Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Fuckin' Christmas: A Gift And An Invitation

Here's a little Christmas prezzie for you:

This coupon code will enable you to buy VODKABERG on Smashwords for $1.00 (75 percent off)until January 31st --


when you check out, enter this code: TL63Q

Save yourself the other $2.99 and put it in your 401 (k) or invest in canned goods and shotguns.

You're welcome!

Now i should say that the Smashwords version lacks some of the graphics that the Amazon version has, but Amazon has no way to give coupons (that I'm aware of.)

By the way, I'm experimenting with a new cover for Vodkaberg:

this is the current cover:



This is the new cover -- give me an opinion on it. Trying to do away with those black color frames, but maybe this obscures the picture a bit too much?  


As well, I have an invitation:

Would any of you English teachers out there like to be interviewed for a new edition of ENGLISH TEACHER X GUIDE TO TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD? If you have a story to tell, or perhaps would strongly like to confirm or deny what I say in my books, drop me a line at:

englishteacherx(at)yahoo(dot)com

I'll send you a list of questions. The interviews would be totally anonymous, and you can have final approval of the thing, but of course I won't pay you beyond perhaps free copies of any books that you want.

I used to have interviews on my old website; here's a link to the old interviews on my old website on the wayback machine, circa 2005.

(Man, embarrassing. I'm not sure it was cool to spell words with a "z" instead of "s" even then, but there were no different typefaces available for headings at that time.)



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Even More Books About Drinking, Fucking and Travelling (Special BEATNIK Edition)


So it seems like you don't hear too much about these guys anymore, but when I was in college they were the recommended reading list for every would-be bohemian hellraiser. (Although I'm sure far more copies of their books were bought than were actually read, and far more were read than were actually enjoyed.)

Basically I'm skeptical that anybody really gets "inspired" to do something by a book they read -- I think it's more along the lines of: you feel like doing something, find a book that talks about it, and then decide to do it, using the book as your justification.

So anyway, the BEATS certainly didn't set the bar too high in the hero department. The Big Three, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs were a pretty scabby bunch -- drunks and hard drug users, generally as confused about their sexuality as they were about their politics and philosophy, dependent on their parents well into adulthood, and opposed to even the most basic disciplines of writing like editing and proof-reading.

Never mind Albert Schweitzer or Winston Churchill! These were heroes that ANYBODY could be like! Hardly a wonder they became popular. Particularly in the stuffy 50s, and particularly with my generation, who were looking for some lazy shiftless eccentric heroes after the Reagan Years.


Jack Kerouac's ON THE ROAD, published in 1957, is the vaguely autobiographical tale of his aimless journeys around America with Neal Cassady. (Funny -- back in those days, people wrote about stuff that really happened and changed the names, these days people like James Frey and JT Leroy make stuff up and claim that it really happened.)

It was wildly popular, applauded as a tale of nonconformism and a search for meaning -- but really it's just kind of about a bunch of guys out fucking around and drinking and shit, going aimlessly between Denver, San Francisco and New York to hit some jazz clubs, hang out with equally shiftless friends, and hook up with babes, with interims of living with his mom (in Jack Kerouac's case) or pumping out illegitimate children with a couple of different women (in Neal Cassady's case.)

What it lacks in story and character arc it (generally) makes up for in energy and eccentric characters and incident, though, so you'll probably be able to finish it, at least.



It was written on one big roll of paper during an amphetamine binge, supposedly, although later it was actually edited a bit - given chapters and paragraphs and stuff -- but it still occasionally reads like a rambling speedfreak who won't shut up, and the run-on sentence is the norm rather than the exception in this book.

Kerouac's other books continue in this same vein -- they chronicle his journey into middle age, his increasing isolation and alcoholism, the relationship confusion arising from free love (everybody was fucking everybody, and their wife) and his disillusionment with his own line of BS and the media hype surrounding it. Occasionally there are some shallow dabblings in Eastern philosophy and religion -- as with most of life, the Beatniks kind of cherry-picked the easy, cool stuff and rejected hard stuff like chastity, sobriety, devout prayer, etc.

(Reading OFF THE ROAD, a book Neal Cassady's wife Carolyn wrote about those years, offers an interesting look at the same theme from the perspective of the wife and mother waiting at home for the drunks to arrive.)

Kerouac himself died rather a miserable broken-down drunk at age 47, espousing conservative views, on the outs with his friends, living with his third wife and his mother, not having dealt particularly well with fame.

Here he is shortly before his death:



Now Kerouac did make a few trips abroad -- he was in the Merchant Marine, and he wrote at least one story about a trip to Europe he didn't particularly enjoy -- but the guy who was very early to the party in the global "sexpat" and drugs scene was this innocuous-looking gentleman, William Burroughs:


Living on a stipend from his wealthy parents, he lived abroad quite a bit -- Weimar-era Central Europe and pre-war Berlin, Mexico City, Tangiers, Paris and London are just a few of the places he called home. Though he was married, his preference for "boys" in these places is well documented, and if some of the passages in his works are indications, he liked them pretty young, although I don't recall ages ever being specified. (I'm thinking he probably didn't mind too much what side of barely-legal he was dealing with.)

He's one author who it's generally more interesting to read about than to actually read -- the biography of him or his letters are generally very entertaining. When he wasn't banging local boys or using enormous amounts of drugs and alcohol, he was carelessly accidentally killing his wife or journeying through the jungle in search of mystical psychedelic drugs.

His actual books are a bit more of a hard slog. Also published in the late 50s, NAKED LUNCH is a hallucinatory drugged-out collection of characters, stories and descriptions, kind of arranged at random - calling it a novel is reaching a bit. Such nuggets of meaning as can be gleaned from it, though, often involve his expat existence in Mexico, Morocco and the hallucinated "Interzone" which always sounded to me a bit like Khao-San Road.



(Highlights from the David Cronenberg film version.)

JUNKIE is a nice hard-boiled story of drugs in mid-century New York; QUEER is a pretty straightforwardly-narrated story of a trip through South America with a purchased companion he was in unrequited love with. Other novels are quite literally, words pasted together at random, and you'd probably need a couple of syringes of morphine to appreciate them. He got paid for that! Good work if you can get it.

His creaky gallows voice and creepy old sardonic persona make him an interesting spoken-word artist, also. Amazingly, after such a debauched life, he died peacefully at home with his long-time companion at age 83. Heed his advice on life here:



"Beware of whores who say they don't want money," heh heh.

Now the third member of that triumverate was Allen Ginsberg, who as a poet, I will not deal with in great detail, other than to say that he went Burroughs one further in the pederast department, and became a card-carrying member of NAMBLA.

So! Pederasts, junkies, mamma's boys, layabouts, careless firearm users, they also made evading responsibilities and undisciplined, sloppy, random, unedited writing and poetry acceptable for generations to follow. Let's raise our glasses to THE BEATS!






Saturday, December 15, 2012

Coming Attractions

Hi there!

Season's Greetings from America, where I return just in time for another horrific massacre of innocents. The New Normal.

Mayan Calendar Apocalypse is in a few days; I'm not too worried, having survived the Y2K BUG and The Jupiter Effect readily enough, but things certainly do feel like the End of the World in general, recently, or is it just me



Always one to be contrary, I somehow managed to get a bad fever and case of diarrhea AFTER I arrived back in America two nights ago. Maybe it was the cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon I drank at the dirty hipster bar my friends too me too after they picked me up in the airport.

So I thought I'd answer a few questions, and talk about the upcoming year. If the world doesn't end next week, I mean.

WHY DID YOU GO TO COSTA RICA?

It was more like, why not? I have a friend down there, a guy I worked with in Saudi, and just in general I wanted to get out of my mother's attic. And I'd never been to Central America. I'll do a write up on it soon.

DID YOU TAKE THE GIRLFRIEND WITH YOU? DID YOU TWO BREAK UP?

No, I didn't. Plan A was to bring her to America on a student visa; Plan B was to go somewhere else and live, anywhere we could agree upon, but she decided she doesn't want to leave her job until she actually has a ring on the finger.

It feels like we're in negotiations to break up, actually, she increasingly realizing that we're just star-crossed, but the current plan is for me to go to Russia in March. There, I guess, the final decision will be made. Exciting cliffhanger!

ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE ANOTHER BOOK? ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE MORE ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST?

Yeah, I think so. I'm going to write a guide book about grammar, and then I have an idea for the third book in my memoir series --


See all those? That's what we had before blogs. Those are notebooks that I filled up with my various scrawlings and ramblings between 1989 - 2000.

So my idea for the third book is kind of a combination prequel and sequel.

Back when I was in college, I had a really nice, decent, honest girlfriend who would have made a good wife; another long distance relationship. She patiently waited for me to finish college in New Orleans, but of course in the interim LSD, alcohol, random pussy, and Charles Bukowski novels had twisted me all out of shape. And there was a fling with a Catholic schoolgirl in there, too. Little wonder I ended up leaving the country, in retrospect.

I thought it might be interesting to write about that and compare it to my current situation with the long-distance girlfriend. Maybe like, PART ONE would be about my time in Saudi; PART TWO would be about my college years up to the time all my relationships failed and I decided to leave America in 1994; PART THREE three would be about this year and the success (or failure) of this relationship.

So the ending to that book is still being written! How awesome for you to see history as it happens!

Unless the world ends next week, of course.

What about REQUIEM for a title, is that too corny? Or something like FUTURE PAST, maybe.
Or TWILIGHT. Is that taken?



WHAT'S IN THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE?

Gonna stay in America for December and January -- Mom had a hysterectomy and they need some extra hands around the house for a while -- there's that DEATH again -- and I'll probably do some blog posts based on stuff from those old travel journals. Some interesting tidbits there, defo.

Also gonna work on new covers for the books, and a new 2013 edition of the ENGLISH TEACHER X GUIDE TO TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD, with some new material including internet resources, cartoons, and interviews with teachers.

Also got a couple ideas for trips in February -- including, possibly, going to visit the wife (and her stripper friends) of Slappy from VODKABEG in Miami, and possibly a little jaunt to the Caribbean.

Unless the world ends next week, of course.









Monday, December 03, 2012

More Books About Drinking, Fucking, and Travelling (1900 - 1950)

(One last archived entry while I'm sprinting up and down active volcanoes here in Costa Rica. Hoo-ah!)

As a follow-up to my entry about HISTORICAL LITERARY PERSPECTIVE ON DRINKING AND FUCKING, we'll continue to flex our literary muscles here; some more books by, for, and about tourists and expats who did some drinking and fucking, by some famous dead white guys, between 1900 - 1950.

Jerome K. Jerome is more famous for his book THREE MEN IN A BOAT, but for an interesting account of a trip abroad, check out THREE MEN ON A BUMMEL, which concerns a bicycle trip through Germany. Still fun and easy to read, take special note of the way this 1900 novel points out all the things that people still complain about today -- too many tourists, too much advertising, everybody speaks English. (There's a bit of beer drinking and girl-watching and stuff, but there's not too much in the way of debauchery or anything.) Wittness his prophetic comments about Germany, however:

 Hitherto, the German has had the blessed fortune to be exceptionally well governed; if this continue, it will go well with him. When his troubles will begin will be when by any chance something goes wrong with the governing machine.





W. Somerset Maugham was a fun guy -- widely-traveled and bisexual, acerbic of wit, worked as a spy, and all that. He wrote TONS of novels about expats abroad, in the waning days of the British Empire, and a good one to start with might be THE MOON AND SIXPENCE, which concerns a married middle-aged British businessman who chucks it all to go abroad and paint, traveling to France and Tahiti. Published in 1916, he paints a good portrait of the seedy drunken French art cafe underworld and Tahiti as an early "sexpat" destination.


Ernest Hemingway also had early claim to fame as an expat chronicler, and his most famous book on that subject would probably be THE SUN ALSO RISES, published in 1926, concerning a bunch of drunken expats cavorting around France and Spain, especially at the Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona. (They liked to think they invented drinking and fucking, also, that Lost Generation.) The female lead is a crazy slut, although the male lead lost his weiner in the war, or something. Never really clearly explained, but he can't fuck. So he just drinks a lot and takes whores out to dinner instead. That's what I would do.



And how could we not mention Ernest Hemingway's butt-buddy, F. Scott Fitzgerald? He got rich and famous in his twenties writing about drunken partying Jazz Age students, but he spent time abroad as well, and TENDER IS THE NIGHT, published in 1934, is his major book on that subject, concerning a wealthy American couple galavanting around Europe, especially France, as their marriage falls apart due to alcohol and (of course) teenage poontang. (Written, of course, while his marriage to his crazy wife was failing and he was in the process of drinking himself to death.)





Graham Greene is another British guy who wrote tons of novels about expats and British people abroad; the novel THE HEART OF THE MATTER is considered one of his best, published in 1948, about a British policeman in a corrupt sleazy West African colony. As with most of his novels, adultery is one of the themes, there's some teenage poontang, and whores are mentioned. And drinking? In those days abroad gin and tonics were considered medicinal.



Of course there are plenty of others, but those will get you started. Stay tuned for the final entry in this series, which will deal with books written since 1950 on the topics of drinking, fucking, and traveling.






Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Something About English Teaching

So I know it's been a long goddam time since I wrote anything about English teaching.

Hell, it's been a long time since I've DONE any English teaching. Damn near six months now.

So here's one: I made this video a month or so ago and completely forgot to promote it here, as I got sidetracked with this trip to Costa Rica. I thought I might do some work on that shit down here, but that hasn't happened; when I get back, I'm going to make a series of these to promote the book SPEAKING ACTIVITIES THAT DON'T SUCK.

Just as soon as I finish learning to surf here in Costa Rica. Cowabunga!

So the idea of this is to illustrate how annoying, boring, pointless and tedious the usual English class is. Enjoy!
And what's more you'll get to hear my deep rich sexy voice, compared by some to Kermit the Frog. And my stellar voice acting.




Thursday, November 22, 2012

Crazy Old Guys

(While I'm still ziplining through the rainforest with Canadian backpackers and avoiding hotels with monkey shit in the kitchens here in Costa Rica enjoy this backlogged entry from Cyprus about Crazy Old Guys. Costa Rica has plenty of Crazy Old Guys so this is a top I'll have more to say on.)

Another incident from Cyprus -- after I left the resort where I was staying with my Girlfriend, I went to stay at a cheaper place in the city in Aya Napa, that was above a cafe / bar thing.


(That's actually on the embankment in Larnaca, but whatever.)

So there was this Crazy Old Guy there. It was one of the first bars to open in the city, opening at 10.00am, so he'd stop in there first for his morning whiskey.

(Now, when I made a post about myself as a crazy old guy, I got a lot of negative response; but anybody who has spent some time abroad has probably seen or been accosted by one of these guys. On a bus, in the cafes and bars, in a park, whatever, a rosy faced, glassy-eyed guy over 50, probably drunk as hell.)

I'll not divulge his nationality; let's say he was Swiss. You know, European. On a pension. Poor health. He lived in a room there most of the year, banging Russian whores when he needed a woman (which I gather was not often -- banging whores is rarely even a cure for boredom, much less a cure for loneliness) and bothering people in cafes the rest of the time. He was 68, he said.

If he'd ever had a wife, kids, whatever, he had either outlived them or completely alienated them. If he had any friends, likewise. (I take that back - there was one equally-drunk, seemingly homeless Turkish guy who would come willingly talk to him, probably because he wanted drinks.)

He would approach me in the cafe as I checked my email and begin ranting and raving about whatever as he enjoyed his first drink of the day. He had a theory that Turkey was about to invade Syria and there would then soon be a war between NATO and Iran and Russia.

He would ramble about his adventures; he'd spent a lot of time in Central and South America during the 80s during heady times of drugs, revolution, assassination, and civil war. I don't think he managed a complete story, however, just streaming out random bits of information tied together by key words which would send him spinning in a new direction, until I made an excuse to leave.

I mean, a lot of people end up alone and crazy, of course. (And there are worse things than ending up alone.)



But those guys abroad -- it's a very particular kind of crazy. A crazy that comes from nobody ever telling you that you're crazy, either because you're a foreigner or because you're a good customer, and you lack any close relationships.

(I think of my office mate in Saudi, who did not see anything at all unusual in changing his pants right in the middle of the office prior to biking home, and once asked me to download him some animal porn right in the middle of an office full of shy religious Pakistanis.)

So pay a little more attention to the Crazy Old Guys you see. Consider the road he walked. Maybe the Crazy Old Guy in his 20s, 30s, 40s, was a good-looking, fun, charming guy who got laid a lot. Ya think?

In more than a few of the popular travel-and-sex bloggers I already see the roots of Crazy Old Guy -- barely-concealed bitterness, the mood swings, the alienation, the ranting, the constant insistence how right they are and how awesome their life is.

(Believe me, one thing I have learned in my 43 years, there is no bigger indicator that someone is unhappy than that they are constantly insisting how great their life is.)

Ah well. Anyway, dying in the bosom of your family or dying insane on a lonely shore somewhere, you're just as dead. But this is an issue I'm obviously concerned with, how one deals with middle- and old-age abroad. Anybody has any good non-crazy old guy abroad stories, let me know!






Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nightclubbing (43-Year-Old Club Kid Tells All)



(Whilst I'm relaxing and gathering my thoughts down here in Costa Rica, enjoy this backlogged entry.)

I was in Cyprus about ten days without the Girlfriend, and without her, yes, I did go out to nightclubs a couple times.

I went to the Ayia Napa touristy nightclubs; they were a bit slow as it was the end of the tourist season, but I hung out and considered the scene. It was good; plenty of Russian chicks, who love nightclubs and dancing as a general rule. I was alone, and I wasn't by appearance the oldest guy there, although at 43, I'm certainly pushing it.

In addition to the Russians there was some kind of Norwegian school group there, so a lot of the bars were full of Norwegian teenagers, between 16 and 18, I guess, who were running amok. Guys and girls -- the girls were little blonde butterballs who were dancing in their bras and downing shot after lewdly-named shot.

SEMI-RETIRED

I mean, it's been YEARS since I hung out at clubs. 2009, a few tepid attempts when I returned to Russia for the summer in 2010. In spring of this year I went to bars in Dubai and Bahrain a few times, but not any real clubs where people were dancing.

My technique in nightclubs was basically just to dance a bit and stand around looking cute and approachable and put myself in the right position until a girl started talking to me; it worked for me well enough. I was no great dancer, but having dated several ballroom dancers in Russia, I got a few pointers and became passable.

In Ayia Napa, however, there were plenty of guys on the sidelines, mostly Cypriots and Greeks, I think. (As usual the Russian guys were too busy getting drunk.) When I got on the floor and tried to dance a bit -- my god, I was useless. Completely out of practice, I gave it up. I'm semi-retired from that shit, after all.

Just hanging out, though, I got enough sidelong glances and smiles to think that I might have had some luck, had I followed it up, but I didn't.


LATE IN THE GAME

I came to the nightclub thing rather late in the game; back in the early 90s, when I lived in New Orleans, me and my friends were mostly about hanging out in bars. Clubs were (and I mean this literally) for homosexuals, for the most part. We did like live-music shows at rock clubs, I suppose.

So I guess it was the heavily rave-inspired scene in the islands in Thailand in the 90s where I discovered that dancing is probably the easiest way to pick up a girl, without too much complicated conversation. So in addition to all the full-moon parties on Koh Phangan, I hung out a lot at the touristy bars on the islands -- the Bauhaus and the Reggae Pub in Ko Samui, the Shark Club in Phuket. I went alone, I danced a bit, drank a bit, occasionally met girls, and learned to enjoy it.

Then in Prague I became oddly obsessed with the Karlovy Lazni disco in 2000. It had recently opened and was so cheap, large and packed with people that I found it a sort of fascinating, otherworldly microcosm of humanity. I drank absinthe and studied it like a kid studying an ant hive, and feel I learned much about human nature and the rules of human attraction.

(Some of my colleagues had far more luck picking up girls at bars in Prague than I had picking up girls at that place -- I think I picked up maybe 2 girls there in 6 months. But, ever interested in abstracts, I insisted on going to the place, alone if I had to.)

Then of course in Russia, there pretty much weren't any bars, at least in the beginning when I got there. Going out meant going to a nightclub. And they were awesome -- girls went to nightclubs to dance and get laid and socialize. They weren't, at that time, at all snooty or trendy, and often had free stripshows and go-go dancers, lewd contests of various sorts, etc. (Note my African friends in the foreground there.)

You didn't need any pickup techniques other than speaking English, at that time. I did not, have not and will not, wear a shiny shirt or a funny hat at any nightclub.

(I know I make fun of PUA types for their humorlessness but all I've read about their nightclub techniques and how to approach and talk to women are surely pretty accurate. Mystery seems like a good teacher, BTW, and I'd give him an English teaching position without hesitation.)



NUMBERS GAME

So I was trying to think -- how many nights out at discos have I had in my life? In the ten years from 1999 - 2009, I'm thinking that we could definitely say at least two nights a week. Because often it was three, and in Vodkaberg, in 2004 and 2005 sometimes four and even a few times a harrowing five nights a week. (Back when I worked 4.45 to 9.30, it wasn't a big deal to sleep until 1.00 or 2.00 pm.)

So, 52 weeks times 10 years = 520 weeks, two days a week equals ... over A THOUSAND trips to  nightclubs.

Yeesh. That's quite a statistic. Because that is one unhealthy ecosphere, especially in countries where smoking is allowed in nightclubs. The loud music, too. I have tinnitus in my right ear, and I'm sure that's why.

In Cyprus, the clubs close at 2:00am -- at least they did in October -- that's actually an advantage compared to Russia, where the clubs closed at 5:00 or 6:00am and people were often too drunk and exhausted to have much good sex.(Myself certainly included.)

(Is there a PUA name for a technique where you hang around outside nightclubs that are closing and try to strike up conversations, and make invitations to after-parties, to girls coming out? We did that a lot back in the day, and I recommend it if you need to save the entrance fee.)

KIDS TODAY

On the way back to the hotel, on my last night in Cyprus, some drunk Norwegian teenage butterballs started talking to me and one said, "Do you want to buy us shots?" She indicated her friend and said, "She will give you a blowjob for it!" They burst into giggles and scurried into the club nearby.

I considered following them, of course, but just went back to the room. Kids today, I thought. Why, get a hold of yourself, girls, I haven't had sex with a teenager since I was 39.



Sunday, November 04, 2012

Stuff

Just packing up to go to Costa Rica.

A few weeks ago I was reading about a certain travel blogger and writer. (I will continue the policy of not linking to anybody, ever -- I stand alone as the X-o-sphere.)

As yet another inane experiment in lifestyle sculpting or whatever they call it, he was going to reduce his total possessions to 20. (Or something like that, I didn't read it very closely.)

And I'm like, yeah, you and every fucking African refugee, dude!

Here's all the shit I threw away when I left Saudi; mostly cheap clothes that I bought at the Filipino clothing shops. (Where they sold a weird combination of second-hand, irregular, and stolen off the back of a truck clothes.) And the usual condiments and books and stuff went to whoever would take them.




I don't think I've owned more than twenty things in my LIFE, unless we're talking about dollars, t-shirts or books. (And of course most of the books remain in my mother's attic.)

I mean hell, nowadays, if you own a laptop -- you conceivably own hundreds or thousands of ebooks, movies, songs, and games, as well as a way to connect to the internet, which allows you access to every kind of entertainment or information imaginable as well as instantaneous connection to practically anybody in the world.

What the fuck else do you NEED? That and some clothes and a couple pairs of shoes. And a first-aid kit, maybe.

God, I remember the mid-to-late 90s -- toting around tattered fucking paperbacks, casette tapes, cheap Chinese walkmen radios, fucking hell! You had to go to cafes to watch bootlegs of recent movies.

If you wanted to talk to a friend in another country, it ended up costing like hundreds of dollars, and you had to go to little phone center places to even do it. Fucking snail mail, jesus christ, even if somebody could be bothered to write you, you wouldn't receive it half the time.

And mobile phones, Christ, THOSE will improve your social life. Having to meet somebody at a particular time or place in a strange country was damn near impossible. Never mind the magic wand of Google Translate.

So I was thinking, THERE'S a challenge for one of you young epic adventure travel dudes -- go out without a laptop or a phone.

And of course write a book about it. You can call it "Analog Adventure Travel" or something like that.





Tuesday, October 30, 2012

End-of-Summer Clearance



So, I don't know, my final impression is that it was a disappointing summer -- even the last Batman movie sucked -- although I did accomplish most of the things I wanted to.

As you may remember I had a little checklist of things I wanted to do during my American summer. Ostensibly these things were to make me feel more adult, competent, and masculine, as well as keep me occupied until the Girlfriend arrived. (But of course that didn't work out.)


GUNS:

So I ended up taking about $1800 worth of gun and practical gun-related self defense classes, as well as maybe a thousand bucks worth of ammo. There are plenty of gun enthusiasts here in the Dirty South, and it was tremendously fun and I met some interesting (albeit pretty right-leaning, politically) people.

But of course, the more you train with other people - we used airsoft guns for practical training - the more you realize that you are just very well advised to avoid gunfights at all costs. A lot of those guys training were cops, or former and future military or people who often go in harms way, so at least they kind of had a reason.

(And of course, as it seems, I won't be living in America anytime soon, so I won't have access to guns anyway.)

I got a concealed carry permit; it was interesting to go to the local county jail to get my fingerprints done - they had a very modern CSI electronic fingerprint setup in the crumbling cruddy local lockup.

Actually carrying a gun around with me was kind of cool and nerve-wracking until I got used to it; then it's just another thing to worry about. (Hmmm, let's see, wallet, phone, keys, handgun ... )



I love this video: "realistically, unless you consort with the criminal underclass, you are unlikely to be the victim of violent crime; you buy drugs, you frequent prostitutes, you hang out at the bar on the wrong side of town, etc."

Hey, don't we all?

ORGANIZATION:

On that note, one of the best things I took away from those classes were tips about being more organized. (First hint: always put a particular thing in the same pocket or pouch every time.) One guy who taught one of those classes, daily, carried around with him: 2 guns, 2 spare magazines for the guns, 3 knives, a multi-tool, a lighter, a flashlight, spare batteries for the flashlight, a small survival/first-aid kit, wallet, keys, phone, lockpicks, and a USB memory stick with all his important documents and personal information on them.

And what's more -- he could find whatever he needed instantly. Fuck being a tough guy, THAT'S the guy I want to be -- the guy who can find his stuff.


CARS:

Cars are sort of my bete noir, and not having one is one of the things I really love about living abroad.

I wanted to learn how to change the oil on a car and do basic maintenance, however, mainly in anticipation of living and working in America; since that's not going to happen my enthusiasm for that project waned anyway, and my mother was extremely hesistant to let me mess around with her car, especially after I backed it into another car, causing an expensive hassle for both of us.

Anyway, fuck cars.

MARTIAL ARTS AT A STRIP MALL:

Also fun, though I had to divide time among so many cities that I only got in a few lessons. I did a mixed program with some emphasis on Escrima stick fighting. Sure they do MMA and modern street combatives, but I kind of missed the old pajama-punching days so we did that too, a look back at the nostalgic days when there was time for tradition, respect, and ceremony in martial arts, and not just rear naked chokes and ground-and-pound. 

SURIVIVAL AND FIRST AID:

Alas, scheduling things made me not able to take the classes I wanted in those fields. (I wanted to take a SERE class but it was cancelled, and a Wilderness First Aid course, but I was in Cyprus.)

Although, as mentioned, my comprehensive knowledge of people being fucked up on drugs helped me to improve my father's condition, and we did get some info about dealing with traumatic injuries and bullet wounds in one of my classes though, so there's that.


MONEY:

So all of that was fine; but nothing makes a guy in his 40s feel more mature or cool than making money, though, and I'm happy to say that I've been pulling in around $1500 a month from ebook writing projects. Now here's the tease - only about half, or less, of that comes from ETX books.

What's the other project? Well, that's going to be a very funny story one of these days. But as I suspect a lot of these guys who make money online do -- I'm ONLY GOING TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT WHEN I'M SURE THAT I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE MONEY FROM IT ANYMORE.

And then I'll write a book about how to do it, and sell it.

But anyway, it did take time; four to six hours a day, sometimes. But when you can work at your own pace in your underwear while listening to Howard Stern or whatever, that's a whole 'nother vibe from getting dressed and going to the office.

BLOGGING ABOUT AMERICA:

As well as the general poor health of America, I blogged about small-town American streetwalkers, and compared English teachers to Mexican immigrants, as I promised.

I promised something about the Hotness Quotient of American women, and though I certainly didn't go out much, I'll get a more comprehensive entry about that up next, combined with something about my 25th high school reunion. A complete entry about employment prospects in America is coming, also, based on the experiences of my erstwhile former colleague Crazy Bob.

As for the American Dream, what am I going to say about that that hasn't already been said. Things aren't going well here, that's clear. It's a nation divided, unhealthy, and unhappy, and most frighteningly deeply in denial and insanely illogical about it.



I would however, blame the honest hardworking folks of the country a bit more than Carlin does. Stop being stupid and fat, first step.

BACK INTO THE WORLD

Because me and America, it seems, we're done. I'm going to Costa Rica next week for 6 weeks, I'll come back here for Christmas, and then in January I'm off again, back into the world.

I just wrote a big backlog of blog entries, so there should be at least weekly blog updates.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Oh, By The Way ...

HOW TO SURVIVE LIVING ABROAD is available for free until December on Smashwords and Amazon.



GET IT HERE FREE ON AMAZON US

(The international Amazon stores are apparently still charging 99 cents for it. Hardly a fortune, you cheap bastard.)

GET IT HERE FREE ON SMASHWORDS

So this is a nice breezy little book I wrote which covers all aspects of living abroad other than English teaching, such as:

- funding your travels through means fraudulent and otherwise
- why cheap countries aren't necessarily that cheap
- are foreign women really the best choices for wives?
- personal security and you
- how to rip people's throats out with your bare hands
- where to hide stuff

And much more. Part memoir , part survival guide, part self-help book, and part savage fucking parody of all of the above.

And it's got actual links to useful information, too. UNPAID ones. That's how much fucking dignity English Teacher X has.

Here's an excerpt from CHAPTER THREE THE ACTUAL TRAVEL PART

EXCERPT:

MODERN AIR TRAVEL IS FUCKED

Whatever glamorous notion of international travel you have, you will be quickly disabused of in the blandly homogenized yet vaguely terrifying modern airports of the world, as you pass through ominous checkpoints manned by cheerless security personnel who at best will harass you with intrusive questions and high-radiation scanning and at worst will feel your genitals and selectively enforce arbitrary, pointless rules by confiscating harmless items from your luggage, just to keep you from getting too complacent.

People will be strewn about the airport like it’s a refugee camp, desperately seeking a comfortable place to sleep, contorting themselves impossibly in the chairs, trying to bathe themselves and move their bowels in the overcrowded bathrooms.

Air travel is like bus travel used to be – your fellow travelers will be refugees and dregs of society, traveling for plenty of reasons, none of them pleasurable.
Now the one percent travel by private plane or by yacht; the rest of us suffer in airplane seats designed like medieval torture instruments, and airports that are more like high-security shopping malls.




GETTING IN

To be fair, the volume of people passing through airports in the modern world makes it unlikely that airport personnel will select you for more specific harassment.

But they certainly might.

They can do anything they want to you, let’s make that clear.

They can search all your possessions, look inside your laptop files, read your personal correspondence, and even decide to take a look up your asshole, should they deem it necessary.

Now, you might read of people saying you have rights not to answer questions, or to refuse them, etc.

And you probably do have those rights, as long as you are willing to be arrested.
You, as a young person with a lot of stamps in your passport, do probably fit a certain profile, so it’s likely you might get asked more questions about where you’re going and where you’ve been and so forth.

As long as you have your visa in order, you’re not likely to be bothered much when you’re entering another country. Even if you don’t have a place to stay, get the name of some hotel off the internet and say you’re going to stay there.

A nice prosperous Western doofus like you is much less worrisome for the customs and passport control people than the stream of Bangladeshi manual laborers, African refugees, Albanian gangsters, Filipino sex slaves, and so forth that they have to deal with on a daily basis.

Getting back home, however, might be more troublesome.

If you’re just kind of traveling around, have a nice innocent itinerary in mind to talk about. I’m sure no one is moronic enough to wax rhapsodic to customs about the awesome time they had doing drugs and banging whores in Thailand or Amsterdam.

If you’ve been abroad a while, and are returning to your home country after a lengthy absence, I can recommend saying you’re an English teacher. I’ve found that customs almost always loses interest in me when I tell them that. They see plenty of us scrubby bastards going back and forth these days, I suppose, and they know we’re generally broke, harmless, and beneath notice.

If you happen to have parental funding or have your own shady internet business, claiming to be an English teacher is a good cover story that will probably save you some hassle.

I’d imagine saying something vague like “I’m a consultant” or “investing” would also, but who knows – they might get interested in what you’re doing with your money, and where you’re keeping it. English teachers don’t have the problem of foreign bank accounts, because they’re usually broke.

You might consider familiarizing yourself with the name of a school in whatever country you’ve been in, of course; I’ve been asked if I had anything to prove where I worked, so if you really feel you might need it, get something with school letterhead, or a student’s book or whatever.

I’ve only had my shit torn apart by customs once, when I was coming back from Thailand in 1996. I was underweight, haggard, mumbling my answers, visibly nervous, and didn’t have a clear answer about what I was going to do when I got back to America.
Not that I was up to anything illegal – I just didn’t have any plans.

So, you know, try not to be underweight and haggard, don’t mumble your answers, don’t appear visibly nervous, and have some clear answers about where you’re going and what you’re doing. Don’t get defensive or argue with them. They didn’t make the laws. They’re getting paid like $12 an hour by Homeland Security to ask you some questions, so try to make it as easy as possible on the both of you.

But make up a story if you might need one, and get some details in.

Remember my experience with customs in Russia when I got a business visa – I had to explain what I was consulting about, and where.

It’s not like you’re a master criminal, anyway, so just give them a few clear answers. That’s all they want.

They just don’t want to be held responsible if you get into the country and commit some horrendous act of mayhem.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Exodus


As I mentioned, during the summer, I backed my mother's car into a parked car in the street, causing enough damage that I had to pay the $500 insurance deductible. (Of course the dumb rednecks who owned the car I backed into padded their damages enough that I couldn't just pay it out of pocket. You know how that goes.)

So to pay off this debt, and just in general to earn my keep, I did gardening work around the house -- my stepfather keeps a very large garden and of course that requires weeding, mulching, picking and trimming, and I also did some more strenuous stuff like moving dirt around in wheelbarrows, etc.

I often found myself working alongside of the Mexican gardener.

He's been working in America for about five years. He works as a gardener, cleaner, and general lawn worker during the day for about $12 an hour, and also occasionally works in the evening as a bartender for a catering company. (Mexicans in the small town where I live are in great demand for the quality of the work they do so they can command a relatively good salary. "They do much better work than the stoners and the college kids," as my mom says.)

Like me in Saudi Arabia, he had a goal and he recently reached it -- he showed me a picture of the house he'd bought -- a comfortable-enough looking two-story bungalow in an area of Mexico I'm not familiar with -- and he will soon be returning to Mexico to see the wife and kid he's only seen a couple of times in the last five years. (I have no idea how he gets across the border.)

He beamed with pride as he showed me the picture of his wife and kid, and he spends a lot of time talking to them on the phone.

Anyway -- my point -- he went to work in another country so he could make more money and provide for his family. That's the way people have been doing it for centuries. I worked alongside Pakistanis and Phillipinos in Saudi Arabia who were doing the exact same thing.

But now -- in general in the world -- we've got scads and hordes of entitled Americans and Europeans who are going abroad to work in positions where they make LESS money, in general search of more free time, and more specifically, in search of a better quality of sex. (Women are doing this too, don't kid yourself.)

So, I'm just wondering -- is this precedented? Has there ever been a Great Cootchie Hunt migration before, in human history? I mean, evolutionarily speaking, maybe it's a good idea. In search of healthy breeding and all that.

I don't know, I guess plenty of people have migrated in search of Religious and Political Freedom, in human history, and that's just another way to spell fuck, right?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some Historical Literary Perspective on Drinking, Travelling, and Fucking

Continuing on the theme of perspective --

So every generation likes to think that they invented drinking and fucking, and recent generations like to think that they invented traveling. With that in mind, here's a list of some REALLY old books about those things, so we can all keep our heads straight.


Some of the first prose works to be identified as novels were pretty much about travelling and fucking around: THE CANTERBURY TALES, from  within its framework of tales being told during a pilgrimage, includes THE MILLER'S TALE, a Tucker Max-like tale of drunken students chasing a guy's wife, analingus and red-hot pokers being mistakenly jammed in farting assholes. This was written at the end of the 14th century by the way. Nothing new under the sun, they got "Tucker Max Drunk" back in ancient Egypt, dude.


CANDIDE, the 1759 novel by Voltaire, features an optimistic, sheltered young man being thrust out into the world where he encounter one bizarre adventure and tragedy after another. (Gee that sounds kinda familiar.) To quote from the Wikipedia synopsis regarding his adventures in Paraguay:

When Candide proclaims he intends to marry Cunégonde, her brother attacks him, and Candide stabs him through with his rapier. After lamenting all the people (mainly priests) he's killed, he and Cacambo flee. In their flight, Candide and Cacambo come across two naked women being chased and bitten by a pair of monkeys. Candide, seeking to protect the women, shoots and kills the monkeys, but is informed by Cacambo that the monkeys and women were probably lovers.














Most people are probably familiar with GULLIVER'S TRAVELS from the many g-rated cartoon adaptations; but this 1735 tale of incessant travel and non-stop snarkiness even puts snarky travellers like Paul Theroux on the trailer.

As far as depravity, Gulliver visits not only a land where he is a giant -- there is a mention of the residents being startled at his penis size during a parade -- but also a land where he is tiny and everyone else is a giant. The local women seem fascinated with him  -- he is placed on a giant breast:

I must confess no object ever disgusted me so much as the sight of her monstrous breast, which I cannot tell what to compare with, so as to give the curious reader an idea of its bulk, shape, and colour. It stood prominent six feet, and could not be less than sixteen in circumference. The nipple was about half the bigness of my head, and the hue both of that and the dug, so varied with spots, pimples, and freckles, that nothing could appear more nauseous.

and then:

The handsomest among these maids of honour, a pleasant, frolicsome girl of sixteen, would sometimes set me astride upon one of her nipples, with many other tricks, wherein the reader will excuse me for not being over particular.

Hey now! Talk about sex tourism!



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Turn And Face The Strange Changes



Okay, first order of business is to address some comments made recently on the internet along the lines of "Oh,English Teacher X is full of shit, he just got old, Russia hasn't changed."

First of all -- I DEFINITELY got old. I'm 43. I have flecks of not just grey but pure WHITE in my hair. I cherish them as reminders of my mortality.
My middle age is really the only reason this blog is still relevant -- there are younger guys out there travelling far more widely and fucking around far more enthusiastically than I ever did. (I'm sure I don't need to link to them.)

But what I have to offer you is perspective -- what happens at the end of a long run like that? Is bitterness and death inevitable, or is there a happy ending? How do you extend, change or conclude a life spent fucking around?

'Cause we're all getting older baby. Me, you, Britney Spears, everybody.



Second of all -- of COURSE FUCKING RUSSIA CHANGED A LOT! I was there for NINE YEARS! I first went there TWELVE FUCKING YEARS AGO! A lot of you were probably in middle school then.

Back when I got to Russia, people listened to CASSETTE TAPES! You know what those are? No of course you don't. Google it and find out.

Can you still get laid and have fun in Russia? Well hells yeah! Where did I say you can't? You're a fucking awesome playa, right?

But it's a Russia that costs four or five times as much, has a lot more restrictions on drinking in public, has high-speed trains and shopping malls, has about eight times as many cars as it had, has 8 percent of the world's billionaires, and has 116 countries that Russians can now visit without visas. You don't even have to go to Russia to meet Russians anymore!

In general for a foreign visitor there, it'll be much better than it was back in 2000. There's a wider choice of food options, it's easier to get clothes and electronics and shit, and easier to get around without speaking the language. And you probably won't have to wash your clothes in the bathtub.

Someone made the comment:

Less enjoyable is all this business of this is a Russia that’s gone. Really? Shopping malls and Russian x factor aside, you can still see a 3 wheeled car on a motorway and still get put in jail for 2 years just for doing a silly dance in a Church…

Yeah, you know who was doing that silly dance? A feminist punk rock art collective!

The mere fact of their existence shows how much shit has changed. Feminist art rock?? Russian pop music in 2002 consisted of 16-year-old fake lesbian schoolgirls:



So it's not like I was there for two years or something, I was there for nearly a DECADE. The whole WORLD fucking changed. Now the USA and EU are broke and China and Russia have big cash surpluses.

So it's still Russia and it's still a Russian experience, and Russian chicks are still awesome, but it's changed tremendously. Don't take my word for it, get a second opinion.

You know what's worse than an old guy who complains that everything has changed? An old guy who hangs around pretending nothing has changed.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Guess Who's Back

I'm back! The modern world, holy crap. One minute you're sunning yourself in the Mediterranean, the next you're in your mom's spare bedroom staring moodily out at the rain and catching up on all your internet shit.

I stayed off the internet pretty much completely during the holiday, although I did write some stuff, so I'll be posting a lot the next few days.

So! Here we go.


GENERAL THOUGHTS ON CYPRUS

Of course three weeks doesn't really give me any great insight into a country that despite its rather tragic history of colonization, revolution, and invasion, still manages to embrace cheap Jaeger shots and cocktails named after sex acts.

The touristy areas of Ayia Napa reminded me an awful lot of the Florida spring breaks of my youth, from the beer bongs and cheap shots right down to shops that sold "this is your brain in Cyprus!" t-shirts and swords and throwing stars. Except with Russians and Norwegians.

(Of course there weren't any Russians in clubs in those days. That would have been a Red Dawn situation if that shit happened.)



Yet Cyprus impressed me! Great weather, crystal clear water, reasonable prices, and if you should happen to tire of the bronzed and busty Cyprus babes, there's always the hordes of Russians (both resident and tourist -- about 50,000 resident Russians there, I heard.) Even my taxi driver was a good-looking Ukrainian woman.

And also an interesting array of historical sites, including a church with the tomb of famous undead zombie friend of Christ, Lazarus.



THE GF

As far as the girlfriend -- we're still at a bit of a stalemate -- she doesn't want to leave her job until she has a ring on her finger. I offered to move her to Cyprus in January, where there's a well-developed "marriage tourism" industry for Russians -- and she agreed to think about it -- otherwise I'll go back to Vodkaberg, just in time for the Dead of Winter. And the Olympics.

In the meantime? Got a few interesting ideas, none of them much involving America.

Stay tuned -- same X time, same X channel!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gone Fishing

My blog updates are pretty sporadic at the best of times, but I suspect they'll be slim-to-none until the middle of October; I'm on vacation with the Girlfriend in Cyprus, aka Russa on the Med.



Seriously, this place is awesome; probably a better place to meet Russian girls then Russia at this point, it's absolutely heaving with Russian tourists. In September of course it's a bit more tilted towards familes and old people than hot young university students, but there seem to be plenty of those, too. The weather is certainly nicer and it's even cheaper. Beer in a cafe for 2 euros? I haven't seen that in Russia since 2008.

Is the fact that I'm thinking about beer and university students a bad sign, since I came here to decide the future of my relationship with the Girlfriend?

I'll leave you on that cliffhanger note.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Russian Girl in America on Americans


I drove a few hours last week to visit a girl that I used to go out with in Vodkaberg.

She didn't make the final cut of my memoir of the same name, but she was actually around a lot in 2003 and 2004; she studied with the African students I knew at the engineering school.
Russia in 2004, back when people used home phones

She was notable among all the girls I knew as far as she was the only devout virgin. She was saving herself for marriage, not for religious reasons but because her mom had been a single mother at a young age from an older married guy and warned her daughter repeatedly not to make that mistake.

She ended up coming to America twice on a work-travel summer program; the second time she was here she got married.

Now she's a grad student and assistant teacher in an engineering program here in the Dirty South in a capital city that will remain nameless.

"Why didn't you marry me back in Russia and save me from my awful marriage?" she asked, rhetorically.

"I didn't know you were going to get married. I didn't even know you were leaving. You didn't even say goodbye!"

"I was busy with a lot of things, as you can imagine."

"Well, me too. Mainly drunkenness."

"This is only my version of the story, of course, but I was working hard in three jobs and he was just taking money from his parents and sitting around playing video games. It was like having a room-mate, not a husband. That's not the way it should be."

"Yeah, I guess not."

"But even though he wasn't doing anything a husband should do, he started to get more and more jealous and possessive. It didn't end well."

We chatted about America, and I casually mentioned that she must be really popular in the U.S. She's a curvy little blonde.

"Actually it's really difficult for me! If you go to a nightclub, it's all blacks and Latins."

"You're still racist, I see."

"Well, I'm Russian. Their culture is very ... specific, to me. I like them but ..."

"What about at your university? Can't meet guys there?

"They're all Asians and Indians. In fact I had a boyfriend from the Middle East for a while. But it turned out he was married in his home country."

"Mmm, yeah, that happens."

"You know Russian girls like nightclubs. But most guys in America only sit around bars. And if you try to start a conversation! Either they're terribly rude, or they immediately want to have sex with you."

"Immediately?"

"Well, yes! They'll try to kiss you or grab your ass immediately. Sometimes I go out with some of my Russian friends to these lounges where mostly Russians go but it's very ... mercantile, there."

"Can't you talk to guys in the health club or whatever?"

"Well, it's the same thing. American men are terrible at conversation. Either too shy or too rude, and they all want to have sex five minutes later."

"We're not a patient society," I admitted.

So there you have it, boys, advice from the source: slow it down and be patient. And wait more than five minutes to ask for sex.

2004, back when Russian wallpaper was REAL Russian wallpaper






Sunday, September 09, 2012

Addicted to Fucking

Sex addiction.

Yeah, I know, right? Sign me up for that one! Meth addicts lose their teeth, go insane, and have heart attacks, and sex addicts get to fuck all the time!

So of course every would-be comedian makes jokes like that, and on the face of it does sound pretty ridiculous. "I wasn't aware that could be considered a problem," Kirk Douglas reportedly said when his son Michael Douglas went into rehab for it.

But you know, if the reality TV show era has taught us anything -- compulsive behavior is the problem, not the activity itself. You wouldn't think that collecting stuff would be a problem, either, but look at this poor slob on HOARDERS:



So basically, anything you do to excess can consume and ruin your life, even seemingly harmless shit. Drinking and drugs just have more extreme physical effects; fucking and gambling have more pronounced social effects.

I saw this move recently, SHAME, about a guy who's got a bit of a problem with the pussy. He's dealing with it fairly well -- he doesn't drink much and he's extremely successful at his corporate job -- we see him celebrating some vaguely-defined corporate success with his boss and he lives in what would be an enormously expensive apartment in Manhattan.


But it's all beginning to cost him -- he's seemingly cut himself off from normal relationships to the extent that he can't even perform when he goes out with a nice girl from the office. He's driven to spank it even at work, where his accessing porn sites has infected the company computer. In the movie of course it all comes to a grimy boil when his equally slutty and disturbed sister comes for a visit, and he bottoms out in what a lot of internet doofuses would probably describe as the most awesome night out ever.

(I made a tweet once speculating that the difference between a rock-bottom confession and a manosphere fratire funny story is usually just tone and marketing.)

If you check out the movie -- and I recommend it -- notice that it's not just the fucking that the guy is addicted to -- he needs random anonymous couplings and masturbation. It's like the old joke about how you pay a whore not to fuck you, but to leave afterwords. His solitude is as much of an addiction as the fucking. (This is somewhat actually to his credit -- at least he doesn't have a wife or girlfriend that he's constantly fucking around on, like all-too-many severe pussy hounds.)

Another good movie on the topic is AUTO FOCUS, about the life of actor Bob Crane, whose career was hampered (and life was probably ended) by relentless womanizing and early experiments with home sex tapes:



Kind of funny in this day and age though -- we've got people like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton whose careers pretty much exist solely because of home sex tapes, and poor Bob Crane couldn't get work because of them, and ends up strangled in a hotel room with his skull caved in.

And of course, the problem with relentless fucking -- it's like all compulsions, it just escalates and you've got to do more and more extreme shit to capture the initial thrill. More dangerous women, more complicated and dominant scenarios, less sanitary acts.

And the end result of THAT of course is that, worst-case scenario, you might end up like somebody like Gary Heidnik:



So there you go. A public service announcement from English Teacher X. When you've got hookers locked up in the basement, it's time to admit you've got a problem.





Friday, September 07, 2012

The Me Report

So the girlfriend wanted until the end of August to decide if we were going to continue our relationship.

She decided she couldn't really decide, so we should go on a vacation together and try to work something out.

We're going to Cyprus. I've never been there before; it was one of the first easy destinations for Russians back in the day, though, so she decided she wanted to go there.

I wanted to go somewhere in South America or the Caribbean, but she didn't want to take a 20-hour flight. She rightly pointed out that I'm not working, so I could more easily handle a long flight. (But to that end, I'm staying for 3 weeks, whereas she's staying for 10 days -- if I'm flying for 20 hours, I'm taking an extended holiday.)

Some possible options, if we stay together, include: me returning to Vodkaberg; the two of us going to some as-of-yet undecided third country; getting married and starting paperwork for America (which can take anywhere from two months to a year.)

Possible options if we break up? Oh baby. Sky's the limit.

I've now been without a job for nearly three months; fortunately the income from the ebooks, and another writing project that will for now remain undisclosed, are more or less meeting my expenses. (So I don't really need to touch my fairly enormous savings from Saudi.)

So the path diverges, my American Dream, like so many, just broken fragments in the dirt.

Good thing anyway. I'm fucking bored with this place. Today I went to the library for a lunchtime presentation about identity theft, and then went into the backyard and threw throwing stars. My mother is beginning to wish I'd start blackout-drinking again, it'd be less pathetic.



I was even thinking about registering to vote, but anyway, fuck you too, America. You don't want me? Fine. I'm going.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

VODKABERG is Hot, Baby

After about 36 hours of availability, VODKABERG: NINE YEARS IN RUSSIA is . . .

#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Asia > Russia (and was #1 for a while there)

#8 in Books > Travel > Asia > Russia > General
#41 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Travel > Specialty Travel > Adventure

I'd say that speaks more to the generally poor state of the publishing industry than the amount of copies it has sold, however.

BUY IT HERE ON AMAZON.COM AS A PAPERBACK OR EBOOK

BUY IT HERE ON SMASHWORDS.COM AN AN EBOOK IN THE FORMAT OF YOUR CHOICE

I wanted to include a lot of pictures in the book, but so far am having trouble with that because they take up too much space in the file. (The Amazon version has a few, Smashwords ony a couple.)

In lieu of that, here are a couple of remixes of the promo video:



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

May I Present VODKABERG: NINE YEARS IN RUSSIA


All right, here we go. The mid-week, no-fanfare drop of the long-delayed memoir about my nine years in Russia. VODKABERG.

BUY IT HERE FOR THE AMAZON KINDLE FOR $3.99

BUY IT HERE AS A PAPERBACK AT CREATESPACE FOR $12.99

BUY IT HERE FOR ALL OTHER EBOOK FORMATS AT SMASHWORDS

Now, I should say that the Smashwords version is inferior to the Amazon version, because due to the size limits of the file, I had to leave out most of the pictures. (Trying to figure out a way to fix that.)

So I offer you this coupon if you want to buy it on Smashwords -- 50 percent off --

Promotional price: $2.00
Coupon Code: GP66M
Expires: September 29, 2012


So here it is. It's big -- more than 118,000 words, which is like more than twice as long as my other books. It's also complex, with lots of characters, and probably a lot more dark, weird, difficult, and depressing than my last memoir.

But -- you want to know what my time in Russia was like? This is it. That's the only claim I make for it.



Friday, August 24, 2012

Death and the Manchild


Yep, no shortage of Death around here lately.

In addition to two notable massacres, America has been beset with a horrific heatwave and drought, West Nile Virus, and raging wildfires. These are becoming the new normal -- get used to them all. (Another mass shooting has occurred as I write this.)

On a more personal note, friends of relatives and relatives of friends are dropping like flies, or fighting chronic illnesses of various sorts. A fried of the family was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died in the space of less than six months.

All the gun and self-defense courses I've taken this summer just seem like kids playing Commando, at the base of it; we all know that dying in a blaze of glory gunfight is far less likely than a more boring death. In fact, last year, at one of the ranges I was taking lessons from, one of the instructors died of a heart attack the night before the class, at the age of 59. Here he'd spent his life training to shoot his way out of trouble when he should have been watching his cholesterol.

As I said, America seems very old and very sick. The small town I live in hosts the regional medical center; giant billboards advertise cancer treatments and "assisted living" facilities. Perfect strangers in the Walgreens strike up conversations about amputations, chemo therapy, and surgeries.

It's a good question as to what my generation is going to do now that the baby boom generation is getting old and sick. Because we certainly can't afford to take care of them and most of us lack even the most basic sense of responsibility.


BUT ON THE BRIGHTER SIDE

But on the brighter side -- funny thing happened.

My father, as I mentioned, is suffering from both Parkinson's and a head trauma that seemed to be causing serious dementia.

But, when I was with him -- I realized something. He wasn't acting like a guy who had senile dementia.

He was acting like a guy who was Fucked Up. Drunk or drugged. Slurred speech and staggering are also caused by Parkinson's, but something about his stream of consciousness speaking, glassy eyes, and giggly impulsive behavior just seemed too familiar.

I've seen people with senile dementia and Alzheimer's -- I had a few colleagues in Saudi who were more than a little senile, and I once cared for a grandmother with Alzheimer's. They have more of a blank "nobody's home" look, not the aforementioned glassy look.

My father doesn't drink, so I started examining the medicines he was taking, and sure enough, he was taking way too much of one medicine and my stepmother was occasionally giving him some of her Vicodin painkillers, unprescribed, for recurring pain from a shoulder injury.

Anyway, long story short, with proper medicine management, he is much much better. I mean, his Parkinson's isn't going to go away and he's still old, but he's much improved.

So there you go. What did I get out of all my years abroad? A very comprehensive understanding of people who are fucked up on drugs, and how to deal with them.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Where the Hell is VODKABERG?

I promised a book about my 9 years in Russia in "spring or summer 2012."

I'm now at least two months behind the first deadline. The book is basically done; it's with my editor now, getting a final edit, and then it'll come back to me and get formatted for publishing -- and then it'll be up.

When will that be exactly?

Well, uh, soon!

So mea culpa. I've had a lot of shit to do. I got a sick father and a stressed-out girlfriend, in addition to all the time I spend running around in the woods playing guns.

Anyway, while you're waiting, here's an excerpt:

excerpt from VODKABERG

Russia, 2002.

(Our hero begins to discover the joys of incessant womanizing, and begins to practice "defensive dating" by dating several wanton, unfaithful women at the same time.)


The dental student often came to the Saturday parties before going to the Degenerate Bar, but we had a problem. I was too embarrassed to take her into the other room and have sex with her while the guests were there, and she couldn’t stay with me because her husband would always pick her up from the gay bar at 2:00 am.

We made out in the bathroom and she fondled my cock in the hallway. I got her in my upstairs molestation corner at the Degenerate Bar many times.

“When will you come visit me?” I asked in my halting Russian.

“Wait,” she said, smiling.

One evening, Crazy Angel called me as I was coming home from work.

“I’m coming over tonight. Get ready to have a lot of sex,” she said.

“Sounds good!” I enthused.

She arrived at about 10:30 pm and we had a couple of beers and she told me that someone had given her some sort of “Viagra for women.” She showed me the small tube and said that a friend had told her that rubbing it on her pussy lips had driven her wild.

I examined the tube; it seemed that the only active ingredient in it was menthol. I supposed that it would do nothing but create a painful and unpleasant burning sensation, but I certainly didn’t want to deter her from a night of crazy sex.
We made out a little and she got in the shower, where, as usual, she stayed for nearly 45 minutes. (The centrally provided, unlimited hot water was one of the nicer things about living in Russia, although in the summer, it can disappear for a month or two.)

I drank another beer, waiting for her expectantly. But when she got out, I saw that her mood had changed; she was mercurial and intractable, and I knew there was no point trying to change her mind. (And definitely no point trying to force her, which would lead to permanent loss of vision and ruptured testicles, if not painful death.)

“I don’t know, I’m tired now. Maybe on the weekend,” she said.

“I can get some Viagra, the real stuff, they sell it at the pharmacy. We’ll have a contest to see how long we can fuck.”

She agreed that sounded like a good idea. I had dealt with her enough to not be bothered by her behavior; we curled up in bed. Still nursing a hardon, I eventually drifted off to sleep.

Then the next morning, as she was getting ready to go to class, I got a text message from the dental student saying that she was free from work that day and could come visit me.

Inside, I chortled with glee.

The dental student arrived; it was a bright cold March day. She was removing her high-heeled leather boots and I removed her sweater and T-shirt, revealing her blue lace bra.

We kissed and she pushed me down on the bed, unzipping my fly; her eyes widened and she smiled.

She took my cock in her hand and I prematurely ejaculated for the first time in 13 years.

We spent more than an hour having oral sex and fooling around but, discouraged, I couldn’t get more than a semi-hardon.