Mark Tanner - Adventurer, Writer and Amateur Beatboxer



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The Fat Guy Dressed in Red is Coming

20 December 1999


It has almost been 365 days since Santa came, jolly as ever, with his squad of industrious reindeer, squeezing himself down the billions of chimneys around the globe, rewarding the nice children with cowboy suits and wooden trucks. Just like last year, the streets of Vancouver have been transformed with the glorious colours of the many twinkling Christmas lights. Christmas functions have been plentiful and the constant flow of eggnog has led me to establishing a disturbing addiction to the creamy festive drink. It has been a pretty busy time, and to add to the excitement, I've made a change in plans for the new millennium.


Net Nanny will be moving its offices down to Seattle at the end of January next year. I originally planned to go, but after weighing up the pros and cons, I've decided to take the severance package and run, not knowing where my adventures will take me next. At this stage, I may end up with the army of kiwis in the motherland, England. It's quite an exciting feeling not knowing what will happen next in the odyssey.


Halloween on the 31st of October was a night to remember. It is one of the biggest nights of the year in North America, and people go to a lot of trouble to decorate their houses with jack-o-lanterns and other spooky things. I had the sensational costume planned and was going to go as cereal guy, sticking a honey flavoured breakfast cereal all over my body. It was looking like a terrific plan, I even had some clever pickup lines planned, but alas, the substance that I had selected to stick the cereal to my skin proved to be insufficient, and after stumbling around the house in a drunken state, banging into things, I found that the majority of the cereal had slipped off.


In desperation, I had to resort to plan B, dressing up as a disco sex god, but it still turned out to be a superb night. The following morning I realized that in my semi-conscious state the night before, I had crunched breakfast cereal into the floor all over the house, which took some cleaning up. Honey loops were showing up in the strangest of places for a couple of weeks.


It was down to Las Vegas last month, courtesy of the company, with a convenient stop off in Los Angeles for the weekend on the way home. Vegas played host to Comdex, the largest computer show in North America, and Net Nanny was showing off its stuff. Since I was last there, less than a year earlier, four huge hotels had been built on the hotel strip, each one grander than the last - no expense was speared. Two of the new hotels cost over NZ$2 billion dollars to build, with the most expensive one costing more than 8 times what Te Papa cost to erect on the Wellington waterfront, and it showed.


Vegas was so much fun - A lot of people in one place, all there for a good time. I used my daily allowance to help pay for some of the extravagant, entertaining and glitzy nightclubs filled with almost naked ladies. Unlike last time, I wasn't restricted to eating $7 buffets, although one night was dedicated to this in memory of the glorious eateries.


The discovery of a vibrating chair in the hotel lobby, ended up becoming the meeting point for the nights to follow, which included drunken evenings of blackjack and dancing.


No trip to the City of Sin would be complete without an evening of Karaoke, so it was had, in true Vegas style. After a tip off at one of the neighbourhood bars, we were given accurate directions to a local hangout for Karaoke enthusiasts, The Irish Porker. We quickly made friends in the fine establishment, and were crowd favourites for the many tracks that we hollowed throughout the evening. But as the night pressed on and became the early hours of the morning, the singing stopped. Disappointed by the premature closure of the bar, we plodded onto another of the 90 karaoke bars in the municipality of Las Vegas, a Chinese Restaurant/disco/karaoke bar. Teaming with our newfound friends, a short, chubby and extremely drunken American and a newly wed, yet flirtatious showgirl, we sung up a storm, although not receiving the same positive response we had become accustomed to at the previous bar. Up against some tough competition, we managed to woo the crowd, but as the patrons started to trickle out, leaving only the local lounge singers to share microphone time with, we and ended up departing after a stunning rendition of Dream Weaver.


On came the weekend as did Los Angeles. Tinsel Town proved to be quite the destination, with its blue skies and abundance of palm trees and valet parking. Due to some fine hospitality, I was taken to some of the spots seen on TV including the Santa Monica Pier for margaritas, Venice Beach, Hollywood Blvd, Melrose and dinner at Sushi on Sunset, some tequila bar and then an Irish pub drinking with some guy who beat up Cameron Diaz's brother in the Something About Mary movie. Sunday proved to be an unusually clear LA day, so it was spent riding horses high up in the Hollywood Hills on a slow, old and stubborn stallion looking down on the City of Angels below and out to the Pacific.


December has been a busy month with the Christmas thing and all of the changes going on in the office. I had a brief, but nice visit from Ben Wheeler's sister, Jane, who replenished my diminishing Watties Baked Beans and Sausages supply and provided some fun company for the weekend.


Vegas and Los Angeles







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