Santa's Mighty Reindeer-Headed Staff

A decoration from the Kota Kinabalu airport in Malaysia. Not the strangest santa image I've seen (by a long shot), but his reindeer headed staff is unique. Never seen anything quite like it - or the helpful swallow on his shoulder, whispering naughty/nice names into his ear(?) Of course one hopes that his mighty staff doesn't fall into the wrong hands; an army of hypnotized flying reindeer could ruin anyone's yuletide cheer, or easily overwhelm the small antiquated airforce of a country like... Malaysia!?

Happy... Spongey Christmas!

The primary decoration for a mall in Kennedy Town. Im not really surprised Spongebob Squarepants has reached this level of product saturation etc, but it was a bit odd to see a thirty foot version of him hanging in the atrium. Also 'Happy Spongey Christmas' has a rather disconcerting ring to it, like happy moldy xmas, or happy pond bottom holidays! (oh the joy of sinking ones toes into pond bottom scum)..



The Must Have Soccer Accessory for 2009 - National Team Nutcrackers

A banner ad from one of the soccer sites I peruse - I think its ESPN. Anyway their soccer store now carries the one accessory every true soccer fan must have - national team themed nutcrackers! Note the soccer mullet (an Argentine specialty), headband and pitch (not to scale). Nothing says pride in your side like a properly attired nutcracker; nothing strikes fear in the hearts of your traditional arch-rivals. Imagine the terror and grudging respect your Brazilian friends will display when confronted with an Argentine nutcracker, complete with dead eyes and goatee. Time to crack some nuts, mi amigo, and you know whose nuts i'm talkin' about!

'Black as Hell, Strong as Death' vs. 'Espresso Yourself!'

The stairs leading to a new cafe in the GOD ('Goods Of Desire' - more on this in another post) store in Causeway Bay. Love the line - coffee should be black as hell, strong as death (anyone who knows me personally is aware of my penchant for strong joe - 'chewable coffee' as I call it). Definitely the kind gritty urban cafe I'd like to visit. But then they totally ruin the effect the next step up - be a coffee drinking individual - espresso yourself! It seems the copywriter was worried that he'd gone too far with strong as death etc. and then wildly overcompensated; espresso yourself! seems better suited for a coffee, potpourri, & scrapbooking shop in Indiana, specializing in delightful 'flavored coffees' like Hazelnutty...

Plate Lunch - Eat 'til You Sleep

I was asked today what a 'plate lunch' is, which I mentioned in my last post. Plate lunches are an institution in Hawaii; there is no US mainland equivalent that I'm aware of. Anyway its a generic term, but the basics are the same: usually a styrofoam container containing one scoop white rice, one scoop macaroni salad (dressed only in mayo - you are expected to dash tobasco on this to liven it up), and at least one main item. Pictured below is one of my favorites, chicken katsu, based on the Japanese dish (I'd usually hit this with some tobasco as well). My other preferred sins: the chili dog plate (the best came from the Rainbow Drive-in; a hot dog drowned in chili, no bun); pork gisantes' (a portuguese tomato sauce based stew), and huli huli (spit roasted) chicken or kalua (roasted) pork.

Most plate lunch places give you more than enough to eat, and most locals take pride in polishing it all off. In fact one place had a great tag line, 'eat til you sleep'. Our favorite place was Keneke's, on the way to Waimanalo beach on Oahu. They have a bizarre mix of local and Christian weight lifting decor (really), and arguably the best pork gisantes in Hawaii. I used to order what I called the 'tri-pork' plate: pork adobo, kalua pork, and pork gisantes together; nothing like it. And yes I would definitely have to sleep it off afterwards...

Ice Milk Tea - HK's Nectar of the Gods

I've decided to write about a few of the things I truly enjoy about living here, and one cannot write about HK without first mentioning its greatest asset - the food. Of course as (arguably) the most international city in Asia, almost every cuisine is well represented here (even authentic Mexican & texmex - not American 'pseudo-mexican' where everything's buried under a 1/2 inch of cheddar). Due to its colonial and economically diverse past, HK also has its own unique creations and traditions; and one of the best is milk tea. Milk tea - and its hot weather incarnation, ice milk tea - is based on English breakfast (oolong) tea, but much stronger, usually strained through mesh, with heavy infusions of condensed milk and sugar. The result is similar to Vietnamese coffee (itself based on strong, espresso-like french roast coffee) not as strong but just as addictive. Hong Kong 'diners' and tea shops can be found throughout the city, and many locals start the day with a milk tea and sweet bun - or vaguely english breakfast of eggs and toast, though with HK additions like ramen with satay beef. Like 'plate lunch' in Hawaii, milk tea is one of those unique HK things I know I'll miss if/when we leave, as its just not the same anywhere else...

Your Flat Belly H/W8 Deeply Cares

A sign for a spa/salon in TST named AnthonG (?). Seems they now have access to the latest in sentient body part upgrade technology. This allows them to replace the uncaring flab currently occupying your midriff with flat belly H/W8 (which is copyrighted apparently), capable of independent thought and higher level emotions like compassion. The mind boggles at what other body parts they can switch out; A/E7, the left calf with the knack for timely compliments; or S/T66, the right pectoral who understands, really understands what you're going through right now...

Down Beat Bleeding 89, aka The Ethereal Mirror Violet Vortex

A store window t-shirt from Wanchai - easily one of the oddest I've come across. Usually these have odd mishmashes of athletic and/or sexual phrases, but this one seemed too good to be true. I dutifully googled it later, expecting to find a takeoff of some hipster brand like 'helmet of the will' in NYC; instead I came across this wikipedia entry:
The Ethereal Mirror is the second full-length album by British doom metal band Cathedral. Released in 1993, this album sees the band experiment a wider scale of sound than on their debut album Forest of Equilibrium. The songs are not as doom-laden and grinding as on the first album... 'Violet Vortex' is the intro...
WOW. Who would have suspected that knockoff t-shirt designers were ripping off obscure death metal bands? Though I have to admit The Ethereal Mirror Violet Vortex would be a great electronica or triphop band name...

Famous Hollywood Socialite Epicuren Discovery Line

A poster for 'celebrity skincare secrets' at one of the myriad beauty centers in HK. There are literally hundreds of anti-aging and skin whitening facilities here, but only this one offers the 'famous hollywood socialite epicuren' effect. All the secrets that made Barbara Streisand's skin the envy of the socialite world are now yours to discover... Unfortunately the proprietor 'borrowed' some pretty unflattering shots of several tinseltown beauties; note the shiny and/or ruddy complexions and the rather melancholy Jennifer Anniston. Still the most troubling is the inclusion of Michael Jackson - the only 'male' in the bunch. I suppose you could end up looking 'famous' alright, but probably not for the reasons you intended...

Shop Until You Pop? POPTASTIC

Lane Crawford's latest tagline - shop until you pop! It truly is... Poptastic. What other word can capture such magic? Guess 'shop til you explode' was taken. I pity the poor souls who actually constructed the mylar balloon letters - a lot of work for very little return it seems. I also pity whoever gets to clean up the mess when the tai tais do pop while shopping - good thing lane crawford has marble floors, as you can never really get blood stains out of deep pile carpets...

Bling Bling Revolution

A store sign in Causeway Bay. I too believe it is time for a revolution in bling bling - for too long the women of HK have been forced to wear dull pewter necklaces, cubic zirconium jewelry and mouseskin stoles. It's time for 24K gold by the pound, 2" wide jade bracelets, and diamond collared mink coats. Of course there have already been several such revolutions here - to say nothing of the infamous sequin encrusted t-shirt and silvery stretchpants rebellions - but I digress...

Microsex Office - Sheninagans 4.0

A poster for an upcoming HK play, a wacky sendup full of 'accidental' physical contact, embarrassed stuttering, and genial computer geekery. The protagonists apparently include 'Rosa the steamy hot secretary' and 'Tyson the perpetually stunned accountant'. Checkout the madcap shenanigans below - Rosa crossing her legs just as Tyson reaches for her knee. How deliciously ribald - just like the real Microsoft Office!



Note the 'explorer pointer hand' and subtly redesigned logo, complete with 'pinching' hands and tiny male/female symbols. Hey, that looks just like the real office logo! Suffice to say the play's title won't be helping to dispel that nasty stereotype about asian males, as it brings to mind the (now ancient) joke about Microsoft being named after BIll Gates' genitalia...

100% Virgin Pulp, 3-Ply, 450˚C Steamed Sterilized... Toilet Paper?

The package copy for one of the 'high-end' (pun intended) toilet paper brands here. Why anyone needs a 100% virgin pulp (unlogged forests be damned, I need to wipe in merino soft luxury!), 3-Ply (no peasant's 2-ply will do), 450˚C (that's 842 Fahrenheit) steam sterilized toilet product is utterly beyond me. Its doesn't need to be hyper-sterile 1/4 inch thick etc etc - ITS TOILET PAPER. Of course here in HK, these are big selling points - literally big, as its almost impossible to buy t-paper in less than 10 roll packs (see below). Unless of course you lower your standards and buy the 'eco' 4-packs like I do. But then again I'm willing to have unseemly recycled paper touch my nether regions, and not insist on pristine softness that's been sterilized at 2 1/2 times the temperatures used for surgical equipment (no, really, I looked it up)...



Beware of Upward/Downward Escalators

A helpful (if rather troubling) cautionary sign at the South Horizons mall in Ap Lei Chau. Honestly what other kinds of escalators are there? Horizontal/vertical? In/Out? Perhaps its best to just take the stairs...