Saturday, February 5, 2011

FLASHBACK: The Chronicles of Mordor: Part I

NOTE: I killed my MySpace account today. But I didn't want to lose one of my proudest accomplishments ... The Chronicles of Mordor. They led to this blog and I think they're pretty good. I did not want to lose them. So I'm republishing them here, with slight editing.

Originally published July 1, 2008

Not many people think of New Zealand and they know little about it. I didn't. It served as the setting for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Russell Crowe and Anna Paquin are natives. They have a big rugby team named the All-Blacks. That was the extent of my knowledge about two weeks ago.

With that in my mind, I will recount my little excursion to that far away land here on my blog on MySpace, the Rhode Island mall of social networking sites. This way, when people ask me how the trip was, I can refer them to my blog and continue on my way.

I arrived at LAX at around noon Pacific time with some nine hours to kill before my flight to Auchland, New Zealand. My cell phone was dead and I had not slept much in the past 24 hours. So I spent most of the time finding an open power outlet so I could watch my 24 DVD. You'd think that would be easy but it took me 20 minutes. Once I finally succeeded I had something to distract me until Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

The game did not start too well for the Green Machine. The Lakers were making everything and little ol' me, standing and watching the game outside a restaurant with 50 other Lakers fans, could barely stand it. I had to go sit down, being so tired and moody that I'd see cute little kids running around the airport and cuss at them in my head. While I sat and tried to nap just a little, the crowd would roar in approval because some douchebag Laker had made a nice play.

I sneaked back into the crowd for the second half and wouldn't you know it, the Celtics rallied. And rallied. Until they took the lead. The crowd was stunned silent as I performed my Derek Jeter fist bump.

When Ray Allen scored the decisive layup you could feel the spirit sink out my fellow travelers and airport staff. I jumped onto that plane in a much better mood, giddy that the Celtics were actually one game away from a title.

Once on the plane I enjoyed a nice meal, watched Vantage Point, Semi-Pro, listened to the newest White Stripes album and tried to sleep. That took six hours. Five more to go. I went in and out of sleep, uncomfortably tossing and turning in my seat while feeling like I hadn't slept in almost two days -- which was the case -- until they served breakfast. I watched Rattle and Hum and just prayed for the flight to end ... until it finally did.

Seventeen hours of flying done but I was far from out of the woods. Once in Auchland I crossed through roughly 55 checkpoints, all checking my passport and luggage. To make it easier, I put my passport in the book I was holding. This will be important later. After finally escaping the international terminal, I dragged my bags on a ten-minute walk to the domestic terminal knowing my third flight was set to take off in about 25 minutes. Sweating like Jason Giambi in the first inning, I arrived, swallowed a banana (NOTE: Unintended sexual reference here) and changed my drenched shirt and found the gate five minutes before boarding.

Just two hours away. The flight was a breeze in comparison. I looked out the window during the descent and saw nothing but rolling pastures and mountains. Dunedin, a mid-sized city, was my destination, and the images outside the window looked nothing like a metropolis. The plane literally landed in the middle of a cow pasture. The airport was smaller than the Cranston East main building.

In that building I would lose -- no, misplace -- my book with my passport in it but would not realize this fact until several days later.

Blissfully ignorant I met the most successful assistant basketball coach in all Otago, Z. Cole Hosseini. He drove my tired ass on the wrong side of the road to his place in Dunedin. Yes, they drive the British way in New Zealand. I can't explain in words how disorienting this proved to be throughout the trip.

He lives with his friend/reluctant story listener Monica in a little house that overlooks the city. And yeah, it wasn't all cows. Just sheep. Well, it was more than sheep, too. Think a more Gothic Providence to give you an idea. Or just check my photos!

Zach though I'd be a grumpy, sleepy, miserable buzzkill upon my arrival, but one only underestimates a Sears at his or her own peril. Since I work such upsidedown hours in Florida, I came prepared for the vicious time shift. I left my apartment at about 4:30 A.M. on Thursday morning, June 12th and arrived in Dunedin at 9 A.M. Saturday, June 14th. Crazy, eh?

Knowing I was jet-lagged, Zach challenged me to some one on one basketball thinking this was the only way he could beat me. The first game went badly for the good guy, but the second game was a tight battle of behemoths. He did not respect my jumper so I drained a few. When he challenged, I burned his ass on my way for a layup or drained a J in his face. I was on fire!

I lost.

The three of us ate at a nice Italian place that night, recounting glorious stories of Northeastern past, all which Monica already knew. The news has already hit New Zealand -- I was a loser in college who did not think twice about watching 15 Sopranos episodes in one day.

From there we went to a bar called The Terrace. This place will always hold a special place in my heart, but not because of that night. The big to-do in all New Zealand that night was the big All-Blacks vs. England rugby test. It was crowded and rowdy -- think a Boston bar during a Patriots playoff game. The All-Blacks won easy and everyone went home happy, but by the closing minutes I was ready to pass out. We cut the night a bit short and I slept like a rock.

In Part II of the Chronicles of Mordor ... Does Steve remember he lost his passport? Will Zach torture his friends with insufferable Morrissey music? Will Jack Bauer find the bomb? Tune in and please visit us again at the Rhode Island Mall of Social Networking Websites.

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