Cunningstuff

A new life, for an old man.

Month: May, 2013

Sydney Vs. Denver

The M5

The M5 into Sydney, from our outskirt situated neighborhood.

People

Very polite compared to Denver. Sydney reminds me of the old Denver, before the Californiafication of it, when people were nice to each other, and overly polite. The past two decades have been very unkind to the Capitol Hill crowd, as we are the undesirable element right near prime real estate. Sydney has its uppity side as well, but for the most part, Sydney beats Denver in courtesy and hospitality.  I am always being told to hush up, so people here are quieter than Americans. Aside from kids, no one really belts out or lets the argument go where the neighbors can hear. I am pretty much to loud all the time, as I was loud even for an american. In that respect, you might say people are uptight, but that would be the wrong impression. Sydneysiders just don’t let things unravel in public, and trust me, they do let their hair down. It makes for a really nice night out, thousands of people around, and no fighting, no harsh words, just people having fun. Denver public events, I do fear for two things,  over reactive police patrol and gangsters. They are both likely to let out the wrong reaction because you bumped into someone…at an entertainment festival… where people are expected to get distracted…, and both can cost you your life. Sydney Police are polite, and very present, but you see them smiling, not searching for something to hurt. I saw a few biker types, but no one looking to start a fight because I was looking at a display behind them.

I know I have harped on this a thousand times, but USA is in the wrong, and it is for many reasons. Having lived and traveled around the Oz for a few months now, I am most amazed and in love with the people. People are just nice. I wish americans would be as nice to each other as well. There are problems here, and being a white boy from the states I am not going to encounter them much, I understand that, but people for the most part are just nicer. Polite, and expecting the same, it feels like I am in a country full of the proverbial over-nice canadians, but the accent is wrong.

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Used daily in my house, I love this set of knives. Look at that cleaver!

Food

Well, first of all, you do not have to miss american food much. Hamburgers are big here, with the exception that they use beetroot instead of pickles. Pizza is a little dryer and smaller, I could squeeze the Pizza Hut crust and NOT get oil dripping out. Barbeque is the rule, not the exception, and being from Texas, I really enjoy that. I have had grilled cheese (on the grill grilled cheese, it is awesome, and not a sandwich,) sausages, lamb, beef, and pork. We just finished getting the grill ready to be used, I could not let it be stored unused on the back porch anymore, and she handily agreed, get it going! Chicken rules over beef here, in fast food. There is plenty of beef mind you, but there are some four major chicken fast food outlets, all busy and all good. PeriPeri, Red Rooster, Oporto, and the rather surprising on every corner damn near KFC. I love the lamb too, and it is as popular here as beef is in the US. And good… it is yummy, delicious, and perfect, so much lamb. Seafood! I can not even come close to comparing seafood in Denver. More sushi, and fish is actually eaten often here, not just by rich people shopping at Markczyks, or poor people eating tilapia. Barramundi is delicious, and I have cooked hasa at home, both great fish. In Denver I had a hard time finding good brisket, looks the same over here, but instead of me missing it, I find I am always happy with the choices I have in front of me.

In general, the food is way better, both in quality and choice.

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Music, light, art, all in one, Vivid 2013.

Music

Sydney radio is great, just great. I get to hear real artists here, not just the big 40. I hear them too, but it’s not over and over and over. Triple J is a great station that has launched many a career, and takes chances on new and local artists, everyday. I had the great concert with Temper Trap, and the great venue, so now it is looking for that much-loved smaller scene and set. I will find it, and I will listen to it. I love the music on Saturday mornings, it is called Rage, and they play music videos. Nothing but music videos, just like we used to get, way back in the day. Rage also likes new and local artists, if they have a decent video. Denver I was very much involved with the local music scene, and it rocks, I have not had the chance so much here, but I live in the sticks, and I have other goals these days. I may not have much to do with music for two or three years, but that is ok, as I had a great time in Denver.

I would not say there is a winner here. I was involved in Denver, so I know how diverse and amazing the music is there, and I stayed that way, even when I was in the middle of being a depressed shut in. Sydney has a LOT more support for local music though.

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Sydney itself as a work of art at night.

Art

The Vivid Festival is put on by the Museum of Contemporary Art here in Sydney, and the museum is a lot bigger and more involved than in Denver.  There is a constant presence of art here, not just marketing, but actual art. I see a lot more sculpture than in Denver, and in general, people seem to have more aesthetic and less consumer culture here than in Denver. Two popular shows here showcase ordinary people trying their hands at being chefs and home renovators. What ordinary people here know reflects the culture at large, which in general, does go back to a better educated population. Trash culture is not as prevalent either, most of it oriented either around sports or biker culture.

All in all, Sydney is more art oriented, and people themselves reflect the city as well.

Conclusion

I hate to say it, but Sydney is the clear winner in my book. I loved Denver for a long time, but it eventually fell apart in the tyranny of pseudo-capitalism. Friendly and educated, Sydneysiders are fun folk, quick with a smile and a hug. I am enjoying this part of the world, and feel my future lies here, under the Southern Cross.

Temper Trap at the Enmore

Among the many things that bind my dear Queen and me together, one of the most powerful is our love for music. We dance, badly, at home, and we sing along to songs, badly, and I play instruments, badly, and we just love it. We make up songs for fun, we clap at great stuff, it’s all a part of who we are. I was so happy to finally find a lover who loves music. We don’t always agree on everything, we definitely have our own tastes, and that is perfect, because it allows us to expose each other to new songs and music. She tends to not like my choices, and I tend to like hers, so it all works out. (You guys know what I mean…)

One of the most recent musical adventures is the Temper Trap show at the Enmore Theater. First of all, let me gush a bit of love for this place. One of my fears in coming to Sydney was that everything was big and modern and I would have to give up seeing great music in smaller venues. Two decades of living in the unadventurous Denver, Colorado, had allowed me to become spoiled by seeing amazing bands at tiny venues. Small venues have three amazing awesome advantages over large venues. First and foremost, the sound is always amazing. No matter how bad the venue is usually, the band has the gear to overcome any disadvantages, and the three main small venues in Denver have amazing sound anyways. Second, and uppermost next to sound, the price of small venues is ALMOST always agreeable. Last and maybe best, you are close, close enough to see the sweat fall when they are pushing it, and close enough to hear the band yell at each other between songs. Enmore Theater is all that and a biscuit. It is a pretty little theater, and as soon as you walk in, bam, there it is. No walking for thousands of miles through a tube, although you may have to walk a thousand miles from where you park.

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Security is a bit more lax than in the States as well, making for a unfrisked, un-patted down beginning, much like the old days of shows. We bought our tickets online, and printed them at home, and they just scanned a bar code off of them when we arrived. A giant angled floor awaited us when we arrived, general standing room only on the bottom floor, but there were reserved seats upstairs as well. Next time, in hind sight, I think we will take seats upstairs, so we can get a break from the floor. 20-somethings have no problems, maybe even 30 somethings, but in my 40’s and still quite overweight, standing in one spot on an angle for 2 and half hours killed me. Not a bad thing, overall, next time if we are on the floor find a better spot to stand first, or get the seats upstairs.

The two opening bands, ALPINE and MT Warning, were up and running when we arrived. I have to sadly say I only saw 10 seconds of MT Warning, but those were 10 nice seconds. We left the venue for an adult beverage, as there are several bars and whatnot steps away.  I really love Newtown, the whole area is amazing, full of sound and light and people, all in good moods having great times with friends. We are going to explore it more soon, as we have brunch lined up in a few weeks. After our drink we returned to watch ALPINE, a fun band who has two female lead singers, bouncing off of each other and the stark background music that the band plays for them.

One last good wait, and Temper Trap came out.

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Now if you are not a fan of Temper Trap, I understand. I was caught off guard by his male soprano, a rare treat in the world of rock, when such a high voice is so clean and clear. Live, the band very much delivers. Every song is played perfectly, but with those little differences that make a live show a treat. They truly have the show in a great groove.

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My personal favorites were very boring, the ones you would expect to go off well live, The Drum Song, Down the River, and the encore of  Sweet Disposition. 

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These were the best pictures of the night, but one thing they do not capture is how it feels at a Temper Trap show. No angst, no pushiness, nothing but folks having a great time, living, loving, dancing. I danced all night. I left feeling great, and I remember the whole thing as an uplifting experience. I can succinctly say, without any qualms or misgivings, that I truly love Temper Trap and would go see them again at the drop of a hat. I fell in love with them 3 years ago, and they have proven themselves to be worthy in my book. Go see them when they play near you, I am sure that anyone would at least agree that they perform well and have a great set.

Special thanks to my lovely Everstar, who shared the experience with me, and who makes everything beautiful, and covered in diamonds!

Losing the Weight

I am finally below 160 kg. I know it is not bragging time, but I just wanted to get back into touch with my healthy side today. I have a lot of blogs coming out soon, as I am behind and have some material to share, but the first and foremost one is this, how happy am I now?

I am excited and tremulous about being in Oz. After all the preparation and desire, to actually be here is every bit as good as I thought it would be, and better in many ways. I thought I would miss the ol’ USA, but I could not care less. I love this country, the people and my fair Lady, my dearest Everstar, is every bit as wonderful now that I am here, as when we met. I was worried about one thing though, one thing nagged at me, other than just being poor and old, was being fat. I have changed my life, I am now moderately active, and as my body and mind heal from all those dark years of being huge, I am working towards becoming highly active. I have changed how I eat. I have changed what I do on a daily basis. I am very truthfully, painfully aware of how out of shape I have been for the last decade.

I can not relate to you how important it is to me to have my partner with me. I need someone who is a no bullshit person, and my dearest is definitely that. She tells me how it is in no minced words, but instead is truthful and honest. I also need to be around her, to become a better person. I only hope I give her the ability to become better herself, as she is such a wonderful power for me to have.

That all brings me to the realization of how important your peer group, whoever they may be, really is. I have friends who all accepted me, but very few would tell me to my face how fat I was, or how bad my attitude could be. Ultimately, I ended up being very alone except for some very dear friends from my workplace. I think all of us who get so big have the exact same problem for this, we isolate ourselves to only the people who will not be confrontational with us, and we end up having no real support for ourselves when we start trying to change things. Those of us who fight to change in spite of this, I salute you. I am saluting myself, but not a lot. I was not in the best of shape when I got here, although I had laid the groundwork for real change, it really was my Queen who ended up making the difference in me choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.

I AM WEAK. I am weak on my own, and I needed the extra provocation of my love to really get me changing things. I think that ultimately, that is the catch-22 of all of us who are obese. Romantics at heart, we are emotional and need support to change, but we isolate ourselves from the truth that pervades our real state of mind and body. We use food as an emotional outlet, and we end up cycling into ever more destructive bad habits and obesity. One day we just give up and say, screw it, food makes me happy, and since I am alone, it is the only way I can be happy, but like all addictions, it never turns out to be true. We end up very alone, very sad, and finally, dead.

As our capitalist society seeks to ever more isolate us from each other in all its ways, always pushing for more entertainment and less exercise and getting together, I believe we are only experiencing the beginning of the obesity epidemic. Three years ago I decided I would no longer voluntarily accept any more chains from the buy buy buy orientation of American food. I first got rid of milk from my diet. Milk does NOT do the body good. There are many better sources of calcium for adults than milk. I grew up thinking milk was the healthiest drink on earth, I finally accepted that at 40 years of age, it really was killing me. Then I got rid of sugar, literally not buying the bag of sugar anymore. I kept doing this, but the hardest thing to give up, in the end, was the bad hobbits of fast food.

I did not really give them up until a month ago. Years of changing, and the best thing I could have done was eat sensibly, but nooooo, I have to be stubborn and give that up last. I have however, finally understood the pleasure of eating real meals, and healthy meals, and I am losing weight on the average of 2.5 kilos per week. Last week I measured out and nice 154.4 Kg, which is 10 Kg less than when we found a scale that would measure big enough to weigh me in.

So to compare…

fat at crawfish boil

 

To yesterday she took a pic of me.

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Do not get me wrong. I am not bragging, yet. And that is a big yet, I feel soon, maybe a year more, I can brag, and not just brag, but help others put their lives on track, and change things for all of us. I am still VERY overweight. I am still on a long painful road to recovery. I am still struggling with my issues, my depressions, my doubts, my eating and my bad habits. I am however, very proud and very happy to finally SEE the change, to be able to point to myself and say, I am no longer that person over there, the huge one. with a chip on his shoulder.

If you are in any way in need of motivation or help, leave me a comment, and I will do what I can. First and foremost, do not give up, you can always make the changes you want, if you want them.