Thursday, July 26, 2012

Welcome to my Neighborhood

Can't remember but think I may have bragged about my new place - we are on the Upper West Side and happen to live right on Central Park West.  I know, I know... I could punch myself in the face on your behalf.  Needless-to-say there are maaaaany great things about living in our location.  Here are two I did not anticipate:

Blossom giving a "Jewish Values in the Age of Entertainment" talk at a synagogue around the corner and...

An art installation on our block.  Yes, ladies and gentleman - some artiste created this masterpiece and every day it doesn't rain, he pulls the tarp off to let us admire his work.  When the tarp is on, I *swear* it's not my dog who pees on it.  And yes, that is a Rastafarian Chester Cheetah in the driver's seat.

Try not to hate.  ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dispatches from HK: Cray-Cray T-shirts

More fun "English" t-shirts and the clearly misinformed Chinese people who wear them:

Thanks Alisa for letting me raid your FB older posts for this one!

Dispatches from HK: Cum Fun Day

Oh how I miss the joys of how the Chinese massacre English!  My friend Mark recently sent me a gem:

If I'm reading it correctly, this is a flyer for a "Love Together" event in DB - my old family-friendly neighborhood in Hong Kong.  In what is undoubtedly an event geared towards children (note the game booths and board games), you have to love that they're calling it a "Launch Ceremony Cum Fun Day".

It sounds like a pedophile's dream. 

People and Their Pets

I'm in no position to judge people for acting crazy with their pets.  My dog was a featured part of our wedding, after all.

However, I had to smile when I walked by an outdoor cafe today (on the UWS, for all you New Yorkers) and saw a woman eating by herself.  Except, no she wasn't.  There was a medium-sized bird cage with a small yellow bird inside sitting on the table.  Obviously it was her lunch companion.

Sorry, no picture - was walking back carrying groceries and didn't feel good about trying to snap a pic of this lady (even though many of you are undoubtedly scoffing or gagging at the thought of a bird on a table where one eats.)

And for all your DB-ers I find this way less offensive than the people letting their kids run wild on the ferry.  Discuss.

Dispatches from HK: Trend-setting Style

What are the things I remember most about Hong Kong - other than the extreme heat, disgusting manners and amazing hot pot? The lack of fashion sense.

My friend Mark shared a pic of an emerging trend that I have a feeling won't be making it outside of the 852:

No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you.  S/he (a hot pink shirt does not indicate female in HK, unfortunately) is wearing an item of clothing on the bottom with one long pant and one short short.  The new skort?  Shants, perhaps?  I don't know what to call this foolishness other than the opposite of fashionable.

Beggars - A Comparison

If you've been a loyal reader of this blog, you probably remember my post on beggars in Hong Kong. If you're a local Hong Konger, you know how destitute the people begging on the streets are - most are missing limbs or burned on 80% of their bodies.

Then there are NYC beggars:

Begging for singles to take to the strip club... it gives a new definition to needy, doesn't it?

Dispatches from Hong Kong: Dirty Sanchez

Hello friend; it's been a while.

Since I've gotten a job and live in NYC, this title doesn't seem to fit all that well anymore.  But I love it too much to give it up, so am relying on friends from Hong Kong to send me all the good stuff I'm missing out on.  I'll share these via "Dispatches from Hong Kong" posts, like this one.

Gourmet Burger is one of a few burger chains in Hong Kong.  None of them can hold a candle to a real American burger, but it was a place I frequented when that hankering for red meat got to be too much.  Suffice it to say, I'm happy I don't have to rely on Gourmet Burger any more now that they're offering this new menu item.

If there's one thing I don't want the burger I'm eating associated with - it's probably a dirty Sanchez.

I'm having vague recollections of another local HK fast food chain -- Shake 'em Buns, which had similarly inappropriate and vomitous names.

Happy eating!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

First World Country, Third World Subway

There are so many exciting things about being back in New York City - the endless choices of fresh food at Trader Joe's, seeing normal girls on the street who look like they've stepped out of Vogue, window shopping in NoLiTa, Central Park on a gorgeous sunny day.  I know I sound like a golden retriever, but there are many reasons to love New York.

And then there's the subway.

N/R line at 34th Street

It gives India's slums a run for their money
After using Hong Kong's pristine and timely MTR - where I could eat off and sleep on the ground, I feel like I'm in a slasher movie when I'm in the subway here.  In three short months I've already experienced the following:
  • a group of teenagers eating after-school snacks (chips, granola bars, candy) on the train and brazenly throwing the empty wrappers on the floor of the subway car
  • the smell of a homeless man on the train which has literally emptied the car (suddenly I remember the #1 rule of riding the NYC subway - an empty car is a bad - not a good, thing)
  • getting followed up and down the platform by a strange man who is creepily smiling at me
  • being absolutely terrified when I get off at my stop and see a teenager in a black ski mask pass me to get onto the train
  • sitting in a dark tunnel between stations...for 5 minutes...with no announcements...knowing I'll now be late
This is all in addition to people begging you for money, no cell phone service and rats scurrying around on the tracks.  When summer rolls around, you can add sweltering heat and a foul smell to the mix.

The upside?  When the 3-piece mariachi band or 3-man barbershop quartet (triplet?) visit your car and their music is so peaceful you almost forget you're in Return of the Living Dead.

Math in Reverse

Let me start by confessing that math has never been my strong suit.  Apparently reacclimating to the US dollar is another thing I'm not so good at.

As an expat living in a foreign land, you learn to take the price of something and convert it into your home currency.  $1 USD = ~$8 HKD, so my brain got to the point where it would automatically divide everything by 8 to see what the actual value was.  Otherwise I'd be looking at an $8 bottle of Diet Coke or an $88 t-shirt from H&M and thinking "Jesus, that's expensive."  Now, if I was living in Sydney, that *would* be the actual value!

Anyway, the problem I'm facing now is that my brain is still doing it...and I'm back in America where things are listed in USD.  So, I got a check recently for $6,000 and immediately devalued it to around $1,500.  I was in J Crew looking at a $120 sweater thinking, "$12?! It must be on sale."  

Not sure when my brain will finally accept that it's back in the land of the US Dollar.

Step one will be to stop referring to things in US dollars.  I was telling a story to some friends over the weekend and I said something along the lines of "...and it cost 40 US dollars."  My friend Al says, "You know you don't have to specify the currency; we all assume you mean US dollar."

Who knew that one thing I'd not be able to let go of was the freakin Hong Kong Dollar?!

Friday, March 23, 2012

One space makes all the difference

Cracking up over this photo on FB today:

For all the non-Americans, Safeway is a big grocery store chain.

Apparently this blog has turned into a receptacle for stolen FB posts and pictures. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hens with Heartburn

This one's from my friend Alisa:

Economics for Dummies

Since I am in NYC and have no good stories to share, I'm left to yank stories from my HK friends' Facebook pages.  Hello desperation!  That being said, I think you'll like this (and the one to follow).

This is my friend Anthea's recent experience at Mannings, the popular pharmacy chain in HK:

At Mannings buying bandages for my class (she leads a first aid class).  I notice they have none in stock and ask the sales assistant, "Are you out of bandages?"

She says, "No, we aren't stocking them anymore."

Anthea: "Really?! Why is that?"

Sales lady: "We were selling too many of them."

Anthea: "Pardon? What? Oh never mind..."

God this brings me back to being in HK!

Friday, March 16, 2012

It's Official

I suck.  I've been neglecting you, but mostly because I have nothing to say.  I think my repatriation really wasn't as jarring (for me) or entertaining (for you) as I thought it would be.  I could get on here and write about my daily life, but think you'd be asleep by the second paragraph.  It would literally consist of me bitching about having to clean my own bathroom, celebrating American grocery stores and reporting on some crazy shouting match I witnessed on the subway.  Pretty ho-hum stuff.

You deserve more than that!

Instead, I'm trying to talk my American friend in Hong Kong - who is exceedingly funny and who supplied at least 5 stories for this blog including the one about the old Chinese lady wearing the "I"m shy but I have a big dick" t-shirt - to take over for me. If I can convince her to do it, you will be in great hands.

Meanwhile, should I come across something here in NYC that is so damn good it just has to be reported, I will jump back on.

What I'm saying is that the dry spell may continue for a few weeks, but hopefully someone fantastic will take it over soon. 

Monday, February 13, 2012


This'll be a quick one that, had I more time, could end up being a 5-page post.  Here's the difference between parenting styles in Discovery Bay and New York City:

Today a kid on a stationary (e.g., non-moving) scooter semi-blocked my exit at the grocery store.  His mother immediately saw this and said, "Carlton, I told you not to ride that thing in here."

Months ago, I was nearly knocked over by a kid on a scooter zooming by me in the grocery store in DB.  I rolled my eyes and said, "watch out" to which his mother gave me a dirty look and most definitely said nothing to her son.

I'm not even going to provide commentary on this; I think it speaks for itself.

PS - If Blondie from the Forum is reading this, I hope your head is exploding!  :)

Friday, February 10, 2012


Sorry to have been incommunicado the last few weeks.  I've been sleeping on an air mattress (borrowed from a friend) in an empty apartment...watching TV on a borrowed TV (another friend) and eating pre-made meals that don't require cooking from Trader Joe's.

Yes, I'm living like a crackhead.

And I have a newfound hatred for a certain moving company that shall remain nameless (forget that  -Asian Express/The MI Group) who are TWO WEEKS LATE in delivering our belongings from Hong Kong.

These are the times when people like the Unibomber make a lot of sense to me.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Just Because

One of the big things I've been looking forward to are Sunday nights.  Specifically Sunday night TV. So far, we've had NFL play-off football (the Super Bowl is next Sunday!), Awards season (although the Globes were a little lackluster this year) and then a boatload of new shows I need to start watching - Homeland, Downton Abbey, etc.  It's like couch potato overload!

Tonight, I happen to be watching E!'s coverage of the SAG Awards.  Just me, a Brooklyn Lager and my pug who's happily chewing on a crack bone.  Hubby is at the office.  Yes, I do feel some shame about our individual circumstances.  So I figured instead of flooding my Facebook with minute-by-minute status updates (although I *do* love how it annoys people!), I'd capture my thoughts here.  (If this isn't what a blog is for, what is?!)

First off, the dresses are lightyears better than what showed up at The Globes.  I guess celebs saw the papers and watched Joan Rivers the next day and decided they needed to up their game.  Here's hoping the show is better than the Globes, too.  If your brain protected you from the tragedy by erasing it from your mind, here's just a small sampling:

Other random observations from tonight's red carpet:

John Krasinski may edge out Gosling slightly as sexy sexy sex man sexy man.  Tall, handsome and funny?  Deep breath, Jess.

While I love her style, Michelle Williams is just awkward in interviews.  She comes off as nervous (if you like her) and condescending (if you don't).  She's been doing this a long time, so even if she's a shy person by nature, I need her to get over it.  It's part of your job and you're kinda sucking at it.

How do I get Melissa McCarthy to be my new bff?

How do I get the gorgeous Kristin Wiig to stop dressing so badly?

Viola Davis and Rose Byrne have knocked it out of the park with their outfits!  That pantsuit is beyond.  Kinda feeling the same about Zoe Saldana (the tank top is a great touch!)

If I was on a yacht and that yacht got harpooned on a deserted island, the other two celebrity couples I'd want with me are John Krasinski/Emily Blunt and George Clooney/Stacey Keibler.  I feel like we'd have such a good time..and like I'd really fit in.  No really, I do!

I am sick to death of people calling Angelina stylish.  She looks embalmed and appears to be color-blind (black & white taupe are the only colors in her closet.)  And who in their right mind thinks stark white satin and blood red satin are a chic combo?  It's like a bad prom mafiosa dress.  There is NOTHING stylish about her.

Tina Fey has really lost the baby weight, huh?!  Good for her!  Maya Rudolph on the other hand...

So that's it.  Yes, I'm a bitch and yes, this wasn't exactly a well thought out post, but it's my blog and I'll do what I want with it until you stop reading.  :)

Super Bowl and Oscars red carpet, here we come!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pharmacies Suck.

Here's how the medical process goes in Hong Kong:
You go to the doctor; he prescribes medicine; his nurse gives you the medicine; you leave with everything you need to get better.  Easy peasy.

Here's how the process goes here:
I feel like crap.  I call the doctor to set up an appointment and the doctor's receptionist informs me I'll need to bring my insurance card.  I don't have an insurance card, so I have to call insurance company Cigna (many conversations with automated computer that doesn't understand what I'm saying) and get ID number.

Go to doctor.  Get examined by doctor.  Ushered out the door by doctor with two prescriptions in hand.

Go to pharmacy #1 (Duane Reade) - located nowhere near doctor office. Hand pharmacist my prescriptions and tell her my insurance ID#.  Told the next day (!!) that Cigna is NOT my prescription insurance provider, only my medical/doctor provider.  Express Scripts is my prescription provider and they don't have a contract with Duane Reade.  A.k.a. - I'm not getting my meds here.

Go to pharmacy #2 (Rite Aid).  Hand pharmacist my prescriptions and Cigna ID#, explaining that I'm covered under Express Scripts.  She tells me they only have 1 of the 2 medicines in stock and that I need to provide more info from Express Scripts before she can fill the script.

Go home and call Cigna (automated computer hell) only to have them explain that they are a completely different company than Express Script.  They do have Express Script's number though (small miracle).  Call Express Script (more automated computer hell) and am given all info needed to get Rx filled.

Go back to Rite Aid and give the info for my 1 Rx.  Have given up hope on getting 2nd medicine.

Currently waiting for it to be filled and assume there will be 8 million more hoops to jump through, hiccups and meltdowns -- the latter from me, before I physically have meds in hand.

Now I ask you - sane, level-headed human being, which process would you prefer?????

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Faux Yorker

Just when I think I've assimilated, the following happens:

I walk by a bar with a sign out front that reads, "Football all weekend long" and I think "Wow, soccer has really caught on here in the last three years."

That and I keep trying to go up the wrong side of the escalators.

Otherwise, I'm totally back.  ;)

Paging Maury Povich

Check out what I spotted at our drugstore (British translation: chemist):

Apologies for the blur factor, but please tell me you can read the "Court Admissible" tagline!

Does this mean Maury Povich is out of a job?? Speaking of, if you're American and start to feel high-and-mighty and that our country is the best in the an episode.  You will quickly be brought to your knees with embarrassment.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Delivery for Dummies

One of the biggest things I've looked forward to in NYC is the restaurant scene.  Every part of it -- "the world is your oyster" options, places staying open until midnight and deliveries any time of day or night.  Back in the UrbanFetch era (circa 1999), I was known to order a DVD (or was it still VHS back then?), slice of pizza, drinks and Tylenol from one place and it would all be delivered within an hour!

Yesterday I saw a Pinkberry delivery guy in our elevator.  If you're not familiar, Pinkberry is a frozen yogurt chain.  (HK folks, it's the same as Yo MaMa.) The kind of place you see when you're walking on a Sunday afternoon and feel like indulging your sweet tooth.  You go in, order a cup and then peruse the vast display of toppings (Capn Crunch, blueberries, coconut, you name it).  You leave, yogurt in hand, and proceed to eat it spoonful by spoonful as you walk down a sunny NYC street.  It's more event, than food.

You do not call Pinkberry and ask them to deliver a cup of yogurt to your door. Which the deliveryman confirmed when I asked him who would order yogurt for delivery and he replied - "some lazy ass people".  I think he wanted to say "some lazy ass white people," but refrained.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Whiter Shade of Pale

Do you know what's depressing as f*ck??  Watching yourself grow paler every day and knowing that it's going to be at least 4 months before your skin sees the sun again.

I do not look good pale.  Not one bit.

And please don't say "foundation".  I'm not skilled enough to wear it and always end up with that crass line separating my face from my neck.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Pretty sure I've complained about how Hong Kong grocery stores are hit or miss.  For three months straight they'll have your favorite brand of popsicles.  Then, they run out and you don't see them again for a year (if you're lucky!)  Or you'll come in for what I consider a staple - blueberries, chicken breasts, garlic - and find that they have none in stock.  Not a berry, breast or clove in sight...and they are perplexed that you find this ridiculous.

Now I live in a place where you can buy a package of 10 hard-boiled, already-peeled eggs.  Some company will boil and peel your eggs for you - because who can be bothered to do that?!

I don't know whether to laugh, cry or buy a package and make deviled eggs.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


When we moved into our place in Hong Kong, Pricoa - the relocation company, gave us a nice bottle of red wine.

Here's what we got from them this time:

Welcome to the States.  Would you like fries with that?  

For All That is Holy and Merciful

Please God, make it stop.  I cannot handle winter today.  I. Just. Can't.

I forgot about the stinging, burning sensation that comes right before numbness.

I forgot that you need to carry around a family-sized box of tissues because your nose will run for no reason other than it is freezing to death.

I forgot that once you get into anywhere warm (like a subway car), you immediately start to sweat under all your layers.

I forgot that you lose peripheral vision when you're bundled up in a scarf, hat, parka coat hood and sunglasses.

I honestly don't know if I will survive this winter.

Meanwhile, my HK friends are jetting off to the beaches of Boracay and Koh Samui.  Bitches.

Supersize Me

We went to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the other night.  It was a slightly revolting experience.  Two seats had a big white sheet over them that read "Accident Being Cleaned Up".  I don't want to think about what kind of accident can't be cleaned up immediately.  The floors were gross and sticky and the annoying chicks with Lawn-Guyland accents yammering on behind us were also gross.

Oh how I remember nestling into my oversized leather armchair (pre-selected and reserved arm chair, I might add) in Hong Kong waiting for the movie to start.  Granted, I was watching a movie that had been out in the States for a good 6 months...

However, the big ah-ha "we're not in HK anymore, Toto" moment was when we got our drinks from the concession stand.  I ordered a medium Diet Coke. Here's what I got:

Not sure the first picture does it justice, but hopefully the second does.  I had to use TWO HANDS to lift the thing up to my mouth.  In fact, my two hands together *just* formed the circumference of the lid.  It was gigantic!  I have to assume the large is reserved for a family of four.

All of that moral outrage aside, I managed to slurp the entire thing down plus a bag of the new pretzel M&Ms.  :)

[Editor's Note: For all the disbelievers out there, it should be noted that I have normal, non-dwarf sized hands.]

Ni Hao

We're into our temporary housing (e.g. serviced apartment) and what it lacks in location (one block off Times Square - somebody shoot me!), it makes up for in space, beautiful floors and a balcony.  After the chopped-up suffocating HK apartments, I feel like I can actually breathe in this one.

Anyway, that's not the point of this post.  The point is that being one block off of Times Square means we're in the Theatre District.  When I spotted the marquee of the Broadway show directly across the street from our place, I realized the Chinese gods are looking out for me:

Surely that's a good omen, no?!