Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kickin' the Bucket List

The problem with writing a blog about my Bucket List is that I've never actually written up a Bucket List.  To be honest, my current 5 year plan is "Don't die".  Yet, my trip to the US did offer me the opportunity to do some things I've always wanted to do so I have decided to retroactively put these things on the Bucket List I never created.

Snow glorious snow
Yes, I know that it's terribly cliche to be the little African boy who delights in seeing snow for the first time but dammit, I loved experiencing snow for the first time.  In fact, I wrote an entire blog about the joy of snow.  I'm proud to report that even though I was out in a blizzard today I totally still  snow!!
If you can read that then you already know that no, you are not.

Well you can't come to Nevada and not gamble at least a little!  I had never played poker against another human before so joining a home game, coming in 3rd and winning $5 was a great experience.  I don't think playing Texas Hold 'em on my phone will ever be good enough again.  It's been the weirdest thing, I've had exceptionally good fortune throughout this trip.  I've never won a lucky draw or a raffle in my life and yet here I won a $25 restaurant voucher at the Reno Wine Walk! How awesome is that?!  Apparently in America I'm a winner!

Pissing on the Germans
Once long ago I blogged about Pastor Steve and his hatred for German men too wussified to pee standing upright.  Turns out he wasn't talking crazy for once, ze Germans really do have a major bug up their asses about men standing up to pee. Now much as I hate agreeing with Pastor Steve on anything, I knew that I just had to pee standing up in Germany if the opportunity ever presented itself.  Since I flew to the US via Frankfurt I had my chance and I utilized it fully! 
Yes that is a real German bathroom sticker.

The Doubledown
My trip to the US of A has been one great culinary adventure.  In America the portions are as huge as they are deliciously bad for your arteries.  I believe the KFC doubledown sandwich personifies the wonderful madness that is American food and I would have created a Bucket List just so I could put this magical chicken creation on it!
America! Fuck Yeah!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Condescension for Christmas

For the record, I have had a lovely Christmas filled with fun, laughter, great company, presents and good food.  Despite all this goodness though there is one fly in the ointment of my joy.  See I get that Christmas music is generally terrible so I don't hold it to a very high standard.  There is one song though that manages to grate my gears despite my best efforts - Feed the world by Band Aid.

Honestly, should that even count as a Christmas song?  It's not even really about Christmas, it's just a reminder of how you have everything in life while the sad sad people in Africa suffer.  All it does is attempt to make you feel like crap for not having a hellish life.  Worst part of all that is that they do it in an unbelievably condescending and utterly ignorant way.  So as a (extremely belated) Christmas present to these entitled bleeding heart rich kids, this African is going to lay down some factoids.

First of all, what is the deal with all this whining about there not being snow in Africa on Christmas?  WTF guys? You do realise that its Summer in the southern half of Africa during Christmastime, right?  (The northern hemisphere does have winter but it's all desert so again, no snow)  It's always been that way too so you won't find any kids in Africa weeping because the snow harvest didn't come.  Are you guys retarded or something?  

To answer the big question - do we know it's Christmas time at all? - well yes, yes we do.  You condescending asshats may not realise this but people in Africa have had access to the magic of "calendars" for many many years now!  Also, seeing as how the continent has around 400 million Christians, I can pretty much promise you we are all very aware of this whole "Christmas" thing.  We've been celebrating it on the continent for hundreds of years without the need for sanctimonious Europeans graciously reminding us that the day exists.

Lastly, yes I do get that this song was written for aid to the suffering Ethiopians in the. 80's but I really get royally pissed when people talk of Africa as if it's a single country.  This song never once mentions Ethiopia, instead using the blanket term "Africa" as if they are interchangeable things  Look, I get it, the British educational system is clearly crap and failed everyone in the United Kingdom - or at least their pop stars.  That is the only possible explanation I can think of for statements like "Where nothing ever grows;  No rain or rivers flow".  How is a statement this ignorant even possible from people living in the land of David Attenborough?   We have jungles, forests, endless savannas, entire plant kingdoms unique to the continent and no shortage of arable land.  Trust me Bono, plenty of things grow in Africa.  Also, while we do suffer terrible droughts we do get rains in Africa.  Toto even wrote a song about it ffs!  As for rivers, (1) we have many rivers and a great many of them do flow and (2) seriously, you don't even know about the Nile?  C'mon guys you people had colonies all over the place!  Seriously?!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dashing! (In the snow)

I remember reading this anecdote in an old Readers Digest once about a young man from somewhere in Africa coming to study in America.  While in US he encountered snow for the first time and was completely enamored by it, shyly remarking to his lecturer (the one who wrote and submitted the story) that he wrote a poem about snow.  Anyway, it then turned out to be a particularly brutal winter and the punchline was that before long, he told the same lecturer that he threw away the poem.  Before coming to the US myself, a friend of mine (who had traveled extensively) told me something similar, warning me that snow is great for about five minutes and then its just really annoying.

To these and all who agree with them I say "Bah! Humbug!"

It's so fluffy!!

Snow is awesome!  I loved it from the moment the first moment I stepped out into the snowy air and I love it still, even though I'm writing this with an aching back from shoveling snow off the driveway.  On my first morning in Reno I walked barefoot in the snow (not 20 miles to school but still) and my love of snow has not cooled to this day.  I love the way it falls like fluff from the heavens, I love the crunchiness of it under my feet.  I loved how trying to catch a snowflake on my tongue made me forget that I'm a grownup.  I love the clean serenity of a snow covered landscape and how it can transform even the most mundane piece of scenery into a wonderland. I love touching it and the soft popping noise a snowflake makes when it hits my skin.  I think snow is amazing.

Now I know that this may all change one day and that there is a chance that I won't always feel so lyrical about the cold white beauty of snow.  That day has not arrived yet though and for now the snow makes me feel warm inside.  I have always had a deep and abiding love of winter cold and all the wonderful things it brings - the warm clothes, the delicious stews and warm drinks - and snow was just the thing that made my winter perfect.

Me, being dashing in the snow! (Yes, I really am that awesome)

Friday, December 3, 2010

The food baby and the wolf pack

Non-Americans envy the Americans for many reasons like for instance their fantastic Constitution and Bill of Rights, their massive retail stores, the freakish amounts of freedom and choice they take for granted and the fact that no one gets thrown in jail for publicly disagreeing with the government.  Now, I too have felt the pangs of envy regarding some of those marvelous things yet the one American thing I have envied most of all has always been the celebration of Thanksgiving.

Like all kids in 3rd world countries I grew up watching American TV and so had to look on with longing every time a Thanksgiving episode aired, wishing and dreaming about one day perhaps taking part in this glorious celebration of delicious food and gratitude.  Well this year I finally had my chance.  You know how the saying goes "great expectations lead to nothing"?  Well fuck that!  My greatest expectations didn't even come close!!  Thanksgiving turned out to be better than I could ever have imagined.

Here's the thing, I love food.  I love it in ways that border on mildly disturbing at times.  The only thing I love more than eating great food is eating large quantities of it.  Yet I write this blog a changed and humbled man.  In my life I had never feasted like this.  Both the quality and quantity of the food was mindblowing - and I don't use that word lightly when it comes to food.

I had the good fortune to be invited to the shared Thanksgiving meal of two families and therefore got to load my plate with both traditional and Puerto Rican Thanksgiving delights.  Brined turkey so soft and juicy it was falling off the bone, pork that I can only describe as magical, mash potatoes, gravy, spicy rice, empanadas, fried platanos, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, apple crisp and pumpkin pie.  I should probably mention that  this list is only the food I actually ate.  There was probably more but after a while I was just too full to move.  I hate to say it but my first Thanksgiving set the bar so high I don't know if any other feast could ever live up to it!

My first (but definitely not last) Thanksgiving plate
To complete my Thanksgiving weekend experience I got to go to an American Football game the next day.  Now I have always considered American Football to be inferior to Rugby and this game really confirmed it for me.  However, I have to admit that this was one of the best sporting events I've seen in a very long time.  See I got to see UNR play Boise state and it was the kind of game you usually only get to see in David vs Goliath sport movies from Disney.  UNR was ranked at around 14 (I think) while BSU was ranked 3rd and for most of the game thats exactly what it looked like.  UNR was getting kicked around and were way behind in no time.  Yet, to everyone's surprise they made an epic comeback to win the game in overtime.  I believe it was the Reno's first win against a top 10 team and I got to see it!  It was -5 degrees C, the porta-potties were disgusting and the noisemakers didn't make much noise but I had a great time.  Even though I had never even heard of the UNR Wolf Pack I'm a fan now!

Go Pack!