders, head down, eyes up and push your groin forward. Do not smile.
Step 2: Start walking with an exaggerated knee lift pointing the toes as you raise your feet off the ground
Step 3: Add the hip swing. When you lift your left knee, swing your hips to the left and vice versa for the right
Step 4: Continue these movements and move your head in rounded movements in slow motion as you throw bored looks to your audience. If you catch someone’s eye, without words tell them you are too good for them

The Mission

Changing scenes we are heading into the corporate world. Suits, pencil skirts, high waisted pants with flared legs, waistcoats and ties. Black, grey, the new black and more black.

Step 1: Posture slightly stiff, shoulders down and back but not slouching. This will elongate your neck. Head up, eyes straight ahead, serious almost angry face, groin slightly forward
Step 2: This time you don’t want to exaggerate your knee lift too much but you do need to do so to assist with the hip swaying.
Step 3: With one hand on your hip and the other holding a black leather folder, imagine you are late for a very important meeting that you are in charge of. Your shoulders will take the lead. Under no circumstances are you to make eye contact with anyone. If another model gets in your way then just push right through him/her. That’s it, create some tension out there baby!

The Skip and Twirl

Let’s lighten the mood and head to the fun park. Lots of colour, balloons, candy striped sets and token animals (stuffed toys as you are socially aware that live animals should not be used for entertainment). The clothing is tutus, leggings, shorty shorts and tank tops with lots of accessories.

Step 1: Relax your whole body with a shake from head to toe. Smile, yes you can do it. Now laugh with sound and throw your hair around. You are now ready.
Step 2: With a skip in your step I want you to really go for it when you exaggerate those knee lifts so much so that you almost knee yourself in the chin. The skip really helps and your arms will naturally fly in all directions as you twirl and whirl down the catwalk. On top of all that you are getting a terrific workout. Bonus!
Step 3: Add some gestures to the audience such as “hello waves” and “blowing kisses”. As hard as it is to smile in regular shows, you will find this is something you now can’t control.
Step 4: Lap up the attention and euphoria you have created in the room. All the other models are laughing and you are communicating with each and every person in the audience with your happiness. Backstage your stiletto heel accidently on purpose pierces the skin of your rival's foot, the one who smacked you in the face on the runway with her carousel arms.

The Improv

We are putting the bizarre into fashion now with the fantasy section. Clothing that is not made for everyday occasions and not practical to wear. This walk will test your skills at making it work and is the grand finale of your training. Extreme set design with mirror balls, neon lights, bold colours and dresses with headwear that could hide the rabbit and the white dove.

Step 1: Become the outfit. You may need to slouch, be upright or use your body in new ways such as crawling on your hands and knees. This is character work and a brief intro to your acting gigs on the sideline.
Step 2: Take extra care with your platform shoes as they will be your undoing if something is to go wrong. If you happen to trip and fall down that’s okay, people love to see that you are human and while they show concern on their face, inside they are laughing their asses off. Don’t worry if your skirt falls down, step out of it, pick it up and laugh it off. You’ve got legs that are the envy of all women and the desire of all men so show ‘em what you got!

I hope you all took part in this interactive training session and had as much fun learning and practicing as I did teaching. If you would like a private assessment of your new skills, feel free to contact me.

Congratulations, you are now on your way to becoming your household’s next top model!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Service With A Snarl

Oh JB, you've done it again!

I don’t remember a time when I have received good customer service when at the counter of JB HiFi. When shopping around for electric or electronic equipment I think JB is one of the best places to go to. These guys know their stuff. They have specialists in each department and most of the time will be forthcoming with information and provide answers to the questions you never remember to ask. It’s a different story when it’s time to head towards the payment counter. There is usually a queue to wait in and at sale times this is not a shop you want to enter.

The staff look like misplaced musos and artistes with their messy hair, 5 day growth, multiple piercings and 2nd hand clothes (not that there is anything wrong with that). They will not make eye contact with you or say hello, just challenge you with their knowledgeable attitude to put your CD’s on the counter and show them what your taste in music is. If you ask a question you will be met with a response that offers no openings for any further verbal contact. Something resembling a mumbled “thank you” is all that you will get. It is best you just take your purchase and leave.

My Store!

Myer staff are a friendly, chatty bunch aren’t they? Amongst themselves that is.
Myer is a great place for leisurely browsing and shopping in general but the staff is their biggest letdown and they have a reputation that is almost unchallengeable. Never mind about the constant renovations which see you entering what you thought was Ladieswear, only to find yourself in Electrical. Whenever there is a discussion on customer service Myer staff always get a mention as they are up there with the best of the worst.

When ready to make your purchase or simply ask for directions and so on, staff can be found in small groups at the register least likely to be used. Some gossip will be passing between them and you are not to interrupt until they have finished. If you do happen to make a faux pas and say “excuse me” or “hello”, don’t expect a reply. Susan needs to know what happened to Jenny (who nobody likes) when she left the club and if John from Menswear picked her up. The first words that are spoken to you are, “do you have Flybuys or Myer One?” The transaction will be finalised, you will be thanked and if you are lucky you will get a smile before they return to continue with the story that you so rudely stumbled upon.

You may even be luckier to strike a staff member who responds to your question, “oh, I don’t actually work here.” It’s then that you see the “Visitor” sticker. These people are most likely to be standing, staring with vacant eyes in the perfume department.

Nova the Independent!

The home of Melbourne’s favourite independent cinema is the purple decorated Nova. It is also the home to some of Melbourne’s most surly and ignorant staff I have ever come across on a regular basis. Like JB, you will be met by skinny, grungy artist types who have no interest in you whatsoever. Don’t dare ask a question as a curt reply and slight snarl will offend.

It’s not really good enough for them to have the best choc tops in town and the best selection of current films and then spoil it with the patronising attitude of the staff. I think the only person who has ever said hello to me is someone I know at the box office. The worst ones are the ticket checkers at the entrance. No eye contact, no greeting, no smile, no cares. They are also guilty of not pausing their conversation for you.

Don't Call Me Babe!

As customers we can be hard to please and I am definitely one of those who will ark up and gladly relay my experience to others. I will probably return the surly look I received and mumble something as I walk off. I can’t stand it when 18 year old girls greet me at the clothing rack with a joyous “hi darls, how are you today? On your lunchbreak are you? How’s your day going? I will just be over here if you need anything hon(ey). We have 20% off everything today!!!” I will say hello, try to smile and quickly avert my eyes so as to not invite a conversation about how I came to be in the shop in the first place. Equally I can’t stand it when I want some attention and don’t get a small acknowledgement for being in the store as this is generally when I want some help.

No one is allowed to call me babe, no one! Ever!