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:


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.


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.


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!


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?


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.