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.


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.


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.)


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.)


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


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.