Wednesday, December 31, 2008



I think I just had the single most amazing year of my life.

In 2008, I:

- Completed an awesome internship with an actual production company and got a nice taste of “city” life.* The light and mostly fun workload, combined with the laid-back mood of Winter Term also made it one of the best months of my time in college.

- Watched the first one of my friends my age get married.

- Had one of the best weekends of college when Stephanie and Ashley came to visit and we got to see Elon’s amazing all-out production of Phantom of the Opera.

- Spent my spring break traveling all the way down to Mississippi, a state I had never been to before, on a mission trip to rebuild hurricane-devastated areas.

- Made something like a dozen new amazing videos, a few of which I posted the other day.

- Watched Bill Clinton stump for his wife** at Elon and tell us how North Carolina was “Clinton Country.”

- Watched North Carolina be the state to finally end Hillary’s chances of winning the Presidency while covering a rally for future Governor Bev Perdue, whom I got to help interview.

- Wrapped up an amazing four years at Elon with an epic but surreal farewell weekend and graduation ceremony.

- Uprooted myself for the eighth time in four years and moved back home.

- Slowly rotted away at home as I applied for nearly 200 jobs and got literally about five non-automated responses over five months.

- Went on an amazing family cruise to Bermuda***

- Uh…saw The Dark Knight?

- Had and ended what was certainly the most interesting relationship that I’ve ever been in.

- Watched my bank (Wachovia) drive itself to near-collapse and get bought out.

- Went on a shocking and memorable mission trip with my church to freshly hurricane-devastated parts of Texas, which I took video footage of (and still need to edit).

- Learned that the (non-religiously affiliated) camp where I had stayed during the earlier mission trip had closed because the owners were being investigated for embezzling donation money to the tune of half a million dollars.

- Visited my grandmother and toured our nation’s Capital. The actual Capital Building, not the entire city.

- Watched Obama win the election and, more importantly, continue my Cal Ripken Jr.-like streak of picking the winning President going.

- Learned that I had finally secured the job in American Samoa for certain just in time to get to tell everyone at Homecoming about it.

- Went to my first Homecoming as an Alumni.

- Uprooted myself for the ninth time in just over four years and moved to AMERICAN FREAKING SAMOA!

- Spent a weekend in Las Vegas

- Started an entirely new job and life here on The Rock.

- Survived my first monsoon.

- Spent my first Thanksgiving and Christmas apart from my family.

- Learned that my iPhoto albums are a great way to look over the past year.

An amazing year, even with five months of doing almost nothing. The best part is that there’s at least a page of things to say about every item above.

Yeah, wow indeed.

*If you can call Greensboro a city.

**Somehow, that phrase sounds dirty.

***Possibly the island quasi-nation least like the island quasi-nation that I’m currently living on.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I May be Getting a Lump of Irony for Christmas...

It seems that I am spending my Christmas Eve downloading, editing, and burning to DVD the messages of several Samoan soldiers to their loved ones back here. The ironic part is that those soldiers are in North Carolina and saying how much they could be here with their families for Christmas. Wow.

In case you're wondering, they're in Fort Bragg. Weirdly enough, I was just there a few weeks before leaving while working on a freelance documentary shoot.

Christmas on the Edge of the Earth

Christmastime has come to the Rock, and it’s not even on a two-week tape delay! It’s very strange to be celebrating Christmas a) in 87-degree weather b) without my family. But I found a nice place where you can rent a family for a few days, so I’ll be okay, but it won’t be quite the same. I’ll be staying with a family from my church that happens to have a few kids my age who are coming home from college in Texas for Christmas break. It won’t be the same, but it should be pretty good (even if they don’t have any air conditioning).

People really go all-out for Christmas. I have some really incredible pictures of some awesome all-out elaborate light displays, but I can’t post them because I still have no Internet at home. Thanks, Blue Sky(1)! There’s also a really awesome music-and-light show in the area that I got to see. I just remembered for about the 5th time in two weeks that we were supposed to film that for TV, but forgot.

I was also lucky enough to get two boxes that my family sent that were full of Christmas presents and junk mail. I’m really excited about opening the presents. Somehow, I’ve developed enough willpower to keep from opening them early without anyone around to stop me. There’s also one more box headed my way with the biggest present, but I don’t know if it will get here in time or not. There’s actually a possibility that it arrived on the plane Sunday night and hadn’t been delivered to the post office by the time we last checked on Monday afternoon(2).

Anyway, it’s an eye-bleedingly late 10:30 PM here, so I need to get to bed. But I’d like to add a bit about how the car search is going. I originally planned on getting a moped, but quickly learned that it’s a terrible idea because A) It rains cats and dogs here frequently.(3)B) There are big spots on my street that flood easily and frequently due to all this rain, and I don’t think a moped can get through them very easily. One in street-lagoon in each direction, actually. Pictures once I get the chance. C) I like to be able to carry equipment with me, and not just letting it stick out of a bag on the side. D) I like to be able to carry passengers with me, and not just sticking out of a bag on the side. For those of you who were looking forward to hearing about me driving a vehicle as awesomely dorky as a moped, don’t be discouraged! After waiting way too long to get the basic info on a truck that was sold without me even seeing it, I have come across, and I am not making this up, an old pickup truck with blue flame decals and no stereo! ROCK ON!

P.S. I should also like to add that I referred to American Samoa as “the Edge of the Earth” in the title, because that’s where it appears on most world maps. That is, when it’s not cut off entirely(4).

(1)The latest on that is that they told me late last week that I was 13th on the list and that they try to get 5 houses done in a day. I may have it connected before Christmas, but only if they do installs on Christmas Eve and haven’t gotten behind.
(2)That would be normal here.
(3)Which is why there are so many stray animals running around!
(4)I’m looking at YOU, Where I’ve Been map on Facebook!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You're in luck!

I have a lot more rendering to wait on, so here's a few of the commercials and things that I made:

V103 Coconut Promo

V103 Seashell Promo

Video Plaza Ad

Not quite as great as the others, but worth watching. Shoulda used some lav mics and professional-grade lighting.

And here are my pictures from Las Vegas.


Hi Everyone,

I still have no internet in my apartment. Blue Sky, the telecommunications company, originally promised to install it around the third of December, then sometime last week, and now by the end of this week. Perhaps I shouldn’t have paid my first month’s bill in advance. We shall see.

After calling them and getting blown off several times, I finally learned that they don’t have enough equipment to go around, and that they will have to repossess the internet satellite dish and special router power supply of some people who moved off-island or couldn’t/didn’t pay the $80 a month, and give one to me. Supposedly this will be done by the end of this week. We shall see.

The worst part about it may be that the only alternative provider is ASTCA, the American Samoa Telecomin…Something I’m Too Tired to Care. Which is not only my current mood but what their attitude to customer service probably is. They also provide all of the landline phone service to everyone on the island. I was recently talking to a guy who was trying to sell me a car with a cracked windshield and suddenly the phone started ringing in the middle of our conversation and I found myself talking to a very confused woman who only spoke a language that I want to guess was Korean.[1]

Back to getting the Internet. It’s a perfect example of just how slow everything moves here compared to the mainland. A more literal example is traffic. You know how no matter where you go, there’s always some idiot in front of you going five miles under the speed limit? That happens here too, except the speed limit is generally 25. And there’s one road for most of my commute. And there’s no passing allowed on it. Yeah. But I still don’t have a car, so I’m not driving much.

I guess one way to look at it is that you just have to be really patient. Fortunately, I’m an extremely patient guy. I have ADD, which means that without my meds, I have the attention span of a fruit fly.[2] Which means that, outside of my medicated hours of roughly 8AM-7PM weekdays, I move pretty slowly, especially with the unimportant things. So in order to live with myself, I have grown pretty darned patient.

Anywho, I’m really enjoying my new job and am making lots of great commercials, promos and whatnot, a few of which I’ve posted on YouTube. I’d leave you a link, but that’s impossible with a Flash Drive Delay. I also finally got the chance to throw together a picture album on Facebook that everyone can see, but again, I can’t link to it without the Internet handy. Maybe if you’re lucky, I can throw the links in when I post this tomorrow, like I did with that link last week.

(1} Just for the record, I don’t use a landline phone. Blue Sky provides my cell phone service, and while not perfect, it’s generally pretty good.

[2] Now you understand why I keep having all these side-notes and parentheticals!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Remember how I said it was raining hard?

700 AM SST MON DEC 08 2008









In other words, it's raining really hard. Riding to work today in Joey's yellow VW Bug was like traveling in a yellow submarine. A lot of places in the roads were flooded up to the curbs.

I've talked to a lot of my co-workers, and they say that this is worse than normal, but not the worst they've ever seen. I'll be fine.

In other news, I've lost all faith in, which lists the weather here as "Mostly Cloudy" and says that there has been no rain here in the past 6 hours. The flooded parking lot begs to differ.

Island Television

There is a certain idea about TV that I always thought was really cool. It’s that once a show has been broadcast, the signal keeps traveling forever, and that people in other galaxies are getting to watch The Honeymooners for the first time today. It was the subject of a Pete & Pete episode and a really good urban legend where it seemed that an advanced antenna in England was picking up signals from a station in Texas that no longer existed.

Maybe it’s true. Maybe it isn’t. But at any rate, that sort of thing happens here all the time. Nearly all the TV here is on a two-week tape delay. Some of it was taped in Honolulu, some of it comes from Seattle. I recently heard that they were recently switching it to Seattle, but I don’t know if it will be all the channels or only some of them. I can’t imagine why they picked Seattle, other than that they get to carry HOLY CRAP IS IT EVER RAINING HARD Seahawks games, and there appears to be a lot of fans of there’s here. I think they have a Samoan player or something.

Anyhow, watching TV here on almost any channel is like looking into the past. When I got here about three weeks ago, almost all of the news shows were discussing the Obama victory as if it happened yesterday, for obvious reasons. But in a much weirder vein, one of the very first things I saw after hooking up my TV was the App State-Wofford game, which I had attended in person at least two weeks prior. I was so weirded out that I took several pictures of the screen. There was a lot of televised déjà-vu the first two weeks that I was here.

These channels are referred to professionally as “on a tape delay,” but I like to refer to them as “The Phantom Channels.” I’ve been watching a lot of Phantom Comedy Central since I’ve been here. Although I’ve watched enough to notice that it’s not running on a tape delay of exactly two weeks; it can vary a bit. Right now it appears to be on a tape delay of two hours and 15 minutes shy of two weeks. So shows that are supposed to come on Sunday at 6 PM come on somewhere around Sunday at 3:45 PM. In other words, there is no “appointment viewing” as it’s known in the industry. Phantom TV is just for flipping on and enjoying potluck programming when you feel like it.

There are a few exceptions, namely local TV channels, CNN International, and ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company). I know a bit about ABC because I had to do a presentation on it in college. Under Aussie culture-protecting laws, Australian TV has to be somewhere around 80% domestically produced content. Which means they have nothing worth watching, beyond some of the news coverage. CNN international is pretty good. I’m a pretty big news junkie, and CNNi doesn’t mess around with endless stories about celebrity gossip or missing white teenagers, unlike their mainland counterpart. I also have two or three channels entirely in Asian languages, one of which I think is MTVAsia.

That brings us to local TV. It consists of KVZK 2, 4, and 5, The Island Music Channel/Island TV, The Island Info Channel, a similar channel provided by the cable company, and K11UU.*
KVZK is actually owned by the Government of American Samoa (Henceforth referred to as GAS), and is probably the best thing that they do. The first TV station came here in the 1960s under Dep. of the Interior-appointed Governor H. Rex Lee** for educational purposes. There was such a shortage of good teachers willing to work here that the TV tower was set up on top of Mount Alavalava so that a single teacher could instruct every classroom on the island at once through the magic of the boob tube. At some point in the late 70s or early 80s, it was deemed no longer necessary, and the island switched to more conventional student-teacher ratios.
As far as I know, that’s how KVZK began. Today they carry, according to Wikipedia, three signals, KVZK-2, KVZK-4, and KVZK-5, and I think it might actually be through the same tower, which might actually be the original one constructed in the early 60s. But then again, that same article says that the station that I work for is currently and NBC affiliate, which won't be true for several more months. If I ever learn differently, I’ll let you know. They mostly show mainland network programming on a tape delay, complete with the local commercials from either Honolulu or Seattle, with the KVZK station ID randomly stuck in once in a while. But I saw them give a little bit of live coverage on the night of the runoff election for Governor the first week I was here. This was complete with actual people telling us the latest results, when it wasn’t automatically switching back to video of the Pacific Arts Festival, which happened back in August. It's also worth mentioning that KVZK is not administered by the FCC, but by the Department of the Interior, which is a big deal to people in TV.

But a lot more people watch their shows than ours, as our channels are cable-only. There is a population here of about 60,000 people, and only around 5,000 households that subscribe to cable. While your average Samoan household seems to have around 127.3 people living in it*, it’s not quite as big as it seems, and there are a lot of people without cable and therefore can’t watch us.

Our channels consist of Channel 10, which plays music videos most of the day as The Island Music Channel. Around primetime it becomes Island Television, and brings everyone the freshest of syndicated shows, like MacGyver, Walker Texas Ranger, Northern Exposure, The West Wing, Baywatch, and the first two seasons of The Office. My first week of working here mainly consisted of chopping up The A-Team for the commercial breaks. We've only been showing real shows for about three months, so the majority of the people that I talk to don't even know it. We have plans to begin broadcasting on Channel 30 in the not-too-distant future, and then to pick up and NBC affiliation around the middle of next year, after a fiber-optic cable to the island is finished.

Our other channel is Channel 13, which is The Island Info Channel. It mostly runs still ads (both still pictures and silent video), PSAs, and automated weather and news info. We recently introduced a new thing to it, called Pothole of the Week, where we, uh…feature a new pothole every week. The idea is to put pressure on GAS**** to fix a few of those things. During that runoff election, we used the Info Channel to show the latest results, which I typed in and published. That makes it the first time I’ve covered and election for a real news organization! W00t!

Pacific Island Cable also runs a channel that’s almost exactly the same, but really using PowerPoint, complete with that “End of Slideshow, Click to Exit” message.****** They show random pictures of past events and organizations, along with still ads that they receive no payment for, other than getting on the good side of their “sponsors,” I guess for when they need people to buy ads on some of their satellite-feed shows. This same channel runs on every channel that I don’t get. For example, it runs on channel 22, which is HBO, which I don’t pay for. When I first flipped through the channels, I thought that Samoans must really love their PowerPoint channels or something.

They show a few live things that they snag off of a satellite feed. I don’t really know exactly how often they do this or if they have a separate channel for this, but they do it at least fairly often. On Thanksgiving I saw a football game that they had snagged live from the Armed Forces Network. The AFN discovered that they were doing this a while back, and told them that they could do it as long as they put in their own commercials. So PI Cable put together a DVD of five or six TV commercials that constantly plays. When an AFN commercial comes on, a guy who is never paying attention manually switches over to the DVD about a minute into the break and back about a minute after the game returns. It’s okay that we miss so many of their commercials, really. Let’s just say that all five of them get old quickly. Especially the one for Sherwin-Williams paint. It’s best that I don’t get started on that one. Let’s just say that I will never buy Sherwin-Williams paint until it has been proven that everyone responsible for that commercial has been rounded up and shot.

The last channel that anyone cares about is V11UU. You guessed it, it’s Channel 11. It’s actually run as a guy’s personal hobby, but is broadcast over the air. Last summer, the guy who ran it went on vacation and it went dark for a month. It’s technically an affiliate of a network dedicated to the Baha’i religion, although I’ve never seen any network programming on it, except for what he copies from Australian ABC. Which I guess is useful if you don’t have cable. I have been told that he has a discussion show from a Baha’I perspective, which involves cramming all three of his panelists into his studio, which consists of a two-person bench in front of a rug hanging on the wall. But once again, due to the fact that we're cable only, they have more viewers than us.

Well, that’s it for the TV here. I guess I had a lot more to say about it than I thought I did, probably because I work in TV and all. Tomorrow, they’re supposed to set up my Internet connection here in my apartment, so maybe I won’t have to make Phantom blog entries on a Flash Drive Delay anymore!

Next Time: What I’ve been up to, radio on the Rock (as this place is affectionately known), and what that has to do with my awkward neighbor.

*(yes, that’s their real call letters sign)
** The first, and possibly most recent, Governor of AmSam to actually care.
***People are always surprised when I tell them that I only have one sibling!
****No pun intended
*****Everyone is so darned professional here!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


NOTE: The number things are supposed to be footnotes, but I guess they didn't transfer from Word very well. They all correspond to a note at the bottom of the post.

Talofa lava[1] everyone,

I’ve finally gotten my laptop! Thanks, Mom and Dad! However, I apparently don’t have any internet here in my apartment just yet. Jeez, that’s just like getting your first paycheck and not being able to deposit it just yet, which has also happened.

I don’t have any internet because I apparently have to go down to the phone company and get it switched on (no easy task when you don’t have a car, work until 5:30, and they close at 6). Right now I’m typing this into a Word document that I’ll save to my flash drive and upload at work tomorrow. I can’t deposit my check just yet, because I’ve been told that the fastest way to get anything done at Bank of Hawai’i is to get there ten minutes before they open and be first in line when they open the door, due to lines. I picked this one over the other bank here, ANZ Amerika Samoa,[2] because they don’t have a reputation for losing customers’ money for weeks at a time. They also have all these amazing conveniences like online banking and debit cards that are actually issued in conjunction with major credit card companies, meaning that they are accepted at all 6 places on the island that take credit cards.

So yeah, where I work and who I work with: When people ask me where I work, I find myself getting stuck in this weird little conundrum that I used to get into when people at Elon asked me where I was from: I could give them an answer that was specific, or an answer that they understood. Back then I could say “Mooresville,” which led to them asking where that was, or I could say “North Carolina,” causing them to ask where in North Carolina I was from. Today I can say that I work for 93KHJ, the radio station that is #1 in the territory that is also owned by Larry and is based in the same office as me, but I really work for Island Television. If I say I work for Island Television, everyone assumes that I work for the cable company, or KVZK, the local tape-Honolulu-channels-and-rebroadcast-them-when-they-get-here-two-weeks-later TV stations.[3] Eventually, I figured out that the best answer for telling people where I was from was to say “Mooresville, North Carolina.” A solution for telling people where I work will show up eventually. Right now I’m going with “Make Island Television into a household name.”

The office is fairly small, located on the second and top floor of Pago Plaza, a combination mini micro-mall and office complex in “downtown” Pago Pago, the biggest city town in the territory and the capital. It holds the HQ of 93KHJ, the popular and first radio station in the territory to use the “Hot AC” format.[4] It’s also home to WVUV, a station that uses the “Polynesian” format. But I guess that Jamaica is now part of Polynesia, because they play a lot of Reggae as well. Who knew? Both of these stations get there own recording studio room. In between them is the office of Joey, my immediate boss and go-to-guy for whenever I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. There is a third office/recording studio that is mainly used for the radio news reporting, and then there’s the room that I work in, where most of the TV operations are conducted. Finally, there is the main room, which has the receptionist’s desk, something you might call a cubicle or two (but you’d be wrong), and the break room tables and couch. Not very big (the whole thing is smaller than then newsroom alone at Fox Charlotte, where I interned last summer), but more than comfortable and enough room to get the job done.

The people I work with are really great. Not one of them is at all hard to get along with. A few that stick out in my mind right away are Joey, Monica, Twinkle, and John. Joey has been very awesomely driving me to work and back almost every day and has been able to answer 99% of my questions about life on the island and has shown me around a bit. Monica does the radio news and is possibly the best-known person on the island that no one would recognize by sight. She is my “Island Mom” and has been taking really good care of me, taking me to get my cell phone activated, to the Community College play, and generally showing me around. Twinkle[5] is the station’s resident crazy character, and somehow works reception when the regular person, Sia, is out, DJs on weekends, and works at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, a fast-food franchisette owned by Larry, Joey, and someone I’ve never met. John is pretty awesome, but I’m just getting to know him. He co-hosts the morning show with Lupe (my other Island Mom), as well as The 411, a weekly public affairs talkshow that I’ll be taking over fairly soon. I should also mention Flora, who helps a lot with the more mundane parts of my job, like chopping up syndicated shows at the commercial breaks. I don't know how I'm going to get anything done after she leaves at the end of the year.

Well, it’s a blisteringly late 10:30 PM here, so I’m going to bed. Curse this real-world sleep schedule![6]

[1] “Hello to you,” I think.
[2] That’s how the spell the name of the Territory in Samoan. Also “ANZ” stands for “Australia New Zealand,” but is pronounced “A N Zed.”
[3] That’s really supposed to be “stations” with an s. There are really two stations here with the same call letters, KVZK-1 and KVZK-2. More on TV here another time.
[4] More or less pop music, as far as I know. But they have a live local morning show, local news, and play Funk on “Funky Friday.”
[5] She also goes by “Hobbit” and a rather long Samoan name that’s too hard to remember.
[6] Made you look!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


So, at last, I have some internet. That isn't mine. And nowhere near where I get to live. But at least I get to update my blog this once.

I just got back from an interesting new church just a few blocks from my apartment that captures all the multiculturalism of American Samoa. And by that, I mean that the services are both in English and Samoan, with a translator repeating everything that the English-speaking pastor says. After the service, I was invited out to lunch, and after lunch I was invited to come back to the pastor's house and use their internet. So I still can't send you any of the awesome pictures that I've taken, but the good news is that my computer is on it's way.

After staying up too late to write that last blog entry, I flew out of Vegas and to Honolulu for an expected layover of two hours, which ended up being about 20 minutes, and then more than an hour. The important thing here is that I had to run across the airport to find quick food on a Sunday, and then stay in a weird little "holding area" for passengers headed to Pago Pago that we couldn't leave once we entered. They ended up having to unexpectedly load a stretcher on the plane in order to fly a medical patient out of American Samoa, (Healthcare on the territory, while free, is rather sucktastic, and people that require treament off-island are shipped out for free, which is largely seen as being the best part). If you understood that, congratulations, you are probably smarter than the average employee of Hawaiian Airlines.

But sitting around that much longer wasn't all bad. I got to talk a little longer with a woman I had met just before the flight from Vegas. It turned out that her husband had recently left her, so she was returning to the island for the first time in about 15 years to live with her family for a few months. She was a very interesting person, even if she didn't quite understand that I wasn't going to be working in TV repair. I also met a nice couple who was going to fly down there for a job interview with the hospital, which could really use him. He also had an offer to work in Guam.
I slept through most of the next stage of my flight. We landed in Pago Pago and the first thing I noticed after the door opened was HOLY CRAP HUMID BLAST. We walked around to the baggage claim, where I got my bags, and awesome new stamp on my passport, and went through customs. The customs officer opened one of my two enormous bags, moved about three items on the top layer of my clothes, asked if I was carrying anything illegal or for business pruposes (no), how long I would be here & what I would be doing (around 3 years, working for KKHJ), looked at me like he didn't believe me, and let me through. I then went out and met Joey, my supervisor, and Twinkle, resident crazy character of the station, and her husband, who drove a truck big enough to carry both of my bags. I'm tired of typing in detail, so I'll get to some of the better parts.

My apartment: Amazing view of the mountains from the front porch (which I have pictures of that you can't see), fully furnised, except for a dresser, which I finally got yesterday (some assembly required), a "split" air conditioning, which means that there is one unit in the front half and another in the bedroom, the latter of which doesn't really work, two nice couches and all of the appliances except a toaster (already took care of that). It also features 8 different ceiling lights, all of which work on their own seperate switch.

After thinking that I would have to get my cell phone "unlocked" in order to make it work in a "forigen country" and discovering the hard way that the only guy on the island who can do this set his business hours to noon to 10 PM, according to a piece of paper stuck on the outside of his apartment door. But then he had scratched this out and changed his opening time to 1 PM, because noon was just too darned early. But later that same day, I discovered that it didn't really need unlocking, which saved me at least $20. Huzzah!

In other news, I still can't quite grasp the idea that I actually live on freaking tropical island in the South Pacific.

Next time: Where I work, who I work with, and the awesome projects coming to a TV not-so-near you.

EDIT: The link to the more-or-less complete history of the territory in the previous post said that women and commoners are not allowed to vote here. This is total BS and I have no idea where they got that from. Perhaps it has something to do with the Senate side of the territorial congress, where the Senators are picked by the tribal elders. But that's not even close to what that article said.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It starts...

And so, I have begun my Grand Samoan Adventure.

Even though I'm still on the U.S. mainland.

Right now I'm staying the weekend at my boss's (extremely nice) house in Las Vegas. In fact, you can see a picture or two of it on the website of my future immediate supervisor, which also includes quite a few shots of his original trip down there in 2004.

The flight over here was good. Except that while I was checking in and saying my goodbyes, my laptop fell off of the checkin counter, which I later discovered had cracked the screen. Today I shipped it to my dad, who is either going to get it fixed at this place he found online or send me an almost identical one that he found on eBay. So I guess this means that there is little chance of talking to me on Skype or me posting pictures until I get it back, which I'm guessing will take just over a week. Sorry, iFail.*

Things I've learned about Vegas that I didn't already know thus far:

-There are slot machines in the airport. Larry says they have bad odds.

-It's surrounded by beautiful mountains.

-They have In-N-Out Burgers here.

-Larry's family is really nice.


-That's it.

UPDATE: Larry has now shown me around town and it is awesome. I would show you pictures, but my computer is broken, and I'm not about to put them on the Fuss family computer. I also have awesome video of the fountain show in front of the Paris Hotel and the giant LCD screen show downtown. More when I have the pictures to show you.

But the good news is, I have plenty to tell everyone about where I'm headed. There are a lot of interesting things that I've already learned about American Samoa. It took long enough, but I finally found a more or less complete history of the territory. I would just like to point out that 1) John Williams, the first missionary to the island, was indeed eaten by cannibals, but not Samoans. 2) Holy crap, there is a lot of whining in the last two paragraphs about how the US government "smashed the Samoan way forever" when they brought in all kinds of foreign demon things like running water and electricity in an attempt to fix the standard of living there. My personal favorite part is where they say that the US introduced juvenile delinquency to the territory. You know, because kids there were perfectly behaved until that darned tuna cannery showed up! They also conviently left out how free health care was brought in, but I digress.

In reality, Samoans are still very much about preserving the fa'Samoa, or traditional Samoan way. Obviously it's less about wanting to live in a fale, or Samoan hut, and more about the language and culture. They hold a traditional Pacific Arts festival annually, as well as a tattoo festival. Larry also owns a radio station on the island that mainly plays Samoan music, which is very popular. I have been told by at least one Samoan already that a good story idea would be on the balance that modern Samoan youth try to find between being an American and a Samoan.

Since then, there have been a few moments where the rest of the world noticed the territory. In the 1920s, anthropologist Margaret Mead wrote her famous book, Coming of Age in Samoa, which is where I got the name of this blog. It became an international best seller, possibly because a lot of it was about sexual permissiveness among Samoan teenagers and brought much attention to Samoa and anthropology.

And then it turned out that all of that stuff about the sexual permissiveness was wrong. She had actually gotten all of her information from a small handful of Samoan girls who had been pulling her leg after being asked all kinds of crazy questions about whether part of the fa'Samoa was sleeping around. So this handful of teenage girls essentially fooled Mead and the millions of people all over the world who read her book with a bunch of dirty jokes.

This makes them awesome.

American Samoa was then ignored until it's modernization in the 60s, and then was written about in the 1970s book Tales from the Margaret Mead Taproom. It's by Gary Trudeau, author of the Doonesbury comics. Despite this, the book is actually funny.

Most recently, there was a bit on it last spring on The Colbert Report. You can watch it by clicking here and then scrolling 3/4 of the way down the page. Do it. It is awesome. It is also your prize for reading this entire entry.

More on what I'm actually doing once I actually get there.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Be Prepared!

Once I get to American Samoa, I'll begin writing about my life there in this blog. If you're lucky, I might even write an entry before I leave on November 14th. Stay tuned!*

*Haha, lame TV-related joke