Sunday, January 31, 2016

Field Report from Crazy Bob in Moscow

Shortly before Christmas, I had the following exchange by means of instant message with Crazy Bob.

Bob: Dude I'm in a hipster bar in Moscow
There are 20 people in the bar
5 are female
I am alarmed
Now it's 23 people
And only 3 are female
One of the people I thought was a girl is actually a guy
And another girl left 

English Teacher X: Head to the poor side of town!

This is Moscow. The poor side is 5 miles away, maybe 10
But yeah you're right
I'd be over there if I didn't have to meet my wife in 4 hours

ETX: Too cold to hit on girls at bus stops, huh? 

Bob: Nah, yo
It's plus 4
All right for all manner of dirt
21 people 2 girls
What the fuck man!

(Here he includes a picture of a girl in hipster glasses and a girly-looking guy)

The dude on the right is 5 feet tall
His chick has an enormous mole on the side of her face, but still gives her man no respect

ETX: Better hit the Spearmint Rhino!

(Editor's Note: Research reveals this notable Moscow strip club closed in 2007.)

(Here he includes a definition from Urban Dictionary:)

RHINO: An older man on the prowl for a younger woman and by definition, the gender opposite of the cougar. The rhino derives his name from his appearance because the specimen is more often than not both horny AND ugly. The rhino is usually found in warmer locales and can be spotted wearing either a flowered or pastel shirt (with 3 buttons opened to expose a mature mane of chest hair) tucked into khaki shorts and sporting boat shoes. Also look for horrendous dance moves, a white man's overbite, male pattern baldness and a penchant for picking up the bar tab.

ETX: Dang! 

Bob: ".. too dark, too dark altogether."

ETX: "I watch the sun as it crawls across the sky one final time .. " 

Bob: Nine Inch Nails? 

(Here I included this video:)

Bob: I had a woman about 40 yesterday
I had my whole finger in the butthole, checking for myself
if vaginal tissue really does thin with age
I could feel my dick like it was wrapped up in a fruit-roll-up
A millimeter, no thicker

ETX: Jesus
Think you need to get a cat

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Books About Drinking, Fucking, and Traveling: Special Annoying 90s Chick Edition!

The 1990s.

A time of peace, prosperity, and the dawn of the newest age of globalism. A guy could get laid every night of the week -- as long as he didn't mind hearing girls cry about their abusive stepfathers for a couple hours afterwards. 

Today's installment goes out to the ladies. (I know I'm skipping the 80s, but nobody traveled in the 80s except spies, diplomats, and heavy metal bands going to play in Japan.)

Click here to see the other installments in the BOOKS ABOUT DRINKING, FUCKING, AND TRAVELING series

Long before the unmitigated pap of EAT PRAY LOVE, there were the 90s chicks.

They ate, traveled, and loved, and they skipped the praying, opting instead for the rich stuff of life in the 90s -- tattoos, plenty of sex and abortions, and weepy monologues about their painful family experiences.

(I am playing a bit fast and loose here, though, as these first two books were released in the 20teens but they were about stuff that HAPPENED in the 90s. Since I did the same thing myself, though, I can't really criticize.)

Jillian Lauren in the mid-90s was working as a stripper and escort in New York, like all 90s chicks, when she accepted an offer to go live with the Royal Family in Brunei as a ... consort? concubine? escort? I don't know what she put on her tax return.

Her memoir SOME GIRLS: MY LIFE IN A HAREM describes this time. She doesn't travel much in and around Brunei or SE Asia, except to the mall, and spends most of her time in agreeably boring captivity on the luxurious royal estate. (It was in fact the playboy brother of the Sultan, Prince Jeffri, who used her services, although she did toss one to the Sultan himself.) She visited them a couple of times, spending a couple years there, only  returning to New York once for more 90s tattoed stripper sex abortion shenanigans.

Source: Wikipedia / Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0
She ended up following the True Path of 90s chicks, marrying a guy from an indie 90s rock band, and writing memoirs. And adopting an African kid.

Soul sister to Jillian Lauren is the probably-even-more-annoying and self-named Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir WILD: FROM LOST TO FOUND ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL

When tattoos, heroin, and sex aren't enough to help her get over her mother's death -- even cheating on and divorcing her nice husband doesn't help -- she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. (She does stop to bone a guy in Seattle on the same day that Jerry Garcia dies, of course. I mean, she's a 90s chick, she had to.)

There's a movie with Reese Witherspoon you can watch, should you not be inclined to tackle the rather over-written book. She's naked in it, too. (I love the way actresses get naked for their serious roles now, as opposed to the old days when they got naked in exploitation roes when their careers were fading.)

Cheryl Strayed too has followed the 90s chick true path -- becoming a soccer mom and going on Oprah.

Now for a book that was actually RELEASED in the 90s, but is probably more about the late 80s, I can recommend BREAKFAST IN BABYLON by Emer Martin. Though it was popular in the 90s, it's pretty much forgotten now -- Google searches for "Breakfast in Babylon" usually lead one to pancake houses in Babylon, NY.

But this book -- which I haven't read in a while but which I enjoyed very much back then -- is about a young Irish backpacker-type chick who ends up living on the streets of London, Paris, and other cities in Europe in the punk-rock-yet-begging-for-change thing that was popular at the time -- we called them "gutter punks" in the US but I don't think that term is used in the book.

The centerpiece of the story is the protagonist's abusive relationship with an older Puerto-Rican-American LSD dealer, but it's the grubby atmosphere of drugged-out expat losers in cheap hotels and shared squat housing that really impressed me.

She's traveled considerably more than either of the two above, living in Paris, London, the US, and the Middle East, and she continues to write well-regarded fiction, much of which has international themes and settings.

It's not even available on Kindle -- so 90s! -- but you can order a used copy on Amazon for a penny plus shipping. You might not regret it!

So put on your flannel shirt and put on some nice 90s music, and enjoy the early days of an era of globalism that seems to be rapidly drawing to a close.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Books About Drinking, Fucking, and Travelling: The 70s, Bukowski, Thompson, and Theroux

After the free love and idealism of the 60s, there was the perhaps-inevitable crash into bitterness and dissolution. The three Prime Movers of Books about Drinking, Fucking, and Traveling in the 70s were undoubtedly Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, and Paul Theroux.

(Damn, has it been three years already?  Previous entries in this series:


MORE BOOKS ABOUT DRINKING, FUCKING, AND TRAVELING (1900 - 1950) -- In which I examine the work of Jerome K. Jerome, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scot Fitzgerald, and Graham Greene

EVEN MORE BOOKS ABOUT DRINKING, FUCKING, AND TRAVELING (SPECIAL BEATNIK EDITION) -- In which I examine the life and work of hep cats Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.)

In 1971, Hunter Stockton Thompson was a succesful journalist who had written a book about the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang and several noted articles for Rolling Stone. Then he released FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS: A SAVAGE JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE AMERICAN DREAM.

It was a wake-up call for those who wished to be fucked up all the time. With his energetic, unique prose stylings, he made a couple of weekends taking drugs in Vegas hotel rooms probably much more entertaining than they would have been to actually experience. 

And in the process transformed himself from hard-hitting investigative journalist to Cultural Icon of Buffoonery. His Woodward and Bernstein soul morphed into a Cheech and Chong reality. 

He did write one more important piece of journalism -- FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL 1972 -- but that was pretty much it. The rest of his career was a fog of drugs and Celebrity and books that rehashed things he'd seen on TV and almost always reprinted things he'd written in his glory days. 

He isn't as well known for his travels abroad, but he worked and traveled in the Caribbean and South America in the 50s and 60s -- many of his dispatches from South America are printed in THE GREAT SHARK HUNT. His novel THE RUM DIARY is under-rated in its portrayal of expat life in Puerto Rico at that time. (Apparently back then the drunks and fuckups worked at English-language newspapers, rather than teaching English. I've met a few English-language newspaper writers in my travels but only a few.)

Source: Wikipedia

Hunter S. Thompson blew his own brains out at age 67 on February 20, 2005, following some health problems related to his back and skeleton. (While drugs and alcohol seemed to take a toll on his writing and his life in general, his body didn't seem to mind too much.)

And then there are those of us who prefer to sulk silently on the sidelines of life; how could we not fall in love with Charles Bukowski? 

Born in Great Depression-era Los Angeles, Charles Bukowski is often described as the Poet Laureate of Lowlifes. He worked at the post office until he started writing full-time at age 50 (round about 1970) and he is a best-selling author in Europe but a bit less well-known in the US. Writing simply and powerfully and (perhaps most importantly of all) humorously about life on the outskirts of society, drinking hard, working crappy jobs, and living in squalid rented rooms, Bukowski's philosophy seemed to be that losers were more honest than winners and that there was some nobility in refusing to play the bulshit games of life. (DON'T TRY is written on his tombstone.)

He has written countless books of poetry -- enjoyable and readable though they are -- but he seems to be better beloved by readers for his novels. HAM ON RYE describes his rough childhood and college years; FACTOTUM describes his travels around the US living in different cities in the 40s. POST OFFICE is about his years of drunken employment at that fine institution, and WOMEN is about his final success as a writer, and indulging himself in some groupies. HOLLYWOOD describes an attempt to make a film about one of his books (which in real life was called BARFLY:)

Drinks for all my friends! Charles Bukowski died of leukemia in 1994 at age 73, successful, married, critically-lauded, and seemingly rather content. 

What's that you say? A bit less drinking and fucking, and a bit more travelling?  

Former English teacher Paul Theroux might be right up your alley.  

Source: Wikipedia
With the release of THE GREAT RAILWAY BAZAAR in 1975, Paul Theroux changed the landscape of travel writing. The book describes an epic round-trip train journey across Europe, India, the Middle East, Russia, and Asia and now instead of writing snootily about history and culture, travel writers could bitch endlessly about the filth and the discomfort. (It's a fascinating read in retrospect, as with many travel books, in seeing what's the same as well as what's different. )

He's also written a lot of novels about the ups and downs of expat life; some notable ones include 1973's SAINT JACK, about a hustling expat working as a pimp in Singapore, and 1981's THE MOSQUITO COAST about a disgruntled whacko inventor who takes his family to live on an island in  Honduras.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Knife to the Balls: An Old Bar Conversation

This is a story I heard back in Bangkok when I first started in the 90s. It's always been rattling around in my mind, so I'm happy to present it to you now.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve

I remember when I was a kid, my parents used to watch the Dick Clark Rockin New Year's Eve from Times Square, and we'd watch the ball drop live on TV.

It always looked like something amazing to us, there in small-town Southern America.

I lived in New York in 1997 and had the opportunity to go watch the ball drop. How could I pass that up?

The first thing I was amazed by was how many cops there were, and how efficiently they were herding people around up there. Certain streets were one-way to control the flow of crowds. And there were security checkpoints set up all over the place; not everybody got searched or frisked, but eveybody got eyeballed at the very least, and there were drug dogs out, too.

Of courses, anybody visible drinking alcohol was quickly seized by the cops, and if they weren't hauled away by the humorless 90s cops of Rudy Guilliani, at the very least their alcohol was confiscated.

It was really cold, below freezing, and I went around 10 or so and stood in the crowd for a while. I had a pint of vodka in my pocket. I can't remember if I didn't have a girlfriend at that time or if she just couldn't go out with me that night for some reason.

And I stood there for a while longer.

Among the tens of thousands of other folks. Mainly seemed to be meatheads from New Jersey.

Mostly just standing there.

Finally, bored and cold, I gave up and went back downtown by 11:00pm, and managed to get into a bar I went to often at that time on Ludlow Street, and saw in the New Year there amongst the 90s hipster doofuses. I made out with a chubby girl, and was then amazed to find she had started work at the same language school I worked at a few weeks later.

Small world, eh?

I saw in the year 2000 on Koh Phangan in Thailand -- read about that in TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY -- and while it was a fine way to celebrate, those big parties always tend to be a bit anti-climactic, really. I mean most people are dancing and drinking, but a considerable number of people at really big parties are people who don't often go to big parties, and they tend to be irritated or bored.

Wasn't it Hunter S. Thompson who said he never went out on New Year's Eve, because he considered it amateur night?

It's small parties where you have the serious fun. I went to a few of those in Russia, of courses. Where you get the whole group making out, rolling naked in the snow, shooting fireworks out of their pants, etc.

(But we had plenty of better parties NOT on major holidays, for the same reasons mentioned above -- there are always people at a New Year's Eve party who don't go out often and don't want to do anything stupid.)

I look back at my teen and college years and I'm kind of drawing a big blank. I do remember one when I was about 19 where I had to take a girl to the hospital because she took a bunch of acid and flipped out, and I was in the hospital parking lot at midnight. (Fortunately I was with one of those small town slut types, and we were fuck buddies before that term existed.)

But I for some reason remember my adolescent years, 13 or 14 or 15. They used to have these all-night comedy marathons on HBO, featuring George Carlin and Richard Pryor's famous specials and filmed concerts.

I remember watching those and being totally engrossed, even though I probably didn't fully understand at least half of the things they were talking about at that time.

But undoubtedly, my fondess for obscene language developed there.

So if you don't have any parties full of bored and irritated people to go to, check out those specials. And a Happy Fucking New Year to all of you!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Santa Got Nothin' on ME!

Unsurprisingly busy with family on the holiday, I nonetheless offer you a Chistmas prezzie:  

I almost forgot that I had made this (because it doesn't sell), but there is a collected edition of all the books I've written about English teaching, and you'll be able to get it from December 26 - December 30 free on Amazon, and free all the time on Kindle Unlimited. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Tales from the TEFLpocolypse

So! How's everybody's TEFLpocolypse going as 2015 draws to a close?

Back in April and May when I failed to get a job in the Emirates,I put in several applications for jobs in the Kingdom -- including my first one, the one I liked (and probably shouldn't have left.) 

I heard a blank terrifying nothing from ALL of them. 

But then in September and October, after I took this job in America, they started getting back to me. 

My first employers said they would be glad to have me back. 

Three months later, I have still not received an official job offer, nor a contract. 

Likewise, another big college in the Kingdom. They said they would move forward with the application, but warned that it was taking up to 18 MONTHS to get all the papers in order these days. 

(With my first two jobs in the Kingdom, it took about 6 or 7 months between interview and arrival.)

But hey, I have a job already, right? I'm even making an annual salary greater than my age. Can't complain too much. 

The way I heard about this American job was from a guy who I worked with at my first Kingdom college job. 

Let me tell you HIS TEFLpocolypse story. 

In 2013, when Big Oil Company was hiring a lot of English teachers, he took a week off to fly to America for an interview with Big Kingdom Oil Company. (That's typical corporate logic, right?) 

They offered him a position -- an official, signed offer -- so he left his job at the college, and went back to America to wait. 

And he waited. Three months passed. 

He got the contract, and signed it and sent it back. (That's about normal, so far.) 

He got his papers together and sent them in to apply for the visa.  

He was told there were some issues, and they couldn't get the visa yet. 

(What exactly these issues were, they didn't say.)

He waited. And he waited. 

Six more months passed. 

Finally he was told, well, too much time has passed, and now Big Oil Company doesn't need any people. 

(As mentioned, they laid off most of the people they hired along with me, this year.) 

Fortunately, he found this job. He's got several children he sends child support to, also, so he's not just your usual lone wandering nomad.

 (He's only 46 though so the issues were not related to his age. Could they have been legal / background issues? Maybe.)

As a Christmas TEFLpocolypse gift, SPEAKING ACTIVITIES THAT DON'T SUCK will be available free on Amazon from December 20 - December 24: 

Get it here FREE ON AMAZON December 20 - 24, also available on Kindle Unlimited.