I may have slept too long on composing this entry: my Euro vacation is over and I'm back in Albuquerque; so much has happened between then/there and now/here that I feel like I'm trying to write about the distant past rather than two weeks ago! Oh well, I'll do my best to make it interesting even if it's not quite fresh. This entry is about Budapest.
I never really got comfortable with the Hungarian Forint (US$1 = 193.77Ft). Every time I bought something, I'd scrabble frantically through my wallet, unsure whether the banknote I eventually thrust at the cashier would be enough to cover my tab or too small by an order of magnitude. I was so overwhelmed by arithmetic that my practice of vigilant change husbandry lapsed into chaos: by the end of the trip, my coin purse was literally bursting at the seams with Hungarian shrapnel of every denomination. The dudes on the bills gazed 'pon my fumbles with frosty disapproval.
I always scold myself on the kinda-rare occasions that I buy emergency socks or underwear instead of doing laundry: like, how wasteful and disorganized. How contemptible! But oops, life got so entropic in Budapest that I found myself in the panty zone of a supermarket, late nite, weighing my options. Go commando the next day? Drive down the dirty dual lanes of Inside-Out Avenue? Or cough up for cheap Hungarian drawers? Well.
Vienna was not really part of the plan, but I ended up here on a layover, awaiting a train to Budapest tomorrow morning. Arrived after midnight and just got back from a long walk around: maybe my blood is just boiling from all the sugar I've eaten (literally had naught else today but 1.33 apples and a bu-uu-nch of candy), maybe it's the random luck of this nice hotel in a cool 'hood with its affable desk clerk Heinz, maybe it's just the vestiges of my explosive childhood crush on Tom Hulce in Amadeus, but Austria is giving me a really good feeling and I'm sorry that I'm not going to get to lamp here longer. So commenters, does anybody live here? Anybody have a good Vienna story to tell me? Anybody got Tom-Hulce-in-Amadeus' number?
Any Budapest tips/tricks/dares also warmly welcomed.
Hey dudes. As of today, I'm on Euro vacation: warm greetings from the Continent.
I had a li'l layover this afternoon in the World's Second-Worst Airport (London Heathrow), just long enough to flip through a copy of The Independent looking for signs of rhodri, snicker up and down the aisles of the airport convenience store, and shake the ashes out of my pant legs (Murkin panties combusting as they do in the presence of British accents. Cad fancy!).
My countrymen, did y'all know that they basically speak Murkin in the mirrorworld, skewed about fifteen degrees more hilarious? Do they do it just to tickle me pink, or do others find these product names amusing too? To get the full effect, you must imagine a Yank saying the name, chewing up his /r/s like hunks of Oberto. "You guys gotny mora those Revels? C'n I've a Starbar?" It's not natural. British Brunch Bar and NutriGrain Elevenses Raisin Bake are not meant to share a 7-11 shelf with Funyuns and Flamin' Hot Asteroids.
For some reason, the process doesn't produce the same effect in reverse: the thought of a British accent murmuring "Pop Tarts, Cooler Ranch Doritos, Cinnamon Toast Crunch" just makes my nips tingle.
So. I'm in Düsseldorf now, plotting a course for Points Beyond. Don't ask where: dunno yet. Meanwhile, light a candle for me tonight as you pray to the Patron Saint of Free Wifi, that I may continue to blog 'em as I see 'em. Amen.
Frequently asked question: Did you buy that thing? Answer: Usually, no. I've been traveling for so long that my acquisitive impulse has been crushed like a hideous Taiwanese bead sculpture in an overstuffed suitcase.
I mean, Facebank, you're cute and all, but you're not coming home with me.
I went impulse shopping in the travel agency and came out with a weekend trip to the Republic of China. Greetings from Taipei! Look at all those Japanese cars driving on the right-hand side of the road: it could almost be South Carolina. I haven't felt this at home since I went to the American consulate to get blank pages put in my passport. My passport at this point is a grubby and mutilated libretto indeed; this latest addition was the fourth set of supplementary visa pages to be crammed into it. The newest pages aren't plain blue like the older ones, they're festooned with all manner of inspirational quotations from Honest Abe and lurid unitedwestand images of bald eagles 'n' fruited plains and shit. They're so over-embellished that they don't even look blank; in fact, the Taiwanese passport control officer just flipped right past them and sploshed my Taiwan visa right on top of an old faded (cherished!) one from Milan. Annoying.
Anyway, I'm headed back outside now, but not before I seize this opportunity to increase your guava Slurpee awareness. The Slurpee machine right next to this one was dispensing lemon-lime out of one nozzle and lychee out of the other. I got a 12-oz guava/lychee: delect! O summertime.
World's best Slurpee flavor: Diet Coke, never spotted outside of West Hollywood. World's worst: "Slurpuccino," mercifully discontinued recently in Hong Kong, but its Folgery ghost still adulterates the flavor of its Orange Creme successor at my local 7-11.
I think this was a pocket mirror. Not positive. Does it really matter? Shagbark!
I possess a finite amount of good taste, and I choose to apply it to books, music, snacks, and congee flavors. Crabmeat and roe congee:
Sweet-potato flavored Kit Kat:
I just don't have enough available connoisseuseship in my brain to attempt to be a book snob, snack snob, juk snob AND flick snob. I rarely watch movies, and when I do, I'm alone, usually in a state of psychic desperation. I don't want to watch people shooting guns; I don't like boring shit; I can't stand to be left befuddled by David Lynchian whatthefuckery. I enjoy cheerleading- and gymnastics-centric themes and low-IQ Jennifer Aniston vehicles. So I was watching a shanzhai DVD of He's Just Not That Into You the other day. What're you going to do about it, lose all respect for me?
I can hear my next door neighbors perfectly. They fight a lot but they like to get busy! They're doing it right now. The girl groaned, in Canto, "fai di!" ("hurry up!"). I was like, ooh, harsh, but then the stereo started playing a Cantopop song with the refrain "fai di, fai di-i-i-i, fai di." Please, please let me run into them in the elevator so I can hum it. Even though the dude leaves his foot stink powder-dusted slippers in the hallway, then puts them on and leaves the building, creating a breadcrumb trail of dusty white nuggets, I'd still like to open up talks about a possible glory hole.
So much better to be sharing a wall with them instead of TV-blasting Unknown and Bitch Who Sticks Her Head Out and Stares Every Time She Hears the Hallway Door Open.
Mandarin pop enthusiasts, I have a favor to ask of you: does anyone recognize the first song in this video (it starts at about :20)? Can you hook up the title and artist, or an mp3? Sorry to make you click through, but this is coming from the Chinese Youtube and I can't find the embed code. [Video via ChinaSMACK]EDIT: I got it! Thank you, ic70492.
I first heard that song in Shanghai, in the bathroom of a KFC where I was pit stoppin'. By the time I realized what a monster jam it was, it was already over, and I scrambled up to the counter calling my agent to explain to her that I wanted her to explain to the cashier that I wanted to know the name of the song or see the CD they were playing in the store. My heart was already sinking, knowing it wasn't going to work (I know through firsthand experience that, when you can't see the stereo, "Please write down the name of the song that was playing before this one" is almost but not quite impossible to communicate via charades). It didn't work, of course: the guy behind the counter told Juju who told me that he hadn't heard the song and there wasn't a CD player (it was Muzak, I guess). I left, frustrated. But then I heard the song again in this video and now I have a chance to find it and put it in my iPod and rock to it until my heart stops.
And while I'm using my Livejournal to get stuff that I want, gimme revenge on Go Sushi in Causeway Bay, home of the most abominable sushi I've had outside of Boise, ID. I will not apologize for ordering a melted cheese-topped shrimp tempura roll; I have no patience for sushi purists. Wrap some seaweed around some pork floss and birthday cake, sprinkle salmon eggs and glitter on top: you have made legitimate maki. A "cheese-topped shrimp tempura roll" sounds good; this partially-combusted slice of wanksta petroleum loaf was just a carcinogen. It tasted like ashes. And that roe corona you see in the top right corner was a California roll which was dry and did not cohere and fucking blew: Go Sushi, we got BEEF.
I approached this Free Giftwallah on two separate occasions to get the Free Gift I deserve and didn't understand why she wouldn't fork over the Gift (a juice box or a chocolate Hanukkah gelt) or even make eye contact with me. I finally figured it out tonight when I saw other people doing it right: you only get the Gift after you've stepped onto the (up only) escalator. At the summit, surprise surprise, you're trapped in a labyrinth of a mall and must shop your way back to ground level.
I would like to shake hands with the bitch who could wear these impractical shoes for more than an hour without the universe somehow ruining them. Puddles of quicksand and plagues of feral cats would appear in her path; her pustulent bunions would burst. These were designer samples and I was allowed to ruin them; all the pressure was off. Still, the moment I tied those little tassels, I found myself rummaging around the studio looking for wasabi peas I could wash down with some Popov. Don't those feathers seem to say, "Quick! Find a way to puke on us!"?
Out of four versions of this picture, this was the least annoying facial expression. Still annoying. Nice weave though.
This shanzhai masterpiece (on a handbag in the HK subway) reminded me of an ancient lady I saw in Shanghai carrying a huge purse with bedazzled letters that said, "THE STOOGES THE CRAMPS NEW YORK DOLLS." Fuck it, I didn't turn away or even try to stop smirking as the old lady's daughter saw me, looked down at the bag and then back up at me. I smirked off into the sunset savoring the fact that they now knew that something risible was written on the bag, but would probably never find out what.
COMPULSIVE EDIT: I'm adding one more ridic shoe pic to try and cleanse the system. You want to read LJ entries about something besides designer shoes and makeup, you say? Well, you have to wait until something good happens to me besides "I spent the day comfortably, in makeup and designer shoes." I'm not exactly at a fucking zenith of intellectual stimulation right now. I've been in HK so long that the thrillz ain't growin on treez like they used to.
If you're interested in the fashion industry, you may be aware that at Prada's S/S09 runway show back in September, several models stumbled or fell down on the catwalk. The company later explained that the shoes were manageable; the spanners in the models' ambulatory works were the socklets.
"Socklet"? I encountered a pair at my job today. I didn't have to wear them, but I took this picture in case anybody else was curious about the cause of all the modelslips. Prada's treacherous "socklet" is a drawstring pouch of non-elasticized poplin. Behold:
Socklet terror aside, I had an excellent day clopping around in Hong Kong's New Territories district in wigs, frocks, archless platform sandals, and the occasional not-yet-available H&M bikini (about which latter: CUTE, Y'ALL).
On the personal tip, dear reader, I've been discombobulated. I've been working a lot whilst conquering the most pustulent and cystic breakout of my life. Ugh: clients have looked at my face, grimaced, and asked, "What's happen you?" I'm pretty sure I lost jobs over it. Makeup artists have had to practically embalm me; there are probably photographers in this city right now, up past their bedtimes, laboring over the excessive 'Shopping my recent pictures have required.
And I talk a lot of "vanity" shtick, haha, but my god, when I was all broken out, I was constantly quailing with a self-consciousness way out of proportion to the gravity of my zit sitch. I became weird about even talking to people. I had to remind myself that, no, the 7-11 cashier was not staring at my skin, that I wasn't an ogre, that I could still have a fun conversation. What the fuck, I discovered: I am a va-a-a-ain asshole, for real, in a sick and shitty way. I have not been pleased with myself over this.
Too bad about my idiotic attitude; it spoiled what would have been a fun work week. After the relentless ladypose endurance test of Shanghai, it took me a while to get re-accustomed to the leisurely pace and luxurious clothes of HK jobs. Honestly, I still feel naked if I'm not wearing at least one shanzhai article on my body at all times.
My Hong Kong agency emailed me: "Elyse, we have castings for you, we have jobs for you; we're waiting for you to get your ass down here, thanks." I arrived in Hongers an hour ago; my heart was breaking to leave Shanghai this afternoon, but oh my god, I'd forgotten that Hong Kong has about a million billion charms of its own. I'd been in China for so long, and now...I'm not in China any more. I've got a mild case of the bends. No more anarchic traffic, no more xie xie, no more blatant gawping (both at me and by me), no more lack of cheese, nose picking must now be done furtively. No more manageable hair. No more tiny televisions blaring tinny commercials in taxicabs. No more loogie-slimed sidewalks. No more US$5 massages. Cantopop instead of Mando-pop. No more Mandarin, dammit! This morning in Shanghai I bumped into a dude on the sidewalk; I wheeled around and apologetically bowed my head at him, eyes downcast, hand up at forehead level, palm out, as I backed away. He did the exact same gesture at me, perfectly synchronized, perfectly mirrored, totally, totally Chinese. No more of that. Then on the plane there was a squalling baby; my Honger seatmate and I glanced at each other for just an instant, but long enough for us each to flex a bitchy, sympathetic eyebrow. Now more of that!
Goddamn, I'm having a good Year of the Ox so far. I don't really have anything organized to say, but I just wanted to post something to celebrate my emergence from behind the Great Firewall of China. As I have mentioned before, access to Livejournal.com is blocked within China; I've been updating my blog by using a sluggish proxy server on the already godawfully slow apartment internet connection. It took FOREVER to post something, FOREVER for other people's Livejournals to load, I couldn't preview anything, and it was hard to reply to comments, especially when the comment I wanted to reply to was not the original post in a thread. But now I can access LJ directly and online life is easy again, so if you asked a burning question sometime during the last two months and I never replied, try asking again here. I expect to enjoy a lot of slack-jawed computer slumping in the coming few days, not least because of the fast and free internet connection: my new Hong Kong hovel is fucking PALATIAL and I never want to leave. Not only is it huge compared to my usual HK cribz, but the furnishings obviously predate the arrival of IKEA in Hong Kong, so there are none of the instantly recognizable [*] pieces (The Cheapest Wardrobe in IKEA, The Cheapest Bed in IKEA, The Cheapest Chair in IKEA, Those Cheap IKEA Mugs) with which I am so familiar via models' apartments worldwide. Unlike the claustrophobic shithole I occupied last summer, this one-room manse boasts a place to sit besides the bed (A MINIATURE LOVESEAT!), a place to eat besides the bed (A COFFEE TABLE!), a desk broader than my forearm, and no dimension narrower than my wingspan. There is also a wok and the TV is not mounted on a metal arm over the bed. I am gagging with joy!
[* Is there a word that means "related to furniture"? Analogous to "sartorial"? I feel like there is. Edit: supellectile! Thanks!]
OK, it's bedtime, but not before I upload some China action for your eyeholes. Ah, viva la high-speed connection.
At every intersection on my Shanghai street is a small phalanx of motorcycle taxis. The drivers lounge all day on their bike seats, hammock style, waiting for someone to engage their services. I took pics of a few of them as I walked out of the 'hood this morning, found a photo kiosk, made prints, and distributed them on the way back. So awesome. I wish I'd had that idea weeks ago.