Saturday, July 31, 2010

Amsterdam Square

One of my female acquaintances in Russia has asked me for a dildo from Amsterdam, but I'm just too fucking embarrassed to buy one. Even going into one of those shops is hard for me. I looked at the selection and while her instructions were "bright color and medium size" there are just too many variables there for me to process -- there's an endless combination of colors and styles. With or without veins? With or without testicles?

(Another asked me for Victoria's Secret underwear, and I was too embarrassed to do that, too.)

I'm a square, at heart.

I'm not even gonna put a picture up, I'm so freaked out. . .

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Due to a scheduling snafu I end up with five days in Amsterdam before I fly to Russia on August 1st.

(I'm sure it's just a coincidence that Amsterdam is one of the main air hubs connecting with the Middle East, eh?)

You would think I'd be in hog heaven here, but in point of fact I'm a bit bored and nonplussed.

It's my third time here, so no novelty value; marijuana has always been something I could always kind of take or leave. It's summer and deluged with tourists, and I don't even like pot enough to battle past the college students and hippies to buy some at the over crowded coffee shops. The pubs in the center look to be about 80 percent Italian and English soccer hooligans, 20 percent American college students. The nice cafes along the canals look to be filled with mostly German and Russian families with their children.

As for the hookers. . . I've done plenty of window-shopping, like all the other tourists. (Selling sex isn't nearly as undignified as becoming a window-display for Japanese tour groups and old people with fanny backs and guide books.)

Even if I could get around the issue of value for money (50 euros for 15 minutes seems to be usual) and the rough looks of most of the hookers, there's the general ick factor of having sex with somebody who had sex with all those football hooligans and doofus college students and such.

I had sex with a cute Dutch blonde prostitute the last time I was here in 1998. I suppose it was worth it. . . to my 29 year old self. Window shopping hasn't revealed to me anybody as nice-looking, this time, anyway.

There are lines around the block for all the museums and the Anne Frank house and such, and I have a pathological aversion to lines. (My tiny little hotel room seems a lot more cramped and depressing than Anne Frank's attic hideaway, anyway.)

On the bright side -- chigger bites on my nuts have gone away. And the low Euro means beer isn't too expensive. (EDIT, next day: And of course it's a beautiful and historic city to wander around in, let we think I'm being snarky. Or maybe that's just the mushrooms talking.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Running With Shurikens

One of the only aspects of my small-town Southern upringing that I felt became an issue later in life came to light in Thailand in the mid-90's.

A French girl started making fun of me for often wearing t-shirts with the sleeves cut off, and I didn't understand why.

Turns out everybody DOESN'T cut the sleeves off their t-shirts when they get worn out. Huh.

So now when I want to show off my guns I just buy a shirt that already has no sleeves. But I occasionally miss the creative act of cutting them off.

My 2.5 weeks in America had all the hallmarks of an enjoyable American holiday -- giving my 8 and 10 year old nephews my old throwing stars and showing them how to use them, waterskiing at my parents' lake houses, playing XBOX, eating lots of barbecue, and drinking with old high-school friends at various divey bars, including one that used to be a brothel. Naturally BB guns came into use a few times, as well.

But in fact I had a lot of hassles in getting my Russian visa and making travel arrangements, and also got a letter from the IRS saying I owed them $2000. (As it happened they were mistaken, but I still had to deal with a lot of paperwork.)

I also fell off my bike and skinned my knee badly, and got chiggers on my nuts at the lake house.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

End of Round 1

Just finished the last class of my first year as a teacher here in The Kingdom.

I'm leaving tonight on a flight to America, to begin my fully paid 2.5 month summer holiday. (Fuck McEnglish schools in the ass with a whiteboard marker.)

After America, my holiday is going to include some time in Amsterdam and then (assuming there are no problems with the visa) of course a trip back to Mother Russia.

Frankly I'm rather anxious about it, and all things considered should probably be trying somewhere new. (Never been to South America, for example.) But I have some personal obligations: a loose end or two and a possible new beginning or two. . . but most likely the same old shit.

Anyway, I'm sure it will be weird, eventful, dangerous, and stressful.

As for the Kingdom, man, it was like free money. I'm healthy, tanned, got enough money to buy a nice car or a shitty house, and I'm blissfully stoned on silence, eventlessness, and downloaded comic books and films.

From -30 C / - 22 F winters to 50 c / 120 F summers. Does that mean I'm tough as nails, or stupid as a rock?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Caught Stealing

Punishments for stealing here in the Kingdom do indeed include chopping off of hands, although there are a number of conditions that must be met, so it doesn't happen just every day - the public squares aren't just littered with severed hands or anything.

And as with indeed almost all of the various harsh punishments here -- beheading and crucifixion being two of the worst, though they fortunately do the first before the second -- the victimized can decide to lessen the punishment of the criminal, or even forego it entirely.)

Nonetheless, it seems there's a fair amount of petty theft and vandalism around here. My office mate warned me he had a scooter stolen from outside a friend's house, and his bicycle was smashed up right outside the local supermarket.

This is mostly the work of bored local young men, of course.

I often go down to the local "single guy beach" to swim in the evening or morning. There's a lot of coastline and beach near here; as this is an industrial area featuring one of the largest petrochemical refineries in the world, the company and government seem to have gone all out to landscape the area and make it look halfway attractive. (That doesn't take the sulfur out of the air on still days, however.)

I almost always ride my bike down there and as there are usually few people around -- occasionaly Phillipinos from the factories, but rarely anyone else -- I didn't usually bother to lock it, and just left my bag sitting on a bench or a table while I swam.

Last week, however, I was in the water swimming when two Saudi young men started yelling for me and waving their arms. I looked up to see a silver Corolla pulling away from the table where I had left my bag -- and noticed my bag wasn't there.

I swam to shore quickly, and the two young Saudi guys, who didn't speak English, indicated they had the license number of the car and one dialed the police on his cell phone.

At that, the Corolla turned around and raced by -- my bag flew out of the passenger side window and landed in the dust at my feet.

As it happened, there was nothing in it except a towel, my sunglasses and a t-shirt; my keys were there too, however, and that would have been a hassle. But nothing was missing from the bag, even my sunglasses.

The two Saudi guys who didn't speak English began jabbering away in Arabic, interspersed occasionaly with the word "mafia." They indicated that I should use the bike lock that dangled from my handlebars.

I thanked them and they drove off.

Thus I survived my first brush with the Middle Eastern Towel Stealing Mafia.

And who says life in the Middle East is dull?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Spies Like Us

Probably you've all read about the seemingly bungling and incompetent group of Russians who were recently arrested as deep-cover agents and spies in America.

There's an interview in The Telegraph UK with the man who married the (kind of) hot young female spy Anna Kuschenko, who goes by her married name Anna Chapman.

Yet again, English teaching rears its scabby head:

By the time of the wedding in March 2002, Mr Chapman had quit his job in England and quickly found work as a private English tutor, thanks to his new bride.

“The funny thing about Anna was that she always seemed to know exactly where to go and exactly what to do, no matter what the circumstances,” he said.

“I suggested working as an English tutor, so she took me to an obscure building and pinned a notice on the wall and the next day I had 10 phone calls. I couldn’t quite work it out.”

I'm crapping my pants laughing here. . .

I don't know, she's okay, I'm sure I'd have taken her home if drunk, but I've seen better. (However, judging by this picture, which I find myself unable to copy and upload, she has a lovely rack.)

It's pretty obvious what happened here, before you go wondering why the Russian government would hire such an obviously dippy young girl, so completely unskilled in "spycraft" as to put "99 Fake Street" on a mobile phone contract and post pictures of herself and her real name and Russian roots on Facebook.

Her father is ex-KGB and currently a diplomat and clearly a high-up in that world. It probably wasn't as much a case of "Daddy, can I be a spy?" as it was of him using his contacts to put her on the payroll so the government could fund her dumbass shallow goofy SEX IN THE CITY lifestyle. (Although I notice, according to the article, government funding didn't stop her from hooking up with a 60-year-old New Jersey millionaire.)

And I have no doubt she'd screw you until your testicles imploded.

I seriously doubt this will end up a particularly unhappy ending for her -- she'll do a bit of time, maybe, or be deported, and end up in a reality show somewhere.

So, yeah, not bad, but she's no Xenia Onatopp.

(The pedantic English teacher in me feels obliged to point out that there is no female surname like Onatopp in Russia -- she'd be Onatopova, if anything.)