Thursday, 31 January 2013


Some people care about what my work is like, whether I'm safe, but mostly people seem to ask about what the food is like.. not the local food, but the fast food.

Yes the #1 question on a lot of peoples minds is whether McDonald's is the same. But I thought I would be more daring and throw more caution to the dietary wind by paying a visit to KFC.

In all honesty the biggest difference I noticed was the price, it's a lot cheaper here. You can get things off the menu for around NZ$1. I spent $7.

The fries are shoe strings here, unsurprisingly it works.

That's no burger, that's my roll baby! You can see the chicken looks much the same, but it's not as dripping with grease. The skin is a slightly different recipe and seems healthier.

This was the biggest difference. Potato and gravy didn't come standard with the meals and I couldn't swap it out. I had to buy it separately and it was comparatively more expensive than everything else. It was pretty different from what we have in New Zealand, for one they use REAL potatoes and appear to be a kind of sweet potato. Certainly not the same as home, but totally delicious and again probably healthier.

I did not try the coleslaw, but that's my life choice.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Shiney things

I don't give a rats about cars. I actually couldn't care less. But tonight my friend and I went to an auto show.

What an eye opener, the finest, flashest and most expensive cars in the world crammed between scantily clad stick figures of women and bulbous Asian men with cameras.

I tell a lie, they weren't all Asian, but they were all fat.

It was quite something to walk around amongst such over the top flamboyant luxury and marvel at both human achievement and the indulgent epicurism.

Amongst the crapulence were some lighter moments, I posed with some car models and asked them to look bored and disgusted with my presence, then photobombed a few doozies where possible while eating all the free chocolates.

There were jumps and stunts being performed outside which we only realised as our taxi drove past them as we left.

To cheer ourselves up we went for haircuts and decided to get the works. A cut throat shave, powder, wash, steam tent, hair cut, facial scrub, mask and peel followed by a buff and polish. I look about 12.

My skin hasn't been this smooth since I was born and it's disturbing how frightfully young I look. I'm reasonably happy with the hair cut too seeing as my barber didn't speak english. A bit too short, but luckily all I do is grow hair.

Here are some photos I took at the car show, I only took them so my Dad would wet himself.

Have fun with that Dad.

red one

white one

red one with a white bit

big white one

yellow one

silver one

fawn one

..that looks like it's got a face

yellowy one

silver one with an orangey bit

sort of flat looking one

maroon or burgundy, you decide

inside one

blue one

a different red one

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The good, the bad and the taxis

The good: I paid off my beast of a loan and am almost debt free. That's a huge payment coming out of my bank account every week GONE and I can breathe a big financial sigh of relief.

Also my buddy and I found a crappy cricket set at the supermarket and found a field to play in. Had some non-english speaking sorts join in and the local Arabs were glued to our bizarre antics. I will be sore tomorrow, but it was totally worth it.

The bad: I can't find a cheap ukulele here.

The taxis: Are making me lose the plot. I actually find myself walking a lot more places because I don't want to deal with them. Every last one of the bastards tries to rip you off and it is incredibly draining.

It makes me feel bad because I know these guys are in a stink position, working for stink companies for rubbish pay. They actually have to rent their cars by the day from the taxi company and it ain't cheap. But constantly pushing the boundaries of reality because I look like a dummy really is getting old.

Monday, 28 January 2013


So I blew a bunch of money on, it was fun. Yes I dealt with a couple of scam artists, but 90% of people delivered on their promises and were totally talented.

How talented? Well when I distributed the brief of "a giraffe with a sealion stuck in its bottom", this is what came back.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Scabies update

I know you've all been hanging out to know what happened with Scabies and her kittens. I've been quite worried about her in the week or so she's been missing. Thankfully she turned up tonight and was waiting by the electric sliding doors like always. She didn't have any company, I think this photo tells the tale

It's a bit sad and I'd love to know the whole story, but at least Scabies is OK. It wasn't my time to be a Dad and I can live with that. I wish Scabies a quick recovery and a warm bowl of milk. RIP little kittens.


I thought when I left New Zealand that I would be free of the incesent panpipes which have clogged my aural space over the past ten years or so.

The restaurant at my hotel had other plans however and I have been listening to the same panpipe classics CD at every meal, 3 times a day for the last 30 days.

The Carpenters, Beatles and Elton John all belted out over and over to piano accompanied panpipes.

I thought I'd heard all 10 tracks this CD must have by now, until this morning, while over a bowl of Frosties with almonds and banana I heard.. Metallica.

Yes even Metallica is not immune to the almighty panpipe. Yet what does this say about Metallica's place in history? Are Metallica so mainstream and acceptable that they're lumped in with 70's soft pop? I'm afraid so.

Still it brought a smile to my face looking around the room to see so many people in traditional Arab dress delightfully eating breakfast to one of the greatest metal bands of all time. Albeit on a panpipe.

I wonder if this has ever happened to Metallica themselves? And how they felt about it? I can imagine Lars Ulrich throwing down his napkin and having a copyright fit.

Saturday, 26 January 2013


The honeymoon is over, the culture shock has passed and the awe has faded.

Life here in the middle east has now settled in to a routine and the drudgery of my daily existence is as dull as at any other point in my life.

The difference here are the things I'm not doing. I'm not cooking meals, I'm not cleaning, I'm not playing sport.. I just work and eat and sleep with a robotic monotony.

It's efficient, time passes quickly and it's taken a month to realise I am existing in a bubble.

To break the shackles I must search for adventure and nothing is more adventurous than searching for a bottle of "Head & Shoulders" in an Arab capital.

For today I must not only conquer the monotony of my existence, but a dry, itchy scalp caused by the dry arid nature of the desert.

At least now I know where all this sand came from.

Friday, 25 January 2013


Congrats to the Black Caps, though I am loathe to call you by the unashamedly commercial tag placed upon you by an unimaginative marketing division. Watching you beat South Africa in the ODI series had me thoroughly glued, albeit to a tiny pixelated window in the corner of my computer screen covered in constantly  rotating non-sensical advertising.

Your win makes me pine for the green fields of home, to have a ball or bat in my hand and making school children look bad for the last time in my life. Until I have my own children, but then I'll be finding really creative ways to make their lives harder.

Ahh cricket, you beautiful pastime. How I love you, your nuances and pedantic detail, your drama and emotion. You're wrapped up like a cinnamon bun and I want to eat you up.

My love for the game is no secret, but my age is. I hide my real age behind a wall of youthful exuberance, long hair and a rosey complexion. I have no doubt that I'll play the game as long as I am physically capable, but do worry about when that will be. If only because I still harbour dreams of representing my country. I figure if 80,000 people or so fall ill I'm in with a shot and I want to be in prime condition.

I worry though that the selectors will see through my thinly veiled facade when I flash that wrinkly Luke Perry grin and I finally can't suck my gut in any longer. I worry that at that point, despite the low physical capacity of the other dregs, I will be overlooked.

It keeps me awake at night.

It would be funny if it wasn't true. Or does that make it more funny? But be sure I always know where my whites are if the New Zealand team ever need an extra player. I'd hop the fence faster than Fosbury could flop it and they should know I'm always standing by.

There are several highlights to my own cricketing career, a lot of wickets, not so many runs, some unlikely catches and a willingness to compete for every ball. But it's the times I've netted with the Black Caps which I'll cherish the very most. Not because I got to rub shoulders with them, several of them are dicks, but because I got to test my skills against them.

Any time I beat the bat or took a wicket, I was quick to flash a look at Wright or Greatbatch or Vettori or Bracewell to see if they were noting my name down. As if that's the way selections work. "Gidday mate, noticed you bowling there, how dya feel about playing for New Zealand?"

Reality takes a swing and a miss.

While I shake off that glazed stare into the universe, I'd like to mention I'm not all bluff and guts. Bowling to Dale Steyn in the nets last year I had Aleem Dar standing in.  I stepped up, engaged in some idle banter, told the umpire what ball I was going to bowl and had Steyn out three times in six balls.

This moment is probably as close as I'll ever come to fulfilling my dream of playing for my country. I've certainly had better batsmen out, but having Aleem there made it real. Steyn also got a serve from his team mates and I grew an extra foot.

Context is a wonderful thing though and I should point out at this juncture that I was unable to dismiss Chris Martin three years in a row after he painfully played inside the line of every delivery I sent down.

So you can't win em all and I'm unlikely (never say never) to make the team. Seeing the Black Caps defeat South Africa reminded me of what New Zealand cricket is all about. Punching above your weight, dreaming the impossible dream and never giving up. Well done lads. You set a great example for all the dreamers out there and I look forward to pulling the fern on one day.

Thursday, 24 January 2013


Continuing with the New Zealand education, here are some ads I dug out which remind me of home



 Air NZ

and this is one from America I saw while watching the hockey

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

New Zealand

I think I must be using the term "middle east" too much because there has been a giant up swing in readers from Saudi Arabia, Libya, Palestine, Turkey and the US. Sorry guys, this blog isn't for you, it's for my Mum and as much as you remind me of her, it's just not the same.

You all probably know a lot more about the middle east than I do, so it's a surprise that you would take an interest. I bet you know a lot less about New Zealand, so let me enlighten you.

Just in case you're polishing a gun right now, New Zealand is located here..

New Zealand is a popular destination for tourists..

And we have a rich marine ecosystem..

You tend to see a lot of photos of New Zealand that look like this..

So you'll be glad to know we're working really hard to take care of it..

All in all New Zealand's a pretty fantastic place..

Where we enjoy the Sun..

And nothing ever goes wrong..

And this guy is our Prime Minister..

Seen here demonstrating our foreign affairs policy.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Bit surprised to see the hit counter tick over 1000 today. Mum, seriously, sick.

If you're going to waste time on the internet, I heartily recommend

Monday, 21 January 2013


I am addicted to The silly person inside me cannot get enough of this website.

The basic gist is you pay people $5 to do whatever you want. People promote themselves via different categories and you pick and choose as you see fit. Over the last week I've probably spent in the region of $60-70 on a real melee of obtuse requests.

I've ordered 4 separate pictures of a sealion stuck in a giraffe's bottom for a friend. Mostly because we could find no such image on the internet. I just sit back and imagine the look on the faces of the artists when that request arrives in their inbox. Then the looks of the faces of the people in the gallery when I hold an exhibition of these creative works.

I tried to pick artists with really different styles, so it should be quite a good exhibition.

As well as fooling around, I also tried my luck at getting some other design work done. Stuff I'd been trying to convince talented friends to do for me for ages.. but who saw me coming and declined my offers through sprint training.

The results are hit and miss, but what do you expect for $5! Given time to trawl through the huge abundance of people offering their wares, you can find gold and I've found most people really easy to deal with even if English is their second or third language.

The fact is I'm getting fiddly work done for next to nothing that I either couldn't do or don't have time to do myself. Productivity win! Except for the hours I spend trawling through accounts laughing to myself about the retarded pranks I can play on people.

I'd be ordering every Hello Kitty hand crochet'd hat I could get my hands on if postage wasn't so damned expensive from the USA. What is with that US Postal Service? I tried to order an NHL sweatshirt the other day and baulked at the additional US$80 in postage. You America, just lost yourself a sale.

Sunday, 20 January 2013


A lot of people have been asking about Scabies and her kittens, but I'm sorry to say I haven't seen them. I'm hoping they're all alright somewhere, but rest assured they will not be worried by any rain.

The other thing I've been asked about is the national internet filter they have here. So to give you an idea, I googled the word 'sex' and these were the top five images.

Groundhog Kim

Working in news can be a bit samey. You see the same pictures and do the same stories year after year. As exciting as it may seem sometimes, people are incredibly predictable and there is a real routine to news.

You may not notice at home. I however cut the same story about the servals being taken for a walk at Wellington Zoo four times in four years. "Oh, it's April" I'd think.

It's like that with everything and no different on the other side of the world. Sometimes the protagonists change, but the stories remain the same.

In a rather surreal moment today I was working on the adventures of Kim Dotcom, except despite being in the middle east I was cutting pictures shot by my old company in New Zealand in my last days of working for them.

For a moment I had no idea where I was!

"Kirk to Enterprise, I'm.. surrounded by a.. new environment.. the.. surroundings.. are, different.. but.. ..feel, so familiar.. I..... don't know if this is Earth.


Nightshift. It's unpleasant, but there is one perk, you can often have long periods of calm.

Not last night.

Last night was as hard as I've worked on any night shift. It was relentless. 12 hours of constant rushed cutting and by the end I was a pudding of a man.

As an editor you use your short term memory like no other role I've ever done, and I've done my share. You have to remember minute detail from a wide array of sources within an extremely compressed time period. If you're working on the same piece it's not a problem, whether that piece lasts 1 hour or the whole day. It's when you work on multiple pieces in depth back to back that your brain starts to fail.

For the computer literate, I describe it as human RAM and you only have a finite amount before you need to reset. Certainly if I don't have breaks between cuts to get some air, have a drink and clear my head, I start to slow down and it effects everything I do.

Not only do I start to forget where pictures are or what story I'm working on, but I start to forget which keys do what and certainly can't hold a conversation. Even simple questions become hard to answer as I become further transfixed on completing the task at hand.

I'm sure many reporters/producers who have worked with me over the years and asked me an off-topic question during this state will have been confused by the corresponding stare as I A: try to search through the brain sludge to figure out what they've asked me, and B: drag myself out of the cerebral quicksand to come up with the response.

I can certainly recall on a number of occasions being verbally abused at this juncture. Helpful.

The only cure is rest. So this morning when I got back to the hotel, I crashed. So quickly  I didn't actually set my alarm.

I woke up an hour and a half later than usual, literally with 5 minutes to get downstairs and meet my driver. The usual routine went out the window and I myself contemplated that route to save time.

I made it work by the hair on my teeth and am now settling in for another long turn at bat.

It's like I never left.

Friday, 18 January 2013


It's funny working here, you do see some disturbing things and have to distance yourself to cope.

Today wasn't the most gory, but it was hard viewing. A company stringer, a freelancer like me, ran between buildings in Syria and was shot.

You didn't see any bullets or any blood. He was just alive one second and not the next.

It really puts into perspective the indiscriminate nature of war and how stupid we actually are.


Today came breaking point with the work cafeteria. It's only been 3 weeks, but already I've had a gutsfull and was tonight prepared to walk off into the darkness in search of food.

Past the armed guards I went, past the highway and into the dark unknown. I'd heard rumour that there was a good shawarma place around here somewhere.. somewhere.

The streetlights are dim and the Arabian sky devoid of stars. You can see a couple, but can count them on one hand. Finding Jesus in the desert actually looks pretty straight forward "wise men".

Finding shawarma in the desert is another story. There are no stars to guide me and google maps is completely useless when nothing is sign posted anyway. I did see a cat, but it obviously wasn't a rescue cat.

2km in the wrong direction and I thought I had blown it. Hungry and belligerent I turned back, the road ahead was long and my stomach was empty. As I reach the work compound, my heart sinks, I can see the cafeteria lights in the distance and I can't bring myself to go so low. I stagger on, wincing past work, hoping to see the cafeteria fall down.

Another kitteh crosses my path, "Hello kitteh" I think, but something is different.. the look in his eye.. he beckons me onwards. I follow blindly, left and right, he doesn't allow me to ride him, but he encourages me on. Around a corner past a line of closed shops a single red sign glows, SHAWARMA!

I enter, I order, I cry, I thank my lucky stars. As I leave I see the cat, sitting under the chair of a staff member on his break. He gives me a knowing look as he draws on his cigarette and reaches down to pat the satisfied looking moggy.

That'll do cat, that'll do.

Pepsi, I'm doing it wrong

I mentioned the other day that I thought the Pepsi here was decidedly better than what we have in New Zealand. Certainly the Pepsi range here is vastly preferred to Coke's.

But it turns out I've been doing it wrong. Cracking open a can and pouring a glass is not enough. You're supposed to add ice and you're supposed to salt it.


Salt the ice. I am yet to try this approach, but once pointed out me I noticed the practice in wide use.

Maybe this is the secret, maybe we're all missing a trick. If anyone tries this, please let me know.

Thursday, 17 January 2013


So I stay up all night on my day off alone in my room, fairly dull, but am enthused by Romy & Michelle's Highschool Reunion and then THIS. Watch it. Watch it over and over. I LOVE it.

50 flavours of cheese

Doritos and Cheetos, all the chippies here are a variation on cheese.

The search for plain or ready salted potato chips has proven fruitless. Yes I can get Pringles, but dried pressed reconstituted potato shavings don't quite match up to the real deal.

So after three weeks my cravings have escalated. I now want a bowl of plain chips with proper muesli bars and a milo chaser.

Though I am developing a penchant for giant mixed shawarma's and the Pepsi tastes a damn sight better than the stuff in New Zealand.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Crazy news, but I'm going to be a Dad!

This is Scabies the cat which lives in the carpark and she is preeeeggggnant.

I don't know if her name is really Scabies, but that's what I call her. I've asked other people here what her name is, but noone knows. They all seem to feed and pat her though, so maybe I'll just keep her little pet name to myself so I don't put people off.

She's a funny little thing, quite friendly and likes to sleep against the automatic doors.

Only thing is I haven't seen her the last couple of days, so I suspect I am now a father! Not the kittens real Dad of course, unless the kittens are all bald, then questions will be asked, but I'm happy to support my new family.

I actually wonder where Scabies met the kittens real father given the vast expanse of the carpark which itself sits inside a barren cityscape within the desert. I guess it was just meant to be.

The cats here really are odd looking things, quite different from the ones we have in New Zealand. I never really thought about that before, but the kitteh population here must be reasonably isolated and sure enough have their own characteristics.

I just hope Scabies and our kittens are ok. I suspect she will show up skinny sometime in the next couple of days looking for food, then show up with kittens in toe in about 6 weeks. I can't wait to name them!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


The one thing that really gets me about shift switches isn't the lack of sleep, it's the nausea.

I don't know if other people struggle with this, but my body is very quick to tell me how much it hates me when I suddenly change routine. It has an angry Italian washerwoman feel about it.

It's a sure sign I'm not cut out for shift work and after 15 years of riding this rollercoaster, I can assure you that I can't wait to get off.

Last year, tired of the low pay, terrible hours and lack of career development at my last job, I literally threw myself off. Hurling myself into the unknown darkness of freelancing.

I survived my fall from full time employment and while there were tough times as you'd expect, my personal health is as good as it's been my entire adult life. I feel like the sea monkey that lived to see its grandchildren.

Now returning to shift work, I thank my lucky stars and pat my tummy that it's only for 3 months.

One of the surreal aspects of 12 hour shifts is that you see the same people come and go at the start and end of every shift. It's like a perpetual groundhog day and you certainly begin to feel the wheel around you. Days feel half as long and shifts feel like they need their own designated name as opposed to day of the week.

Today I am on Tedenuesday and it's half past chipmunk coming up to sick time.

Monday, 14 January 2013


So far night shift has been slow. It's been two hours and I haven't actually done any proper work yet. Though I did hear two Pakistani guys talking about sex, which was pretty amazing.

Luckily I brought my own computer in and have had time to cut some ice hockey. That'll make all the hockey fans happy. I'll give it some final checks, a render, an export, compress it then upload it. I don't think people realize how much work goes in sometimes, I've already cut it, added graphics, made it colour safe, done an audio mix etc. A 15 minute clip is easily a solid couple of days effort and that doesn't include showing up to shoot it in the first place.

Still, I'm pleased with the final product and hopefully it'll enable me to generate more revenue to expand the production and shrink the turnaround time. Everyone will be happy!

The body clock switch resulted in me spending endless hours in bed, either trying to sleep or trying to stay awake. Even after 36 hours I was pretty uncomfortable, I can't imagine how these poor bastards feel.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Bad News Brown

Not just a wrestler from the 80's, not just a clever play on words describing my current position, but the actual source of my concern as well! I win at word play.

Right now every tap and toilet in my hotel room is producing a thick brown liquid resembling thin golden syrup. You know not all is well if the water goes a worse colour after you flush it.

I had been about to jump in the shower when I noticed. Thank everything that is pure that I didn't or I would have been a terrible shuddering mess, huddling in the corner, mumbling about not being able to be clean.

I rang reception who sent a man with a wrench to my room, I explained the situation, he showed me his wrench, said he couldn't do anything and he left. He didn't even enter the bathroom. I think the wrench was actually just a prop to make me feel better about his credentials.

My hope is that come tomorrow, I don't see this in my shower.

Old switcheroo

I'm time travelling at the moment, switching from day shift to night shift. Both are 9 till 9 and I have a couple of days in between to adjust. Moving to late's almost puts me on the same schedule as everyone else in New Zealand, roughly starting work 7am NZ time.

I've never really thought of 9 to 5 as being particularly lucky, but compared to 7 to 7, it's a holiday.

Still, the point of coming here was to earn some cash in a new environment, while it's tough, I'm happy to put my head down and get the work done. It has made me a little money focussed, but I'm very much looking forward to paying off ALL my outstanding debts with my first pay cheque and probably buying myself a treat in the form of a new phone.

Goodbye equipment loan, goodbye student loan, goodbye bills, hello new phone.

The nerd inside me is very excited.

Now if you ask anyone who does shift work how they cope with the hours they will describe a varied array of techniques with which they trick their body's.

Phase one for me is always sleeping in. It's one of my favourite things already so I don't need much convincing.

Phase two is then staying up as late as possible and I normally achieve this on a diet of live comedy, gigs, movies, DVD's and general socialising.

Which would be fine if my life in the middle east wasn't bereft of live comedy, gigs, movies, DVD's and general socialising.

Lucky I've got an old friend here doing the same job as me.

Last night's solution was to go to a small Filipino bar in the back of a random hotel around midnight. After paying a $30 cover which made my gums bleed, we sat in a small confined space full of Asian's smoking relentless cigarettes and molesting the waitresses to the backdrop of Tina Turner.

When all the bars closed at 2am and we were turfed into the street. We went for a romantic walk along the waterfront to kill yet more time, before deciding to head back to my hotel because as luck would have it we'd decided to go for a walk on the only cold night of the year in the desert.

3:30am and we decide to order room service. My old mate has made himself at home under the blankets and we are watching Arab television. When room service arrives, the waiter insists on bringing the food into the room rather than handing me the tray at the door. He is all smiles 'till he sees my friend in the bed, at which point I'm flashed a look that says 'don't touch me', the tray is placed down quickly and he scurries out the door.

We have a good laugh, pick the cucumber out of sandwiches and pass out around 5.

Tonight to stave off sleepy bobo's I will be composing a musical, writing a small play and straightening all the items in my room until they are all perfectly perpendicular.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A real pal

You know you've got a true friend when they ring you half a world away to listen to a concert you're not at.

When I picked up the phone at work to hear an incredibly garbled version of Weezer's 'My Name Is Jonas' I actually choked up a bit.

Sitting in my suite, I mouthed along in silence, but with all the vigour as if I was there with everybody else. A couple of tears rolled down my cheeks and I felt like I was part of it.

Naturally I'm pretty glad none of my colleagues caught me like that with my emotional pants down, but that moment was very special to me.

It also inspired a musical trip down memory lane as I dug out 80 tracks from the 90's from 80 bands which weren't the usual punk rock fare I was listening to at the time, but all the other songs from other bands which I could remember off the top of my head.

If you're friends with me on facebook, go have a look. If you're not, I'm sorry Mum, but it's just not going to happen.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Worthy causes

I'm all about causes I believe in. This morning I've already drawn attention to the animal trade, social inequality and dumbarses who buy pets as presents only to see them put down.

However, there is one cause which stands out above all others. This guy wants $5m to have Daniel Stern play the 'Spin Doctors guy'.

The article which brought this cause to my attention is here and I am behind this cause 100%.

Please take the time to donate and make this worthy project possible.

A thousand voices

Anyone who's ever met me has had to put up with my propensity for silly voices. I like to mimic little cartoon catch phrases and badly replicate foreign accents. I often drop into accents without thinking, reflecting mood or highlighting context. I'm sure it's very annoying.

I find when I'm talking to anyone, I start to pick up the nuances of their character and reflect it back at them. When's it's a foreigner, that includes their accent. Slowly but surely subtle intonation enters my voice and I have to concentrate very hard to stop it.

Working for international television news requires many translations and voice overs. I have been asked to do at least one voice over every day I have been here. If you're watching this network, you will hear my voice at some stage throughout the day.

The thing is as I portray princes and generals, world leaders and the african man on the street.. I struggle with completing a straight read in my own voice as I project some sort of version of how I think they sound.

Normally I can compose myself and give it another go, but when time is of the essence, one chance is all you get and I've already put some embarrassing interpretations to air. If you've been watching the news and thought "twat", chances are it was me.

I think like much of the world, I'm not being racially insensitive, just retarded.

Thursday, 10 January 2013


Tonight my friends are all off to see Weezer in New Zealand. It's the first time they've ever played there since '96, despite being a cornerstone in most Kiwi's music collections.

Weezer will be playing for two hours and will include an entire rendition of the Blue Album.

It will be an epic show and one that I had been looking forward to for more than half of my entire life. I am completely gutted I won't be there.

We got our tickets months ago.. too long ago. When I was being interviewed for a job in the middle east, the concert, still more months away, didn't even enter my head. Had it done, for even a second, I would not be here now.

Given the choice between earning proper money in a foreign land on what could arguably be one of the adventures of my life OR seeing Weezer live, Weezer would win every time. That's how much they mean to me.

I grew up on a solid diet of cool music courtesy of my parents LP's, Talking Heads, DEVO, Pink Floyd, to name a few. But at 14 when I was developing my own musical identity, along came the Blue Album.

My friends had been discovering Nirvana's 'Nevermind', my sister was a huge fan and I heard the tunes consistently through our adjoining bedroom wall. I had the Offspring's 'Smash', the Presidents S/T and the Blue Album.

I remember the first place I heard it, my friend Ryan had moved out of home at a very young age and was the first friend to go flatting. I shared many firsts with Ryan, but when he said "have you heard this?" and pulled out an entirely blue CD, my life changed.

I dubbed a tape and thrashed it back to back, over and over.

When 'Pinkerton' came out two years later to little fan fare, we sought it out and it became a defining record for me. It was raw, full of emotion, unsure of itself, angry, sad and full of derisive self loathing humour. I loved it and I still do.

Later Weezer would produce many good songs, but not another complete album like these two. All I've ever wanted is to be a part of the music, to see the band live, but for now I must settle for the music being a part of me.

To my friends at the concert right now as I write this. Have a great time, but know that I hate you.

Me, or not so me

A few people have contacted me to congratulate me on an article I didn't write.

This one to be exact

While I admire the candor, I will never stop being a fan of the New Zealand cricket team, no matter how useless they may be.

I consider every bad performance to bring me one step closer to selection, so am always looking on the bright side.

I wonder if I'll ever meet this other 'Jeremy Brown', or indeed just find out his address and birthday, borrow his car without asking, purchase some dubious merchandise off the internet in his name or simply move in and pretend I own everything after taping my face over all his wedding pictures.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


I'm not sure if today is happening or not. Whether I am writing or simply thinking about writing. I guess if I wake up and this has been done then it did happen.

Yesterday was long, so long, it's become today. Potentially, if this is real.

Last night the fire alarm in my hotel went off intermittently all night long. It may be going off now, but then the world around me seems false and I can't tell sound from colours.

If I am at work, then so help anyone who has to deal with me today. Touching peoples faces to see if they are real is frowned upon in most workplaces, but I may get away with it in this multi-cultural, multi-lingual workplace where people try to respect each others cultures.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Morning. The time of day when you awake to new possibilities, new challenges and when I stagger zombie like from wall to wall.

I like mornings, it's just I can't always gauge when they will be. Morning is whenever I wake up, morning to other people might have been some time before that. Possibly sometime after.

Working in TV, any hours are possible. Right now I'm working 9 till 9, 2 weeks one way, then it swaps around. They're long hours and the work is demanding.

Odd hours and shift work have followed me my whole professional life. When I'm freelancing or stay on the same shift for long periods I cope just fine, but when it's swinging all over the place I tend to get a bit messy. Messy lifestyle, messy looking, messy brain.

Life at that point is no longer something I'm a part of, but something that is happening to me. I don't feel present, but like I'm watching life on a little monitor. Life becomes a video game and I become a curious 2 year old pressing all the buttons or leaving the controller where the dog can get at it.

This morning was one of those mornings. I'd done some overtime the night before and so began a series of events which would scupper my best laid plans. I forgot to order my driver, I largely missed dinner, I got to bed late, I turned my alarm off without waking up, I eventually woke up an hour later, skipped exercise, showering, breakfast and did not have time to wait for a driver if I ordered one. I staggered out of my hotel, into the street and began looking for a cab, I ran out of phone credit and after a great deal of walking and hailing later, I was defeated.

At this point, standing dishevelled on the side of a ten lane highway in the desert wasn't a good look for me. Nor was being late for work inside my first week on the job.

Hello bottom of the barrel, hello what's this little bit of paper? Sajeer's friend. A number I'd been given should I want a ride somewhere. Ok serendipity, do your stuff.

The process is convoluted by the language barrier, but true to form a total stranger shows up in a car and gets me to work. I give him some money, we shake hands and as I watch him drive away I picture him more as a rescue ranger on a snowmobile than an Indian man in a Camry.

Level 1 completed, Level 2: Food.


Sometimes I wonder why I continue to edit. Far be it from me to push my cash cow out to pasture, but oh how it makes me want to slam my head in a ranch slider.

My love/hate relationship with editing is mostly based around the technology. I simply do not like fighting with it. I am certain if any non-linear editing machines out there entered the WWE, they would be crowned champion. Not just because they put up a good fight and wear their opponent down with a serious of submission maneuvers, but because it feels like they hit you with a steel chair.

It's this battle with technology that wears me down. Most of the time I can handle the thick end of the personalities you deal with in television, the tantrums, the crying, the constant thirst for attention. However most editing systems leave me hoping I'll simply turn inside out to avoid having to continue a cut.

I wasn't always like this, I really used to enjoy it. I was fond of being in the middle of productions, working with so many departments and being an integral part of the creative process. I liked stitching together clips which people laughed at or learned from, which brought joy or understanding to the world.

I just think I would now be better served doing that from a different chair. One that doesn't feel like it's fitted with a coddling grinder.

I will always appreciate editing for what its taught me and allowed me to do with my life, but for me the transition to full time production management cannot come soon enough. I get far more enjoyment out of putting teams of talented people do to their thing. So while I may be a very good editor, I think I can be an excellent team leader.

If however my team turns heel, you'll know where to find me. Face down on the canvas with a steel chair marked 'NLE' draped over the back of my head. I'll lament the loss of my title, but not the end of my career.


Last night I went down to the markets for the first time. They were humming on a Monday night and the atmosphere was lovely, filled with music and the smell of food.

I will undoubtedly return to markets to purchase any outstanding presents, whether I can get them past customs will be another story. There is a wonderful array of traditional products on show and for the most part the markets are colourful, vibrant and enjoyable.

There was one rather large blight however, the live animal markets were extremely confronting and sad. On show for the most part was overstuffed cage after overstuffed cage of birds. Many of which I quickly noted should not have been on sale, including several species of rare parrots.

All the traders had much the same to offer, puppies, baby rabbits, kittens, turtles, chinchillas and coloured chicks. It was was hard to turn a blind eye and accept the markets for what they were. Most of the fluffy animals seemed to be kept appropriately enough, but for the turtles and birds it was a different story.

The turtles were piled into tiny tanks, some five deep in places. I badly wanted to rescue some to come and live with me in the hotel, but I suspect they would be frowned upon and would draw unwanted attention after they mutate and learn ninjitsu.

The birds truly made me sad. I've long had an interest in parrots, their intelligence and their behaviour. To see them kept in such confined quarters and see behavioural characteristics which further demonstrated the stress they were under really broke my heart. It was extremely difficult to look them in the eye and not be able to help.

While I can't rescue all these birds, I can encourage other people to stop the trade. Perhaps have a look at this website and think about making a donation.


If there's one thing I can say about the food in the middle east, it's that I've eaten more cucumber in the last week than I've eaten in my entire life.

It's in everything and I do mean everything.

The hummis here is nothing short of excellent. I wish I could learn their secrets and take them home. I've always liked hummis, but I'll be looking down my nose at what we have in New Zealand for the rest of my life.

It's certainly interesting seeing people eating fantastic looking food, but not being able to order it yourself. I've taken to waiting till I see someone with something I like, then pointing at it and offering money to whoever is looking.

Monday, 7 January 2013

My Dick

Yesterday Jimmy Pop Ali tweeted about a new band he'd discovered called 'My Dick' and oh how I laughed my arse off.

Check out My Dick

It's not just funny because of the lyrics, but the dedication to the bit. There are just so many songs and that in itself cracks me up.

As funny as I shouldn't have found this, I couldn't help it and it did raise the spectre of something I don't agree with, internet censorship.

Here there is a fairly strong internet filter in place and to test it I tried some pretty amusing search options. To my dismay they were almost all knocked back, even the really silly ones.

So dear reader, check out My Dick and feel good about the fact that you can. For there are places in this world where My Dick will never be seen or heard and that's a bit sad.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Pumping it out

I spent my second day off getting a lot of hockey paperwork done. Despite sitting on my arse in my hotel room, today was very productive.

In addition to ticking off a hundred other things, I also got to watch the Phantom Menace in Arabic, which actually improved it.

It amazes me how much little Anakin reminds me of my nephew, now I know what to dress him up as for parties. Though on second thought that might be a little cruel given how deeply shaken we've all been by the Phantom Menace. He can be a little Wampa instead.

It's good to get so much hockey work done, I've got some good plans in place and can't wait to see them come to fruition. I even had time to write some fun little promos. I think I'll spend an extra week in Auckland after the IIHF tournament in April and get them made.

I like that ice hockey lends itself to good humour, writing funny little promos is a real joy for me and the more I make, the merrier I'll be.

Also cool to hear the NHL will be back soon, though why they took the fans for granted is anyone's guess. Not that the Americans seem to care, but it does hurt the game worldwide. I'm just glad there will be some hockey from North America to lead into the season's down under.

I also got a bunch of editing done today, but boy I can't wait to hire someone else to do it. My youtube channel ticked over to 70,000 views today which is a nice pat on the back, but also doubles as a kick up the arse. I just have so much content I haven't been able to get finished and that bums me out.

2013 is all about further streamlining workflows and turnaround times, getting me out of the edit suite and into more management roles to increase output and keep my energy up.

I think tomorrow's the day to try and tap the cash here in the middle east. Maybe I can jack up a fun working relationship with an Arab mad man! I can imagine the promos now.


I’ve been asked a lot about the weather here. I feel that this is part of all Kiwi’s predisposition with the weather. We’re obsessed with it.

Your average kiwi news bulletin is an hour long, just remember to set 10 minutes aside for the weather. That’s assuming there weren’t already several stories about how hot or cold or wet or windy it was. Only the American news media with its gun violence and car chases panders to an audience like ours does.

On small isolated islands at the bottom of the world, weather is the most exciting thing that ever happens to us and we treat it very seriously. Rarely is the weather ever good in our eyes, if it’s not sunny, it’s too cold, if it is sunny, then it is too sunny.

Ask any New Zealander how the weather is and they will tell you it is too hot, too cold, too windy, too wet, too dry and then go on to describe tomorrows weather with a certain level of foreboding.

The bizarre part about these opinions is that New Zealand is incredibly mild, rarely plunging below zero and certainly not into the sustained ranges of -10 like some places. It’s also rarely too hot, the thermometer at its peak barely scraping 35 degrees. Our lush pastures and emerald forests are kept that way by regular sunshine and rain and we’ve been clever enough to harness the wind to power our lives. Though not clever enough to stop the government from selling our power companies off, spending time in oil rich Arabia really puts into perspective how stupid a move that really is.

So dear Kiwi’s let me put your obsession to rest, the weather here is dry. It is dry because we are in the desert. The sun shines all day every day and the tempreture here in winter is comparable to any New Zealand summer, hovering comfortably in the mid-20’s.

I heard tell it did rain here recently and everything flooded because they don’t have any drains.
I can hear gasping from halfway round the world right now as New Zealanders take that information in, but it’s true. They don’t need them. It is dusty and my guess is that has something to do with all the sand.

I suspect this city sparkles like a jewel on the odd occasion it does rain, washing down the towers of steel and glass which dominate the skyline. Shining desert sentinels rising up where the ocean meets the land.

I’d be curious to know if their combined surface area, covered in solar panels, would be enough to power the city. Now that would be clever use of the weather.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Rip

Great success! I found my way to a mall and found all of the items I was looking for. Gold star, big tick!

The only thing I didn't bring home was sunglasses. There seems to be only one look on show here and it's not for me. I'd like something more different and quirky, but that might be a push. It's oil baron or bust here.

Taxis are still an issue. I certainly got taken for a ride today.

Aside from the obvious standard taxis, there are also limousines and people who offer you a ride just looking to make an extra buck.

There are deals to be had and rip off's at every turn. Standing out like a sore thumb as I do, I'm very obviously a target for scamming. A couple of people have already tried it on while I've been here, but today was the first time I was successfully scammed.

I'm philosophical about it. It was almost bound to happen at some stage and I figure better sooner rather than later. Taxis are no biggie and while I might be out of pocket $50, in the grander scheme of things it's only $50.

Thing is, I wasn't scammed by some street urchin, but by the hotel in which I'm staying! They made the call, they hooked it up and they saw me coming.

My advice is to agree the price before you leave and make the driver use the meter if the car has one. You'll also notice all registers, whether they be in taxis or supermarkets show cents, just don't expect them to change hands. Everything gets round up to the nearest dollar.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Bugbears and sunshine

It's been 3 days and I feel I can do the job now. I've got my head around the bulk of the workflow and button pushing and reckon I could take on the whole empire myself.

Oddly enough this epiphany of skillset coincides with 3 days off. So I may not be feeling quite so confident upon my return. If anyone finds mashed potato in the keyboards Tuesday morning, we'll know I was right.

How to spend 3 days off in Doha? Today will be all about sourcing a new toothbrush, toothpaste (that doesn't taste like you had to scrape it off the bottom of the prison sink), a plug adapter and some sunglasses. That endeavour should certainly chew up today as I desperately try to hail taxis, exchange poor directions, find myself in god knows where then try to get back home.

If I even procure one of those items and return home safely, I will consider today a success.

As for the other 2 days, I have a lot of hockey work to catch up on. While there is planning to be done, emails to answer and cutting to conclude, what I really need is a plan for getting that elusive naming rights sponsor.

Dear reader, you may not be aware of my involvement in New Zealand ice hockey, but I'm neck deep. I've helped make some wonderful progress happen over the last 3 years and am focused on bringing the New Zealand league to television. Everything is in place save for the last $60,000 to cover the production and it is this sum I am in constant search for.

The problem for me is that as good as I am at marketing, cost cutting, production planning and generally everything else, I am no salesman and certainly don't have the business connections to make this happen easily. It's the bugbear in an otherwise perfect plan.

And if you google images of bugbears you'll see what I mean.

It's all a bit chicken and egg, sponsors will leap all over something that is successful in it's own right, but aren't generally keen to work with you to build something far better. The New Zealand league certainly needs televised match coverage and the audience for that is both domestic and international. Any sponsorship working relationships and requirements are possible, but require a great deal of trust in the New Zealand league and myself.

I think I've put enough on the table to prove the project has serious validity and a bright future, that expansion is inevitable and the speed of growth attributable to the relationship we form with the sponsor who wants to take us on.

But who are you Mr Sponsor and where are you hiding? Where is the cashed up Joe Sunshine who wants to work with me on this project, have some laughs, enjoy the sport and bring New Zealand ice hockey to the world? I suspect he or she is under your bed dear reader, so please check before you go to sleep tonight.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Annnd.. Go!

Driving in Doha is something you do at your own peril. It's a big city and there is a need to get around. Public transport is non existent and a major oversight in the refabrication of this city. You therefore have to take the road or "painted black death".

The road rules are simple, there are no rules. Indicating is a sign of weakness and looking in both directions is a waste of god given time.

A gap in the traffic will be filled by whoever gets there first and side walks are just higher extra road.

Car horns were made to fill the air like a choir of angels finding the perfect harmony, but any individual use should be long and sustained to capture the raw emotion of the soul.

The concept of speed limits is laughable, especially when every car on the road is new and at the peak of its powers. Not using them to their fullest would be a crime against a crime against nature.

In five days I have not seen a single police officer, not in uniform or behind the wheel of a car. It is my assumption that all both of them are bound and gagged somewhere playing "do you think it's daylight?"

It would be unfair to call this free for all unproductive. I haven't seen any sign of accidents despite the constant near misses.. and they are constant. Despite the wheezing and adrenaline I have always ended up where I needed to be. I can only assume the sensation of being so close to death in the spooning position on a daily basis will pass as I embrace it like everyone else here.

Just don't expect me to open my eyes. It's a technique I've learned from the other drivers.

The Deep End

"Day two of my new job and I was thrust deep into the deep end. I wiggled around a bit and managed to get some traction, but it was still a surprise none the less to be plunged so hard and quickly into the dark reaches of the unknown."

- Nigella.

A nice surprise is that I've gone from Senior to Supervisor in the blink of an eye, which can only mean I'll be Managing Director by morning. And about time to.

While the strains of lower upper middle management are unlikely to break me, the sink or swim reality of today's introduction to the working environment did come as a bit of a shock. I chose to swim, which is the exact opposite of what I would have done in a pool.

Picture me if you will standing proud on a mountain clad in a shining suit of armour, my chest thrust out and my jaw line above the perpendicular. Today I won the battle, today I am a man.

Even if that battle was fought at desk and against the will of a computer, it's still pretty impressive.

And oh how she fought, this way and that way, thrashing and weaving. I stayed true, fending off error message after sluggish response, wrestling every inch of power from the hebetudinous CPU. Bedraggled and exhausted we had fought each other to a stand still, each wanting to leave our mark on the other and prove our might in the face of a worthy adversary.

But I have fingers, so I won.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Golden ticket

I think I've finally gotten over the excitement of the hotel buffet. While initially I gorged myself in a attempt to try every delight on offer, I have quickly become aware of the culinary rotation in action and the magic has worn off. The dancing and skipping akin with a trip to Wonka's chocolate factory has now been replaced with the idle perusing of a high street shopper.

The hotel provides familiar foodstuffs and certainly represents the western end of what is on offer, the only trick is that despite familiar packaging and presentation not all is as it seems. A quick whip down any ingredients list on the side of the box is enough to make you question how you are alive at all.

Ironic then that fresh fruit and vegetables are in abundant supply and it is these which I have been using to curb the sudden girth from my flirtation with total gluttony. A lesson I've almost totally, but not quite completely learned *steals another chocolate not so milk from the buffet.

It's funny the things you miss when you're in another country. In Australia I missed chips which weren't just rolled out dried up sick. Here it's Milo. I badly want one, and while tea and coffee are available everywhere you turn, any sort of hot chocolate beverage remains hidden from me. I feel like I am hunting something fabled which lingers in the shadows, you occasionally catch sight of it and question its existence before telling yourself you're crazy.

Not that it makes the slightest lick of sense to want a hot beverage in the desert, but it would be my preference over the juice that's not so juice. I would describe that as being something like ultra thick Raro. I'd be all over that if I was 7, but at 32 it feels more like what the Australians would use for the basis of making chips.

The truth is I have eaten very well, if a little too well and it is now time to be a little more choosey and a lot less of a walking food funnel. Much respect to the 'Lousisana Sandwich' I had in the mall foodcourt. I don't know what was in it, a large part of me doesn't want to know, but I liked it.

Dohard or Dohome

First day's of anything have never really been my strength, perhaps I am a slow starter. At the age of 5 my first day of school resulted in being taken next door to the local kindergarten as teachers assumed I had escaped through the fence. I believe this set the benchmark for many more first days to come and today was no exception.

I woke early, did an array of push ups and sit ups then skulked away from the mirror in the knowledge I've been hitting the hotel buffet too hard. My ride to work had been organised previously by my employer and I had been emailed all the appropriate timetables and certification - like that means anything. A quick call did indeed indicate that the transportation department had no knowledge of me or my certification. So began a morning of language difficulties and bureaucracy that saw me be no less than two hours late on my first day.

Finding quality intel when you don't speak the language is tricky, flambouyant pointing can get you from A to B, but it becomes a case of snakes and ladders after that.

After finally getting all my paperwork done and negotiating security, much of my day was spent getting up to speed with the technology and work flows in place. Industry jargon can be about as easy as the local language to decipher and I managed to make several pages of notes.. which I can no longer make heads of tails of. Spending the day drawing pictures of cats would have been about as useful.

It didn't help that brain fade kicked in about halfway through the day as jet lag once again took hold. I've heard people talk about jet lag before and always thought they were pussies having done relentless odd hours myself for many years. I take that all back. Jet lag is a dick.

Any curiosity about what I could expect in the middle east was quickly silenced in the afternoon with images of a man crying holding an arm attached to a head by a bit of neck, a man burning motionless on a motorcycle and another person's burnt remains collapsing in a pile of ash as the head simply disintegrated. Harrowing stuff, but not nearly as bad as the cafeteria.

I rate the cafeteria as one of the worst places I can ever find myself, it feels like 4th form all over again as people syphon off into their little groups, glaring at each other over half eaten sandwiches. Not so strangely for my first day, I sat alone, Mirinda in one hand, Twix in the other wondering how it was I came to be in this position once again. Simultaneously a pariah and the centre of attention. About as fun as being stabbed.

Weary after a long day of watching every body else do all the work, I suddenly realised I had no idea how I'd be getting home. Not that I knew were home was. The sort of information which is helpful at night time in a strange city where nobody speaks your language. The solution? Some foreign guy calls his friend who agrees to relocate me for money. I really can't complain as I am now in my bed. So despite blacking out whatever transpired, I can only assume it all worked out for the best.

It's rather early to be going to bed, but I am knackered and the Black Caps were bowled out for 45 today and I want to black that out too. Day two at my new job will see me stepping up my involvement in the day to day processes of the company and preparing myself for day three when they will undoubtedly make me upper management.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


And just while I mention nit-picking, has anyone ever noticed this default background has a production case in it?

Good work Niggles!

*Niggles the imaginary pug dug which eats away at Jez in his sleep