Saturday, August 15, 2009

Just got back to the US!


Yesterday, the Whiffs flew into JFK and thus completed the international portion of our summer tour. Over the next week or so, we will be performing in the northeast United States.


Friday, August 7, 2009

New entries!


I just updated my blog with photos from France, Greece and Turkey.



Hi there,

Sorry for the absence. I've been away from this for quite a while because we haven't had much downtime until now. We're all in Turkey now after France and Greece. In France, we tried wine, saw medieval cathedrals, sang in old churches and sang at a wedding: all in a day's work.

In Greece, we actually didn't even sing a concert. We had a day in Athens and 3 days in Kefalonia, an island off the West coast of Greece that was exactly how I'd pictured Greek islands: scenic, hilly and absolutely beautiful.

Turkey is great. We have all already hit most of the tourist hotspots (Haggia Sophia, Cisterns, Palace, etc.) and have sung our first concert (at Bogasici University, the University that also happens to be housing us) and have our next concert a cistern. Yup. Should be pretty great.

Sorry for the paucity of information in this post. I just realized I haven't eaten lunch and am quite hungry.

Until next time.

Monday, July 27, 2009



Sorry for the delay in putting all of this up. Tour has been quite exhausting. After South Africa, we went to France, hitting Margaux, St. Emilion, Le Mans and St. Aubin Sur Loire all within the space of a week. This was, in my opinion, one of our best stops of tour. In the Margaux/St. Emilion area in the heart of Bordeaux, we were forced (sometimes, life is so difficult...) to taste multiple wines every day, and, before and after concerts, were given glasses of wonderful wine. Not only this, but we were given tours of multiple vineyards and given an insight into exactly how the delicious beverage that we were drinking was produced. Truly an amazing experience.

In Le Mans, we sang in an old church with some of the best acoustics of any space in which I have ever sung. Every song sounded great in that space, and it was really a pleasure to hear our group in such a beautifully and acoustically perfect space. Not only this, but we also had the opportunity to visit the cathedral in Le Mans, a cathedral which, upon seeing a postcard of an aerial view, I realized I had studied in Art History class. Very cool.

As our last stop in France, we stayed at The Chateau St. Aubin in St. Aubin sur Loire. Built in the 18th century, the chateau used to belong to the governor of the area. 10 years ago, the chateau was, unfortunately, in quite a state of disrepair. This was, of course, until the current owner gained control over the grounds and started renovations. You can see the before and after pictures here: as well as some other photos of the grounds. We sang a concert right inf ront of the main entrance to the chateau, followed by a delicious dinner with (I love France) more exquisite wine.

In France, we learned yet again that the quickest way to a Whifenpoof's heart is through his liver. We are all suckers for wine.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Yesterday Trevor, Brian Mummert, Drew and I woke up at 5:30 am and drove two hours in the dark to Gansbaai, to see great white sharks. We got a safety briefing and watched a video which reminded us of how awesome sharks are, and harmless (350 people were killed by kites last year--KITES! and four by sharks) which didn't really lessen the thrill of getting into water with them. The boat ride out to Dyer Island was very choppy and rough, but the sea calmed somewhat when we dropped anchor, chummed the water and began to attract sharks. In the six-person cage, we bobbed up and down in the swells, in water that reeked of fish oil and intestines, until the watchers above us called out "down, right!" or "down, front!" at which point we dived to the bottom of the cage and watched as a huge shark swam lazily by, following a pair of fish heads tied to a rope maneuvered by one of the handlers. It was about two feet away at most.

We passed most of the morning like this, and I got over my initial butterflies, feeling secure in our crew's mammalian intelligence and superiority over the enormous fish below us. Just as I was getting ready to change back into my clothes and have a nap, one of the sharks tricked the rope puller crewman and lunged at the fish heads, grabbing them and shaking them violently to and fro as he swam away, biting the cage in frustration and lashing the surface with his tail, splashing everyone with water. It was an electrifying reminder of how awesome sharks are.

Sweet. Afterwards at lunch, a cat stole my hamburger. Lesson: animals are smarter than you think.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

South Africa!

Hey all,

Sorry for the long absence. I actually left Whiff Tour for a week to go to Jordan with my family and Meghan (my girlfriend). It was really wonderful, but, as it doesn't pertain to Whiff Tour and this is, indeed, the Whiff Tour Blog, I'll put down my thoughts of Jordan elsewhere.

As for India, which is where the Whiffs were in my absence, I hear that many people had mixed feelings. As I wasn't there, I won't discuss them as anything I could type here would be hearsay.

But, South Africa! We're in Cape Town, and it's beautiful. We found an internet cafe, which keeps Brian (E) and me happy, as that is our primary concern is life. Sad, I know. Apparently, they also have an ethernet connection for laptops, so I'm going to bring mine tomorrow or the next day to upload a bunch of photos from Phuket -> Jordan.

So, last night here was interesting. Half the group went to a great steakhouse on the waterfront called "City Grill"...or something. Although it wasn't cheap, it was great. I ate an ostrich steak and people ate things as exotic as spring bok and crocodile. Upon returning, we found out that Brian (M), who was in the other group,w hich went to a traditional African restaurant in town, was mugged, lost the equivalent of USD 40, and had to cancel all of his credit cards, etc. It was pretty upsetting and apparently happened at knife-point. So...I guess it was a reminder that we're not in Kansas anymore.

Today, our plan is to go see the Cape of Good Hope. Tomorrow, we have our first concert, and in the few days, many of us have grand plans, including, at least for myself and Joel, shark cage diving. Updates to follow.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Taj Mahal photos!

Hi again,

I just posted some photos of our visit to the Taj Mahal.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mt. Everest and Thailand wats photos!

Hi all,

I just added photos from Casey, Jesse and my visit to Mt. Everest. I also put up pictures of the wats in Bangkok.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Massive tour blog update!

Hey folks,

Today, I updated my blog with posts about our travels in Japan, China and Thailand. Check it out!



So, Phuket, as imagined, is incredible. It's beautiful, warm, a little humid, surprisingly sunny, despite the fact that it's "rainy season", and fun. Yesterday and today, we rented scooters and scooted around town. Don't worry, parents, everyone's fine. We had a couple small falls, but, minor scrapes and bruises aside, nobody was injured. Yesterday, Joel, Jay F. and I scooted up to a place called "sunset point", a beautiful point of the island from which you can see for miles in every direction. Today, we first went to a place called Wat Chalong, a small collection of temples, some of which were absolutely beautiful, and some of them that, as Jamie put it, look like a Disney Temple. After that, we went to go see Phuket's "Big Buddha", a gigantic white Buddha that you can see from pretty much anywhere on the island.

Sadly, we leave tomorrow, but next stop is Kathmandu, a place that has been a favorite for the Whiffs of recent years. And after that, I leave the Whiffs for a week to go to Jordan. But, fear not, I'll be back with the group in South Africa. Someone else is gonna have to post in India, but I'll put up at least one in Kathmandu. Until then.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


is amazing. this place is beautiful. we had a wonderful night in town, and then on the beach, sitting on the beach, drinking whiskey, looking at starts, and making friends with the random dog that sat next to us while we were discussing the stars, philosophy, the Whiffs, our situation, and many other topics of conversation. Tonight was a night in which the nights became closer. Additionally, i played connect 4 with a bartender. What?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

After a long break, back and in Bangkok

So, after a long sojourn into the land of censorship (i.e. china), i'm once again able to use blogspot. God forbid I express myself publicly while in China.

Anyway, I would rant, but I feel as if it might not go over that well. Regardless, we had a great time in China, despite the lack of youtube, (temporarily) google, and, of course, our blog. Our 4 days in Beijing and 3 days in Shanghai were action-packed, so much so that many of us are exhausted.

However, we weren't too exhausted to go out last night here in Bangkok. The cab coordinator misunderstood us and, instead of telling us the name of the bar district, he told us the name of a bar district that was...special...We were asked to go to many bars that we did not want to go to, and finally found a street stand at which to eat while we drank some beers we bought at a 7-11. it was, as i said...special...

Anyway, today, we went to the weekend market and all picked up a ton of souvenirs. i even have to ship some things home tomorrow to free up space in my bag.

Gotta go get ready for the concert tonight.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Still in Japan


So we're still in Japan, where we have already been for 4 or 5 days. But I certainly haven't gotten tired of it. It's amazing here. Last night, after playing whales tales (a drinking game) on the train from Kyoto (where we had been just for a night) with sake sweat (see here: mixed with sake). It's actually quite delicious. When we arrived back in Tokyo, we proceeded to go out to a traditional japanese bar/restaurant, where, not only were we given unlimited drinks for 2 hours, but we were also fed. it was great. We ended up doing a tang wave and singing for the tables next to us. we didn't sound very good (see above about sake...we were all pretty well drunk), but it sure was fun.

Today, I'm hung over, but I'm excited because I get to go see Kabuki theater with my host family. It should be a ton of fun. After that, we are apparently going to a beer party in our honor, and going out for karaoke afterwards. Unfortunately, i'm in the lucky group that gets to wake up at 7 to sing for an elementary school tomorrow morning, but hey, small price to pay to be here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Just posted 9 days worth of material!

I have finally updated my blog with recent photos and notes. Check it out!

So far, Japan has been spectacular, mainly because of our tremendous host families. I'm excited for our remaining days in Tokyo and Kyoto!


Saturday, June 13, 2009


Hey all,

So, we're in Japan now. Our night in Sydney, as Joel described below, was pretty wild. I don't have much time because I have to get ready before brunch with my homestay family, but I'll put in a quick entry.

We're in the land of cultural traditions I don't understand. Yesterday, we sang a concert while people talked in front of us for about 20 minutes. It was confusing, and I didn't understand a word of it, but it seemed interesting and important.

Having said that, I love it here. Last night, we had an incredible night where they kept encouraging us to drink beer and whiskey after the concert, to the point where the majority of the Whiffenpoofs was comfortably drunk. It was a great night.

In general, this is the first stop of tour where I've felt like I'm on World Tour. I don't speak the language and there are a lot of things that happen here that make me say, "WHAT THE *#@%!?" Our homestays are incredibly hospitable and nice, and, even though Tokyo is a very difficult city to navigate (just try looking up how addresses work...oh and there are no street names...), they have made it as easy as possible for us.

Gotta run, longer update to follow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How to succeed on tour without really sleeping

So we're in Sydney, Australia for basically an extended layover. I'm exhausted as I write this, having got no more than five hours of sleep for the last five days. I would say I'm running on adrenaline, but I think my body can't produce much more after New Zealand. Today, a group of us walked to Darling Harbor, got lunch, and saw a wide swathe of Australian wildlife at the Harbor Aquarium and Wildlife Experience. The main point I took away is that there are a fantastic array of Australian critters who can kill you, and they all do it in different ways. Even platypi are poisonous! We saw a huge bat eating a mouse while upside down from a branch, big lizards devouring crickets in their pen, and even a kangaroo (named Shredder) snarled at its keeper. Nature is red in tooth and claw.

Anyway, afterwards we walked up to the Bridge and Opera House, and dared Trevor to jump into the Harbor. He demurred. Now we're going to eat dinner and probably have a big night out despite our better judgment.

Deus vult.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Whiffs, post!

Others, comment!

I don't know if anyone even reads this thing.

Anyway, we're in Auckland. It's raining...a lot. It sucks. We were supposed to go to Rotorua today, where half the group was going to skydive while the other half zorbed: FYI:

It would have been awesome, but the rain ruined our fun. Apparently, it's supposed to rain tomorrow too. That means that today is a good day to get tour planning done. Jamie, Joel and I are going to try to get as much of it done as we can today, so if anyone has any important planning emails to send, send them today!

As for tomorrow, we're going to Waitomo to darkwater raft and see glowworms. Basically, we float down a cave-river on inner tubes and look at bioluminescent worm saliva. Gross/cool, huh?

One other thing I've noticed about New Zealand is that everything is poorly insulated and they leave doors open a lot, like in the coffee shop i'm in right now. Poor form, New Zealand. Not that a country where there are more sheep than people could have that huge a carbon footprint, but hey, it's actually kind of cold here.

So, yeah, back to tour planning. Hope all is well with anyone who reads the blog, a number that, for all I know, just includes my parents and Meghan.

Whiffs sing on TV New Zealand

Apparently "poof" means something different to Brits and former colonies. WHAT?! Did anyone else know that!? IT's so amusing! It never gets old!!

I hope my punctuation conveys the appropriate level of sarcasm. Anyway, here's the link.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Whiffs on TV New Zealand!

I won't add too much to Trevor's post, except to mention that, from a tour manager's perspective, I think this New Zealand stop has gone pretty well. Yesterday we went hiking in the breathtakingly lush Waitakere Ranges just west of Auckland, and today we sang at TV New Zealand's Breakfast. Drew and I had an interview with Paul Henry, who announced as a prelude to our appearance that he had been told we were "enormously famous". Having been told of his somewhat irreverent interview style by our hosts, I was a little nervous but it all went well, I think, and we even had the chance to plug our CD a little! Check out the clip below:

Many Updates!

Dear world,

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. We're now in Auckland, where the internet is sparse. I bought some internet on a corner. The guy offered to throw in some free meth, but, because of my inexplicable congestion, I'm on Sudafed, which, I estimate, offers 1/5 the experience. Thus, I declined. I'm really looking forward to getting better internet in China, yes, China, you know that country in which more people live under the poverty line than the whole population of the U.S.? Even though I probably won't be able to read the New York Times or anything that reports the truth about Mama Zhongguo, at least the internet won't be dial-up.

Seriously, though, what's the deal, New Zealand? They can figure out bungees that (i hope...) required some serious physics considerations, yet I'm typing on a computer that can't have been released post 1998? This thing probably only has like 200 MB of ram. Psh. One sec...lemme push up my glasses.

Anyway, New Zealand, despite the internet problems, has been lovely. People here just seem of a happier disposition than other places we've visited. They're incredibly friendly. Driving on the left side of the road has been difficult, but I've gotten used to it. Additionally, I just saw Star Trek on Imax, which was AWESOME, so I'm in a good mood.

As I said, we're now in Auckland, which is a beautiful city. I would say it's more a collection of suburbs, though. We're now in "Downtown" Auckland, which reminds me a lot of "Downtown" L.A. There aren't many people here, but there are many cars driving by who, I would assume, are on their ways to other parts of the sprawl. But the water here is truly beautiful. We had the opportunity to sing for the American Club at the Tamaki Yacht Club last night, during which concert we could see the sun setting over Mission Bay. It was a truly unforgettable experience...well, at least for me. I was driving that night.

So, we have 3 more days here, one more at our homestays, who, in my experience and from what I gather from the other Whiffs, have been incredibly hospitable and wonderful hosts. So, if any of you are reading, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Although the hotels we are staying at are wonderful, it's refreshing to be able to stay with families so that we can call somewhere home for 3 days and ease a bit of a our homesickness.

Anyway, I'm going to go answer some more tour emails. If you have any specific questions, I love receiving emails and will reply promptly. Or just comment below if you don't mind the whole world seeing it.

I'm also looking for something to do during my break in Paris July 27-31. I have many options right now, the best of which are probably either staying in Paris to meet up with friends and hang out there for 4 days or go to Lisbon to meet up with a friend. If yo'ull be in either destination, let me know!

Drew's Blog

Check it out. Be warned: it's not censored.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Leaving Queenstown today!

After a most enjoyable stay at the St. Moritz hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand, we will head north to Auckland later today. Adventure awaits.

Feel free to also check out Elliot's Whiff summer tour blog at

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bungy Jumping/White Water Rafting

The plan changed a bit today. In the morning, it was too cold for rafting, so the company ended up changing it to the afternoon slot. Sadly, they only had 12 slots for people to paddle a boat in freezing water. Although we would have loved to go, and are sure the other Whiffs had fun (post about it. It's cold and lonely in here), Jay and I went bungy jumping instead. We fell 134 meters attached to large rubber bands. Mom and dad, please look away now.

I'm doing it again tomorrow. Slightly differently. Jay and I decided to do a regular bungy jump today, but tomorrow, more extreme sports await. Half the group (not including myself) is going skydiving, and the other half is going bungy swinging, the thing that I linked to yesterday. 

The rest of the day, I plan on combating jet lag and trying to make it out to a pub crawl. Wish me luck.

Queenstown, New Zealand is Great!*

*Internet not included.

I will air my gripes at the beginning of the post. Apparently, in New Zealand, the internet is not free in a 5-star hotel. Apparently, it's "hard getting internet onto a small island". Manhattan is a small island. I fail to see their logic.

Having said all of this, I will still try to limit my post so as to conserve my 100 MegaByte/day limit (beyond which point I'm charged an exorbitant per megabyte rate) when describing the beauty of the country in which we find ourselves.

I will upload the pictures when they do not cost me $5/picture. However, the beauty that people described to me of New Zealand in the past does not compare to what I'm seeing out of our back window. Not only are we staying in an incredibly luxurious hotel (in which, for the first time on tour), everyone has his own bed, but I get to do laundry, and, tomorrow, I get to white water raft and bungee jump. Kind of. It's not totally bungy jumping. Apparently it's more like bungee swinging. Here, check it out.

That is what I'm doing tomorrow, as well as white-whater rafting (all starting at the fresh, jet-lagged hour of 8:05am), during which I will try to stave off hypothermia, as it is winter down here (it's about 35 degrees here, or 1 celsius, in case there are any europeans following our blog).

I will update to prove that I lived through bungy swinging, but I fear that if I post more, my credit card will be cancelled for overcharging.

Despite my petty gripes, New Zealand is beautiful. Until next time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Auckland Airport

In the Auckland Airport on a layover to Queenstown. Exhausted, despite help from Ambien. Will we summon the energy to experience Queenstown tonight and bungee jump?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Yale Whiffenpoof Day in San Francisco

Sorry for the update spam, but I just remembered that Saturday was Yale Whiffenpoof Day in San Francisco. Seriously. Thanks go out to Gavin Newsom and the City of San Francisco.

But, on a different note, what? Is that legal?

Write thiings!

Please, if you are visiting the blog, or are one of the silent Whiff contributors, write something! It's lonely in here...

Drew fixes blog layout!

Drew, as our tech-savvy Whiff, took a look at the blog and said "I can make it look pretty". And he did. A big thanks to Drew for helping the site look less as if it were designed by a blind 2nd grader.

Off to NZ!

The Whiffs are leaving for New Zealand today! Our 13 hour flight will be grueling, but we will be rewarded with adventure sports in Queenstown. I plan on sleeping the whole flight (thank you, Ambien, without which I can't sleep on planes at all). A jetlagged update will follow after we land

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Seals, a rock, and the Whiffenpoofs admiring the scenery.

Real Update: The Whiffs do great things, yet don't remember them very well

We're still in San Francisco. We checked into the University Club in downtown San Fran for tonight and tomorrow night.

Last night was an experience that all of us will remember (or maybe not...) for the rest of our lives. We had the privilege to sing at The Bohemian Grove last night. After being introduced to many Bohemians and having a chance to put our things down at the camp at which we were staying, we sang "Midnight Train" to a packed house, and were followed by sax player Dave Koz among other great acts. It was a real pleasure to have had the opportunity to share a stage with someone like that.

Our experience at The Grove was incredible. Nowhere in my life have I been somewhere full of so many accomplished and talented, yet approachable, people. The beautiful setting, the wonderful people, and the ubiquitous music made it a unique and wonderful experience. The gracious hospitality that we were shown was humbling and, ultimately, something that I will never forget.

Having said that, part of the hospitality that we were shown extended to drinks, of which we had plenty. At the end of the night (roughly 3 am for me, but much later for some of the Whiffs), I was happy to have a comfortable bed to which to retreat.

On the way back, as Joel describes (self-referentially and possibly self-mockingly?) so poetically below, we had the opportunity to drive south down Route 1. While driving through Sonoma, all of us were awe-struck at the sheer beauty of our surroundings. We stopped to take pictures (of our surroundings and of the seals sun-bathing on a rock) before heading into San Francisco to sing our concert tonight.

Tomorrow: free day in San Francisco!

Funny Pictures. Real Update to Follow

Drew embraces the light. Trevor fights it

Saturday, May 30, 2009

University Club San Francisco

We've just checked into the University Club at 800 Powell St, San Francisco. Driving here from Monte Rio was spectacular: started off in lush forest with stands of high redwoods, then emerged into a rolling, misty moorland that slouched into sea-cliffs washed by a grey surf. We stopped to take pictures of seals lounging on the rocks under a grey sky. When the road turned inland, we passed dairy farms, pasture and rocky outcrops in the moors before joining 101 South and gradually re-entering the classic California landscape: big road, bright blue sky and a tan and green hilly countryside as far as the eye can see. Drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and had a heck of a time parking and stopping on these absurdly angled SF streets.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

San Francisco

After a delay and a luggage scare, the Whiffenpoofs have arrived safely in San Francisco. Today, we are driving to Carmel, Ca. to sing an evening concert at the Carmel Presbyterian Church. Tomorrow: The Grove.

Elliot's Blog!

If you guys want to check out Elliot Watts' blog, he has already set up his own. Here it is!:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Starting tomorrow!

We're all in the process of packing up (after packing up Whiff Space (R.I.P.)). Leaving on a bus at 11 in the morning and off to the first stop, San Francisco!