Archive for category Worldwide Dan

New Product Alert: Gold Coke

I know that Brussels is very proud of its Manneken Pis fountain, but there’s gotta be a better way to promote your product in Belgium, Coke. There’s just gotta.


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I’ve become the worst blogger on the planet, obviously. Not only do I rarely post anymore, but it took me over a month to finally get this post together in order to regale anyone who will listen with my recent experience at the


It’s kind of a long one, but I gotta get it all out at once.

So to begin: due to the fact that I live a charmed life (and because I just happened to be going to the right place at the right time, continentally, and because I also happen to have very nice friends), I managed to get myself invited to the Tree of Life when it officially premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in May. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for a film-nerd/celebrity-whore/name-dropper like me.

Making the trip itself was a lot more difficult than I imagined, but my travel companion and I managed to find our way to Cannes, tuxedos in hand. And after stumbling blindly through the French Riviera, we finally procured what we were told were “the hottest tickets in town, even more so than ‘Pirates‘,” whatever that means.

Until the moment those tickets were in my grubby little hands, I never believed it was actually going to happen. But being in Cannes during the festival is an exciting experience whether or not you are attending any fancy screenings, so I didn’t sweat it too hard.

Unfortunately, my mind is a prisoner of logistics, so rather than anticipating the event with excitement, I mostly worried about how we were going to get to the theater, where we were going to park, how I was going to look in my battered tuxedo, what door we were supposed to enter through, and how I was going to document the whole experience when cameras where expressly forbidden. My stomach was in knots. Subsequently, I took more than my average share of bathroom breaks that day.

Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, don’t worry about parking or your scuffed up shoes. Ain’t nobody gonna be looking at your scuffed up shoes and parking is a breeze. You’ll relax more and poo less.

We did a dry run of the whole affair the day before, just to make sure our ducks were in a row, but that did little to soothe my nerves. Then I saw Rob Lowe. Not exactly the high-caliber celebrity-sighting I was anticipating, especially since I find him to be the least-interesting of all brat-packers, but considering the extent to which I’ve been enjoying Parks and Rec lately, it was an exciting enough experience to whet my appetite for the upcoming festivities.

Then on the actual day of the event, we safely arrived at the theater two hours early, which afforded us the opportunity to grab a nerve-soothing martini at the bar across the street. At this point, a drinkipoo was in my belly, my cares were behind me, and I was ready to party.

Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, leave time for TWO pre-premiere martinis.

Then it became time to make our way to the theater. The tickets were very clear about two things: get into the theater by 6:40 and be wearing a tuxedo or you won’t be getting in at all, and don’t even think about bringing a camera or you would be duly executed on the spot. So I crotched a camera with very little intention of actually using it, and we headed toward the theater entrance around 6:15.

I had assumed we would be entering the event through the side-door, or some appropriately modest entrance for nobodies, but the signs guided us toward a security check-point which led us down a long walkway which was lined on either side by excited gawkers who were hoping to catch a glimpse of anyone more exciting than me. But I took it in stride and relished in the undeserved attention.

But when we got closer to the theater, we realized we were being funneled onto the red carpet, and I panicked. First of all, I was positive we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and that we were definitely not supposed to be anywhere near the red carpet (and that we were sure to be banished from the event the moment my discount tuxedo breached its border). Second, there was absolutely no one else on the red carpet at the time except for hundreds of professional photographers and paparazzi who lined it on both sides.

My brain immediately went into survival mode, and I thought to myself, “Just look straight ahead, walk fast, and act like you’re supposed to be here. You’ll be inside the theater in no time, and all trespasses will be forgiven.” The empty red carpet looked like it was the length of ten football fields, so I held my breath and took off on a speed-walk — heels up and elbows out — like a middle-aged mom on a treadmill. A few camera-flashes flared from photographers who were probably mistaking me for an ugly version of that Grey’s Anatomy actor, but I was unfazed and resisted the distraction, keeping my speed at just short of a sprint. It was probably the fastest and most determined-looking red-carpet-walk any of them had ever seen.

Finally within the refuge of the theater, we found our seats and sat down to watch the big screen, which depicted a live view of the very same red-carpet I had just left in the dust. It was then that I realized that everyone already in the theater had watched my nervous sprint down the red carpet. I also realized that ALL of the other average joes attending this event were walking down the red carpet. We hadn’t taken a wrong turn after all. And not only that, practically everyone had ignored the no-camera warning, and they were all strolling down the red carpet taking pictures of each other and enjoying the experience like they had no cares in the world.

Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, don’t rush the experience and don’t worry about getting kicked out. You can probably hide your camera in a less-awkward orifice. Also: don’t show up so early. That’s what loner losers do.

Once you’re inside, they don’t let you exit the theater, so I couldn’t even try to recreate the experience for my crotched camera. And by that time the really big celebrities were showing up, so the red carpet was off limits. We saw Gwen Stefani (and her has-been rocker husband), Jude Law, Faye Dunaway, Sean Penn, and Brad Pitt. And then Angeline Jolie showed up. The collective gasp from inside the theater was deafening, and she wasn’t even in the movie. It’s like she was hovering two feet above the red carpet. We could only watch it on the screen with stars in our eyes.

When the celebrities finally entered the actual theater, the rest of the attendees went a little ape-sh!t. Everyone mobbed their seats, snapping photos and shrieking with delight. Follow-the-rules-danny was still scared to take out his hidden camera, but after hundreds of people had shoved their cameras into Sean Penn’s face with no reprimand whatsoever, I finally mustered the courage to snap a few quick ones that turned out to be monumentally disappointing, to say the least:

Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, forget about bringing a camera after all. You’re too short to get any good pictures anyway.

Pictures or not, I sat in the same row as Angeline Jolie: only 13 seats and one aisle away. Unfortunately, closer to me — in the very next seat, actually — was a tarted-up trollop in a wildly inappropriate dress who was text-messaging for the entire movie, except for when she would pause to roll her eyes and sigh audibly, as if she couldn’t stand having to sit in the theater watching Brad Pitt not take his shirt off.

And then the movie was over and the celebrities exited in a blur of sequins and satin and we were left with an empty red carpet. So we attempted to recreate the amazing experience for the camera, but somehow we ended up with a photo that looks even more fake than if I had actually faked it:

But luckily, we were also invited to an exclusive after party: an opportunity to redeem ourselves and to fully take advantage of the amazing opportunity we had been given! Unluckily, I am a stupid low-class schmuck, and I didn’t realize that anybody who’s anybody doesn’t show up to a Cannes afterparty until 3:00am at the earliest.

We got there at 9:30.

Not that it was a bad party by any means, but we didn’t know anybody there. We had been given eight free drink tickets but we blew through those in 20 minutes and the bar didn’t seem to be taking cash. Every once in a while a celebrity like Jane Fonda would walk in and the crowd would go wild… until he/she was escorted to a prohibited roped-off area never to be seen again.

Worst of all, we had a flight early the next morning, so my logistics-addled mind was starting to seize again. How would we ever get up early enough to catch our flight, what with staying out this late? How long would it take us to get to the airport in this foreign city? What if I couldn’t find a gas station on the way to the rental-car return? They would charge me an arm and a leg!

So at 1:00am, we left the party, pushing our way out through a throbbing crowd who were begging to get in. At that point a sane danny would have thought, “Hey wait, if all these people are desperate to gain entrance to this party, perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to leave?” but the real danny was more concerned with conceptualizing a morning schedule that would get them to the airport two hours prior to departure.

The next morning we discovered that all the movie stars arrived at the party around 3:00am, and that the lines between the roped-off area and the general hoi-polloi were probably significantly blurred by then, meaning my one and only chance to rub elbows with Brangelina had come and gone while I was sleeping. Or not sleeping as it were, since I laid awake all night worrying about whether or not the weight of my luggage would cause any issues upon check-in.

Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, just plan on not sleeping. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity ferchrissakes. Also: you need to learn how to pack lighter. Do you really need all those neckties and that neti-pot?

All in all, we really screwed the pooch with how we handled the whole event. But it wasn’t our fault. We didn’t know what to expect or how to act or what to do or where to go, and frankly, we were a bit out of our element. But still, it was probably the awesomest thing that I’ve ever been fortunate enough to experience. I got to walk (run) the red carpet at Cannes, after all. But just imagine if I had not been a panicked little worrywort? I could be besties with Brad by now.

Oh well. No regrets are to be had, and if I were to be entirely honest, I would have to admit that it probably couldn’t have gone any smoother.

Note to Future Dan: If you are ever fortunate enough to get invited to the Cannes Film Festival again, accept the fact that you are not worthy, and then forget about it and go with the flow. Also: maybe schedule your outbound flight for a couple days later, because you obviously don’t travel well.

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Swimming with Sharks

I’ve been gone. From both the blogosphere and Minnesota. I sold my house and have been trying to buy a new one and the process is astoundingly awful and drawn out, in the middle of which I went to Hawaii and swam with the sharks:

When the lady said, “Anyone who wants to swim with the White Tips, follow me this way,” I didn’t realize that White Tips were sharks. Sure, they are smaller, docile creatures who seemed more interested in burying their heads in the ocean floor than eating the fleshy part of my thigh, but being an Icthyophobe, I got the hell out of there as soon as I realized what I was looking at. Eff that.

I’m surprised I even got in the ocean in the first place, considering I had sworn off snorkeling when I saw them drag a dead snorkeler out of the surf and onto the beach on a previous Hawaiian adventure. “That guy’s hardcore!” we all remarked as we saw him strutting out into the ocean on his own with nothing but a snorkel mask and some flippers. A few minutes later, he wasn’t so hardcore anymore. Unexpected deaths can cast a pall over your entire vacation if you’re not careful, so you gotta keep them to a minimum.

Anyway, I’ll blog all about my trip, my shark adventure, my old-house-selling and my new-home-buying woes, as well as everything else as soon as I can get myself and my soiled swimsuit sorted out.

In the meantime, here are some more grody fishies.

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The Sound of Little House on the Music

I’ve been combing through my videos of New Zealand in an effort to put together a vacation montage with which I can torture my friends and relatives. It’s mostly just quick pans of beautiful scenery, but then I came across this forgotten oddity, which apparently started out as a recreation of the closing credits from Little House on the Prairie and then in the middle somehow morphed into my own personal adaptation of The Sound of Music.

I’m not sure either recreation was entirely successful, but the mountains of New Zealand sure are beautiful, and I can’t believe I was able to run uninterrupted for that long without throwing up. Or falling down. Or passing out.


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I’m Back

And I got about a gazillion pictures to share for those who care:



Animal Encounters

I got up close and personal with a koala today. I had myself a little bonding time with a marsupial named Irwin at the Taronga Zoo today:

A little less up close and personal was my encounter with a ginormous elephant ding dong. And don’t act like you aren’t interested in viewing this video. If you aren’t at least moderately curious about elephant genitalia, then you aren’t human.

If you listen closely at the end of the video, you can hear a woman next to me say “That would make for a fun night,” and the another one reply, “Yeah I know, tell me about it.” Aussies scare me.



A Wee Reminder

Apparently I’ve gone right past being fearful of driving on the wrong side of the road in New Zealand to being overzealous, because today I was given a “wee reminder not to speed,” otherwise known as a $170 speeding ticket:

I don’t know how $170 could ever be considered “wee,” and I was lucky that the nice constable didn’t clock me 30 seconds earlier, as the results may have been even more dramatic, but still, it was not exactly a fun way to end an otherwise fabulous vacation. If $170 is “wee reminder not to speed,” as Mr. Hot Fuzz stated it was, then I’m afraid to know what a “substantial” reminder not to speed might be. I’m assuming decapitation is involved.


Trampin’ It Up

The last couple days I’ve been tramping all over Mount Cook, which means “hiking” in New Zealandease. This is the view from the hotel room, which is totally awesome but reminds me a ton of the Overlook in the The Shinging. Probably just because it’s near a mountain and all creepy and stuff, because my brain really does work that simple:

We tramped all over this joint today. Seriously, it took like seven hours and man are my muslces aching:

I was all active and stuff. I don’t think i’ve been this fit in years.

I only fell down hard thrice. Once, in a river:

My shoes and socks and feet are all gross and wet and smelly but I don’t give a fig. This place is amazing, but at this point I am sick to shit of it, mostly because of the CRAPPY INTERNET ACCESS that I just paid 4 bucks per minute for and ain’t worth a fig.

I know I’m in a foriegn country because i just used the word “fig” twice in one post, and because there are a million asians around me right now.



New Zealand Update

Two days ago was Glacier day, where we toured glaciers. Yesterday was Winery day, where we went to (probably too many) wineries. Both days ruled:

Then today was a 12 hour coach ride to the Milford Sound, and I can tell you that in New Zealand, rainbows, glaciers, and waterfalls are a dime a dozen:

Fer real, New Zealand. Ain’t you got anything else to show me?

Honestly, though, it’s pretty awesome here, everywhere and all the time.

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Puzzling World

Like I said in the previous post, sometimes you need a break from mountains and waterfalls and rainbows and Lord of the Rings. So we went to Puzzling World.

You know the type of place. They had one of those rooms that has the slanted floor where things that should be rolling downhill are rolling uphill. This is the same room that makes dan want to barf.

But they did have this awesome room, although dan doesn’t tend to like any illusion that makes him look ginormous:

Puzzling, indeed.

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Dan Rocks Your World

Get it? Rocks?

New Zealand style.

Right now I am staying overnight in a B&B in Wanaka, which basically means that I am staying in my Gramma’s bedroom on the other side of the planet. Seriously, you should see this bedspread. Tomorrow it’s off to the birthplace of the Bungee Jump, but I will most likely be passing on that adventure.



Random Pretty

It turns out that New Zealand is indeed very Lord of the Ringsy when you get to the west coast. Here are some random pics I’ve taken of pretty New Zealand things in the last couple days:



Dance Machine

Kiwi wedding receptions are remarkably similar to American ones: dan gets sopping wet with sweat and dances like an epileptic cheerleader.

Although they are lovely people, it’s probably a good thing I will never see most of them again because I am mortified by my own behavior…

The wedding itself was beautiful and up on a hill in the middle of a valley and surrounded by mountain peaks, but those pics will have to wait until I have time to sort them all out.

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Driving Down Under

My biggest fear of going to New Zealand was driving on the wrong side of the road. I’ve been told that to be politically correct, you need to call it the “left” side of the road and not the “wrong” side of the road, but since driving on the “left” side of the road truly doesn’t make any sense and is indeed the “wrong” side by anyone’s definition, I don’t feel too bad about being politically incorrect about it. Plus, American’s still don’t use the metric system, so we are equal offenders when it comes to sticking with stupid traditions that make no sense.

Anyway, so I was terrified to drive on the wrong side of the road, so I asked the seemingly kind lady at the car rental counter if she had any tips for me, and she laughed a little too heartily and then said with all seriousness, “Don’t die or kill other people, like the last guy…”

Thanks, lady.

But it hasn’t really been so bad on the road yet, since there really is only one road and it only has too lanes. I’ve just been trying to make as few right turns as possible.

No deaths, yet.


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Stags & Hens

The impetus for my Kiwi vacation is the wedding of a friend, for whom I had to help organize a Kiwi bachelor party. Except apparently in New Zealand they are exclusively called Stag Parties, so nobody knew what I was talking about when the Evite mentioned Bachelors and such. But regardless, I did my best and I made commemorative T-shirts and buttons (or “badges” in New Zealand) for the event, and we went lawn-bowling and Mexican-food-eating.

The proud Stag:

He was less impressed with my buttons and badges and more disappointed that there were no nipple tassels planned for the evening. He didn’t mention whether he wanted a stag or a hen to be wearing the nipple tassels, so I very nearly wore some myself, but unfortunately I had accidentally left my set at home.



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