Apropos understatement: I inadvertently caused great offence in NYC once by using that classic Kiwi compliment, "not bad". They do have irony in New York, but not deadpan. NZ litotes vs NY overstatement is a recipe for culture clash. A colleague has similar stories of discovering that if you describe your golf or tennis skills as "all right" or "ok" you are not supposed to then thrash your fellow players - it's not modesty, it's cheating. Or something.
The NZ Trade guy in the Conchords is close to perfect :-)
(NZTE are also brilliant...)
in real life, I mean.
You get more Kiwi culture in NYC than I do in Warkworth!
Party like it's 1999 Jolisa!
Watch out for the hangover but. In my experience the wee `uns have personal space and volume issues which can make it difficult having a nice long wallow in self-pitying blobbiness.
Hope you don't end up making play dough animals and whimpering alot.
When my wife goes out on the lash she always says she feels like an undercover agent and that any moment someone will *out* her as a Mum and demand she leaves .. or something.
Conchords are awesome. I was completely unaware of their genius until 45 minutes ago (just watched the pilot). Sweet.
So glad they're doing well, those Conchord chappies. Had seen that song they did on Letterman before, live, and still had a good old chuckle. Love them.
Reading your post I was thinking about the nature of kiwi ex-pat community ... and how it may be a generational thing - my experience of moving to the US didn't involve grand gatherings of wonderfull kiwis, in fact it didn't involve many gatherings of kiwis at all .....
My first year there I met 1 kiwi - an older gay guy on a bus in SF - he was very disdainfull of NZ, well shut of the place, and somewhat of us as noobs .... given that it was 1984 and the very day before we'd left Marilyn Waring had crossed the floor and voted with Labour eventually bringing down Muldoon and the (for good or bad) societal changes that followed he was probably right to feel that way.
The only gatherings of Kiwis I can honestly say I attended were both showings of 'Patu!' the movie about the Springbok tour - the first at the PFA a small theatre on the UC Berkeley campus - there were older people behind me who couldn't understand how this could have been happening in the NZ they remembered .... felt it was staged .... having lived it it was a very different vibe. The second was in the old UC Theatre (just before the Rocky Horror show) - a full sized theatre - there's a scene where Muldoon comes on - somewhere up the back someone started hissing, it was taken up by several people around the room
That was it, my sole experience of groups of Kiwis in the US for the first 15 years I lived there .... people somewhere in darkened theatres
I think for the current generation of people doing their OE things have changed - the 'net makes everyone more connected, they can find each other in among the masses .... the crowd of somewhat younger Aussies I go to Burning Man with have all stayed connected and even congregated as a result, and in fact Burning Man is probably the only really kiwi group thing I've done in the US - there the kiwis have gotten their act together and meet and 'pub crawl' every year
Speaking of F.O.C, they really must have made it, when I went to Salon today the "ad you must watch if you are too cheap to man up for the premier content" was for their HBO special. I actually watched the whole ad, for the first time ever at Salon, after years of reading it. So there is something to this kiwi patriotism thing I guess.
I noticed that - they've been getting big plugs around the Sopranos on HBO too (or at least were when I was visiting last month)
Interview with the lads by Salon
Review from Slate:
Stephen, I hear you on the dangers of understatement in a culture that values the opposite, and vice versa. I am constantly overcorrecting myself here (everything is brilliant, fantastic, amazing; all is possible, the sky's the limit; it's almost a crime to express doubt about anything).
Then once back in NZ, you have to overcompensate in the other direction (things are pretty good, not perfect, we wouldn't want to get ahead of ourselves or anything). It's a bit exhausting. And when I say a bit, I suppose I mean quite a lot.
One thing I think o'seas NZers really excel at, and that works in their favour in the big self-promoting cities of the world -- and of course my last post was a perfect example of it -- is the art of name-dropping, semi-innocent or fully conscious. "Oh yeah, I know him/went to school with her/was in a band with them" -- never fails to get a "wow" or a "yeah right" from non-NZers...
...at least until they figure out there's really only a few hundred of us, all related to each other, and operating under several thousand aliases each.
Party like it's 1999 Jolisa!
I did my best! And how clever of you to work out that I was indeed a sixth-former as recently as <cough>1999 <splutter>. Yes indeed. Before these children came along and artificially aged me.
Hey Paul, that depiction of the old-school OE is fascinating - especially the sadly hilarious image of only meeting up with other New Zealanders while rustling around in dark rooms, which rather put me in mind of the kiwi house at Otorohanga. Or of the inefficient mating habits of kakapo, booming at each other from one isolated mountain valley to the next, but never actually meeting face to face.
I guess maybe the godwit *is* the better image for the current migration -- we definitely seem to move in flocks these days and you're right, the web is to blame or to thank. Makes it so much easier to organize events and spread the word, and to keep an oar in back home. Even in the (gasp, can it be this long) nearly fourteen years I've been out of the country, it's fundamentally changed the nature of being away, and how it feels to be a New Zealander.
One thing I don't know if I'll ever get a chance to test is, has it changed the nature of going back? Paul, how does it look from your end these days? And how are your kids finding life at the other end of the world from where they grew up?
To be honest I should add there was one other place I'd meet Kiwis, or at least hear kiwi accents - on the ski slopes at Tahoe - in the 90s there would always be kiwi snow-kids running the rope tows and serving at the lunch counters - never got to meet any though.
Other ex-pats I've met have mentioned the same experience of sitting in the departure lounge on the way back home straining to listen in to other's conversations just to listen to the familiar accent ....
Now we're back in NZ we're very happy - the kids love being in NZ and have adapted really well to school (over 2 years now) - my son is sitting NCEA this year (and thankfully not staring down the SATs next year) for all the fuss after actually reading up on how NCEA works i don't have a problem with it - I think the main problem is that the complexity throws parents off while the kids seem to understand it.
Still the kids do see themselves as American too, living in the US in the future seems to still be in their future world view - but that may be because we've taken them to see the larger world and broken down a lot of the scariness about travel and given them permission to do it which was part of our goal - potential downside is that we'll end up with a family spread across the world
Slightly back on topic - saw the FoC on HBO last night (I'm on a biz trip in Seattle - this I've already spent almost 2 months off and on this year staring at the walls of the same Comfort Suites room, or its mirror inverse) - they were great - the bits that were stolen from the radio show sort of jarred, but only because I've heard them before - I do hope the dead-pan will play here - Sunday night is a great slot for them to have