Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Americans in America

When shooting a movie in New Zealand, you might as well use a monkey as your cinematographer.  But that's the middle of our story, let us begin at the beginning, or at least somewhere close to it.

(Quick aside.  The beginning of this post is text heavy and picture light.  This is a result of a camera mishap that I'll get into on our next posting.  A specific apology goes out to Michael Daley - hate to make you read this much, more purty pictures next time.)

As many of you know, Alle and I are in a period of transition professionally, geographically, marital sta
tusly, and generally.  We've decided to use this transition time to do some unique things: ski/snowboard every day for a period of months, travel in the Southern Hemisphere using Sydney as a home base, spend time with the Australian wing of the Sharlip family, and work on a sheep and cattle farm in Armidale, about 300 miles NW of Sydney.

We began this adventure by doing something decidedly novel for twenty something Manhattanites - we bought a car! Thanks go out to the Melnick family for taking great care of her for the first few years of her life.  We left New York City in the middle of a snow storm and headed west to spend January and February in Lake Tahoe, CA.  On the way we made a quick stop in Philly paying visits my parents - littering their house and shed with our furniture in the process (sorry Dad!) - and grandparents, and then drove for a couple of days until we hit Utah Ski Country.

Utah proved to be a great beginning to our ski winter.  We stayed with the Snow family, Bob, Dave & Julian, who not only put us up but gave Alle some great ski lessons.  The eldest and wisest Snow, Julian, immediately recognized Alle's untapped olympic downhill potential - I think it was when she fell head over ass, lost both ski's and laughed throughout the process. With Julian's coaching and Bob's leading us out of bounds, our ski winter was off to a great start.

As with any great road trip, this one was all about the music!  We were listening to lots of Rilo Kiley, My Morning Jacket, Billy Joel, Django Reinhardt, Flight of the Conchords, Santogold, Felix da Housecat and the non music of NPR and The Fountainhead book on tape.  (We've decided that 'objectivism' is mostly dumb.)

After a quick stop in Marin County, CA to visit with the Sharlips, we headed to Tahoe City where we shared a fantastic condo with a great crew of east coaster's living in San Francisco + real Californian, Shannon Walsh.  Alle and I both got season passes to Squaw Valley and tried with varying degrees of success to act like locals.  At one point I picked up a group of hitchhikers who informed me that you have to live in Tahoe for 5 years to really call yourself a local, and I think they're on to something - it would take that long just to acquire enough hard core ski gear and the right descriptive vocabulary (for instance, were the conditions today blower? dust on crust? windpack? gnar gnar? heady? low tide? chocolate chipped? flat light? did you make love to the mountain today, or did you merely shred hard? subtle but crucial differences).  While we might not have become full blown Squaw Rats, we did improve our skiing - with Alle even dropping some 10 footers! - and riding and had a fantastic time.

We were also lucky enough to have lots of great visitors.  Pavla Langer came in true snow bunny style, electing not to ski but to wear extremely fetching outfits and add spice to the local party scene. Kirk Lutwyler came in on a speeding Bullet and showed off his card playing skills at the local pub, The Bridgetender.  Mo Twine, Mike Prindiville, Alex Berg, and Jesse Dinner killed it on the slopes and at the Casinos.  Prindiville featured a return to fine skiing form after finally turning the tide in a three year battle with his ski boots, as well as an extra smooth fall off of the Siberia chairlift.  Dinner had a productive visit to the second hand ski store, although only for retro ski clothes - the ski that he snapped in half on Granite Chief remains unreplaced.  Mo generally looked on in amusement while trying to uncramp his feet.  Our favorite quote from that week comes courtesy of Berg: "Prindi, just tell me your version of the story and I'll distort it how I want."   A few weeks later, James Moisey and Amy O'Brien came with a full cooler of food, taught us how to make our own pasta, and joined us in watching some pretty awful movies - we recommend avoiding Towelhead and Rocket Science.  Finally, Luke Powell came all the way from Louisiana and brought the extreme weather (5 feet of snow!) associated with that state.  He and I also began work on 'Spaceballs the Musical', featuring the soon to be classic "I Hate it When My Schwartz Gets Twisted" - so look for that on Broadway in a few years. 

OK - We've taken up too much of your time, and we're not even out of the States - we'll get there with a post later in the week.

p.s. - Most posts, including this one, are from both of us, but this blog is meant to be conversational in style, and, since we are not professional athletes or 16th century monarchs, we tend to speak in the first person.  This post is written in 'Dan's voice,' the next will likely be written in Alle's and so on.  Scroll down to see some preview pics of New Zealand and Fiji!