Beauty and Brains! Culture, lifestyle, travel, and entertainment with a geeky twist for the living… and the undead. We discuss truly important issues… like what to wear to the Zombie Apocalypse… and food, health, home, relationships, personal development, and all the random things we California Zombies care about. It’s a zombified funfest here! Welcome!
It’s 2014. 2013 was a roller coaster… best of times, worst of times kinda stuff. Seems to be a common theme amongst folks we know.
Last year, we had massive fun, and felt massive pain… much forward momentum, and a few steps backward, too. We had amazing adventures, racked up many flight miles, danced, sang, laughed, and grew like crazy. And there just wasn’t enough time to get everything done we had planned.
But here we go, as we celebrate the societal construct of transition from one time marker to another, we look forward with anticipation, hope, wonder, and determination to the year to come. Alright – Let’s do this!!!
Happy New Year, Zombies!
Ah, how I love to travel!
One of my favorite places to visit is Fiji. It’s beautiful, warmly tropical & divinely humid, and with it’s self-sustaining abundance of fruits, vegetables, and coconuts, it’s a great place to be if/when the Apocalypse comes. (Fiji’s cannibal ancestors notwithstanding!)
It’s also a bit difficult to get to. Only a few airlines have direct from Mainland USA, Australia, or New Zealand flights, and then if you’re going to one of the outer islands, you’ll have to take a “puddle-jumper” or “Island Hopper” flight, which can be tricky to time connections since they don’t fly at night.
The most direct option in most cases is Fiji Airways, the recently rebranded and redecorated Air Pacific. There are flights 6 days a week from & to LAX, which is the route I fly. For many years, they’ve flown Boeing 747-400s leased from Singapore Airlines on the LAX-NAN route, back and forth, Tuesday through Sunday. As part of the new Fiji Airways, they’ve purchased some brand new Airbus A330-200s for use on that route to replace the 744s.
I’ve flown the old Boeing 747-400s many many times, and I LOVE the 744! I think it still is one of the best planes ever built. But knowing I had an upcoming flight on the A330-200 coming back from Fiji last week, I was looking forward to my first flight on the new plane, even though I’m not a fan of Airbus airplanes in general.
All New Fiji Airways A330-200 Planes in Fijian Style
The new Fiji Airways livery is lovely. The all new Airbus 330-200s are done up in a traditional feeling Fiji Masi design, with cream colored interiors and Fijian design pillows and blankets. It really brings the Fiji Island identity back to the airline from the run-of-the-mill tropical flower flavor of the old Air Pacific paint-job. I had high hopes for Fiji’s national airline and their new planes.
The FJ B747-400 has 458 seats (28 Business & 430 Economy), and the FJ A330-200 has 273 (24 Business & 249 Economy). That’s 185 fewer seats on routes that have often been full or nearly full, especially in high season… so one wonders, where are the 100-185 other daily passengers going? Other airlines, no doubt! Seems like a bit of bad management planning to me…
My dislike of Airbus was more than confirmed, sorry to say. Every Airbus plane I’ve been on has been rickety, noisy, and uncomfortable… and they’ve really perfected the cattle-car atmosphere with the new FJ A330s, regardless of the pretty seatcovers. Flying back from Nadi to Los Angeles on Fiji Airways last week was one of the most uncomfortable rides I’ve ever had.
FJ LAX-NAN Airbus A332 Seat Pitch & Recline
The service from the Fijian Flight Attendants is friendly and warm, as you would expect given the wonderful Fijian culture. The 7.5″ recline on the A330 is great. Except that with a 31″ seat pitch, it means that when reclined, the seatback in front of you will overlap your seat, and the passenger in front of you will have their head basically in your lap the whole way. And when the tray tables are down, you are virtually immobilized.
It also means you won’t be able to get out of your seat without moving your armrest up and sliding out to the aisle. Even then, it’s not easy, and I have no idea how a passenger of size would manage it. Not to mention having to disrupt the person next to you and ask them to get up to let you out. And if you drop something, forget picking it up until landing – there is no room to bend over around that seatback in front of you.
The individual seatback In Flight Entertainment was adequate, and the screens are a nice size for viewing. Not a lot of options, but there is a plug for your laptop, ipad, or gaming device. The IFE was inexplicably turned off an hour before landing.
New Planes Cleaned on “Fiji Time”
New plane = clean and fresh, right? Well, FJ’s cleaning crew must also have difficulty getting into the tight spaces, as there was trash (tissues, cups, pens, stirrers) from the previous flight all throughout the cabin under the seats. At my seat, the previous passenger’s boarding pass was still in the seatpocket clearly visible through the mesh. Maybe the cleaning crew was on “Fiji Time” and missed my section of the plane.
Speaking of clean… The ventilation system in the lavatories on this Airbus seemed non-existent. It smelled like rotting Zombies in there whenever I went in. The sound barrier between lavs and to the main cabin is minimal, also. Wear your earplugs!
Because I’m tall and have long legs, I would normally try for an exit or bulkhead seat, but on the A332, the exits are next to the galleys and the smelly lavs. And the bulkheads are also full of babies in bassinets. None of which are good options for a restful flight.
Friendly Fijian Service & Long Stretches of… Nothingness
The friendly FAs don’t refill your water throughout the 11 hour trip… which is probably just as well since you’re stuck in your seat and the lavs are aromatically unwelcoming anyway. The food has also been downgraded since the rebranding. It’s an inedible mystery meat croissant sandwich for dinner, and the “hot breakfast” was lukewarm. They no longer offer a “refreshing towelette” prior to breakfast, and the cabin is “prepared for landing” extremely early.
The plane landed on a remote section of LAX and taxied for a good 20 minutes before we deplaned, boarded a bus, and shuttled over to the main International Terminal. I don’t know if they always land there now – I’ve never even seen that section of the runway before in all my years of flying. Perhaps it was due to a special circumstance that day. Otherwise, you can add another 30 minutes or more to your time from wheels down to hitting the Immigration line.
All in all, it was a very disappointing experience. The next time I fly to Fiji in Economy Class, I’ll be taking another airline, even if it means going out of the way, taking longer, and paying more. Be aware, though, that direct Qantas, American, and Air New Zealand LAX-NAN flights are code-shares and will be on these FJ planes! The other routes to try are via HNL, AKL, BNE, and SYD. You’ll have at least one long layover, possibly overnight, but I’d rather hang out for a night in Nadi or Sydney than spend 11 hours crammed into a Fiji Airways coach seat again!
The Fiji Airways Mileage Situation
One of the things I’ve had issue with about flying FJ over the years is that while you can accrue miles on your Qantas, American, or Air New Zealand Frequent Flyer account if booked on the right fare class, those miles won’t count towards status on any airline, even FJ. That’s a lot of miles to not count! I was willing to fly it just for the bankable miles, because it is the only direct flight from LAX to Nadi. But being primarily a Star Alliance/United Flyer, now that the ride is so uncomfortable, I feel I’m better off flying another airline where I can ride more comfortably and get both spendable miles AND status points.
Kudos to Fiji Airways for the lovely Fiji-Style rebranding, but shame on them for sacrificing customer service and comfort in cheap Airbus cattle-cars. Being a Zombie is one thing, but feeling like a Zombie after an overseas flight can ruin an otherwise pleasant holiday. Here’s to happy, safe, and comfortable travels!
I know I shouldn’t like the Sprint Unlimited Undead Zombie commercial as much as I do, but it’s hard to resist. I won’t even deal with Sprint as a company – I still hate them for slamming/cramming issues from way back when. But I LOVE this commercial! I usually have the TV on in the background while I work on MZ stuff, and I *always* look up when this one comes on!
Actors Matthew Patrick Davis as the Zombie, and Laura Spence as the Sprint Salesperson, are brilliant. Great chemistry… funny dialogue… it’s just silly good fun. Kudos to the director, writers & production team.
Apparently some people hate this commercial, while others like me love it – What do you think?
Official @Marvel Captain America Anti-Aging Skin Care!!! Power away those wrinkles!!! http://www.kiehls.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-kiehls_us-Site/default/Page-Show?cid=heavy-lifting-desktop&bookmark=613657
Facial Fuel for Men – Anti-Aging, Anti-Wrinkle “Heavy Lifting” skin care routine! The kit contains a wash, shave cream, and moisturizer. The wash has exfoliating “actives,” and the moisturizer contains linseed oil, to promote rejuvenation and reduce wrinkles.
Looks like good products, and great marketing!
Because, you know, Cap needs super soft, supple skin over those bulging muscles!
Hey yeah we had a great weekend of beautiful California weather. Sunny, mid 70s. Perfect for a weekend in Long Beach at the Queen Mary Scotsfest, where we hung out with a bunch of fun Scottish people, listening to pipe bands, watching Highland Games (large men in kilts throwing things), and enjoying a wee dram or two.
If you haven’t been to a Scottish Festival, you MUST go! There’s something for everyone – sheep herding demonstrations, heavy athletics, vendors selling all manner of food, apparel, kilts & sporrans, as well as Clan Tents where you can get connected to your kinfolk.
We especially love the great people at Mclaren’s Shortbread – the BEST all natural, handmade shortbread, scone mixes, and jams. We always buy a big box of the shortbread and hope it lasts until the next day.
And of course, the amazing bagpipers! There were many about for the competitions – both individual pipers and whole bands. Magic music, it is! For some reason, we Americans associate bagpipes with either parades or funerals, but there’s so much more to it. It’s complex, beautiful, harmonious, and haunting – in a good way!
Here’s a sample from the world-class LA Scots Pipe Band. Enjoy!
And here’s a cool Celtic Rock band, Bad Haggis:
There are Scottish Festivals all over the country (and world), so check your local listings for one near you and have a rockin’ awesome Scots time! We may see you there!
Zombie preparedness under discussion in the Canadian Parliament? “Canada will never become a safe haven for Zombies! EVER!” Gotta love the Canadians!
We had the idea for this blog a loooooong time ago, and officially bought the domain name in June 2011. But then, other pressing commitments ensued, and Malibu Zombie languished. Appropriately, alive but not… undead.
So here we are, ready to go. No time like the present, as they say!
First up, something a friend posted on facebook today. We all have things we seek in a romantic life partner. For many, it’s a certain look, common interests, compatible lifestyle, and/or chemistry. We have a few other requirements:
What other requirements do we have for a partner? Are looks and chemistry really important? Or is having a secret place or bunker fully stocked with supplies more important? Does that qualify as “compatibility?”
And then – what supplies? If your partner thinks the important supplies are food, water, guns, ammunition, and leaves no space for hairspray, chocolate, or even deodorant, how long will your relationship last? These things must be considered when choosing your future mate!