Sunday, 31 March 2013


I have a week left in the middle east before I fly back to New Zealand. I suddenly find myself rushed off my feet trying to get everything done before I head back. I only have two of work left here, but I have a ton of pre-production to do for projects back in New Zealand and all sorts of things I want to do here in the desert before I head back. For one I want to see the desert!

A big attraction for the locals here is taking their massive 4x4's out into the desert and plowing over the sand dunes. Many vehicles are lost this way, but they seem to enjoy it a great deal.

Another popular past time is the camel races. Now that they've banned child jockeys, the camels are fitted with robots and a run a grand distance while flanked by loud tooting 4 wheel drives. How can I miss that?!

I also want to get some pressies. Finding presents in Finland was not a problem, but here it's a bit more tricky. Yes there are plenty of authentic things on offer, but I can't realistically bring them back with me. New Zealand customs would burn just about everything I want to bring back, be it leather AK-47 holsters or your average jewelled designer dagger. They make some beautiful ornate hanging lamps here which I know either of my parents would love, but unless they liked them smashed there isn't much point in trying to pack them.

The chances of people getting a plastic camel pencil sharpener from the airport go up by the day.

As for what awaits me back in New Zealand, the first point of focus is the women's IIHF tournament in Auckland. I will literally spend 27 hours getting home via Dubai, Melbourne and Auckland, only to fly into Wellington, drive to Levin, pick up my gear, drive back to Wellington and fly back to Auckland to start filming. I suspect I will be a bit messy.

Most of the pre-production for that shoot is done, it's just a matter of logistics now, making sure all the gear and people get where they're supposed to be and I don't set up in a random kindergarten from sleep deprivation then wonder where all the ice is.

If you want to watch any of those games by the way, you can view the stream we're putting out here

The other big things on my list are the NZ Comedy Festival and the NZIHL season itself. I have been busy sourcing comedians for my show and scheming away on how I can mess with them as well as building a solid marketing plan for the NZIHL. The season is looking very promising indeed and a lot of the larger initiatives I've been pushing for over the last couple of years are coming to fruition. My focus has really been on the fans this year and I think they're going to quite enjoy what I've put together. Seeing it all in action will be what gives me warm fuzzies.

Monday, 25 March 2013


I'm on a roll today. I slept 18 hours straight yesterday, only to wake up bitching and moaning that my bladder had gotten me up and it must be 6am and how dare my luck curse me so, only to stumble back from the bathroom to see 3pm on the wall.

"Oh" I thought. "Better get up."

The rest of my day played out like days do, taking washing to the laundromat, eating dinner with a friend. Then I had a swing at more sleep and was deeply unsuccessful. Not because I wasn't tired, but because New Zealand were winning a cricket match against England.

This is a rare treat and staying up all night glued to a skippy webstream was absolutely worth it.

When I finally did turn it off I couldn't escape the hilarious thoughts I was having about my comedy show in the NZ International Comedy Festival. With only a couple of months to go ideas for the shows are running hot and I couldn't sleep for all the giggling. That's right, imagine me, in the dark, giggling alone.

Morning rolled round and I gave up trying to sleep at the first signs of daylight. I decided I would order in a good breakfast, have a proper wash and face the day as prepared as I could be.

This turned into a fail-a-saurus rex after room service did not show up, I waited too long for them, had a quick splash in the shower and failed to shave.

Despite this I turned up to work like a bat out of hell and proceeded to chase down every errant mistake blamed on my department and publicly cut the finger pointers to the quick. Today is not a day for making new friends, but it is a day for being a hero to my closer colleagues.

The upshot has been a productive morning and the insertion of standardised fear into the eyes of those who have to deal with me. But don't think doom and gloom, one person came into my suite before and with a smile ear to ear said "I saw you in action out there". Damn right you did! In action! I am an action man!

I see no reason to shave off the iffy speckled beard I call 'the Norwegian' because today I am a man.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Much a do

Getting really sick is always a good reminder of all the things I should be doing with my life.

With only 3 weeks left in the middle east I'm planning out my winter back home in New Zealand. Hopefully I'll be spending my weekends travelling the country filming ice hockey, it's looking pretty likely at the moment. With the rest of my time I will be chasing the other dream, comedy, and the great passion, music.

It'd be nice to think my dream was music, but I'm pretty rubbish. It's still not going to stop me from restringing a few things when I get home and jamming badly with my mates. I can't wait. I may not play well, but would win a pose off with anyone.

I spent a lot of time working hard and stressing out in the last 5 years. I want to loosen up again.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Foreign legion

After a week of disjointed sleep, constant sweating and a cough which has given me abs of steel, I finally went to hospital.

Being the middle east I really didn't want to, I've heard things as you'd expect and not just once or twice. It just got to the point where I no longer had a choice.

I didn't quite know what to expect, but in the end it was all quite efficient. I'd go to one help desk, pay, be sent upstairs, see a nurse, another help desk, pay, see the doctor, be sent downstairs, x-ray, help desk, pay, back upstairs, doctor, script, back downstairs, pharmacy, pay, get drugs.

It was all pretty quick and painless, except on my wallet. Though I do have legionaires desease. Lucky.

One thing I like about it though is that you can't blame Finland. That's what everyone has been trying to do since I became sick and I have heavily refuted it. I didn't even learn the word for sick while I was there, it couldn't possibly be Finland. Finland is all cuddles.

No I probably picked it up off a dodgy air conditioner which given the fact we literally live under them 23 hours a day here isn't so peculiar. Just inevitable given my immune system has always behaved like a blind batsman.

I see my immune system like the most polite and gullible man alive.

*KNOCK KNOCK* "Oh hello." "Hello Sir, might we come in, we'd like to wreck your house." "Oh really? Is that good for it?" *Shifty look* "Yes, yes it is." "Oh well come in then.. right yes, no need to wipe your feet."

In fact it may just simply forego the conversation entirely, open the door and lie down where the doormat would be.

Sometimes I feel like if I am ever going to experience old age it will have to be inside a bubble, on an island, up a mountain, on the moon.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Viva la RĂ©sistance

Sweaty. That about sums up the last two days of my life.

When I was in Finland I found myself naked in a sauna with other people after just three days, it was an intense experience at around 60-70C. Still far short of how hot most Fins like it, but I sweat like a piggy nonetheless. If pigs sweat. Which they don't.

Anyway, I learned in the sauna you must keep up your fluids because you lose about a litre of your own in no time! I was genuinely surprised by how quickly I became groggy and useless.

However that experience does not compare to my last two days in bed.

My body is currently battling a bug the likes of which we have not seen since swine flu. I say "we" because when I'm this unwell I feel like things are out of my control and like to pretend my body is full of little guys battling the bad guys. Thus we are a team! ..and my grip on reality is surely tenuous.

Sleep has been at a premium, but whenever I have woken it has been to a new lake to name.

Never in my whole life do I remember sweating like this. I've never really been a sweaty person at all. I mean we all have our moments, but I'm not a big sweater.

What did you just picture? Mine had a reindeer on it.

I've always preferred cooler weather to the hot stuff finding it much easier to rug up than cool down. On many a hot night, devoid of sweat, I've resorted to flannels, showers and standing naked in the evening shadows. Which doesn't seem wise when phrased like that, but I've woken up on the grass in my undies enough times to know that it works.

For the last two days it's been like all the little guys inside me put their plumbing hats on and hooked me up the mains. If this endless run off could be collected I would surely solve New Zealand's current drought situation single handedly.

By the way does anyone else get creeped out by Ben Stiller? It's not his face, it's his crazy monkey body.

I bet Ben Stiller sweats like this every night and has some sort of special tarpaulin liner under his sheets. He may even hire someone to sponge him down in the night and fire them ruthlessly should he ever wake up.

I don't have such luxuries, I just gross myself out and thank my lucky stars I didn't drown.

But you know what, the experience has been extremely heart warming. When I felt all alone in a foreign land, isolated and incapable of caring for myself - people came to my aid. I never asked, they just showed up with food, soup, fluid and a genuine concern for my welfare. I am so deeply thankful.

I'm still deciding if I've turned the corner, or am just getting used to my condition, but I have learned ebola jokes are not well received here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


First day back at work didn't quite go to plan. I didn't sleep at all the night before, kept awake by relentless coughing and for the second time in a matter of days my driver didn't show up making me an hour late.

To be certain after standing out in the desert sun trying to fruitlessly hail a cab for an hour on the back of no sleep, the separate pieces numerous cats were dragging in through the automatic doors and across the glossy tiles needed some reassembly.

I wasn't in a great state and was praying for a slow day. My lungs felt like they were full of sand, my head was banging and my guts was starting to act up. The downward spiral had definitely begun.

The funny thing about the downward spiral is that you never quite know where the bottom is. Sometimes you stop short of where you think you might end up, sometimes you go careening past it like a badly signposted turn off.

As my day progressed the latter was definitely the direction I was going, kiddie locks on, the driver now wearing dark glasses and emotionlessly not answering any of my questions.

I still had to try and sort out my accommodation.

Had I known I would start trench warfare between the company and other freelancers I might have just counted myself lucky to have a roof over my head and left the issue well alone. Instead boots were laced up, fatigues donned and battle lines drawn.

It seems I'm not the only one who's had trouble with accommodation and the new policy of no longer providing food for freelancers is a real sticking point. One I completely understand because after a 12 hour shift, an hour to and from work, a wash and any other daily duties, then having to provide food for one's self leaves very little time for sleep. Most hotels don't have facilities for cooking anyway so you're suddenly literally living off takeaways, if you can call that living. Well, 22 year old me could, but 32 year old me likes avocado now.

After some hours of increasing discomfort I finally had a home to go to and in a reflex move informed my coworkers I would be going home early. Back to my intern saviours to stuff everything in a bag and head to my new hotel.

This is where things get a bit blurry. I don't remember the ride to the hotel, but I do remember arriving. I don't remember coming up to my room and didn't even recognise it when I was woken by a call from work this morning. I spent much of the night sweating endlessly and believing myself to be in Turkey breaking cultural norms.

When I did get up today I found clothes strewn about the room, my bag standing upright halfway between the door and the bed and all the lights on. It was only at this point that I took in my surroundings and discovered the bathroom. Handy indeed when you're sick enough to have to sit on the toilet to blow your nose.

Oh Hai

The last two weeks have been amazing and tumultuous. Finland was wicked and I will be sharing some moments from the frozen waste now that I am back in the desert.

While the trip was relatively hitchless, my return was not. My driver didn't show up at the airport, accommodation wasn't sorted and it was 5am.

I tried to phone in a hero, but it was Friday, the weekend, and noone was answering.

I decided I would go to the only hotel I was sure had people I knew living in it. However I did not know phone numbers had altered in the 10 days I was absent. I sat for 6 straight hours in the hotel lobby deflecting awkward glances, the only highlight being a language barrier which lead to an entire pot of hot chocolate.

I was passing out regularly in my chair so I decided to go for a walk, my only option, my old hotel. Without anywhere else to go and with noone answering their phones it seemed like the best option, at least there would be some familiar faces.

I'd already rung around several hotels and wasn't booked in anywhere, including this one. Cue awkward looks and glances from people I'd considered 'friends' only two weeks earlier, I was clearly breaking with traditional staff/customer relations.

Finally my phone rang, my neighbour from the time I did live here was in his room and it was a tremendous relief to be invited in. Staggering around the middle east with my luggage on a hot day is not my favourite thing in the world and just the knowledge I could pass out without repurcussions was almost worthy of a little cry.

Another txt and I was offered a couch for the night, things were looking up.

Off to The Pearl to collapse in a heap. Or as we say in New Zealand "heaps of collapsing". I passed out on impact with the upholstery only to wake in the middle of the night with the first test between NZ v England on TV. Things truly were looking up.

Dinner parties are held in high esteem here, not least of all because there is very little else to do. As such I needed to vacate my couch or be a blight on the evenings entertainment. "What's that?" "Don't know." "Kind of smells." "Quite so." "Rather."

And so still without contact from my employers I went to stay with some interns. "Seedy." one might say "Desperate." I might add.

It turns out however that my hosts were truly genuine in their will to house me and thankfully so for five days later I still do not have permenant lodgings. It's not all bad, I have my own room and we even had an icecream night followed by a pool party. The homelessness is a bit stressful however and I've developed a cough and some snuffles. As truly gracious as my keepers are, I can't help feeling like a burden and look forward to sorting this whole mess out at my first day back at work tomorrow.