Saturday, April 23, 2011
I am going to kill the girl sitting next to me. Really! I may actually do it!
One might ask what could inspire such vitriol (We all know how popular that word has become lately.) and hatred, and that is a perfectly reasonable question - one that I will answer immediately.
The ho in question is happily and obliviously enjoying a cigarette, while blowing puffs of smoke in my face. As I am not a train, this is entirely unnecessary, and I find it very annoying considering the fact that I am trying to sit here and mind my own business. You may ask why I don't move, and that, my friend, is also a fairly reasonable question. Here's why:
WHY THE FUCK SHOULD I HAVE TO MOVE IF SHE'S THE ONE ENGAGING IN THE OFFENSIVE BEHAVIOR? More importantly, I have a very nice spot on a large bench in the sun that is also surrounded by walls so I'm protected from the wind. It's really quite perfect, and I am not willing to give it up, damnit!
What's so frustrating about this is that it happens all the time! Seriously, smokers??! WTF? Not only is your habit extremely annoying to those around you, but it also makes you and your clothes smell like you got in a boxing match with a wildfire. Plus, it's bad for you! Didn't you listen to the DARE programs in school? Has showing 10 year olds pictures of black tar-filled lungs and old people with holes in their throats stopped sufficiently scaring the shit out of them?
You should really stop smoking; this isn't Mad Men (though it could be if you added a gold-rimmed tumbler of whiskey, demanded the nearest female make you a sandwich, and created a conspicuous lack of Jews and black people).
I know some people aren't willing to give up their unhealthy and obnoxious habit, but at the very least they could GO THE HELL AWAY, because I'd really rather not smoke YOUR cigarette.
As I write this, I am making increasingly less subtle coughing sounds in the hopes that Ms. Idontgiveafuckaboutanyoneelse will get the picture and vacant the premises (aka my immediate vicinity). Unfortunately for me, though, this does not seem to be working, and at this point, I believe things can go one of two ways.
First, she will move, and I will be happy as Glenn Beck with a chalk board.
Second, you will never hear from me again, as I will be in jail, because I AM GOING TO TAKE THE CIGARETTE AND SHOVE IT UP HER NOSE SO THAT IT IMPALES HER BRAIN.
All in all, this tangent was very productive, because I actually feel a little better after ranting. Plus, she walked away, and I think it was because she noticed some weirdo next to her typing a little too furiously and glaring viciously at a computer screen.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Um, so... This turned out way longer than intended. In fact, I realize that I am getting increasingly long-winded, and for that, I do apologize. If my blogs get too boring, please don't hesitate to leave me an angry (but hopefully constructive) comment.
WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? THIS IS SUCH BULLSHIT. FUCKERS! HOW COULD THEY DO THIS!? GRRR. FURY. GRRR. RAGE. ETC...
I literally spent 10 minutes walking around my house yelling and cursing when I found out, but I'll spare you that charming spectacle. Granted, the story is months old, but I didn't find out about it until now.
Most people have heard of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books - an event celebrating the written word that has been held every year since 1996. Since the beginning, it has been held on the lovely campus of the University of California, Los Angeles.
YAY! UCLA! I've always wanted to attend the festival, and I had high hopes to just walk down from my dorm and do just that. Unfortunately for me, though, for the first time EVER the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is being held at USC.
In all honesty, I don't really consider them the enemy. Perhaps I'm not doing my Bruin-ly duty, but I think that most of that rivalry stuff is such BS. I have never been to a game, nor do I ever plan on doing so (I don't really like football. If I wanted to watch men in tight pants jump on top of each other, I'd go find some weird fetish-club.), but this still makes me mad.
First of all, I think it sends a bad message when public events are held at private schools if a perfectly great public institution is also available. This especially angered me when Obama came to Los Angeles and spoke at USC instead of UCLA. I mean, really! The PRESIDENT - the government - preferring a bastion of wealth and money (Melodramatic much?) over a public university. That's like saying that their own public school's aren't good enough.
That aside, what does USC have to offer that UCLA doesn't? Well, according to the LA Times, the USC newspaper said that USC has "a more central location, better access to public transportation, easier parking and the use of newly expanded university facilities." These aren't completely bogus arguments, but they're kind of weak.
A more central location? Central to what? The city? Just, because it's the "Los Angeles" Times Festival of Books, doesn't mean that only Los Angelenos go. I'm sure that people from Thousand Oaks are just as likely as people from Eagle Rock to attend the event. Besides, even if you are talking about the city itself, USC is actually less central than UCLA. The home of the Trojans is in South Los Angeles, which is very close to the southeastern border of the city. People might argue that UCLA is at the opposite corner of the city, perhaps even closer to the northwest border than SC is to the southwestern. That is completely false, though. People often forget that the city of Los Angeles extends westward all the way to Woodland Hills and northward to Sylmar. UCLA is actually closer to the southeastern border of the city than it is to the northwestern. Considering the fact that USC is even farther southeast, how could it be more central geographically? Oh wait... it's not! Don't believe me? Have a look at a map:
~~~ UCLA is in Westwood, just east of the 405. USC is in South Los Angeles, very close to
where the 10 meets the 110.
Wondering about San Pedro? Well, it's gonna suck to go to either campus. =)
Mind blown? Mine was when I found out Woodland Hills wasn't a city That, my friends, is a story for another time, though.
It's true that USC has many more LA Metro bus lines in its vicinity, but so what? UCLA is also serviced by the Big Blue Bus and Culver City bus systems. It's true that USC is close-ish (key part: ish) to the LA subway lines. In fact, I remember reading a comment online that USC was vastly superior in this regard. Ooh!! The campus is near (Not walking distance near. You'd still have to take another bus.) Union Station! So what? Los Angles isn't New York or London. It doesn't have some extensive subway system that allows you to go anywhere quickly. Nope. We've got a couple lines - one of which, the Purple line, just follows the same route as the Red. Astounding! Besides, no matter where you are, LA public transit is so crappy, that it will take you forever to get to your destination no matter where you're going.
Last of arguments is that USC has "newly expanded facilities'? Oooh ahhh. That's just the kind of vague language that impresses the American masses; it ounds impressive, but doesn't really mean much. At an event where the main "facilities" are tents and open spaces, there's only so much mysterious new facilities could do. Most relevantly, though, at an event with an attendance of around 140,000 people, it seems that space would be the most important factor. Guess which school is significantly larger than the other? Oh wait! That'd be UCLA.
You fail, Los Angeles Times.
On an even more infuriating note, I saw a comment saying that the festival should be at USC, because it is academically better. Really? The two schools have been neck and neck in the rankings for years! Some might want to cite the most recent US News ranking which has USC at No. 23 (tied, meaning it could be 23/24) and UCLA at No. 25. OOOH! 1 spot higher! And, I might add, for the FIRST time.
Yup. USC is for geniuses. UCLA is full of morons.
Clearly, the schools are really about the same, so that argument is complete nonsense. Despite this, there are those that will still insist this small difference in ranking from ONE source means everything, and despite my aversion to the classic cross-town rivalry, I have to say one thing about this. USC's endowment is over a billion dollars a year more, even though they have roughly 4,000 fewer students. The fact that UCLA can even keep up is a testament to its quality. USC has so much more money and so many more resources at its disposal that claiming it is sooooo much better is like telling the crippled kid who came in a close-second that they suck.
I know that Trojans reading this will want to claim that I'm just being a typical Bruin, but that's not true. Like I said before, I'm not super in to the whole rivalry thing, but more importantly, most of my family went to USC and are RABID fans. In fact, the only reason I didn't go, was because USC would have taken fewer of my AP and community college credits, which would have put me a little bit behind. It was actually quite a challenge to pick UCLA when I'd been ingrained with the idea that USC was superior since the day I was born.
I saw another thing that was absolutely ridiculous. One commenter claimed that UCLA was a bad place for the festival, because it is pretentious and full of snobbish west-siders (After all, Bel-Air is right there!). Really? This coming from a private university with a nearly $3 million endowment, aimed at a public university that can't even afford TAs for its upper division classes and suffers increasingly catastrophic budget cuts every year! Please! Don't even go there.
Some proponents of keeping the festival at UCLA argue that UCLA is SOOO much safer than USC, but that's actually not true. USC has better security than UCLA does, simply because they have to. It's no secret that the neighborhood around USC isn't that great, but, truthfully, neither is it all that awful anymore. USC has had a positive influence on the area around it, so you're quite unlikely to get mugged or anything of the sort, though many Bruins would like to claim otherwise. Still, though, Westwood is a nicer area than South Los Angeles. That - I think - is undisputed. While I may not be afraid to walk around USC's neighborhood during the day (at night is another story, unless in the immediate vicinity of the campus), I wouldn't WANT to go there. Westwood, on the other hand, is a wonderful little area, with plenty of things to do. So, if confining yourself to the host campus is okay to you, well then USC is just dandy, but if you actually want to - God forbid! - go off campus for a neat lunch, I'd say UCLA definitely has the upper hand.
The reasons listed for moving the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books are weak, at best, but there is actually a legitimate reason they would do this, and that's MONEY. Now, this might sound callous, but it's completely legit! The Los Angeles Times, like a lot of print media, is hurting, especially with this economic downturn, and they have less money to put toward this sort of event. UCLA, similarly, has little to no money to contribute for non-essential events, especially ones of this magnitude. USC, though, has extensive funds at their disposal, and since the Festival of Books doesn't get any money from ticket sales, having a host institution that can help pay for it, is actually really great, because it means that the festival can continue to stay a free event. Frankly, I think this is probably part of the reason LA Times moved the festival, because not only does it make a lot of sense, but no one will release any of the financial information about all this. Some hard-core Bruins would like to claim this means USC paid the Times to make the switch, but that's pretty conspiratorial, and I wouldn't believe it unless I saw proof. USC contributing a lot to the event, though, is perfectly probable, and if that's that the case, who cares?!?! People shouldn't be mad if they want the festival to continue being free. It's pragmatism at it's finest! Get over it! I will, however, say that if this is why the switch occurred, then the LA Times and USC should man up to it! Not doing so is cowardly and dishonest, especially when hiding behind a bunch of nonsense about a better location and "expanded facilities."
On a final note, if I am going to get on a high horse about honesty, I should really add this thought, which was floating around my mind while writing this whole thing:
But mostly, I'm just angry, because I don't want to have to schlep my ass across town on the crappy Metro buses that make a 15 minute trip when you drive yourself take an hour and a half.
LA Times article quoted:
P.S. For those of you that care, no one slapped me. On one hand, I am sad that no one noticed that. On the other, I am simply glad I didn't get slapped. I still plan on reviewing the Night Angel Trilogy, though, because I continue to verbally gush about it.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
I acutely understand the need to balance budgets, both on the state and federal levels, because, as we all know, the country is in massive debt.
When I first heard that Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin wanted to alleviate his state's debt by decreasing state employees' salaries and benefits, I had no problems... at least not initially. I quickly switched directions, though, because his real intentions became apparent rather quickly.
Governor Walker was more concerned about wrecking the unions than actually helping his state out of financial trouble. How do I know this? Well, its quite obvious if you pay attention! The state workers AGREED to ALL of the cuts he wanted to make... but Walker was not content with that. Nooo! He also wanted to strip the unions of what make them unions... collective bargaining.
It makes me laugh when the pundits on TV claim that the unions were being greedy. Really? They were the ones who accepted cuts in their pay and benefits to help the State of Wisconsin, and it was the governor who refused to implement these, potentially very beneficial, measures, because he was so focused on his personal goal of destroying the unions... something that really wouldn't do much, if anything, to help the debt.
Some would also like to claim that state employees - Teachers are often bought up - are so greedy with their $50,000 salaries! I, not surprisingly, have a number of things to say on this point.
1. $50,000 isn't that much. Have you ever been to a public school? Have you seen the parking lots? OMG! Look at all those 1989 Volkswagon Jettas! Damn those teachers! Living large!
2. Why do people get so mad at teachers for making this amount of money, but don't blink an eye at Wall Street execs taking $5 million bonuses? Seems pretty hypocritical to me...
3. Some would claim that the aforementioned execs need high salaries to attract talent. Really? We just had the largest recession since the Great Depression.
Clearly, the talent is pouring in.
4. Are people saying we don't want to attract talent to the teaching profession? Seems to me that the people who we entrust with the important task of educating the next generation should be highly talented people. But that could just be me being stupid!
5. Wisconsin's average teacher salary is about $10k higher than the national average, so the teachers of Wisconsin aren't even a good examples of the profession's "greed" at large.
6. A lot of people would like to claim that since teachers only work 9 months a year, they can't be deserving of a decent salary. The fact is, though, that most teachers take on extra work, like coaching a school team or teaching summer school. This shows how little their pay is, because even with this extra work, most teachers are still drivin' around in that Jetta built before I was born.
7. I heard an anchor on TV try to claim that teachers don't work very hard - After all, they finish work at 3 PM! Fair enough, but imagine if you're a 10th grade World History teacher and all 5 of your classes aka 150 kids each just turned in 8 page essays. Your day is DEFINITELY not gonna stop at 3 PM... not for a long while. If you're really lucky, though, it will... just in time for the next round of tests!
Any conservatives reading this may say that I'm just some left-wing socialist nut, but that is really not true. Why? Well, I actually really dislike the teachers union (I'll tell ya why in a second.). I also like my guns, thank you very much, but most importantly,
I DON'T think Reagan was a bad president.
There. I said it. Liberal friends, please don't kill me! If you're really lucky, I'll explain why I feel this way some day.
Anyway, like I just said, I dislike the teachers unions. You may be confused since I championed the teachers' cause and may be wondering if I am bi-polar (I might be.). I actually have a legitimate argument, though. Teaching may be an exceptionally important profession, teachers may not get paid enough, and teaching may be harder than most people think, but, unlike what most teachers union people would like you to think, the fact of the matter is,
There are A LOT of SHIT teachers out there.
I, for instance, attended school in award winning, well-thought-of school district, and I still had more crap teachers than good ones. The reason for this is the abominable institution known as
-play dramatic music-
Why is this so awful? Well, it's because tenure makes it damned near impossible to fire a teacher. Some would like to tout the importance of job security, but tenure take this WAY to far. The very idea that my favorite teacher - the one I'd learned the most from and had the most fun in class with - could be fired before 2 of the WORST teachers I've ever had is RIDICULOUS. Luckily, she was not let go (Maybe the administration knew there would have been pillaging if she were?), but there was another teacher who I also really liked... that was fired... while the 2 AWFUL teachers kept their jobs, simply because they'd been teaching at the school longer.
That, my friends, is royally fucked up.
Society, or more specifically the school systems of America, need to take a pointer from the Free Market Playbook and encourage, though I hesitate to use the word, competition. Young, talented teachers should be rewarded, and old, used up (or simply just bad) ones should not be kept around simply out of some misplaced sense of loyalty. It's about the STUDENTS, not Mrs. ImCompletelyBatshitButIHaveBeenHereForTenYearsSoTheyCantFireMe.
A teacher I highly respect once brought up an interesting point about teachers and their salaries. People may claim that collective bargaining for teachers is a good thing, but is that really the case? This teacher seemed to think not. He, in well-deserved arrogance, asked the class if we thought he was capable of arguing for his salary (We said yes.). This makes sense if you think about it. Good teachers are smart people who are not only capable of bargaining, but also have good records to support their claims of deserving a higher salary. Not only will bad teachers not have that record, but they also probably won't be intellectually or creatively capable of debating an administration for a higher salary. I don't exactly know how ending collective bargaining for teachers would work, of if it's even possible, but it seems like something to consider, because the fact of the matter is that collective bargaining, at least in the case of teachers, makes it so that the difference between the salaries of the best and worst performing teachers is much smaller than the difference in the talent, ability, and intellect of the two groups. This isn't to advocate destruction of collective bargaining for all professions, though, cause if you think about it, the very best teacher versus the very worst teacher can have profoundly different effects on society when compared to the very best garbage worker versus the very worst.
Teaching is a profession that requires great creativity and knowledge; frankly, it should not be lumped in with a lot of other state jobs. Someone tasked with the job of passing on knowledge to a group of 150 teenagers - who, while they may be whiny and acne-infested, are our future leaders - has a far tougher and more important mission than the ordinary paper-pusher state employee. I don't think you can compare a truck driver to a teacher, because while both jobs are important, teaching is vital to the long-term stability of the entire country, and even the entire world.
People need to realize how important teachers are and acknowledge that fact by paying them more money. Then again... maybe people don't realize this, because the great teachers are obscured by the plethora of shitty teachers who are impossible to fire. It really is a sort of a dark-clouds-blotting-out-the-sun kind of situation, so not only do we need to figure out a way to more easily rid the system of bad teachers, but we also need to attract better ones... Oh!! Maybe we should pay them more money! Personally, I know that, while I have no particular aversion to teaching, I would NEVER do it because I'd rather be a lawyer or doctor and actually be able to afford to drive around in, at the very least, a current model Jetta (coughAudicough).
If I were to bet on it, though, the pundits would probably, in some convoluted and obscure way, say that the Attracting Talent Through Good Salaries theory applies to Wall Street but not teachers... because they're corporate whores.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Quote of the Day (like I'm gonna update daily):
"98% of people will die at some point in their lives." ~ Ricky Bobby
I thought I would start this out with something entertaining, cause the rest is gonna be kind of boring.
How is it that after I get really far behind with my schoolwork, but finally start making my way down a path to catching up... I rediscover this blog?
Apparently, I'm the epitome of failure in regard to productivity. In fact, I am writing this while I should be reading about the consequences of the American Revolution for women. I think I may just be a lost cause.
I know I don't update much, but like in the other apology-for-not-updating-enough blog, I must point out the fact that I have homework to do (though I may end up on Facebook for hours and not do any work). This may make me sound like a social fail (I am; that's just not why), but I usually fail at doing homework for more worthy reasons.... like reading!
I am a somewhat obsessed with books. In fact, I have spent - quite literally - thousands of dollars on books in my life time (Barnes and Noble should give me stock options.), and I'm not even that old. Those that have visited my house, know I have a rather large bookcase filled with the Pages of Heaven (Yes, I did just called them that.) that I cherish greatly. Of course, like blogging, I rediscovered my love for reading, after a multiple year lull, right before the school year started.
I am the Master of Perfect Timing.
Anyway, I have a habit of planning to rotate fun-reading (novels) and WTFKILLMENOW reading (textbooks). This, however, does not work all that well, because, while I usually get through the first set of textbook readings, things always go down hill from there. It is upon the conclusion of that first set of torture that I would usually plan on taking a short break to read 20 pages or so of reading goodness. Unfortunately, this "short break" usually turns in to a "rest of the day break" because I end up wanting to finish the entire book.* This, of course, leaves no time for homework, so you can see how my productivity level is so low. Similarly, other people may use books to help them fall asleep at night, but when I try this it just results in me staying up until 6 AM to finish reading the book in question. The point is: I love reading, and if you do too, make a point to talk to me about it!
I would, at this point, like to ask if anyone has any good book recommendations, but I will refrain from doing this, since no one actually reads this blog, and doing so would just make me feel like even more of a fail (cause I'd get no responses). Instead, I will promise you that I will post my first blog on a book I just read... within the next week! And if I do not do so, the one or two friends who actually pay attention to the Holy Tangent have permission to smack me (I am tempted to not write it just to see how many of my dear friends actually read this.).
I would also like to take this time to promise to edit the Hong Kong entries and add one on Bali. Originally, I planned on doing an entry for each day in Bali, but I have decided not to for 2 reasons.
1. Too many of the days would just be like: "Napped at pool in tropical paradise."
2. It was too long ago; I barely remember what I did.
So, instead, I will simply highlight the best parts for your reading entertainment!
Oh, and you can rest assured that there is a reasonably good chance that I will actually update a bit more frequently this month, cause it's almost.... drum roll... SPRING BREAK. Thank God.
I will end with something entertaining, as well:
* A similar principle can be applied to naps. Because I go to bed so late, I that am often forced to take naps the next day out of sheer exhaustion. I usually plan said naps to be an hour or so, which is all fine and good, but I've come to learn that a nap for me averages about 4 hours. Sometimes as much as 5 or 6. This is especially a fail when I wake up at 10 PM with a plan to go to bed at midnight.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Deember 22, 2010
I had a very productive morning. Slept in. Didn't blog. Again.
Total success? Absolutely.
I didn't even get to my first event of the day until 1:30 PM... or really 2:30 considering we got in line BUT IT DIDN'T START UNTIL 2:30!
What was it that Mary stood in line for an hour for? What could be so could?
Well! Tea at the Peninsula Hotel! And not just any tea, but their special Christmas tea, which included a slightly altered menu and a choir that was actually quite good. Of course, the hotel, in typical Hong Kong fashion, was totally decked out for Christmas.
And there was so much food! I made it my goal to try everything on the triple (or was it quadruple?) tiered plate. It was truly a battle of the highest order - one of epic proportion. I just barely made it, and even then I had to eat it over the course of 2 hours. Luckily for me - and this is something I love about HK - meals are an event; you take as long as you want and no one thinks of bringing you the check before you ask for it. It's like they don't want to imply that you should leave if you aren't ready; it's very nice actually.
The menu included: NOMs. Many many NOMs. Aka:
- Selection of Finger Sandwiches:
~ Balik Salmon on Buckwheat Pancake
~ Smoked Turkey and Truffle Cream in Focaccia
~ Marinated Cucumber and Cress in Whole Grain Bread
- Savoury Jalousie
- Goose Liver and Candied Walnut Quiche
- Raisin and/or Plain Scones with Devonshire Clotted Cream and Strawberry Jam
- Assorted Dessert Noms:
~ Chestnut and Cassis Yule Log
~ Festive Macaroons
~ Christmas Cookies
~ Pistachio and Cherry Almond Cake
~ Salted Caramel Mousse with Poached Pear
~ Chocolate Cinnamon Truffle
- Selection of Teas: Jasmine, Pu Er, Rose, Ti Guan Yin, Assam, Darjeeling, Earl Grey,
Peninsula Afternoon, Peninsula Breakfast, Almond, Caramel, Cinnamon, Mango,
Passionfruit, peach, raspberry, or rose. I went with the Ti Guan Yin, which was quite
good. And for those dipshit Americans who won't get with the setting, they also offer
coffee upon request.
Suffice to say, it was awesome. Expensive - If you go outside the front door there are Bentleys and shit parked out there. - but totally worth it. I loved it, but then again, I would have afternoon tea every day if I could.
After tea, we immediately went back to the hotel, though we didn't get there until like 5 PM. It was at this time that we split apart for the evening. While I chilled out at the hotel, they went to the final fitting for my dad's suit and then went on a harbor cruise (which they said was great, btw).
Eventually, I went on a quest to the Temple Street night market. Before you go, "AGAIN?" let me say that I actually really needed to buy a bag for all the stuff I had bought. Of course, I ended up buying more stuff, too, but I did get a fold up bag!! I don't know why I didn't do this before, but I finally got in on bargaining action and bought some knock off designer bags.
You may go, "Knock offs? That's wrong!" Fuck you. And fuck Jimmy Choo. There is absolutely nothing to justify the prices of most designer stuff. A $4000 purse? Are you shitting me? That's BS! Some people go, "Oh, well it's better quality than that $20 bag from H&M." Maybe, but not by that much. If a bag is better quality but very similar to that $20 bag, you could charge $100 for it. MAX! NOT THOUSANDS! So to you pretentious people waging a crusade against knock offs, I say to you with utmost respect,
Please go fuck yourself.
I also bought a lovely pashmina scarf.
As I walked back to the hotel at 11 PM, surrounded by zillions of people on my last night in the city, I thought about how much I truly love this place.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
December 21, 2010
Today was the day trip day... meaning... I had to.. get. up. early.
Today was the day trip day... meaning... I had to.. get. up. early.
AHHHH! The horror.
Anyway, we walked to the China Ferry Terminal and took the First Ferry to Macau, which, like Hong Kong, is a SAR (Special Administrative Region) of China, meaning that we had to go through customs. Yay! Honestly, though, the exiting Hong Kong and getting on the ferry was pretty easy. In fact, the ferry itself was super nice - assigned seats that were bigger than coach seats on airplanes! Plus, the ride was only like an hour.
It was the customs in Macau that was where the fun started. Along with - literally - thousands of people, we waited in a standing line for an hour. By the time we were done, my feet felt like they were going to un-attach themselves and eat me out of vengeance.
The wait length makes total sense considering the fact that Macau has 27 million visitors a year and actually makes $3 billion more in profits than Las Vegas does each year. Yeah, Vegas. Suck it. Of course, Frommer's said, "Oh the lines not bad! It won't take more than half an hour." Useless lying assholes.
So after we got through customs, we caught a cab (also cheap like in Hong Kong) to a restaurant highly recommended by the book. Unfortunately, though, it was closed, and I very nearly launched in to a public tirade about how much Frommer's sucks, but I realized that the book did say that La Lorcha was closed on Tuesdays.
By this time, we were like rabid squirrels in the ferociousness of our hunger. Fortunately for us, though, the book recommended another restaurant down the road, which we found out was, quite literally, just down the road.
Our new eating home is called Litoral and serves Macanese food, which is a mix of Portuguese and Chinese culinary traditions. I'll be honest with you; I was predisposed to not like this place, because I had wanted Portuguese food, damnit! But, this restaurant drop kicked me in to a 180.
It. Was. Awesome.
Oh my God; the food was amazing. I had minced meat with fried egg and rice - Sounds boring, right? Absolutely not. It was tasty as all hell. My dad and his fiance had chicken curry and saffron pork, respectively, and both said that the meal was delicious.
If you ever go to Macau, go to Ristorante Litoral. You will not be disappointed.
It was at this point that my dad decided to split off and go play poker at one of the many casinos - I would assume that you got the impression that Macau is a gambling Mecca by the fact that it's profits are more than Vegas'. If not, you're a dumbass. - Anyway, Colleen and I went to a temple close to Litoral called A-Ma (dedicated to the Sea-farers Goddess of the same name), which is the oldest Chinese temple in Macau.
It was pretty damn old alright. Nasty. Falling apart. Etc...
I'm kidding. It was in fine shape and is mostly made up of rocks and stairs and crap anyway. Despite my fun-making, A-Ma is actually kind of neat, because it has a view of part of the harbor and it's an actual functioning temple, so you get to see people going there and making offerings of incense and that sort of thing. Speaking of incense, there were these weird yellow coil things hanging from, well, everything, and they looked like little Christmas trees. Once we got up close, though, we realized they were coils of incense that burned FOR FREAKING EVER by the sheer length of them. For the rest of the day, I looked for places you can buy them, but the temples apparently have some sort of cabal/blackmarket incense ring that only they're privy to.
All the while we were in the temple, we were getting texts from my dad saying that he couldn't catch a cab to save his life, so while Macau may have cheap cabs, they aren't nearly as easy to grab as in HK. In fact, he later told me that he got on a bus and pulled out the equivalent of a 20 or so dollar bill. They made him get off.
Apparently, he eventually got a cab after half an hour. We were not so lucky. Upon leaving the temple, we noticed that there were some tour buses around the corner. Thinking that was a transportation center, we walked over there. Cabs? Nope. So, we continued to walk down the lane... which turned in to a parking lot... which turned in to a street... which turned in to a private road running along a canal. On the bright side, we got to see the Macau Tower, which is quite impressive, but that was kind of eclipsed by the EPIC WALK AROUND THE MIDDLE OF BF NOWHERE IN MACAU. At one point I could vaguely see the Wynn in the distance and was heading toward it like the city was a desert and the casino was the holy grail of oases.
We never made it to the Wynn, because some random-ass person was getting dropped off at some random-ass place on the random-ass street we were walking down. We literally ran after that cab with arms-a-flailin'.
The cab took us to another temple, the?????. and the traffic on the way was a douche. Seriously. It sucked bad. The temple, though, was interesting. Unlike the last one, this one was much more "temple-y" in that it had more in-door areas and shrines. In fact, there were numerous offerings and shrines to the recently deceased.
Okay. Cultural experience taken care of.
Once again, we took a cab to our next destination, though it took a hell of a lot less time to catch a cab this time around. Said destination was the ruins of Saint Paul's Cathedral, which is basically just the facade of the church. It was neat (especially the bone container thingies), but the real treat was the walk down from it, because the church is at the top of a well-known mosaic tiled street lined by old Portuguese-styled buildings, which you are, of course, expected to walk down.
So we did.
It was pretty neat; there are lots of antique shops, if you're interested in that sort of thing, and food stores, most of which give out free samples. Yum. In fact, we tried some of their version of almond cookies! I was excited, because I happen to really like almond cookies. Unfortunately, though, the Macau (maybe actual Chinese?) versions are gross. They're very dry and powdery; it's like eating pure flour. If you happened to be a resident of Macau there on that day and at that time, you would have seen a random tourist walking around looking like she was going to gag. I literally was looking for somewhere to spit it out, but in the end, I had to suck it up.
Also very prevalent along the street were these strange concoctions. They were all shiny and flattened to about 1/4" - 1/2" thick and I suspected they were made of meat. Of course, I just had to try some, so I walked up to one of the guys handing out free samples and motioned like I wanted one. He said something in Chinese (at least, I couldn't understand him) that definitely meant something along the lines of "Are you sure you want to try this suspicious looking food thing, tourist?" I nodded my head vigorously, so he gave me one. j
YUM. Suspicious meat-paper is tasty. I wanted buy some, but it looked as if you could only buy large amounts and I didn't know if it was even legal to bring food like that through customs.
Anyway, we continued on down the street and came across a real treat. I mentioned before that Hong Kong was decked out for Christmas, and Macau, apparently, is no different. Epic icicle lights hung over the street for a good distance, leading up to a giant Christmas tree made purely of lights. It was quite a site to behold. Upon getting closer, there were many other Christmas decorations scattered around the base of the tree and the facades of buildings (Santa Pandas are very popular.).
Not one to let good shopping escape me, I spotted a bag I liked very much - I was seriously looking for a large bag at this time to bring back all the stuff I'd purchased. - but when I asked the lady how much, she said "tomorrow" and walked away.
Good business strategy.
Done with the lame shopping area, we headed toward the Grand Lisboa, which was the casino where my dad had ultimately ended up. I don't think I mentioned this before, but the Grand Lisboa is the newer building added on by the Casino Lisboa to accommodate more guests and gamblers. It is significant because it is one giant-ass building (one of the top 100 in the world, I believe) and you can see it from almost anywhere in the city. It is very noticeable not only because of its sheer size but also because it is one seriously ridiculous building (it looks like a giant plant made of lights).
"Grand Lisboa." Google Image that shit. Seriously.
Our walk took us through the section of Macau where most of the casinos are - This area is home to the Lisboa, the Wynn, MGM Grand, Sands, etc... - and it was lit up like all hell. Vegas looks a bit like a turd compared to this area. I shit you not.
It wasn't a long walk from the Portuguese section to the Lisboa, so we were inside the casino within half an hour, and let me tell you, the interior is no less impressive than the exterior! Besides the classic casino elegance of crown moldings and rich carpets there are floors and floors of tables and subfloors with restaurants on them that overlook the casino floors, making the overall rooms far bigger than anything I've seen in Vegas.
Speaking of one of those subfloors, we sat at a little cafe on one and watched the tables below (I even got in a few pictures, which isn't allowed. Teehee.). We were also SO lucky as to catch one of the shows - if you can call scantily clad women dancing (poorly, at that) a show. At one point, one even started taking off her clothes!
Awkward? Very. You should have seen the crowd of men gathering.
Luckily, no one ever actually got naked. Thank God. I would have died of embarrassment for my gender. To the casino's credit, though, there was an acrobat at one point which was cool. Overall, however? I'm gonna pass on that experience again.
On a happier note, we, joined by my dad, ate at one of the hotel's restaurants, ???? and it was pretty good. I won't lie. I'm writing this like a week later and all I can remember is that we had some sort of noodles and steamed pork and fried beef dumplings. Quite good, I must say.
After dinner, we caught one of the hotel's free shuttles - Handy? I think so. - back to the ferry terminal. Thankfully, going out of customs in Macau and entering customs in Hong Kong was lot easier/shorter than our earlier experience.
By the end of the day, I think I would have died if I had had to stand for another hour.