Thursday, April 29, 2010

Week 11: Hero Wor-Ship

Hi gang!

I am so sorry I haven't been keeping up with this very well. I have fallen into the halfway-through-the-semester slump, and I had to shake myself out of it and remind myself I am in NEW ZEALAND. That having been said, I have done quote a few interesting things lately.

Last Saturday, my friend Mallory and I went to see a comedy show featuring one of my comedic idols, Rhys Darby. If you're not familiar with the name, you may know him as the bumbling but lovable manager Murray Hewitt on the HBO show "Flight of the Conchords," about the eponymous Kiwi folk-comedy duo. The show that he was doing was a live version of a local New Zealand podcast, "The Cryptid Factor," which is hosted by Rhys and journalist David Farrier. The show centers around cryptozoology, the study of strange and/or mythical creatures. I have been listening to the podcast since I got here, so I was very excited to see how they did the show live. It was hilarious. Rhys and David are both natural comedians (though really, most Kiwis are. I just love their sense of humor), and the other people involved with the show, specifically their producer (a man known as "Buttons"), were equally comical. At one point a mobile number flashed on a screen, and the audience was asked to text in questions for them pertaining to cryptids or cryptozoology. I was the first one to send in a question, and Buttons asked it aloud for Rhys and David to answer. I felt pretty cool being involved with the show like that.

After the show was over, Mallory and I decided to wait around to see if Rhys would come out to take pictures. We waited for a bit after most people had left, and it wasn't looking good. Just then, Rhys came out to talk to a couple of women who he obviously knew. We felt incredibly awkward just standing there, and almost decided to leave, but with my hero standing not more than two feet from me, I was determined to meet him. He finished his conversation with the women and turned to go. I called out "Hey Rhys!" and he turned around.

"Erm...great show! Loved it! Do any t-shirts I could buy?"

That was my best excuse for hunting down this poor man. I am not generally one to get all starry-eyed in the presence of a celebrity, but I honestly could believe that this guy who had made me laugh so much was right there in front of me. However, instead of looking annoyed or dismissive, Rhys lit up with a great big smile. He motioned for Mallory and I to come back into the auditorium, and he told David that we wanted a t-shirt. Everyone in the crew got really excited, and Rhys and David were beaming. They were genuinely excited that anyone would want a t-shirt of their little podcast (which they assume no one actually listens to), so much so that they never even considered putting out a merchandise table or anything like that. I bought the shirt and made small talk with Rhys and David, and then they graciously posed for a photo with both me and Mallory. They were two of the nicest guys I have ever met, and incredibly genuine. It made me happy that here was a guy who was incredibly popular among people my age, and he was so humble that he probably doesn't even realize it. As we were leaving, we heard a voice call out to us. It was their producer, Buttons, asking if we wanted a picture with him too. And by asking, I mean he stood there until we came back and took a photo with him. I guess he wanted in on the fun too. :-) They were all wonderful guys, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. They say you should never meet your heroes for fear of disappointment, but in this case, that just wasn't true.

Me, Rhys, and David after the show

Side note: I asked a total of four questions during the show, but only one was read. About an hour after the show had ended, I was sitting in my flat, when I got a text message on my phone. It was from Buttons, apologizing for not having read my other texts during the show, and saying that his phone had been acting up and he hadn't received them till after the show. The fact that he would do something so courteous when he had no obligation or reason to whatsoever really gave my faith in the good of humanity a huge boost. :-)

Sunday morning I woke up early and headed out with a bunch of my friends to go for a boat ride. We rode the ferry to Bayswater to meet John and Ankelien McIntosh, some old friends of my grandparents. My grandpa taught for a year in New Zealand back in the 1960s, and John was one of his students. They have remained in contact since then, and John was very excited to meet me. John and his wife were wonderful, and very welcoming and hospitable toward us. We set out for Motuihe Island, and it was a beautiful day. We had lunch on the boat, and then took the dinghy in to explore the island for a bit. We headed back in the late afternoon, and we finally got enough wind to put the sails up. All in all, a very relaxing and fun day at sea.

Me with John and Ankelien McIntosh in front of the Katariana

Last night, I went to see John Mayer in concert, again at the Vector Arena in downtown Auckland. It was a fantastic show, and I'll give you a brief rundown here:


1. Belief
2. Crossroads (Robert Johnson cover)
3. Waiting on the World To Change
4. All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye
5. Perfectly Lonely
6. No Such Thing - Bigger Than My Body (Medley)
7. The Heart of Life
8. Who Says
9. Heartbreak Warfare
10. Friends, Lovers or Nothing
11. Almost Paradise (Love Theme from 'Footloose') - Half of My Heart - Dreams (Fleetwood Mac cover)
12. Why Georgia
13. Vultures
14. Gravity

Song Count Per Album:

Room for Squares - 2
Heavier Things - 1
Continuum - 5
Battle Studies - 7

Mayer is a natural showman, and he engaged the audience several times by playing with the lyrics of his songs (at one point he changed the line in "Who Says" from "'s been a long night in Austin too..." to " Auckland too..."). The man has an excellent voice, but the real star of the show is his guitar. I honestly believe that Mayer is one of the best living guitar players in the world, and he certainly showcased his talents last night. Almost every song began with his just improving a few bars on the guitar before launching into the familiar melody. A few of the songs became showcases for his solos, expanding from a normal 3 minute runtime to a 10+ minute extravaganza. His band was exceptional as well, and in light of Mayer's recent public woes, you could tell that he has made a concerted effort to get back to his music and stay out of the spotlight. All in all, a fantastic show, and one I would see again and again.

John Mayer, doing what he does best

That's about it for now. I am off to Wellington this weekend, so I will blog again next week.

Till next time!


This week's photo albums:

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