Wednesday, 30 April 2008

NY Titans

It’s not too often I go and see a sport I’ve never seen before (I’d even seen AFL on TV before Sydney last year – doesn’t mean I understood anything). Well Saturday night was the last regular season game of the NY Titans professional lacrosse team…seriously, there’s a professional lacrosse team.

How to describe lacrosse – well take a gay ice hockey team and throw in the worst parts of basketball (which is pretty much all of it) and you have lacrosse. One odd point was that at normal Yank sports they will blare music during breaks in play (and there are plenty of those) but here they just blare it constantly right through the game. MSG holds about 20,000 people in total but I’d guess at 2,500 tops for this game.

I'm not too sure why they felt the need to wear pads in this sport - there certainly didn't seem to be any point. Anyway, to the game – well the Titans beat the Rochester Knighthawks 12 – 11 and qualified for the playoffs winning the East div………….who gives a sh!t, I certainly don’t.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

In a change to the scheuled programming

Today I should have been telling you about last night's planned trip to see Calvin Harris in Concert at The Bowery Ballroom. Unfortunately I was in work until gone 2am by which time I'm pretty sure he would have been finished. Being honest missing this one doesn't bother me too much as his music is really at the edge (if not past the edge) of what I generally listen too - but he is originally from Dumfires which is relatively near to Hawick.

As for work, much to the amusement of a friend in Vietnam I was messaging him late night at around the time he was going for lunch the next day. I expect another long day today (I've brought in a clean shirt in case things roll all night) as my deadline is tomorrow.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Weekend not a complete loss

Although I had to work on Saturday morning (and all of Sunday) I did manage to escape to the bar on Saturday afternoon to see the first semi final of the Heineken Cup. Actually, I only escaped for the second half having listened to the first half while working at home - as it takes about 20 minutes to walk to the bar I was running through the streets to make it in time (only missed a couple of minutes).

The game was followed by a few more beers and a trip to Peculier Pub - I think this is the first time I've been there sober. I don't remember if I've written about this bar before so this may be a repetition. Peculier Pub has probably the most extensive beer selection I have ever seen in my life - I reckon the beer menu must have more than 200 different beers on it. A word of advice though, avoid the Tona from Nicaragua - it had a strange aftertaste that reminded me of melted butter.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Damn nice weather here at the moment

I've ditched my jacket and only need my shirt while wandering about this week. Unfortunately I'm not going to get to see any of it this weekend as it looks like I'll be working tonight, tomorrow and Sunday - sucks for me.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Better bars

One thing I've noticed in all the concerts I've been to in NY is that the quality of bars in the venues is vastly superior to those in London. I think this is one of the reasons I'm actually inclined to go along to see the support acts which was something I rarely did in London.

Can you tell I'm busy at work today?

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Tokyo Police Club (at Bowery Ballroom)

Back to the NY concert scene last night so I'm still in need of a good nights sleep as it was 1am before I got to bed. However, to the gig itself which had the usual two supporting bands:

The Meligrove Band - Keeping up the record of excellent first acts these guys were pretty damn good. They reminded me a bit of The Pigeon Detectives but with maybe a bit more range.

Smoosh - Now things got a bit odd, this was a girl band (not in the sense of Spice Girls but in that it was three girls playing in a band) which was uncommon enough but the drummer and singer/keyboard player looked about 16 and the bassist would struggle to make double figures - I've looked this up this morning and apparently they are all sisters aged 16 (keyboard player), 14 (drummer) and 11 (bassist). To be honest they weren't bad (and they covered a Bloc Party song) but it was definitely different to the normal bands I'm used to seeing. I don't normally post pictures of support bands but so you can (just about) see what I mean:

Tokyo Police Club - They're a slightly odd lot TPC, almost all their songs are a maximum of 2 minutes where they blaze away and then suddenly stop. I've read previously that this meant that their early concerts were pretty short as they ran out of songs quite quickly. Well last night they managed a good hour which seems about standard for bands playing here. The music is generally very uptempo but worth checking out if you haven't done so when I've mentioned them in previous posts.

OK, you'll find links to a couple of sites with TPC mp3s currently on them below:
"Your English Is Good"and "Juno" are here; and
"In A Cave" and "Tessellate" are here.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Gambling

Yesterday was a long day - with only about 4 hours sleep on Friday night, 3 hours on Saturday night and a flight that didn't land in NY until almost midnight on Sunday I don't suppose that is particularly surprising.

One surprising thing about the weekends trip to Vegas was that I don't think any of us actually gambled - definitely not at a gaming table. That's two trips in a row to Vegas where I haven't even considered gambling. Although given that on the few occasions I have tried it I've never found it particularly interesting and I have never once been up on the house (even by $5). I remember once getting back to break even and deciding that if I won the next hand I was walking away with the moral victory - it never came.

Monday, 21 April 2008

48 hours in Las Vegas

Which is more than enough time really - three guys flew in from London so its a bit of a poor effort if I can't make it from NY (although its still a 5 hour flight). Anyway, having written the weekend review I've had to redact a few bits here and there:

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x "Its not a salad - its covered in cheese and bacon" x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x "You smell fantastic...I don't" x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x "If I wanted to see a fat arse I'd look in the mirror" x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x "That makes you look like a child abuser" x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x "So your subconscious told you to buy the pink one did it?" x x x x x x x x x x x x

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Epiphany

I’ve been asked several times about how I like living in NY compared to London and I’ve purposefully been avoiding writing about it until I’ve been here a bit longer. Now while I don’t intend to write that post yet there are a few things I can tell you that I like here: everything is half price; concerts are amazingly cheap and easy to get tickets for; and people are generally friendlier.

However, there has been something nagging away at me that I haven’t been comfortable with and I haven’t been able to work out what it was. Well while heading downtown in a cab on Saturday night I realised what it is. Living in Greenwich in London is not like living in a city - its like its own town with no high rise and loads of open spaces. That is nowhere to be found in Manhattan.

Right, I'm off on a long weekend so no post tomorrow. Back on Monday.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Hot Chip

Spin on a few hours from yesterday’s story and I headed off to see Hot Chip live at Terminal 5 (the same venue where I saw Editors a couple of months back).

Free Blood – there was only one support band on and that requires a liberal interpretation of the word “band”. There was one guy (with a guitar), one girl and a synthesiser – and the guy only used the guitar for the first couple of songs. At best I’ll put this in the Indie/Dance category but at one point it seemed to have degenerated into an artistic dance interpretation of Merzbow! All very odd really.

Hot Chip – Now I’m no great Hot Chip fan, I can’t walk down the street listening to their albums BUT the same can be said of LCD Soundsystem and they were great live. Given the similarities between the sounds of these two bands I was hoping for similar success live and (although not quite as good) they were pretty damn entertaining. The Indie/Dance stuff might not work for me while wandering around town but it is v good live.

One last similarity between LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip, readers with long memories may remember when I saw LCD in Tokyo I commented on how they looked like anything but a band. Well I think the best way to describe what the guys in Hot Chip look like is a collection of geography teachers – I think that’s the right image.

So there you go, one last little story from Saturday night tomorrow. But before I leave for the day here are a couple of sites with Hot Chip mp3s (I’ve previously posted a link to “Over and Over” so something different I think): "One Pure Thought" and "Shake A Fist".

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Trying to explain rugby to Yanks

As I mentioned yesterday The Red Lion was very busy on Saturday – somehow most of the Yanks there were drunk (how they managed that drinking Miller Lite I have no idea). Anyway, as the TVs were showing rugby a few of them took an interest in the game and were generally bemused by what was going on.

However, a couple of general impressions were that you would have to be nuts to play it and that it looked like a big fight. As usual I fell back on the "no pads" and "no stoppages" retorts when the inevitable comparisons to American Football were made.

Monday, 14 April 2008

A pub crawl…with a catch

On Saturday I was back to what passes for my usual routine – gym at lunchtime before heading off to The Red Lion to watch some rugby in the afternoon (the EDF Cuo Final this week). Nothing too exciting there but when I arrived there was a bouncer on the door checking IDs – not normal in the middle of the afternoon. Now I didn’t have my driving licence in my pocket so was expecting a debate. He asked if I was there for the pub crawl to which I replied “No, I’m here to watch the rugby” and he let me in.

Normally there are about 20 people in the bar in the afternoon but on Saturday the place was packed (say about 100). I found a couple of the regular rugby guys at the bar and they filled me in with what was going on: apparently every year a few of the bars in Greenwich Village have a pub crawl where you sign up, get given a plastic pint glass and away you go with refills for $2 each from 1pm to 9pm.

The catch, and it’s a big one, is that the beer on offer is Miller Lite – it just ruins the whole thing.

Friday, 11 April 2008

New job

Actually, not a new job as such but a new project at work. Rather than continuing my globetrotting ways this one looks like it will be predominantly based in NY (maybe a little bit of time in Chicago). In some ways I wouldn’t mind another foreign jaunt but I have less than a year left on my Visa now so I have a limited amount of time to expand my experience of life in NY.

So, I've made it through a week's worth of posts despite doing absolutely nothing last weekend. Luckily I have a coupe of things planned this weekend so next week should be a bit more interesting. In the meantime, here are a couple of links to sites with mp3s available for download:

"Jerk It Out" by The Caesars (one hit wonder but very good - you'll know it from the old ipod adverts)
"Don't Change" by INXS (before the X and Kick albums this was their best song I reckon)

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Postcards from the sofa

Its a tricky week to fill this week as I hardly left my flat last weekend. However, I can comment on the Heineken Cup matches – while in London I spent a few weekends working in front of rugby on TV (half working and half watching the games). The flaw in that plan here is that I need to hook up my computer to the TV to be able to watch the matches from the internet feed. This reduces my work productivity to minimal at best during the games.

As for the matches themselves, I picked 2 from 4 correctly – Sarries and London Irish being the ones I got wrong. Can’t see past a Toulouse v Munster final though but I wouldn’t complain at that.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Exterminator

So I’m sitting on my sofa working away on Saturday morning when there’s a knock at the door. Behind it was a bloke who said nothing other than “exterminator” when I opened the door. After looking rather quizzically at him he elaborated “Have you seen any rats or cockroaches?”. When I indicated I hadn’t (and indeed if I had someone would have been informed without the need for an “on the off chance” knock at the door) he wandered off. Apparently this is normal and the exterminator visits each month – so he’ll be back (I’m sure there’s a better Terminator gag in there somewhere than that but I can’t be bothered to think of it).

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Jamba Juice

As mentioned a few times I caught a bug on the way to HK and haven’t been able to shake it off (OK, a weekend of heavy drinking at the 7s probably didn’t help). Anyway, its still dragging on. In an effort to finally see it off I’ve changed my breakfast order at the local smoothie shop to a “Coldbuster” which includes Orange Juice, Orange Sherbert, Peaches, Bananas, Immunity Boost, Antioxidant Power Boost and Ice…

This morning things were slightly odd, instead of the one or two people normally in there were probably 20 people - apparently it was free juice day. As I was leaving 5 minutes later the queue had swelled further including a couple of homeless guys who had spotted a good plan for breakfast.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Last week

You may have noticed that last weeks Hong Kong review was light on words and high on pictures. Well yes, I did cop out a bit but there were a few mitigating circumstances:

- I was jetlagged (again);

- I was busy at work (when I was awake); and

- I still hadn’t fully shaken off the bug I caught on the flight to HK

Being honest, other than having gotten over the jetlag the other two still apply. However, I wasn’t too bothered about spending my weekend on the sofa reading witness statements as it means a weekend off beer (which I think everyone who was in HK for the 7s should be doing).

Friday, 4 April 2008

Hong Kong 7s

And so to the main point of this latest Asian escapade – the 7s. There really is no other rugby event like it that I’ve ever come across – three very long days of drinking and idiocy in the South Stand:

But what of the rugby itself, well Scotland were so awful they managed to lose to China (a team which shipped 40 points against Portugal). NZ walked of with yet another win and have now won 42 games in a row – like in San Diego I still wasn’t convinced that they were that good but no-one else is up to much at the moment.

Best matches of the weekend were HK giving the Convicts a scare in the first match of the tournament and then drawing with France on day 2. But back to the South Stand and the random idiocy of that mad world (please note the numerous flying beer jugs in the first pic):

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Macau

About an hour west of Hong Kong (by boat) is Macau this is like HK in that it is part of China which is governed independently. Rather than the Brits, Macau was run by the Portuguese until the handover on 20 December 1999. Unlike Hong Kong the place is not a sea of high rise business towers. It has a fair amount of historical buildings but is also turning itself into a version of Las Vegas with huge casinos sprouting up.

I’ll start with the main historical site – the ruins of St Paul’s which is what remains of a 17th century cathedral. Built from 1582 to 1602 the cathedral was the largest Catholic church in Asia at the time. It was destroyed by a fire during a typhoon in 1835.

A much more modern tourist attraction is Macau Tower which was opened in December 2001 and stands 338m high. At the top of the tower, on a clear day, you get a great view over the city but you can also go for a “skywalk” round the top, climb the mast or even bungee jump off it like this clown:


Finally, to the casinos – the largest (although not quite finished) is the Grand Lisboa. It really is just like a Vegas hotel inside although there seem to be more gaming tables and less slot machines. Also, it didn’t seem like people were drinking at the tables. A damn big building though:

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Hong Kong stuff

Last time I came to the HK 7s I saw absolutely nothing of the city other than the inside of the rugby stadium and a few bars so this time I had a few more days to explore a few of the tourist areas so here is a quick run through.

Nyong Ping 360 is the name of a 5.7km long cable car on Lantau Island which runs from the underground stop to Ngong Ping Village.

Also at the end of this ride is the Tian Tan Budda statue which is the world's largest, seated, outdoor, bronze Big Buddha statue.

In Hong Kong itself is The Peak which (on a clear day) gives great views out over HK harbour and Kowloon. The best part is getting there however as this involves a ride on the The Peak Tram - the route from Central district to Victoria Peak covers a distance of about 1.4km and a height difference of just under 400m (i.e. it goes up at quite a steep angle).

Unfortunately I really wasn't very well during the first half of my trip to HK so there aren't any late night drinking stories to recount so I'll leave you with a view from Kowloon looking back to HK Island at night:

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Looooonnnnnnggggg fllllliiiigggghhhhhttttssss

Well I'm back, just, I think. I doubt there are many flights you can get which are longer than NY to HK – 15½ hours direct. Also, as this was my own holiday and not for work it wasn’t supposed to be business class – you’ll notice the “supposed to be” in the sentence as when I got to check in I was upgraded for the flight there and when I was walking on the flight back I was upgraded again. That obviously improved things a lot but it is still a hell of a long way and I managed to pick up a bug on the flight so felt pretty terrible for the first 5 days in HK.

Anyway, let me collect my thoughts today and I'll think of some stuff to write up about the trip for the rest of the week starting tomorrow...if I'm still alive.